James Tate is at the forefront of a new generation of trainers in Newmarket who are coming through and making their mark on the home of Flat racing and the sport as a whole.
Leading the way for Tate this year have been classy juveniles Invincible Army and Hey Gaman, but plenty of others have been impressing on the racecourse this season. Here Tate talks to us about some of his star names and his plans for the years ahead.
Urban Fox represents you in the Atalanta Stakes at Sandown on Saturday. How are things with her?
She’s in great form. She had a great comeback run at the start of the year and then two disappointing runs before a pleasing run at Ascot last time on ground she didn’t like. There was nothing else but soft ground at the time so we had to go there, but I’m hoping for drier conditions for this race and she should run well.
Hey Gaman has sidestepped the Solario Stakes. Where is he likely to run next?
This race is only two weeks back from the Listed race he won where he made all into a headwind. That was a hard race and I thought it was a little tight. He likes really soft ground and I’d have thought the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster would be his most likely aim, although we’ll have one eye on ever seven furlong, soft ground Group race until the end of the season. He’s already had six runs so one, maximum two more, will be what he gets.
Invincible Army has been a star for you this season. What are the plans for him?
He’s very smart. We’d like to win a Group race with him now and his options are open. The Sirenia Stakes at Kempton next weekend is one possible, although it might come too quick, there’s the Prix Eclipse at Maisons-Laffitte on September 20 and then there’s his most likely target which is the Mill Reef at Newbury on September 23.
Does it give you extra pleasure that Invincible Army races for Saeed Manana?
He’s my biggest owner. We look every year for what looks like might be the best ones of the year and we always hope one of those will come up for Mr Manana as he’s been such a big backer of ours. We were delighted when he changed from being a big, fat, slothenly yearling into a horse with gears. We weren’t expecting that but hope he keeps progressing.
Law And Order holds entries in the Cambridgeshire and Dubai Duty Free Handicap. Is he likely to contest either of those?
He won a Listed race over a mile at the start of the season so we went down that route and he reached a level as a miler. We’re now trying him dropped in and over a little further, and with those tactics he ran adequately at Yarmouth off a slow pace and then race much better at Windsor. He’ll be entered in the September Stakes at Kempton next weekend. Hand on heart, I wonder if he’s better in a small field than a big handicap and we might have a go at the Dubai Duty Free Handicap at Newbury with him. It’s tempting.
Your father is trainer Tom Tate and your father-in-law is Len Lungo. Has it been helpful to have them on your side?
It’s very helpful in terms of my experience and what I was able to learn growing up. They both help to this day and my father-in-law in particularly helpful as he’s retired. For example, this week he’s been helping me at the Doncaster yearling sales and he can help me assess the horses.
How was it at the yearling sales?
It was very hard to buy but it wasn’t easy. It was a pretty ferocious market and we felt we did well to come away with three.
You have more juveniles this year than before. Is that likely to continue next season?
It’s to do with Mr Manana’s policy really and what he’s doing with his horses, as he is our biggest patron. A couple of years ago when Clive Brittain retired we had a couple of transfers in so we had our largest number of older horses. Last year we wanted to move on the ordinary horses so we had more two-year-olds and fewer older horses. Next year we’ll have about 50-50 I’d have thought.
And, finally, you are a qualified vet. Does that help you training your horses?
I’m sure it does. Perhaps other trainers have other edges, but it definitely is a big help. I think we’ve won with horses that others wouldn’t have done. It’s everything from the early diagnosis of an injury to quicker recovery back to the racecourse to managing bleeders. It’s much easier when you can scope and Lasix a horse whenever you like at no, or little, cost or time. It’s much easier for us not having to call people out to do it.