Understated. Underestimated. Yet far from under-appreciated. That is Jane Chapple-Hyam the trainer.
The woman herself? One gets the feeling that she is huge fun. There is blunt and there is Aussie blunt. A few minutes in her company can be uproariously hilarious. She can certainly mix it with the best.
She has a waspish sense of humour and calls it like it is. Like her compatriots.
And she enjoyed one of the most rewarding days in her career at Royal Ascot on Wednesday, with Saffron Beach taking the Duke of Cambridge Stakes and Intellogent finishing runner-up in the Hunt Cup.
‘Petal’ and ‘Ted’ as they are known in the Newmarket yard, are very different characters.
Petal, who is co-owned by James Wigan, and Lucy and Ben Sangster, produced an imperious success in the Group Two over the straight mile. She is beautifully straightforward.
‘Ted’ on the other hand, was cast aside by Hughie Morrison after failing to impress. “He’s as quirky as you like,” said Chapple-Hyam. “The horse,” she clarified with a smile.
Twenty minutes earlier, she had taken much-needed shade under the trees in the parade ring, to talk about Petal’s success.
“I actually watched the race with (former trainer) David Loder. He was actually giving me a very good commentary,” said Chapple-Hyam.
“We felt that the horse that was leading would go and lead (Novemba), so it was a matter of getting her relaxed behind that.
“Then William (Buick) pulled her out and she just took off and sprouted wings. So, we’re pleased with that. She didn’t look stressed or anything after the run.
“She has earned that and it was a good effort with the additional 5lb (penalty), to be fair. You automatically think you have to give them three-length advantage. The way she did it, we are just very, very pleased.”
Victory was the trainer’s first at the Royal meeting since landing the Ascot Stakes with Judgethemoment in 2009, yet the manner in which Saffron Beach dispatched her rivals could not have been easier.
Buick had an armchair ride and it was all over as soon as she sweetly made ground to the three pole and thereafter the writing on the wall was writ large.
“It is very hard to get in that ring (winner’s circle), I’m telling you,” said the trainer as she watched Intellogent being his idiosyncratic self, having to be shoved into the stalls ahead of his Hunt Cup run.
“I’ve had a few places over time, for Shergar Cups and other normal Ascot races. But this one is special. The last one I don’t really remember. You do remember but you don’t remember.
“What is pleasing is that it’s good that everyone is back racing. I’m glad it wasn’t in covid, or it would have been like ‘where is everyone?’.
“Because we are all here racing, it is special. The atmosphere is back. You always dream to have an Ascot winner, and I’m lucky to have had one. Now I can say I’ve had two,” she added.
Saffron Beach won the Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket last season and will now take the trainer on a fascinating journey that could include the Prix Rothschild, Sun Chariot and the Breeders’ Cup.
She understandably holds some affection in the yard. Chapple-Hyam said: “She is just called Petal. Or Pet, Petal. Her mummy was Falling Petal and she just gets get called Petal. She will have a few weeks turned out now, because she likes being turned out in the day, enjoying herself.
“And then we’ll build her up for the Deauville meeting – and that’s a Group One. Four-year-olds tend to do well in the Rothschild. We don’t want to do the Falmouth and we are not in it.
“That is the ultimate goal, the Breeders’ Cup. You never know with racehorses. Anything can happen. We’ll give it a go. I’ll go and watch Ted now.”
Ted, of course, almost did the business in the Hunt Cup, belying his 40-1 odds. He has been backed down to 16s on Sunday before Aussie jockey James McDonald jumped off to ride the Charlie Hills-trained Dark Shift.
Though James Doyle jumped back on Intellogent, having ridden him over course and distance when third in the Paradise Stakes, annoyingly for the Chapple-Hyam team McDonald’s mount took the spoils at odds of 13-2, the grey denying a notable double by half a length.
Not that she had any ill-feeling towards her compatriot, especially since Hills had sorted out a visa for the rider, who has a long-standing relationship with the Lambourn team.
“James rode him on his previous run, so we are very happy with him,” said Chapple-Hyam, looking across the winner’s enclosure at Hills with faux-venom and a half-smile.
“I’m dying for a drink!” she exclaimed and shot off towards the bar, but not before grabbing Lucy Sangster.
“Quick, ask Lucy how she feels about winning a race at Royal Ascot.
“Lucy, answer!” she shouted at her long-time friend before she went to find a well-earned glass of champagne.
Chapple-Hyam’s mother, Susan Rossiter, married the British businessman and thoroughbred owner Robert Sangster. Lucy is married to Ben Sangster, one of Robert’s sons.
Graciously, she did as Chapple-Hyam had asked.
“I feel elated, excited and I can only say one lives and dreams of winning a race at Royal Ascot,” she said.
“We were very spoilt years ago when my husband’s late father had lovely horses when Peter (Chapple-Hyam, Jane’s former husband) was training with Jane at Manton back in the day.
“I remember one year we won all the two-year-old races and that was amazing.
“It is different when it is your horse to my late father-in-law’s horses. That was all very exciting. But today was better.”
The bond between the women is evident. “Jane is absolutely a brilliant trainer,” added Sangster. “She was my husband’s step-sister. We are very, very close. I’ve known her for many years.”
As if the Saffron Beach story was like the ending of a disclaimer at the end of a radio advertisement, in one breathless moment she added: “The whole thing with Saffron Beach is a story from the beginning, because we bought her as a foal, she then got an injury and never made a sale, and then we decided to keep her in training, and then we did all the rest of it, and here’s today, and Jane’s training her, and it is great, so there we go!”
They both deserved their champers after that. A great advertisement for the yard. And you can be sure the celebrations will be a very jolly affair, too.