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Chase is on for Ruth Carr to strike it even richer
RUTH CARR has spent five years working her way up the training ranks. Now with another Flat season set to get under way this weekend, the Stillington handler tells STEVE CARROLL how she hopes 2013 will bring her a breakthrough big race win.
SHE has finished paying her dues. After five years, and more than 150 winners, Ruth Carr has called time on her ‘apprenticeship’ as a trainer. It’s time to start getting some Black Type.
Stillington-based Carr established her reputation on an ability to improve lowly-rated handicappers and for showing a deft touch with older horses – qualities not unlike those displayed by her grandfather David Chapman throughout his stellar career.
But as the winners have rolled in and the yard has gradually become fuller and as success has brought in ambitious owners, so Carr has also widened her horizons.
Appearances on Saturday afternoon TV, and podium places in the big track winner’s enclosure, are no longer a rarity for the mistress of Mowbray House Farm.
The next step is jumping on the Pattern horse, and grabbing some Listed and Group race prizes.
Carr is confident 2013 could be the year it happens.
“I hope so,” she said of those ambitions.
“It’s so hard to win an Ayr Gold Cup or a Stewards’ Cup with a handicapper now – because the big yards have a well-handicapped horse that goes on to be a Group horse who wins these races on the way up.
“But I am always going to be targeting these big handicaps and, hopefully, we might have something good enough to go up into that next level.
“It is wanting to take that next step. You have to keep buying them and looking for the sort of horse you think you can work with and do well with and find out the key to it.”
That won’t mean being flash with the cash, however.
Soba, who won 13 races for Chapman including the Stewards’ Cup in 1982, was home-bred, while Quito, another of his memorable horses, was a Godolphin reject purchased by the legendary trainer for just 3,500 guineas.
Prudence isn’t just a spin phrase for politicians as far as Carr is concerned, it’s what she has been brought up to remember.
“I have to look for value,” she explains. “It takes a bit of balls to go and spend £50,000. I still want to be able to find value.
“We have been doing well with the horses we have been paying around £6,000 to £12,000 for. I wouldn’t want to go willy-nilly spending people’s money.
“If that is in you, it’s hard to get away from.”
So who could be the one, in Carr’s full stable of 28, who is going to break the yard’s big race duck?
“One of the up-and-coming horses is Head Space, who was bought out of Jim Bolger’s yard – as long as we can keep his head in the right place,” she says. “He just got a bit excitable in the stalls towards the end of last year.
“In hindsight, we probably ran him too much and he went over the top. He’d only had three runs in his life before he came to us and then all of a sudden we gave him ten or 15 in a few months.
“He’s obviously a bit quirky. He did his ducking and diving thing at Ayr and chucked the race away but he could be special.
“We have some new horses but we also still have Dubai Dynamo and Imperial Djay and the like and, touch wood, they are going to keep on winning races.
“One of the new ones is called Chunky Diamond, who came from Peter Chapple-Hyam, who should be all right. He’s a sprinter.
“There’s a big horse we’ve got from David Simcock, who is very lightly raced, called Gloriam. He’s had a problem but, if we get him right, he could be exciting.
“Gran Maestro had just a couple of runs when we got him and he was second at Wolverhampton. He stays a bit further and he will be a nice horse.”
If you are a horse at Mowbray House, prepare for some graft. Carr’s a big believer of getting her thoroughbreds out on to the racetrack as she tries to stay one step ahead of the handicapper.
“If you are training handicappers you have to be prepared to run them and they will run down the field – otherwise you don’t come down the handicap again,” she explains.
“You have to not be afraid of the percentages in the paper, you just ignore them. Granddad was never afraid to run them and I picked that up from him. Just run them.
“Sometimes they surprise you. I would never have thought that Imperial Djay was going to keep improving. I thought, after the previous year, he would probably have a quiet year – not be competitive off his mark – but he just kept being competitive.
“Whether it’s because you are keeping them happy, or when you get that purple patch in the summer and they are at the top of their game, it’s hard to put your finger on it.
“I always feel that I am trying to be one step ahead of the handicapper, trying to anticipate what I think he is going to do so I can make an entry, or run them when they are well in.
“Although you think what’s six or seven pounds on half a ton of horse, I am also very aware that I am training handicappers.
“Sometimes it is about the stamp of horse you have got.
“If you are a little horse, you might be better running in a better handicap with less weight or, if you have a big strong horse, you think about top weight running against lesser horses.
“Every horse is different. But I am really looking forward to this season, and I can’t wait to get cracking.”