Tag Archive for: Tom Dascombe

Monday Musings: A Red Letter Weekend for Lambourn

One training centre above all others was at the forefront of the action this weekend just past as four (or technically five) of its incumbents joined in the bonanza with wins of varying importance, writes Tony Stafford.

It was a rarity for me not to have been at the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot but instead I went to Newmarket. I’m glad I did for it was the day reserved as a memorial to the late football man and Newmarket races adherent Glenn Roeder, who always used to love a chat whenever we bumped into each other on one HQ course or the other.

What was marvellous was to find the superbly produced brochure for a two-day silent auction. Late last night when I looked at the site, 90 of the 95 listed items had bids totalling, addition permitting, more than £125,000, with some time to go, all destined to the benefit of the Brain Tumour Association. It was a brain tumour that Glenn fought with such courage for the last decade of his life but to which he finally succumbed aged 65 in February last year.

Midway through the programme, I had a chat with one Lambourn trainer battling valiantly to revive his career after his sacking late last year from Michael Owen’s Manor House Stables in Cheshire after many years’ success.

The trainer of course is Tom Dascombe, who started the New Year effectively with no horses and no stables. Now he has 21 in three rows at Uplands Stables in Lambourn, famously, in the second half of the last century, the base of the great Fred Winter.

Much later Charlie Brooks held the licence, then its former owner Charlie Egerton (who still owns the house and garden, but not the yard according to Tom), and latterly Warren Greatrex – now up the road at Rhonehurst, the fiefdom for 30 years of Oliver Sherwood.

If the village just from that snapshot seems like a rather incestuous enclave, that’s pretty much the case. The place does spread out though with such as Charlie and dad Barry Hills and Nicky Henderson out one way, and Clive Cox and his even more famous landlord, John Francome, radiating in another direction from the village hub.

As we started to talk, a racegoer came along and congratulated Tom on his first winner since his removal from his comfort zone where his tally in reverse order for the ten previous seasons from last year had been 60, 41, 67, 77, 59, 75, 45, 62, 56 and 79.

The winner, the 48th runner of the year from 17 horses to have gone to the track, was Felix Natalis in a handicap at Newbury. There must have been much reassurance that Felix had been ridden by his old partner, Richard Kingscote.

I asked Dascombe about how it all started for him with horses and he said that his family had been from Bristol and when he was young they used to go to Weston-Super-Mare: “If you led the donkeys on the beach they would let you have a free ride. It all came from that”, he said.

I mentioned what I had recalled in this column when Kingscote rode the Derby winner, Desert Crown, and how, years previously, I had met his grandmother who was working as a cashier at a Tesco store in East London; she had proudly told me about him when I presented a Racing Post to her early one morning. “My grandson’s in racing. He’s a jockey called Richard Kingscote.”

I asked Richard about her a few days after the Derby and, after establishing which grandmother it was, he confirmed she is still with us but did not go to the Derby. Kingscote, contrary to my amateur sleuthing, did not come from the East End like that relative, but rather from close to where Dascombe grew up.

Tom came into the lunchroom on Saturday frustrated after his solid handicapper Miramichi, who won four in a row last summer, was obliterated by first-time handicapper Francesco Clemente. An unbeaten Dubawi colt, he was running for only the third time for the Gosdens and owner-breeder Peter Brant’s White Birch Farm.

The margin was nine lengths and Dascombe said: “I’ve got a nice horse here, but the way the programme is framed he will have to be so lucky to find a race he can win off with his mark. There’s always a three-year-old like today’s winner, which is probably a future Group 1 horse, able to get an easy race as they get their careers started. No wonder owners are persuaded to sell horses when they get to a certain level. It can only get worse in the future,” he said.

Happily for Dascombe, things got better yesterday when Misty Grey, a five-year-old gelding and the top weight for Chelmsford’s feature, defied 9st 13lb, again with Kingscote in the saddle, winning by half-a-length and collecting a £25k first prize. Where there’s life there’s hope, Tom!

Two of the five trainers I mentioned at the start were at that time within minutes of the biggest triumph of their lives. Willie Muir, who nowadays trains in conjunction with Chris Grassick, sent his hard-knocking five-year-old Pyledriver to the King George.

In a market dominated by the Irish Derby winner Westover, trained by Ralph Beckett, and the Gosden pair of Emily Upjohn – considered by many an unlucky second to Tuesday in the Oaks – and Mishriff, similarly portrayed after his fast but futile finish second to French colt Vadeni in the Coral-Eclipse, Pyledriver was largely unconsidered in the betting.

Similarly under-estimated was last year’s Arc winner, Torquator Tasso, and in the event, while this year’s Classic form was left in tatters, these two veterans of many battles had the final furlong to themselves as the other quartet trailed home well beaten.

Westover’s fifth-placed finish, 18 lengths behind the winner, could have been explained by his making the running, a new departure, and at an exaggerated tempo, too. As likely, the race may have come too soon after his Irish Derby exploits: however easy a Classic win appears, any horse has to run hard to win one. Emily Upjohn was simply too free in the first half of the race; she would not be the first filly to shine brightly for a while but fail to sustain it. It appears talk of a second Enable was premature. [It generally will be. Ed.]

Muir’s renaissance has been allied to his unearthing of Pyledriver, winner of the Coronation Cup last year and second in it last month. Altogether the winner of seven races, he has earned more than £1.8 million and his toughness should ensure a lot more.

Whether an Arc can be one race for him, that is the target, but I believe Torquator Tasso, last year’s winner of France’s great race, might have the greater scope for improvement in the second half of the season. This was only his third race of 2022 and the ground was faster than ideal.

The next Lambourn resident to share in the weekend wins was Owen Burrows. Last summer at Brighton, on one of my first post-Covid racetrack visits, I sat talking to Owen who was telling how all the trainers with horses of the recently-deceased Hamdan Al Maktoum were fearing the future. “There’s going to be a big meeting in Dubai and we’ll learn more soon,” he said.

The massive reductions that eventually resulted might have shaken up racing a good deal, but the positive effect was that it enabled other owners and trainers to buy otherwise unavailable bloodstock at auctions. Burrows’ own numerical string at his new base at Farncombe Down Stables in Lambourn has been significantly reduced.

What has not changed is his ability to win races. Already in 2022 he has ten wins to his credit – his annual scores were usually in the mid-20’s – but from only 34 runs. Remarkably these have yielded just short of £500,000 in prizes, a tally only bettered in a whole season once – last year.

His weekend winner was Alflaila, a three-year-old Dark Angel colt in the Shadwell Estate Company colours, who collected £28k for his win in the Skybet-sponsored Pomfret Stakes, the main event on the final day of the Go Racing in Yorkshire Festival at Pontefract.

The other in-form Lambourn trainer has been Archie Watson with three wins over the weekend, two ridden by Hollie Doyle who has been in terrific form lately. One race Archie didn’t win though was Ascot’s lady riders’ handicap on Friday when Micky Hammond’s Carnival Zain and Becky Smith raced away from Alazwar and Brodie Hampson, Archie’s partner.

Hammond was also on the mark at Pontefract yesterday when his progressive ex-French Piecederesistance won nicely. In the calendar year 2022, Hammond is already on 49 wins, including 16 on the level, which is only three short of his highest-ever figure in more than 30 years as a trainer.

Another to be setting records is William Knight. It had been twenty races since his six-year-old Sir Busker had last won, at Royal Ascot in the Royal Hunt Cup Consolation race straight after the Covid break. He had been placed many times since but gained a first Group 2 win in the Skybet York Stakes on Saturday. The seventy-odd grand prize has pushed Knight beyond the best season’s prizemoney of his career.

- TS

What dreams are made of – Dascombe heaps praise on Derby-winning rider Kingscote

Tom Dascombe paid tribute to Richard Kingscote the morning after his long-time stable jockey claimed Derby glory aboard Desert Crown.

The pair enjoyed a long and successful partnership before Kingscote decided last year to pursue increased opportunities with Sir Michael Stoute.

It is a decision which paid off spectacularly for the 35-year-old at Epsom on Saturday, as the Stoute-trained Desert Crown ran out a hugely impressive winner of the premier Classic.

Dascombe himself recently made a move south after being replaced as the salaried trainer at Michael Owen’s Manor Farm Stables in Cheshire by Hugo Palmer, and now trains out of Uplands in Lambourn.

He has continued to use Kingscote when available and was thrilled to see him prove himself on the biggest stage of all.

“It’s what dreams are made of, isn’t it? I couldn’t be happier for him. It’s just magic,” said Dascombe.

“I think Sir Michael Stoute has done exactly what he said to Richard he would do. He’s given him the opportunity when Ryan Moore isn’t available and Richard has snapped it up and proved, beyond all doubt now, what I’ve been saying about him for the last 17 years – that he’s as good as anybody.

“He’s not a big talker and he never beats himself up. I’ve been telling everyone for 17 years what a brilliant man he is and luckily for him, Sir Michael Stoute has listened.”

Kingscote was a teenage apprentice when Dascombe first called on his services and he insists he knew from an early stage he was a top-class rider in the making.

Tom Dascombe and Richard Kingscote with Brown Panther at the Curragh
Tom Dascombe and Richard Kingscote with Brown Panther at the Curragh (PA)

He added: “He’d have been about 18, I suppose, when he first start riding for me and I had no doubt that he was a top-class jockey from the very start.

“One of his first rides for me was on a horse called Gross Prophet at Newbury. If you find the video and watch it for yourself, you’ll see what an unbelievably cool head he’s got.

“He made the running that day and dropped back to fifth or sixth because all the other jockeys kicked too early. He came back and passed them all and won.”

Dascombe revealed he had a pre-race conversation with Kingscote prior to his Derby success.

He said: “I had no doubts about his temperament for yesterday. I just said to him ‘whatever you do, don’t get trapped down the inside. As long as you don’t make a mistake, you will win the Derby’.

“He gave him the perfect ride, apart from he kicked for home far too early – and I gave him a b******ing about that!

“To me he won the Derby yesterday in the first furlong. He got his horse into the position he wanted and this is why he’s such a brilliant jockey around Chester and places like that. He got his position and didn’t let anybody keep him out if it.

“I was watching the race with my dad and after the first furlong and a half I said ‘he’s won this’, because he’s made the horse get to where he wanted it to be and after that it was just a cruise.

“We’re best mates and I still consider him to be my jockey. I just couldn’t be happier for him.”

Like most jockeys Kingscote has had his fair share of ups and downs, most notably losing the ride on the Dascombe-trained Brown Panther in the 2011 St Leger at Doncaster.

Trainer Tom Dascombe
Trainer Tom Dascombe (Julian Herbert/PA)

Kingscote had steered the colt to victory at Royal Ascot earlier that year, but was replaced by Kieren Fallon in the season’s final Classic, with the pair finishing second to Masked Marvel.

Kingscote did eventually get back on board Brown Panther, however, and they recorded a further six victories together, including a runaway success in the 2014 Irish St Leger and the following year’s Dubai Gold Cup.

“Richard’s temperament got him back on Brown Panther,” said Dascombe.

“Kieren Fallon gave the horse a fantastic ride in the St Leger. I’m not saying Richard couldn’t have done that, but he didn’t have the opportunity to.

Richard Kingscote with the Derby trophy
Richard Kingscote with the Derby trophy (David Davies/PA)

“There’s a time and a place for everything. It wasn’t my decision to take him off the horse, but I had to go along with it.

“Richard didn’t lose any confidence in himself or in me by that decision being made. For the owners it was the right decision at the right time and they were big enough and man enough to realise that it’s not about one race, it’s about a hundred horses in the yard and making the right decision for every single day.”

For Kingscote it was straight back to the day job at Goodwood on Sunday – where both his rides were winners – and Dascombe is not expecting there to be any wild celebrations.

He quipped: “Richard is the most boring man in the world! His idea of celebrating will be to sit on his PlayStation on his sofa.”

Trainers and Run Style: Part 1

In this article I will be looking from a different angle at run style bias, which regular readers will know is an area of research in which I have a deep interest, writes Dave Renham. As I have discussed in previous articles on the subject, knowing how a race is likely to play out in terms of a potential running style angle is useful for us as punters. It might point us in the direction of a value bet or, just as importantly, help us swerve a losing bet that we would have otherwise backed had we not realised there was a negative in terms of run style.

I have written several run style articles to date on Geegeez covering numerous angles, but as yet I have not looked at trainers in any depth. This article, then, will start to address that omission as I will look at some general stats for trainer regarding the run styles of their horses.

The reason I have decided to look at trainer data is that a good proportion of handlers will tell their jockeys how they would like them to position their horses early in the race as part of their general instructions; hence past trainer run style data could be informative.

I have looked at eight calendar years' worth of data (2014 to 2021) including both turf and all weather racing in the UK. As a starting point I have looked at all races (handicaps and non handicaps) with six or more runners (all distances).

Before delving into the nitty gritty, for new readers especially, allow me to explain what is meant by run style. Essentially, run style is the position a horse takes up early on in the race, normally within the first furlong, which often defines its running preference. geegeez.co.uk has created some powerful resources to look at run style in the Tools tab. Specifically, either the Pace Analyser or the Query Tool can be used to do this type of research. Running style is often linked with pace because the early pace shown by horses in a race determines their early position. Thus, for many, the words run style and pace are synonymous.

The stats I am using for this piece are based on the site’s pace / run style data. These data on Geegeez are split into four sections – Led (4), Prominent (3), Mid Division (2) and Held Up (1). The number in brackets is the run style score assigned to each section. These are really helpful as you can drill down into them to help build a picture of how important run style can be.

Below is a basic breakdown of which type of horse fits which type of run style profile:

Led – horses that lead early, horses that dispute the early lead. I refer to the early leader as the front runner;

Prominent – horses that lie up close to the pace just behind the leader(s);

Mid Division – horses that race mid pack or just behind the mid-point;

Held Up – horses that are held up at, or near the back of the field.

 

Which trainers' horses lead early the most?

As a starting point let us see which trainers saw their horses take the early lead the most (in % terms). I have included trainers who have had at least 200 runners over this 8-year period:

 

 

As a useful comparison, the average percentage of all horses that lead, or share the lead, early is around 13.2%. The trainers with the highest percentages are leading up to and more than twice as frequently as average and, as we've previously established, an early lead is a general advantage; so these men and women are definitely worthy of further investigation. Let's consider some of them.

 

Eric Alston

Eric Alston trains a smallish string near Preston, Lancashire. His breakdown in terms of percentage of run style across all four run styles looks like this:

 

 

We can see Alston is a big fan of horses running close to or up with the pace – over 70% of all his runners have either led or raced prominently. To show how unusual this is let us review Alston’s figures against the overall numbers for all trainers:

 

 

There is a clear disparity here, with only 20.3% of Alston's runners having been held up, compared with 36.6% for trainers generally.

Being handily placed is all well and good, but only if horses are capable of winning from there. Alston’s front runners have done well when fancied, generally if they have been in the top six in the betting. We might expect fancied runners to fare best, of course, as a general rule of thumb. Below is a breakdown of Alston's front running performance by odds rank:

 

 

As can be seen from the table above, just two wins from 96 runners were when his front runners have been ranked 7th or higher in the betting market.

The final Alston stat I wish to share in this article is his record with front runners in 5f races. He has an extremely good record as you can see:

 

 

More than one in four of Eric's five furlong front runners have won which is a very positive situation. Of course, we know that we cannot easily predict front runners pre-race but we also know that this trainer's horses typically run from the front - and, further, we have the excellent Geegeez Gold pace maps to show how much contention there might be for the early lead - so it's perfectly possible to find likely front runners most of the time. Racing, and betting on it, is an inexact science, as we all know.

 

Charlie & Mark Johnston

Mark Johnston now shares the licence with his son Charlie, a partnership which started on Jan 1st 2022. So, when using Geegeez’s Query Tool for races before 2022, you need to remember to include M Johnston. Firstly, in relation to this powerhouse yard, let's take a look at the breakdown in terms of percentage of runners across all four run styles:

 

 

There's a very similar profile to our first trainer, but with a slightly higher combined percentage for front runners and prominent racers as a single group. No fewer than 73% of all Johnston runners showed one of those two run styles in 6+ runner races over an eight year period! The following table, taken from the Pace Score section on the Query Tool, shows perhaps why the Johnston stable tend not to hold their runners up:

 

 

Hold up horses have been successful for the Johnston team just 6% of the time, with losses equating to a huge 60p in the £1. Returns drop steadily from top to bottom as you can see.

Below is a breakdown of front runner performance by track for the Johnstons. As can be seen, there is a big difference when we compare the courses at the top of the table with those at the bottom:

 

 

No surprises to see Ascot and Newcastle low down, with neither course particularly suiting front runners. Thirsk at the bottom is a surprise, however, although only 30 runners is a smallish sample and hence the figures may be skewed a little. There are some very strong figures at the top of the table: if a potential Johnston front runner appears at any of Beverley, Southwell, Brighton, Catterick and Carlisle we need to take note! [N.B. Southwell performance was based on the previous fibresand surface, so a degree of caution is advised on the new tapeta layout for now]

 

Tom Dascombe

A quarter of Tom Dascombe’s runners took the early lead in the study period and the first table to share illustrates the difference in success for these early leaders by gender:

 

 

In general male horses slightly outperform female ones when it comes to front running stats but the difference is marginal. However, this is a significant difference, which is hard to explain without knowing whether there are any idiosyncrasies when it comes to training fillies. The prices of the male runners were a bit shorter on average, but not enough to make such a big difference to the bottom line. It will be interesting to see if this pattern continues in the coming years, especially with Dascombe having relocated from his Cheshire yard and essentially restarted in Lambourn.

Looking at Dascombe front runners broken down by age we see something interesting when examining their strike rates:

 

 

2yos have the best strike rate by some margin. Considering how inexperienced 2yos are this is an impressive performance. When we analyse what would have happened if we had backed all Dascombe front runners, the 2yos would have produced the best returns across the age groups:

 

 

Find a Dascombe 2yo that will take the early lead and the stats are nicely in our favour, such runners having returned just over 38p in the £.

Before moving on, it is also worth noting that Dascombe’s front runners across all age groups have performed exceptionally well in sprints with a 23.2% win SR% for races from 5f to 6f; for 7f or further the win percentage diminishes to 14.8%. That's still pretty good considering the shorter the distance the easier it is to lead from pillar to post.

 

Which trainers' horses lead early the least?

Not all trainers are keen for their runners to take an early lead. Below is a list of the trainers with the lowest percentages in terms of horses that led early in UK flat races of six or more runners between 2014 and 2021:

 

 

If you are looking for a front runner, it is unlikely to come from any of these stables.

 

Trainer Run Style Averages

In order to give us a more complete picture, I have produced some trainer pace / run style averages, using exactly the same methodology that I have previously created course and jockey pace / run style averages in the past. I simply add up the Geegeez pace points for a particular trainer and divide it by the number of runners. The higher the average the more prominent the trainer’s horses tend to race. I have also not only given each trainer an overall pace average, but separate non-handicap and handicap averages, too. To qualify for the list, trainers needed to have had saddled at least at least 100 horses in non-handicaps and 150 in handicaps. As a baseline figure, it is worth knowing that the average pace / run style average for all trainers stands at 2.23.

Most trainers have similar figures but a few - such as Shaun Harris, Sir Mark Prescott, Ed De Giles, Mark Walford, Neil Mulholland, and Christine Dunnett - demonstrate quite a difference between the two. Go figure! 😉 The right hand column shows the difference in average run style score between non-handicap and handicap runners. A negative score implies trainers whose horses that are campaigned more forwardly in handicap races than non-handicaps (say, while working towards an opening rating, for example)...

The list below is extensive!

 

 

How, or indeed if, one uses the information in this article to aid personal betting is, naturally, down to the individual; for me, as someone who is often looking to predict the front runner in a race, this trainer run style data is extremely informative. Previous run style articles have noted that huge profits could be made at certain distances if you could consistently predict the horse that is going to take the early lead. Adding trainer data to other factors such as the recent run style profile of each horse, a longer term horse run style profile, the draw and the jockey will all assist in building up the best pace and positioning profile of a race that we can.

In the next article in this series I will delve deeper into trainer run style data. Until then, thanks for reading.

- DR

Dascombe announces Lambourn move following Owen split

Tom Dascombe will continue his training career in Lambourn after sending out his last runner from Michael Owen’s Manor House Stables on Saturday.

The 48-year-old has agreed a lease on Uplands, a yard made famous by Fred Winter and most recently the base of Warren Greatrex.

Dascombe spent 12 years at Manor House and tasted Classic success with Brown Panther, who won the 2014 Irish St Leger, and sent out over 700 winners at the Cheshire yard, which will now be home to Hugo Palmer.

His last runner from Manor House will be Misty Grey at Wolverhampton.

“Misty Grey will be my last runner from Manor House and I will be returning to Lambourn from April 1 after signing an agreement at Uplands,” Dascombe said.

“I’m 100 per cent better as of yesterday. It has been incredibly difficult finding somewhere, looking all over the place, looking at yards. I must be honest, not just in this country.

“But I always had it in my mind that I wanted to go back to Lambourn and I’m really thrilled for the Jockey Club Estates, because it is impossible finding a yard in Lambourn.

“But I have been patient and it coincides with my last runner from the yard and I’ve really not wanted to say anything until now. I’m delighted that the last day of the job, I’ve actually got something to say. That’s a positive.

“I must thank my new landlords at Uplands, Amber Varcoe and Dominic Hoult, for their support and a mutual desire to see this great yard among the winners and I am very much looking forward to a new chapter in my career.

“But I enjoyed my 12 years at Manor House Stables. We shared Classic success and plenty of winners, and it would be nice to think Misty Grey can end this chapter of my career on a high.

“I’m hugely grateful to Michael Owen and Andrew Black (the ex-footballer’s business partner) for affording me the opportunity to develop the stable effectively from scratch to a thriving operation and we are proud of what we have achieved.

Brown Panther proved a real money-spinner for Michael Owen and Tom Dascombe
Brown Panther proved a real money-spinner for Michael Owen and Tom Dascombe (Steve Parsons/PA)

“We’ve shared memories that will be impossible to erase and I’ll forever take great pride in training Michael’s homebred Brown Panther to Classic and Royal Ascot victory. We have shared some great times and now I’m looking forward to having a few more at Uplands.”

Dascombe, who spent two years with Mike de Kock and having been assistant to Ralph Beckett, made a storming start to his own training career in Lambourn in 2005.

He trained plenty of two-year-old winners and won two Group Twos in as many days at Newmarket’s July meeting in 2008, before teaming up with Owen.

The pair enjoyed success with Brown Panther, who won the Irish St Leger, Dubai Gold Cup, Goodwood Cup and King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot, earning over £1.1million in prize-money before suffering a fatal injury when defending his Irish St Leger crown in 2015.

Now he is looking to build again from scratch after Owen’s surprise announcement in December that Dascombe would be leaving.

Michael Owen and Tom Dascombe
Michael Owen and Tom Dascombe (Nick Potts/PA)

Dascombe added: “At the time, it did come as a shock, but Michael and Andrew Black wanted to go in a different direction and that is their prerogative. I will always be truly grateful for the chance and for the good times we shared.

“I am just excited to get started again in Lambourn.

“How many horses will we have? The simple is answer is I have no idea.

“I wanted to sign on a yard with 106 stables, but have ended up signing on with a yard that has 20 available stables. Day one, I will have just empty stables. Day two, I want to have a few more than that.

“But, I’m thrilled that I am back in Lambourn and looking forward to the future.”

Dascombe still looking for new yard

Tom Dascombe says there is “no malice” and “no hostility” towards the owners of Manor Farm Stables after being handed his notice – but he is still to determine where his future lies.

The 48-year-old was appointed in 2009 by Betfair founder Andrew Black in a joint-venture with former England footballer Michael Owen.

Dascombe, who landed a first Group One success for Owen when Brown Panther took the Irish St Leger in 2014, was handed his notice last month and will end his tenure just before the Cheltenham Festival.

Owner Michael with Brown Panther after his Irish St Leger success
Owner Michael with Brown Panther after his Irish St Leger success (PA)

He said: “I’m still here training at Manor House Stables and looking to find somewhere to live.

“There have been a few attempts, but I haven’t secured a yard yet and when I do, I will let everybody know.

“In the meantime I will reside here and continue to do my job to the best of my ability and I have just got to get on with it.”

Dascombe has trained more than 50 winners a season on all bar three occasions since 2009 – and one of those was the curtailed 2020 season – with a highest tally of 79 in 2012.

He is keen to stress there is no animosity, adding: “I’m leaving here and whatever Manor House Stables decide on is entirely up to them, and I wish them all the very best of luck. There is no malice, no hostility. It is very simple – I’m leaving and I’ve got to find somewhere to go. I’m going to concentrate on myself.

“I don’t have anything set up which is why initially I thought it was a bit of a shock to me and I would have had time to plan.

“But I will be absolutely fine. I have just got to sort a few things out, look after my staff and make sure everything is OK. My final day here is March 14 – but it will be fine.

“Now is the time to be very active and positive and move forward. I have just got to find a way to move forward – and I will move forward!”

Owen split came as ‘complete shock’, says Dascombe

Tom Dascombe said on Thursday the news that he would be leaving Michael Owen’s Manor House Stables in Cheshire after a 12-year stint came as a “complete shock”.

Dascombe, who had spells with Martin Pipe, Ralph Beckett and Mike de Kock before striking out on his own, has enjoyed a successful spell at the helm.

His biggest success came through Brown Panther, winner of the Irish St Leger in 2014, while he has also tasted victory at Royal Ascot, trained popular sprinter Kachy and won the Ayr Gold Cup with Angel Alexander.

In a statement posted on his Twitter account, Owen said: “After more than 12 years as trainer, Tom Dascombe will be leaving Manor House Stables in the new year.

“We have shared many great times and races together and created memories that will last a lifetime.

“I would like to place on record my own personal thanks for all his hard work and support over the years. We part on great terms and everyone at MHS will miss him and wishes him the very best for the future.”

Brown Panther winning the Irish St Leger

However, Dascombe, who saddled Skittlebomz to victory in a six-furlong nursery at Southwell just hours after the news became public, says he was blindsided at the decision made by the former England striker.

The 48-year-old Dascombe said: “I only found out two days ago. I told my family yesterday. I told my staff this morning.

“I have absolutely no plans – I have no idea what I am going to do next, but I will be training next year from somewhere and we will train winners like we have just done there (at Southwell).

“It is as simple as that – life goes on.

“The fact that they don’t want me to be here any more, that’s their choice – it is not mine.”

Dascombe has enjoyed many notable recent triumphs from the yard, including saddling Ever Given, who landed £98,000 for winning the Goffs UK Premier Yearling Stakes at York’s Ebor meeting in August.

Ever Given strikes at York
Ever Given strikes at York (Nigel French/PA)

He added: “It was a complete shock. But that’s it, I have had two days to think about it and I’ve just got to look after my staff, look after my owners, look after my horses and carry on the best I can.

“The fact that this news came just before Christmas is almost irrelevant, but I have tried to reassure all the staff that everybody else is fine, bar me.

“We will see what happens and I just have to carry on with life. We will get it sorted. There is no hope about it – we will get it sorted. I just don’t know how or when.”

Michael Owen and Tom Dascombe go separate ways

Michael Owen has announced trainer Tom Dascombe is to leave his Manor House Stables in Cheshire after a 12-year stint.

Dascombe, who had spells with Martin Pipe, Ralph Beckett and Mike de Kock before striking out on his own, has enjoyed a successful spell at the helm.

His biggest success came through Brown Panther, winner of the Irish St Leger in 2014, while he has also tasted victory at Royal Ascot, trained popular sprinter Kachy and won the Ayr Gold Cup with Angel Alexander.

Brown Panther winning the Irish St Leger
Brown Panther winning the Irish St Leger (PA)

In a statement Owen said: “After more than 12 years as trainer, Tom Dascombe will be leaving Manor House Stables in the new year.

“We have shared many great times and races together and created memories that will last a lifetime.

“I would like to place on record my own personal thanks for all his hard work and support over the years. We part on great terms and everyone at MHS will miss him and wishes him the very best for the future.”

The former England striker added: “Colin Gorman and the rest of the MHS team will naturally oversee things once Tom departs and it will be very much business as usual until we appoint Tom’s replacement.”

Dascombe relishes ‘serious chance’ with Sam Maximus

Trainer Tom Dascombe is bullish about the prospects of Sam Maximus in the Heider Family Stables Round Tower Stakes at the Curragh on Friday.

The son of Showcasing has strong Group-race form, particularly from the July Stakes at Newmarket – where he was only beaten half a length in third place behind Lusail.

The winner has gone on to land the Gimcrack Stakes, and runner-up Asymmetric took the Richmond – while Ebro River, who was fourth, has lifted the Group One Phoenix Stakes.

Sam Maximus then went down by a length when fourth in a Group Three contest at Deauville this month.

“The form is solid, and we must go there with a very good chance,” said Dascombe.

“We didn’t have him entered in many big races. It looks like a serious chance of getting a Group winner.”

Drombeg Banner steps up in class and trip after opening his account in a Cork maiden over five furlongs, but his trainer Ken Condon has plenty of faith in the Starspangledbanner gelding.

“He’s a nice horse. I think he has a decent future ahead of him,” said the County Kildare trainer.

“A step up is required. He’s just come from maiden company, but he won it nicely.

Trainer Ken Condon has high hopes at the Curragh
Trainer Ken Condon has high hopes at the Curragh (PA)

“The ground will be a bit drier, but I don’t think that will inconvenience him.

“We’ll see where we’re going afterwards, but we think he’s up to that standard and hope he’ll run well.”

Andy Slattery is hoping the ground does not dry out too much for Solene Lilyette in the Group Three Snow Fairy Fillies’ Stakes.

He said: “She’s been in great shape since the last day. She has to improve, but Andrew (son and jockey) said he had a bit left.

“He thought she won snug enough, and I don’t see why there’s any reason why she won’t improve again.

“We’ll see, but the ground wouldn’t want to dry up much more because I don’t want to chance her on good to firm ground. The ground is lovely at the moment, and we’ll see how it is in the morning. Everything else is good, (so) hopefully she’ll run.”

Carrytheone returns after almost a year off, in the Irish Cambridgeshire
Carrytheone returns after almost a year off, in the Irish Cambridgeshire (PA)

The third Group Three heat on the card is the Manguard Plus Irish EBF Flame Of Tara Stakes, in which Joseph O’Brien saddles Naas maiden winner Albula.

His father Aidan is two-handed, with newcomer Lullaby and Kiss You Later.

Johnny Murtagh, fresh from his success with Sonnyboyliston in the Ebor at York, rests his hopes in the Paddy Power Irish Cambridgeshire with Carrytheone.

The four-year-old won twice over course and distance last season but has been absent for 335 days.

Murtagh said: “It’s been a bit of a stop start season with a few niggly injuries, and he hasn’t had a run. He’s in good shape and is as fit as I can get him – although I expect him to come on for the run.

“He loves The Curragh so the track is not a worry, and the ground should be lovely.”

Condon saddles big-handicap regular Ice Cold In Alex.

“He’s been a standing dish in some of those races over the years. It was great he got another win under his belt recently,” he said.

“He’s up to a career high of 88, so it will be tough ask, but the young lad’s 7lb claim will alleviate some of that.

“He always seems to run well at the Curragh – but it’s a big field, and a bit of luck is required.”

The Slattery stable are giving Dedillon the chance to see if she is up to this level, after winning a 16-runner handicap at Galway.

“She’s in good form – but whether she’s up to this class I don’t know,” said the Thurles trainer.

“The handicapper has her on 87 now – which to me seems a high rating – but we’ll just have to go and see what happens. There is nowhere else to go with her, so we might as well have a go.”

Dascombe eyeing another big pot with York victor Ever Given

Tom Dascombe has another big prize in mind as he plots the next steps for York winner Ever Given.

The two-year-old has had a busy campaign since winning on his racecourse debut in May, progressing to take three further contests – including the Goffs UK Premier Yearling Stakes on the Knavesmire last week.

The race is open only to horses purchased as yearlings from the corresponding Goffs sale at Doncaster in late August, from which Ever Given was purchased for £40,000 last year for ownership group Dandy Boys – of which former footballer Michael Owen is a member.

The Kodi Bear colt was a half-length winner from Tim Easterby’s Atomic Lady and now has another significant prize in his sights, with the Weatherbys Scientific £200,000 2-Y-O Stakes at Doncaster in September possible next.

“He’s in another sales race,” said Dascombe.

“It’s a Weatherbys sales race at Doncaster on September 9. It would appear sensible to try to win some more decent prize money.”

A step up to Listed company may then follow, with the Two-Year-Old Trophy at Redcar a late-season option for the juvenile.

Cheshire trainer Dascombe added: “He’s in that as well – if we can play it so we can get to that race without a penalty then that will be good.

“He’s fine after York. He’s very straight forward, he’s very honest and he’s got a lovely attitude.”

Big sales prize goes to Ever Given

Ever Given showed toughness and durability to win the valuable Goffs UK Premier Yearling Stakes at York.

Tom Dascombe’s youngster was having his sixth run of a busy campaign which has also included a trip to Ireland, where he finished a creditable fourth to the promising Sacred Bridge – and that came just three days after he had won at Goodwood.

With almost £100,000 on offer to the winner, connections decided to chase more cash than go in search of black type and it paid off in spades.

Sent off the 3-1 favourite, Danny Tudhope chartered a path towards the favoured far side and it possibly made the difference.

Along with Atomic Lady and Wings Of War, who was drawn on the opposite side of the track in stall 16, the front three pulled nicely clear. But it was Ever Given who came out on top by a neck and a head, with over four lengths back to the fourth.

Dascombe said: “What a tough horse, I’ve been quite hard on him but he’s improved with every run.

“He won at Goodwood and then we sent him to Ireland three days later and he ran a blinder there, too.

“He’s come here and really toughed it out, Danny gave him a great ride – it all panned out.  I’m just lucky to train him.

“I hate saying what we’ll do just 10 minutes after a race so we’ll have a chat and then choose, but he’s a prize-money horse. He’s in the Redcar race and we’ll keep him for next season.”

The Tim Easterby-trained Cruyff Turn clung on to victory in the fiercely-competitive Clipper Logistics Handicap.

A winner at Leicester and Redcar in June, the four-year-old could finish only seventh in his hat-trick bid at Haydock last month.

Cruyff Turn and David Allan (left) lead the way at York
Cruyff Turn and David Allan (left) lead the way at York (Nigel French/PA)

David Allan’s mount was a 28-1 shot for his latest assignment, but dug deep to see off the persistent challenge of Magical Morning and Frankie Dettori by a head.

Easterby said: “He loves fast ground. We were in a few races at Ascot and Goodwood, but we swerved them to come here because it’s nearer – well it is for me!

“These owners always come to the York August meeting and they thought it was wonderful just to have a runner so to win is fantastic.

“He’s a very good horse. This was his target really and he had a hard race there.

“He was big as a yearling so took a bit of time but he’s well bred and is coming good now.”

Co-owner Andrew Gemmell has had some great days in the same colours with top hurdler Paisley Park, and was delighted to have a York winner.

He said: “I love this meeting, I’ve always wanted a winner here so this is just unreal.

“The thrill is fantastic and to get one here, I just can’t believe it.

“He’s as tough as teak and a winner for a local trainer.”

There can not have been many instances in racing’s illustrious history when two jockeys who are engaged fight out the finish and the winning distance is just a nose, but that was the case when Hollie Doyle on Forbearance edged out Tom Marquand on Domino Darling.

Trained in Ireland by Jessica Harrington, Forbearance (12-1) had finished third in a Group Three last time out so was dropping in class and trip for the Listed British EBF & Sir Henry Cecil Galtres Stakes.

The two pulled clear from some way out and they flashed by the post together, but it was Doyle who claimed the bragging rights.

“I just about thought I’d won. I tracked Tom the whole way because I could see he was going very well while I was going just about as fast as I could,” said Doyle.

“I knew she’d stay well and I didn’t want to get done for toe and it has been hard to make ground up today so I didn’t want to be too far back.

“She was very brave, there were numerous occasions I thought we were going to get defeated, but she stuck her neck out.”

She added: “It doesn’t happen very often, me beating Tom, as he usually gets the better of me and when I saw it was him upsides I thought ‘crumbs, here we go again’.

“After the line he did say ‘well done’ as he thought he’d been beaten.”

Andrew Balding suffered a rare recent reversal when Sandrine was a beaten favourite in the Lowther earlier on the card but got on the mark when providing Oisin Murphy with another winner when Harrow prevailed in the OR8Wellness EBF Stallions Nursery Handicap.

Harrow pulls clear close home under Oisin Murphy
Harrow pulls clear close home under Oisin Murphy (Nigel French/PA)

Sent off at 6-1 having won at Ffos Las last time out, the champion jockey had to be at his strongest to get home a length and a half in front of Alflaila and Maglev, who dead-heated for second.

Murphy said: “It was a bit of a slog this morning as that 8st 4lb is the lightest I’ve done for a very long time, and I put up 1lb over so I have to thank connections for allowing me to stay on.

“He’s starting to grow out of his quirks and he has a high level of ability. I think he’ll go on and do better next year. We’ve always liked him on his home work and he’s won a very competitive nursery there.”

Dascombe mounts dual assault on Great St Wilfrid

Tom Dascombe was pleasantly surprised to find both his entries in the William Hill Great St Wilfrid Handicap made the cut for the Ripon showpiece on Saturday.

The Cheshire trainer had one certain runner in top-weight Brad The Brief – but expected Lincoln Park to be going for the consolation race earlier on the card rather than the big one.

Dascombe had already booked apprentice Kieran Schofield for Brad The Brief and has snapped up fellow 5lb claimer for Lincoln Park.

“I was expecting Lincoln Park not to get in the main race but as it turns out we’ve got two very good claimers on,” he said.

“They’re both solid handicappers, solid horses, and they both want a bit of ease in the ground. We’ll have to see what happens. Any rain wouldn’t hurt them.

“Lincoln Park has been in great form. He won over seven and a half and he’s just a tough, honest horse.

“We thought we’d bring Brad The Brief back in class and look for his ground. I think his ultimate aim will be the Ayr Gold Cup.”

Lincoln Park lost out by a nose to Mr Wagyu at Haydock last month before winning his last two starts and he renews rivalry with John Quinn’s charge.

Mr Wagyu took the Stewards’ Cup consolation race at Goodwood in tremendous style to set up his bid for the Great St Wilfrid.

“It had to be a career-best last time out. Sometimes these sprinters look like they get quicker as they get older and it looks like he’s one of them,” said Quinn.

“This horse was a nice horse in his younger days, but then he lost his way a bit. He’s come back better than ever this season.

“He’s now into races that are harder to win but the prize-money is great, which helps the job greatly.”

Staxton bids to win the Great St Wilfrid for the second year running
Staxton bids to win the Great St Wilfrid for the second year running (Simon Cooper/PA)

Last year’s winner Staxton heads Tim Easterby’s six contenders.

“I can’t believe it. I didn’t think three of them would get in,” said the Great Habton handler.

“Staxton is in great form and working well. He ran a good race at Goodwood.

“Lampang is in good form too. Every time he’s run it’s rained. He goes on soft ground, but is better on good.

“Music Society likes a bit of juice in the ground so if it’s quick he might not go on it, but it should be good ground.”

Tim Easterby has six runners in Ripon's big sprint
Tim Easterby has six runners in Ripon’s big sprint (Simon Cooper/PA)

“Boardman is maybe a soft ground horse. He’s dropping down to six and we hope to run him in the Ayr Gold Cup, all being well.

“Manigordo likes fast ground and looks to be drawn well. Golden Apollo was a touch disappointing at Doncaster, but there was no gallop on for him. He should run well.”

Richard Fahey feels Mr Lupton may not quite be the force he once was, but he was third behind Staxton in this race 12 months ago.

Mr Lupton tries to improve on his third in the Great St Wilfrid last year
Mr Lupton tries to improve on his third in the Great St Wilfrid last year (PA)

“He’s not the horse he was, but he’s still carrying a rating of 103,” Fahey told Sky Sports Racing.

“He’s been rated between 100 and 113 for the last six years of his life. I think he did dip down to 98 once, funnily enough when he ran in the St Wilfrid and finished third.

“I don’t know if he can be competitive off 103, but we’ll see.”

Tom Dascombe not seeking a replacement for Richard Kingscote

Tom Dascombe feels the fact jockeys are restricted to riding at one meeting per day has negated the need for him to announce a replacement for Richard Kingscote.

After a long and successful association with Dascombe, Kingscote has decided to pursue increased opportunities for Sir Michael Stoute this year.

While the pair will still team up on occasion, Dascombe admits that when Kingscote informed him of his link up with Stoute earlier this year, it did come as a shock.

“Richard made this decision at sort of the beginning of the year, when Sir Michael asked him. He hasn’t been our stable jockey basically for 2021,” said Dascombe.

“We obviously miss that connection but he’ll continue to ride for us, as and when available at each different meeting. Now jockeys can only ride at one meeting everything’s changed anyway – I suppose we’ll save a few quid for paying him to ride for us!

“With the changes in jockeys only being able to do one meeting, there’s no need for a stable jockey.”

While Jane Elliott is coming in for more and more rides for the yard, Dascombe says he will continue to use the best available, too.

“It’s creating far more work, but you just have to look at each meeting and see who’s the best jockey available,” he told Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast.

Tom Dascombe admits he has found this season strange without having first call on Richard Kingscote
Tom Dascombe admits he has found this season strange without having first call on Richard Kingscote (Mike Egerton/PA)

“Whether Richard is at Newmarket or Newbury or Ascot, hopefully he’ll ride the horses there for us and Jane (Elliott) will ride wherever and then you just use the best available. They can’t go from Wolverhampton to Sandown anymore or whatever it might be.

“We’ve been together a long time. It wasn’t something I was expecting to happen. It’s taken a little while to get used to the idea of not going to the races and legging Richard up on a horse.

“What amazes me is that 15 years ago when I started using Richard, people – owners – didn’t really want him and it took years for people to understand that he was a brilliant jockey.

“Ralph Beckett, he started using him because he could see that is a great jockey. And it’s taken all this time for the genius that is Sir Michael Stoute to realise he’s as good as anybody out there and better than most.

“If Richard rides your horse, you’re going to get an honest answer after the race, and he’s going to do his level best.”

Liverpool aces have Superlative chance with Mr McCann

Mr McCann will carry the colours of famous footballing connections as he bids for Group Two glory in the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.

Third on his debut at Leicester in June, the Tom Dascombe-trained colt has since gone on to take two novice contests, most recently triumphing at Haydock when landing a seven-furlong contest by two and three-quarter lengths.

This represents a significant step up in class, as the bay is introduced to Group company for the first time, but Dascombe feels he has earnt the right to take his chance at a higher grade.

“He’s done basically everything we’ve asked of him so far,” the trainer said.

“It’s obviously a big step up in grade but he deserves this opportunity, it was always the plan to run him over seven (furlongs).”

Mr McCann will be partnered by Jane Elliott, who is based at Dascombe’s Cheshire yard and will have a significant chance of a significant weekend winner.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for Jane as well, for her to have a big winner,” Dascombe said.

“We’re really looking forward to it.”

The two-year-old is named after Liverpool Football Club’s press officer, Matt McCann, and is owned by a group of current and former Liverpool players that includes James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson, Adam Lallana and England star Jordan Henderson.

“It’s nice that we’ve been able to buy them a horse that’s doing quite well, just like it is with any of my owners,” Dascombe added.

Tom Dascombe has two leading chances in the Superlative Stakes
Tom Dascombe has two leading chances in the Superlative Stakes (Mike Egerton/PA)

Dascombe also runs Mot And The Messer, a Cotai Glory colt who was an impressive winner when last seen in a Ripon novice race, winning by five and a half lengths.

“Mot And The Messer is also a very straightforward horse,” Dascombe said.

“He’s done nothing wrong at all and he deserves his chance at a higher grade.

“They’re two really good chances.”

John and Thady Gosden’s Dhabab will have plenty of supporters after his sixth-placed Coventry Stakes performance at Royal Ascot, with Charlie Appleby’s Native Trail also well-fancied after winning his sole start at Sandown in June.

Appleby also runs Private Signal, with Tom Clover’s Papa Cocktail and Mark Johnston’s Austrian Theory also in action.

Great Max represents Michael Bell after finishing third in the Chesham Stakes at the Royal meeting, with Andrew Balding’s Masekela also lining up having been fifth in the same race.

Liverpool aces celebrate Haydock winner with Mr McCann

Mr McCann looks like being an exciting first foray into racehorse ownership for a group of Liverpool players – which includes captain Jordan Henderson – following his second career victory in the British EBF Novice Stakes at Haydock.

Henderson owns the youngster along with Trent Alexander-Arnold, James Milner, Andrew Robertson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Brighton’s former Red Adam Lallana.

Bought at the breeze-ups in April by Tom Dascombe and bloodstock agent Ed Sackville for £65,000 the Kodiac colt was beaten three-quarters of a length on his debut over five furlongs.

He then won at Lingfield over six and defied a penalty on this occasion as he made all over seven by two and three-quarter lengths under Jane Elliott.

Dascombe now has to decide whether to throw him into a higher grade in the coming weeks or give him a break after his 22-1 success.

“He was very impressive. I thought he got a great ride from Jane, she steadied it up and then kicked on. He’s possibly beaten some nice horses, but only time will tell,” said Dascombe.

“I was very happy with the performance today – the only surprise was the price, but it is very hard to give those 6lb penalties away to horses who have already had a run.

“That trip looked fine. We ran him over five on debut as he came from the breeze ups, so we needed to take the fizz out of him – but he nearly won that day even and he’s not far off being unbeaten.

“We’ll have to go up in grade now, but as he came from the breezes he’s basically run four times. We could look at the Superlative Stakes, but that could be being greedy. We might just sit on him for a bit longer and find something else. He deserves a crack at a nice race.”

Of buying a horse for the star footballers, he added: “We went to the sales to buy them something that would be ready to run, we didn’t want them to have to wait a year to run. Eddie O’Leary (vendor, Lynn Lodge Stud) was very positive about the horse and told us we wouldn’t be disappointed.”

With Henderson currently with the England squad into the last eight of the European Championships and the rest of the players enjoying their holidays, former Liverpool striker Michael Owen, who owns Dascombe’s Manor House Stables yard in Cheshire, was left to pick up the trophy – and created quite a scene.

Owen told Racing TV: “I think that was the most embarrassing moment of my life – but I promised the lads this morning I’d do the ‘Hendo Shuffle’ if he won.

“Six of the lads have just got into ownership. Ed Sackville and Tom picked a real good one in terms of what they needed. They are new into the game so they wanted an early, sharp, two-year-old but he looks more than that now – he was impressive giving a penalty away.

“I never backed him myself but I’m sure the lads did, they did last time and it’s a perfect start to ownership for them. Hopefully they get the bug and they are in it for a long time.”

Elsewhere on the card John and Thady Gosden enjoyed a double with Side Shot (5-1) in the Watch On RacingTV Handicap and Albert Camus (13-2) in the racingtv.com Handicap. Both were ridden by Robert Havlin.

Solent Gateway records notable success for Tom Dascombe

Rank outsider Solent Gateway claimed the narrowest of victories after a thrilling climax to the opening race on Cazoo Derby day Epsom.

Having finished a well-beaten ninth at Chester just a week ago, Tom Dascombe’s charge was a largely unconsidered 28-1 shot for the World Pool At The tote Handicap in the hands of Hayley Turner.

Greatgadian looked likely to prevail after powering to the front inside the final furlong, but both Solent Gateway and King Frankel (5-2) lunged late and flashed by the post almost as one.

Following a brief wait, the judge confirmed the former had won the day by a nose, with Greatgadian half a length away in third.

Dascombe, surprisingly saddling his first ever winner at Epsom, said: “Epsom is the only Flat track I’ve never had a winner at. I took a two-year-old there on Friday (Flaming Rib) and strongly expected that to win and it finished second and I just thought ‘I’m never going to get a winner at Epsom’.

“Derek Passant is a joint-owner is a great fellow and I couldn’t be more happy for him. He is there and I’m not and I feel a bit embarrassed, but I had already committed to go to another owner’s birthday in deepest, darkest Wales.

“Derek wanted to go to Epsom, but I didn’t think he would get in so I took him to Chester last week to try to get a penalty. As it turned out we didn’t need to have done that as this race never filled up and we got in fine. I’m delighted to win a race like this with a maiden.

Solent Gateway gets up on the line
Solent Gateway gets up on the line (John Walton/PA)

“Maybe he has just started to grow up and the two runs in a week has helped him.”

He added: “I think he will get further, but we will not worry about that and we will just enjoy today first and foremost. To get a winner on Derby day is pretty special and a huge thrill.

“I’m sure he will now go up a few pounds for that, but we will make another plan at a later date.”