At the time of writing, Tom George lies in a highly respectable eighth place in the National Hunt Trainers’ Championship, having saddled 41 winners and amassed over £642,000 in total prize money. However, as Adrian Heskin said, when replacing Paddy Brennan as stable jockey to George at the start of the 2016/17 season, “Tom has a lot of young horses. He’s invested a lot of money over the past year, so he has a lot of novices coming through. There are a couple of really exciting ones that could be anything.”
Having worked with Arthur Moore, Gavin Pritchard-Gordon, the late Michael Jarvis, Francois Doumen and Martin Pipe before becoming a trainer in his own right, George saddled his first winner, Newton Point, at Worcester in 1993. Since then he has sent out over 500 winners from his training establishment Down Farm in Slad, near Stroud, Gloucester.
His first winner at the Cheltenham Festival was Galileo – who was one of a crop of horses imported from Poland – in the Ballymore Properties Novices’ Hurdle in 2002. George said at the time, “This is the sort of day everybody dreams about”. He also enjoyed success with the front-running grey, Nacarat, whose exploits at Kempton, in particular, he believes helped to raise his profile. Nacarat won what is now the Betbright Chase at the Sunley-on-Thames track as an 8-year-old in 2009 and again, as an 11-year-old, in 2012.
Other notable horses from the yard include Saint Are, who finished second, behind Many Clouds, in the Grand National in 2015 and fourth, behind One For Arthur, in 2017. The 12-year-old is being trained for the great race once again this season but, because of a change in the rules by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), will not be going hunter chasing beforehand, as was originally planned.
In terms of prospects for the Cheltenham Festival in 2018, George is likely to send Summerville Boy, winner of the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown in January, straight to the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, for which the 6-year-old is a top-priced 20/1. He has also expressed himself satisfied with the performance of The Worlds End, who has yet to trouble the judge in three starts on unsuitably soft going, and is hopeful of an improved performance in the Stayers’ Hurdle, for which the gelding is a 25/1 chance, in places.