Author: Duane Fonseca
If trainer Charlie Fellowes were asked to pick the one horse who has defined his career so far there is a very strong chance of him pointing at his globetrotting royal Prince Of Arran, who is coincidentally as old as his handler’s training career. In his sixth year as a trainer, Fellowes has much to look forward to, but he can’t help but look back at the adventure he had with a runner who is easily the flagbearer at Newmarket’s St Gatien Cottage Stables. “Prince Of Arran was just phenomenal,” Fellowes told Al Adiyat at Meydan. Fellowes is back in Dubai as he seeks to kickstart another year which he hopes will be even better than 2018.
Starting here turned out to be brilliant for both him and Prince Of Arran, who went on to race on four continents. In human parlance, the Saeed bel Obaida-owned now 6yo Shirocco gelding literally lived out of a suitcase as he was whisked away to the four points of the earth, racing in Dubai, England, America and Australia, where he placed third behind Godolphin’s Cross Counter in ‘the race that stops a nation’, the Group 1 Melbourne Cup. Despite winning just twice, a handicap at the Dubai World Cup Carnival and the Group 3 Lexus Stakes at Flemington, which earned him his Melbourne Cup place just three days before the race, it was just brilliant what Prince Of Arran did during 2018. And Fellowes could not be more grateful.
“What a legend; he has been a remarkable horse for me. I’m only 32 and it was my fifth year in training. It’s nice to have a horse like him who can go all around the world. He ran in Dubai, America, England, Australia and Hong Kong and to turn up every time has been amazing so it has been a great experience for us. He’s a star.” Fellowes, who opened his 2019 Dubai World Cup Carnival account with Escalator last week, is no stranger to travelling horses internationally, having saddled Wet Sail in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita in October 2014 and Kasseopia in the Grade 3 Grey Stakes at Woodbine in Canada a year later.
Like Prince Of Arran, Fellowes too is happy to travel. “This was my first trip with him, but I’ve done a bit of travelling before him. We’ve had runners in America before,” Fellowes said. “We had a runner in the Breeders’ Cup when I was 27 and had runners in Canada and a bit closer to home in France and Ireland. I really enjoy the travelling side of things and my horses seem to really do it well. “I don’t really know why but I generally get them to be relaxed in their demeanour and that I think helps when you bring them into a new environment. They seem to cope with stress well. Travelling horses is something I really enjoy doing and we’ve had a lot of luck with it as well. I’ve had a lot of success abroad, more than I’ve had in England although England has been really good for us as well.”
Despite loving the travel side of things, Fellowes will not rush to enter a horse. It’s seems a byproduct of the maturity he has gained since acquiring his licence in 2013, after working his way up the rungs following roles as assistant with James Fanshawe and another important stint with five time Melbourne Cup winner Lee Freedman. “I’ve learned that it’s just making sure you take the right horse. A lot of people see the prize money and just go but I think that can be dangerous,” said Fellowes, whose interest in racing was kindled at a young age as he trotted along with his mum to race meetings in England. “With Prince Of Arran, he’s the perfect horse to travel because he’s ultra sound and he’s generally sort of relaxed and happy.
He thrives on international tracks that are flat and on generally good ground. “We had entered him a long time before the Melbourne Cup. I think he’s better over a mile and a half than over two miles and he has no problem going right or left-handed and he loves the ground. He only does how much he has to and when he runs, you don’t generally get to the bottom of the tank. He probably did it in the Melbourne Cup but in the Lexus, he was a fresh horse and I don’t really think he came out of fourth gear that day.” Prince Of Arran is expected to run in the 2410m Group 2 Dubai City of Gold on Super Saturday, and while Fellowes hasn’t had the kind of luck with his first two runners, Escalator and Mia Tesoro both finishing outside the prize money spots at this year’s carnival so far, he remains optimistic about the rest of the weeks leading up to the Dubai World Cup on 30 March.
“Escalator ran well and I wish we had another week; he was a bit too fresh, too gassy, too keen but he did well to stay on and finish seventh. It was a good run from him and he’ll be better next time with that run under his belt. “Mia Tesoro ran in the Cape Verdi and will run in the Balanchine. She’s not probably only good enough to place, we’re here to get some more black type for her. “Prince Of Arran will come out for Super Saturday and he’ll run probably in the City of Gold and we’ll then decide whether we go to the Sheema Classic or the Dubai Gold Cup.” A repeat of 2018 might be a hard thing to do after he raised the bar yet again with his modest sized string that numbers in the 40s at St Gatien Cottage.
Fellowes said: “The year 2018 was an amazing one on loads of levels; the year was massive because I am a young trainer and we have about 40 horses at home, so to have a year like that on a global stage is so important. “To finish third in the Melbourne Cup was incredible and then win out in Australia and win here in Dubai; all that was really good. We had a good year at home too and it’s going to take a bit to beat but that’s going to be the target. We’ll hope to beat that again. And we’ll see how we go. “More owners are aware of us now and we have more support this year. Hopefully, we can move to the next level.” Fellowes is part of a group of young trainers who signal a change of guard in British racing and he feels healthy competition is what is driving the ambitious, ‘up and coming lot’ forward.
“It’s a strong group of young trainers that we have. George Scott won a race here and he’s going to go places. But there are so many young trainers like me coming through: Hugo Palmer, Ed Walker, many young guys my age or probably older who are definitely going to be knocking around. “Competition is good and George is a big friend of mine so I was delighted to see him win. We all support each other and it’s good for us to try and take on the big boys. It’s nice to come out here and beat Godolphin and we want to try and do that; it’s not often that we get to do that and hopefully we will all go forward and keep battling it out for years to come.” With nothing to lose and everything to gain, punching above their weight might be the way to go. And here Fellowes would know best.