We are delighted to start the BIG Interview’s of 2022 with Nick Gifford.
The trainer has followed in his father’s footsteps since taking over the reigns in 2003, with over 2,000 runners in all codes….
In this Interview, Nick talks about his grounding in Point to Point racing, taking over at Downs Stables, his first runner, how racing has changed & so much more….
With being from a racing family, was it always your intention to follow in the footsteps of Josh, OR did you have another career in mind?
No, it was not until I was older and had been travelling that I knew I was going to make it my career. That’s when I came back and proved to my parents and myself I was committed by training the pointers.
How would you describe your school years?
I loved school, I was very lucky to go to two fantastic schools that had brilliant sports facilities. I loved cricket especially but all sports
Do you think training Point to Point horses was a good grounding for taking on the Trainers Licence in 2003?
Yes absolutely, It was a very enjoyable time and I was lucky to have great horses and success. It taught me everything I needed to to run a business in terms of finance too.
What is the BEST piece of advice anyone has given you?
“If you have a winner drink tea and if you lose drink Champagne, that way you will drink a lot more champagne ! “
How important is Point To Point racing to National Hunt racing?
In Ireland it is so important to the racing and bloodstock industry. It’s a very different game in the UK, in that many of the horses are at the end of their careers when they go pointing and its not as much for the young horses, whilst in Ireland its where they start off !!
And then get sold for big £££££. So very important . Its also a great place to start out as a trainer.
Was it always the intention to take over from your Father?
It was not until I was older that I knew it was what I wanted to do. I think I drove my parents mad with this. I spent 9 months in Africa travelling and on my return I knew for sure.
You train at Down Stables, how has the facilities changed since the day you took over?
Very little as our grass gallops are some of the best in the country. We have a new all weather surface, but in essence everything is the same. We are lucky to have such fantastic facilities right on the South Downs.
The perfect place to train horses.
We have a comprehensive schooling ground. Down land turf is perfect for training horses as its free draining and provides cushion underfoot.
How would you say racing has changed since you took over the Licence?
More competitive now as racing is everyday ESPECIALLY WITH THE ALL WEATHER TRACKS. Any other sport they have an off season.
Since 2003, you have had nearly 2000 runners in all codes….
Do you remember the first runner after taking over the Licence?
I think it was Mr Markham at Haydock ridden by James Davies
During my research for this interview, I noticed that Tullamore Drew had placed 16 times from 43 runs, was he just unlucky not to have won more?
He was so unlucky not to have won more races, he was a horse with the biggest heart, he had lots of niggles and always gave 110% .
He will always have a special place in our hearts at The Downs Stables.
Straw Bear landed you the Fighting Fifth with Ap McCoy, would you say that was one of your the best days of racing?
Yes and when he won the Christmas Hurdle as we were not expecting it and it made our Christmas . It was so lovely that JP called us on the way home from Kempton! Ruth and I were over the moon!!
We are very honoured to train for JP.
If you were in charge of the BHA for 1 day, what would you change & Why?
I would drop a days racing and have racing 6 days a week and not 7. Its just too much & National Hunt Prize Money needs addressing
The final few questions….
How important, in your opinion, are Racing Clubs & Syndicates to racing?
Racing clubs and syndicates are so important to racing. They make racing accessible to so many people, they spread the finances and make it much more sociable.
They are the backbone of our business.
You have the Nick Gifford Racing Club, could you tell us a little about the RC & how our readers could get involved…
A small Exclusive club with 20 members , 2 horses, £1250 plus VAT one off joining fee, guaranteed O&T badge for each member when the horse runs , Champagne mornings on the gallops lots of fun. Like minded people . 2 spaces available at the moment . We have had great success with this club including “Mystic Dreamer “ who won at Cheltenham.
To find out more email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07841 014173 and speak to Ruth
If you could WIN any race, which would it be & why?
The Grand National ….to follow in Aldaniti footsteps
Could you give our readers a horse to look out for in the NH season ahead please…
Belargus and Churchills Boy
We would like to Thank Nick & Ruth for taking the time to do this for us at this busy time of the year, we really appreciate it & wish all the team at Downs Stables all the best for the rest of the season & the future..
Pictures – Michael Harris & Nick Gifford website
Interview – Rich Williams
Arseonlineracing Production – Published – January 2022