Wednesday 16 September 2020

David O’Meara: Simplicity Personified

As a jockey, David O’Meara rode for respected figures such as Michael Hourigan, Philip Hobbs and Peter Easterby. Consequently, he believes that “simplicity and routine” are the hallmarks of any successful training establishment.

Following the end of his 10-year riding career, O’Meara completed all the courses necessary to become a trainer and, after a brief flirtation with property development, took over the training licence from James Hetherton at Arthington Barn Stables in Nawton, North Yorkshire in June 2010. He saddled his first winner, Simple Jim, ridden by Silvestre De Sousa, in a lowly 0-60 handicap at Redcar the same month and finished the season with a respectable total of 25 winners.

Since then, it’s fair to say that his rise through the training ranks has been nothing short of meteoric. In 2011, O’Meara saddled 48 winners, including his first success at Group level, Blue Bajan in the Henry II Stakes at Sandown. In 2012, he saddled 69 winners, including Penitent in the bet365 Mile at Sandown and the Nayef Joel Stakes at Newmarket. In 2013, he saddled 100 winners in a season for the first time and has repeated that feat every season since.

O’Meara has developed a reputation for improving horses joining him from other yards. Indeed, his first Group 1 winner, G Force, in the Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock in 2014, was a 25,000 guineas castoff from Richard Hannon Snr.. Other notable winners include Amazing Maria, a one-time Classic hope for previous trainer Ed Dunlop, whom O’Meara saddled to win the Falmouth Stakes as a four-year-old in 2015 and Suedois, acquired from French trainer Christian Baillet as a five-year-old in 2016, who won the Shadwell Turf Miles Stakes at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky in 2017.

In August 2015, it was rumoured that O’Meara was taking over from Aidan O’Brien at Ballydoyle, but he scotched the speculation, saying, “I have never been approached by anyone at Coolmore regarding Ballydoyle. There is no substance to the rumour.” Nevertheless, in January 2016 he did move, to Willow Farm, a multi-million pound training facility in Upper Helmsley on the outskirts of York, to accommodate his growing number of horses.

Possible ‘dark’ horses to look out for in 2018 include the three-year-old colts Consequences and Safrani. The former, by Dandy Man, was found wanting in Listed and Pattern company last season, but signed off with an easy win in a small conditions race at Newmarket, while the latter, by the excellent young sire Lope De Vega, was well beaten, at 66/1, in a valuable maiden at York in August, but was subsequently gelded.

A day in the life of a horse trainer