Tuesday 28 May 2024

Ralph Beckett

Formerly assistant trainer to the late Peter Walwyn for three and a half years, Ralph Beckett took over the training licence at Windsor House Stables in Lambourn when Walwyn retired in 1999. In his first half a dozen full seasons, Beckett saddled just over a hundred winners, including his first Pattern race winner, Penkenna Princess, in the Group 3 Fred Darling Stakes at Newbury in April, 2005. A month later, he was narrowly denied his first Group 1 victory when the same horse was beaten a short-head by Saoire in the Irish 1,000 Guineas.

In 2006, Beckett succeeded David Elsworth at Whitsbury Manor Stables, near Fordingbridge, Hampshire. In the next five seasons, he saddled over 240 more winners, including his first British Classic winner, Look Here, in the Oaks in 2008. In 2010, Beckett purchased his currrent base, Kimpton Down Stables in nearby Andover, and completed his move in time for the start of the 2011 season. Since then, he has saddled two more British Classic winners, Talent in the Oaks in 2013 and Simple Verse in the St. Leger in 2015; the latter also won the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot the following month to give Beckett the fourth Group 1 victory of his career.

Beckett took his career tally to 1,000 winners when the 6-year-old Another Boy won an apprentice handicap at Salisbury in August, 2019. In 2020, he enjoyed his most successful season so far, numerically, passing the landmark of a hundred winners on British soil for just the second time.

Tuesday 14 May 2024

Maurice Barnes

Maurice Barnes, 70, found fame as a National Hunt jockey when winning the Grand National on Rubstic in 1979. At the end of his riding career, he took out a combined training licence at his original base in Little Salkeld, near Penrith, Cumbria in 1989, before moving to his current home, Tarnside Stables in Farlam, near Brampton, to the east of Carlisle in 2000.

Barnes did not saddle a winner for his first three seasons as a trainer and did not reach double figures until 1993/94. However, that season he saddled 19 winners, his highest seasonal total so far, at a strike rate of 20% and won over £61,000 in prize money. He has not matched that strike rate since, but did reach double figures again in 1994/95 and every season between 2010/11 and 2019/20. Financially, Barnes enjoyed his most successful season in 2018/19, when he saddled 13 winners, at a strike rate of just 6%, but nonetheless amassed over £152,000 in prize money.

Barnes still harbours ambitions to saddle a Listed or Graded winner, but so far has failed to do so. Nevertheless, he remains philosophical and, when interviewed in 2019, turned to the wisdom of the late Arthur Stephenson, a fellow Cumbrian trainer, insofar that 'little fish are sweet, so why bother about the big ones?' In October, 2020, Barnes and his wife, Anne, were forced to move into a touring caravan after a fire, caused by an electric fault, devastated their home.