AMBITIOUS NEWARK TRAINER HAS GOOD FRIDAY PLANS
Jockey-turned-trainer Robyn Brisland has quietly assembled a strong team of 40 horses for the All-Weather at the Newark stables he moved into only last year – and has Good Friday aspirations for at least two of them.
Brisland, who cut his teeth as an apprentice with Gary Moore, plans to have the majority of his runners on the Fibresand at Southwell, just a 20-minute drive from his self-contained Danethorpe base.
But he has high hopes of ending All-Weather Championships Season 7 at Lingfield Park next Easter – a fixture he describes as “my Royal Ascot”.
“I’m very excited about what the winter may bring,” he says. “We have a lot of horses with proven form around Southwell, which will be our bread and butter, but several with the potential to progress through the ranks.”
He rode over 50 winners as a Flat jockey between 1992 and 2007 but became more interested in training than race riding during his time on the south coast with Moore.
“I was never much good as a jockey but Gary used to let me work with the two-year-olds and I loved that,” he recalls. “Seeing young horses develop gave me such a buzz.”
Brisland and his wife Jo set up a pre-training business in the Brighton area shortly after he hung up his boots and the success they enjoyed further fuelled his desire to train.
“I took care of a lot of very good horses including Group One winner Marcel and John Smith’s Cup winner King’s Warrior for Peter Chapple-Hyam. Gary (Moore) sent me a lot of his nice jumpers, too, and seeing those horses go on to big things made me want to train them in my own right.”
He accepted a job as a private trainer for David and Debbie Curran in Newmarket in 2016 and proved he had the credentials to go it alone by training two-year-old Zyzzyva to be placed in a Group Three in France before transforming sprinter Magnus Maximus into a fancied contender for the Ayr Gold Cup.
“He’d improved from a mark of 89 to 101 and was second favourite for that race after winning a big handicap at Ascot, but got cast in his box and couldn’t run. I was gutted,” he recalls.
Brisland moved to Danethorpe on the outskirts of Newark last year and hasn’t looked back from a yard where Derek Shaw and champion All-Weather trainer Mick Appleby enjoyed considerable success.
“I fell in love with the place as soon as I saw it. The facilities are fantastic. We have our own Polytrack-cum-carpet gallop, plenty of turn-out paddocks and a swimming pool, which is the cherry on the cake.
“I tend to give my horses their final pieces of work at Southwell as it’s so close to us. It’s such an advantage to take them there before we run them on the surface. The Fibresand suits a strong travelling horse. You need one with early speed who can last out its trip, and we seem to have a lot of those.”
Kieran O’Neill and apprentice Seamus Cronin will come in for the majority of the rides, but Paul Mulrennan – a good friend of Brisland’s during his days in the weighing room – will also be called upon.
Brisland knows a talented jockey when he sees one – Ryan Moore, in many people’s eyes the world’s greatest, was just a schoolboy when their paths first crossed on his father’s yard over two decades ago.
“Ryan had something about him even as a young boy. He wasn’t that keen on getting out of bed in those days but he was a real natural. The type of person who could turn their hand to anything.
“He’s never ridden for me but I’d like to think that one day, if I’m lucky enough to train a proper Group One horse, he just might for old time’s sake. We’ll just have to make sure we pick a race that Aidan (O’Brien) doesn’t have a runner in.”
Here, Brisland gives Simon Mapletoft 12 to follow for the new All-Weather season.