Belshaw proves an in­spi­ra­tion for fel­low breed­ers

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Final Whistle -

There are signs that suc­cess for Bri­tish horses abroad may one day be the norm, writes Mar­cus Army­tage

In the 1990s he bought Sim­ply Times in the US. He had hit upon a gold mine

It has been a glo­ri­ous few days for Bri­tish blood­stock breed­ers. If you looked in the right places, you would have seen the first four in Tues­day’s Mel­bourne Cup had “Made in Bri­tain” stick­ers on them. The two most no­table win­ners at last week­end’s Breed­ers’ Cup at Churchill Downs in Amer­ica, En­able and News­pa­p­er­ofrecord, did not hail from the blue­grass pas­tures of Ken­tucky but, rather, New­mar­ket and the North-west re­spec­tively.

En­able, who be­came the first horse to win a Prix de l’arc de Tri­om­phe and Breed­ers’ Cup race in the same year; and Cross Counter, the first Bri­tish-trained Mel­bourne Cup win­ner, are from very large New­mar­ket studs which op­er­ate on a global level.

By con­trast, News­pa­p­er­ofrecord was bred by a 78-year-old en­gi­neer from Wi­gan.

Al­lan Belshaw’s six horses amount to three brood­mares, a foal, a year­ling and one in train­ing. They in­clude Sun­day Times (named af­ter his en­gi­neer­ing busi­ness, Times of Wi­gan), the dam of News­pa­p­er­ofrecord, which he sold as a year­ling for 200,000 guineas (£210,000).

No other horse won at this year’s Breed­ers’ Cup in the elec­tric style of News­pa­p­er­ofrecord, and her seven-length vic­tory in the Ju­ve­nile Fil­lies Turf last Fri­day blew away Amer­i­can rac­ing.

Belshaw set up his busi­ness in 1968. In 1976, he was at his lo­cal race­course, Hay­dock, and thought: “I’m go­ing to have a horse.”

He bought a half-share with Mal­ton trainer Pat Ro­han and by the end of that first sum­mer had bought the other half. It was not a dream start but rac­ing had in­vei­gled its way into his blood.

North­ern train­ers were al­ways wor­ried about south­ern horses plun­der­ing their prizes, so he took the at­ti­tude “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” and his next horses were with Bill O’gor­man in New­mar­ket.

In 1990, he and O’gor­man trav­elled to the United States and bought Time­less Times, which won 16 of his 21 starts, equalling the record for most wins by a two-year-old. In the mid-90s, he re­turned to the US with O’gor­man and bought Sim­ply Times. He had hit upon a gold mine. Sim­ply Times fell on her sec­ond start, a rar­ity in a Flat race, and a shaken Belshaw re­tired her on the spot to be­gin her breed­ing ca­reer. She gave birth to For­ever Times which, in turn, pro­duced Sun­day Times, and Ques­tion Times whose son – and, there­fore News­pa­p­er­ofrecord’s cousin – La­trobe, won the Ir­ish Derby in June. That fe­male line is now look­ing price­less.

Belshaw, who should be held up as an in­spi­ra­tion to the small breeder, is very much the ex­cep­tion rather than the norm.

Most small Bri­tish breed­ers, Flat or jump, find it hard to make it com­mer­cially.

Iron­i­cally, it was one of the Gov­ern­ment’s as­sis­tant re­searchers, study­ing the card for the Chel­tenham Fes­ti­val last March, who no­ticed the im­bal­ance be­tween the pre­dom­i­nantly Ir­ish and French-bred jumpers which far out­num­bered home­bred horses.

On the back of this ob­ser­va­tion, there is ev­i­dence that tack­ling this sup­ply-chain im­bal­ance is firmly on West­min­ster’s post­brexit agenda.

The fact that the Gov­ern­ment is hav­ing a di­a­logue with rac­ing about in­cen­tivis­ing the in­dus­try means that week­ends like the last one, when Bri­tish horses dom­i­nated round the world, and peo­ple such as Belshaw, may one day be the norm rather than the ex­cep­tion.

Big win: Irad Or­tiz Jr cel­e­brates on News­pa­p­er­ofrecord

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