McMahon hoping to bow out on a high with Mysterious Look
Emotions will be running high at Southwell on Thursday when Ed McMahon saddles his last runner, having been forced into retirement by the new High Speed Two railway linking London and Birmingham.
McMahon last week described the planned £56 billion railway, which will run straight through the heart of his Lichfield stable when complete, as a “cancer” that has slowly diminished his business since plans were revealed in 2010.
He is set to lose 60 of the 170 acres on which his house and business at Horsley Brook Farm in Staffordshire stand and although he will not be giving up his home, after Mysterious Look runs in the 5f handicap at Southwell (2.10) this afternoon he will no longer be training.
“This filly’s mother was my first winner, so it’s hard to talk about but it would be nice if we could go out on a winner,” said an emotional McMahon of a fitting last runner for the yard.
Mysterious Look’s dam is Look Here’s Carol, who got the ball rolling for her trainer at Haydock in 2005, shortly after he had taken over from his father Bryan.
Ironically, McMahon enjoyed his most successful year in 2010, registering 27 winners and £360,000 in prize-money, but attracting new owners with the the threat of HS2 never far away has been impossible.
Reflecting on the past 12 years, the trainer said: “We’ve had some nice horse along the way. I think the best horse I’ve purchased was Astrophysical Jet. She won me two Group 3s and was a lovely filly.
“I suppose the best day would have been a Group-race double at Newbury with her and Temple Meads – 2010 was a great year for me but unfortunately it was the year the railway was announced.
“My owners have had to find new trainers and I’ve helped them along the way but one of them has packed up altogether.”
McMahon says the land he will be left with does not lend itself to training and has no plans to look elsewhere.
He added: “We’re remaining here. I didn’t have too many options. My parents are just coming up to their 80th year. My wife’s parents live close and are getting older too. I’ve lived here all my life so it makes it hard to move away from the area.”
Talks over compensation are ongoing, according to McMahon, while the start of construction on phase one of HS2 is earmarked for later this year.