On Monday morning, I headed to those the gallops, Musley Bank Stables, the home of Richard Fahey’s highly-successful training operation.
The Irish-born former jockey, 55, who passed another career landmark in May, when Hong Kong Harry won a 7f handicap at Ayr under stable stalwart Paul Hanagan to give him his 3,000th British winner – a few months after passing that total worldwide.
The trainer of numerous Group 1 winners including the brilliant Queen Anne Stakes and Prix du Moulin victor Ribchester – whose Lockinge triumph is noted on the trainer’s reserved parking sign in the yard – as well as the likes of Sands of Mali, Mr Lupton, Mayson and Angel Gabrial – to mention just a few on the stable’s lengthy roll of honour.
Fahey, who has won over £12m in prize money during a 20-year career, is also the reigning leading trainer in the annual Go Racing in Yorkshire Summer Festival, sponsored by Sky Bet.
And it was at the launch of this year’s event, which starts today at Ripon, followed by a meeting at Doncaster this evening, that Fahey – who has also trained National Hunt winners – gave some insight into what his day entails.
He said: “I wake up at 3.30 every morning, no alarm, just a thing I have been doing for three years now, no matter what time I go to bed.
“I come in and meet my assistant Robin [O’Ryan] and we will sit down to organise the morning’s work and about 5am a couple of the feedmen come in to give the horses their breakfast and we get a report off them, what has eaten, not eaten and that’s the first signals if there’s a problem with one or two, but generally they are fine.
“The main bulk of the staff come at 7am, we have already organised a list and like launching a ship, it goes…”
He employs around 75 full and part-time staff, including ground staff, vets and farriers. There are also the two and six-day declarations to sort out and staff who work in the afternoon before the horses are fed again at 5pm, with Fahey heading to bed at 7-30 to 8 and maybe watch a few races.
“Monday’s a routine day, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday there’s more work with the horses,” he explained.
“We have been lucky, we have progressed and progressed over the last 12 years with a high number of horses and every season we are keeping those numbers up. It’s a lot of hard work, it doesn’t just happen, but ultimately it’s all about winning.”
We were also given the chance to see horses working on the aforementioned gallops, with the likes of recent Royal Ascot Norfolk Stakes winner Perfect Power, under former champion jockey Hanagan, Summer Sands, stable stalwart Brian the Snail, Spirit Dancer and Vintage Clarets, who runs in the Weatherbys Super Sprint at Newbury today, all working out.
“There you go, training is that easy!” joked Fahey as the last of the 25 – Hong Kong Harry – ran past. He also identified a trio of nice two-year-olds who are still to run in Ionian Sea, Buckshaw Village and Blenheim Boy.
“They look good in their coats and above average, so hopefully when they get to the track, they will improve again.”
With all nine Yorkshire tracks taking part in the Festival which concludes a week tomorrow at Pontefract, Fahey believes the local racing scene is prospering at the moment.
Fahey said: “I am a huge fan of York, I have been for years, not so much for me, but my owners love it. It’s just 25 minutes down the road which is handy for us, a very fair track and if they help us we help them.
“They put on good prize money and look after everyone, they are a good team there.
“But in Yorkshire we have nine very good tracks now and they are all working well together.
“Mind, you have got to these days, we are in the entertainment business and you have got to look after people and make an effort, but they are and it is working up here,” he said.
“I bet you there are a lot of other jurisdictions who are jealous of Yorkshire and Yorkshire people, who are very knowledgeable.
“They know their horses and they are interested in them and it’s not just a social thing, they are on it.”
Dates for the Go Racing In Yorkshire Summer Festival, sponsored by Sky Bet are: Today - Ripon and Doncaster; Tomorrow - Redcar; July 19 - Beverley (evening); 20 - Jack Berry House Open Afternoon (12 to 2pm); 21 - Catterick; 22 - Doncaster (evening); 23 - Thirsk and York (evening); 24 - York; 25 - Pontefract.