Tuesday, 7 February 2012
I have a base in the beautiful town of Newmarket in Suffolk.
From here it is great to zoom about and visit clients north, south, east or west. Newmarket is close to Cambridge and is very accessible.
The main 'business' in Newmarket is horseracing. For many years I would get up early and walk my black labrador (Billy*) up on to Warren Hill to see the horses being exercised.
So it was great fun to re live some memories after an overnight drive from Bordeaux last weekend. My first visit was where the real action takes place on 'the Heath' Even though the temperatures were -5 degrees celsius the trainers were out supervising their teams. I said hello to Sir Henry Cecil, (who has swapped his Saab for a Jaguar!), whilst Luca Cumani's, Roger Varian's and Michael Bell's horses were all zooming past.
The Jockey Club owns and maintains all the gallops in and around Newmarket and they are (quite rightly) defensive of building plans and development. So the town has a great heart of horses and a buzz from the racing fraternity. In the summer months often the horses criss cross through the town to get to and from the stables. Some of the yards are still in the centre of town.
After warming up and doing some work, I popped in to one of the local pubs to catch a glimpse of the 6 Nations Rugby. It was quite amusing to be sitting there watching the rugby with a Derby winning trainer alongside me.
I caught up with a few characters and heard some of the latest gossip.
There have been quite a few changes in Newmarket over the years. Sheikh Mohamed from Dubai and his family are still big investors and employers in the town, whilst trainers with strong patronage from the middle East seem to be doing well. For some of the smaller trainers it is tough work to get established, especially with the low prize money available in UK racing.
One trainer who was strongly recommended to follow was Marco Botti. Marco is a young Italian, who started training in Newmarket in 2006. He has gradually improved his stock and his results and seems to be improving all the time. His horse Excelebration won his first 'Classic', the German 2000 Guineas. Marco has racing and horses 'in his genes', as his family are very well connected in the Italian training scene. In fact his father has been multiple champion trainer in Italy. The interesting thing about the owners that are sending horses to Marco Botti is that they are from all corners of the World. The Sheihks, the Irish, the landed gentry and all others want to see what this young talented man is doing. He certainly sounds like a trainer to follow.
*Billy the labrador is still going strong! He will be 16 years old next month.