Tag Archive for: Phantom Flight

Horton has Ascot ambitions after fine start from Middleham base

James Horton is enjoying a fine first season in the training ranks and is now targeting Royal Ascot success with some of his thriving string.

Sir Michael Stoute’s former assistant was head-hunted by owners John and Jess Dance to lead an ambitious operation from the historic Manor House Farm stables in Middleham and although the redevelopment of the historic training base is not set to be complete until early next year, Horton has wasted little time since swapping Newmarket for Middleham, sending out seven winners at a strike-rate of 28 per cent.

Horton got off the mark with a treble at Redcar on Easter Monday and one of the winners on that occasion, Asjad, was hitting the headlines once again when plundering a competitive handicap at York on Sunday.

A trip to the Royal meeting is next on the agenda, with the handler confident the Berkshire track will play to his strengths.

“The Wokingham is the plan next,” said Horton.

“I think Ascot will suit him, I think he wants a level track. I probably shouldn’t have run him at Newmarket, he hated the track and I probably brought him back a bit quick after Redcar. So he’ll have a nice bit of time now between York and the Wokingham and that will be plan A.”

Another horse involved in the Redcar treble was Phantom Flight, who in perfect symmetry was not only Horton’s first-ever runner, but then became his first winner. He has since followed up at Haydock, but the handler is waiting for the handicapper’s assessment before making too many future plans.

He continued: “We’ll wait and see what the handicapper does and that will guide us a bit to what our next step is. He’s a horse that has done nothing wrong at home and has improved every time he has gone to the track.”

Horton is targeting Group One success at Ascot with Sam Maximus, placed in the Group Two July Stakes when trained by Tom Dascombe as a two-year-old, and third on reappearance in the Carnarvon Stakes at Newbury.

“He was only just up to a race when we ran him, he kind of needed a race to bring him forwards,” he explained.

“I thought he ran really well and he just got tired in the last half-furlong, he had a real good blow and I think he should step forward from that.

Horse Racing – The Royal Ascot Meeting 2015 – Day Two – Ascot Racecourse
James Horton has made a fine start to his training career (David Davies/PA)

“He’s in the Commonwealth Cup and the two that finished in front of him at Newbury will probably run in it. They were match-fit and we went there half expecting to blow up, so I’d like to think he could get closer to them with another effort and the plan is to run him at Ascot and go from there.

“The programme for three-year-old sprinters kind of maps itself out. We’ll then see if he can mix it with the best sprinters or maybe have to go back and find a little Listed race somewhere”

The trainer also provided an update on Encourageable, the highly-regarded Profitable colt, who appeared in Sandown’s Heron Stakes last week.

Sent off at 25-1 for the Listed contest, the three-year-old struggled to make any real impression and Horton has since discovered an issue that means he can forgive and forget the outing.

He said: “His form is really good, he really baffled me with the way he ran at Sandown because I know he is better than that.

“But he scoped dirty afterwards and subsequently had a temperature and has been under the weather, so I think it is safe to put a line through Sandown.

“We’ll get him right and I think there are some nice races for him.”

Special day for James Horton who gets off the mark with a treble

James Horton will never forget his first winner as a trainer as he went on to record an impressive treble at Redcar.

Horton, who spent seven years as assistant trainer to the legendary Sir Michael Stoute, was head-hunted by John and Jess Dance to be their private trainer, operating out of the historic Manor House Farm stables in Middleham.

The redevelopment of the birthplace and home to one the north’s greatest racing sons, Dante, is not scheduled to be finished until next year, but Horton has made a fine start to life in North Yorkshire and has the string he oversees for the Dance family up and running from Brecongill stables, which is owned by former trainer Sally Hall.

“We’re renting a yard off Sally Hall at the minute while John and Jess put a huge amount into the redevelopment of Manor House Farm,” Horton told Racing TV.

“We’re trying to create a training facility which will be fantastic when it is done, but is very much in its infancy at the moment. We’re laying foundations at the moment and knocking things down and fingers crossed this time next year we’ll be in there.”

Phantom Flight (11-4) was the first runner saddled by Horton when the son of Siyouni made his debut at Newcastle late last month and it is somewhat fitting that the three-year-old built on that second-place finish to provide him with his first winner.

“He ran a lovely race at Newcastle and I was very pleased with how he ran,” said Horton.

“I thought if the penny had dropped a little sooner he might even have got the win, but he’s built on that today and an outing today on turf will have done him some good and he’ll improve again for that.”

Horton and jockey PJ McDonald made it a double when Il Bandito (11-4 joint-favourite) prevailed by the tightest of margins in the Join Racing TV Now Handicap before Asjad (9-1) won the Market Cross Jewellers Handicap.

The handler touched on the guidance he has received throughout his career, paying particular tribute to Stoute, for who he shadowed for almost seven years at Freemason Lodge.

He said: “I spent a long time with Sir Michael, which was a fantastic opportunity and experience for me to learn off one of the best trainers in the world and he was very good to me.

“I was based with Sir Mark (Prescott) before that and also worked for Roger Charlton. David Redvers was also a big help to me very early on, so there’s a huge amount of people that have helped me on my way and its great to now do it in my own name.”

John Dance has enjoyed success on the Flat with multiple Group One winner Laurens, as well as being part-owner of the classy Bravemansgame over jumps, but he has put plenty of his trust in Horton.

Dance said: “What an unbelievable day, absolutely unbelievable. We’re very lucky the way the races fell for a couple of the horses and it is just unbelievable to have three find the scoresheet.

“We drove down here dreaming that James might have his first winner, so to come away with all three is amazing. He’s gone and had his first winner, his first double and first treble all in the space of three hours!

“Obviously, when we came up with the idea we wanted to have great days, dreamt of success and hoped that we would get it.

“I think we’d seen enough since when we started to work with James from sort of August onwards, that he was going to be pretty special as a trainer, but certainly didn’t expect to be getting a treble including a couple of decent handicap pots so soon in the relationship. Hopefully it is a great sign of what could be some really big days ahead.”

Horton was only half a length away from saddling a four-timer on the day when Ghost Rider was denied in Wolverhampton’s opener, although Dance was far from thinking about what might have been.

“With a little slice of luck we could have had a four-timer, but we certainly aren’t going to complain at a treble and it’s the first time Jess and I have had one. We don’t want to get too greedy too soon,” continued the owner.

Dance was also delighted with the speed in which his new venture with Horton has hit the ground running and is delighted that this immediate success will take the pressure off both trainer and owner.

He said: “We’ve been enjoying the game with everyone else as well, but the idea to do this has made it a more relaxing process and much easier to manage mentally which is great.

“We were not worried as such, but you always have these thoughts in the back of your mind that a new trainer might take a bit of time to find his feet, and find what works for him and that.

“But getting off to such a fine start so early takes all the pressure off and now we can just crack on and move forward.”

Horton off the mark as Phantom takes Flight at Redcar

One of the newest names to the training ranks, James Horton, broke his duck on Monday when Phantom Flight took division one of the Watch Racing TV In Stunning HD Novice Stakes at Redcar.

Horton, who spent seven years as assistant trainer to the legendary Sir Michael Stoute, was head-hunted by John and Jess Dance to be their private trainer, operating out of the historic Manor House Farm stables in Middleham.

The redevelopment of the birthplace and home to one the north’s greatest racing sons, Dante, is not scheduled to be finished until next year, but Horton has made a fine start to life in North Yorkshire and has the string he oversees for the Dance family up and running from Brecongill stables, which is owned by former trainer Sally Hall.

“We’re renting a yard off Sally Hall at the minute while John and Jess put a huge amount into the redevelopment of Manor House Farm,” Horton told Racing TV.

“We’re trying to create a training facility which will be fantastic when it is done, but is very much in its infancy at the moment. We’re laying foundations at the moment and knocking things down and fingers crossed this time next year we’ll be in there.”

Phantom Flight (11-4) was the first runner saddled by Horton when the son of Siyouni made his debut at Newcastle late last month and it is somewhat fitting that the three-year-old built on that second-place finish to provide him with his first winner.

“He ran a lovely race at Newcastle and I was very pleased with how he ran,” said Horton.

“I thought if the penny had dropped a little sooner he might even have got the win, but he’s built on that today and an outing today on turf will have done him some good and he’ll improve again for that.”

Plenty has been made of the impact the current cost of living crisis has had on the training ranks and how it is a precarious situation for many at present. Horton agrees that it is far from the ideal time to be going solo, but is both grateful and fortunate for the chance afforded to him by the Dances, which allows him to somewhat just focus on training the horses.

“I’ve been in the industry for a long time and to get an opportunity from John and Jess has been fantastic. I’m delighted to be able to reward them with a winner early on,” said Horton.

“I’ve been thinking about it for a long time and it was just finding the right time to do it, I was at Sir Michael’s for a long time and always thinking about it, but in this financial climate its never a nice time to be stepping into something like that and I’m now in a very lucky position where I’m the private trainer to John and Jess and it kind of takes a bit of the worry about the financial side of things out of it.”

The handler also touched on the guidance he has received throughout his career, paying particular tribute to Stoute, for who he shadowed for almost seven years at Freemason Lodge.

QIPCO Guineas Festival – Day Two – Newmarket Racecourse
James Horton spent seven years as assistant to Sir Michael Stoute (Mike Egerton/PA)

He concluded: “I spent a long time with Sir Michael, which was a fantastic opportunity and experience for me to learn off one of the best trainers in the world and he was very good to me.

“I was based with Sir Mark (Prescott) before that and also worked for Roger Charlton. David Redvers was also a big help to me very early on, so there’s a huge amount of people that have helped me on my way and its great to now do it in my own name.”

Horton and jockey P J McDonald later doubled up when Il Bandito (11-4 joint-favourite) prevailed by the tightest of margins in the Join Racing TV Now Handicap.