Tag Archive for: James Ferguson

Scene set for Breeders’ Cup bid

James Ferguson’s Mise En Scene will head to the Juvenile Fillies Turf at next month’s Breeders’ Cup meeting at Del Mar.

The two-year-old was last seen finishing fourth on her Group One debut in the bet365 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket two weeks ago, a race in which she was beaten three lengths by John and Thady Gosden’s Inspiral.

The nine runners in the race split into two groups, and Mise En Scene was not afforded a clear passage, leaving her to make a late run to pass several horses in the final furlong.

“She ran very well – she just ran into a bit of bad luck, and in racing you need a lot of luck, and it didn’t go her way,” said Ferguson.

“She lost nothing in defeat. I think anyone who saw it would have known that she had the ability to finish closer in a race like that. I personally think she’s a filly with a lot of class – and I can’t wait to see what she does next year.”

The Newmarket run was preceded by a Group Three victory in the Prestige Stakes at Goodwood, before which Mise En Scene was a four-length winner on her debut at Haydock in July.

The Qatar Racing-owned bay will head Stateside for the Breeders’ Cup, where she will race over a mile again.

“It’s been half-planned since she won at Goodwood,” added Ferguson.

“His Highness Sheikh Fahad has always been a big supporter of the Breeders’ Cup, and loves going out there.

“It was all dependent on how she was going to come out of the Fillies’ Mile, and she’s come out of the race great – (so) we’re very much looking forward to going over.

“She’s still very lightly raced, so she’ll be a fresh horse, whereas a lot of horses in the race will have had a heavy season.

“To have a runner at the Breeders’ Cup in only my second year training is huge.”

This campaign has been highly successful for Ferguson, who enjoyed his first Group One strike on Saturday when El Bodegon claimed the Criterium de Saint-Cloud.

“Credit goes to the team back home – they all work incredibly hard, and we’re blessed to have owners that have supported us,” he said.

“Qatar Racing have supported us, and they supported us in our first year – that’s huge.

“My father (John), being the experienced agent that he is, bought the horse (El Bodegon) at Tattersalls Book Two last year. There are a lot of factors that have contributed to it, and luckily it’s all going very well at the moment.”

Mise En Scene edges Prestige prize

Mise En Scene maintained her unbeaten record and provided trainer James Ferguson with the first Group-race success of his career in the tote Prestige Stakes at Goodwood.

Impressive when winning by four lengths on her debut at Haydock, she was sent off a 7-1 chance in a strong-looking Group Three.

When the favourite Daneh took two lengths out of the field at the furlong marker, it appeared James Doyle had made a race-winning move as all her rivals looked in trouble.

Champion jockey Oisin Murphy had not quite asked his mount for everything, however, and Mise En Scene began to reel in the leader.

The Siyouni filly was gaining with every stride and she eventually got there by a neck, with Prosperous Voyage a length and a half away in third.

Coral were suitably impressed and introduced the winner into next year’s 1000 Guineas betting at 16-1, while Betfair make her an 8-1 chance (from 33s) for the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket in October.

“It feels brilliant. We’ve always really liked her at home and to get her from Sheikh Fahad (al Thani) was a real honour given her pedigree,” said Ferguson.

“She looks like she’ll make a really nice three/four-year-old but just came to hand ready for Haydock – and she was impressive there. ”

He went on: “That kept the dream alive for everyone at home and black type was then the route.

“I knew at home she’d taken a step forward for her first run and it was great to see her finish out.

“I’ll have to talk to the team – Sheikh Fahad, Oisin and David Redvers (racing manager) – before making a plan but the Fillies’ Mile looks an option.

“She’s obviously the best I’ve had.”

Ferguson plots Stewards’ Cup bid with First Folio

James Ferguson’s York winner First Folio will be saved for a crack at Goodwood’s Unibet Stewards’ Cup.

The three-year-old won what is traditionally a hot handicap on the Knavesmire last month, and already the form is stacking up – with the seventh home Bickerstaffe winning at Ascot and runner-up Blackrod scoring at Newmarket last week.

Ferguson has studied the past few renewals of the Stewards’ Cup and estimates First Folio’s mark of 98 should be sufficient enough to get him in the race. As a result, he is quite happy to stay patient until the end of this month.

“I think he’s more of a horse for next year, so I didn’t think there was a need to run him that much as a three-year-old,” said the Newmarket trainer.

“He came out of York well – and to be honest, I was just very happy to wait for the Stewards’ Cup. That’s the plan.

“Looking at the last few years, he should get in off his current rating, so I just didn’t feel the need to run again.

“He’s a horse who likes a bit of firmness in the ground, so the recent rain would have put me off anyway.

“With both Blackrod and Bickerstaffe winning decent races since, his form has been franked, but that York race is generally strong every year.

“His times have been very good. Fingers crossed we can get him there in one piece, and fingers crossed he gets in.”

James Ferguson has plenty to look forward to with Mise En Scene

James Ferguson was pleased with the winning racecourse debut of Mise En Scene at Haydock on Friday evening.

The two-year-old was an eyecatching four-length winner in the Irish EBF Fillies’ Novice Stakes, beating David O’Meara’s Ribchester colt Ribaldry in the process.

Oisin Murphy took the ride for the contest, with the Qatar Racing-owned youngster starting at 5-2 and Tom Dascombe’s fourth-placed Lady Valentine the 9-4 favourite after her prior success on debut at Leicester.

“It was a very positive start,” said Ferguson of the run.

“I’m very grateful to the owners, she has a lovely pedigree and looks a very exciting prospect.”

Whilst there are no immediate aims for the bay, Ferguson considers her to be the type of horse that will prosper as she gets older.

“With the way she looks, she looks like a three-year-old or four-year-old (prospect),” he said.

“So whatever she does at two is a bonus, she couldn’t have done it better and I’d like to see her step forward.”

Out of Gadfly, who is herself by Galileo, Mise En Scene was sired by the Aga Khan’s Siyouni.

The stallion also produced 2020 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Sotsass and four-time Group One winner St Mark’s Basilica, who was triumphant in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown on Saturday.

“Siyouni is a sire that is on the up,” Ferguson said.

“He’s having winners, he’s a proven champion sire, and her (Mise En Scene) being out of a Galileo mare makes her an exciting prospect for the future.

“If she can keep stepping forward and if we can plan her career with care, she could have an exciting career ahead of her.

“It’s only her first run and in this racing game we shouldn’t get too excited too quickly – but she’s showing us all the right signs.”

First Folio victory boosts James Ferguson’s fledgling career

James Ferguson saddled the biggest win of his fledgling career to date when First Folio broke clear in the Pavers Foundation Catherine Memorial Sprint Handicap at York.

Ferguson is in just his second season with a licence, but it is fair to say he has had a good grounding.

His father, John, was Sheikh Mohammed’s bloodstock adviser before enjoying a brief but successful spell training mostly National Hunt horses.

Bought out of Henri-Francois Devin’s yard in France for 50,000 guineas, First Folio was having just his third start for Ferguson but landed the near £40,000 first prize by a clear-cut length and a half.

He had won on his first outing for Ferguson at Yarmouth, but was only fifth last time out at Newmarket.

He put that experience to good use under Daniel Muscutt, travelling into the race stylishly before quickening clear to beat Blackrod and Ey Up It’s Maggie.

Ferguson said: “I’m thrilled – this has been the plan since he won impressively at Yarmouth, with Newmarket on the way.

“The faster ground definitely helped him out today, and we made sure we got him out quickly.

“Credit to Dan, because he gave him a very cool ride, and thanks to the owners (Owners Group) for giving me a chance in only my second year training to have a horse of this calibre – we’re just delighted it’s paid off.

“Thanks to the team back home, because everybody works incredibly hard – and it’s great to have a crowd here today.

“To win a race like this so early in my career is huge. But it’s not just me, it’s the staff, the owners. and we are very much a team – I’m not doing this on my own. We’ve got about 40 horses in.

“This was the plan, so we’ll have to go back to the drawing board.”

Muscutt said: “I’m personally happy to get a nice winner for James. I teamed up with him plenty during the winter, and it’s nice to be progressing together.

“This horse could hopefully pop up in plenty of those nice handicaps.

“Last time he probably lacked a bit of experience in a big field. While I was disappointed he didn’t win, I wasn’t disappointed with how he ran – and that was strong form.

“James has been happy with him since, and he showed the real First Folio today.”

Francesco Guardi set to return this month

James Ferguson is planning to give Francesco Guardi his three-year-old debut this month.

The Newmarket trainer reports the Frankel colt to have thrived over the winter and is looking forward to stepping up him in trip, with a mile-and-a-quarter the likely starting point.

“I’m very happy with him. He’s in full work, and we’re looking forward to getting him back out,” said Ferguson.

“I’m probably going to aim him for something in the middle of April, probably over a mile-and-a-quarter. What I go for, I’m not really sure yet.”

Ferguson has given Franceso Guardi an entry in the Al Basti Equiworld Dante Stakes at York in May – in case he shows he deserves to have a crack at the Group Two, a recognised Derby trial.

“The thing about entering him in the Dante is that it’s one of those races, if you find out you’re good enough and you’re not in it, it’s a shame you’re not,” he said.

“He’s working very well. He’s always been a very relaxed, laid-back horse. He probably takes a while to get really ready.”

Francesco Guardi made a promising start to his career with a winning debut at Salisbury in July, and then finished a close third over the same trip of seven furlongs in a Listed contest at Newbury.

However, he blotted his copybook when last of four over a mile at Yarmouth – after jumping a road crossing in what turned out to be his final start as a juvenile in mid-September.

“He was not bred to be a two-year-old – he’s bred to be an older horse and want a trip,” added Ferguson.

“When he ran first time out he was a bit gormless, and then he proved how gormless he was at Yarmouth, but I really like him and am thrilled with what he’s done.

“He’s put on plenty of condition and he’s filled out with muscle, and I think he’s going to come into his own this year.”

Racehorse Lotto offering chance win two-year-old filly for 2021

One lucky racing fan is set to receive the perfect gift on Christmas Day following the launch of the Racehorse Lotto Christmas Raffle.

The successful entrant will win an exciting two-year-old filly for the 2021 Flat racing season – to be ridden by Hayley Turner and trained by James Ferguson.

The daughter of Territories, out of Newbury Super Sprint runner-up Satsuma, is being raffled off at £10 a ticket with 20 per cent of sales going to Racing Welfare.

The winner will be able to visit the horse on a regular basis at Ferguson’s Newmarket yard, while Turner – the first female jockey to ride 100 Flat winners in a calendar year one of only three female jockeys to have ridden a Group One winner in Britain – will be involved in riding the horse in her work and on the track.

Naming rights are also included in the prize and the winner will also be able to design and select their own racing silks. All training fees are covered by Racehorse Lotto.

Turner said: “This is exactly the kind of thing that racing and the wider public need at the moment. It gets people excited, optimistic and involved in the sport, while importantly raising money for Racing Welfare who do such fabulous work for the industry.

“She looks a beautiful filly and I can’t wait to start riding her out over the winter. James is a brilliant young trainer and I think the winner can expect to have some fun times with this filly.”

The filly is a half-sister to Cornwallis Stakes winner Good Vibes, who reached a rating of 103 last summer and returned over £100,000 in prize-money for connections.

Ferguson said: “While this is not just a fantastic opportunity for somebody to get involved in racing, it’s also a brilliant chance for me as this filly could be a star.

“She’s speedily bred and, all being well, will be forward enough to tackle some of the hot maidens in the spring and early summer.”

Entries opened on Monday and close at 3pm on December 25, with the winner set to be called on Christmas Day to receive the good news.

Cesarewitch enters equation for Awesomedude

James Ferguson is weighing up a crack at the Together For Racing International Cesarewitch with his prolific winner Awesomedude.

Ferguson paid a modest fee of 8,000 guineas for the four-year-old gelding in January, when he was rated just 61.

Since finishing seventh on his first start of the year, he has won each of his next five races, shooting up to a rating of 88 – leaving him 35th on the list for the Cesarewitch, which has a maximum field of 34.

“There are a few options around that date. It would be a massive ask, but I’d like to keep all options open,” said Ferguson.

“If he squeezed in off bottom weight we’d have to think about it.

“As for the trip, he wants it so badly when you watch his races, he relaxes so well that if we were going to do it I think he’s got the mental attitude to go with it.

“He has won plenty already, and it’s a tremendous thrill to have a horse like him in the yard.”

Ferguson excited to pitch Zoetic into Group One company

Fledgling trainer James Ferguson will saddle his first Group One runner when Zoetic lines up in Saturday’s Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket.

Ferguson, who was Charlie Appleby’s assistant for three years at Godolphin, only took out a licence at the end of 2019, but has made great strides in the interim.

With 15 winners on the board already at an impressive strike-rate of over 20%, the Newmarket handler has made an impressive start and in Zoetic he has found a first headline horse with a Listed win already in the bag.

“She’s an intended runner – my first in a Group One, so it’s hugely exciting,” said Ferguson.

“The way she won the St Hugh’s at Newbury, I think she thoroughly deserves to take her chance at the highest level.

“She’s been winning over five furlongs, but we actually started her off over six because she relaxes so well at home. First time out at Kempton, she was keen, which was the last thing I was expecting.

“There was a sign of that at Doncaster as well, so we dropped her back to five as she was using too much energy too early. She’s growing up now though and in three runs since she’s relaxing.

“At Newbury, Oisin dropped her out at the back which I thought was beautiful to see as she relaxes so well, which is how she is at home.

“William Buick will ride as Andrew Balding has first pick on Oisin, so he’s on Alcohol Free. Me and WIlliam go back a long way – we worked very closely together at Godolphin when I was Charlie’s assistant for three years and there’s no one I’d rather turn to.

“I didn’t think we’d be having Group One runners this early in my career, so it’s a credit to the yard and to the owners for giving us the opportunity to do it. If we don’t get another for a while, we’re going to enjoy it.”

Class of 2020: Five New Trainers To Note

We're coming up to the half way point in the 2020 flat turf season after its delayed June 1st resumption; and it feels like a good time to introduce a few fledgling trainers who have enjoyed flying starts and with whom you may not (yet) be familiar.

Before we meet them, however, a few words on the approach. Racing, like all sports and indeed pretty much all things, is transient: its actors come and go, wax and wane. From a betting perspective, the earlier we can latch on to potentially promising players - trainers, jockeys, sires, even horses - the better our chance of beating the market. The flip side is that, in the rush to become an early adopter, we are likely to encounter a share of false positives. In lay person's terms, one swallow doesn't make a summer: there is a danger that we (in this case, I) place too much store on an eye-catching beginning when little subsequent substance manifests beyond that early flourish.

Moreover, with new trainers in particular, their generally very small strings can quickly meet their match in the handicapper: win one, shame on me; win two, shame on you, as it were.

That's a verbose way of saying we need to tread carefully with what look like promising angles, and consider the early detection of new players in the wider wagering context of the race (conditions, other runners, draw, pace, etc).

So, with caution aforethought, here are my five to follow in the second half of 2020 and beyond:

George Boughey

Career record to date:

Boughey, like myself a good Dorset man, saddled the first runner from his Hamilton Road, Newmarket, stables on 24th July last year. Three weeks later, on 13th August 2019, in a lowly Class 7 event at Lingfield, he was off the mark, at the eighth time of asking. His debut runner, and winner, was the same horse, Three C's.

By the end of 2019, Boughey was 2/39 and on the tail of a 27-runner losing streak. By mid-February he'd added another five winners and, lockdown aside, has not looked back.

Before taking out his own license, Boughey had worked in bloodstock sales, and subsequently for the likes of Gai Waterhouse in Australia then, most recently, spent six years as assistant trainer to Hugo Palmer. Now out on his own, and up to speed, he's one to note and still a touch under the radar.

James Ferguson

Career record to date:

Former amateur jump jockey, and son of Bloomfields trainer and bloodstock adviser to Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin operation, John Ferguson, James has not so much hit the ground running as scorched the earth beneath his sneakers.

Clearly not one to set the bar too low, his website quotes him as saying, “My primary goal is to create one of the world’s leading training establishments, to train winners at the highest level at the biggest meetings, and to provide owners with an experience for their overall enjoyment”. Crikey, fair play.

After a short and somewhat low key overture between late November last year and late January this, the first movement of Ferguson's career arrived when Arabian King notched a hat-trick in little more than two weeks from 30th January. Interspersed with that one-horse treble was a score for Johnny Reb to round out a four-in-a-row sequence for the newbie trainer.

Based, like Boughey, in Newmarket, Ferguson's record gained Black Type lustre as Zoetic prevailed in the Listed St Hugh's Fillies' Stakes at Newbury on Sunday, the highlight of his career to date.

Ferguson had started out with a spell learning from Sir Mark Prescott before stints with Charlie Appleby, Brian Meehan and Jessica Harrington, all in assistant trainer roles. With a(n unsustainable) 25% strike rate so far, his entries should not be readily overlooked.

Terry Kent

Career record to date:

If training, like most vocations, is "a young man's game", nobody told Terry Kent, and good luck to him for that. Kent doesn't yet have the patronage of the other names in this list, and he's arguably the biggest 'flyer' in this five to follow, but his CV is impressive.

Now 53, Kent was originally an apprentice jockey with the late Michael Jarvis before spending most of two decades as part of the Godolphin operation, principally with David Loder. After that, he returned to Kremlin House Stables where Roger Varian, formerly assistant to Jarvis, took over after his passing and installed Kent as his assistant.

Having saddled his first runner from the boxes he rents at Frankland Lodge Stables in Newmarket just two months ago - and achieved a winner with his fourth - he is ahead of Ferguson and Boughey at this nascent stage in his new career. Whether he can spring forward as that pair have seems less likely, but it ought to pay to follow his small string of about a dozen in the coming months.

Joseph Parr

Career record to date:

Apparently, Joseph Parr's granddad, Alan Bailey, told him to steer well clear of applying for a trainer's license. Kids, eh? They rarely listen to their elders, and that's not always a bad thing. Not so far, in this case, at least.

Parr, who remarkably is not just the fourth Newmarket trainer on this list but also shares the Frankland Lodge yard with Terry Kent, had only sent out three runners when the pandemic paused proceedings. But that hadn't prevented him from breaking his duck with Clem A, formerly trained by gramps, on the trainer's second day at the track with a license.

Since the resumption, Parr has added another four wins from 15 starts, including three-in-a-row earlier this month. He and Kent will doubtless feed off each other in the coming months as they press their respective careers forward.

Gearoid O'Loughlin

National Hunt career record to date:

And now, as they say, for something completely different. We head out of Newmarket, out of Britain, and away from the flat to an Irish National Hunt trainer who could make waves this coming campaign... and he may even have a live outsider for a shallow-looking Champion Hurdle next March.

O'Loughlin has been training for two years, sending out his inaugural winner at the 16th attempt on the 10th January 2019, when Sidetracked took the honours in a maiden hunter chase at Clonmel. His second win as a trainer came in a maiden hurdle at the same venue but, a year later with three more winners on the board, O'Loughlin was celebrating a higher profile and big-priced success in the Ulster National at Downpatrick with the Chris Jones-owned Space Cadet.

Jones, who enjoyed dual Cheltenham Festival success with Klairon Davis and more recently landed a touch in the Fred Winter with the high-class flat filly, What A Charm, entrusts his string to O'Loughlin now; since so doing he's not only been rewarded with the Ulster National score but has also seen his Mitchouka, formerly with Gordon Elliott, revitalised to win a beginners' chase.

However, the horse about which Jones must be most excited is surely Cedarwood Road, a big lumbering brute of a teenager about to become a man in 2020/21. I hope. I've backed him to win the Champion Hurdle at 100/1 you see. There's a better than fair chance he either proves not good enough or takes a different path to top honours this term; but his trainer's patience has been rewarded first with a facile eleven-length score in a 25-runner maiden hurdle on Boxing/St Stephen's Day, and most recently with a snug triumph in Listed company. He has a stone and more to find to be a genuine Blue Riband contender but, with just four runs to his belt, this five-rising-six-year-old son of Stowaway has all the attributes to progress through the ranks.

O'Loughlin meanwhile is the fifth man in my quintet of handlers to follow, and offers some variety to the spice of Newmarket life.