Off to a flying start: Martyn Meade's Chilean is his first runner and first winner out of Manton
The Manton Estate's new owner Martyn Meade plans to return it to its former position as one of the country's best racehorse training centres - and just a fortnight after his move from Newmarket, he sent out Chilean to win at Longchamp (April 8).
On the first day of racing at Longchamp after its radical redesign and refurbishment, Chilean ridden by Oisin Murphy, took the Group 3 Prix La Force by one-and-a-quarter lengths from the French trained favourite Study of Man.
Then at Doncaster last October, he came home halfway down the finishing order in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy Stakes - on ground that was good to soft. Meade thought he had more in him than he showed that day.Owned by Manton Estate Racing, Chilean - a son of Iffraaj - had won over a mile on his second and third outings - at Chelmsford and a Listed race at Haydock.
Chilean has an entry at Newmarket in the Qipco 2000 Guineas on May 5, but options include the Betfred Dante Stakes at York on May 17 and the QIPCO Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly in in June.
Having completed his move from Newmarket to the Manton Estate, Martyn Meade is now setting about bringing the facilities and gallops back to their historic best. It was a complex move made much more difficult by the snow and temperatures too low for new cement.
Last year Meade bought most of the Manton Estate from Paul Clarke. He finds Manton 'amazing': "This is real history. Manton is very important to Marlborough - I want to restore it to its former glory."
He is turning what used to be overflow stables from the main stable blocks near Manton House, into his training centre. Already two of the barns have been refitted - ready for the forty horses moved at the end of last month from Newmarket.
These barns have spacious stalls, a wide central aisle and the latest in lighting designed by Equilume to replicate natural light changes. They are LED so can be left on all the time and they fade gently so the horses are not disturbed by any sharp changes in light when overhead lighting is switched on and off.
This part of the estate is in a hollow and so sheltered from the downland winds - but with good clean and fresh air for the horses. There is plenty of land to farm - the Estate will become self-sufficient in straw and hay.
Future plans include installing modern stabling in the other two barns - giving a total space for eighty horses in the existing buildings. Martyn Meade Racing will be building a new staff hostel, trainer's house and a pair of workers cottages - to go with the five cottages his staff are now occupying.
They have already been able to re-employ some of those who had once been looking after the gallops, and will be recruiting locally as the revival of the Manton Estate continues.Martyn Meade and Freddie Meade, his son and Assistant Trainer, have brought almost all their staff with them from Newmarket.
Manton has a long and very distinguished racing history. It was established as a training centre in the late 1860s. 'Masters of Manton' have included Joseph Watson, who became Lord Manton. It was bought by Robert Sangster in 1984.
As well as a long pedigree of owners, the yards have seen a list of successful trainers - from Alec Taylor in the 1870s to, more recently, Michael Dickinson, Barry Hills and John Gosden.
Why did Martyn Meade want to leave Newmarket after four years training at Sefton Lodge - apart from the limitations of stabling for only sixty horses? "They're historic stables - but they're right in the centre of town - and I know Wiltshire and have friends here."
Before moving to Newmarket Meade ran the Ladyswood Stud near Malmesbury. And in 2016 he bought the famous Snailwell Stud in Newmarket - and restored its reputation as a breeding centre.
Although he sent out his first winner - over jumps - in 1972, his business interests with investment company Hadleigh Partners, kept him away from full time training for many years. When he returned to training he decided to specialise on the Flat.
Last year was his most successful year so far: He saddled his first Group 1 winner with Aclaim winning on Arc day at Chantilly in October. It was jockey Oisin Murphy's first Group 1 winner too. Aclaim is now standing at the National Stud.
The current star of the yard is four-year-old colt Eminent - sired by Frankel out of You'll Be Mine. Eminent won at Newmarket last April and was fourth in the Investec Derby under Jim Crowley.
The Derby finish last year was tight - just one and three-quarter lengths covering the first four home. He then won at Deauville in August under Ryan Moore. His first season's racing set a fierce standard for him to match this year.
Eminent is entered for the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh on May 27, but may run at Chester in May in preparation for his main target of the season: Royal Ascot's Prince of Wales's Stakes.
FOOTNOTE: Brian Meehan will still be training in the Astor Yard, which he has rented since he moved to Manton in 2006.