Stable Talk Trainer Sylvester Kirk belives Jockey Club Estates has transformed Lambourn. He tells Liam Headd how. Photographs by Phil Cannings.

Cedar Lodge trainer Sylvester Kirk has praised the Jockey Club Estates for the support it provides across Lambourn.

The Jockey Club has control of the gallops to ensure that every trainer in the area has access to whatever they need to develop horses.

It currently owns and manages more than 500 acres of land, and since 2006 it has continued to develop the Lambourn Valley.

Jockey Club support is 'only a good thing'

Kirk said: “It’s a nice place to live, it’s a lovely place to train horses and there are nice people around here.

“It’s changed over the years. The gallops have got better since the Jockey Club have taken them over and the facilities are much better.”

And Kirk believes the support from the Jockey Club has only been a good thing for trainers across the Lambourn area.

He said: “It’s brilliant having them there because it’s a business and we’re all working for each other, which suits everyone because their interests are our interests and vice versa.”

Kirk spent time with breeding operation Coolmore, in Ireland and Australia, prior to eight years as assistant to multiple champion trainer Richard Hannon Snr.

And he was grateful for the time spent with Hannon, explaining how it was difficult to leave the role.

He said: “I loved every minute of it. I didn’t want to leave and I think I stayed too long as his assistant because I probably could have started [on my own] sooner.

“It wasn’t a job, it was just great fun. You don’t have the pressure on you if anything goes right or wrong.”

Ascot treble success

It’s been a mixed start to the flat season for the trainer, but he experienced an incredible treble at Ascot in May.

Salouen, Bubble and Squeak and She Believes all won their respective races earlier this year, each providing Kirk with a memorable moment.

He said: “We’re down about five or six horses from last year, but I have a nice number of two-year-olds, although some of them will need time to be looked after.

“We do, however, have some older horses that we have kept on from last year, so it’s not been a bad start.

“We had the treble at Ascot, but when you’re down to 40 horses you get little purple patches compared to if you have 70 horses where your strike rate would be better.”

Salouen is one to watch

Like any other trainer, Kirk is trying to improve on last year and with stable star Salouen eyeing a number of races in the future, this could still happen.

Last season, the five-year-old came up short in the Coronation Cup, in which victory would have been a dream for Kirk.

“Salouen had a good year without winning a race,” said Kirk. “He was unlucky in the Coronation Cup, and if he won that it would have been nice having your name on a Group 1 race.

“He ran well, exceeded expectations and did well because they let him off.

“The others gave him a soft lead and he was better than they thought he was and proved it.”

And after finishing seventh in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot last month, Kirk has already outlined plans for him.

“The main target would be the Irish St Leger in September.

“The problem is that you have to make these entries, but you’re dependent on the ground,” he said. “I shouldn’t have run him at Ascot.

“I was tempted to drop him back to a mile and a quarter and I wanted him to get that out of the way.

“I wish I had ran him on the Wednesday because the ground was soft and he would have run better in that.”


Photos by Phil Cannings

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