Monday 23 July 2018

Micky Hammond: Two Careers in One

Former jump jockey Micky Hammond first started training at Tupgill Stables in Middleham, North Yorkshire in 1990. Reflecting on those early days, he once said,
“I had no yard, no horses and no owners, but all three arrived like magic”, later adding,
“I had a lot of confidence and I expected success.”

His confidence was not misplaced, either. He saddled his first winner under National Hunt Rules, Palmers Pride, in the autumn of 1990 and finished his “rookie” season with a record 31 winners and just over £100,000 in total prize money. Hammond continued his progress through the training ranks, saddling 35 winners in 1991/92 and 51 winners in 1992/93, which was the most successful season, numerically, of his training career to date. He couldn’t better that total, but subsequently saddled 45, 42, 34, and 47 winners, respectively, in the next four seasons.

By the time he moved to his new yard at Oakwood Stables, Middleham in 1997, he was firmly established as one of the top ten horse trainers in the country. Indeed, he achieved his first major success with Deep Water in the Glenlivet Anniversary 4-y-o Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree in April 1998 and his second with Heidi III in the Pertemps Great Yorkshire Chase in January 2001.

However, it was while Hammond was training at the peak of his powers that his marriage to Sky Sports presenter Alex Hammond broke down irrevocably. In April 2001, he abruptly retired from training, at the age of just 38, and handed over Oakwood Stables to his former head lad, Andrew Crook, together with about half his horses. Hammond said at the time, “I’m a bit stale and ready for a change. I enjoyed riding while I was doing it and enjoyed training while I was doing that, but I get to a stage where I press the self-destruct button.”

He didn’t stay retired for very long, because just over a year later he was lured back to training by the owners of Oakwood Stables, Sunstar Racing. Hammond said, “I always intended to return …with just two winners to go for my 500, I had to do it.” After negotiating what he called the “low time of my life”, Hammond effectively started from scratch in 2001/02, but has since successfully rebuilt his business. In 2015/16, he enjoyed his most successful season ever, monetarily, with over £313,000 in total prize money.

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