How has your training routine been affected by Coronavirus?
We haven’t altered our training routine massively. We just haven’t done any fast work with the horses over the last two weeks. We have given them their flu vaccinations which will enable us to run throughout the year without having to stop with them. All being well we will be back doing some faster bits of work in the next week to 10 days.
Realistically, when do you expect horse racing to return behind closed doors?
Hopefully, this can happen sooner rather than later, but we don’t want to be putting pressure on returning until it is safe to do so. God willing it could be 1stof May but if not soon after.
What are your hopes for the year?
To better our previous seasons with winners and prize money. Also, to try and pick up as many black type races as we can along the way. Especially at the major festivals where we have had success in previous years with our two-year-olds.
When racing returns, will all two-year-old races be oversubscribed? And will they be even harder to win?
Two-year-old races are generally hard to win anyway, so it is not necessarily going to be any easier/harder than normal. The number of entries will obviously be more, but I’d like to think the BHA could put on more fixtures to accommodate for the loss of racing that we have missed already this year.
If racing is still not back by June, could you run the Derby in September or would you just forget it for a year?
It is a difficult question to answer, I think if you move those big major races and you have issues, it would mess up the rest of the pattern book which is structured in a way to let horses progress throughout the year, especially in their three-year-old career. I would find it very difficult to run the Derby in September.
Have you got any exciting two-year olds for our members to keep an eye out for?
We have a really nice bunch of two-year-olds this year. I think they are a sharper bunch compared to last year. They are more precocious, and they are all at a very similar level where, God willing, when racing starts they will be ready to run. I think we have some exciting colts and fillies. Out of the colts, I like a horse called Big Narstie as I think he is an early type and hopefully racing will be back on for him to debut as soon as possible. A filly I like a lot is by Dark Angel called Wings Of A Dove. She is very sharp and has a very good speedy pedigree which I would like to think she could be one to keep an eye on as well.
Will there be any long-term effects on the racing industry?
There will be long term effects with every industry, but it is going to take a big knock on racing. Not just for trainers, owners and jockeys but to breeders, pinhookers and sales companies. It is going to have a knock-on effect the whole way through the industry. Hopefully, if we can get racing on as soon as possible then it lessens the blow to everyone throughout the industry.
Who has been the most supportive to your stable in the last month?
We have had major support from everyone in the industry which has been great. My staff are doing an excellent job keeping the show on the road. The Jockey Club and their team and the BHA have been a major help and we can’t thank them enough for what they have done. If we can continue exercising the horses and be as safe as we can regarding the safety aspects that are plaguing us with the Covid-19. Our owners have been brilliant and very supportive in allowing us to continue training the horses to get them ready to race as soon as possible once racing goes back to normal.
When did you realise you wanted to become a trainer?
When I was about 11 I realised I wanted to train racehorses. After that, I set about trying to find the means and learning what I could to get where I am today.
How did you get your break?
I was fortunate enough to work for some great people along the way and on the side of wanting to train, I rode as an amateur jockey. I had a lot of fun and learnt a lot about race riding. I broke my back in a fall at Warwick and that put pay to my career as a jockey. Luckily, I knew I wanted to become a trainer, so it was the right time to try and start. Lucky enough Phil Cunningham was looking for a private trainer at the time, to train in Newmarket. I applied and got the job. We have now opened the door to outside owners and have had a great start. It is a growing business that Phil is very passionate about and God willing can keep growing and we can improve our success rate with each season. I think that this year, we have a very exciting bunch of horses to run and 2020 could be our best season yet even though we are missing the early part of the season.
Q. Dream alternate career?
Q. Which sport do you miss the most (other than racing)?
Q. How are you keeping fit?
A. I’m lucky as I still ride out every day and watch the horses on the gallops, so that keeps me fit.
Q. Career highlight?
A. Rajasinghe winning the Coventry at Royal Ascot on his second start and breaking the track record that he still holds today. I think it would be hard to see it getting beat in the near future. This was also our first season training.
Q. Career disappointment?
A. Rumble Inthejungle last year. He was an amazing two-year-old and we were looking forward to last year with him but we didn’t see the best of him. It is very frustrating knowing what he can do.
Q. Three words to describe you?
A. Hard-working, stubborn and determined
Q. Derby or Arc?