We have had our last runner for 2018 and it seemed as good a time as any to review the year. Bianca Minola acquitted herself adequately on Tuesday. If she progressed and got slicker and fitter we could be on to something.
We had 16 winners (14 Irish flat, 1 UK, 1 NH). This time last year I think I’d have taken that. The concern from ’17 was we had 4 horses win 11 races and that wasn’t going to happen again. I would have hated to have taken a step backwards.The entire year has been challenging but from mid September onwards especially so. The stalwarts that were winning to July end didn’t keep doing so. Sales, ground, busy campaigns and the handicapper responsible to different degrees. We had 3 different new horses beaten a combined neck in August and then we were heavy with unraced 2 year olds. No mysteries with hindsight but when you’re going through it, it’s challenging. We ran a few 2 year olds that we can be optimistic about for 2019 and thankfully had a 2 year old winner late in the day.
Over 700k worth of horses have been sold from the yard this year. That has been a bit of a surprise and an important angle to focus on going forward. Lots of money flying around but I’m still breaking stones!We are heading into our 3rd year and this has to start making sense financially sooner rather than later. That’s not a comment on the industry or the climate or programme just the difficulty of trying to get a burgeoning business to find it’s feet. The investment that goes into developing your own private facility would make you question the wisdom of setting up outside the big training centres. Pros and cons I suppose but that move from public to private a la JSB seems eminently sensible.
The horses are the stars and the day to day focus. They need to be sound of wind and limb, resolute and well handicapped. It’s as simple as that.The good trainer/bad trainer narrative perpetuated by the racing media and now on social media is a bit overstated. Sourcing horses with an angle is a massive part of being succesful and one not to lose sight of. I have loved getting to know owners, their families, their friends and sharing the ride with them. You meet some wonderful people that you instantly click with and of course you come in contact with those that are hardwork from the get go. Thankfully they are few and far between. Compatibility is key.
Getting, affording and keeping good staff has been the toughest side of the last 2 years. I’m failing in this regard. You get used to a system that’s entirely dependent on yourself and upscaling is a challenge as a result. I’m focused on getting this right as we speak.