Racing: Margarson aiming Young Mick at Ebor

One of the features of the season has been the presence among the élite of horses who have worked their way through the ranks. Court Masterpiece, Les Arcs and Enforcer, to name but three, once plied their trade in handicaps before emerging to make a mark at the highest level. But for sheer pound-for-pound improvement, there is one horse whose progress outshines all others.

Step forward, Young Mick. The four-year-old started the year a 52-rated maiden, incapable of winning a dire contest at Wolverhampton. He is now on a mark of 97, with a valuable 12-furlong handicap at the 'King George' meeting at Ascot the highlight of his eight triumphs this season and the Ebor, and even the Melbourne Cup in his sights.

So what has turned this banded race chump, bred by his owner Mike Kentish, into a budding champ? His trainer George Margarson identifies a number of factors.

"He was actually rated 75 as a two-year-old," he said, "but lost his way badly last year. I know my horses were badly out of form then, but even so, he was very disappointing. He was big and backward at two, and I expected him to be a nice horse at three.

"But on his second run it went wrong. I'd wanted him dropped in, but his rider set off in front and went 10 lengths clear. He had a hard race and he never thrived after that. I think he became depressed."

In any competitor, confidence is paramount, and Young Mick's was rock-bottom. Dropping back in trip - he is closely related to his owner's smart seven-furlong performer Young Ern - failed to work the oracle. He ended last year still winless, that glimmer of potential he had shown at two unfulfilled.

"He should have won that bad maiden at Wolverhampton," said Margarson, "but he ran terrible. So it was time for desperate action." That involved a hardening of resolve in the form of an even worse race, a class seven maiden claimer. And bingo! Young Mick ran home an easy three-length winner. It was the start of the roll, but not all was yet well.

"He looked awful, and he was unlevel behind," said Margarson. "But we kept running him, and he kept winning. And after the fourth race he was sound."

In the space of 14 days, Young Mick ran five times for three wins and inches-defeats in the other two. He notched another hat-trick in March, transferring his new self from the all-weather to grass. And the rest has become history, with victory in the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes at Royal Ascot preceding his latest success.

It seems that banded claimers have their uses, after all. "That's where it started," said Margarson. "He had to use only 10 per cent of his engine and it was so easy for him that I think he realised that hey, this isn't so bad after all.

"We might have lost him and people have said to me that they wish they'd claimed him. But who knows, they might not have gone down the same make-or-break route as us and might not have got the same result, wouldn't have got that click."

As Young Mick, a son of King's Theatre, has come to terms mentally with his job, he has also matured physically and grown into his considerable frame.

"He's put on 50 kilos since January," said Margarson. "He's very relaxed at home, has never done anything but eat and sleep - even when he looked so spare he was still eating - and he loves the warm weather. In his box in the afternoon he's the one who stays cool while others get warm and fidgety.

"Everything has come together. He's got masses of confidence and belief in himself, he's very physically fit and he's thoroughly enjoying it. I ride him myself most days and I can feel it and when I can't, then he'll have a break."

Young Mick holds an entry in one of Saturday's Shergar Cup races, over the course and distance of his two best triumphs, and Margarson faces a dilemma about the star of his small Newmarket stable.

"It's difficult," he said. "Good money, a small field and the horse is in tremendous nick. But in a team event with perhaps an unfamiliar jockey going for points, I'd hate him to have a hard race and leave the Ebor at Ascot."

Chris McGrath

Nap: Take A Mile

(Brighton 3.40)

NB: Villarosi

(Yarmouth 6.45)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests