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Newmarket trainer George Boughey seeking to improve upon successful 2021

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George Boughey is not one for setting many targets or looking too far into the future.

But if he was that way inclined, it is fair to say the 30-year-old would be well ahead of schedule.

After learning the trade with Gai Waterhouse and Lloyd Williams in Australia, Boughey arrived in Newmarket in 2013 as an assistant to Classic-winning trainer Hugo Palmer.

George Boughey had a successful 2021 campaign. Picture: Mark Westley
George Boughey had a successful 2021 campaign. Picture: Mark Westley

A successful six years followed at Kremlin Cottage Stables before Dorchester-raised Boughey went solo – and since then he has not looked back.

A return of 26 winners from 132 runners (20 per cent strike rate) in 2020 represented more than a respectable first full campaign within the training ranks.

Steady improvement would have been most welcome last year, but Boughey and his team at Saffron House Stables enjoyed a 12 months that were way beyond expectation.

The trainer is back Cachet to be the yard flag bearer this year. Picture: Tracy Roberts
The trainer is back Cachet to be the yard flag bearer this year. Picture: Tracy Roberts

A total of 475 runners yielded a return of 85 victories, resulting in a strike rate of 18 per cent.

Boughey said: “We knew that we had a good team of horses, but we didn’t think they were perhaps as good as they were and we didn’t expect that many winners.

“But I’m lucky to have a very hard working team with me and that makes a big difference. We frequently change horses and are always buying and selling at the sales.

“Others go with the horses they have at the start of the year but it works for us. I’m lucky that the owners accept my assessment. I’d rather buy them another horse instead of sticking with one that perhaps isn’t going to deliver.

“I’m not one to set targets, I don’t work like that but I didn’t expect the year to go so well. The sort of races we were running in, you might have thought that was going to be five or 10 years away.

“But we’ve got some nice horses to go to war with and now it’s about keeping that momentum going.”

As well as chalking up his first Listed and Group 3 victories in 2021, Boughey also fulfilled a dream of sending a runner to the Breeders’ Cup.

But it was Oaks day that truly stood out as Oscula’s victory in the Woodcote Stakes was followed up by 50-1 chance Mystery Angel finishing second in the Epsom Classic.

“We had plenty of highs but the biggest has to be Oaks day,” Boughey reflected.

“We won the first race of the day with Oscula and although the Woodcote is now a conditions race, it was once a Listed race and is still highly thought of.

“It was teaming with rain, we had owner Nick Bradley there and spirits were high going into the Oaks.

“To see Mystery Angel come second, that was something else. You have to enjoy those moments because that is something that might never happen again. A lot of trainers are never lucky enough to achieve such a result in a Classic.

“And to book-end the year by sending Cachet to the Breeders’ Cup, that was something to tick off the bucket list.

“I love the Breeders’ Cup. If you offered me the chance of winning a Guineas, a Derby or a Breeders’ Cup, I’d find it hard to pick one because they are all so big.

“Overall it was a great year. We got a first Group win, a first Listed win and I can’t have asked for much more.”

Over the coming months, Boughey believes that Cachet could well be the yard’s flag bearer.

The current plan for the daughter of Aclaim is a tilt at the Nell Gwyn stakes before taking her chance in the QIPCO 1,000 Guineas, for which she is currently priced at 25-1 by bookmakers.

A long shot she may be, but her record on the Rowley Mile is good having not finished outside the top three in her trio of outings in 2021, which includes placings in the Group 1 bet365 Fillies’ Mile and the Group 2 Unibet Rockfel Stakes, as well as victory in the Betway British EBF Fillies’ Novice Stakes.

“Her record at Newmarket is certainly in her favour and she’s always saved her best performances so far for out on the Rowley Mile,” said Boughey.

“Of course she’s got to go and improve on that and we have to be realistic, but we like her a lot.

“She’ll start in the Nell Gwynn and then hopefully on to the Guineas. I don’t think she’s going to look outclassed in that sort of company.

“We’ll have a sit down and look at Plan B for her after the Guineas.”

As for the season as a whole, targeting a greater return of winners than last year is always a given.

But having had a taste of Group success and also gone mightily close to glory at the very highest level, it is also the quality of the victories that captures Boughey’s imagination.

He said: “At the end of the year people will always assess your winners and your numbers – that’s how it works.

“But for me, the quality of the horse and the race is the main thing.

“I’ll sell horses this year that I know will go on to win first time out for their new trainers, but I only have a finite number of boxes in the yard.

“Those Listed races, the Group races and those big occasions, those are the sort of races you want to be involved in.

“It doesn’t always happen and you need a bit of luck along the way, but that is the aim.”