“Maybe I need to improve my PR” said trainer David Bridgwater, recently. He was talking about how the coverage of National Hunt racing so often concentrates on the big named trainers. The likes of Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson.
The lesser known trainers work just as hard, but tend to have fewer horses to train. Owners want to send their horses to the trainers they have heard of and those that are up there competing to be the champion trainer.
If I owned a string of horses, says Vernon Grant, I would spread them around different yards. I’d want to see which trainers had the best results with my expensive purchases and take it from there. That day will never come, of course, but it’s nice to dream!
Paul Nicholls and Alan King would definitely be on my target list, but there are also more low profile trainers I would trust.
Take Warren Greatrex, for example. His string of horses has increased fivefold in just two years. So clearly I would be far from alone in asking him to train a thoroughbred. His strike rate of over 30% also makes the owners of racehorses sit up and take notice.
Greatrex told Nick Pulford of the Raing Post: “It’ll take a few years but we’re buying nicely bred horses, jumping stock, who can improve. If we train them right and we’re patient with them, I’m pretty sure we’ll get there in the end.”
It’s nice to read of a trainer advocating patience. Sometimes owners and trainers can lack that quality. But where is it that Greatrex wants to get?
“I never set myself targets but don’t want to potter along. I want to improve and keep getting better. I want us to be the best we can.”
Based at Uplands, he will exceed the total numbers of winners for last season before the bells have rung in 2015. So all is well.
Cole Harden won the Grade 2 Bet 365 hurdle at Wetherby in November and that allowed us a rare sight. Warren Greatrex with a TV camera pointing towards him.
He says: “It’s okay winning lots of bumpers, which we have, but they’lll be plenty of people out there who only watch Channel 4 Racing on a Saturday and didn’t know who I was. To win on TV is huge and it puts you in front of a wider audience.”
Big name owners such as JP McManus and Dai Waters have done business with Graetrex who remarks: “If you want to be the best in this game, you need the best people behind you. In any walk of life, the people with the money, or the higher profile people, are going to take you to the top. And that’s where we want to be. Two years ago I had 15 horses, last season I started with thirty and finished with 45 and this season I started with 70.”
Clearly, at Uplands, the only way is up!