Motion keeps Kingdom after Team Valor split
USA: Less than a week after winning the world's richest race with Animal Kingdom for owners Team Valor International, trainer Graham Motion has parted company with the owners - although he will continue to train the Dubai World Cup victor.
The rest of the Team Valor string will be handled by former Godolphin assistant Rick Mettee, who becomes private trainer for the syndicate owners, the brainchild of former journalist Barry Irwin.
Their horses will stay in Motion's care until the end of April before Mettee takes over in their barn at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland.
In a statement, Motion said he did not wish to become a private trainer, and he will continue to maintain his own public stable under the Herringswell Stable banner, while also retaining charge of the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom for his Royal Ascot bid in June.
"We have enjoyed the association and are immensely grateful for the opportunities given by Barry and the partners at Team Valor International," said Motion.
"At this point I feel that Team Valor is best served by a private trainer situation and this is not something I am prepared to do. I am extremely proud of the job my team has done over the past two years and nothing will diminish the memories I have of standing before the huge crowds at Churchill Downs and Meydan with my family."
Team Valor moved their entire team to Motion after the Breeders' Cup of 2010, buying its own barn at Fair Hill to facilitate the change.
"I'm proud of what we did together and the success we had - it's been an amazing two years," added Motion.
"I have room for about 80 at Fair Hill and I'll imagine we'll be full," said Motion, speaking to the Blood-Horse. "The Team Valor barn was a separate situation, so it's not going to affect me in that regard. It was always set up as a situation I could walk away from and that's what I've chosen to do.
"Barry is looking for a private trainer and that's what he needs, and Rick Mettee is going to be the perfect man for that spot."
Motion's successor Rick Mettee has gained notoriety in the States as de facto trainer for five years at the Godolphin operation's New York barn when they won the Eclipse Award as outstanding owner in 2009 with horses running in the name of Saeed Bin Suroor.
He was formerly assistant to John Gosden when the trainer started his career in California.
"Rick has experience training horses on synthetic and dirt surfaces in America and in Dubai," said Team Valor principal Barry Irwin. "He did exceptional work while winning several Grade 1 races with the Godolphin runners. We are looking forward to renewing our relationship with him.
"Graham Motion trained Team Valor's horses privately from our barn at Fair Hill Training Center as an accommodation to us. But he made it clear that he would continue to train for other owners. We understood this and accepted his conditions.
"However, due to the unique type of operation we run with partnership-owned horses, we feel at this time it would serve our needs better to have one trainer that was exclusive to our stable. Graham agrees. He has offered to continue to train our horses through the month of April until our new trainer has set up his operation."