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Karl Burke

Karl Burke has a string of around 130 horses at Spigot Lodge where wife Elaine, seen here leading the string on Jay Kay, is a vital part of the operation

is put on by horsemen for horsemen with good prize-money in a convivial atmosphere. France is a beautiful country, but I didn’t realise how big until we started having runners at tracks in the south. Laurens has battled courageously to win two Group 1s in France – the Prix de Diane (French Oaks) and the Prix Saint-Alary. What’s her likely programme and what makes her so good? I think we might bypass the Irish Oaks so she can have an easy two or three weeks and then we can prepare her for the Yorkshire Oaks. Obviously, we’re stepping her up in trip and if we find that’s a mistake we have the shorter Prix de l’Opera as a back up on Arc weekend. But if all goes well at a mile and a half we’ll aim for the Arc. The reaction we have had since the French Oaks has been fantastic and we’ve received an invitation to a huge fillies and mares race in Japan in November, with expenses paid. So that’s another possibility. I think Laurens’s greatest asset is her natural huge stride and high cruising speed. She just keeps going and horses find it difficult to pass her. What would be your advice to a new trainer embarking on his/her career? Think again! No, seriously, if you believe in what you’re doing and things get tough, keep going. And then if things are going well, don’t get too complacent. We have been very lucky, but it is hard to balance the books and impossible to compete with Coolmore and Godolphin. Be aware that things can change very quickly for better or for worse; on your knees one minute and in the winner’s enclosure with a Group horse the next.

at the time was a mistake because we didn’t have the money or proper facilities. After two years at Broadway we moved near Wantage, between Henrietta Knight and Andy Turnell, but outgrew the place, went to Newmarket and rented David Morley’s former stables, where we had 129 winners in two years. We wanted to buy a place but could not afford Newmarket prices and were told Spigot Lodge was for sale. We moved to Middleham with 60 horses but within six months were down to 35 because most of our owners were southern-based. It was a struggle at first, but we knew the property had scope. What are the pros and cons of training in Middleham? And how big a problem is finding staff in the Yorkshire Dales? I’m a great believer that if you’re training winners, people will support you wherever you are. But there are a lot of owners in the

south who’d rather have their horses trained nearer to home than in the north. That may be a negative, but there are far more pros for Middleham. The gallops are excellent, very healthy for the horses. The logistics of getting to the races are very good; there are 17 courses within two hours by horsebox. Even travelling south to the London tracks is not as bad as people make out. I think we can get staff here more easily than trainers can in the south. You keep hearing horror stories about stables in Newmarket, Lambourn and Epsom trying to attract staff. The cost of living is that much cheaper in Yorkshire. As an industry, I think racing will have to think seriously about the effects Brexit could have on stable staffing. You have made several successful raids to France, winning Group 1s there. Apart from prize-money, what is the main attraction? I’ve always enjoyed racing in France because it is very relaxed. The sport there

Lord Shanakill, Odeliz, Quiet Reflection, Laurens and Unfortunately have been Group 1 winners for you, while Libertarian finished second in the Derby. Which was the best and which has given you the most memorable moment? At the time they were all very important for different reasons. The best day’s racing I have had was Derby day 2013 with Libertarian, finishing second to Ruler Of The World. From start to finish, Epsom looked after us really well. We were taken round from seven in the morning from interview to interview because it was the 100th anniversary of suffragette Emily Davison’s death under the King’s horse at Tattenham Corner. Elaine, as the licence holder, had a great chance to become the first woman to train a Derby winner and the atmosphere was fantastic. Sadly, it was not to be, but it was still an amazing day. We were very


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28/06/2018 14:39

Profile for Thoroughbred Owner Breeder

Thoroughbred Owner Breeder  

Incorporating Pacemaker - July 2018 July's issue features a fascinating interview with Chasemore Farm's Andrew Black who is making his mark...

Thoroughbred Owner Breeder  

Incorporating Pacemaker - July 2018 July's issue features a fascinating interview with Chasemore Farm's Andrew Black who is making his mark...