Thursday 12 January 2017

Archie Watson: Lambourn Wunderkind

The first thing to say about Archie Watson is that, at the time of writing, exactly two months into 2018, he is the leading Flat trainer in Britain, with 15 winners and £130,493 in total prize money. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, though, after Watson saddled 56 winners and amassed £458,985 in total prize money in an extraordinary first full season with a training licence in 2017.

Towards the end of 2017, he told At The Races, “The all-weather really suits my horses. I don’t know if it’s something to do with the way we train, but it benefits strong travelling types that like to sit close to the lead and I have quite a few of them.” In 2018, so far, he has a strike rate of 28% overall on the all-weather, which includes a dismal 0-9 on the Fibresand at Southwell, so he seems to have a point.

Highlights of his fledgling career, so far, have been wins for Absolute Blast in the Betfred Mobile Magnolia Stakes at Kempton in April and Petite Jack in the Betway Quebec Stakes at Lingfield in December. Brandon Castle, a 5-year-old gelding by Dylan Thomas, whom he acquired from North Yorkshire trainer Simon West in July, also paid his way, winning five handicaps before a rather ambitious tilt at the Prix Royal-Oak at Saint-Cloud in October. Corinthian Knight could only finish fourth behind Declaration on his trip to Del Mar for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in November, but collected the best part of £10,000 for his trouble. The 3-year-old son of Society Rock was clearly none the worse for his exertions, either, winning both starts so far in 2018.

Watson, 28, bought Saxon House Stables, in Upper Lambourn, Berkshire – once the base of the celebrated Fulke Walwyn – in 2016. He said at the time, “We have bought the yard which gives us a sense of prominence and shows we mean business. Hopefully we will be here for years to come.”

Watson also said on his website, “I have been incredibly fortunate to have worked with some of the foremost names in the industry both at home and abroad and now intend to put that experience to good use in launching my own training career. The “foremost names” to which he refers include Simon Callaghan, son of former Newmarket trainer Neville, at Santa Anita Park, California, Alec Laird, for whom he ran a satellite yard in Durban, South Africa for two seasons and William Haggas, to whom he was assistant trainer at Somerville Lodge, Newmarket.