By Tony Stafford
Time telescopes in the memory. Peter Chapple-Hyam at 52, has for almost half his life so far been a licenced trainer, from 1991 to the end of the millennium at Manton, and 2004 onwards in Newmarket. In between he had four character-building if not totally successful years in Hong Kong.
Yesterday at Doncaster he returned to the big time with a third Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster courtesy of the 33-1 chance Marcel, in the process denting the reputation of John Gosden’s previously unbeaten Foundation, who finished third, admittedly with a troubled run.
Marcel gave Andrea Atzeni a third successive win in the race and was the middle leg of a Town Moor treble. I know one leading trainer told a friend he didn’t regard Atzeni as a top jockey. The way he steered Marcel clear of trouble round the outside as his countryman Frankie Dettori got stuck behind a wall (small wall in a seven-runner race!) made that comment look silly.
Throughout his lengthy career, Chapple-Hyam has had the knack of winning big races, often at long prices. For instance his 2008 Derby winner Authorized stepped up from a debut third in maiden company to win the same Group 1 juvenile (switched to Newbury) race at 25-1. He also won it years before with Commander Collins.
Chapple-Hyam does not regard Marcel, a son of Lawman out of the Marju mare Mauresmo – presumably named after Andy Murray’s French coach – as a potential Derby winner, hoping he might be competitive in the shorter French Derby – Prix du Jockey Club.
Marcel does not hold the Derby entry, but neither did Golden Horn, and if in his early three-year-old races Paul Hancock’s colt, who cost the princely sum of 26,000gns as a yearling, shows hitherto unexpected stamina, do not be surprised if he turns up at Epsom.
When the Barry Hills assistant took over from his mentor as Robert Sangster’s private trainer – Barry went back to his original stables in Lambourn – the success was immediate. Rodrigo de Triano and Dr Devious both collected a string of juvenile wins before even bigger success in their Classic year of 1992.
It probably helped his cause that while the son of a Birmingham greengrocer and West Brom fan was making his way up the ranks at Manton, he paired up with Jane Peacock, Sangster’s daughter-in-law. I doubt if even the demanding Mr Sangster could have expected him to make such a success right from the start.
Sangster’s purchase of Manton in 1988 was meant to be the showcase both of the owner’s wonderful home-bred stock and the undoubted training talents of Michael Dickinson, switching to the Flat after his amazing jumping exploits. His Famous Five Gold Cup, when he saddled the first five home, and a dozen wins on a single Boxing Day gave him legendary status.
Obviously Sangster’s biggest successes had already come in the Vincent O’Brien days a decade or more earlier, with the influence and great success of the Northern Dancer line which still dominates racing in Europe.
But Dickinson, whose re-modelling of the old Wiltshire gallops earned universal approval, had just four sparse wins in his only season there. This prompted a Sangster re-think and Dickinson’s departure for the US where he won a couple of Breeders’ Cups and later developed his Tapeta racing surface.
Barry Hills moved across for a short time before returning home, having done a solid job in upping the success rate, but it was during the Chapple-Hyam years when Manton was at its height.
Dr Devious won three races before changing hands during his juvenile season, Pete’s first in charge, and ended with a clear win in the Dewhurst for his new owner Luciano Gaucci. By the time he ran and won the 1992 Derby – from St Jovite – he was in the colours of Sidney Craig, whose wife Jenny ran the foremost diet business in the States, which she sold to Nestle in 2006 for $600 million.
St Jovite turned the tables emphatically in the Irish Derby, but it was Dr Devious again in a desperate conclusion to the Irish Champion Stakes when he had St Jovite, who easily won the King George in between, inches behind in second.
Dr Devious was a yearling buy for Sangster, but Rodrigo de Triano was a home-bred who won all five races at two and then after losing the unbeaten record in his trial, had 55-year-old Lester Piggott on his back for the first time when winning the 2,000 Guineas with Dr Devious back in fourth.
Piggott then kept the mount for the rest of the colt’s career, collecting the Irish 2,000, the Juddmonte International and Champion Stakes, but finishing unplaced when his stamina ran out behind his stablemate at Epsom. Rodrigo de Triano was sold to stand in Japan as a stallion.
When the big wins eventually dwindled down to a relative trickle, Pete decided on a try at Hong Kong, but it is fair to say that his temperament probably did suit him too much to sitting down with local owners intent on landing gambles.
So back he came to a new life in Newmarket. Within a couple of years he was guiding Authorized to his Derby and Juddmonte triumphs for Saleh Al Homaizi and Imad Al Sagar and then attracting Qatar Racing’s Sheikh Fahad Al-Thani to his methods.
This year Arod has done very well for the Skeikh, but the much-hyped Hydrogen, bought for 2.5 million guineas, proved a flop. However with owners like Jim and Fitri Hay, for whom Chapple-Hyam sent out Buckstay for a big handicap win at Ascot, as well as Homeizi, Sagar and Sheikh Fahad, his career should take another upward turn. Certainly if talent has any bearing, there’ll be plenty of big days to come.
I haven’t been at a Breeders’ Cup for a few years, and I’ll be watching at home again on Friday and Saturday, with Legatissimo my idea of a banker for the Aidan O’Brien- Coolmore team in the Filly and Mare Turf race. The other race I can’t wait to see is the clash between American Pharoah, Bob Baffert-trained but Ashford Stud bound, and Gleneagles in the Classic on Dirt.
Wednesday offers my boss Ray Tooth the chance of keeping his good recent run going with Cousin Khee back on the level at Nottingham, while the football world will be wondering what further sanction awaits Jose Mourinho after yesterday’s Chelsea meltdown.
It seems to me that he spends far too much time worrying about Arsene Wenger. I’d hate to think what will happen to Jose’s mental state if his favourite “failure” wins the Premier League title this season.