Follow Ludlow’s leading lights for optimal performance
Shropshire and its surrounds are flying high presently, with trainers from the Marches well represented in the Trainers’ Championship. Trainers large and small have been over-delivering, making our county a centre of excellence for the sport of which Ludlow can be rightly proud.
Aspirant racing trainers should look to the best in the business and aim to discover what helped them get to where they are. Obvious choices are Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson, but there are alternatives. Each of the following key figures in the racehorse training ranks has a slightly different strategy, and aspiring trainers should choose the approach that fits best with their circumstances.
Henry Daly is a highly regarded racehorse trainer based in the area, operating from his yard near Ludlow. Throughout his career, Daly has trained a significant number of winners at some of the UK’s largest racecourses, including the King George VI Chase. Some of his notable horses include No Larking About and Saddlers Hall, both of which were well known in racing circles during their prime.
More recently, Hillcrest won two graded Novice Hurdles last season, but to date, big winners have proved elusive in the current season. Daly currently sits 42nd in the Trainers’ rankings.
Daly is widely recognized for his thorough attention to detail and extensive knowledge of horse anatomy and physiology. Given his success, he is remarkably self-effacing, treating each winner as if he’s amazed the plan came off, and this modest approach has won a loyal following of owners.
A pupil of the late Captain Tim Forster, his pessimistic attitude is an adopted viewpoint from his former mentor and is often well-placed. Owners need be under no illusion that the path to success will be a hard one, and therefore the winners when achieved are that much sweeter.
Venetia is a stable in fine form this season, with a clutch of big race winners and prize money heading for ┬ú1m. Even without L’Homme Presse in the Gold Cup, she still has a worthy second string in Royal Pagaille. And although she hails from neighbouring Herefordshire, Venetia Williams is no less successful for it. Quick Wave’s recent winner in Haydock’s Grand National Trial for longstanding owner Barry Hurley puts her in contention for the country’s biggest handicap, chasing down a second winner to follow up Mon Mome.
She is recognized for her ground-breaking and unconventional training methods, which have brought her numerous victories at big races such as at the Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National Meeting.
One of the main aspects of her innovative approach is cross training. Williams uses this to help her horses improve their overall fitness and performance. This involves introducing a mixture of activities like swimming, jumping, and hill work into the horse’s routine. This can improve its balance, strength, and endurance.
Another key feature of WilliamsÔÇÖ routine is mental training. Williams uses techniques such as positive reinforcement and visualization to help her horses perform at their best. She believes that a horse’s mental state is just as important as its physical fitness. Self-belief is a core component of the success of athletes both human and equine – one of the reasons why stables in form often produce winners from unfancied runners. Success infects the yard with confidence not limited to the humans.
Kerry Lee took over the successful yard of her father Richard, and has some remarkable achievements for a modest-sized yard. She has trained several horses to victory in televised races like at Cheltenham – albeit not yet the Festival – and a memorable Welsh Grand National with Mountainous in 2016.
Lee is renowned for her ability to develop strong relationships with her horses. The luxury, or one might argue the imperative, in smaller yards is a bespoke training regime to fit the individual.
The yard may only have won 14 races this term, but a 19% strike rate matches the best in the business, and over 60% of her runners reach the frame – a sign of good placement.
The Scudamore name has been much in the news this past week following brother Tom’s retirement from the saddle with just shy of 1,500 domestic winners, putting him up there in the pantheon of our best ever riders.
Michael Scudamore is another huge name in a business where the name Scudamore represents a dynasty of racing legends. He has carried on the family legacy by training a number of winners at top-level races, including Next Sensation in the Grand Annual at the Cheltenham Festival, ridden by his brother. Scudamore’s success can be attributed to his strong work ethic and his profound understanding of horse physiology and racing strategy.
Scudamore designs his training around race planning and maximising the horseÔÇÖs chances of success on any surface. He also puts a heavy focus on jockey selection, choosing the best rider for each horse and each race. Another important aspect is race simulation, which allows him to practice different race strategies and improve techniques before the real thing.
Success at the Cheltenham Festival is a crucial benchmark for any trainer. All of the aforementioned trainers bar Kerry Lee have recorded victories at this prestigious March championships, showcasing their training abilities and helping to affirm themselves as some of the best of class in the business.
Cheltenham attracts a lot of attention worldwide, and the Festival is one of the biggest betting events on the annual racing calendar. Indeed, many sites use the Festival as a chance to attract players, and usually do so with their Cheltenham betting offers. These include free bets after you have placed an initial wager, and deposit match bonuses up to a certain value. This means that a lot of eyes are on the races at Cheltenham, and itÔÇÖs a prime opportunity for trainers to get worldwide acknowledgement. During a recent visit to Australia, I was fascinated to see that there was keen interest in the Cheltenham showpiece, despite the 10,000 miles between the two jurisdictions.
Some notable horses taught by these experts include Native River trained by Kerry Lee, who won the 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup. There was also WilliamsÔÇÖ Mon Mome, who won the Grand National in 2009 despite starting the race at 100/1. These horses and their trainers’ successes serve as a testament to the skills and expertise of trainers in the surrounds of Ludlow.
In racing terms, Ludlow could easily be seen as a backwater; we don’t profess to be a Grade 1 track after all. Yet time and again, trainers from the area lead the rankings at the Bromfield course, and extend that expertise far and wide too. It’s clear that the Welsh Marches are one of the countryÔÇÖs hotbeds for talented racehorse trainers who know how to get the best out of their animals.
These trainers provide valuable insights and inspiration for people who want to follow in their footsteps, thanks to their victories at high profile fixtures like next month’s Cheltenham Festival. Whether you aspire to become a racehorse trainer or simply enjoy the sport, it is worth exploring the careers of these professionals and learning from their experience.
You can never say never when it comes to a horse from any of our four unique handlers.