Racing: Torgau rewards Bravery

Newmarket July Meeting: A trainer that has had little cause to celebrate tastes success in the Cherry Hinton Stakes

Richard Edmondson
Saturday 22 October 2011 23:44

They say training horses is an easy game: all champagne, cigars and pretty women. And the leisure time is not bad either.

The profession was not portrayed thus however by Giles Bravery yesterday, even though he had just won the first Group race of his career here, the Cherry Hinton Stakes, with the filly Torgau. His words provoked the thought that the surname was quite apt for a man in his trade. He seemed to suggest that training was for losers.

"I used to be wealthy before I was a trainer," Torgau's handler said. "It is unbelievably idiotic. Anyone who wants to start up, I suggest they don't. Go and do something sensible. You lose all your money and you're owned by the banks. You never get enough horses and then nobody pays you.

"Then, once about every six years, you get a day like today's. That's what makes it all worthwhile. It's absolutely fantastic."

Bravery started preparing horses in 1992 when he was 30. He operates from Revida Place on Newmarket's Hamilton Road, where 31 of the 40 boxes lie empty. This situation does not give him an inferiority complex. He does not tolerate people looking down on him, even though that would be rather easy after his legendary victory celebrations. "Bemusement is my main feeling at the moment," he said. "I'm going to go out and get absolutely rat-arsed.

"Sadly people like me are not terribly fashionable. We've got nine horses and we've won this and just finished second in a Listed race at Maisons- Laffitte [with Shaya].

"There are little trainers who are good at what they do but just don't get enough horses. It's much easier, if you're spending pounds 200,000, to send your horse to Henry [Cecil], who is an exceptional trainer. But maybe some of these boys should send them to us a little bit more. Their horses will see a racecourse with us. They all run. It's just fun.

"We just go more and more broke until one day they tell us to stop. We make it pay by selling horses. We've just made ourselves pounds 18,000 and the way she's won it she's probably a pounds 150,000 filly now [after being purchased for 13,000gns].

"And when you're really broke and you've got one for sale the secret is never take the first bid. You've got to sit on your hands, even though it's the most difficult thing to not take the money."

Bravery had not bothered to complicate his jockey's mind with complex instructions. Gary Stevens was sent on his way with a two-word briefing. Good luck. The American has already displayed he does not need much of that. He led from start to finish with a mastery which made a mockery of the statistic that this was his first winner at Headquarters.

And afterwards there was the full debrief that put to shame the Cro-Magnon responses that we have become used to from many of his colleagues. When it comes to Stevens, it's smoking pencils.

"She jumped well and we were setting a very easy pace," the man from Idaho said. "She had her ears cocked up forward and was just enjoying herself out there. I asked her to pick up a little bit three furlongs out and then she settled under me again and hit a new gear.

"Coming to the last furlong I was feeling pretty sweet sitting on top there."

Stevens, like many of his countrymen, enjoys the history of this land. Winning a race in this arena meant a lot to him. "It's a very special feeling," he said. "I was talking with my wife last night about Newmarket, the Mecca of horseracing. It's a great feeling just to be here winning a race.

"And it's nice to go round the pubs here and see horseracing pictures on every wall. It's not something I'm used to at home. It's all horseracing here."

Bravery was shaking in the winners' enclosure after his success, but victory in the following Group Two event, the Princess Of Wales's Stakes, did not appear to get to Henry Cecil as much. He strolled in to greet Craigsteel with a cigarette lolling in his hand.

This win was an advertisement for another jockey. Kieren Fallon took up the running with three furlongs to cover and, though a succession of challengers loomed, the Irishman did not look as though he would have enjoyed being passed. He would rather have died.

One rider who never threatened to do so was the partner of Secret Saver, who finished a tailed-off last. On any other day this would have been quite dispiriting, but for yesterday, at least, Gary Stevens did not appear to be in any great distress.

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