Sunday 3 December 2017

Kevin Ryan: Golden Boy

Kevin Ryan has occupied Hambleton Lodge, Hambleton, Thirsk, North Yorkshire since being granted his training licence in 1998. Formerly an accomplished conditional jockey, Ryan spent six years as head lad to Jack Berry and a further four as assistant trainer to Richard Fahey before branching out on his own.

He saddled his first winner as a trainer in July, 1998, when Komlucky won an apprentice handicap at Catterick. Less than a year later, he won his first Group race, the Weatherbys Ireland Greenlands Stakes at the Curragh, with Eastern Purple.

In 2002, Ryan acquired Halmahera, labelled a ‘nearly horse’ after finishing second twice in the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood and once in the Wokingham Stakes for previous trainer Ian Balding. Nevertheless, the 6-year-old started favourite for the notoriously competitive Portland Handicap at Doncaster that year and duly obliged, finishing strongly to win by a short head. Halmahera returned to Town Moor to win the same race again in 2003, and again in 2004. Following his unprecedented third consecutive success, Ryan said of his veteran sprinter, “I bought him three years ago for someone else for 40,000 guineas, which was a lot of money for me at that stage in my career”, adding, “…but he looks cheap now”.

In 2005, Ryan saddled his first winner at the highest level, Amadeus Wolf in Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket, and wasted little time in adding his second, Palace Episode in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster, less than a month later. That season he amassed more than £1 million in total prize money for the first time. Further Group 1 success followed, with Desert Lord in the Prix De l’Abbaye de Longchamp in 2006.

In 2007, Ryan trained Advanced to win the Ayr Gold Cup – a race he has since won three more times, with our Jonathan in 2011, Captain Ramius in 2012 and Brando in 2016 – and saddled over 100 winners in a season for the first time. More recently, he has added to his Group 1 tally with Astaire in the Middle Park Stakes in 2013, The Grey Gatsby in the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly and the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown 2014 and Brando in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville in 2017.

All in all, Ryan, 51, has saddled 1,476 on the Flat, but we shouldn’t forget his occasional forays into National Hunt racing, which have produced 43 winners over the years. His 5-year-old Beyond The Clouds, for instance, is unbeaten in three starts over hurdles and reportedly heads to Aintree, where Graded company appears the next logical step.

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