By Jon Lees
Ady Pead cannot quite believe he has a chance to challenge defending champion Paisley Park at next week’s Cheltenham Festival with the first racehorse he has ever owned, the Warren Greatrex-trained Emitom.
For a few years a social racegoer with his wife Vicky, he dipped his toe into ownership at the urging of friend, near neighbour and successful owner Max McNeill, in 2017.
The result was Emitom, named after his two children Emily, nine, and Tom, 12, and who has won six of his eight starts, including an eight-length win in last month’s Rendlesham Hurdle, which established his candidacy for the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle.
Pead, 48, from Sonning in Berkshire and managing director of an insurance business, says: “Max McNeill lives down the road and he kept taking me racing to his box, which we always enjoyed. He was encouraging me to buy a horse, so I did.
“I went to the races and bumped into Warren. I’d met him a few weeks before and he remembered who I was. He bought me a pint and I said I would have a horse with him. That was basically it.
“He gave me three horses to choose from and I think I chose the right one. I think you can say Tess (Greatrex’s wife), who bought him, did us proud.”
Emitom, who cost £30,000 at the sales, won his first two bumpers and then his first three starts over hurdles, ending last season finishing second in the Grade One Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree, where he was beaten three lengths by Champ.
He did not return to action until January 1 at Cheltenham, where he produced his worst performance to finish last in the Relkeel Hurdle, 19 lengths behind Summerville Boy, but rediscovered the winning thread at Haydock.
“We probably brought him out too soon on January 1,” says Pead. “Gavin Sheehan said the engine was there, but he had just forgotten how to jump.
“He was packed off to Henrietta Knight’s for lots of practice, which paid off when he ran at Haydock. She has put a lot of effort in. The first time Emitom went there she said the horse was stupid and was going to take a lot of work. He proved that on January 1, but she has him back on track again.”
Emitom is a top-priced 12-1 to capture the Stayers’, a prize Greatrex won in 2015 with Cole Harden.
Pead, who now owns three horses, says: “I am not expecting too much at the moment. I know Gavin is talking him up and Warren, who is normally quite coy, seems relatively excited. I suppose that is going to rub off on me.
“Because he is a six-year-old there could be more to come. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him yet, which is the most exciting thing, but Paisley Park in his prime and is going to be very hard to beat.
“To go to a big race and have the pleasure of standing there among the likes of Nicky Henderson, Willie Mullins, JP McManus and everybody else is quite something for a small owner like me, a privilege to be honest.
“I didn’t go into horse racing ownership to necessarily compete at this level.”