Tag Archive for: Burdett Road

Monday Musings: Two Young Guns

Last week, as I detailed the overwhelming power of the big yards in the UK and Ireland, on the flat and it seemed even more so over jumps, I should have conceded that there is always room for a talented upstart to pick up a piece of the pie, writes Tony Stafford.

He or she has to have at least one well-heeled and convinced supporter to crash the big boys’ party; but two young Newmarket jumps trainers showed at Cheltenham this past weekend that they are on the fast track to success.

Both are based in the least likely of hotbeds for training jumpers in the UK. Newmarket, for all the merits of the schooling facilities of the Links, just behind Newmarket golf club and across from the Cambridge Road polytrack gallop and thence the Rowley Mile, has fewer jumping trainers than ever. Maybe that will start to change.

Cast your minds back 14 hours to the last race of Cheltenham’s three-day Paddy Power Gold Cup meeting. The favourite, a 9/4 shot, was sent out by a young man who didn’t have his first jumps runners until earlier this year. He made a great start, collecting five wins between the beginning and end of the 2022-23 season in late April.

Another eight successes under NH Rules have followed this campaign and, in between, 13 have come off 50 runs from 25 individual horses in his first campaign on the flat.

Ben Brookhouse is the name and the winners have flowed ever since from the nicely compact and centrally situated Saville House stable, occupied to good effect for many years and still owned by Willie Musson.

Ben’s jewel in the crown as far as buying horses is concerned is his father Roger, a long-standing owner for the Pipe stable. Brookhouse senior has some well-regarded animals sprinkled around a few major Irish yards, notably with Willie Mullins and Henry de Bromhead.

But the decision was made for Ben to train all the UK runners and yesterday’s impressive second bumper win for Brechin Castle under Jack Quinlan was as decisive as it was noteworthy and eye-catching for both trainer and long-neglected jockey. It ran in Roger’s colours, too!

Jack Quinlan has been just about the only professional jump jockey to be based in Newmarket for several years. Many questioned his stubbornness in remaining close to his family, but the association with Brookhouse has coincided with a general wider appreciation of his qualities.

An Irish point-to-point winner, Brechin Castle was prepared by the champion of the Irish pointer ‘conditioning and selling-on lark’ in Colin Bowe. He upgraded an original €52k yearling buy to a €165k project, merely by winning a point by a length; but as they say, it’s how they do it.

Pointers that turn into bumper and then jumping stars can come from all types of background. Brechin Castle’s sire Shantou died as a 28-year-old: yes, I kid you not, when Brechin Castle was already three years old. His dam’s sire, dual Derby (French and Irish by seven and then four lengths for Henry Cecil) Old Vic was 25 hen he passed away in 2011. Plenty of proven breeding talent to go with Classic performance.

The trick with Irish point winners is to find the ones with a touch of speed. We saw it from Brechin Castle on his UK debut at Sedgefield last month when he stretched 19 lengths clear. Yesterday, he drew alongside a Paul Nicholls previous winner up the home straight and had a comfortable two-and-a-quarter lengths to spare at the line of this Listed contest.

Of Ben’s five National Hunt wins before the season change-over, one was Listed bumper horse Aslukgoes, and he won twice with veteran hunter chaser Espoir De Teillee, each time ridden by Fern O’Brien, Fergal’s daughter. He also had a juvenile hurdler and staying novice to complete the eclectic score.

The flat campaign continued to reflect both his versatility and the varied composition of his stable. When we talked at an Epsom evening meeting in the summer, he said how lucky he is to be able largely to buy what he likes when he goes to horse sales. “Sometimes, though, if when I got one home, Dad doesn’t want it, I’m stuck with it until I can find an owner!”

Among the dozen winners, there were a couple of smart two-year-olds, Ben clearly intent on making his name as a dual-purpose trainer. In that respect he is following the example of his latest employer, Ian Williams, to whom he was assistant trainer until branching out this year.

Amazingly, James Owen, the other ground-breaking Newmarket handler to show his credentials at Cheltenham, also only took out his training licence this season. Before that, he had been one of the most successful trainers of Arabian horses in the UK.

He is now fully committed to the new job, though, and recently moved into Green Ridge stables in the Hamilton Road. When I had a connection with horses trained in Daryll Holand’s Exning yard – at the time the late Shaun Keightley was in situ – James Owen stabled his horses in a smart, but small, much newer building just to the right of the entrance.

Gay Kelleway was next door. As I mentioned, Owen was the top trainer of Arabian horses and the old maxim that if you can train one type of horse, you should be able to make a go at others seems to be ringing true in his case.

Owen started even later in the year – after the 2022-23 season end – than Brookhouse, but when Burdett Road, owned by the Gredley family, bolted up in the Triumph Hurdle Trial that opened Saturday’s programme, it made a lot of people take notice of this young man, probably many for the first time.

Burdett Road isn’t the only horse to give a salute to Bill Gredley’s East End of London heritage, Burdett Road going from Mile End Road to Commercial Road [and where the editor plays football on a Saturday morning! - Ed.] For this most successful businessman and Classic-winning owner (User Friendly won two Oaks’s and the St Leger against the boys in 1992), Owen has seven among those to have run so far this year. I doubt that this speedy gelding will be the last to win a good jumps race for his talented trainer, who is already up to 22 for his initial season.

Burdett Road had been a nice three-year-old when trained by Michael Bell, winning the Golden Gates Stakes at Royal Ascot and two other races on the flat before running third in two Group 3 events. A 100-rated horse ought to make a decent hurdler if he stays and on Saturday Harry Cobden was at pains to give the Muhaarar gelding a chance to last out the trip on the testing Cheltenham track.

He sat an exaggerated last of nine and only when they came down the hill approaching the home turn did he make any sort of move. Still three lengths adrift at the final flight, Cobden only needed to clear the obstacle safely. That achieved, he sprinted up the hill for a six-and-a-half length success.

As was pointed out afterwards, none of the Irish we’ll see and fear next March was there - no doubt Mr Mullins is honing the skills of the latest batch of Auteuil acquisitions - but rarely do you see horses scoot up that hill on soft ground in that manner.

James Owen said afterwards he would look forward hopefully to good ground at the Festival next March to harness his speed.

As Nicky Henderson wisely averred yesterday after Jonbon’s authoritative return in the Shloer Chase, a lot can happen before then, but Ben Brookhouse and James Owen will both be picturing a repeat of this weekend’s spectaculars to warm the long winter nights.

- TS

Burdett Road ultra-impressive in Triumph Trial victory

Royal Ascot winner Burdett Road laid down an early marker for the Triumph Hurdle when winning the JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle in eyecatching fashion.

Now with fledgling handler James Owen, having spent his days on the level with Michael Bell, who guided him to success in the Golden Gates Stakes over 10 furlongs back in June, he went on to run with credit in a couple of Group Threes.

Sent to Owen for a hurdling campaign, like all owned by the Gredley Family, he had no trouble in opening his account at Huntingdon but faced a completely different level of competition at Cheltenham.

Up against six other previous winners and Milan Tino, who brought good form from France, plenty of questions were going to be asked and Burdett Road answered them all emphatically.

Sent off a 9-4 chance, he was ridden incredibly confidently by Harry Cobden, who managed to avoid the carnage created at the first flight by Parish Star.

When An Bradan Feasa slipped the field turning in, he had everything else off the bridle but Cobden sat motionless before asking for an effort approaching the last.

Despite not meeting that on a good stride, he had so much left he was able to quicken up smartly, going up the hill to win by six and a half lengths.

“When he won at Huntingdon, he was keen and did everything the wrong way,” said Owen.

“We had to do one of two things today, either make the running or drop him in and we all decided we would drop him in and Harry has given him a lovely, cool ride. He will have learned a lot on the way round.

“With the rain coming last night, I was so nervous this morning, but for a Flat horse he is tough and God, didn’t he come up that hill well.

“He is a very tough horse and exciting going forward, this was a Triumph trial and that is our aim. On good ground, he is going to be exciting. He may go to Chepstow or the Adonis.

“He is the one we are waking up for every morning and looking forward to seeing him again.”

Winning connections with Burdett Road
Winning connections with Burdett Road (Nigel French/PA)

Cobden said: “James gave me a free hand and we made the decision to drop him in as he was too free at Huntingdon and if he is going to be a good horse then he is going to need to learn how to race properly. He’s a very classy horse isn’t he.

“He missed a few hurdles on the way round and could easily have got keen. I was just trying to put him into the bottom of them so I didn’t light him up with a good jump.

“He’s obviously a good horse and March is very much agenda now.

“I was still on the bridle (coming down the hill) and I suppose that is what it’s like if you are Paul Townend!

“It was really nice and he’s a proper little horse, he winged the second last and had a dream run though. You can go for gaps that possibly aren’t really there on a horse that isn’t travelling quite so well and when I pushed the button turning in he jumped the last and quickened up nicely.

“Paul (Nicholls) has a few nice juveniles but none probably as good as that.”

Burdett Road back on the big stage in Triumph Trial

Royal Ascot winner Burdett Road knows all about competing on the big stage and heads to Cheltenham to continue his hurdling education in the JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle.

A winner of the Golden Gates Stakes at the big summer meeting before trying his hand in Group company, he made the perfect start to life over timber when making his first outing for new handler James Owen at Huntingdon.

Although somewhat raw, it was hard not to be impressed by the facile nature of that 12-length romp and he now heads to Prestbury Park for an immediate step up in class.

“He seemed to enjoy it at Huntingdon, even though he was a little bit keen and exuberant,” said Owen.

“He enjoyed the jumping but made a couple of silly little mistakes and we’ve had him back and schooled him since and he seems to have learnt a bit.

“Hopefully, he will put up a better display of jumping at Cheltenham, where we are all looking forward to watching him.

“We’re very privileged to have him and hopefully he will do the job for us just as well as he did for Michael Bell.”

Noel George may have grown up a stone’s throw away form Cheltenham but he is now classed as a raider from France at Prestbury Park and, alongside his training partner Amanda Zetterholm, will saddle the exciting Milan Tino.

Owned by JP McManus, he reversed form with his debut conqueror Kingland when they clashed again in Auteuil’s Prix Georges de Talhouet-Roy and the two horses that finished ahead of Milan Tino that day went on to finish first and second again in one of France’s premier juvenile events.

George said: “He’s a horse we have always liked a lot and I actually got in touch with Charlie Swann before he ran first time out as he was for sale, and after he confirmed he was a good horse first time out, JP McManus has thankfully invested in him and I think he’s a smart horse to head over with.

“The two horses who beat him last time were the first two in a Grade One and first time out he was beaten by a horse who was third in a Grade One.

“He has improved a lot since those two runs and I’m really looking forward to seeing how the form works out in England.

“I’m in France mainly for the amazing prize-money, but I have British owners and I’m British myself obviously, so when we have ones good enough for the big day, then we will be coming over.”

A field of 11 will head to post, with An Bradan Feasa making his debut for Newmarket handler Jack Jones following an impressive win at Ballinrobe in September, while Tom Dascombe will saddle a rare runner over obstacles with the hat-trick seeking Gifted Angel.

Brian Ellison’s Eagle Prince and Ben Brookhouse’s I Still Have Faith both arrive following a victory on their hurdling debuts, with owners Mark and Maria Adams bidding for a third straight win in the race with former Andrew Balding inmate Galactic Jack.

Burdett Road road impresses with winning hurdles debut

Royal Ascot winner Burdett Road made an immediate impression on his hurdles bow with a clear-cut victory at Huntingdon.

Winner of the Golden Gates Stakes for Michael Bell in June, Burdett Road then tackled the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood before finishing third to Passenger in the Winter Hill Stakes.

Subsequently gelded and transferred to the care of James Owen by owners the Gredley Family, Burdett Road was sent off the 4-9 favourite in the Follow Us On Twitter @betrhino Juvenile Hurdle and he made short work of five rivals in the hands of Harry Cobden.

Though not foot perfect at the first attempt, Burdett Road galloped home 12 lengths clear of Palio and is a 33-1 chance with Paddy Power for the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Owen said: “It can only go wrong when they are odds-on like that, but he had done lots of schooling at home. He was a keen horse on the Flat and that is why we put the hood on him.

“The plan was to go to Warwick, but as the ground was going to be so soft there we decided to come here. He has learnt a lot, but he will be better in a truer run race. 

“We all know that he has got an engine and we have got to just keep teaching him now. 

“I would have loved to have seen him settle better, but he did switch off fine when he got to the front and he jumped fine on the whole, with the exception of a couple of little mistakes.

“As far as juveniles go first time out, that was OK. He got the job done and he was not for stopping.

“So much thanks go to the Gredley family for sending him to me. That has relieved the pressure a bit. Let’s hope we can keep building on that.”

The Grade Two JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle at Cheltenham on November 18 could now be the plan for Burdett Road. 

Owen said: “If it is not deep ground in a couple of weeks’ time we will go for the Triumph Hurdle trial at Cheltenham and learn a bit more about him. 

“He needs education, and he is not a horse that wants to be running too fresh. He had plenty of Flat runs and he improved almost every time he ran. 

“I don’t think the track at Cheltenham will pose any problems to him. I just hope he is a bit more amenable.”

Cobden told Racing TV: “He’s a very good horse. He’s done a lot of things wrong there, but still won with his head in his chest.

“I was confident, I knew there was one down my inside but I had so much horse left under me it wasn’t a problem. He’s definitely a Triumph Hurdle horse anyway, I’m confident of that.”

Cobden, who was celebrating his 25th birthday, went on to register a double aboard the Paul Nicholls-trained Mofasa (5-4 favourite) in the Premier League Offers At Rhino.Bet Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.

Dettori out luck on final Royal Ascot ride, as Burdett Road takes Golden Gates

Frankie Dettori was out of luck on his final Royal Ascot ride as Knockbrex trailed home well beaten in the Golden Gates Stakes won by Burdett Road.

Dettori went into an early lead on Charlie Johnston’s charge, but the writing was on the wall before the turn for home and he quickly backpeddled.

That left Liberty Lane in front but he too paid for his early exertions, as Neil Callan made stealthy progress on Michael Bell’s three-year-old.

Burdett Road (20-1) went several lengths clear and the race looked over. However, a combination of tiredness and being in front on his own meant he was in danger of being caught.

Lion Of War, briefly stuck in traffic earlier in the straight, came with a late rattle but the 9-2 joint-favourite could only close to within three-quarters of a length.

It was a second winner of the week for Callan having won the Queen Anne on Triple Time.

Bell said: “He loved that fast ground when he won at Newbury so we were hopeful he’d be effective today. It was a much deeper race, he’s not done much since Newbury, he is very good looking horse, bred by Gredleys, who we have been lucky for, so I’m delighted.

“The colours have been lucky, and the Gredleys have been great breeders for many years. Bill is not here today, but he will be thrilled, watching at home, he was on the gallops this morning and was here on Thursday.

“It is very hard, the most difficult thing about training when you have been doing it for as long as me, when you can clearly do the job, is getting the well-bred horse to walk through the door. You can’t train fresh air!

“We are lucky we have the Gredleys and many other nice horses. It is tough old business, but we are lucky to have what we have and very grateful for another winner here.”