Saturday 3 February 2024

Jane Chapple-Hyam


Australian-born Jane Chapple-Hyam is the former wife of trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam, to whom she was married for 18 years. However, with her marriage coming to an end, she decided, in her own words to 'give it [training] a go myself.'

Chapple-Hyam had studied stud management at the National Stud in Newmarket as a teenager and worked for trainers Michael Dickinson and Barry Hills – employed by her late step-father, Robert Sangster – at Manton, Wiltshire, as well as alongside her former husband. Nevertheless, she effectively started again, from scratch, when she took out a training licence in her own right in 2005.

Chapple-Hyam saddled her first winner, Chief Commander, at Wolverhampton in January, 2006. The following August she made history by saddling the longest-priced winner in the history on the Ebor at York, Mudawin, at 100/1. His £124,640 winning prize money remains her biggest payday to date. She won her first Pattern race, the Group 3 Horris Hill Stakes at Newbury in 2010 and, in 2012, 2013 and 2014, recorded three more Group 3 wins, courtesy of Mull of Killough. Indeed, Mull of Killough contested as series of races in Australia, including the Group 1 Cox Plate at Moonee Valley, in 2013.

Nowadays, Chapple-Hyam operates what has been described as 'boutique' stable of 30 or so horses in Dalham, near Newmarket. Her current stable star in undoubtedly the filly Safforn Beat, who won the Oh So Sharp Stakes at Newmarket in 2020 and subsequently finished second in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket.

Monday 15 January 2024

Jedd O’Keeffe: Staying Power

John Eamon Declan Dunderdale O’Keefe, known universally as Jedd, is in the enviable position of training Sam Spinner, who is currently 5/1 favourite for the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2018. Bought for 12,000 guineas as a 3-year-old, the son of Black Sam Bellamy has won five of his seven races over hurdles including, most recently, the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot, and amassed over £142,000 in total prize money. O’Keefe said recently, “It’s very exciting for all of us in a small stable to have a real star, and I’m really grateful it’s happening as it is.”

Of course, O’Keeffe is no stranger to the winners’ enclosure, having saddled 148 winners on the Flat and 36 winners over Jumps in his career to date but, with a few obvious exceptions, has lacked the firepower to make much of an impact at the major meetings. Sam Spinner aside, the highlights of his career, so far, were the victories of Shared Equity in the Coral Sprint Trophy at York in 2015, More Mischief in the Betfred Mobile/EBF Hoppings Stakes at Newcastle in June, 2017 and Lord Yeats in the Betfred Fred Archer Stakes at Newmarket the following month.

O’Keefe served an eight-year apprentice, as pupil assistant, travelling head lad and assistant trainer to Micky Hammond, before applying for a training licence in his own right. He moved into Highbeck Lodge and Stables, which is part of the Brecongill Estate, in Coverdale, in the extreme east of the Yorkshire Dales, North Yorkshire in 2000. At that time he had just three horses – the minimum number allowed by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) – but saddled his first winner, Route Sixty Six, in a novices’ hurdle at Musselburgh the following January. From small beginnings, by honest, old-fashioned hard work, O’Keefe gradually increased his number of horses in training, to an average of 20 or so over the last decade.

In 2011, O’Keefe underwent an intensive course of treatment for throat cancer and although he recovered, his business very nearly did not. He later recalled, “Though I’d finished the treatment, I was still very ill, and needed staff to cover. With the cost of all that, and the financial crisis, we felt we couldn’t go any further, and rang the owners to say we were giving up.” Thankfully, he did not and now, with Sam Spinner just one of 45 horses in his yard, can hopefully look forward to a happy, healthy and profitable future.

Saturday 4 November 2023

Horse Trainers: Creatures of Habit

I imagine if some trainers read this article they will be offended by being called a ‘creatures’. It’s not meant in a derogatory term. I like thoroughbred horse trainers from the smallest to the biggest stable. OK, I like the smaller stables a little better because I’m always rooting for the underdog. It’s a British thing, hey.

Anyway, whether creature or not, I respect your effort to train horses to win races. It can’t be an easy task.

In fact, I don’t think any armchair jockey, trainer or coach potato appreciates how difficult it must be to train a winner.

I really need a quote from a trainer here to hammer this point home.

I wonder what John Gosden would say?

‘It’s easy!’

Yes, that was my attempt at humour. I bet every trainer, at some point in their career, has felt the pressure of finding winners.

However, trainers are creatures of habit. It’s hardly surprising because we all have our own way of working. It’s human nature, if not the human condition.

I have researched two-year-old horse racing for decades. To be fair it is more like 30-years, so I consider myself knowledgable. And digging into the data for each and every trainer it’s surprising what you can uncover. If you have enough data you can see the peaks and troughs of a trainer’s season. There is a distinct pattern to how they work. This isn’t something that happens by luck or coincidence.

It is planned.

For example, if you look at a given trainer they may have all their debut winners in three months of the season. Some have 50% of all debut winners in one month. It’s often the same when you consider the starting price (SP) of many winners for an individual horse trainer. Some never, ever, have a horse win at speculative priced odds. In fact, some have never had a winner bigger than 5/1. This isn’t because the sample is small. Far from it. If you assessed this data by a statistical criterion it would be detailed as significant. That is pretty much a fact.

These two points are just the tip of the iceberg.

You will see pattern after pattern which shows why some horses win and others lose.

‘But what does this tell us?’

It very much indicates that winning is intentional. Now, you may be thinking surely every trainer is trying to win all the time. This simply isn’t true. There are times when the trainer doesn’t believe their horse is going to win. They aren’t primed to win. While there are other times when they are confident they have a live chance. This doesn’t mean that every horse that goes to the course with confidence will win. Other trainers may have exactly the same idea.

But there is a habitual way trainers work from the horses they buy, how they are trained, the intricacies of this working and how this may reflect in the betting of a horse whether winner or loser.

Learn the habits of a horse trainer and you will be a lot closer to finding a winner.

Those creatures of habit!