Author: Duane Fonseca
BUSINESS AS usual: that’s the way father and son, joint British training licence holders, Simon and Ed Crisford like to think of their new partnership, although, in the UAE, the horses run in father Simon’s name as the Emirates Racing Authority (ERA) do not, currently at least, recognise such arrangements.
“Nothing much has changed at the yard back home. We work well together and it’s just a change of name on the licence,” Ed Crisford told Al Adiyat. The Newmarket-based Crisfords were among the first to get on board after the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) announced in May last year it would offer trainers the opportunity to work in partnerships similar to what existed in other jurisdictions, like Australia, for years.
Paul Cole and his son Oliver, who also climbed aboard the bandwagon, made history by becoming the first pair to record a winner in Britain, but the Crisfords have thrived since joining forces, with a number of Group level successes during the course of the year. “We’ve been the first alongside the Coles to do that and it’s a really good venture, I mean to be able to do that in the UK,” said Ed. “It’s something that has obviously worked well in Australia and other parts of the world.
So the joint licence was a really good thing to do because dad and I work really well together. We have a lot of fun working and last year was a very good year for us. We enjoyed it a lot.” The Crisfords celebrated their first success together on 8 June when the Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum-owned Finest Sound bolted up to win a handicap at Haydock by over five lengths, the win making him favourite for the Britannia Stakes at Royal Ascot in which he eventually finished runner-up.
Speaking of the arrangement initially, Crisford Sr praised the BHA initiative saying it was good for the future of the sport. “Nothing has really changed with our operation since taking the joint licence, but it’s good to spread the responsibility and accountability,” Simon had said. “It’s a very good initiative by the BHA and I’m sure plenty of people will do it. “We have a stable at Meydan in the winter, so it made perfect sense for us to take the joint licence as we can’t be in two places at once.”
The partnership yielded a total of 60 wins from 271 runs at a strike rate of 22% with runners representing their yard posting a further 44 runner-up finishes and 37 thirds. Together the pair also raked in five Group level victories with the Abdulla Belhabb-owned Century Dream winning the Group 3 Diomed Stakes at Newbury and then taking the Group 2 Celebration Mile at Goodwood.
A’Ali, owned by Bahrain’s Sheikh Duaij Al Khalifa, was another big name for their yard, with the 4yo Society Rock entire supplying the Crisfords success at home and abroad in the form of the Group 3 Coral Charge at Sandown and then the Group 2 Sapphire Stakes at The Curragh. A fifth Group win was made possible by HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Maamora in the Group 3 Atalanta Stakes at Sandown in August.
Additionally, the pair won ParisLongchamp’s Conditions Haras de Bouquetot with Sheikh Ahmed’s Jadoomi, w h i l e Bahrain Pride and Ostilio, the latter owned by Sheikh Mohammed Obaid, won a pair of Listed races in the EBF Ripon Champion 2yo Trophy Stakes and Guisborough Stakes at Ripon and Redcar respectively.
“We had Abdullah Belhabb’s horse Century Dream who won big at Goodwood when he took the Group 2 Celebration Mile and the Group 3 Diomed Stakes at Newbury last year which is normally run at Epsom on Derby Day. He was a really good horse for us. Then A’Ali for Sheikh Duaij Al Khalifa won a Group Three at Sandown and a Group Two in Ireland. So we had some really nice winners last year. We had lots of winners.
We had a nice group of 2yos with some great owners in the yard so it was fantastic,” Ed said Speaking of his role in the partnership, he added: “Not much has changed since taking up the joint licence, but I’m doing a lot more at the races and a lot more with the media and interacting more with owners.
“Sometimes we have our arguments, which is good and healthy and you need that now and again, but in the end we work really well together and that’s the main thing. Also with the stable being in Dubai, either me or dad can be here and someone can be in England as well so it works really well.” Speaking of their winter operation in Dubai and the Crisfords have a roster of 15 that includes, A’Ali, Star Cactus and Epic Hero, who won a mile handicap in three runs at Meydan during the 2020 Dubai World Cup Carnival.
Owned by Sheikh Juma Dalmook Al Maktoum, 3yo Uncle Mo filly Star Cactus has the Guineas and Oaks for targets. A’Ali meanwhile, will be aimed at the Group 2 Meydan Sprint. “We have a nice collection of horses here for the winter,” Ed revealed. “We brought A’Ali out here for the sprints and we’ll run him in the Meydan Sprint first up and then we’ll see where we go after that.
“A horse called Epic Hero is also here with us, he won at the carnival last year. “He’s a Siyouni horse and hopefully we’ll run him in the Group 2 Zabeel Mile. “Other than that we just have some nice handicappers, including a nice filly for Sheikh Juma who we will aim at the UAE 1000 Guineas. She won at Ascot last year and she’s called Star Cactus. So hopefully she can go forward to the Guineas and if she runs well then hopefully maybe the Oaks; I think she can stay that trip.
Overall, I think we are a really nice little team and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.” As far as ambition goes, Ed said together he and his father would like to first improve upon the quality of horses at their Gainsborough Stables yard in Newmarket. “I think every year is a building year and we are trying to get the quality of the horses in the stable up,” Ed said.
“Obviously we need the right owners in the yard and we have some really, really good owners who have supported us from the start. Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Sheikh Mohammed Obaid, they’ve been huge supporters of the stables and obviously a lot of other owners from here in Dubai too. I think you really have a chance of getting a good horse with owners like that in the yard. So we’re trying to get the right horses in the yard and one day we’ll get the big one.”