A trip to the seaside proved just the ticket for Worcestershire trainer Tony Carroll.
Last week’s three day festival at Brighton gleaned a bunch of winners for a trainer who is currently at the top of his game. His first ever four-timer came on day one of the south coast meeting which included the 14/1 shot Queen Aggie. An 11/1 winner on day two was followed by another victory on day three, taking Carroll’s recent strike rate to around 30%.
Now 20 years in the training game, he has been based at Cropthorne near Pershore in the Vale of Evesham since 2006. As a jump jockey Carroll started out with Pat Taylor before riding for the legendary Stan Mellor. He was more than just useful in the plate, and his successful career provided over 250 winners before turned his attention to training in 1995.
His Mill House Racing operation continues to thrive. A terrific all-weather campaign has been followed by a steady string of winners on the turf. Speaking in April, it was pretty clear that he had high hopes for the summer ahead. “I have high expectations,” he said. “I’m fortunate to have a very good team. My target is to reach 100 winners in this calendar year and so far we’re on course. I have a very nice mix of Flat horses and jumpers and although we’ve been shy of two-year-olds in the past I’ve got a nice bunch together that will be ready to go on the grass.”
One of those juveniles won at Lingfield just a few days back. Tahiti One now has two wins from her four career starts and her breeding suggests she could well become a useful dual-purpose horse in time. One of the yard’s classier inmates is Stand To Reason. He’s certainly been enjoying life over obstacles this summer. Runner-up at Uttoxeter in June, he stormed to victory at Stratford last time and has now won three of his five starts over hurdles. He moved to Carroll from Nicky Henderson’s care last year and looks sure to become one of the stable’s flag bearers.
Keys is another classy ex-Henderson gelding who has also had his share of success over jumps. Now an eight-year-old, the trainer will be hoping to keep him sound, and if he does, he could have another exciting winter ahead.
One of the yard’s better flat performers is the three-year-old sprinter Boom The Groom. Prolific on the all-weather over the winter, he finished a promising third at Epsom in June. He trailed in eighth at Ascot in the Shergar Cup Dash on Saturday, though the course may not have been to his liking. A fast track five furlongs appears ideal for this son of Kodiac and there’s plenty more races to be won whether on turf or back on the artificial surfaces over the winter.
Not every trainer has the firepower to be competing for titles or landing group 1 winners at tracks such as Ascot and Newmarket. Tony Carroll is doing an outstanding job with the talent at his disposal. Of course he’d love to be sending out winners at the major meetings, but this latest spike in form is proof that after two decades of training, the desire to get the very best from horses in his care shows no sign of diminishing. His appreciative owners will be hoping for more of the same.