Mick Appleby has won his sixth consecutive all-weather trainers’ title, praising his team for their hard work over the winter. The trainer sent out a personal-best total of 60 winners, and was awarded a trophy and a cheque for £10,000 at Newcastle on Friday. This is Appleby’s seventh title overall, with 90 horses in his stable over the winter.
Despite his success, Appleby admitted he thought he had “no chance” of taking the crown in December. “At Christmas, I thought we had no chance,” he said. “We were 15 behind George Boughey and I felt we’d be lucky to win it, but then thankfully we had 20 winners in January. I keep saying, it gets tougher every year.”
Daniel Muscutt was crowned champion jockey, but missed the All-Weather Championships finals day as he was riding at Lingfield, where he partnered Diderot to success. Billy Loughnane was awarded leading apprentice, and Philip Robinson received the trophy for top all-weather owner on behalf of Godolphin.
Muscutt said: “It’s been enjoyable but there’s lots of cold evenings, in the snow and all sorts, so it’s nice to come out of the other end. My agent has done a very good job, and I’ve had lots of support from a wide range of trainers, so it’s a big thanks to them. The first two-thirds of it flew by, and the last five weeks have dragged a little bit, but it’s nice to get it over the line.”
Loughnane, who finished 25 winners clear of his nearest rival, said, “Every minute of the season has been great. We didn’t expect it to happen, to be honest. We thought if we could hit ten it would be great for the winter and try to work into the summer. The way things have gone has been amazing – class! It’s just a massive thank you to everyone who has helped and supported me through the whole thing. My Dad, he’s obviously been a massive player, my jockey coach Rodi Greene, and my agent Sash Righton – between us all, we’ve started off a good bond, and it’s been great.”
Although Muscutt enjoyed being busy on the all-weather, he admitted that it has been tough. “I like to be busy on the all-weather as it keeps my weight in check, and it keeps me ticking over,” he said. “I was pretty quiet until the turn of the year. Most of my main trainers were only running in a maiden here and there, but we were ticking over nicely, and then the bigger yards started to gear up again. It’s been a good run to make up the deficit on Kevin [Stott] in mid-February, then slugged it out from then.”
“Top man who trained some great winners” – Tributes pour in following the death of trainer John Spearing at the age of 82 after a long illness.
His daughter Teresa announced his passing on Friday, saying, “Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2021 and passed away yesterday, it was very peaceful. He received excellent care in the Lawns Nursing Home in Kempsey.”
John Spearing had won over 800 races on the Flat and over jumps throughout his career. He was a successful trainer, notably with Run And Skip who landed the Welsh National and Anthony Mildmay, Peter Cazalet Memorial Chase, and was fourth behind Dawn Run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1986.
Peter Scudamore, who rode Run And Skip, expressed his admiration for Spearing, stating, “I had the privilege of riding Run And Skip, who wasn’t easy to train. John was a very hands-on trainer and a good feeder of horses, and I had the greatest respect for him.” Andrew Thornton, who rode Simon to his greatest wins, said, “John was straight down the line… His horses were always fit and if he said they had a chance, they certainly did — whether it was five furlongs or three and a half miles.”
Fellow trainer and old friend David Evans shared, “I got on well with him and I used to use his gallop when I was at Annabel King’s in the 1980s. He was a very good trainer from limited opportunities. He kept himself to himself, if he had one lined up no-one would know about it.”
Spearing’s achievements were not limited to jumps racing. He also had success on the flat with horses such as Listed winners Vax Lady, Vax Star, Croeso Croeso, and Pintle plus Rapid Lad, who won an impressive 12 times at Beverley.
The trainer was brought up on the outskirts of Moreton-In-Marsh (on land his brother David still farms) and took out a permit in 1965. He gained his full license after being asked to train Glendale, who he won 13 races with, and spent the last three decades of his career based at the Rimell family’s stronghold of Kinnersley Stables in Worcestershire.
Danny Bleu was Spearing’s final winner as a trainer at Chepstow. The Kinnersley Partnership colours were carried to victory in March by Shutthegate, who moved to Henry Oliver after Spearing handed in his license. The trainer said of Spearing, “John was a great trainer and he was very good to me in my riding career. He lived and breathed racing — that was his life. When I was champion conditional, John picked up my trophy as I was riding at Market Rasen. I was winding him up telling him there was no cheque for doing that! John was really good fun and a top man who trained some great winners.”
Sally Iggulden, chief executive of Beverley Racecourse, paid tribute to Rapid Lad, who Spearing trained and won 12 times at the course, stating, “Rapid Lad used to detach himself round the bottom bend and get miles back then absolutely fly up the home straight; he loved the uphill finish here. People still talk about Rapid Lad now; we have a bar named after him, and John was really proud of that.”
Spearing’s legacy will continue at Beverley with the annual Rapid Lad Handicap on April 27, which will commemorate his track specialist. The racing world mourns the loss of one of its greats, but John Spearing will always be remembered as a talented and dedicated trainer who made his mark in the sport.
Ralph’s royals: This year, Beckett took four of the King’s two-year-old horses to train.
After the King recently sent four juveniles, including a sister to the smart sprinter King’s Lynn, Ralph Beckett will have two-year-old runners for the first time in 2023.
The trainer from Andover already has a relationship with His Majesty and the Queen Consort because he has trained the royal couple for 15 years.
Prior to her death, Queen Elizabeth II divided her horses among Sir Michael Stoute, John and Thady Gosden, Andrew Balding, William Haggas, Harry and Roger Charlton, Clive Cox, Richard Hughes, Michael Bell, and Nicky Henderson. Beckett was not previously on the Queen’s training roster.
A Cable Bay-Kinematic filly, a sister to Balding-trained King’s Lynn, who won the Group 2 Temple Stakes last year, is among the four newcomers from the Royal Studs, all of whom have not yet been named.
A Kingman-Enticement juvenile is another choicely bred filly. She is a half-sister to the former Diploma, who was trained by Stoute and won a Listed race at Freemason Lodge.
A colt and a filly by Mastercraftsman from Shimmering Light and first-season sire Land Force from Pack Together have also been sent to Beckett.
As part of a process to streamline the Royal Studs operation, Pack Together (11,000 grams) and Shimmering Light (60,000 grams) were auctioned off at the Tattersalls December Sales last year.
Desert Hero, a two-time winner, is one of the three-year-old horses the King can anticipate in 2023. He is currently in training with Haggas and may attempt a Classic trial in the spring.
Slipofthepen, trained by the Gosdens, is also of Classic interest. After winning impressively on his debut at Kempton in November, he received odds of 20-1 to win the Derby.
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