Ashforth's Angles: No fluke about Crisford success

Simon Crisford

Simon Crisford: making a real success of training

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

 By David Ashforth 6:00PM 8 JUN 2016 

LADIES, gentlemen and readers, I draw your attention to Dame Judi (Newbury 2.30) and Weld Al Emarat (ditto 3.40), stablemates at Simon Crisford’s Newmarket yard.

Followers of these things will not be surprised that Crisford has proved an immediate success as a trainer. In his first year, last year, Crisford won 22 races from 85 attempts.

That translates into an extraordinary opening strike rate of 26 per cent, higher than any other British based trainer with more than ten runners apart from Saeed bin Suroor, whose strike rate was 27 per cent.

Crisford won the Group 3 Solario Stakes with First Selection and this year, when his strike rate stands at a creditable 21 per cent, First Selection finished second, at 50-1, in the Group 1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains at Deauville.

The Spanish bred colt, who finished seventh in the 2,000 Guineas, is 33-1 for the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot. Crisford belongs to the select band of trainers who returned a profit to a £1 level stake last year and are showing one again this year

‘Able and diligent’

Crisford joined the training brigade exceptionally well qualified to succeed. Having worked as assistant to John Dunlop and Sir Mark Prescott, then as the Racing Post‘s Newmarket correspondent, in 1992 Crisford was recruited by Sheikh Mohammed to help launch Godolphin.

The job required organisational and diplomatic skills as well as working closely with Godolphin’s trainers, initially Hilal Ibrahim and then Saeed bin Suroor. Crisford would be Godolphin’s racing manager for 20 years. Among other things, it made him an expert on racing internationally.

Able and diligent, Crisford served Sheikh Mohammed well. He knows how to train and place horses, how to organise a training operation and how to administer a business, attributes not all trainers possess.

Add to that the support of the Maktoum family and a network of contacts in Dubai and elsewhere and the scene is set for success.

Crisford will just have to hope that, at 54, he doesn’t suddenly start to feel tired. He can always take a nap in the afternoon or relax by listening to the Archers on Radio 4 at two o’clock (I wish they’d hurry up and give that nasty creep Rob Titchener his comeuppance but I expect they’ll drag it out for months. That poor Helen Archer.)

Two chances

Dame Judi, who made a promising debut when second at Windsor last month, is owned by Dr Ali Ridha. An associate of Sheikh Mohammed, Ali Ridha went to Newcastle University and now runs the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory in Dubai.

Weld Al Emarat, having his first run since joining Crisford from Kevin Ryan’s stable, is owned by Ahmad Abdulla Al Shaikh. As managing director of the Dubai Media Incorporation, he works closely with Sheikh Mohammed. It will be interesting to see how the stable’s riding arrangements develop.

Jamie Spencer has his first rides this year for Crisford but Robert Havlin and Silvestre De Sousa have been used most so far.

Ashforth’s Angles returns on June 20

Horse Racing News | Racing Post

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