Through the 1920s and 1930s, George’s great grandfather trained a string of around 40 horses each year. It was the era of steam trains and horses were loaded at Newmarket Station before being transported to racecourses up and down the country. Both of George’s grandfathers were involved in the sport, too. One was a starter before serving in the army, the other owned point-to-point horses. Was it ever in doubt, then, that George would develop a burning passion for racehorses?
In George’s words, he “always rode” – and that led him to a point-to-point racing in which he enjoyed a cluster of winners in the saddle. At the same time, he was gaining valuable experience working for Paul Nicholls where he regularly rode Breedsbreeze ahead of his 2008 Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle triumph. It was a brilliant era to be around Nicholls’ all-conquering stable – they had the first three that year in the Gold Cup. The excitement and success of those times fuelled the teenage George’s desire to one day train in his own name.
He sought experiences to help him on the path to fulfilling that objective. There was a sales season to hone his eye with Blandford Bloodstock and also for Angus Gold, the racing manager for Shadwell Stud. George’s enthusiasm for hands-on involvement saw him served as pupil-assistant to Mark Tompkins and assistant to Michael Bell. Those were times George will never forget. Not least because of his day-to-day involvement with Wigmore Hall, a two-time Grade 1 winner. George rode him out daily. It was in 2012 that George went to work for Eddie Kenneally in America, wanting to broaden his knowledge. He enjoyed increased responsibility during that year-long stint, as well as learning a different style of training.
A move to California and the stables of Simon Callaghan proved to be short-lived as a call came from Lady Cecil ensuring George returned to England to serve for two years as assistant at the famous Warren Place Stables. It proved to be a tremendously rewarding period, especially with Noble Mission delivering three Group 1 victories, including a never-to-be-forgotten triumph in the Champion Stakes on British Champions’ Day.
Following Lady Cecil’s retirement, George set up by himself in Newmarket and his rise through the ranks has nothing short of meteoric. His strike rate in 2017 of 19% rivals any leading trainer in the country and he gained a big race triumph with James Garfield, who took the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes in some style.
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