MEADE OUT TO FELL BIG REPUTATIONS IN FINAL CLASSIC
Timber tycoon turned top trainer Martyn Meade is hoping to fell some big reputations when his progressive young stayer Technician lines up in the William Hill St Leger Stakes at Doncaster, writes Simon Mapletoft.
Meade is no stranger to the big stage with Advertise, Eminent and Aclaim all achieving Group success in recent seasons, but the trainer would love to be top of the tree in the world’s oldest Classic.
“It’s tremendously exciting to have a runner in the St Leger,” says the ambitious trainer, who combines training with running a private equity firm specialising in timber and property.
“Technician is a lovely horse who will be there on his merits but obviously has a lot to find to win it. I’d be thrilled if he could finish in a place, because this is a stepping stone for him.
“He has the makings of a very nice Cup horse next year so whatever he achieves in the Leger will be a bonus,” adds Meade, now proud owner of the historic Manton training estate in Wiltshire where over 50 Classic winners have been trained since the late 1800s.
Technician, one of two possible runners for US-based Team Valor (part-owners of David Simcock’s Spanish Mission), has progressed well this year after running with promise in one back-end maiden at Nottingham last November.
His novice win over 1m4f at Leicester in April was a formality and his staying on second in the Sandown Classic Trial offered an early glimpse of the colt’s need for a greater test of stamina.
A striking grey son of Mastercraftsman out of a winning daughter of the great Sadler’s Wells, he has since won a Listed race at Paris Longchamp and stepped up in trip last time to confirm himself a legitimate Leger contender with victory over the extended 1m5f in the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury.
His only blips were wholly excusable. Testing ground on a turning track caught him out in the Chester Vase before the undulations of Goodwood prevented him from producing his best form in the Group 3 Gordon Stakes.
“I’m very happy with his progress and confident that he will have his ideal conditions at Doncaster,” adds Meade. “He’s shown his best form on galloping tracks and is more or less proven at the trip. We might not be good enough to win but I don’t think I’ll be shaking my head afterwards because he didn’t stay.”
Meade is hoping the race is run at a strong enough tempo to be a true test. “He’s a very relaxed horse who can be put anywhere in a race. If he gets a good lead up the straight, I’m confident he will keep finding.
“He’s a very generous horse who gives, gives and gives, and will be happy on good ground or softer come Saturday 14th. If there is any rain in Doncaster though I would say it would only improve his prospects.”
Rob Hornby, who had his first ride in the Leger last year on Andrews Balding’s unplaced filly Maid Up, guided Technician to victory at Newbury. It was the first time he’d ridden the colt since that Nottingham debut but Meade is keen to keep the partnership intact.
“I’ll discuss plans with the owners but my feeling is that Rob deserves to keep the ride. He knows the horse well and rides him at home, and knows exactly what to expect from him out on the track. To me, that’s a bigger advantage than having a top name jockey who doesn’t know the horse.”
Whatever the result on Town Moor, Technician is unlikely to be seen in action again this year despite holding entries in the Long Distance Cup at Ascot on Champions’ Day and the Melbourne Cup the following month.
“The Leger will almost certainly be his swan song,” adds the trainer. “I’m not tempted to be chasing Group races abroad in the autumn. This horse is a work in progress and will be stronger and better next year. He’s a huge prospect to look forward to.”