Opinion

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As a trainer, having a win on the same day as the historic Derby was particularly overwhelming and emotional.

Sovereign Debt’s victory in the Group Three Investec Diomed Stakes on Saturday (3 June) was not only my first win at the Derby Festival but also my first at Epsom.

We got back to Yorkshire at 8pm and the celebrations involved a couple of bottles of champagne with our tea.

Sovereign Debt is such a genuine horse who just keeps upping his game. We’ve only had him a few months and although he doesn’t show a lot at home, once he gets to the races he has so much ability.

Last weekend provided a rollercoaster of emotions for me, following the passing of Sovereign Debt’s former trainer Dandy Nicholls on Sunday (4 June). Dandy had done so well building his training career up from nothing and as a jockey he rode for my grandfather David Chapman.

“SovD” — as we call him — came to us after Dandy stopped training in March. I got a phone call out of the blue from one of his owners and I was delighted to take on a horse of his calibre.

‘He keeps improving’

Aged eight, SovD is an older Flat horse in training but luckily we have the facilities at home to turn him out each day, plus he is on joint supplements — we all know it takes a bit longer to get out of bed and get going the older we become.

I have 40 horses in training near York and specialise in buying horses from bigger yards who need a change of scenery.

When SovD first arrived, I never thought he’d keep improving. Our aim was the Mile Championships Stakes at Lingfield’s All-Weather Championships in April, which he duly won. He came out of that race really well so we took him to Sandown for the bet365 Mile and he won once again.

At his age, we’re not saving him for anything — he’s a racehorse and we want to enjoy days at the races with him. I did consider taking him abroad instead of to Epsom, however, he’s run at the racecourse before and it suited him. Epsom’s a difficult track, with a tricky contour — it’s not favourable to all horses — however, we’re fortunate SovD likes it there.

He may be supplemented for Royal Ascot, but I want to keep his confidence high and put him in races where he has a good chance. So it’s yet to be decided where he’ll head next — it’s just so exciting to have a horse like him in the yard.

Ref Horse & Hound; 8 June 2017