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Chris Wall calls time on training because of dwindling numbers

Mon 28 Nov 2022
 Wall enjoyed a good year but says "our numbers have just dwindled to the point of where it didn’t make sense any more to carry on"
Wall enjoyed a good year but says "our numbers have just dwindled to the point of where it didn’t make sense any more to carry on"

Chris Wall has decided to bring to an end a training career that spanned 36 years, owing to a declining number of horses at his Newmarket yard.

Wall, who saddled his first winner, Romantic Prince, at Haydock in 1987, is perhaps best known for saddling globetrotter and eight-time Group winner Premio Loco, who earned over £750,000 in prize money from 2006 to 2014.

His first big-race success came when Rotherfield Greys landed the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood in 1988.

Other notable winners included Grand Criterium victor Candy Glen, Sandown Mile hero Missed Flight and Donna Viola, who won the Prix de l’Opera and Grade One Yellow Ribbon Stakes in America for Wall.

The handler had his most productive season in 2014 when saddling 37 winners and he ends on a high, with Double Or Bubble winning a Group Three this term and adding to a haul of 20 winners from 128 runners.

He said: “I am stopping training rather than retiring. I’m hoping I can find something to do to keep the wolf from the door.

“Our numbers have just dwindled to the point of where it didn’t make sense any more to carry on.

“We had 30 this year, which would have been fine if we could have maintained that level of numbers – we’d have carried on.

Wall reflects on Group glory for Double Or Bubble

“But we were down to only having numbers in the teens and it just doesn’t work at that level.

“We could have bumbled on and found a way to do it, but it wouldn’t have been the way we have always done it and I just felt if we can’t do it the way we have always done it, I’d rather stop.

“We had a good season, so it makes sense to go out on a good note, rather than struggle on and regret it and end on a bum note and have people say, ‘silly old fool, he should have packed up earlier’.

“We have done well, I’ve had a good career and had great support from our owners. We have had good relationships with various jockeys who have been helpful at various times.

“I’ve always thought we have punched above our weight for a yard that had between 40 and 50 horses, which sounds a lot but in the modern era it is very few.

“We have been in steady decline, which was all right. I thought we could keep going for a few years. But this year we had a couple of owners who sadly passed away and it wasn’t stacking up.

“We were not able to get horses to replace horses. I suddenly thought, ‘no, it is just not going to work’.

“I don’t know what I’ll do. Obviously, it is going to take a little while to get the business unwound and a line drawn under things, so it will probably be in the new year we will get that finished off and then we will see what is out there.

“There are plenty of good, young lads out there and they are the people who everybody seems to want to train with these days.

“Racing is all right. It will carry on. Like all old buffers, we can stand on the sidelines and say, ‘things weren’t like that in our day’.”

While there have been plenty of highlights for the yard, Wall added that the joy he received at some minor tracks equalled the Group-race highs.

He said: “For all that we have had lots of success in all Group races, sometimes the little races that we have won have been quite enjoyable, because you’ve won with something you thought we’d never win a race with, or it has had problems and we’ve nursed it along, or just seeing the joy and delight on owners’ faces when they have had a winner, whether it is at Ascot or in the middle of the night at Wolverhampton. That has always been very satisfying.

“You have to have a good passion for it. It is all-consuming. You don’t have a lot of time to do other things.

“We only had one son and he wasn’t going to do this. He grew up largely without me realising it. Now he has had a child and I’m a grandfather, I’m not going to make that mistake twice.”

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