Enough is enough: heatwave spells the end of Philip Hide's training career
Strain caused by the ferocious heatwave will in effect end Philip Hide’s training career, with the former rider informing his owners and staff that he will be winding down his business in West Sussex.
After making significant steps in the right direction last season, Hide has been shunted back to square one due to the barren spell and has taken the heartbreaking decision to let the majority of his horses go as he considers his future.
“With the dry weather I’ve really been struggling to train the horses how I want to train them,” an emotional Hide told the Racing Post.
“There are horses who I’ve got through it but I’ve struggled with quite a lot of the youngsters, just to keep them in one piece, and it’s just not how I want to do it.
“We looked at everything and the options available just didn’t really work. We looked at moving or perhaps downsizing but I wanted to start building things up and we had a reasonably good year last year with 17 winners, which is a big step up and the first time that I felt we had a good routine, and that’s why it’s been hard.”
The son of former Newmarket trainer Tony Hide, the 45-year-old is the third generation of his family to train, having formerly been a well-respected jump jockey. Riding predominantly for Josh Gifford in the early part of his career, Hide later had a successful association with Gary Moore.
Brief Gale’s win in the 1995 Sun Alliance Chase at the Cheltenham Festival was among the highlights of more than 400 winners in the saddle before his retirement through injury in 2010.
After a spell as assistant trainer to Moore, Hide saddled the first runners in his own name in 2012 and appeared to be building momentum last season with his best ever figures in terms of winners and prize-money.
“I’m probably my hardest critic,” he added. “We had four runners at Brighton one evening and had a winner and three seconds, beaten heads or less. I should have been happy, going home thinking it was a good night’s work but I know I could do it better than I’ve been doing.”
Both the grass gallops at his base in Findon and the all-weather gallop have been affected by the recent hot weather and, while not the only one under pressure from the extreme heat, Hide feels he cannot maintain his business.
He added: “It’s downland grass but it’s got to the stage it’s too firm to use and the all-weather has gone very dry. It’s grand and I’m sure it'll be fine when we have some rain but it’s no good to me at the minute and I just can’t keep taking horses away and galloping them.
“I’ve got responsibilities to owners. I’ve got horses like Dragons Voice, who is being saved for an autumn campaign but I don’t feel I can prepare him for that autumn campaign. There are horses who should be out winning races and I get paid to get the best out of them. You’re throwing everything you can at it but it’s a fairly big cog that’s not turning.”
William Knight, Gary Moore and Harry Fry will inherit horses from Hide’s string, although he still plans to have the odd runner during August.
“All my staff finish up on Tuesday and most of my horses will be gone by then, with the exception of less than a handful,” he said. “The sad thing is that I was full up with 24 horses and I’ve never had a better team of staff or owners.”
Hide is unsure which route his career will take next, but with the time coming to extend the lease on his rented yard the father of two will be walking away from his current set-up.
“I had six horses go wrong in six weeks and, while they weren’t major disasters you kind of feel yourself that you know what’s happening, and it’s not what I want to do,” he said.
“Unfortunately we don’t own our yard and the time is coming to move on to a longer period of lease and I just couldn’t commit to doing that as things were. It’ll pretty much be wrapped up by the end of August.”
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