Robin Oakley

The turf | 25 May 2017

If Litigant can win the Ebor again it will be one of the training feats of the decade

Most racehorse trainers, those at least who didn’t have a legacy from Aunt Agatha to lubricate their way into the business, have attended the School of Hard Knocks, their tutors including some famously celebrated deliverers of colourful reprimands. Think Gordon W. Richards or Barry Hills. Having worked for Jenny Pitman and served eight years as assistant to the seemingly almost permanently incandescent Mick Channon, Joe Tuite, a Lambourn trainer in his own right since 2010, probably has the ultimate degree in bollockings. He was one of five stable lads who on one famous occasion misheard Jenny Pitman’s instructions. They galloped the horses a mile further than she had intended, thinking that the anguished arm-flapping and the steam rising from her ears as they passed was merely a warning to avoid a hole in the ground, although he points out with a grin that four of the five came out and won two days later. Joe remains a fervent Channon admirer, insisting that the West Ilsley trainer is ‘a great leader of people’ who has achieved remarkable results without spending huge sums on his horses. When the Queen’s racing manager John Warren came down one day and was waxing eloquent on pedigrees, Joe recalls, Mick Channon declared: ‘I’m training horses, not bits of paper,’ insisting, ‘There are no rules about where good horses come from.’ As for those bollockings, ‘Two minutes later, around the next corner, he’d be smiling.’

I am sure that Joe, too, can turn the air blue when required, but his style is more about patience and quiet assurance. ‘I feel I get the best out of what I have. I haven’t had many horses leave here that I’ve later wished I’d kept. Whenever you are around horses you are learning. The day you are not picking up something is the day you’re not paying attention.’

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