Oliver Sherwood’s love of the sport came from his parents. Both keen riders enjoying success in point to points, it seemed inevitable when he and his brother Simon became jockeys. His riding career heralded an amateur jockey championship in 1980 and three Cheltenham Festival victories. After spells as assistant trainer to Arthur Moore and Fred Winter, he took out his own training licence in 1984.
With 34 winners last season, his best for over 20 years, he will be hoping that the likes of Deputy Dan and Many Clouds can propel him to further success this winter. Sherwood has 40 horses in training at his Rhonehurst Stables in Upper Lambourn. With nine wins from 65 runners, the season has started slowly. But with four wins and six runners-up in November alone, it’s clear that the yard is now moving into top gear.
Many Clouds impressed at Carlisle on his seasonal debut and is likely to head for the Hennessy at Newbury. Sherwood was clearly thrilled with his run and said: “I’m over the moon with him. He’s a man of horse this year. He was only a teenager last season.” The trainer did add that his horse needs plenty of give in the ground to be at his best.
But it’s Deputy Dan that could become the stable star. On Saturday he continues his education over fences at Prestbury Park when running in the Cheltenham Club Novices’ Chase. His last run at the track was when chasing home Very Wood at The Festival in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. That was some performance on the fastest ground he had ever encountered. A powerful son of Westerner, his first run over fences at Fontwell ended in defeat to the Paul Nicholls trained Virak. It was a promising run on a track that was unlikely to suit such a big galloping type. He should strip fitter this time, and will take some beating.
But there is also new young talent on the horizon. Horsehill is an Irish pointer and half-brother to Menorah. A son of Flemensfirth, it is hoped he will make an impact over hurdles during the winter. He is due to run in a novice hurdle at Wetherby on Saturday.
Another that caught the eye at Fontwell last week was Weststreet. A four-year-old son of Westerner, he simply powered to victory in the bumper, winning by a gaping 14 lengths. He looks a horse with huge potential. And at Taunton yesterday Sherwood showed just how talented a trainer he is, when bringing back Knockalongi to victory after an incredible 995 day absence.
Over the years Oliver has won many of the great races including the Arkle Trophy, the Hennessy Gold Cup and the Tingle Creek Chase. He will be hoping, indeed confident, that this current crop can add to those prestigious victories. In Many Clouds and Deputy Dan, he could well be adding to them sooner rather than later.