Trainers & Jockeys Turf 2017
Plenty has been going on as ever during the winter months with new alliances forged and old partnerships terminated; my thoughts on the Jockey/Trainer merry-go-round and who should benefit and who may have boobed for 2017 follow.
Reigning Champion jockey Jim Crowley has been appointed as the new first-choice rider to owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum on the back of his successes last season. Crowley replaces Paul Hanagan, who did not have his contract renewed after nearly five years in the role. The move was announced back in November.
Silvestre de Sousa is the general favourite to regain the title he won in 2015, with Paul Hanagan, Champion in 2010 and 2011, next in the market with Crowley third best on most lists. Talking at the time the Champ said: "I don't want anyone thinking I won't be going for the title again. There might be some value there, I am definitely going to give it a go. This time last year I wasn't in the position I am now. Last year I wasn't even thinking about the championship until Glorious Goodwood. I have a great agent in Tony Hind and I am going to try and ride as many winners as I can. If I'm still in with a shot when Goodwood comes around, we'll give it a go.
I will be riding quite a bit as a retained jockey for Sheikh Hamdan, who has a lot more horses in training this year - and quite a few good ones - so I'm really looking forward to it. Being out in Dubai this winter has been brilliant. I will be as fresh as paint when I come back after the Dubai World Cup. It does you a lot of good to get away and see other countries and I've enjoyed it immensely.
I can't see Ryan Moore (who shares the same agent) chasing rides up and down the country. I won't be chasing my tail, either, but I will still want to get as many winners as I can. I don't want people to think I won't be going for the title again. You simply can't have that attitude."
Ryan Moore and Andrea Atzeni complete the top five in the betting.
Ryan Moore has been off around the globe again mopping up races, as he does, including the Group One Hong Kong Cup to name but one. He will be booting home plenty of winners again over the coming months for the boys from Ballydoyle as well as old friends such as Sir Michael Stoute.
Italian Andrea Atzeni remains the retained rider to Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum and is another who has been enjoying the sun in Dubai even if things didn’t go to plan with Postponed!
Over at Godolphin William Buick will be getting the leg-up from Charlie Appleby still in the Godolphin blue and they have some nice sorts to go to work with over the coming months. James Doyle though will be making only limited appearances in Britain this summer as he is set to continue his role as Godolphin's main jockey in Australia. Talking in March Godolphin chief executive John Ferguson told the Daily Mail: "James has done very well while he's been in Australia. He will probably do the same as what James McDonald did and ride here for a couple of months in the summer." That will leave Saeed bin Suroor booking the best available jockey for his mounts a policy he has been using over the winter.
Fran Berry has been slowly recovering from the fractured foot sustained at Lingfield in October. Ralph Beckett's stable jockey has been making good progress and been back in the saddle proper as of 3rd March. He will be hoping to be firing on all cylinders for the start of the turf Flat season as his boss has some nice ones down at Kimtpon Down Stables.
Oisin Murphy will have a few nice ones for Sheikh Fahad Al Thani under the Qatar Racing and Qatar Bloodstock banner while Frankie Dettori will be hoping to perform a few flying dismounts and you can expect to see his boss Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Al Shaqab Racing, aim a few good’uns at Glorious Goodwood, sorry Qatar Goodwood Festival, for him to ride.
Adam Kirby has been booting home the winners with regularity as usual through the winter months on the all-weather and it’s worth noting Richard Kingscote, Phillip Makin and Graham Gibbons have all been running at 20%+ strike rates on the sand during the winter so are clearly in rude health and good form.
Aiden O’Brien inmates feature heavily in my Dirty Dozen for the season and with the likes of Churchill and Rhododendron at three aiming for Classic glory and Minding staying in training as a four-year-old he has a lot to look forward to. He is long odds-on in March to be crowned Champion Trainer and understandably so.
Godolphin have a number of good’uns with different trainers these days (some mentioned below) but the main trainers Charlie Appleby and Saeed bin Suroor naturally still have some nice types and I think the yard of Appleby may be the leading one out of the pair this year. I am a huge fan of Wuheida and big things are expected of the filly – hopefully including an Oaks win as I am on ante-post. As for the 3yo colts Boynton and Blue Point will both have Classic aspirations. Jungle Cat will be aimed at the sprints, Tryster at the middle distance prizes and Dirty Dozen Member the filly Endless Time will be looking for more black type. He also of course has Emotionless in the yard, one of my Dirty Dozen, and a return to form for the colt will be hoped for.
Thunder Snow won a Group Two in Dubai and will win more races for Bin Suroor this year, in fact the colt might be he’s best chance of a Classic winner this season. Prize Money will be looking to pick-up plenty of just that over the coming months
John Gosden has the likes of Dabyah and Seven Heavens letting him dream once more of Classic glory and you can expect plenty of winners to come out of Clarehaven down the Bury Road. Richard Fahey was always going to find it difficult to better 2015 after equalling the record for 235 winners in a calendar year and finishing second in the Trainers Championship. That said he sent out 198 winners in 2016 including and a Group 1 winner in the shape of Godolphin owned Ribchester – third in the G.1 Dubai Turf at the Carnival in March. Melesina won the Listed Prix La Camargo at Saint-Cloud earlier in March so the stable is clearly in fine fettle and Queen Kindly may turn out to be a very good three-year-old filly. Another big year is expected for the team at Musley Bank.
Mark Johnston has been racking up the winners over the winter months with plenty of his out and about (as is usual) and though his strike-rate is never outstanding you know he will be aiming for the 200+ winner mark again (achieved in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015) having fallen just shy of that figure on 195 in 2016. Sir Michael Stoute had over 100 winners in a year for the first time since 2007 in 2016 and has some nice types if no likely Classic contenders at Freemason Lodge this season. Once raced winner Frankel 3yo Mirage Dancer might be his best hope of picking up some big prize money this season.
Down at Somerville Lodge William Haggas will be looking to continue the trend since 2010 where he has increased the number of winners he has saddled each year having achieved 137 in 2016. In the shape of Rivet he also has a 3yo that might be able to nail down some decent prize money.
Richard Hannon Jr doesn’t have a standout star three-year-old this year, his shortest priced colt for the 2,000 Guineas being Barney Roy at 25-1 for example, but he has 263 housed at his Herridge Racing Stables so is hardly short of numbers!
Down at Kremlin Cottage Stables Hugo Palmer is going from strength to strength having started out in only 2011 with 11 horses in the yard. 2016 was a stella year for the yard with 2,000 Guineas and G.1 St James' Palace Stakes winner Galileo Gold plus German 1,000 Guineas winner Hawksmoor flying the flag. He doesn’t appear the have a three-year-old of that calibre this year but the Godolphin owned G2 royal Lodge winner Best Of Days might be half decent.
Karl Burke has been plotting a campaign for stable star Quiet Reflection over the winter months. He would prefer to start her off in the Temple Stakes at Haydock in May if the ground is suitable. One of the success stories of last year, she won twice at the highest level, including Commonwealth Cup at Ascot and when she defeated her elders in the Sprint Cup at Haydock.
The yard of Michael Appleby has been amongst the winners in early 2017 (21 winners as of 1st March) closely followed by David Evans who has sent out 19 winners from his base on the outskirts of the Brecon Beacons. Kevin Ryan has been running at a strike-rate of around 17% so his early runners should also be worth a second look as the Turf season gets underway.
Michael Dods will be dreaming of sprint glories with Easton Angel whilst Roger Charlton has a potentially very good one in the shape of Godolphin owned Atty Persse who might turn out to be a Derby contender.
Roger Varian will be based at what Clive Brittain's historic Carlburg Stables for the 2017 season onwards after purchasing the property. Simon Crisford, who was renting the stables from Clive Brittain, has moved in the other direction to Varian’s old base at Kremlin House Stables.
The Sprint King David ‘Dandy’ Nicholls announced he was giving up training in March. Based at Tall Trees Stables near Thirsk, North Yorkshire, Nicholls went out with a winner as stable star Sovereign Debt landed a valuable race in Qatar. He tweeted: "Sovereign Debt was our last runner from Tall Trees, as due to financial problems we have had to cease training. It was nice to go out on a high during what has been a difficult time & I'd like to thank all our owners that have supported us."
list of the websites of various Trainers worth keeping an eye on include:
Jamie Osborne: http://www.jamieosborne.com/
Roger Varian: http://www.varianstable.com/
Marco Botti: http://www.marcobotti.co.uk/
Mick Easterby: http://www.mckeasterby.co.uk/
David Simcock: http://davidsimcock.co.uk/
Richard Hughes: http://richardhughesracing.co.uk/
Mick Channon: https://www.mickchannon.tv/
Jeremy Noseda: http://jeremynoseda.com/
Simon Crisford: http://crisfordracing.com/
Roger Charlton: http://www.rogercharlton.com/
Ruth Carr: http://www.ruthcarrracing.co.uk/
David O’Meara: http://www.davidomeararacing.com/
Robert Cowell: http://robertcowellracing.co.uk/
Clive Cox: http://www.clivecox.com/index.php
James Tate: http://www.jamestateracing.com/