Bradley prepares for new career

GRAHAM Bradley, the Yorkshire jockey who won a record-breaking Cheltenham Gold Cup 30 years ago before being banned from racing following a corruption case, is to attempt to become a racehorse trainer.

Sam Waley-Cohen

Three decades after a Bradley-inspired Bregawn led home legendary trainer Michael Dickinson’s quintet who filled the first five places, the former jockey and bloodstock agent is seeking a new role within racing.

The 52-year-old will begin the relevant training courses on Monday, though he has still to submit a formal application to the British Horseracing Authority – the body tasked with maintaining the sport’s integrity.

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“I can’t say anything until I’ve gone through all my modules and everything. It starts on Monday. I’ve done my NVQ in horse management and have three modules to do. I’ve got to have a meeting with the BHA,” said Bradley.

“It’s just a natural progression really. It would be a big challenge and is something I’ve been thinking about and planning for a while. There’s lots of water to go under the bridge and lots of things to do before it comes to fruition. I’ve been planning it for a while and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Bradley, who retired from race-riding in 1999, has been one of jump racing’s most controversial characters. He was warned off for five years for passing information to Brian Wright at a time when he was building a new career as a successful bloodstock agent in Wantage. His ban ended in 2009 and he remains a longstanding acquaintance of AP McCoy, the 17-time champion jockey.

“I’ve learned a lot from some proper geniuses. I rode winners for all three of the Dickinsons (Tony, Monica and Michael),” he added.

“I was stable jockey to Paul Nicholls, to Charlie Brooks, rode winners for Toby Balding, David Elsworth – he’s an absolute genius – David Murray-Smith, Jim Old.

“I’ve learnt a lot talking to them and I’ve been around horses all my life.

“I know it’s going to be a big challenge, it’s not a great time to start training, but I just thought it was a natural progression and something I’ve been thinking about for a long time and planning for a bit, so I’ve decided to give it a go.

“I’ve also learnt a lot from being a bloodstock agent.”

As for next month’s Gold Cup, Sam Waley-Cohen believes the main threat to Long Run regaining the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup crown is likely to come from stablemate Bobs Worth.

Long Run conquered the Cheltenham hill in 2011 – while Bobs Worth came to prominence when winning last year’s RSA Chase before showing his class in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury, his last appearance.

“Bobs Worth’s form looks incredibly impressive and improving second-season chasers have a strong record so he has to be the one to beat,” said Waley-Cohen who partnered a gutsy Long Run to a hard-fought victory in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

“But in many years you would have to say the winner of the King George would have to be favourite so it’s an intriguing race this year. The form of all the leading contenders is strong whether it’s Sir Des Champs or Silvianico Conti, or some that haven’t been prominent in the betting.

“In reality whatever wins it is going to have to run up to a mark which they have not yet achieved and that is what makes this race particularly exciting.”

Both Long Run and Bobs Worth are trained by Nicky Henderson who will not risk Champion Hurdle prospect Grandouet in tomorrow’s Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton. He says he does not want to run on very testing ground after an interrupted preparation.

Meanwhile Tidal Bay has suffered a “tiny stress fracture” and will miss both the Cheltenham Festival and John Smith’s Grand National.

The Graham Wylie-owned veteran, who returned to winning ways at Wetherby in early November, was allotted top weight for this year’s National as recently as Tuesday.

“He was out cantering as usual on Monday and Tuesday, but on Wednesday we decided to step up his work,” said trainer Paul Nicholls.

“But his work rider came back up and said that he didn’t feel right.”