Magazine article The Spectator

Winning Worries

Magazine article The Spectator

Winning Worries

Article excerpt

The turf

Richard Phillips has long believed, along with Sir Mark Prescott, that 'a happy trainer is a bad trainer'. Perhaps that is what makes him at times sound like a youthful understudy to Walter Matthau, determined to accentuate the negative. At first light, as his horses circle the shredded tyre outdoor school, he invites us lugubriously to 'pick out the sound one'. That from a trainer whose horses have been running out of their skins, with seven winners from 12 runners in one New Year spell. As he licks his new yard, Adlestrop Stables near Moreton-in-the-Marsh, into place, with its horse walker, box extensions and uphill six-furlong Eurotrack gallop, even that success rate seems to worry him. `You can only get so many wins out of them.' There are dangers, he insists, in early success. Look at Roger Charlton and Peter Chapple-Hyam. Train a Derby winner in your first season and in which direction do you go from there, at least as far as the media are concerned?

Plenty were ready, Richard says, to insist he was on the downward path after he was chosen by yard owner Colin Smith to succeed David Nicholson at the famous Jackdaw's Castle and then forced to go looking for new premises after only one season when Smith decided to sell the yard to J.P. McManus. And he is candid about what followed: "That's the end of it for him," people were saying. "He had all those nice horses. Now I'm not sure where he's gone. Is he still training?"' He was, at Mary Hambro's Cotswold Stud, not far from where he is now installed at Adlestrop, at last doing his thing in a yard fashioned the way he wants it, with his own borrowed money.

As for the nice horses, there seems to be no shortage. The second trio past us on their way to the top of the gallops included the happy veteran Go Ballistic, placed in a Gold Cup, the game mare La Landiere, winner of four chases on the trot so far this season, and Yann's, a handy novice chaser last year. Two more winners working together were the French-bred handicap hurdler Warjan and Supreme Toss, a likely contender for the Sun Alliance Novices Hurdle.

There too was an old favourite, the love of stable lass Sacha's life, Laazim Afooz. Now a ten-year-old and only once out of the frame in seven runs this season, he was sent to Richard as a juvenile by Sheikh Ahmed. The Sheikh's agent, Anthony Stroud, urged Richard, who was giving him time, 'Get on with him. He's a sharp twoyear-old. Even Luca Cumani would have had him out by now.' Richard couldn't resist giving Stroud a call when Lazim Afooz finally won over four miles. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.