From my three Royal Ascot runners, I knew Rajasinghe would have a live chance in the Group Two Coventry Stakes and it had been the plan for a while.
For him to win the race and provide me with my first Royal Ascot victory — in my second season as a trainer — was a dream come true.
It’s nice when a horse as good as him delivers on the day. He has now run twice and won twice — there were horses in the Coventry Stakes who’d raced more and it was a big step forward for him in the two-year-old ranks. However, I wouldn’t have run him if I didn’t believe he was capable.
All my horses run under the Rebel Racing banner at the moment, which is a racing syndicate set up by Phil Cunningham. I’m thankful for the opportunity to train his horses and to be able to train for outside owners too.
We have 27 horses in training at Phil’s yard in Newmarket. He bought the set-up as a run-down yard and has spent a lot of money transforming it into the training facility it is now.
Rajasinghe’s win was just my ninth under Rules and I hope it has laid the foundation for more great things to come — I’ve certainly set the bar high anyway! I’m pleased the yard is proving that we can compete on the big stage.
We found Rajasinghe at the Doncaster sales last summer when he was a yearling. Phil, bloodstock agent Bobby O’Ryan and I each had a list of which yearlings we wanted based on pedigree and Rajasinghe was on all of our lists, so he was bought for £85,000.
Striving for success
Since leaving school aged 16, I’ve always set my sights on training. I started out working for Peter Bowen before joining Barry Hills in Lambourn, where I stayed for seven years — two of which were for Charlie Hills when he took over. It was a great experience — I did all the breaking in of youngsters and also travelled abroad, dealt with owners and the general running of the yard.
Before setting up on my own, I spent two years as assistant trainer to Michael Bell, which was a brilliant stepping stone for me.
I also rode a handful of good point-to-point winners, but it was always a hobby for me and I never had any intention to turn professional.
Things changed a lot two years ago when I broke my back in a fall in a hunter chase at Warwick. It brought me back to earth and made me realise there is more to life than riding horses in races as a hobby — I was lucky to be able to walk out of the hospital.
When I took out my trainer’s licence, some thought I was mad, but it is what I want to do. As a trainer you constantly worry about failure but that only makes me want to strive for success even more.
Ref Horse & Hound; 29 June 2017