Racing: McManus and Johnson give Powell unique role

In football, great managers often emerge from the margins of their playing days. No doubt because of a common understanding of adversity, much the same is true of those jockeys who start training racehorses. Certainly there is no better test of a trainer than to win a bad race with a worse horse. And while Brendan Powell rode some very good steeplechasers in his time - after all, this is the man who once got Rhyme 'N Reason off his knees at Becher's Brook to win the Grand National itself - the unique distinction he disclosed yesterday has been achieved only through a blend of graft and craft.

Powell has just become the first trainer anywhere, to his knowledge, to count both David Johnson and JP McManus among his patrons. The two biggest spenders in jump racing are very different men, but in Powell both have recognised one innocent of self-importance or calculation, and a trainer who is rapidly earning his stripes. Johnson now has three animals stabled at Powell's Hampshire yard, while McManus has bought one of its most promising inmates in Tokala - winner of his first two bumpers and then second in the strongest such race of the British season so far, at Cheltenham last month. "I must admit that when the silks arrived we did leave them lying casually in the kitchen for two or three days," Powell said.

Tokala is due to make his first start over hurdles between Christmas and New Year. "Not many horses defy a penalty in a bumper, especially four-year-olds," his trainer said. "He ran a blinder at Cheltenham, too, and has already won both on summer and tacky ground. He's a big, good-looking horse, a lovely mover, and he has schooled well. More than anything else, though, he just loves racing - he's so enthusiastic."

This attitude has manifestly been borrowed from his trainer, whose endeavours as a jockey were barely sane. He would drive 100,000 miles a year, schooling horses in Scotland one day and Dorset the next. When he finally retired, five years ago, only Richard Dunwoody had matched the 7,000 mounts he had taken over the preceding 19 seasons. He rode more than 600 winners in all, but he also rode a lot of mediocre animals and some dangerous ones. His retirement was accelerated by a terrible fall at Newton Abbot, in which his chest was crushed and he ended up in intensive care, though naturally Powell himself would happily still be riding now, at 45.

"It just seemed that every year another one would come along, right to the end," he reflected. "Dublin Flyer, Monsignor, Young Kenny. I did enjoy it, all the different people you would meet every day. Whereas this game, now - I didn't realise how stressful it would be. Every time you walk into the yard you find a new problem that you are going to have to explain to someone. But by the same token, I get much more buzz from training a winner than I did from riding one."

Powell enjoys relief from the attrition with his Flat horses, and has mustered a combined score of 43 this year, but his most practical chance of breaking into the big time is probably with jumpers. He nearly did so with Colonel Frank last winter, but he is likely to remain on the sidelines until later in the season, when Punchestown could be on his agenda. "The great thing is that a couple of years ago, for the first time, we were able to buy some unbroken horses," Powell said. "Before we had no choice but to take over horses with problems and try to patch them up. But the horses we have had from day one, they were all unspoilt, all of them could be anything, and I hope they will start coming through."

Powell is also nurturing some talented young riders, though he remains obstinate when it comes to surrendering his own schooling duties. A few weeks ago he fractured a vertebra on the gallops and was told that he would need to spend three months in a brace before daring the saddle again. He got rid of the brace after two days, and was riding out again a fortnight later. Powell's new patron may have many better horses than Tokala, but none will be handled with more devotion.

peoplePerformer had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
Arts and Entertainment
Media baron Rupert Murdoch owns News Corps and 20th Century Fox
theatrePlaywright David Williamson is struggling to find a big name to star as the media mogul
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling will not be releasing a 'romance' novel anytime soon
Life and Style

Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

2nd Line server support - Microsoft certified

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our large organisa...

Systems Tester - Functional/Non-Functional/Full Life Cycle

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Systems Tester - Functional/Non-Func...

SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfordshire - £350 - £360

£350 - £360 per day: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfor...

Business Intelligence Consultant - Central London - £80,000

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Intelligence Consultant - C...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?