click here to see today's runners spacer

Monday, 06 July, 2020

Meet the Trainers
16 great trainers with great daily insights

image of Administrators

Administrators
The Office!

 

We have set up this website to support racing for change. Reading our trainers-quotes will hopefully make things more transparent and give our members a better understanding of the sport and also offer you something different to the normal horse racing tipster. We hope you enjoy the site and please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or comments.

expand/close

We believe our selection of trainers are some of the best names in the business and we hope you will enjoy reading their comments on their runners.

image of Ali Stronge

Ali Stronge
trainer at Castle Piece,

View Racing Post History

 

Ali Stronge, with her husband, former jump jockey Sam, himself son of NH rider Robert, has been gradually upgrading their joint-purpose yard near Lambourn.

They have deservedly earned the reputation of getting the best out of their generally modestly-priced horses. In the summer of 2019 they had a crippling virus which held them back severely for several months but they showed great patience allowing time to heal. Winners were starting to come with something like normal regularity but then the shut-down happened. This pair truly is a team, Ali generally keeping things ticking at the yard and Sam providing the planning and racecourse presence.

expand/close

A proper year-round operation, Sam’s jumping background is priceless and reflected in wins for chasers and hurdlers while they can also plot up a handicap winner on the Flat, be it sprinter or stayer, when the right opportunity presents itself.

image of Ben Pauling

Ben Pauling
trainer at Bourton Hill Farm,

View Racing Post History

 

It is hard to believe that Ben Pauling has held a trainer’s licence since 2013. He has certainly not stood still since ending those six years as assistant trainer to Nicky Henderson, one of many to learn at the feet of the UK’s greatest-ever Cheltenham-winning handler. Pauling made an impressive start, guiding the highly-talented Barters Hill to seven successive wins culminating in the Challow Hurdle before a creditable fourth place at the Cheltenham Festival. Willoughby Court followed, winning the Neptune Novice Hurdle at Cheltenham to give Ben that elusive first Festival winner.

expand/close

He capped that achievement when Le Breuil impressively won the National Hunt Chase at the 2019 Festival. His latest season was rather stop-and-go, with much of the autumn and early winter hampered by a viral issue, but he was back in form by March and was highly frustrated when the promised flow of spring winners was halted by events beyond his or anyone else’s control. There is plenty of equine talent for this highly-capable trainer to exploit and he’ll be ready to kick on when racing returns.

Such as Delire D’Estruval, Global Citizen, Kildisart and Legal Eyes were all on the cusp of progressing dramatically over fences while the lightly-raced The Macon Lugnatic showed all the signs of becoming a future star chaser when winning successive hurdle races at Doncaster gamely in all-the-way fashion.

image of Brian Meehan

Brian Meehan
trainer at Manton House Estate,

View Racing Post History

 

Irish-born Brian, son of a veterinary surgeon, has been around the training game for a long time, indeed it was as far back as 1993 that he took out his first licence from a yard in Lambourn following six years as assistant to his mentor Richard Hannon senior. Big-race wins followed almost immediately, increasing in importance when he moved to train at the Sangster family’s Manton estate in 2006.

expand/close

Brian won Breeders’ Cup races with Red Rocks, in his first year at Manton, and later Dangerous Midge as well as many other overseas and domestic Group 1 races. These included such as David Junior, who won the £2 million Dubai Duty Free for owner David Sullivan. In more recent times, the stable has been operating on a lower level in horse numbers, but Meehan still can boast such recent important winners as Spirit of Appin, Raheen House, Barraquero (Richmond Stakes), Spark Plug (Cambridgeshire), Bacchus (Wokingham), Most Improved (St James’s Palace) as well as a Cesarewitch double (two years apart) with Aaim To Prosper. As this short list shows, give Brian any type of horse and he will get the best out of it.

image of Charlie Longsdon

Charlie Longsdon
trainer at Hull Farm,

View Racing Post History

 

Charlie Longsdon. Charlie Longsdon has more than a little in common with another of our trainers, Ben Pauling. Like Ben he was a former assistant trainer to Nicky Henderson, just vacating that role when Ben was moving into position, to set up his own business in Oxfordshire in 2006. They are also both tall (very in Charlie’s case), affable and brothers-in-law! They can both train horses too, Charlie quickly getting into his stride early in the piece, once stretching into the 70’s for winners.

expand/close

He soon attracted the attention of Her Majesty, the Queen and has sent out a number of decent winners in the Royal colours. The overall tally, while still respectable, has come down a little more recently as some of the stable stalwarts have got longer in the tooth. A measure though of his talent was the fact that old Loose Chips was able to be readied for what was to be a final win before retirement this year at the grand age of 15. Charlie and his owners have responded to the change in circumstances by recruiting stores and former Irish point-to-pointers, but of course bringing them through and preparing them in the correct manner for the eventual career as steeplechasers is always a time-consuming process. Once racing resumes, expect to see an upturn in the fortunes of this highly-capable handler.

image of Charlie Mann

Charlie Mann
trainer at Neardown,

View Racing Post History

 

You need to have a second look – probably ask for his passport – to believe Charlie Mann has held a trainer’s licence in Lambourn for 27 seasons. After a quiet start the ever-youthful former jump jockey was soon into double figures, but it was in a reprise of his former role that he first made waves as a trainer. A number of UK and Irish handlers have had a love affair with the rigours and fearsome jumping challenges of the Velka Pardubicka in the Czech Republic, but few ever wanted to win it with the fierceness of Charlie Mann. In 1994, having acquired the nine-year-old It’s A Snip from Ted Walsh, he duly packed off the gelding to Pardubicka and rode it himself into second place in the four and a quarter-mile endurance test.

expand/close

Then after the by now 10-year-old had finished an unplaced 200-1 shot in that season’s Grand National, he was off again on his travels and this time won the race, again with Charlie riding! That day he did something Richard Dunwoody, the multiple champion couldn’t – Richard was unplaced on the same horse the following year!

After a long history of solid seasons, Charlie’s predominately chasing-based yard had its least-rewarding year owing to stable sickness in 2019-20, but he is patient and talented enough to ride out the storm and will come back punching again before long.

image of Fergal O'Brien

Fergal O'Brien
trainer at Ravenswell Farm,

View Racing Post History

 

The 2019-20 season might have seemed almost a routine further step up the ladder for the Fergal O’Brien stable, but in fact it was considerably more than that. Having been closely allied, first as assistant trainer for many years, and then as tenant to trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies in his Upper Yard at Naunton, Gloucestershire for another decent period, Fergal chose the middle of the latest season to move to a custom-built new location tucked away in hilly countryside a few miles closer to Cheltenham.

expand/close

The horses, already in form, came over in small groups and at the start they had to fulfil their work routines while skirting all the evidence of major new construction. Despite all the inconvenience, Fergal and his team contrived to improve his already impressive strike-rate, giving credit for the health of his team to the new location and gallops.

As yet the overall progression has not been accompanied by victories at the highest level, but few trainers enjoyed a higher profile or more universal public acclaim in the latest season. This inevitably has led to major owners being attracted, so that elusive big-race success cannot be long delayed. What has become obvious, and happily for the subscribers to this service, is that when Fergal gives one of his horses a winning chance, it invariably goes close!

image of Harry Whittington

Harry Whittington
trainer at Hill Barn Stables,

View Racing Post History

 

Although Harry Whittington has been training horses for the past ten seasons it wasn’t until 2015-6 that he passed double figures for any single campaign. He made the jump from eight to 21, then promptly dropped back down to 13. But it has definitely been a case of ever upward since, maintaining scores into the twenties before a best-yet 30 in the recently cut-short season. He also almost doubled prizemoney to beyond £450,000 a figure that could have been greatly exceeded with just a little luck.

expand/close

One of the stars of his Sparsholt operation over the past three campaigns has been Saint Calvados, and had it not been for two narrow reverses in his two runs at Cheltenham in the early part of this year, Whittington would easily have broken the half-million mark. The gelding threw away his chance after the last fence at the January meeting by hanging left and failing by a nose to catch Oldgrangewood to whom he was conceding 15lb.

Then in the Ryanair Chase at the Festival he was penned in near the rail after the last fence, getting out just too late to catch Min. He has been followed on the upward trail by Simply The Betts, one of the more impressive handicap winners at the meeting, while another good prospect, Rouge Vif, finished third there. Whittington does especially well developing chasers but his four-timer with the previously very moderate handicap hurdler Sirobbie shows he is a man to be reckoned with at all times.

image of Hughie Morrison

Hughie Morrison
trainer at Summerdown Stables,

View Racing Post History

 

Since starting training almost two decades ago Hughie Morrison has been almost like a metronome. Generally, his Berkshire stable has typically collected around 45 Flat wins worth £600,000 or thereabouts in prizemoney. His carefully-selected jumpers, often home-breds starting in bumpers, bring somewhere between five and eight NH wins every season. In some ways 2019 was a disappointment, slipping a little numerically, but it was exciting as the year of Telecaster, winner of the Dante Stakes and for a while the main English defender of the Derby against the might of Coolmore..

expand/close

As it turned out, as the trainer feared, the colt probably got stage-fright but he will be back in 2020 to compete once more at the top level. What hasn’t changed, apart from that first Derby attempt, was Hughie’s ability to pick up big races and but for some awful luck Marmelo, such a prolific winner in stayers’ races especially in France might have had a chance of improving on his 2018 Melbourne Cup second.

Hughie was furious when the gelding was eliminated from the field on the eve of the contest by the veterinary panel even though Hughie and his own private vet were adamant he was perfectly sound. As a man who has trained Group 1 winning stayers and champion sprinters, Morrison covers the full gamut, and his horses uniformly last longer than many other trainers’ inmates. He is still rightly proud that he won a Group 1 race in France with the 10-year-old Alcazar. Marmelo no doubt, now a seven-year-old, will continue to win at Group level, even if the trainer and his owners might hesitate before undertaking another venture Down Under.

image of Ian Williams

Ian Williams
trainer at Dominion Racing Stables,

View Racing Post History

 

If there is an all-year-round trainer on our books it has to be Ian Williams. Son of a trainer, Billy Williams, he initially showed little sign of wanting to follow the parental profession but then aged 18 had second thoughts and joined Jenny Pitman as assistant in her heyday. Then, following further spells with Martin Pipe and Francois Doumen, Ian felt ready for the fray. The latest jumping campaign had already been uncharacteristically frustrating for the Alvechurch handler when it was summarily ended by Covid 19.

expand/close

Often over the previous two decades seasonal jump scores of around 50 were commonplace. Even as recently as 2016-7 he achieved 46, but the emphasis had been gradually turning to the Flat. In 2018, Ian won a best-yet 66 races and just over £1 million in prizes. In the latest full season the tally was 53 and almost £800k, with handicap wins the staple currency. Time To Study collected a valuable handicap at Haydock in the late spring and no doubt there will be the usual carefully-selected squadron of Williams runners back at Chester once racing resumes.

He won the Chester Cup in 2018 with Magic Circle for his principal owner Marwan Koukash. What was impressive was that this was the gelding’s first run since joining the trainer from Ralph Beckett and not content with winning that handicap by six lengths, he followed by the same margin against much stronger opposition later the same month at Sandown in the Group 2 Henry II Stakes. Whether it’s with hurdlers or chasers, stayers or sprinters like the durable Sir Maximilian, Ian Williams can deal with them all.

image of Kim Bailey

Kim Bailey
trainer at Thorndale Farm,

View Racing Post History

 

Kim Bailey has been training and winning big races for more than 40 years. Son of jumps trainer Ken, he furthered his education under the great Fred Rimell and Tim Forster. His career has defied gravity in that after its first exciting phase when he won the 1990 Grand National with Mr Frisk, and the rarely-achieved Cheltenham Festival double in 1995 of the Gold Cup with Master Oats and the Champion Hurdle with Alderbrook, he has had to re-invent himself. The first phase occurred in the family yard in Northamptonshire and during his initial heyday he once recorded a best-ever 86 wins.

expand/close

Then his fortunes slumped to the extent that in four seasons during the early 2000’s tallies of 6, 6, 9 and finally 3 signalled imminent disaster. Happily his move to his present base at Andoversford near Cheltenham has coincided with a wonderful revival.

Sensible re-stocking and imaginative marketing have brought a revival reminiscent of that achieved by the late Sir Henry Cecil when Frankel moved into Warren Place at a time of his lowest ebb. The always youthful and energetic Kim has retained all the talent of the old days and few trainers can match his ability to bring young novice chasers through the ranks from raw novice to the finished article. Over the past couple of seasons such as Vinndication, Imperial Aura and Youllnevercall have offered great promise for the future and we have found in our contact with him that Kim has an uncanny accuracy when assessing his horses’ chances on a day-to-day basis.

image of Micky Hammond

Micky Hammond
trainer at Oakwood Stables,

View Racing Post History

 

Micky Hammond first came to prominence as a jump jockey with the shrewd Reg Akehurst back in the 1980’s and much of the old master’s skills have stayed with him during a 30-year training career, initially in the south, but for the longest period based at Middleham in North Yorkshire. Patience has been the watchword for Hammond who has often taken other trainers’ cast-offs and brought them back to winning ways. For the most part big-race success has eluded him but in the latest season, the almost constant heavy ground played firmly into the hands of stable star Cornerstone Lad.

expand/close

Against all expectations this modest stayer on the Flat progressed into a true Graded performer over jumps, beating former Champion Hurdler Buveur D’Air with a battling front-running display in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle and then almost defying a 6lb penalty when a close third to Ballyandy and Pentland Hills in the Unibet Trial at Haydock. The Champion Hurdle itself proved a step too far and perhaps in view of his high rating, a switch to chasing might suit this brilliant jumper. Otherwise he could revert to the Flat where his mark in the low 70’s gives the clever Hammond something to work with.

image of Nicky Richards

Nicky Richards
trainer at Greystoke Stables,

View Racing Post History

 

Nicky Richards It was never going to be easy following a legend of the status of Gordon W Richards, but One Man’s trainer would be proud if he could look down on the consistent achievements of his son Nicky since he took over at Greystoke stables just before the turn of the century.

expand/close

History can look back favourably on such as Playlord and Grand National winners Lucius and Hallo Dandy as well as the great grey, but in his turn the son brilliantly supervised the long, spectacular career of much-loved Monet’s Garden. Nicky has maintained a high level of achievement since those heady days and if the latest uncompleted season’s figures slipped a little, it is easy to forget just how much racing was lost to the weather in the north through waterlogging even before the abrupt halt called immediately after Cheltenham.

Big races in the north, especially Aintree and the Ayr Scottish Grand National meeting were lost. Nicky had won the Scottish National 12 months earlier with Takingrisks and that horse was being prepared for Aintree and then possibly a return to Ayr soon after when the halt was called. Such as Caius Marcius might be re-primed for action when summer jumping resumes. Richards can also look forward to training a nice team of bumper horses, among them several already winners for Trevor Hemmings, so we know what the future holds for them.

image of Oliver Sherwood

Oliver Sherwood
trainer at Rhonehurst,

View Racing Post History

 

Oliver has been a constant around Lambourn for many years, initially as assistant trainer to Fred Winter when he was also a highly-accomplished amateur rider, but for the past 30 years as trainer at Rhonehurst stables.

expand/close

Consistency has been the watchword for winners each season as well as the ability to bring horses through the path from bumper or inexperienced point-to-pointer, to hurdler (briefly usually) and on to chasing. As well as the legendary Winter, he also spent three years with Arthur Moore (son of L’Escargot’s trainer Dan) before making a brilliant start to training with such as Large Action and Berude Not To. But his career enjoyed its crowning glory with Many Clouds, winner of 12 races including the 2015 Grand National for Trevor Hemmings. He won a further three races after that but tragically – a word too often used but appropriate in this case – collapsed and died after with typical bravery holding off Thistlecrack in the 2017 Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham.

The same colours looked to have a star in the making last spring with Sammy Bill, but after a couple of brilliant wins, he died while exercising at home. Happily, Sherwood has improving young horses to fall back on, among them Severano and Dominateur who promise great things for the future for this tried and tested stable.

image of Shaun Keightley

Shaun Keightley
trainer at Harraton Lodge Stables,

View Racing Post History

 

Shaun was a journeyman jockey for many years under both codes, winning a Listed race for Ben Hanbury on the Flat and the Pertemps Hurdle at Cheltenham for Martin Tate back in the 1980’s and clocking up around 200 career wins. Derek Thompson once wrote that Shaun was the first jockey ever to ride both on the Flat and over jumps at every racecourse in England, Scotland and Wales.

expand/close

That largely under the radar experience is backed up by many years for the most part since then as a backroom boy in stables around the country. He briefly launched a training career in the early 2000’s, but after losing his licence for three years on a disciplinary matter, he waited 12 years before returning from a yard in Newmarket two years ago. In 2019 he recorded the impressive tally of 21 wins. Significantly once he got a horse to win a race, very often he managed a follow-up as was the case with five of his horses. He has moved stables since the turn of the year and is likely to be operating on a smaller scale, but there is no doubt Shaun can be relied upon to get the best from his inmates.

image of Warren Greatrex

Warren Greatrex
trainer at Uplands,

View Racing Post History

 

Some trainers are unflappable when they have a winner. Others get excited. And then there’s Warren Greatrex! When Cole Harden gave him the first of what we’re sure will be many Cheltenham Festival winners he simply broke down under the emotion of the moment. He’s had plenty of reasons to be excited since, but he has usually managed to keep things under control.

expand/close

Multiple winner La Bague Au Roi has been a big player for Warren in recent seasons and while she didn’t make a major contribution in the latest frustrating campaign she could come back stronger next term given better ground. One horse which did progress after a similarly frustrating start was Emiton. Winner of five of his first six races – his initial defeat was when finishing second to Champ at Aintree in April 2019 – he made a very disappointing comeback at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day. However Warren turned him round to such an extent that he won his trial for the Stayers Hurdle in great style next time out at Haydock, making him one of the prime dangers to Paisley Park at the Festival. As we know Paisley Park disappointed whereas Emitom ran a creditable fourth. No doubt chasing will be on the agenda one day for this potential Gold Cup winner. Meanwhile such as Keeper Hill, Bob Mahler and Mulcahys Hill will be challenging for major staying handicap chases throughout the coming months.

image of William Knight

William Knight
trainer at Lower Coombe Stables,

View Racing Post History

 

William Knight will be making a big step at the start of the 2020 season. After 14 years’ training in the peaceful surroundings of the Angmering Park estate, home and training base of the late Lady Anne Herries, William is moving to Newmarket.

expand/close

Consistent seasonal tallies of around 20, his score in 2019, may well prove a thing of the past as he adjusts to life in Rathmoy stables, latterly the location for David Lanigan, now off to train in the US, and previously of Neville Callaghan. Lanigan made numerous improvements there and Knight is rightly excited not only by his new base but also the unmatched facilities available around Newmarket.

He will be well placed to use either Racecourse or Bury side of the town from Hamilton Road and no doubt his bloodstock agent brother Richard will be quick to suggest William as a suitable handler for clients who want horses trained at HQ. Knight enjoyed plenty of success in the first half of his time in West Sussex with former handicapper Illustrious Blue, winner of six races at Goodwood alone, finally the Goodwood Cup before being acquired to

www.wknightracing.co.uk

spacer    
click here to see today's runners   Own a share of a racehorse