Seamus Durack relishing new training venture with Fiddes family

 In Lambourn News

Trainer Seamus Durack, who famously took the scalp of Kauto Star during his time as a jockey on Snoopy Loopy in the 2008 Betfair Chase and has since diversified as a Dragons’ Den-style investment entrepreneur, is set for another career twist by linking up with owner and successful businessman Ritchie Fiddes.

Fiddes and his wife Hazel completed the purchase of Newlands Stables in Lambourn over the summer and had intended to install Ollie Pimlott, son of former jump jockey Chris, as their trainer, but Durack will now take the reins at Principle Racing.

A champion amateur rider, Durack started training in 2010 and prepared the smart Litigant to win at Lingfield on All-Weather Championships finals day four years later.

He has saddled two Flat winners this year from Delamere Cottage Stables in Lambourn, but has developed a flourishing sideline working for a London-based business funding specialist.

The enterprising Fiddes has unflinching faith in technology, chiefly Equinity – a monitoring system that measures heart rate, speed, recovery and stride length, and one Durack has knowledge of.

“It’s a great opportunity and I think we’ll get on well,” he said. “They’re very ambitious and have plans to build it up. I’ve been using the heart-rate monitors for years so I’m very familiar with them. It’s handy to have and Ritchie goes into it in a bit more depth, so it will be great to get more feedback.

“At the moment, and at any time in the past when I’ve been training, you’re doing everything, the admin, the salaries, the bills, the veterinary stuff, being a head lad, feeding, whereas this will be more of a team and we can divide tasks between us. It will make things easier.”

Durack, who saddled The Swagman to finish a respectable sixth at Cheltenham on Friday, added: “Ritchie and Hazel are coming at it with a fresh perspective, which can lead to better results. That solid information mixed with your feel or instincts about a horse can complement each other.

“I’d purposely scaled back my string to focus on other things and came to the view that I was going to be small because I didn’t have the backing, but I recognise how good an opportunity this is and want to make the most of it.”

Fiddes, who has part-owned smart sprinters Moviesta and Easton Angel after founding a thriving IT business, sold his stud near Ripon to make the move south and has kept the horses ticking over He is relishing a formal link-up with Durack, whose licence from Newlands is active from Monday.

“It’s an exciting move for us to come to Lambourn,” said Fiddes. “Our priority was to have all the right facilities in our yard and the fantastic Jockey Club Estates gallops enable us to train every type of horse.

“It was important we settled as a family and the horses settled into their new surroundings. Hazel and I wanted to find the right trainer we could work with long term.”

Fiddes joked looking for that person shared some similarities with Aston Villa’s hunt for a new manager, and added: “We had a profile of the type of person we wanted but were open minded about working with a new trainer, former trainer or an existing one. Because we use data and look for marginal gains, it was important the trainer either did that or fully bought into it because otherwise you’re always going to have differences of opinions.

“The data is so clear on a horse’s ability, fitness or trip, and if someone doesn’t buy into that then you’re not going to see eye to eye. Seamus approached us about working together, but we were going to approach him on the same day, which was a nice coincidence. I think we will work really well as a team and we have all the skills and experience needed to make Principle Racing a huge success.”

Fiddes, who has completed the trainer’s modules but cannot hold a licence as he has not worked in a yard for a period of two years, is taken with Durack’s profile as an innovative and savvy thinker.

“Seamus’s business interests are another positive for us,” he said. “It’s great that he is developing additional skills in other areas and also meeting lots of interesting people, hopefully some of them will also develop an interest for getting involved in horseracing.

“We have 76 licensed boxes in an ideal location for all of the gallops and are starting with around 30 horses and want to get to between 40 to 50. We will focus on helping our owners trade up and increase the quality of their horses, so in future the minimum horse rating in the yard could be 70, and then 75 and so on.”

Courtesy of Racing Post

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