The further she went, the better she looked. Sunshine Corner stormed home in the mares and fillies bumper at Bangor on Saturday for Newmarket trainer Lucy Wadham.
The four-year-old filly looked a horse of huge potential and is very nicely bred. A daughter of King’s Theatre out of the Bob Back mare Coolgreaney, she only had to be nudged along by Paul Townend to pull 11 lengths clear of the rest.
It’s been a great winter for the dual-purpose trainer, with Le Reve very much the star of the show. Twice a winner at Sandown, he’s a fast improving chaser who was last seen chasing home Rocky Creek in the BetBright Chase at Kempton. He’s likely to head back to Sandown for the Bet365 Gold Cup at the end of April. His performances have helped Wadham smash through the £200,000 prize barrier.
Based at Moulton Paddocks in Newmarket, the team are able to take advantage of more than 100 miles of all-weather and grass gallops, as well as Newmarket’s excellent schooling facilities at ‘The Links’, which include introductory jumps, hurdles and fences. The stables are in a quiet and secluded spot close to Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation. Wadham has access to all manner of training gallops, from the short uphill Polytrack on Warren Hill to the extensive rolling grass gallop of Water Hall, which is perfect for conditioning jumpers.
She has resisted the temptation to expand and instead is determined to remain a small trainer with every horse receiving her personal attention and expertise. Currently with around 30 horses in training her background and emphasis is on jump racing, but thanks particularly to owners Victoria and Anthony Pakenham; who have sent high class older fillies to her yard; her flat string is now expanding.
The trainer was brought up in London and though neither parent were particularly interested in horses, she spent much of her childhood riding in Norfolk. She became involved in racing through riding and training point-to-pointers, and after moving to Newmarket, graduated from being a permit holder to a licence holder in 1997.
Her training career has been defined by a consistently good strike rate of winners to runners. Among the high-profile winners sent from the Moulton Paddocks were the wonderfully talented Grade 1 winning hurdler United, and Grade 2 winner El Dancer. During 2011, the filly Dorcas Lane was flying the flag on the flat, proving that the trainer is more than capable of preparing horses for both codes.
Leighton Aspell is the regular stable jockey and plays a key role in the yard schooling and preparing the horses. Last year’s Grand National winning jockey is a hugely talented horseman and his experience has been an essential part of the stables success.
Wadham’s husband Justin also plays a key role in the business. A director of the British Horseracing Authority and council member for the Racehorse Owners’ Association, his knowledge of bloodstock through time spent with Darley Stud and David Minton is invaluable in assisting with the purchase of horses.
But for now it’s the seven-year-old Le Reve that is getting the team excited. That last run at Kempton in ground far from ideal marked another significant step forward. Wadham wrote on her website after the race of the horse’s great attitude and a season of notable consistency and progression. He’s likely to be aimed at next year’s Grand National, probably via the Becher Chase to introduce him to Aintree’s fences.
As the yard’s thoughts inevitably turn to the flat season ahead, their leading jumper could still give them one last thrill at the end of a terrific jumps campaign.