Ado McGuiness after training a treble at Dundalk
©Healy Racing Photos
We are thrilled to bits with the start we have had to the year. Healthy horses are the most important thing. We have some nice horses and they are just easier horses to train. The most difficult horses to train of the whole lot are the low-grade handicappers. You don’t know when and where you are going to go with them. Some days a low-grade handicap looks a bad race. Then sometimes you could run in a race, and you go into the ring and 10 different owners will tell you they fancy their horses. It is very competitive.
Last season we had 30 winners for the year from January to December. That is a massive thing. The percentage of runners to winners would be very high. This year to have 13 winners at a 19% strike rate already in Ireland and one more winner across the water is great.
We have 30 horses riding out. I have a couple of horses pre-training and after this week we will have 35 riding out. Success brings more horses. Then you need good horses. When a guy comes to me with a horse, I will have a look at the horse but I am not a miracle man that I can turn a useless horse into a good horse. We have space to expand if we need it and you are always looking to grow.
We have six or seven two-year-olds. We were very lucky with our two-year-olds last year. We ran seven and we won races with five. We would have bought a few of them. We would often buy a couple of foals each year and train them on.
In my line of business, you have to sell the good horses. The books have to add up every year and if the books don’t add up you are losing money. That is not much good to you because you can’t progress. I did it for years. You are just surviving. You will cover your expenses training horses but you are never going to get rich. You have to be able to buy and sell a horse through the year to give you that little bit extra.
Beau Warrior has done brilliantly for the Total Recall Racing Club, winning five in a row at Dundalk. I liked her a lot last year. She was probably a bit immature. The first time she ran I thought she would go close but she got a bit of a fright and finished down the field. We gave her a little bit of time and she grew quite big quite quickly which can happen with some two-year-olds.
She ran in Cork the next run. She was drawn 17 of 17 over the six. It was on the round track not on the sprint track. She just struggled a little bit because of the draw. But we knew she was going to be good. She showed us plenty. Sometimes when you tell guys your horse is working really well, and then they run bad, they are saying ‘What is this lad at?’ But at least she has proven me right.
Our next port of call is black type. When you get that on a filly it can never be taken away from her. She is good enough for it. We know by working her with the older horses, the rock solid, hardened horses. I think she has definitely warranted a crack at black type and fingers crossed she will get it.
There is a listed race in Chelmsford the first week of May. Then there is a listed three-year-old only fillies’ race in Cork, just shy of six furlongs. You would say it could be a bit sharp for her. But then Ireland isn’t full of sprinting fillies either. That probably will be the target. It is the opening of the new sprint track in Cork. I was there the other day and it looks good. With another month’s grass on it, it will be really nice. We will be happy to go there and get a bit of black type.
If she runs well and goes close there, we will look at Royal Ascot with her. These are the places you want to go to.
I was vegetable farming and show jumping for a long time. We had an equestrian centre. I trained a lot of kids including my sister who did very well. I did a lot of hunting through the years as well. A guy came in one day, he had show jumping ponies with me. He was going to get rid of them and buy a racehorse and he asked me would I train it. That’s how I started.
I have made and still make plenty of mistakes. There is not one man in the game that doesn’t. If you learn from your mistakes, at least you learn. We won plenty of handicaps starting out. We had Victram starting off. He won a Lincoln for me and an Imperial Cup at Sandown. I probably didn’t realise what I was doing when I won them, I didn’t realise how hard it was to win those type of races.
Toufan Express, Jacks Estate and Bubbly Bellini were great servants for us winning 10, 10 and 19 races each. Bubbly Bellini also won a Rockingham. So did Rainbow Rising. Face Value claimed the November Handicap.
Over jumps, Beau Michael won a Grade 2 and two Grade 3 hurdles for the Total Recall Racing Club. They have had some good horses with me. Beau Satchel has won nine times for them and now they have Beau Warrior.
None of this happens of course without having a great team at home. That is a really big factor. They work hard. We have a super team at home. Stephen Thorne is my assistant trainer and he has been a massive addition since coming back to us in 2017.
Stephen is a cousin of mine who only lives down the road. He is another son of a vegetable farmer who had no experience with horses but when he was a young fella, Victram did well. I remember he came to a big race with us one year in Ascot and he got the bug. He has just loved it ever since. He runs a great shop for us.
He did the Darley Flying Start and went around the world with Anthony Cummings in Australia and Coolmore. He was assistant to Mike de Kock and Ralph Beckett after that so it was great that he came back to us. He runs Shamrock Thoroughbreds, our smaller scale version of Supreme Racing. That is working very well at the minute.
We have plenty we are looking forward to as the year unfolds. We knew on Friday evening the ground was gone against Saltonstall in the English Lincoln but the owners are English and we had to run. He came back fine. We have a race in Cork targeted at the end of the month if everything is okay and we will rattle on from there. Maybe Killarney with a little ease in it or them type of tracks could suit him. We will get a pot somewhere around.
Sirjack Thomas is a nice horse we ran once over hurdles. He had a little bit of a setback. He will combine flat and hurdles. Chapparal Dream, who won twice in Dundalk in February, is going over hurdles and I am looking forward to him. And we have a bunch of young horses, some that will go handicapping, and a couple that if they can win a maiden or be placed will be sold.
I think Master Speaker will win a big pot. He ran a cracker in the Irish Lincoln this year when he was third. We are going to mind him now and just go for three or four good races this side of Galway. Then we will head to Galway, where he will probably go for the mile handicap and seven-furlong handicaps.
The most important thing with training racehorses is making sure they are healthy. If we can keep them healthy, we have plenty to look forward to.