One of the stories of recent seasons has been the rise of David O’Meara as a training force. The former journeyman jump jockey has sent out over 100 winners in each of the last three seasons – and central to that success has been Danny Tudhope, first-choice rider for his stable.
After a promising start as an apprentice with Declan Carroll, Tudhope struggled in the years after losing his claim, to the point that the 2010 season brought just six winners. Yet the old saying about being in the right place at the right time proved spot on and when Silvestre de Sousa got the call to join up with Godolphin, Tudhope was presented with an opportunity to make the number one position with O’Meara his own. Boy has he taken it.
Group 1 wins on G Force and Move In Time have followed and in August the pair teamed up to take the Grade 1 Arlington Million with Galileo’s son Mondialiste, Tudhope riding an ice-cool race and bagging what he describes as “the biggest win of my career” (Talking To, pages 42-46).
Following the changes to the Flat jockeys’ championship, the Ayrshire-born jockey says that one day becoming champion “has to be a possibility”. With O’Meara’s firepower behind him, who would disagree?
Luca Cumani’s career looked briefly in danger of going the other way to Tudhope’s after the decision of Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum to remove around 35 horses from his yard. Those horses included Postponed, probably the world’s best racehorse, who extended his winning run to six in the Juddmonte International at York for Roger Varian.
Yet Cumani has been in the game too long to let such events get the better of him. After all, it is not the first time he has been in this position, losing the patronage of the Aga Khan and Sheikh Mohammed for different reasons. As before, the trainer simply dusts himself down and cracks on with the job in hand of training racehorses to win races. Down in numbers and quality he may be, but there is no sense of self-pity.
“Post-Obexit was always going to be as difficult as post-Brexit,” Cumani tells Julian Muscat (The Big Interview, pages 48-52). “But just as I have every faith in Britain to be able to recover from Brexit, I have every faith in myself and my team to be able to recover from Obexit in the longer term.
“We are way down on winners because we just don’t have the numbers. Coupled with that, the very cold spring hit my fillies hard, and there has been a bit of coughing in Newmarket to which we have not been immune.
“However we have got a good spread of owners who have been very supportive and new owners have come on board. It will be business as usual next year provided we can stock up again at the next round of yearling sales in the autumn.”
With O’Meara’s firepower behind him, Tudhope could become a champion jockey
No doubt Steve Harman, BHA Chairman, will be hoping Cumani and others flock to the autumn yearling sales and help to ensure that the market for British-sold thoroughbreds remains strong in the wake of Brexit and the fall in value of the pound.
Harman’s tenure at the BHA is now into its second term and Howard Wright met up with the former oil and gas industry executive for a progress report on the last three years, which have not all been plain sailing, notably the last few months due to the regulator’s handling of the Jim Best disciplinary case. It has been a trying period.
“I’m completely aware that we are receiving criticism for our approach, and we are listening. Some of that criticism comes from outside the industry, and to minimise it would be arrogant,” Harman explains (pages 54-57).
“I do get why stakeholders and others say we should get out there and say this was a procedural error, a big one, but we’ve apologised and there’s nothing more sinister than that. Although as any decent regulator should, we need to learn from our mistake, which has cost us time and money.”