Saturday 26 May 2018

Tim Vaughan: Patience is Power

tim vaughan
Tim Vaughan, a former chartered surveyor and, perhaps more pertinently, a former champion point-to-point rider, made a sluggish start to his training career. He saddled his first winner, Lonesome Man, in a novices’ handicap chase at Aintree in June, 2005 but, by the end of the 2006/07, his second season, had managed just two wins from 44 runners. In 2017, he gave an inkling of the shape of things to come by saddling 14 winners, but it wasn’t until he moved to Pant Wilkin Stables in Aberthin, near Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan in 2008 that he began his meteoric rise through the training ranks.

Vaughan saddled his first major winner, Helens Vision, in the Gerry Feilden Hurdle at Newbury in November that year, finishing the 2008/09 season with 55 winners and nearly £327,000 in total prize money. Remarkably, he fared better still in 2009/10, saddling 88 winners and earning nearly £448,000 in total prize money. In 2010/11, he exceeded £500,000 in total prize for the first time and did so again in 2011/12. In fact, in 2011/12, trainer Tim Vaughan saddled 102 winners and, at the age of 32, became the youngest of the current crop of National Hunt trainers to record 100 winners in a season.

He saddled his first Grade 1 winner, Saint Are, in the John Smith’s Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree in April, 2011 and within a month had saddled his second, Spirit Of Adjisa, in the Cathal Ryan Memorial Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown. In between times, he also won the Coral Scottish Grand National, worth over £100,000 to the winner, with Beshabar.

More recently, Vaughan has adopted a more patient approach, investing heavily in traditional National Hunt store horses or, in other words, young, untested horses bred specifically for jumping. He started to see the fruits of his labours in 2016/17, when he saddled 71 National Hunt winners and earned just over £478,000 in total prize money, over £200,000 more than the previous season.

One notable omission from his impressive CV until fairly recently was a winner, of any kind, at Cheltenham. Thankfully, he finally laid that bogey to rest with the victory of Master Dancer in a handicap hurdle on the Old Course in October, 2017. He said afterwards, “Knowing my record at Cheltenham it’s a bit of a surprise! It’s long overdue, but I’m delighted and it’s great for the staff at home as well.”

Sunday 6 May 2018

Gay Kelleway: Queen for a Day

gay kelleway
It’s just over thirty years since Gay Kelleway became the first, and only, female jockey to win a race at Royal Ascot. Gay, 53, remembers the occasion well, so well in fact, that her current training establishment, Queen Alexandra Stables, in the village of Exning, near Newmarket, Suffolk, is named after the race she won on Sprowston Boy all those years ago.

After a successful riding career, Gay took out a training licence in 1992 and saddled her first winner, Aberfoyle, in a handicap hurdle at Lingfield the following January. After brief spells at Charnwood Stables and, temporarily, at Eve Lodge Stables in Newmarket, Gay moved to the modern, but remote, Whitcombe Manor Stables in the heart of the Dorset countryside, where she remained until 1998. At that time, Gay took what appeared to be the next logical step when she moved her 40-strong string to Lingfield Park Racecourse, where she became the first resident trainer at the track.

Gay has long talked about relocating to France but, despite having placed her current historic yard on the market more than once in recent years, is apparently now “on the lookout for a 50-box yard here to have all the horses under one roof.” In the meantime, in 2017, with numbers on the increase, she expanded her Exning operation into nearby Newmarket by taking a barn at Red House Hill Stables on Hamilton Road to house an additional 12 horses.

Like her father, the late Paul Kelleway, Gay is a colourful, outspoken character. Unfortunately, she has also inherited the family trait of handling mainly modest horses, with the occasional sensational success thrown in. A recent example of the latter is Lightscameraction, 20/1 winner of the 3-Year-Old Sprint All-Weather Championships – worth £93, 375 to the winner – at Lingfield in 2015. Earlier in her career, Gay trained Vortex – an £18,000 ‘castoff’ from Michael Stoute – to win 17 of his 74 races for the yard and over £334,000 in win and place prize money between 2002 and 2008. In his penultimate season, as an 8-year-old, the Danehill gelding finished third in the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot under 9st 10lb at odds of 50/1.

All in all, in training career lasting just over 25 years, Gay has saddled roughly 600 winners. She has 30 horses in training at Queen Alexandra Stables, so three winners from 10 runners so far in 2018 is a perfectly reasonable rate of return from such a small string.
Once billed as “one of the most exciting and talented trainers of modern times”, Gay Kelleway should continue to keep her male counterparts on their toes.