Archie Watson aiming to build on stunning first full season with a licence
Second-season syndrome has been attributed to teams or individuals failing after an impressive previous campaign. However, it is unlikely to impact Lambourn trainer Archie Watson, who closed out 2017 with 56 winners and has his string in rude health.
In fact, it was only the 28-year-old's first full year of training as he started in August 2016, and after four winners that year he has made huge strides.
Bringing up a half-century is no mean feat, especially when comparing how quickly Watson reached the milestone. Richard Fahey took 11 seasons, Clive Cox 14, and William Haggas had to wait until his 18th campaign.
Reflecting on the year, Watson said on Sunday: "We've been very fortunate to have the right horses in the yard. They've all contributed across the board and held their form through the year. I couldn't be happier with how it's gone."
The trainer was also quick to praise those around him at his Saxon Gate base, adding: "A lot of the credit has to go to the team. They work incredibly hard and have got the success they deserve.
"We have a core set of jockeys that we use as well. Eddy Greatrex, Oisin Murphy, Luke Morris and Andrew Mullen are a huge help to me with their feedback and they're all excellent riders. They've contributed a hell of a lot to our success."
A brace of Listed winners, the most recent coming two days before Christmas when Petite Jack won the Quebec Stakes at Lingfield, and a trip to the Breeders' Cup with Corinthia Knight were among the highlights of 2017 for Watson, who also picked out the return to form of Brandon Castle in the summer.
"He was sent to us by Chris Hirst and when he came to us he was rated 62 and had lost his way a bit," said Watson. "In the space of six runs he won five and ended up rated 99 – that was great."
Watson has already enjoyed a few international forays and will be breaking more new ground by sending classy and consistent mare Absolute Blast to Dubai.
"It'll be a nice new venture for us," he said. "Her targets will be the Cape Verdi, the Balanchine and Jebel Hatta, and hopefully she can be competitive."
While Watson has no specific targets in terms of a tally for 2018, he is keen to keep the winners flowing, at all levels.
He said: "We want to build on what we've got, trying to win with every horse and get the best out of every horse. It'd be great to bag a Group, win as we went close on a few occasions and stakes success is very important to any trainer, owner and breeder.
"If we can train a similar a number of winners and increase the quality and prize-money I'd be delighted."
Look back on the best Flat action of the year in the new edition of the Racing Post Annual. Order now at racingpost.com/shop or call 01933 304858