James Fanshawe saddles dual Group One winner The Tin Man in the Darley July Cup at Newmarket on Saturday. Andy Stephens visited the trainer to find out more about the horse and the secret of success at Pegasus Stables
James Fanshawe joins groom Oleg Sheyets and Tom Queally with July Cup hope The Tin Man (John Hoy)
The ghost of Fred Archer supposedly haunts the idyllic yard the champion jockey had built in Newmarket more than a century ago, but James Fanshawe has never seen the spirit of the legendary jockey since moving in more than two decades ago.
My chances of a sighting were always going to be remote, then, on a sun-kissed two-hour visit. Mists need to be rolling in the early hours and owls cooing for that sort of thing, don’t they?
Archer took his own life, at the age of 29, in 1886 when the combination of permanent wasting and the death of his wife in childbirth proved too much. Remarkably, the 13-time champion rode 2,748 winners before his tragic demise and that haul included 21 British Classics.
Four years before his death, when plotting a second career as a trainer, Archer had what is now known as Pegasus Stables built for what would be the equivalent of several million pounds.
The stable was in a run-down state when Fanshawe and his wife, Jacko, purchased it but much of the original charm remains intact and plenty of investment and tender loving care make it a “must see” if you ever attend Newmarket’s annual Open Weekend in September.
If Archer does glide about, undetected, then it would be safe to assume he would offer a nod of approval.
No doubt he would also take added pride in the fact The Tin Man, named in his honour (it was his moniker at the races) and owned by the Fred Archer Syndicate, initiated by Jacko, is one of the fastest horses in training and a general 6-1 to land the Darley July Cup at Newmarket on Saturday.
Yards are often all hustle and bustle but this one has a calm, relaxed atmosphere and on arrival it was refreshing to see a large number of horses turned out for a pick of grass after exercise with their lads/lasses.
The Tin Man enjoys the well-turned out pasture at Pegasus Stables in Newmarket (John Hoy)
Tom Queally, who has ridden The Tin Man in 12 of his 13 races, is sipping a cup of coffee and resisting the sumptuous cookies made by Jacko the day before.
In the spacious kitchen, which is spotless, there is a large bouquet of fresh flowers and dogs (young and old) are wandering from guest to guest with tails wagging.
“Newmarket is full of big long strings, industrial in a way,” Queally says. “But this is very organic. There’s a nice atmosphere, a great bunch of people here. Everyone is at ease. In a way, it’s not like work. Where else would you rather be on a Monday morning?”
Of course, it is not always like this, including when The Tin Man first walked through the gates.
Fanshawe gives his wife the credit for the 80,000gns purchase of a horse who has accumulated £860,000 in prize money but the pair were faced with early challenges when it came to his managing his exuberance.
“He was very boisterous and his wedding tackle had to go,” says Queally, with a smile. “He was hard to handle and without it [the gelding operation] he would not be the racehorse he is now. You would not have been able to train him.”
The Tin Man's every need is met by his loyal groom, Oleg Sheyets, and he is ridden out every day by the trainer’s teenage son, Tom.
Even now, a more mature model than in his early days, he still has a few traits that set him apart and he was intent on showing them when led out to pose for some photographs.
He was fussy about where he would stand and then, when it came to going back into his stable, the five-year-old planted himself on several occasions and had to be humoured to return with gentle encouragement and large tufts of hand-picked grass.
“Horses can’t talk, but they tell you they are here,” says Fanshawe after the mischief finally consented to go back to his box. “He’s never a flash worker but his overall demeanour, such as today when he’s playful and has a buck, tells us he’s well in himself.
“He’d be a lot more switched off and relaxed than Society Rock (placed in two July Cups and once described by his trainer as like a stick of dynamite) and is a lot like his half-brother, Deacon Blues, except he’s not so ground dependent. Most of his family like a bit of cut but he seems to handle anything.”
Fanshawe is certainly familiar with the names that appear on The Tin Man’s pedigree page.
The 55-year-old trained the dam, Persario, and was also responsible for her sister, Warningford. In addition, Bishop Of Cashel, the sire of Persario, was one of the horses who helped put him on the map early in his career when he began training in 1990.
“As a racehorse Persario was OK, nothing special, but Warningford was very good - he won a Group Three and was placed in Group Ones. He loved soft ground," Fanshawe said.
“Persario wasn’t the biggest, and neither was Bishop Of Cashel, but she’s gone on to be the most amazing broodmare. She has thrown The Tin Man, Deacon Blues and other good winners.”
Queally believes this July Cup has all the ingredients to be one of the best ever run as the first three home in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes clash with the first two home in the Commonwealth Cup.
Fanshawe will not comment on other people’s horses - “you can end up looking an idiot” - but mention of the impressive way Caravaggio quickened up at Royal Ascot does draw a swift response.
“So did The Tin Man,” he says. “He was in trouble and got himself out of jail. It will be interesting to see three-year-olds take on the older horses like last Saturday, in the Eclipse, and I hope it goes the same way.
“To have a horse this good is real privilege. Our job is to get him there in the best possible shape and help give him every chance of doing his best. That is all I concentrate on.”
This is anything but a one-horse yard. Fanshawe is back up to a team of 75 and a week after The Tin Man’s success he scooped the Northumberland Plate with Higher Power, who defied top weight, with his other runner, Lord George, an honourable fourth.
“We had a really good week,” he said, with a degree of understatement. “We are really grateful to have some nice horses and we also have some nice two-year-olds.”
Those juveniles will be given all the time they require to realise their potential because the long game, rather than the short one, has always been the way of Sir Michael Stoute’s former assistant, even if he seems to have lost his appetite to train a third Champion Hurdle winner.
His meticulous approach is not lost on Queally. "James is very patient in the way he trains," he says. "He can see the end product when it’s on the production line."
The Tin Man has been on that production line and is now the finished article.
Archer would have been thrilled to sit on him. Perhaps he already has . . .
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