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Saturday, 17 November, 2018

British racing's next-best Brazilian is a trainer with big plans

Ivan Furtado, 36, gets a grilling

Ivan Furtado: trainer will consider a 4f contest in France for Normal Equilibrium
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What is your earliest racing memory?
In Brazil, my grandad used to own a couple of racehorses, mainly quarter horses and the like, and I remember going to see them race a couple of times. In this country, it would probably be Moscow Flyer winning the Queen Mother. I arrived in Britain a year or two before that and I was working in a jumping yard at the time, for Jim Old. He′s the first horse I remember watching who really stuck in my memory, he was brilliant.

What was your ambition when you arrived in Britain?
When I came to Britain it was nothing to do with horses. I had some dealing with horses on the farm I grew up on, but then I went to uni and did a degree in business before working for five years for a company buying and selling abroad. I came here in about 2002 for what I thought would be a year, for a bit of an adventure and to improve my English. I fell into racing and here I am 14 years later!

And how does that differ to your ambitions now?
I generally keep them quite close - keep training winners, keep improving horses- it′s a gradual process for a small yard like ours, but we started with six horses and are up to 30 or 35 in training now so it's been a good start. I do have the ambition, maybe a dream, to be champion trainer one day, though.

Would you rather that than win the Derby?
In an ideal world I′d like to win the Derby on the way! If I had to choose it would be champion trainer, yes. You make more people happy that way.

Which country would you most like to race in that you haven′t yet?
I′d like to have a go at Dubai. We're still not quite there yet, the highest-rated in our yard is Zaeem who is 90 on the all-weather, but if we can improve a couple this season we might manage to get one or two out there in the next couple of years. I like Southwell, but I'd rather spend winter out in Dubai!

What′s the best bet you've ever had?
I′m not a big gambler, but in the early days I remember there was a Gerard Butler horse called Dansant. I was at Windsor and someone told me to have a bet on it, so I had £50 on, which was a massive bet for me. It came in at 28-1, I think, and ended up being a pretty good horse. It happened a couple of weeks before my wedding, which was a nice bonus.

To what extent do you think betting and racing should be intertwined?
I′m not betting much now, but I still acknowledge that you can′t really have racing without betting, especially in this day and age. We need to be careful how we conciliate them both, but one follows the other so they do have to work together.

What advice would you give your ten-year-old self?
Hard work, obviously, but also don′t be afraid to believe in yourself.

If you could play any other sport professionally, which would it be and why?
I suppose being Brazilian it would have to be football! I had a trial, but I wasn′t good enough. It′s pretty competitive over there. I still play, but no better than Sunday league standard, and still love it, but I have to accept now that I'm a better trainer than a footballer.

What do you think racing does best?
The way that British racing keeps its sense of tradition. In Brazil, the racing isn′t all that professional and it′s not that popular, but even there everyone knows about the Derby and the Grand National and Ascot. For something to be popular for all the years it has been takes a lot.

Who has been the greatest influence on your career?
The trainers I′ve worked for - Jim Old, Alan McCabe and Roger Charlton - have all influenced me in different ways. Mr Charlton is probably the one who has had the biggest influence. He would always give as much time as possible to the horses, he never tried to go with one that wasn′t ready to do the business, and I try to do the same.

What is the best horse you′ve sat on?
I rode Al Kazeem quite a bit and it was a pleasure to ride him. I also sat on Cityscape. He was an unbelieveable horse. He had his problems, but he had a turn of foot like nothing else I ever rode.

What is the strangest/funniest thing you have seen on a racecourse?
When I was with Alan McCabe we took one to Warwick, I can′t remember its name, and it got loose. I think it escaped from the stalls, somehow it got over the rails and headed straight out of the course. Obviously Warwick racecourse is in the town itself and we caught it right outside the door of the Starbucks coffee shop in the town centre. It didn′t feel funny at the time, but you can laugh about it now.

When did you first know you′d become a trainer and why?
Training became the aim not long after I got into racing, but I can′t remember exactly when. It was when I was with Roger Charlton that I starting thinking it was going to happen and then when I got the support of a few owners, like Charlie Wentworth and Ron Hull, who's my landlord, it became a real prospect.

What′s your biggest fear?
The winners drying up. It doesn't take long after that for things to stop being economically viable. In this game, and the stage I′m at, there′s a lot that can go wrong. We had a virus here a few weeks back and it passed quite quickly thankfully, but it reminds you of what can happen.

Social media - friend or foe?
You have to know how to use it, but it′s definitely a good thing. Even as recently as when I came to England, you had to pick up a phone to get ahold of someone quickly, and hope they were at the other end. We use Facebook, but not so much Twitter. I just wouldn′t have the time.

In Brazil, the racing isn't all that professional and it's not that popular, but even there everyone knows about the Derby and the Grand National and Ascot

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