Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Charlie Mann

Charlie Mann
Born in Dumfries in 1958, Charlie Mann was a highly competent National Hunt jockey, riding 149 winners, mainly for Jenny Pitman Nicky Henderson, in a 15-year career, before forcibly retired through injury. He later admitted, “I never wanted to train horses and after breaking my neck in 1989, I tried various other things and discovered fairly quickly I was not qualified for any of them. For three or four years I tried to scratch a living via a trading company.”

Man subsequently spent a year as assistant trainer to Cath Walwyn, widow of the legendary Fulke Walwyn, before taking out a training licence in his own right in August 1993. Mann famously trained, and rode, It’s a Snip, the winner of the Velka Pardubicka – the famous cross-country steeplechase – at Pardubice in the Czech Republic in October 1995. Less than a week later, he saddled his first high-profile winner on home soil, General Rusty, ridden by Richard Dunwoody in the Charisma Gold Cup at Kempton.

In 1998, Mann bought Whitcoombe Stables, situated at the foot of the Mandown Gallops in Upper Lambourn, near Hungerford, Berkshire. The following year, he saddled his first Grade 1 winner, Celibate, in the BMW Chase at Punchestown.

In 2000/01, Mann enjoyed success in several major televised races, including victories for Moral Support in the Tote John Hughes Chase at Chepstow and Regal Holly in the William Hill Handicap Hurdle at Ascot, to name but two. In the season as a whole, he saddled 43 winners, making it his second most successful ever, numerically.

His best seasonal tally, numerically, came in 2008/09, the year in which he saddled his second Grade 1 winner, Air Force One, in the Ellier Developments Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown. Other highlights included a notable double for Katies Tuitor in the totescoop6 Summer Hurdle Handicap and 32Red Online Casino Handicap Hurdle, both at Market Rasen, and the victory of Gauvain in the Kilbrittain Castle Novices’ Chase at Sandown. All in all, that season Mann saddled 63 winners and earned just under £641,000 in total prize money.

In 2012, after 14 years at Whitcoombe House Stables, Mann sold the establishment to fellow trainer Jonathan Portman and relocated to a new, purpose-built yard at Neardown Stables, less than a mile away across Upper Lambourn. At that point, he pruned the deadwood from his string and although he has found winners harder to come by in recent years his career total still stands at over 800.

Exclusive: For an affordable opportunity to spend a day with Charlie Mann, including a Question & Answer Session and time on the gallops where a training session will be taking place follow the appropriate link below:

Charlie Mann Trainer Experience for One


Charlie Mann Trainer Experience For Two

Monday, 12 November 2018

Harry Whittington: How do you Like Them Apples?

Harry Whittington
Harry Whittington is based at Hill Barn Stables in Sparsholt Firs, near Wantage, Oxfordshire, where he has held a training licence since 2010. However, Whittington cut his teeth under experienced breeze-up consigner Malcolm Bastard before setting up his own pre-training business at Hill Barn Stables, which he subsequently operated as a satellite yard for Upper Lambourn trainer Nicky Henderson.

Whittington officially saddled his first winner, Mount Benger, in a hunters’ chase at Huntingdon in February, 2011, but his training career began in earnest in September, 2012, when he launched Harry Whittington Racing with just five horses. In the 2012/13 season, he saddled just 15 runners, but recorded three winners, the undisputed highlight of which was the debutant Dubai Kiss, who belied his 50/1 starting price to easily win a National Hunt Flat Race at Newbury in February.

Whittington saddled his first Grade 1 winner, Arzal, in the Merseyrail Manifesto Novices’ Chase at Aintree – a race in which Sizing John, the winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2017, could finish only third, beaten 24 lengths – in April, 2016. In fact, the 2015/16 season was the best, so far, in his short career, with 21 winners and £215,762 in total prize money. By contrast, the yard spent much of the 2016/17 in the doldrums, with just 13 winners from 118 runners, at a strike rate of just 11%, and just £105, 152 in total prize money.
Of course, any trainer is only ever as good as the horses in his charge and, in 2017/18, Whittington has bounced back and is well on the way to having his best season ever, numerically and monetarily. At the time of writing, on the eve of the Cheltenham Festival in March, 2018, he has already saddled 25 winners – that is, two more than ever before – and earned £189,890 in total prize money.

Vinnie Lewis, who was raised 14lb in the weights for winning by 14 lengths, eased down, on his previous start at Sedgefield, won the Sussex National at Plumpton in January. However, his stable star is, undoubtedly, Saint Calvados, whom he acquired from Venetia Williams on Boxing Day, 2017. The progressive 5-year-old is 3-3 over fences and, not for the first time, jumped like an old hand when strolling clear for an impressive 22-length victory in the Kingmaker Novices’ Chase at Warwick on his most recent start in February. Saint Calvados is due to run in the Arkle Challenge Trophy, for which he is 3/1 second favourite, at the Cheltenham Festival this very afternoon.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Horse Trainers and the Grand National - The Story of the Stats

Let's take a brief time out from the individual horse trainer bios for a moment and instead take a look at trainers in relation to their performance in the Grand National. We can then look to how this might translate into their prospects in the fast approaching 2019 race.

 When taking a look at trainers in relation to their Grand National record, it makes sense to start with the prolific Paul Nicholls on account that he's had an impressive 60 runners in the Grand National. That being the case he's only had one winner (and six placed) in this prestigious event so doesn't exactly have an enviable record. A trainer like Nigel Twiston-Davies has a little more substance to his Grand National credentials, with 41 runners and two winners (and three places).

In truth, no trainer in modern times has truly taken the Grand National by the scruff of the neck. There are just too many variables and participants to develop any level of consistency in the event no matter what they throw at it. Of course 'back in the day' things were different, Vincent O’Brien trained three successive winners - Early Mist (1953), Royal Tan (1954) and Quare Times (1955). All different horses too! If we're operating a pure numbers game, Fred Rimell and George Dockeray both hold the accolade of training four winners a piece, with Rimell winning with ESB (1956), Nicolaus Silver (1961), Gay Trip (1970) and Rag Trade (1976) and Dockeray with Lottery (1839), Jerry (1840), Gaylad (1842) and Miss Mowbray (1852). Ginger McCain won four times too, but with two horses, Red Rum (in 1973, 74 and 77) and Amberleigh House (2004).

So where does this leave us with the Grand National 2019 in mind? Well, in going by the stats we can say that George Elliot with a win and a place from just 13 runners, appears to have a more precise approach to the Grand National than some. Buoyed from last year's win on Tiger Roll - owned by Gigginstown House Stud (no strangers to winning) - I very much doubt they'll be able to resist the opportunity to for their horse to become the first back to back winner since Red Rum.

Willie Mullins is one to watch in 2019 too. It's been something of a slow burn for Mullins since he managed to win the Grand National with Hedgehunter in 2005, however many have an eye on Total Recall for the 2019 Aintree Grand National race. A Ladbrokes Gold Cup Trophy win in 2017 may provide a little confidence, and although his 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup effort suggests that he wasn't the finished article on the day, 2019 could be his year.

Last but not least, the aforementioned Nigel Twiston-Davies will be looking to make it win number three too (to add to his 1998 and 2002 wins). His entry, Blaklion, was favoured to do well in the 2018 race and was very unfortunate to fall at the first. We do have the 2017 win in the Becher Chase to offer a bit of reassurance. It's a demonstration that he's more than capable over the Aintree course and its jumps.