Ivan Furtado has good reason to celebrate right now. As well as reflecting upon his best season in three years with a license, the former Brazilian rancher boasts one of the most impressive strike rates in the All-Weather Championships table.
On the approach to Christmas, Furtado had sent out eight winners at a 24 per cent return, bettered by only a handful of top trainers including William Haggas, Hugo Palmer, Roger Varian and Charlie Appleby.
The 38-year-old former assistant to Roger Charlton, who grew up herding cattle on his family ranch close to the Argentinean border, is “living the dream” with 34 horses in full training at his picturesque Wiseton Hall base on the Nottinghamshire-South Yorkshire border.
“I never had plans to be a jockey but was always interested in training, even in those early days back home when I helped my granddad with his quarter horses,” he tells me.
“I first came over to this country with the main aim of improving my English but was lucky enough to get a job with Jim Old, one of the top National Hunt trainers back then. Jim was really old school and taught me such a lot about the game in five enjoyable years.”
Furtado’s two years with Charlton proved just as valuable, however. “I was involved with some great horses at Beckhampton, and rode Group One winner Al Kazeem in most of his work. We had other stars like Cityscape and Time Test so it was an exciting period.”
Furtado then worked for former Newark trainer Alan McCabe before beginning training in his own right in 2015, and hasn’t looked back. He trained 15 winners in his first year, striking with his first ever runner, and bettered that tally by two last year.
But the addition of a new barn and a new influx of horses have helped Furtado beat that total with ease. He approached Christmas with 23 winners to his name this year, including tough handicappers Normal Equilibrium, Sword Exceed and lucrative French import Malaspina.
Here, Furtado talks Simon Mapletoft through some of his leading All-Weather contenders.