We are delighted to bring you an Exclusive Interview with top trainer Charlie Fellowes. He tells us about his time with Nicky Henderson to Meydan via the Breeders Cup…. it’s been a frantic first 5 years for Charlie and his team…. I started asking Charlie, how did it all begin….
Can you tell us how your interest in Racing began and a little bit about yourself please?
I grew up about 30 mins away from Newmarket on a farm where my father farms. My mum had a lot of friends in horseracing and she had a little share in a syndicate called the Eclipse Partnership.
I used to get dragged racing every now and again and fell in love with it. I used to watch channel 4 racing religiously, even when I had friends over (much to their disappointment) and it escalated from there. I had ridden a tiny bit when I was younger but not much.
I went and did some work experience aged 14 for two weeks at Nicky Henderson’s yard and absolutely loved it. The rest as they say is history!!
Who has been an Influence on your career?
James Fanshawe. I was his assistant for 5 years and learnt pretty much everything I know from him. He is an amazing trainer, an incredible horsemen and became a great friend. We see each other every day on the heath in Newmarket and I love seeing his horses win.
For a yard with about 90 horses they punch well above their weight. He has a group one winner every year which is more than can be said of many trainers with a hell of a lot more horses than him
You have been training for 5 years, which compared to some is only a short space of time. How have you found the first 5 years and how have you come on as a trainer?
It is not easy! Training in England is more competitive than anywhere else in the world and the rewards are far less. That said I have loved every minute of it and wouldn’t swap my job for the world. I look back on some of the things I did in my first year training and cringe!!
I have improved so much in every aspect and continue to improve every day. There is always something new to learn or different to pick up and I am always trying to adapt and get better every day.
What do you look for when purchasing a horse for the yard or Owners?
The majority of the horses I buy, are for owners who are not spending fortunes. There are two thing you always look for – A good pedigree and a good physical. If you want to tick both boxes then you are going to have to part with lots of money.
I am not willing to give way on the physical aspects of a horse so sometimes I have to forgive their pedigree slightly. I like a horse to have plenty of power behind the saddle and a nice deep girth so there is plenty of room for the engine. Good conformation is always imperative.
With a Breeders Cup runner in your first season, will you be looking to send any to this years meeting or do you look at the track before making any decisions?
I had a Breeders Cup runner in my first year, Sadly he was an also ran but it was an amazing experience for me. Yes, I would absolutely love to have runners over there again. The Americans do sport exceptionally well and the whole build up was great to be part of.
Sadly, Wet Sail turned out to be a soft ground horse and the quick ground at Santa Anita was not to his liking. I am not sure if I have anything for this years meeting at the moment as I don’t think any of my older horses are good enough to head there and it’s a very big ask taking a 2yr old over as it can take a lot out of them. Maybe next year!
Dubai has been quite successful, is that a good place to start the season?
Dubai was a great experience and Prince of Arran loved it over there. He did incredibly well for having some sun on his back, and he looks bigger and stronger as a result. I would definitely send more horses over there if they were good enough as the prize money is fantastic and I feel it gives them a head start on the season at home.
How do you place a horse? Are the horse’s running style, the field, conditions, the course?? Do they all play a part?
Britain is the hardest place in the world to place a horse because there are so many variations that need to be taken into account. In a lot of other countries all of the tracks are flat and round and the ground rarely changes. They even go the same way round!
In England every single track is different and suits different horses. The ground can change over night and that plays havoc with where you run them. Accession is a fantastic example as he loves Newmarket because it plays to his strengths of having a high cruising speed and wanting to sit on the pace, but if you send him to a stiff track like Ascot, he never runs well as it doesn’t suit his running style. He also has to have soft ground so you are constantly looking at the weather forecast.
What are the target’s for year 6?
Primary target is to win a group race, Second one is to beat last years prize money tally, and the third target is to beat last years winners tally. If I tick all those boxes then I need to beat George Scott in winners and prize money as we had a bet at the beginning of the year and I hate losing.
And finally, can you give our readers a couple of horse’s to follow for the season and maybe a nice 2 year old, who will be out later in the season?
Jeremiah is a very talented stayer who will get better and better as the season goes on.
We have a two year old called French Montana who looks quite smart and should be out soon after Royal Ascot.
Treasure Me is also a nice filly who ran over too far first time out but wants cut in the ground
It has been a pleasure to bring you this Exclusive interview. Charlie has been fantastic from when I enquired about the possibility of this Interview. I cannot thank him enough and would like to wish Charlie and his team of dedicated staff, all the very best for the rest of the season.
We look forward to seeing Team Fellowes in the Winners Enclosure at a racecourse near you very soon….
Interview by Rich Williams