Wednesday, October 18, 2017
It is no secret that although we've been fortunate to send out many winners since we started training just over two years ago, we have been waiting to find a really good horse. They are desperately hard to find. I'm pleased to say we've found one.
Not many people will have been watching the second race at Kempton on Wednesday but I certainly was because I dashed from Tattersalls hoping to see Glendevon do something special for his owners Dave Campbell and Danny Waters in the novice race. He didn't let us down.
For the first time I have a horse being quoted by bookmakers for a Classic. Ladbrokes make Glendevon only a 20-1 chance for the 2,000 Guineas. That's pretty exciting.
This is the first horse I've trained who has turned people's heads, yet he almost came to us by accident. Dave, Danny and I were at the Deauville breeze-up earlier this year and had just managed to fight off some Australians for George Of Hearts, who recently made a really encouraging debut at Newbury.
After the boys had gone for a celebratory drink Glendevon went through the ring. We hadn't had him on our list as he's by Scat Daddy, so we felt he would cost too much money. We were wrong. We bought him for a fair price. We're very pleased we did.
From day one at home he always had bundles of energy. Our job was to channel the energy in the right way. The more work we gave him the more he started to behave, except for one scary June morning in Lambourn.
Fisher's Hill is a very steep gallop. At the top of it Glendevon whipped round, got rid of his jockey and then galloped riderless down the grass by the side of the gallop.
I have never seen a horse move so fast down a hill. Lizzie was in the car with me and said the same. Unfortunately, this was during the heatwave and the ground was rock hard, so aside from being taken aback by his speed, I was petrified he was going to injure himself or even worse.
Normally, when this sort of thing happens, the good horses get injured. The bad ones seems to escape all harm. For that reason when we caught him and saw he was absolutely fine, I chuckled to myself and said: "Ah well, he can't be that good, then."
Our initial feeling was he would need a mile but I wasn't comfortable running him that far first time out. Unsure about his trip, I decided to get on him myself one morning. I rode him in a gallop and immediately realised he has tremendous pace. Visually he has a big lolloping action. He covers a lot of the ground but he covers it very quickly.
On his introduction at Kempton he finished a promising second from a bad draw, coming home strongly up the straight. He went to the races that day a boy. He came back a man. The silliness disappeared and it dawned on him he is a racehorse.
Not long before that Kempton run I had spoken to Danny and Dave and told them that in this colt we could have something a bit different.
I probably shouldn't have done that, as it sets yourself up for failure, but I tend to tell people what I think, good or bad. Sometimes you're right, sometimes you're wrong. I trained a lovely big colt last year who I thought was very good but failed to run to expectations first time out. We lost the owner's horses after that but it transpired the horse really wasn't as good as I had believed.
On Wednesday night I was nervous. Throughout my riding career I never so much as got a butterfly.
I remember being in the weighing room before partnering Simenon in the 2013 Melbourne Cup. As Ryan Moore and I were tieing our caps I let out a big yawn. Ryan laughed at me. Yawning is quite a catchy thing and after I yawned so did Ryan. We then both burst out laughing. I'll never forget that. It was as if it escaped us we were about to take part in one of the biggest and most valuable races in the world.
This was only a Kempton novice race, light years away from a Melbourne Cup, yet in the moments before it I felt as though I was going to be sick. I had that same sinking feeling in my stomach you have when you look in your rear view mirror whilst driving and see a police car with its blue light flashing.
It was as if I feared this dream was going to die. The dreams often do die. I know more than anyone horses can make fools of us. Not this horse on this day, though. I was made to feel very proud of him.
There aren't many horses who take your eye as much as Glendevon did at Kempton.
From the furlong pole to the line it seemed like he was in the air more than he was on the ground. Jamie Spencer said when he dropped his hands after the line the horse carried on at the same speed. Normally when you stop riding on a horse at the winning post it feels the same as when you take your foot off the gas in a car and the revs suddenly drop.
Where his future lies I'm not so sure, because I'm also not so sure we'll be able to keep him in the yard for much longer.
He belongs to two great guys. Danny has been with me since I started training. He has had a few disappointing horses but he stuck with me. I'm sure he must have had doubts about whether he was wise continuing to invest in Richard Hughes - and I actually had doubts myself when things weren't going well - so I'm indebted to him and my other owners for keeping the faith. Danny also introduced Dave to me and assured he is a very lucky guy. He was right!
The lads are now bound to receive offers for Glendevon. Every horse has a price, but that horse probably only has the price once in his career. When an offer comes along that would be silly to refuse, you really shouldn't refuse it. With the right sale the lads will be able to reinvest for free for the next three years.
I would obviously prefer to keep Glendevon in the yard but it's not my decision and, most importantly, I have to do what's best for my owners and advise them accordingly. That's what I'll be doing.
What pleases me most is we have found a good horse.
In 2016 a total of 2,974 individual two-year-olds raced in Britain. That's a lot of two-year-olds.
Moreover, only a tiny percentage of horses at any time are rated over 100.
When you consider that I have run only just over 50 two-year-olds in my training career so far, with most of them bought for working men's prices, you can see the chance of a normal trainer finding a top-notch performer is slim.
In Glendevon, though, it looks as though we may have found one.
With 34 runners, the Betfred Cesarewitch (3.40) takes some winning. It also takes some riding.
You need a lot of luck.
The main aim of a jockey is to follow a couple of horses who can take you to the half-mile pole. You want to be buried and saving ground.
However, if you are racing in mid-division you desperately hope you're not tracking a couple of yokes. That's because horses start dropping back in the Cesarewitch from as far back as a mile out. If you get stuck behind one it can be curtains to your chance.
We're represented in the race with Getback In Paris. I can't deny we would have preferred his most recent run to have been positive. Looking for an excuse, I don't think he properly acted on the heavy ground at Haydock. The odd thing is he has won on heavy ground but Haydock ground can be quite different to anywhere else.
He will give his owners a decent day out and I hope he can run well.
At Punchestown on Thursday some great former jockeys, including Paul Carberry, Mick Kinane and Charlie Swan, will be returning to the weighing room before taking part in the charity race being staged as part of the John Shortt Legends Day.
John was a legend himself, a super jockey, a great fella and widely liked. Tragically he was taken from this year aged just 53. On Thursday many of his friends will be trying to raise money to build a house for John's family.
There's an auction taking place with some fantastic lots. Do support it if you can.