Warren Greatrex really gave notice of his arrival in the training ranks when notching 43 winners and over £250,000 in prize money last season and the signs are even more encouraging this term with 20 winners already through the door at the historic Uplands yard in Upper Lambourn.
The current stable star Cole Harden went close to providing Greatrex with a first Grade 1 winner in the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree in April and Paint The Clouds could well be pressing for major honours in the Foxhunters Chase at Cheltenham come March.
Greatrex obtained his trainer’s licence and moved into Weathercock House in August 2009. Previously he was assistant to Oliver Sherwood for six years where he gained valuable experience. “It’s not all down to me,” said Greatrex. “Scott Salked a friend of mine discuss the entries. “It’s another set of eyes. Trainers believe their horses are unbeatable. He’s a form man and it just helps.
“A trainer often goes with his heart. I was once told you should run for a reason. Horses only have a number of runs in them each season.”
Greatrex’s achievements have not gone unnoticed with the high rollers of the game - JP McManus and Harry Redknapp now have horses with him. Such is the former jump jockey’s popularity his numbers have doubled from last season to 70 and he is full up at his historic yard.
Greatrex, who grew up on a Dartmoor farm, also attributes his rocketing success to his wife Tessa, an agent with Highflyer Bloodstock, who buys the majority of his horses.
At 53, John Ferguson leads a double life. No, make that a treble life. Darley is the day job, being Sheik Mohammed’s bloodstock advisor for his giant Godolphin operation and he oversees it with unswerving pride.
Less well known is his chairmanship of a company named Falcon, created when Dubai briefly hit the financial buffers and existing to promote the country and support its ruler.
His other life is at Bloomfields, a few miles out of Newmarket but a million miles from its hectic roads and regimented gallops. Here, on a stunningly rural site he expanded beyond 100 acres by buying fields from adjacent farms, Ferguson is indulging his ambition to train jumpers.
He started “with no plan at all” but, three years in, this is a serious National Hunt operation.
Ferguson has 48 horses, two-thirds of them off the flat. They are trained on a six-furlong woodchip gallop, winding up an avenue of trees that might easily be in Chantilly, and a half-mile gallop of deep and testing sand. Ferguson is aware he was initially regarded with suspicion and apprehension by the jumps community. “There was a lot of chat, a lot of rumour, a lot of speculation that this was Sheikh Mohammed trying to take over jumps racing,” he says.
“The biggest single factor for me was when I went to the Derby Sale in Ireland in my first year. I could feel the eyes on me, the apprehension – but then I was outbid at €3,500 for a Beneficial gelding and everyone realised it was only me.”
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