In the stables with Mark McNiff
Strandhill trainer with a sniff for success
weeks like this, when the weather is so wonderful, our place here in Standhill
is as close to paradise as you would find anywhere in the world. We are right
under the mountain and just 50 metres away from the beach. It's magical,
although if you visited us in the middle of December you might not think so!
sun certainly shone down on me at Downpatrick on Saturday as well. We sent a
team of four and came home with a 145-1 treble thanks to Atlantic Breaker,
Andratx and Ashjan.
actually mad on Atlantic Breaker. I thought that he had to win on paper on a
line through Tom Gibney's horse Penance. We were just behind him on our last
visit to Downpatrick and he was six lengths ahead of Great Khan who was
fighting it out for favouritism so I couldn't really understand why Atlantic
Breaker was twice the price of him. I always knew he was up to winning a maiden
hurdle, but I thought it would have happened about seven runs ago. We changed
the bit in his mouth and that made a big difference.
fancied Andratx too, but as a trainer, you begin to wonder whether you are
looking at races with rose-tinted glasses. You start to doubt yourself and
question whether your heart is ruling your head. Thankfully, he got the job
done in great style.
Kelly, the young lad who rides Ashjan, was sure that we needed to step him down
in trip after he was collared late by Station Closed over 2m5f at the track
last month and he was on the money. The 2m2f trip was exactly what the doctored
order and he won nicely. It was a great way to end the day.
funny, I probably don't take as much pleasure out of winning as I should. You
would think that after having a treble at Downpatrick that I would be on cloud
nine but all I could think about on the way home was where I could send each of
the horses next to try and get another win somewhere. In my head, it is all
about the next day. I always try to think ahead.
is a terrific track and I'm not just saying that because I had a treble there.
They cater brilliantly for owners and all my owners love having runners there.
More tracks should take notes on what Downpatrick do. There is always a
brilliant atmosphere there too.
my local track Sligo will be back in action for their next scheduled meeting. Its
temporary closure due to drainage issues has been a big blow to me as I love
having runners there and I have a lot of local owners. The good news is that I
walked the track ten days ago and I have no doubt that it is ready to go. It is
quite remarkable how much it has improved over the last month and I cannot wait
to get back racing at Sligo.
have already had six winners over jumps in Ireland this season, double what we
managed last year but we did have two Flat winners last year and two across the
water as well so we are roughly on a par at the moment. We had a lot of placed
horses last year, which was very frustrating, but here's hoping that those
seconds can be transformed into winners this term. I have about 15 or 16
riding out at the moment and I think every one of them is capable of winning a
British raids have been reasonably successful over the last few years and
Hexham and Uttoxeter are two tracks I love to visit. You can always be
guaranteed safe ground at those venues no matter how dry the weather is. I am
not afraid to travel. If I think a horse is capable of winning somewhere, away
35 now and I would obviously love to have more horses but you need big owners
with lots of cash to splash. Horses have never been more expensive. The three
horses I won with at Downpatrick would have not have cost €30,000 between them
but you wouldn't get a decent horse for €10,000 now. That’s how strong the
market is. It makes it more difficult but I love the challenge.
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