Thomas David Barron, usually known as David, is based in the village of Maunby, midway between Northallerton and Thirsk, in North Yorkshire. Barron, 72, has held a training licence since 1969 and is known as masterful trainer of sprinters. In fact, he has saddled the winner of all the major sprint handicaps, including the Great St. Wilfrid Stakes at Redcar, the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood (twice), the Portland Handicap at Doncaster (twice), the Victoria Cup at Ascot and the Ayr Gold Cup.
Perhaps his most famous horse was Coastal Bluff, a giant grey gelding who, in 1996, won the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood by 3 lengths and followed up, off a 13lb higher mark, in the Ayr Gold Cup seven weeks later. Barron is a shrewd operator, not averse to gambling, but on the latter occasion Coastal Bluff was the subject of a nationwide gamble, forcing his starting price down to 3/1 favourite, despite facing 27 rivals under 9st 10lb. William Hill spokesman David Hood said afterwards, “The race was the biggest gamble of the season so far, bar none. He was everybody’s banker. You will be hard pressed to find a punter anywhere in the country who wasn't on Coastal Bluff.”
The following season, Coastal Bluff dead-heated with Ya Malak in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York, a performance made all the more remarkable by the fact that his bit snapped shortly after leaving the stalls. In 1998, Coastal Bluff ran unplaced in the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket and the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot and would have been retired if Barron had had his way. However, majority shareholder David Sharp opted for the Newmarket Autumn Sales to dissolve his partnership with Barron and Coastal Bluff was sold, controversially, for 17,000 guineas. A tearful Barron said, “This is a dreadful day. I just can’t afford to pay that sort of money to retire a horse, but I would have given my share to the other owner if he had promised not to race him again.”
Barron has won the Two Year Old Trophy at Redcar twice, with Dim Sums in 2000 and Wick Powell in 2016. More recently, his stable star was Pearl Secret, winner of seven of her 26 starts, including the Temple Stakes at Haydock in 2015, and over £242,000 in total prize money. Of course, Barron is not just a trainer of sprinters; other notable successes for the yard over a mile and beyond include the Lincoln at Doncaster, the Zetland Gold Cup at Redcar (twice) and the John Smith’s Cup at York.