We are delighted to bring you the BIG Interview with Graeme McPherson.
The national Hunt trainer is looking forward to the start of the winter season & we talk about his career in racing, Point to Point, National Racehorse Week, Red Rum & Much more…..
Can you tell us your earliest memory of horse racing?
Red Rum’s third Grand National win – I still have a picture of Rummy above my desk in the office!
Were you brought up in & around the sport?
Not at all. I used to go racing with my Dad as a spectator but there was no family connection with racing. I first sat on a horse in my 20’s when i met my wife & she could not believe i loved racing, yet had never ridden a horse! And the rest is history….
Did you always want to be involved in racing when you were growing up or did you have another career in mind?
I never thought of a career in racing. I am a barrister by trade & the focus was always on that career, with racing as a hobby. As we got bigger & better as a Point to Point yard, I was able to complete the trainer’s courses at Racing school, get the licence & turn professional.
Now I balance two careers – QC & Racehorse Trainer….
You say that you had an Unsuccessful riding career, why do you describe it as that?
I think my record speaks for itself – I have never totted it up, but i suspect I may be one of the few jockeys, who have more NON Completions than Completions!
More seriously, I actually rode 1 winner – A horse called Misty Ramble in a Maiden Point to Point at Thorpe Lodge along with a few placed horses, I rarely troubled the judge.
It was fantastic fun, I can remember the trill of the win as if it was yesterday…
Having started off riding & training in Point to Point races, why do you think PtP is an important starting point for people to get involved in National Hunt racing?
Although it has become very much more professional in recent years, it still represents the grass roots of the sport & I cannot think of any better way for a young jockey to cut their teeth & gain experience before moving in to National Hunt racing.
An aspiring jockey can learn so much from Point to Point racing & importantly, they can make & learn from their mistakes away from the spotlight of racing under rules.
Were you always going to take out a training licence in 2010?
After a few seasons training Point to Point horses, it was always the ambition – I did my trainer courses & worked towards my licence>
I was lucky enough to have a couple of owners, who had pointers with me & sent me some horses to go under rules. The opportunity to go professional was too temping to pass up.
Your first winner was at Southwell with Fairview Sue in February 2010, how many runners had you had prior to this win?
Not many. I had a permit for a couple of years before that & we had a winner in a Hunter Chase with a horse called Another Raleagh. Between taking out the professional licence & that first winner, I would say we had about 10 runners.
As you train near Cheltenham at Martins Hill, did winning the Hunter Chase with Rein A Perdie make it extra special?
That was a fantastic day. We had originally been sent him to go Pointing with but it was pretty clear he was a cut above that & after he won a Hunter Chase at Newton Abbot, we were confident that he would run well at Cheltenham.
Watching him come up the hill for our first win there was magical – It’s what we all dream of, isn’t it?
In 2010 you started with 12 boxes & now have around 80, what percentage of them are filled?
We will be full this winter, although one of our 4 yards will be occupied by young horses, who probably won’t be seen until the spring or possibly even next season. I like to buy young horses and bring them on slowly. By training them alongside the older horses we can get them used to a routine, monitor their progress & hopefully prepare them for a long & successful career on the track.
Martins Hill has been expanded since you took out your trainers licence, has this expansion enabled you to train the horses in a more efficient way?
Yes, we have 4 yards all located conveniently for one another, all of which are well positioned for both the hill gallop & the round gallop. The facilities are all on site & we like to think we runs things pretty efficiently!
Back in 2017, the yard had 30 winners, NH & Flat, would you describe the yard as duel purpose or NH, with occasional Flat runners?
I would describe us as a National Hunt yard with the odd runner on the flat. Coming from a pointing background, my heart is definitely jumps rather than the flat – Although there are days in the middle of winter, in the freezing cold & pouring rain when I can see the attractions of a July meeting on the flat!!
You have the McPherson Racing Club, can you tell our readers a little bit about the club please….
We started the Racing club a few years ago as a way for regular racegoers to enjoy the fun of having a share in a horse at an affordable price. The club leases a horse for the season(We run a Winter & Summer club)& members pay a one off fee to join the club for that season.
They get to come to the yard to see the horse being trained, as well as enjoying the thrill of being part of the club in the paddock (And the winners enclosure)at the races when the horse runs, at the end of the season, the prize money is split between the members & the yard.
Since many of the members are local, we try to run at tracks that are convenient for members to get to & that usually guarantees a great atmosphere whenever club horses run. We have had some wonderful days over the years & there have been plenty of winners for the members to shout home.
The yard also run Syndicate horses, do you think this is a good way for people to get into racing?
I do. Racehorse ownership can be expensive and syndicates are a great way for people to get involved in owning a horse at a really affordable price. In addition, being part of a good syndicate is like being part of a team – The members share the pain & excitement of horse race ownership together & it is wonderful to see the shared enjoyment of a syndicate winner..
If you had control of the BHA, what would you change?
How long have you got??
What has been the most enjoyable moment of your Training career to date?
It would be unfair of me to single out any particular race or horse, as there have been so many amazing days with so many wonderful different people & the horses over the last 10 years.
So I will pick the day my daughter, Eliza, won her first pony race, getting up on the line in a real head bobber!!
National Racehorse week is coming up soon, what do you think of this & is your yard involved?
I think it is a great wat to publicise racing and to encourage people to visit a yard & see what goes on behind the scenes. We regularly host open mornings on a Saturday & it is wonderful to see regular racegoers, who might normally only see racehorses in the paddock & on track enjoy seeing all the work that goes into getting the horse to the races.
If you could win ANY race, what would it be & why?
The Grand National, watching Red Rum win it for the 3rd time is my first racing memory & i have dreamt about winning it ever since!!
What horse, PAST or PRESENT would you like to train & why?
Red Rum. A true legend.
Away from racing, how do you relax?
I am a sports nut, so usually watching another sport..
Can you give our readers a horse to follow for the NH season ahead please…..
Sister Michael – He’s a lovely big 5 year old son of Fame & Glory. He arrived at the yard as a 3 year old & we have been very patient with him. He has had one spin in a Bumper for the experience at the end of last season & we liked what we saw that day.
He will be one to keep on the right side of this winter.
Now that you are going into partnership with Fergal O’Brien, is that the end of your training career?
As regards the partnership with FOB, its certainly not the end of my training career ! We are going into partnership with effect from 1 October 2021…….
You can contact Graeme or his team by visiting the website – https://mcphersonracing.co.uk/
We would like to thank Graeme for taking his time to do this for us & for Louis for his fantastic photos. As the team now join forces with FOB, we would like to wish them all the best for not only the season ahead but the future….
Interview by Rich Williams
Photos – Courtesy of Louis Gill at McPherson Racing (Except Red Rum – File)
Arseonlineracing Publication – Published September 2021