Brian Meehan is buying Manton's famed training yard and the historic gallops
The well-known and highly successful racing trainer Brian Meehan is buying the legendary Manton yard and gallops from their owner Paul Clarke, who bought most of the Manton Estate from the Sangster family early in 2015.
Since 2006 Meehan has been training thoroughbreds for the flat at the extensive, 90-box Manton training facility - built by Robert Sangster in the 1980s - and working them on Manton's famous gallops. And since 2015 he has been leasing them from Paul Clarke.
He told marlboroughequestrian.news: "I've been a fixture here for years - now I'll be a very much more permanent fixture. I'm here for the duration."
Meehan says he and Clarke have a very good landlord-and-tenant relationship: "Mr Clarke is a wonderful landlord and has given me this opportunity. He's the ideal landlord."
Next year Meehan will have 90 horses at the yard. After a dip in numbers, he has been building up again - while, of course, watching the quality. Manton once had 190 horses in training for a season, but the average has been about 120.
He has 28 full-time staff for the yard and all except the office staff have accommodation at Manton. There was a point last Spring when he was finding it difficult to recruit appropriate staff, but it has been easier since then. And next year he will need a few more staff members.
Employment standards for stable staff have been improving: "It's quite a good career now - they're well looked after with pensions and good wages and time off." He believes a good team is essential for successful training.
He has just appointed James Ferguson as his assistant. He was Newmarket trainer Charlie Appleby's travelling foreman. On October 13 Ferguson tweeted: "Leaving Newmarket and looking forward to my next chapter at [Brian Meehan Racing]. Can’t wait to get back in the game."
And when I visited Manton early on a soggy and foggy morning (October 19), there he was just visible on the gallops and then riding back in the rain - really back in the game!
Brian Meehan has been having a good season on the flat - with 27 winners so far. He has been busy since August buying young horses at the sales and says he has "Altogether a good group for next year."
One tested horse for the future will be Barraquero who carried the Sangster colours to win The Richmond at Goodwood at the beginning of August. However, during the race he suffered a small fissure in his shin, which proved difficult to heal. While it was a minor injury, it needs time to heal properly, so that ended his season.
With two wins and a third place from Barraquero's three runs, Meehan says: "He's a very exciting horse for next year."
He will be taking five or six horses to Newbury's final two-day meeting of the flat season (October 27 & 28). Probably among the two-year olds will be Brother Ralph who in September came fourth in the Wedgewood Estates EBF Novice Stakes field of 15. It was said he "ran on nicely inside the final furlong." One to watch.
Originally from Limerick, Meehan was Marlborough trainer Richard Hannon Senior's assistant for six years. And when he set-up his own training yard in Lambourn in 1992 one of his eight horses in training was owned by Hannon - a great supporter of Meehan.
After John Gosden left Manton, Meehan was headhunted by the Sangster family to take over the yard. And he maintains 'a great relationship' with the Sangster family.
In his first season at Manton he sent out horses to win two of the world's most valuable races - the Dubai Duty Free in the United Arab Emirates (since renamed the Dubai Turf) and the Breeders' Cup Turf in the USA - together bringing £2,777,688 in prize money. A feat which won him recognition as 'International Trainer of the Year'.
Brian Meehan had found the way to get that something special from Manton's wonderful turf.