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Wednesday, 16 January, 2019

Splash out in style when you win - racing is there to be enjoyed

Flying the flag: Tom Bellamy salutes the crowd as Splash Of Ginge is led into the winner's enclosure by owner John Neild
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In the latest instalment of our series, David Carr asks how do yards celebrate a winner?

Racing is serious business for the huge bloodstock empires, with a short-head here or there making the difference between winning and losing millions.

Yet even Aidan O'Brien can be seen smiling into his mobile phone and fickle fortunes mean that success has to be celebrated, whether it be at Hereford this afternoon or Cheltenham in March.

As Oliver Sherwood, who has trained winners from the Grand National downwards, says: "I rode a winner for a farmer one day and he said, 'Owning, training and riding racehorses is 95 per cent disappointment and five per cent enjoyment – and that five per cent makes up for the 95 per cent.'"

That's the philosophy of Liverpudlian owner John Neild, who has raised the bar – literally – in the way he and the 'Ginge Army' have celebrated the wins of his Splash Of Ginge.

"You have to enjoy every single winner and we've definitely enjoyed every one of ours to the nth degree," he says. "Things can go badly very quickly, we've had that with Ryan Hatch who's still out injured – we've got to enjoy today because you don't know what tomorrow is going to bring."

Hence the legendary celebrations after success in the Betfair Hurdle in 2014.

Betfair Hurdle result and replay

"It was a day that's gone into folklore," Neild says. "We had 35 people at the track but we all headed to the Hollow Bottom, near Nigel Twiston-Davies's yard. Everyone who was in Liverpool headed down, I think we had eight taxis.

"My son and his friends at Loughborough University all had a double on Liverpool to beat Arsenal, which they did, and Splash Of Ginge. None of them went back to university for a couple of weeks! But they all caught up – they all graduated.   

"We were in the Hollow Bottom from the Saturday until the Wednesday then I went back to Spain and had more celebrations there so it actually continued for a fortnight."

Questioned as to the final bar bill, Neild says: "There are rumours it was £17,000 – all I'd say is that if that rumour was true, I'd be much happier than I am now!"

BetVictor Gold Cup result and replay

It was a similar story after victory in the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham last November, although Neild adds: "I like to take care of the staff, who are a massive part of it. A lot of them can't be there on the night. So we hired a marquee out the back at the Hollow Bottom.

"I was still drinking gin and tonic at 7am and then we had a big luncheon which went on all the next day and into the Monday.

"I've been very lucky, I've done more than break even so if you're not spending your money it's easy to celebrate, isn't it? My wife says I should calm down but I said the day I calm down is the day I'm getting out – it won't mean as much."

Splash Of Ginge with Nigel Twiston-Davies and sons Sam (right) and Willy (second left) and owner John Neild
Middleham Park Racing also make no attempt to hide their enjoyment of a winner – an early indication was the vibrant celebration in the hallowed winner's enclosure at York after Victoire De Lyphar won in 2005.

The syndicate group are just as enthusiastic 13 years on and director of operations Mike Prince says: "If I'm home watching the television, the kids know we've had a winner as I'm roaring it home – even after 900-odd winners.

"One I remember is Tatlisu winning the Ayr Silver Cup. It was a syndicate made up of people who'd been with us for a long time and it was unexpected so that was a really good celebration.

Ayr Silver Cup result and replay

"They did nice winner's hospitality, so the champagne was flowing, and then we were out on the town painting the town red into the small hours – it got a bit messy and there were hangovers in the morning!"

Tatlisu wins the Ayr Silver Cup to provoke wild celebrations
Landing the Superlative Stakes and July Stakes at the Newmarket July meeting in 2008 launched Tom Dascombe's career, so no wonder there was huge celebration after the four-hour drive back to his then base in Lambourn.

"We went straight to the Malt Shovel and took all the staff there," he says. "We certainly kicked it in the belly – it was feeding time in the morning when we went back, straight from the pub.

"We fed the horses, had a cup of coffee and started riding out. There were a few sore heads by midday!"

You don't always have to wait for high jinks. Dascombe won with Roudee at a muddy Chester and recalls: "He got loose beforehand and I tried to catch him and fell over in my suit.

"Then part-owner Nick Hughes slipped over in the parade ring – the two of us ended up dancing in the winner's enclosure, soaked and covered in mud.

"Last year Finniston Farm won first time out at Haydock and a very enthusiastic Mark Satchell jumped in the air and completely wiped out one of the other owner's wife, which was quite funny, although not for her."  

Finniston Farm's win at Haydock was bad news for one owner's wife
Jockeys don’t always get to join the fun. Tony Dobbin says: "They’re usually riding the next day.

"But when I won the Grand National, Barry Murtagh arranged a do at my local pub in Cumbria which was a lot of fun – there was a phone call and I did an interview with Radio New Zealand!

"In the morning there was a reporter and photographer at the bottom of my garden – they’d heard a tale from the landlord of the kegs we got through!"

There was more celebration when Dobbin and his wife Rose trained Rocking Blues to win the Eider Chase.

"We leased him to ten or 12 people and they were all farmers or builders and one owned the local pub," he recalls."There wasn’t a lot of farming done in Northumberland the next day!"

Eider Chase result and replay

If you enjoyed this you may like to read the other articles in our racing revealed series

One rasher or two: what do jockeys survive on to make the weight?

Christmas Day at the stables: normal duties all round but with bells on!

How fit do you have to be to be a jockey?

Horses with altitude: how do racehorses travel around the globe?

They're not going to overthrow humans – but just how clever are racehorses?

Slowboats and speedfreaks: how different is it training a sprinter and a chaser?

They've all lost out by a whisker but why do so few jockeys have beards?

How true is the famous saying 'you never meet a poor bookmaker'?

The art, rules and rudeness of naming racehorses

So, how much does a jockey really earn?

Things can go badly very quickly - we've got to enjoy today because you don't know what tomorrow is going to bring
E.W. Terms
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