As the jumping fraternity looks towards the big spring festivals at Cheltenham and Aintree, their Flat colleagues are busy preparing the next batch of potential stars as the new season draws ever closer.
Malcolm Bastard, who pre-trains at Baydon Hill Grange in Wiltshire, is currently nurturing a number of young horses before they head off to their future trainers.
Bastard has been pre-training horses for around 19 years now and counts the likes of owner-breeder Anthony Oppenheimer, champion trainer John Gosden, London Thoroughbred Services and the Queen amongst his extensive list of clients.
He explained: “We’ve still got the people that I started doing the pre-training for with us now. I’m very lucky and we have a lot of nice horses for a lot of nice people.
“Some of the horses we have here arrived in October and November. We go through the breaking in stage and once they’re being ridden, which takes a bit over two weeks, we trot them for ten days and get them hacking away quietly.
You’d like to think Golden Horn will be an extremely good sire
“We just proceed from there and get them doing as much work as they need to, keeping them settled without overdoing it.”
One superstar to have graduated from Bastard’s academy was Oppenheimer’s Derby and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe hero, Golden Horn. Now Bastard is busy pre-training a number of the four-time Group 1 winner’s first crop of two-year-olds.
They include an Oppenheimer homebred filly out of the Listed-winning Royal Applause mare Hoyam, a colt bred by Gosden’s wife Rachel Hood, and a colt who is out of the Selkirk mare Mia Diletta and a half-brother to the black-type performers Poeta Diletto and Mia Eccellenza.
We’ve still got the people that I started doing the pre-training for with us now
Bastard said: “Mr Oppenheimer’s homebred is a quality filly and she just stands out amongst the fillies we’ve got here. She travels really well up the canter – she’s got a very nice temperament.
“Mrs Hood’s colt is a homebred and he’s very similar to Mr Oppenheimer’s filly – very good conformation, good quality bone and also travels extremely well up the canter.
“The colt out of Mia Diletta is going to John Gosden. He’s very strong and again has a very good temperament, very good bone and does everything that’s been asked of him so far so easily.”
The Golden Horns that Bastard has are, of course, from a select group but the former jump jockey has been impressed by the stock that the Dalham Hall Stud resident is producing.
“They’re nice, neat horses; strong, good bone, nice action and good temperaments,” he said. “You’d like to think Golden Horn will be an extremely good sire. He was a superb racehorse who was unlucky to have got beaten in America [in the Breeders’ Cup Turf]. From a horse like him you’d hope you’d be getting top-class performers.”
Bastard also has his attention turned to the Hong Kong Jockey Club International Sale in March, where a group of 15 horses that he has been pre-training will be offered as part of the auction.
“I’ve worked for the HKJC on and off for the last 22 years now,” he commented. “The horses have been with me for 18 months where we pre-trained them and gave them a lot of experience.
“The horses went out on February 14 and I fly out on Saturday for 12 days to oversee the last bits of their preparation. There are some very nice horses that have gone out there this year.”