Sam Thomas: landed famous Gold Cup win on Denman in 2008
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
SAM THOMAS, who will forever be associated with 2008 Gold Cup winner Denman, has completed his trainer’s modules and applied for a licence to train from Winterwell Stables near Northleach in Gloucestershire.
Denman’s awesome defeat of next-door neighbour Kauto Star in a Gold Cup that had the loyalty of chase fans split down the middle was the highlight of a riding career that began in the 2001-02 season and yielded more than 500 winners. Thomas is ready for new challenges now, but he has not quite put his life as a jockey behind him, despite not having ridden competitively since February.
He said on Friday: “I haven’t officially retired and it’s long been a dream to ride a winner that I’ve trained myself. That’s still the plan and I’d love to ride just one winner of my own to cap it off and end that chapter before hopefully expanding the training and giving that 100 per cent.”
Thomas is based on a 1,000-acre arable farm owned by his girlfriend’s father and has worked hard to secure appropriate facilities. A six-and-a-half-furlong dirt gallop is due to be installed at the end of next week, but in the meantime he has been getting his team fit on the gallops two miles away that were used by Fergal O’Brien until his recent move back to Naunton. Although he is starting small, Thomas has scope to expand considerably.
He said: “I’m still awaiting my licence from the BHA but we’ve got seven or eight mainly young horses in already, plus some orders to buy more at the sales.
“To begin with we’ve got capacity for only a dozen, so my first aim was to get that filled. I need to learn to walk before I try to run, but once people can see they’re running well, we’ll hopefully generate more publicity and one day I’d like to expand to 50 or 60.”
He added: “I’ve got probably a dozen very good owners but they are mostly involved in a couple of horses rather than having individual horses of their own. Hopefully if we have some success they’ll come back for more.
“I’ve been lucky to have ridden for some very good trainers and I’ve picked up a pretty good understanding of their ways, which I hope to put to good use. We’re looking forward to getting going, but the horses won’t be rushed.”
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