What’s Mohaather like in the yard?
It’s wonderful to get a horse to train like him. I mean obviously he had his problems last year, but we’ve had a good time with him this year.
I thought he was very, very good – to be quite honest, I did expect him to win. I thought he’d been working extremely well, and I felt that this was a great chance for him even though we were taking on two very good three-year-olds. You’d have to say they look pretty good!
Were there a few stressful moments watching the Sussex Stakes?
I guess – I think definitely. It happens funnily enough even in small fields at Goodwood, they get down that rail and can’t get out because they’re sort of held in if you like.
But, I’ve seen Oisin Murphy ride two brilliant races – one on Deidre and one on Lightning Spear coming up that rail there – brilliantly both times, but unfortunately didn’t open for him this time.
I think this horse was probably the best horse in the race on the day and he shows lightning speed and they’d all struggle a bit with his kick.
I was lucky in some respects in that I suppose when we won the Greenham, it was fairly logical that he’d run in the Guineas after that. But I tell you something – the ground was very quick, as it can get at Newmarket – and I don’t think it would have been quite to his liking at the time.
All right, he might have won the Guineas possibly, but what would he have had left, probably not a lot for a while. He’d have got jarred I think. Unfortunately, after the Greenham, I didn’t think he was moving quite right and then we sort of went a little bit with him and then we thought ‘no hang on, he’s not right’. It was fairly obvious he wasn’t happy, so it was at that point he was x-rayed fully and he had this hairline condylar stress fracture.
Now it doesn’t matter if it’s a proper fracture or a hairline fracture – it’s treated the same, it has the same recuperation period. We put a lag screw in it because the effect of putting that into the bone actually has been proven to accelerate the healing process, so that’s why that was done. And he went back to Denis O’Brien at Shadwell, who runs all the sort of recuperation outfit kept in touch with me and he sent him back in amazing condition.
I mean he came back looking fantastic – so quite spoiling really to have that sort of back-up behind you.
Training at Whitsbury Manor where Mohaather’s sire Showcasing stands and bred by Eve Johnson Houghton’s mother Gaie?
I’ve known the Johnson Houghtons since I was in my early 20s when I first started working for Dick Hern.
The Herns and the Johnson Houghtons have always been great friends all living in the same area, so it was something else. So lovely for Gaie that she’s got such good bloodstock and hopefully she can produce more good ones because she’s so passionate about it. In fact, she wants to come down and see Mohaather one day next week or the week after and I’m sure we’ll have to have a glass of champagne I reckon.
You were a Derby winning trainer with Sir Percy 2006, but endured a tough time afterwards?
We have to make the business pay – there’s no question about it because if we weren’t making it or breaking even, we definitely wouldn’t be doing it so of course it was difficult. But, then I think I’m just in a lucky enough position to have had one Group 1 winner not let alone a few of them – I’ve been very lucky.
Most of them have to say have been Sheikh Hamdan’s horses. I would say that he’s been an avid supporter, passionate about his racing interests and so I’ve been lucky to have him. After the race I rang him up, he answered the telephone straightaway. We had conversations about how he was after the race as well.
So I’ve been lucky to have been supported by people who can actually produce the ammunition and hopefully that will continue. I’d like to obviously train more good horses, but I feel lucky enough to have trained one let alone a few.
What’s next for Mohaather?
I tell you what the difficult thing is, some of these races have been moved around so it’s not as easy to make a plan as it has been in the past.
It’s a bit more difficult – between now and Champions’ Day, unless you sort of drop back in trip or you run in a race that might be a little bit too close or go abroad or something, there’s not a huge amount.
I’ve got him in the Prix Jacques Le Marois at Deauville and I wouldn’t rule that out because I feel he’s taken this race very, very well. Having said that, he has had three races in the space of five to six weeks and all of these were Group 1 races. We can’t kid ourselves, it does take more out of a horse.
But, having seen him the next day after the Sussex Stakes, I gave him a canter, he was fresh. He moved great and he’s cantered today so there’s a chance of that. I mean the Foret possibly, lovely race to win that, and I think from a stands potential, to stand in the future any Group 1 race.
The drop back to 7 furlongs, if he wins that again that would be great. I think he’s a standout miler – that’s really what he is and the beauty of it is, he’s got that kickdown like you get with a really good sportscar.
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