Lambourn is enjoying a resurgence of late, starting last November when the Oliver Sherwood trained Many Clouds won the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury. Following on from that, he won the BetBright Cup at Cheltenham in January and then crowned the season with victory in the greatest steeplechase of all, The Grand National at Aintree in April.
The village was brought to a standstill as the residents came out in force to welcome their hero home on the day after his famous success.
On the flat, Jamie Osborne’s Toast of New York almost won the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita last November, being beaten only a nose, and this season Lambourn has been producing a steady flow of winners, most notably Royal Ascot winners for Charlie Hills, Dutch Connection in The Jersey Stakes and Muhaarar’s victory in the inaugural Group 1 Commonwealth Cup, and David Lanigan winning the Wokingham Handicap on the Saturday with Bjorn Nielson’s filly, Interception.
The resurgence that Lambourn is enjoying, is in no small way due to the continuing and considerable investment of both The Jockey Club Estates and Kingsdown Estates owner, Bjorn Nielson. The Jockey Club has gone to great lengths to improve and maintain the training and schooling grounds, and the facilities are now also used on a daily basis by trainers coming in from beyond the immediate vicinity.
The annual Lambourn Open Day on Good Friday, kindly sponsored by Betfair, was its usual huge success, attended by many thousands of visitors who flocked to the trainers’ stables in the morning to get close to their favourite horses, and then entertained in the afternoon at the usual showground next to the Valley Equine Hospital.
The soon to retire A.P. McCoy was the highlight of the afternoon, firstly bringing proceedings to a standstill as he arrived by helicopter from Ireland, where he had spent the morning on charity street cleaning, and then later winning the final of the camel race, only after a re-run, by popular demand, after his camel missed the break in the first attempt!!
A.P. has of course since retired from race riding, but Lambourn is still proud to have him as a resident in the valley and it is hoped that he may be persuaded to come out of retirement for next year’s Open Day!
The Trainers Association itself has undergone some alterations, with Peter Walwyn graciously stepping down as Chairman and accepting the honorary roll as the first President of the association.
Peter’s contribution to Lambourn and the LTA in particular has been priceless and the Valley would not be where it is today without his tireless devotion to the community. Our saddest loss has been the very premature death, in June 2014, of John Hills, popular trainer and LTA committee member.
Merrick Francis, ex-trainer and owner of Lambourn Racehorse Transport, was elected to succeed Peter as Chairman, ably assisted by a committee of Harry Dunlop, Nicky Henderson, Jamie Osborne, Oliver Sherwood and Will Riggall of Jockey Club Estates, and it is hoped that the new team can re-energise the LTA and bring in some new ideas for promoting the delights of racehorse ownership in the Lambourn Valley.
SIS have generously continued their sponsorship of runners for members of the Lambourn Trainers Association, and it is hoped that their sponsorship will be extended when their current contract expires at the end of August.
Matthew Salaman, Mikael Magnusson and Tor Sturgis, previous members, have all retired from training, while we have welcomed Henry Tett, Jose Santos and Jo Tuite into the village.
The Lambourn Trainers Association
Sovereign Chase, Upper Lambourn, Hungerford, RG17 8QX
Tel: 01488 71700. Fax: 01488 73208