End of rags-to-riches fairytales? As two yards win £8m in eight months one top trainer rails against big boys dominating | The Sun

A GROUP 1-WINNING trainer has warned that domination by leading stables could prevent more Highfield Princess and Pyledriver stories in the future.

Rod Millman tasted Group 1 success when Frankie Dettori steered Sergeant Cecil to victory in the 2006 Prix Du Cadran.

Based in Devon, he trains around 30 horses and posted his best year since 2007 by training 40 winners in 2022.

Millman doesn't have the muscle to compete with the big boys, however, and worries that we could be headed towards consistently poor fields in top races.

He said: "If we're not careful, we'll end up like Ireland where only a handful of stables are taking part in the big races.

"It's not good for the sport to have only a handful of yards with so much power."

This year's trainers championship has been dominated by John and Thady Gosden and Aidan O'Brien, who collectively have wracked up over £8 million in prize money.

The likes of Paddington on the Flat and Constitution Hill over jumps have routinely scared away their rivals in top-level races – another concern Millman raised.

He said: "Most of the good horses are in the same yards and they don't necessarily want to run them against each other.

"The only thing you could do is cap the amount of horses a trainer has, which they do in some countries, but the bird has already flown."

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We've been treated to some incredible stories in recent years, including Highfield Princess and Pyledriver.

Highfield Princess has blossomed from a 57-rated handicapper into a three-time Group 1 winner, while Pyledriver was bought for just 10,000 guineas and has won a King George and Coronation Cup.

They're trained by John Quinn and the training partnership of William Muir and Chris Grassick respectively.

Five rags to riches stories

  • HIGHFIELD PRINCESS: Bought for 20,000 guineas and was won nearly £1.5 million in prize money after four Group 1 wins
  • PYLEDRIVER: Cost just 10,000 guineas and has won two Group 1 races, the Coronation Cup at Epsom and King George at Ascot
  • CORACH RAMBLER: Secured for £17,000 and won at two Cheltenham Festivals before landing the biggest jumps race of them all – the Grand National
  • HEWICK: Cost just £800 but has turned into a revelation, winning a US Grade 1 and the Galway Plate
  • SKYACE: Also bought by Shark Hanlon, this time for £600 out of Willie Mullins stable, she won a Grade 1 at Fairyhouse

Both yards have done exceptional work with once-in-a-lifetime horses, which is no surprise to Millman.

He said: "If you want an example of what the 'smaller' yards can do, look at Pyledriver and what Chris Grassick and William Muir have done with him.

"He was a relatively small purchase and he's won two Group 1 races."

Millman wants to take nothing away from the top yards, who have immeasurable talent, but hopes for more chances for those lower down the ladder.

He added: "The top yards are very good, there's no doubting that and they do exceptional business to get the horses.

"There are a lot of yards who could do so much damage with stronger ammunition."


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