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
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
Life and Style
The Zinger Double Down King, which is a bun-less burger released in Korea
food + drinkKFC unveils breadless meat beast
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

SSRS Report Developer - Urgent Contract - London - £300pd

£300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...

KS1 Teacher

£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

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?