Trainer Talk: Myles Osborne

Written by Jake Exelby

21-year-old Myles Osborne enjoyed a fine season as a trainer last year, with six winners from just 12 runners – four coming from stable star Moratorium, on whom Myles enjoyed his first riding success at Larkhill in January, and two from Broomfields Cave, subsequently second in an Aintree bumper and sold to race under rules for Neil Mulholland. This year, Myles and his partner Celine de la Haye – who rides on the flat in her native Jersey – have expanded their string and moved to Bourton Hill Farm in Gloucestershire, former base of Ben Pauling, for whom they used to work. Jake Exelby went to meet the young couple to quiz them on their hopes for 2022/2023 and beyond.

Myles, who grew up in Cornwall and worked for Ryan Chapman, then Ben Pauling, before branching out on his on this season, explained how he got into training at such a tender age. “Every young lad’s dream is to ride and I had my first ride pointing in 2019. I’d already bought Fine Investment (now seven) as a yearling, developed him and broke him in as a four-year-old. Nathan Green, my best mate who I met at Ben’s, who won three on Moratorium last year and is now training to be a BHA steward, also wanted a go so we got a second horse – Perfect Pirate – and did them in our lunch break.”

“Covid then kicked-in,” continues Myles, “So they went under rules, but when we got through it, we got a couple more horses – For Luck and Moratorium, the latter when Dad, who has horses under rules, said, ‘Let’s buy an older horse.’ We then got Broomfields Cave and Mr Craftsman after Moratorium started winning – it’s mad how success breeds success!”

Despite last season’s success, Myles had a painful end to the campaign. “I broke my back in three places in a fall at Larkhill,” he recalls with a wince. “That’s why I didn’t ride Moratorium at Cheltenham. I was mobile, so could muck out, but Celine and Nathan did the riding. Beau Morgan was also a great help – he came and rode out.”

Celine, 23, had a less conventional introduction to the sport, telling me, “I was doing a degree in childcare and wanted to be a primary school teacher, but saw a local trainer advertising for rides, so I applied and got the job. The racing season in Jersey only runs from January to September, so I came over to Ben’s for a season and met Myles, who got me into pointing. It’s similar to racing in Jersey – there’s no stabling and everyone knows each other, it’s professional, yet amateur at the same time.” I ask if she intends to take to the saddle over fences. “Possibly,” she replies cautiously. “I enjoy schooling and Moratorium is my ride at home so I’d be able to ride him in a point. It’s in the back of my mind, so maybe next year, just for a bit of fun.”

Introductions over, we go out the watch three horses canter up the all-weather strip opposite the yard, Celine on Supreme Johnson, Nathan on Here’s Bingo and Myles himself on Compose Yourself, who he nominates as one of his ‘three to follow’ this season. “He’s by Walk In The Park and I think he cost £60,000 as a yearling. We bought him for €20,000 – which is less than half of what we got for Broomfields Cave – and we hope to do something similar, winning a Maiden, running him in a point-to-point bumper, then selling him to race under rules. He’ll start just after Christmas and there’s no rush with him – he was pre-trained by Laura, who did a really good job with him. I’ll start him off over two-and-a-half miles, which I like to do as I like my horses to improve as the year goes on. I wouldn’t be good at training unraced maidens to win first time out!”

Myles (right), Celine and Nathan warming up. Image credit Caroline Exelby
Myles (right), Celine and Nathan warming up. Image credit Caroline Exelby.

Myles’ other two top tips are Moratorium – obviously – and close Badbury Rings second Cooler Than Me, of whom he says, “We got him from Ireland for a group of new owners that I know from Cornwall. He was undercooked on his debut but ran well. I thought he’d get tired after two out but he stayed on. We’ll go for another short Maiden next and will also go to Trebudannon as the owners are local. He’s not for sale – unless they’re offered silly money – and could be another one for a point-to-point flat race, as he’s not far behind Broomfields Cave in terms of speed.”

“Moratorium started off in an Open at Dunsmore because I could claim 5lb and he had too big a penalty for the Novice Riders race,” Myles tells me. “He’ll probably run in another point, then go Hunter Chasing. I’ve got my Category A licence, so will keep riding him if I feel brave enough!”

Myles admits honestly that, “I’m under no illusions that I’m a jockey. I’ve had about 30 rides and only one winner – I’m a proper amateur. I was happy to win my point at Larkhill, I’d like to win a Hunter Chase – or any race under rules – which is my job done and, if Moratorium could give me a spin round Cheltenham, that would be great. Training is our game and it’s a joint operation – it’s called M & C Racing for a reason and Celine has a massive input. I wouldn’t be able to do it if it wasn’t for her and Nathan. I like pointing as it helps you get the hang of dealing with young horses, but I’d love to take out a permit, then train under rules eventually.”

Cantering up the straight gallop. Image credit Caroline Exelby.
Cantering up the straight gallop. Image credit Caroline Exelby.

“Fly (Martin McIntyre) will ride all the youngsters,” Myles goes on of his jockey plans for this season. “I got to know him because I ran two at Chilfrome. Will Biddick rode Broomfields Cave, but had a mount in the Maiden, so Fly rode Mr Craftsman and did a good job. Will’s from near me and I’ve known his family for years – it was brilliant to have him on my side last season. Broomfields Cave was his ride, but he couldn’t make Aintree, so Fly was on board and – after that – said he’d ride all of ours.”

So what would Myles do if he was sitting in Peter Wright’s chair for the day? He laughs, admitting, “While I think bumpers at point-to-point meetings are a waste of time, I’ll run Sidonia in them before she goes for Maidens and take advantage of them, but I’d definitely reduce the number. So many pointing tracks do racecourse gallops now, why not just take your horse for a school. The form doesn’t work out and – if you win one and want to sell – you have to go for a Maiden as winners don’t make money at the sales.”

Myles upsides Nathan
Myles upsides Nathan. Image credit Caroline Exelby

However, it’s not all about selling for Myles. “It’s not the be-all and end-all,” he confirms. “I’d keep them all if I could – I still have Fine Investment purely for sentimental reasons and Dad didn’t want to sell Broomfields Cave but I told him we had to, to get the business going! They say you can’t get a horse for £500 or £1,000 any more but Here’s Bingo cost me just £200 and – on the other side – pointers are making more money now. I’m a nobody and I got £45,000 for Broomfields Cave!”

“I’m optimistic about the sport,” adds Myles. “And I’m not worried about small fields at the start of the season. As soon as Chaddesley Corbett and Cocklebarrow get going, you’ll see more horses. I only start early because I know the racing won’t be as competitive!”

Continuing on a positive note, Myles is a fan of two-and-a-half mile races. “Not every horse gets three miles – Fine Investment wouldn’t in a horsebox (!) – and I’d like to see more Restricteds and Intermediates over that distance. I also like races over longer distances, like Cocklebarrow has.”

Myles has an interesting idea to increase the involvement of young riders. “There should be more courses and guidance,” he says firmly. “They do it under rules – for a ‘hands and heels’ race, you have to walk the track with a jockey coach. I think that, at a point-to-point, the stewards should speak to the jockeys and show them what to do. For example, ‘It’s soft round the bottom bend, so look after your horses round there.’ They brief the fence stewards, so why not the riders, especially the novices.”

As so often, I close our conversation by asking Myles and Celine what they love about pointing. “It’s the thrill and the adrenalin,” they reply in tandem. “But more than that, it’s watching a horse progress and thinking, ‘That was our doing.’”

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