Tag Archive for: Dargiannini

Derham delighted with Queens Gamble progress

Queens Gamble is set to continue her hurdling education at Newbury over the Christmas period, with Harry Derham keen to run her in handicap company as he builds up her experience over obstacles.

A high-class bumper performer when trained by Oliver Sherwood, she made it two from two over timber on her first run for Derham, winning comfortably in the hands of Johnny Burke at Kempton.

A step up to Listed company at Newbury had been mooted following that triumph, but although connections are still planning to head to the Berkshire track next, they have decided to test the waters in a handicap on the course’s December 30 card.

Queens Gamble after winning at Kempton
Queens Gamble after winning at Kempton (PA)

“She’s fine, everything is well and there are no problems at all,” said Derham.

“As I said on the day at Kempton, Newbury was an option but I wasn’t going to commit to it and we brought her home and all of us thought about it and we’re going to run her in a handicap on Challow Hurdle day.

“It’s a 0-125 and we think some experience in a handicap hurdle will help her. That’s our plan and she’s very well and we’re very happy with her. She won well at Kempton and hopefully she will keep progressing.”

The ultimate aim for Queens Gamble will be a return to the Cheltenham Festival and Derham will test progressive Newbury scorer Young Butler’s suitability for a spot on the teamsheet for March when he lines up at Prestbury Park on New Year’s Day.

Having won a Pertemps qualifier on his stable bow, Young Butler has the series final on his radar for the spring, but one horse set for an easy period is the Andy Mitchell-owned Dargiannini, who suffered a setback following his third win for the Derham operation at Kempton recently.

“Dargiannini had a bit of a setback. He was fine after the race, then about a week after the race he went lame,” said the handler.

“He’s having a bit of time off and hopefully he will come right in a couple of weeks. We’re just going to have to bide our time a little bit with him, which is a shame because he has been an absolute superstar for me and won three races in under a year and been great.

“I wouldn’t think the Pertemps would be an option. Three miles round Cheltenham wouldn’t suit him. We tried three miles in the spring round Haydock, which is a much easier track, and Paul (O’Brien) didn’t think he got home, so round Cheltenham it will be much more difficult.”

Derham went on: “We are hoping Young Butler, who won a Pertemps qualifier at Newbury, could be a Pertemps horse.

“He’s going to run at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day to see if he likes it and can act round there. If he does, then he could be a candidate for the Pertemps and is at the right end of the handicap.

“Poor Dargiannini is 143 now, which will make life really tough, but Young Butler is off 126 and he could still have a bit of improvement in his rating.”

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Cricket connection has owner Mitchell bowled over with Derham association

When Dargiannini fell at Doncaster on December 29, owner Andrew Mitchell could be forgiven for wondering what he had let himself in for.

Since that disastrous Town Moor debut for his first ever runner adorned in the black and white silks based on his beloved Derby County, the ownership experience has been a dream for Derbyshire-based Mitchell, who has since seen his charge register back-back victories – firstly at Uttoxeter, then in front of the cameras at Newbury.

Mitchell is well known in sporting circles as the man behind the successful Owzat-Cricket shop and it was his cricketing connections that led to the long-time racing fan scratching an itch to become an owner.

It was during a charity function at Lord’s when pal Mark Wallace, the former Glamorgan wicket-keeper and boyfriend of Amy Derham, introduced Mitchell to Amy’s brother Harry and it didn’t take long before one of the newest names of the training ranks was adding a recruit to his roster of owners.

Dargiannini’s success has led to Mitchell becoming a fully paid up advocate of Derham’s talents and revels in the fact his new venture allows him to combine a couple of his passions.

“It’s brilliant and it’s a new venture for us,” explained Mitchell.

“I’m involved in cricket and I was at a dinner at Lords with a friend of mine Mark Wallace explaining how I might buy a horse to name after my dad as he loved his horses and I like my racing.

“Wally (Wallace) said you want to have a word with Amy’s brother and we got talking.

“Originally my plan was just to buy a young horse as I wanted to name him after my father and Harry said he would help me find one.

“We went to the sales up at Goffs at Doncaster and didn’t find anything, but the following week Harry rang me to explain if I got a youngster it might take 18 months for that to come to hand or would I like a go with Dargiannini, see how I get on and then find a youngster moving forward.

Glamorgan’s Mark Wallace (wicket-keeper) introduced Andrew Mitchell to trainer Harry Derham
Glamorgan’s Mark Wallace (wicket-keeper) introduced Andrew Mitchell to trainer Harry Derham (Jon Buckle/PA)

“I never wanted to be in a syndicate, we always wanted to do it on our own if we were going to do it, and it was simply a case of right time, right place with how I met Amy through my cricket connections and then getting introduced to Harry.

“Harry’s best friend is Jamie Overton (England international) so it is all quite cricket orientated which is quite nice.”

He added: “Harry is a great kid and it is nice to back a young lad who is finding his feet if you like.

“His family have been really nice and welcoming to us and you can tell they are really supportive of Harry and want him to do well.”

Dargiannini has gone up 8lb for his Newbury triumph which earnt his owner just shy of £11,000 but unlike some, Mitchell is far from concerned about prize-money levels as he embarks on the ownership journey, preferring to focus on the prestige of success in his new sporting venture.

“To be honest, and it sounds blase, it’s not all about the money,” he continued.

“Don’t get me wrong, it helps a lot with upkeep, of course it does. But the prestige of seeing a horse in your name on TV is firstly a bit weird and also a bit surreal. It is also a bit strange when they call you up for the prize, but at the same time it’s really nice.

“The story is going round about my love of Derby County and having to miss matches to go to the races and that is kind of true. Originally I told Harry I didn’t want him to run on Saturdays. Harry always wanted to run at Newbury and I wasn’t too keen as obviously I have other interests, but Harry kept going on and on about it and in the end I took his advice and I’m pleased I did now.”

Dargiannini’s on-course exploits will now see him head to either Aintree’s Grand National meeting or the Punchestown Festival for his next outing.

“Harry is now thinking of taking him to Aintree or Punchestown,” explained Mitchell.

“I’ve been to both Galway and Leopardstown in Ireland but never Punchestown and that is quite appealing, but the thought of having a runner during the Grand National meeting is very prestigious if you like having been to the National and to Aintree many times. To have a runner there would be very special.”

Bitten by the ownership bug, Mitchell has now wasted little time expanding his equine empire, finally fulfilling his dream of buying a two-year-old to name after his father and also dipping his toe into the French market.

He said: “We ended up getting a youngster from Donny sales and we’ve named that Les’ Lad, that’s in pre-training at the moment with Jason Maguire and we bought another couple of youngsters from France – a filly and a gelding. They are two-year-olds and one is from really good stock.

“It’s enjoyable and we got on the bus with Harry when it started off is one way of looking at it.

“Harry having a winner on terrestrial TV won’t have hurt and if he gets one to win at Cheltenham he will be flying.”

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