“We want to train for good people for a long time” – Beckett reveals the simple secret of his success
Ralph Beckett is one of the country’s top flat trainers and has been associated with MS Amlin’s Bloodstock unit, Amlin Plus, for more than ten years. He first came to know the group through Amlin Plus Managing Director and Principal Underwriter David Ashby.
But why did he agree to sign up with the company in the first place?
“I could see it being a long-term deal because Amlin Plus is in the same business as me,” he said. “The two businesses are linked in a way that other companies that sponsor trainers aren’t.
“It’s not to do with money – it’s entirely to do with service. It’s hassle-free dealing with Amlin Plus, very black and white, there’s never a problem. They make it very simple. Dealing with anyone in this industry is not always straightforward but dealing with Amlin Plus is.”
Ralph, pronounced ‘Rafe’, comes from a racing family. His father owned a Gold Cup winner, he had an uncle who bred a 1,000 Guineas winner and one of his cousins is racing manager to thoroughbred breeders Juddmonte Farms.
His Kimpton Down Stables, near Andover in Hampshire, has state-of the-art facilities including three all-weather gallops, 35 acres of grass gallops, a treadmill and 20 acres of turnout paddocks.
Ralph has trained three Classic winners – his first Classic success coming with Look Here in the Oaks in 2008. Since then he has won the Oaks again with Talent in 2013 and the 2015 St Leger with the filly Simple Verse. He has also trained a Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner in Muhannak.
“There are many group one races nowadays – so in a sense the classics are as important as they always have been. There are only five of them a season and that makes them very difficult to win,” he said.
“I am proud of training three classic winners because those races are generally monopolised by the biggest outfits.”
Ralph is noted throughout the industry for having a particular talent for training fillies.
“It’s mostly because of the environment they are trained in,” he said. “We are not in a training centre like Lambourn or Newmarket. They don’t have the outside pressures of seeing a thousand other horses every morning or motorised traffic. I think it suits fillies to be in a quieter environment.”
Ralph’s horses have earned more than £600,000 prize-money so far this season and more than £5million since the beginning of 2013.
He said “Training horses is as much about people as it is about horses. If you employ good people, and you are employed by good people, that makes life very much easier. The hardest part of the job is making sure that that is the case. We want to train for good people and for a long time.
“Getting the best out of every horse is what we aim to do at the start of every year. Some years we can look back and say ‘I don’t think that horse could have done any better’. If you get to the end of most years having achieved that, and look back and are able to say that, then, that for me is the satisfaction.
“Winning big races is great, it’s fantastic but training the 55-rated filly is just as important. They all cost the same to feed, keep and train.”
But what is the one big race that Ralph would most like to win?
“The Derby,” he said, after a considered pause. “It’s not just about the history but because it’s the greatest test of the three-year old thoroughbred, which is the classic generation. It’s also comes at the time of year when horses are, by and large, still changing because most 1.5-mile 3-year-old colts haven’t reached their peak at that time of year.
“It’s testing the precocity of that horse and it’s also testing the handler, the man who trains that horse. To be able to get a horse to the first weekend in June to run over a mile and a half around Epsom is the biggest test of horse and handler. The Derby is at that place on the calendar to test the precocity, as well as the brilliance of the best of the breed – that’s why it’s the most important race of the year.”
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