Racing: Keeping chin up amid the chinless

Paul Kelleway is impatient for Glory at Epsom. Richard Edmondson reports

In the build-up to the Derby quite a few folk have been up to Newmarket to see Paul Kelleway about his Classic colt, the well-fancied Glory Of Dancer. Most have written about what an unusual chap the trainer is, and he has not appreciated it. He thinks of his family more Waltons than the portrayed Addams, and feels he does not belong in a pigeon hole with the elephant man and bearded lady for company.

"Just because they [the media] talk to a load of people who are dead from the neck up, when they find someone who they think is a character and can talk a bit they make out you're a freak show," he says. "We're just a small family business trying to make a living.''

Whatever he says, however, Paul Anthony Kelleway is different. He is plain-spoken, devoid of aristocratic connection and not a twit, and if this makes him unusual in Newmarket it tells you more about the town than the man himself.

The Kelleways have been at Shalfleet stables on the Bury Road in racing's headquarters since 1977. The plural applies as the trainer's wife, Gillian, children Anthony, Gay (a successful trainer herself) and Sarah have, or are, playing a significant role in the operation.

Pappa Kelleway has always worked to one goal. Success for him is buying cheap yearlings and making their future the breeding shed rather than a pyramid of dog-food cans in the supermarket. He has had some spectacular successes. The 8,000gns Madam Gay captured the Prix de Diane (French Oaks) and was sold for $1.4m, while his dual Group One winner Risk Me upgraded his value from pounds 20,000 to pounds 1.4m.

This policy of pitting low-breds in the top races brings with it a large proportion of defeats. They say Kelleway leads with his chin, which is believable when you observe a dominating feature that looks as though it has met with a selection of bouncers. The man himself can stand all this even if others sneer at his strike-rate. "All I'm doing is the best for my owners and trying to increase the value of the horses," he says. "If Dick Hern or Henry Cecil puts one in those big races that finishes last no-one mentions it.''

Kelleway has only 26 horses and he knows he should have more. However, as a boy he was fostered to a family in Doncaster and he seems to have borrowed the county's reputation for tact and diplomacy. "Gay can probably get owners better than me," he says. This is the hugest of understatements. Hannibal Lecter could get owners better than Paul Kelleway.

As he approaches 56, Kelleway is finally convincing himself that life is not fair. A lot of training is about going to the right school and keeping the accent up to scratch. Kelleway's conversation owes more to the dockyard than the chapel and the only thing he will butter up is a cream cracker. He once thought performance would speak for him, and he is a rather forlorn figure when he accepts he has been wrong for so many years. "I always believed results would make a difference, but it hasn't seemed to," he said. "Experience and track record doesn't seem to get you a glass of water in this game. Maybe that's life as well.''

This is not to say Kelleway is down to his rags. On the contrary. One wet Newmarket morning last week, the trainer entered the Shalfleet lounge to meet this visitor. He wore blue overtrousers, a striped jersey with the crocodile logo over his heart and, underneath, there seemed to be several further layers, lending the impression the trainer was wearing all his wardrobe at once. The ensemble was topped off with a neckerchief.

Kelleway talked generously about Glory Of Dancer's performance in the Gran Criterium at San Siro in November last year and you would have to be a double-glazing salesman to miss the invitation to view the video on arrival at the yard. The footage, it has to be said, is quite arresting, and Kelleway still seems to be startled as he watches his horse's performance from the edge of his florally decorated armchair.

Around the lounge are oil portraits of Kelleway's good horses, the likes of Swiss Maid, Green Girl and African Song. Pride of place, above the fireplace, belongs to What a Myth, the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, with P Kelleway in the saddle. As a jumps jockey Kelleway rode about 400 winners, including the Gold Cup and two Champion Hurdles on Bula.

Beverages were served by Gillian, who is described by a strange blend of sexism and meritocracy in Kelleway's promotional blurb as "his attractive and vivacious wife, very much a power behind the throne". Mrs Kelleway, a point-to-point rider of note herself, does the feeding and insists that horses liked to be talked to. There are few better qualified for the job.

After the questions become silly (what is your star sign?) your correspondent is invited to the gallops and is asked for a lift. Then comes an interview- changing moment. Kelleway sees a babychair in the car and immediately sees his questioner as almost human and not the scaled hack stereotype who would attempt the unspeakable just to get a quote (I must remember to return that seat to the shops).

On the way to the gallops it is difficult to tell who is in control. Kelleway, in the space of a five-minute journey, makes his chauffeur flash the headlights, honk the horn and take devious routes. It's lashing down outside, bouncing off the bonnet, but, for some reason, the trainer has to have his window down.

Gillian is already at the gallops in the family 280E Mercedes (a white and orange number, the orange bits a product of old age) which has a huge, menacing shape on the back seat. This is Dexter, the sort of animal that cleans up burglary rates. Dexter is big, even by Rottweiler standards, as a medical condition means he is on steroids. He looks as though he's had most of the injections while in the car and might struggle to disembark. Eventually he manages it, swinging his moose head lazily from side to side in celebration.

By now I know I'm in. Kelleway has been so impressed by my driving that he allows me to pull the lever on the starting stalls where he is to test four two-year-olds. "When I say 1-2-3 go just hit it," he says, as if addressing some dolt.

As the rain splatters around, the trainer returns to a common theme. Like plenty of people these days, Kelleway talks a lot about the lottery. About people having a horse with him after they have won it, about the time 12 months ago when he was one number off winning pounds 3m. He lives in hope that he will get up at least one Saturday jackpot in 10 days' time.

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Assistant

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Maintenance Assistant is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?