Trainer Tom Dascombe
After four years training and running my own business in Lambourn I was delighted to have been given the opportunity of taking charge at Manor House Stables. At first, I was reluctant to give up my own business but as soon as I saw the facilities at Manor House Stables and felt the enthusiasm radiating from Michael Owen and Andrew Black when they described plans for future development I had no hesitation in accepting the appointment as a partner in their business and to move my training operation to Malpas.
The offer came just when I was thinking that it was only a month or so before I would be going to the 2009 yearling sales to buy the 2yo’s for my 2010 campaign. How could I, I thought, possibly risk buying more than eight or ten yearlings given the parlous state of the world economy. Where would the owners come from? What sort of a year could I look forward to in 2010? The first four years had gone fantastically well with each year going better than the year before. For me it was an easy decision.
When the yearling sales began in 2009 I was given a budget which meant that I could risk buying about 20 or 30 yearlings on spec. But as the sales progressed I found that existing owners were committing themselves to virtually everything that I bought. I remember going to the Tattersalls Ireland Sale at Fairyhouse and buying nine yearlings and having commitments from my owners for all of them before I got home. So gradually the number I was buying increased and I ended up with 50 yearlings at an average price of about £38,000.
Since then we have gone from strength to strength at Manor House Stables. 2010 was admittedly a tricky year and it took us a while to work out how to train horses from here, but once we did, we have improved each and every year in both the number of winners and our prize money total.
Born in 1973 in Bristol, Tom first got his passion for horse racing at an early age watching the ITV Seven with his Grandfather and Dad, (Bill). On Saturdays all three would go to the local tracks, Bath, Chepstow, Cheltenham and Salisbury and watch Steve Cauthen push home another winner, or John Francome conjure another great leap out of a Fred Winter favourite.
Having started riding ponies at three years old, Tom's first 'job' in racing was with Henry Candy in Lambourn, just down the road from his ONEWAY base 17 years later. It was only for the summer before one more year at school. It was here that Tom realised he was not going to be a flat jockey. At 15 he was far bigger and heavier than the older lads.
After leaving school it was off to the Champion himself, Martin Pipe. And what an introduction to racing: a professional well-managed business in an otherwise amateur industry. Martin was ten years ahead of his competitors. Tom thinks he learnt more in his first five years there than he would have done in 15 years anywhere else. Martin was quite simply a genius. When people thought things could not be done he proved them wrong time and time again.
Tom says "The thing I learned from Martin above all else was to listen to everyone but always make up my own mind."
10 years of race riding resulted in 96 winners, a ride in the Grand National and no broken bones, so it was time to move on. Having spent three years as assistant trainer to Ralph Beckett and time track riding at Churchill Downs, Tom got a job in Florida breaking in yearlings. Just two riders broke in 80 yearlings in two months; it was hard work but very rewarding.
Tom says "the American way is much faster and in my opinion, just as good. You just get on them!"
On returning to England Tom took two horses to Dubai for Ralph Beckett and that is where he met Mike De Kock, a truly brilliant trainer who again taught Tom a lot. Mike works his horses hard and feeds them well but his main skill is his ability to spot unsoundness in a horse and treat it before it becomes a long-term problem. Tom spent two years with Mike in Dubai, South Africa and England and it was two of the best years of his life. Not only is Mike a great trainer and a wonderful bloke but also a brilliant golfer.
Tom says "In the two years with Mike my golf improved tremendously. In the winter of 2003 at the Dubai Racing Carnival I had 16 horses of Mike's under my care, recording 8 winners and 12 places from 22 runners and winning $3.6 million in prize money."
Tom has an entry on Wikipedia, to view this click here.