Best elevated among the elite by Native talent

Between the immodesty of his surname, and the meekness of his professional beginnings, there is no mistaking which way John Best is heading. A decade ago, encouraged by his experiments with a few point-to-pointers, Best started work on some derelict buildings, lost amid brambled, shady lanes, high above the Weald of Kent. Even the address seemed unkempt: Scragged Oak Farm, Hucking.

Of the nine horses he had scraped together, to meet the minimum requirements of the Jockey Club, six were useless. That is no figure of speech. They were literally incapable of raising a gallop. But one of the remaining three went on to win seven races, and here is Best now, with a championship sprinter among his string of 70, palpably in the avant-garde of his profession.

The impudent success of Kingsgate Native in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York last month distilled both the attitude and aptitude of his trainer. Few others would have dared to run a two-year-old against veteran Group One sprinters on only his third start, never mind one that had yet to win a race. And fewer still would have done so without even being able to watch him run. But Best's absence dovetailed perfectly with the colt's stunning breakthrough. He was in Florida, buying yearlings – making a point he could never have made so well in person.

That this was not some brief, dreamy trespass; and that Best, with no background in the game, in his untutored, empirical way, had not been guessing about the colt's eligibility. "A lot of people said they couldn't believe I wasn't there to see my first Group One winner," he said yesterday. "But I said I had to find my next one. And I was not going to do that at York."

Typically, while British trainers went to the big sale in Keeneland by the dozen, Best was the only one in Florida that week. He is exploring a new marketplace, not only among horses, but among owners, pairing eight to 10 serious backers with eight to 10 serious horses. By pooling investments of £75,000 per head – to cover a share in the partnership and training fees – Best hopes to raise the horses' value on the racecourse and, with a pragmatism that eludes so many other trainers, to sell at a profit.

He has already tested the model on a smaller scale. "I'd rather have four horses for £160,000 than one for £150,000," he said. "You must have volume, and you must have the right margin. I know my statistics. Out of every 10 I get, I'm going to get one really good one."

As things stand, nobody has met the asking price for Kingsgate Native and he proceeds to Paris on Sunday week for the Prix de l'Abbaye. "I would have been as delighted as anyone had he been sold," Best insisted. "But to me there is so much more to come from him next year. I don't care about losing the weight-for-age, because he's going to be so much stronger. So long as I don't break him, what's going to beat him?"

He is unabashed about that proviso, believing that you are only qualified to train good horses if you have the belief to train them properly. "The better the horse is, the harder it has to be trained," he explained. "Because it's so easy for them. If you wrap them in cotton wool, they won't win races. And if horses aren't fit, that's when they get hurt."

Kingsgate Native cost just 20,000 guineas and is only the latest in a series of horses to have inflated their value here. Rising Cross, for instance, cost just £14,000 and was sold for £325,000 after finishing second in the Oaks last year. "I don't care if a horse has the best pedigree in the world," Best explained. "I have to like it as an individual first. You wouldn't buy Kingsgate Native on pedigree, but he's a monster of a horse to look at. My view is that if they look the part, and can walk, the chances are they are going to make a racehorse. There are exceptions, but not many horses with legs twisted in every direction are going to do that."

Thirteen yearlings arrive from the United States this morning. "The key is that we're not only trying to buy the right horses, but at the right price," Best said. "We're not only getting value for money in America, but with the pedigrees they have, we're also improving our chances of selling the horses back there. It's all about trying different avenues, trying to keep one step ahead of the opposition."

Chris McGrath

Nap: Lang Shining

(Ascot 2.00)

NB: Everymanforhimself

(Ascot 2.35)

News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own