Racing: Whitbarrow can reward Bradley's perseverance

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A week before the Derby is not the time to be searching for serious racing. Mundane cards splashed around the country, featuring their fair share of sprint handicaps, are hardly the stuff to exercise the pulse today, yet for one man this is pearly gates proximity to heaven. For Milton, it is close to paradise.

A week before the Derby is not the time to be searching for serious racing. Mundane cards splashed around the country, featuring their fair share of sprint handicaps, are hardly the stuff to exercise the pulse today, yet for one man this is pearly gates proximity to heaven. For Milton, it is close to paradise.

John Milton Bradley trains around 50 horses at Meads Farm on a peninsula dividing the Severn and Wye rivers. He has trained many of them for a very long time. The horses are in their supervisor's image. They are old, enduring and successful.

As Bradley approaches his 70th birthday he can look back at his initial foray onto the turf, when he saddled the jumping horses Mighty Marine (24 wins), Grey Dolphin (17) and Yangtse-Kiang (also 17). He has repeated the feat since turning to the Flat, since the £100 purchase Offa's Mead repaid the investment with 16 victories.

"It's all about getting to know what the horse wants," Bradley said yesterday. "Treat him as an individual rather than being a part of factory training. At Newmarket they call them old once they've got past three. Most of them can go on for a lot longer than that as long as you can keep them happy. If he's enjoying his life and his racing he can run often as well."

Bradley is not averse to carpet-bombing a desirable race, a practice we witness this afternoon when, rather quaintly, Musselburgh stages the day's most valuable contest. It is a rather modest representation by Bradley's standards, just three compared to the four which he sent northwards 12 months ago. He bagged second, third and fifth then, and Salviati and Corridor Creeper return to take up the challenge.

It may be though that the best of the Bradley trio may be the remainder, an animal which came under his tutelage only at the beginning of the season. It seemed that Whitbarrow had forgotten how to be a good horse, one which had won in Listed company and contested the Group One Nunthorpe Stakes at York. Then, at the recent Goodwood meeting, the amnesia cleared. The five-year-old is penalised 6lb for that success, which Bradley pretends is prohibitive, yet the gelding is still on a mark a stone under a past best. "He used to be really good, but he has gone a little backwards," the trainer added. "Whitbarrow is a very good horse and we just need to get luck in running. He'd be the best class of all of them."

Not at his peak maybe, but still off a flattering mark and running from a good draw. Two out of three should not be bad for WHITBARROW (nap 2.20).

Among the others disseminating from chateau Bradley for duty is perhaps the best horse the trainer has ever had under his care, The Tatling (2.05), who hits the road to Kempton. Last season's Group Three winner has still got it at the age of seven judged on his reappearance two weeks ago at Longchamp, where he was second to The Trader and in front of Patavellian.

"He ran a great race in France because it was first time out and usually we need to get a run into our horses," the trainer said. "His training has gone very well. I don't want to be arrogant about it but he must have a great chance. I certainly wouldn't swap him for anybody else's. He's a bit special."

A second Listed contest at Sunbury is the Heron Stakes, which will almost certainly feature a tight betting market. The answer seems to be a colt who should have been honed by an effort in the Free Handicap. He finished close to Guineas winners in Haafdh and Bachelor Duke last year, so the form compass points to James Fanshawe's Azarole (next best 2.40).

Comments