Trainers & Jockeys Turf 2021
It was a funny old Turf season, with a big chunk lost to the pandemic, so 2020 the Flat Jockeys Championship was decided on winners of both Flat and All Weather races taking place from 1st June 2020 to the afternoon of Saturday 7th November 2020 at Doncaster. Oisin Murphy reigned supreme again in this saddle winning his second Championship but it was a funny old year for the lad from County Kerry having failed a drugs test at Chantilly, France in July. He ended up copping for a three-month ban, the suspension running from 11th December 2020 to 11 March 2021. He will back in the saddle in time for the start of the Flat Jockeys’ Championship title race in May. Apparently, it was all down to “environmental contamination” - he had sex the night before his ride on The Lir Jet at Chantilly with a partner who he subsequently discovered had used cocaine. French racing authorities accepted his testimony that he had been contaminated after having sex with the woman and that is why he got a three-month ban rather than the lengthier sentences dished out to the likes of Dettori and Fallon in the past. He will be back rested and raring to go and is likely to put up a fierce defence of his title. I reckon he may be a little pickier about the fillies he gets the leg-up on though; sorry couldn’t resist.
I mentioned both last year and you simply cannot produce an article about Jockeys riding today and not mention Tom Marquand and Hollie Doyle - the golden couple of the weighing room. Tom had a fair season by any standards notching 147 winners in the year and finishing third in the Championship table with a total of 114 winners. Champion Apprentice in 2015 he had his first Classic winning ride on Galileo Chrome in the St Leger this season and is a young man going places. At only twenty-two-years-old as the 2021 season begins, he is set to be at the top of the game for years to come. Having broken the record in Britain for the most winners in a calendar year by a female jockey in 2019 (116) Hollie Doyle broke her own record in 2020 riding 151 winners in total, 94 of which were in the Flat Jockeys Championship meaning she finished fourth in the table. When you allow for the number of racing days lost to Covid it is quite an achievement! Her main aim for 2020 was to land a Group success which she did winning the Group Two Princess of Wales's Stakes in July before taking the Group One British Champions Sprint Stakes and becoming the first female jockey to win at QIPCO British Champions Day in the process. The 24-year-old also notched another landmark victory at Happy Valley in December as she became the first woman to ride a winner at the International Jockeys’ Championship in Hong Kong. Not just about the big meetings she also became the first female jockey to win five races on the same card in Britain riding a ‘Canadian’ at Windsor in the August. She is fast becoming a household name and following her successes in the saddle in 2020 she won the prestigious Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year award and the Sports Journalists’ Association Sportswoman of the Year to name but two trophies that now adorn her fireplace. Come December she was shortlisted for this year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year; she finished third in the public vote. For me she is now at the level were the constant reference to her achievements preceded by mention of her gender ‘female jockey’ is simply wrong other than I suppose when records are broken – Hollie is as good as any of her male counterparts and in many cases better. Mark my words the next time you read ‘first female jockey’ before the name Hollie Doyle it could very well be followed by ‘to win the Jockey Championship’. Asked in December whether she would like to challenge for the jockeys’ championship in 2021, she said: “I’ll give it a go. I’ll always be trying as hard as I can and I hope I can land in that position one day, whether it be next year or the the year after I don’t know. The main thing is to try and keep people happy and ride as many winners as I can.” #JustJockeysI mentioned last year the Ben Curtis may well finish higher in the table in 2020 and he duly finished the Championship in fifth with 92 winners; he rode a total of 170 for the calendar year making him the winning most jockey of 2020 taking the Annual Flat Jockeys’ title. He has been kicking home the winners on the All-Weather during the winter again, Newcastle, Southwell and Wolverhampton are places you are most likely to see him, with Southwell a track he rides particularly well. William Buick had another great season and pushed Murphy all the way in the Jockeys Championship picking up plenty of rides when not on one for day job boss Charlie Appleby. Perhaps not surprisingly Simon and Ed Crisford use the Norwegian quite regularly. And yes, that is right Buick was born in Norway in 1988, where his Scottish-born father, Walter, was Scandinavian champion jockey on eight occasions and his mother, Maria, a dressage rider and showjumper. I am a big fan and expect him to ride plenty of winners again and he will be picking up some big prizes with Godolphin looking to have some nice types for the coming season. I suggested last year the runner-up in the 2019 Flat Jockeys Championship Daniel Tudhope would be looking to build on his total of 133 – that put the mockers on him and he ended on 77 in the table for 2020! He is still decent though and well worth a look when on one for William Haggas for whom he still has an impressive 30%+ strike-rate. It seems harsh to refer to Robert ‘Rab’ Havlin as No.2 jockey at the Gosden yard as he is an integral part of the set-up at Clarehaven Stables. He has introduced a good one or two to racetracks down the years as the man entrusted with the Gosden two-year-olds on debut. He rode Enable to her first win on the All-Weather at Newcastle, was given the leg-up on Stradivarius on his first visit to a track and was on-board for the debut of Cracksman to name just three. He won’t win the title and a Group One victory still alludes him but he has ridden over 1,000 winners and when he is on one of those Gosden debutants, especially come autumn time on a late maturing type, you should take note! Last, but by no means least, two of the elder statesmen in the weighing room and two of the biggest names in the game. Frankie Dettori remains the man for the big occasion and you can expect more of the same this year with the excitable little Italian showing-up and stealing the show at the big meetings. Love him or hate him he’s good for the game. You cannot leave out Ryan Moore when doing a list of Jockeys and he will no doubt be doing what he does in the coming months – riding winners in big races for big stables across the Globe. Considered by many the best of the best you are more likely to see him at Sha Tin than Salisbury these days but on the rare occasion he gets the leg-up on one you wouldn’t expect at a smaller meeting it is always worth a second look.
I will start this year with a name you might not be expecting. Trainer Chelsea Banham may be a new name to some of you, she trained out of Mulligan's Yard at HQ. She is the daughter of Gary Banham, a haulier who was the subject of an indefinite exclusion order in 2011 (lifted in June 2015) in the wake of the Sabre Light corruption inquiry, which led to trainer Jeff Pearce and former trainer Geoff Huffer being warned off. The yard had 15 wins in 2020, she only started trained in 2019, and have a winner already in 2021 as write in early January; At Your Service winning at Wolverhampton. She may not be challenging for any titles but keep your eye on this girl. Her partner Joey Haynes rides a number for her; you might remember him as the guy who got into fisticuffs with William Buick in November last year.
As for the more established trainers Charlie Appleby is a favourite of mine and he once again appears to have a number of very nice horses down at Moulton Paddocks even with the likes of Pinatubo and Ghaiyyath retired. He had a 28% strike-rate last year with 86 wins from 296 runs. Nowhere near as busy as some of his rivals it is more a case of quality above quantity with this guy and he will be collecting some big pots again in 2021. He is yet to win either of the Guineas and he has a few that he will be plotting campaigns for this year that might have a chance. The other Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor had 39 wins from 259 runs at 15% strike-rate in 2020 which was notably down on 2019 and leaving him 33rd in the Trainers Table. He will be looking to improve on that this year you can be sure but he has been in the shadow of Appleby for a while now. Far from resting on his laurels having been crowned Champion Trainer for the third year running and fifth time in all, John Gosden will have been hatching plans for the new campaign. He amassed over £3 million in prize-money last year, nice work if you can get it, but with a couple of stable stars retired, such as Enable, will be looking for a new flagbearer in 2021. He will be somewhere near to top of the table again in 2020 you can be sure of that.
Aidan O’Brien has a host of classic contenders yet again and you know that plenty of midnight oil will have been burnt down at Ballydoyle, Co. Tipperary mapping out three-year-old campaigns. To give you an idea of the firepower he usually has for the big races last he won £2.4 million in prize-money placing him second to Gosden in the trainer's table in the UK with just 13 wins! I’ve said it before and I'll say it again always note his runners at Chester where the yard has an outstanding strike-rate. I’ve said the following before and it is worth saying again William Haggas is consistently towards the top of the table (fifth in 2020) and has a pretty decent looking team at Somerville Lodge yet again if no world-beater. He is unlikely to be Champion Trainer but the Old Harrovian knows a trick or two and will be amongst the top Trainers again in 2021 aiming for around 150 winners in the calendar year. Andrew Balding was fourth in the Trainers table in 2020 and will be doing his thing at his base in Kingsclere. King Power Racing supply him some of his best ones such as Beat Bank and Shine So Bright and with the Queen and Qatar Racing also on his list of owners he has the right connections! Mark Johnston continued to do what he does, sending out winner after winner and even in a season in which we lost countless meetings, he managed 169 wins from 1,274 runs; an incredible effort. ‘Always Trying’ is the yard motto and you certainly couldn’t accuse the Scotsman of being lazy! The Master of Kingsley Park in Middleham North Yorkshire has been as active on the All-Weather already, and all being well without meetings having to be cancelled left, right and centre they will be aiming for 200+ winners in 2021 no doubt. It must be something in the Yorkshire air as about an hour away by car in Musley Bank Richard Fahey is another who loves a runner, and a winner. He had 120 wins from 1,263 runs and though you can’t back either yards runners blindly they are two trainers you simply have to keep an eye on as when their yards hit form, they have winners galore. Down in Marlborough, Wiltshire Richard Hannon was taking it easy compared to the two above with just 1,120 runs in 2020 from which he achieved 114 wins. He doesn’t quite have the quality the likes of Appleby, O’Brien and Gosden do but he remains a shrewd operator who will win his fair share again in 2021.
Archie Watson is a trainer I have talked of a bit over the last couple of years and he had another good year to follow-up his best yet in 2019 when he ended the calendar year on a P.B. of 133 winners. To have 71 winners from 440 runs at a strike-rate of 16% in the season that was 2020 was impressive. I always have an eye out for anything he sends out from his historic Saxon Gate yard in Upper Lambourn and you should also. Sir Michael Stoute doesn’t perhaps have the horses to go to work with that he once did but still raked in over a million in prize-money last year running at a strike-rate of 20%. He has a 38% strike-rate at Newcastle so any he sends up there are worth more than a second look. Roger Varian has had a couple of better years and the loss of Defoe would have hurt. Daahyeh and Qabala are two he will no doubt be looking forward to running this season. He has a cracking strike-rate at Bath for some reason, must be something in the water. Charlie Hills will have been planning a campaign for Battaash again over the winter, though that campaign almost plans itself truth be told. He doesn’t appear to have any world-beaters for 2021 barring his stable star but he’ll be picking up some decent races you expect with three or four above average older horses down at Wetherdown House.
Michael Appleby is always worth looking for early in the year with his All-Weather runners as is Tony Carroll.
28th February 2021 update: Late additions to the Trainer roster for 2021 are Darryll Holland and Kieren Fallon. Holland has purchased Harraton Court stables, the former base of Royal Ascot-winning trainer Hugh Collingridge, and brought Fallon in as his assistant to help run the 50-box yard. "We've got a mixture of horses and hopefully we'll kick off with about 20," said Holland. "We've got plenty of potential owners on board and I can’t wait for the breeze-ups so we can go and source some more nice stock." Cieren Fallon is expected to get a number of the rides, his commitments with Qatar Racing allowing, along with Frankie Dettori it would appear "Frankie did us a really nice video with a good luck message," said Holland "He's been a pal of mine for years and I sat next to him in the weighing room when I was in the UK. I've told him I won't put him on any slow ones, only the 4-5 shots!"
You can find out more on the rather swish website: https://www.harratoncourtstables.co.uk/
list of the websites of various Trainers and some owners worth keeping an eye on include:
Al Shaqab Racing: http://www.alshaqabracing.com
Qatar Racing: https://www.qatarracingltd.com/
George Scott: http://www.georgescottracing.com/home.htm
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/
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: https://www.clivecox.com/
James Tate: http://www.jamestateracing.com/
Martyn Meade: http://www.martynmeaderacing.com/
James Fanshawe: http://www.jamesfanshawe.com/
Archie Watson: http://www.archiewatsonracing.com/
Tom Dascombe: https://www.manorhousestables.com
Marcus Tregoning: http://marcustregoningracing.co.uk/
Charlie Hills: https://charleshills.com/