Reports28 November 2023

'I can't afford to turn horses away' - Hillsin's new trainer Alan Jones records first winner in 12 months

Alan Jones: trained Jack's A Legend to win at Southwell
Alan Jones: trained Jack's A Legend to win at SouthwellCredit: Edward Whitaker (

Jack's A Legend featured at the Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National meeting in his early days but got off the mark at the 13th attempt to give trainer Alan Jones his first winner since last November.

Somerset-based Jones admits he has struggled to train his enormous stable star, who was unplaced at the big spring festivals in 2020, but was thrilled to see the eight-year-old finally fulfil his potential to record a 29-length victory off a rating of 97. The success was particularly satisfying for owner-breeder John Spence.

Jones said: "He's always been a nice horse, it's just been a case of getting him right – the engine is too big for the frame, I think. We're only a small stable, but he's the best we've got.

"Racing's a tough game at the moment. The sport is financed by owners and punters – the owners can't win any prize-money and have to do affordability checks to have a bet, which also stops the punters getting on. I'm a small trainer and we need prize-money. The sport is in crisis."

Jones also now trains Hillsin, the horse involved in the controversial non-trier case at Worcester in the summer. A BHA investigation is ongoing with jockey Dylan Kitts still suspended from riding.

"I'm not involved in the politics of it and can't afford to turn horses away," he added. "I've trained for Mr [Alan] Clegg [Hillsin's owner] in the past.

"Hillsin has been difficult to train and we couldn't get a saddle on him for the first three weeks after he arrived [from Brian Barr]. He's tricky, but as soon as he's ready we'll try to run him." 

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