Trainer George Scott dreaming of Breeders’ Cup glory with James Garfield

 James Garfield was impressive when winning at Newbury

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MARRIED life could not have started much better for George Scott.

Just a week after tying the knot with fiancé Polly he landed the biggest victory of his training career when James Garfield won the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury.

It helped achieve what every newly-wed craves – to make a good impression on his in-laws. Few could match 29-year-old Scott in that respect.


James Garfield was impressive when winning at Newbury

James Garfield is owned by his wife Polly’s father Bill Gredley and her showjumper brother Tim.

Now the star two-year-old will attempt to play the trump card in this game of happy families at the Breeders’ Cup in California.

Scott told me: “It was a crazy week. The wedding was unbelievable – an amazing day. Then to win a prestigious race like the Mill Reef was incredible.

 James Garfield gave Scott the biggest win of his career to date


James Garfield gave Scott the biggest win of his career to date

“I believed he was good enough to win the race but I didn’t believe it was going to be allowed to happen. It was too good to be true.”

Despite Scott’s big-day jitters one of his wedding guests didn’t share his pre-race nerves.

Lack of confidence is not something Frankie Dettori suffers from and he had no doubt James Garfield – nailed on the line by Wells Farhh Go in York’s Acomb Stakes on his previous start – was up to the job.

 James Garfield (right) had been narrowly beaten on his last start

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James Garfield (right) had been narrowly beaten on his last start

Scott laughed: “Frankie and I spent a good hour propping up the bar talking about the Mill Reef. He’s got huge faith in the horse.

“As soon as Frankie got involved with the horse in the lead up to York he was like ‘he could be a Breeders’ Cup horse.’ Then he rode him at York and he said he was definitely a Breeders’ Cup horse.

“There was a big turning point in all our minds before the Mill Reef. Frankie came here to ride him work – he went 20 lengths clear of his lead horse.

 Frankie Dettori had plenty of confidence in the horse

PA:Press Association

Frankie Dettori had plenty of confidence in the horse

“Frankie is a confidence rider. When he is confident he’s a magic man, he can make things happen no other rider has been able to do.

“He came out in the paddock – I was so nervous, Tim was nervous, Bill was totally relaxed. Frankie was like ‘you’re nervous, you’re nervous – Bill, we’ve done it all before and we’re going to do it all again.’

“He gave the horse such a confident ride. I knew I had him in really good condition but he broke the track record. No other juvenile in the history of Newbury has run faster than him over that trip. That’s got to mean something.”

One thing it definitely means is that he’s earned the chance to give his trainer a shot at a Group 1 prize – the Breeders’ Cup Turf Juvenile – in just his second season.

It’s something Scott tries not to think about but, for once, he fails miserably.

He added: “I haven’t even allowed it to creep into my mind that he might be able to win at the Breeders’ Cup – it just doesn’t happen in your second season. It’s proper big-boys stuff.

 Scott hopes to join the likes of Joeseph O'Brien at the Breeders' Cup

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Scott hopes to join the likes of Joeseph O’Brien at the Breeders’ Cup

“Great trainers go through their careers without having a Breeders’ Cup winner. For us it’s as big as it gets. It’s important to treat it as just another race – but it isn’t at all.

“Now everything is about getting him to the race in peak condition. We’ve got designated people who are only allowed in his box and the same person rides him every day.

“He’s a such a feel-good horse. He comes out bucking and squealing – he’s a happy little horse. He’s quite easy to read. Horses with no character are hard to train but he’ll tell you how he is.”

 James Garfield is "a happy horse"

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James Garfield is “a happy horse”

Flinging a ball around his newspaper-bedded box it’s pretty obvious he’s in fine spirits – not unlike his trainer.

Scott is one of a clutch of young Newmarket trainers making ripples in the choppy waters of big-business Flat racing.

But success has never been measured by the number of candles on your birthday cake.

 Scott started his career with Paul Nicholls (pictured)

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Scott started his career with Paul Nicholls (pictured)

Talent and hard work are far more important. Experience helps as well and there’s no doubt Scott has packed a lot in since riding half a dozen point-to-point winners as a teenager.

He kicked off at Paul Nicholls’ all-powerful jumps yard working alongside the likes of Liam Heard, Harry Fry, the Skelton brothers, Ryan Mahon and Nick Scholfield at the pre-training and breaking yard.

From there he worked for Mark Tompkins, as assistant to Michael Bell and took in spells in America when he lived with James Garfield’s co-owner Tim Gredley for some of the time.

 Scott also worked as a assistant to Michael Bell (pictured)

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Scott also worked as a assistant to Michael Bell (pictured)

It was while in the US he received a call to tempt him back to Britain to assist Sir Henry Cecil’s widow Jane at the historic Warren Place stables.

Scott remembered: “I didn’t know Henry that well but every time you would talk to him on the Heath he was just such a nice man.

“In the summer he would always sit on the grass. If he lit a cigarette and sat down you knew you would have four or five minutes of his time.

“I remember asking him if I could work for him but he didn’t think it was fair to have a young guy working for him as he wasn’t going to go on that much longer.

“I never thought I would end up at Warren Place. Jane needed someone to help run the place – she was slightly at her wits end.

“We had a good year. Noble Mission was a Listed horse when I got there and he ended up winning the Champion Stakes.

 Noble Mission (left) won the Champion Stakes


Noble Mission (left) won the Champion Stakes

“Jane was really good as she let me have lots of time to get this place organised. The Niarchos family were massive – they sent me what they had at Warren Place when Jane finished.

“They gave me my first winner and they sent me Gilgamesh, who’s won four races for us. People take notice of you when you’ve got those silks.”

Punters are also taking note of Scott. His 20 winners this year have come at an impressive strike-rate of just over 20 per cent.

Templegate’s TV tips

1.50 Newmarket – Kew Gardens: ‘Stamina looks his strong suit so the step up to 1m2f should be right up his street’ (add to your betslip)

2.05 York – Big Country: ‘I’m sure he’ll be suited by the return to a track where he’s got some great form’ (add to your betslip)

2.25 Newmarket – Ghaiyyath: ‘The drop to seven furlongs is no problem and I reckon he’s the one to beat’ (add to your betslip)

2.40 York – Staxton: ‘He’s not been disgraced despite things not going his way in Group 2 contests since’ (add to your betslip)

3.00 Newmarket – Expert Eye: ‘Could hardly have been much more impressive in Goodwood’s Vintage Stakes’ (add to your betslip)

3.15 York – Mr Lupton: ‘He’ll be much happier on today’s faster surface and he’s become well weighted’ (add to your betslip)

3.40 Newmarket – Lagostovegas: ‘I’m sure she’s still well weighted and there are few doubts about her stamina’ (add to your betslip)

He expects his string to grow from 35 horses to around 50 next season. Yearlings by super stallions Dubawi and Galileo are among those incoming and he’s hopeful a half-brother to James Garfield by Derby and Arc hero Sea The Stars owned by his in-laws is another possible arrival.

His stables on Hamilton Road in Newmarket on the racecourse side of town are just a few miles from Kirtling where his great-grandfather John Kirk trained the best part of a century ago.

Love Island’s Chris Hughes enjoys day at the races ahead of QIPCO British Champions Day

That was the days when horses went to the races by train. Now it’s Scott that’s going full steam ahead. He has the prospect of moving into a new yard around the corner behind Bell’s Fitzroy House stables.

The site is currently derelict and Gredley is in the process of finalising the planning before starting building a substantial yard likely to be finished in a couple of years.

But it is obvious Scott realises he has to become an expert in walking before he attempts to lay-up with the town’s top trainers.

 Frankie Dettori jumps for joy after James Garfield's Newbury win

PA:Press Association

Frankie Dettori jumps for joy after James Garfield’s Newbury win

He said: “I’m a long way away from being established. Just because we’ve had a good start it could all come crashing down.

“It’s about here and what’s happening now. I want to be a top-flight trainer for a long, long time. We’re nowhere near that yet. I want to be champion.

“The new yard would be awesome but it’s going to take plenty of time. It will be perfect as by the time it comes along there’s a chance I’ll be able fill it.”

If James Garfield realises Scott’s American dream in three weeks it will surely go a fair way to making sure there’s a ‘full house’ come moving date.

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