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Magical Moments

First appeared in the February 2017 issue of
Thoroughbred Owner & Breeder

Shantou Flyer - Carl Hinchy

Carl HinchyTo say 2017 got off to a good start for owner Carl Hinchy would be a huge understatement as he was finally able to enjoy a winner at Cheltenham courtesy of Shantou Flyer, 20-1 victor of the most valuable race on the New Year’s Day card, the £60,000 Grade 3 handicap chase.

His enjoyment was tempered slightly by the following day’s Racing Post not carrying a mention of Shantou Flyer and his owner’s first victory at Cheltenham, denying Hinchy a cherished memory for his scrapbook – but there should be many more opportunities to flesh it out.

Hinchy has around 14 horses in training, and thanks to the likes of Beast Of Burden, Definite Outcome and Aurore D’Estruval, his colours have become a familiar sight. His aim this term was to turn the letters next to some of his horses’ names into numbers – one, for example was known as ‘Popub’, his form figures being P0PUB – and it’s a case of so far, so good.

Given his background, it’s probably not surprising that Hinchy has become a predominantly jumps owner.

He explains: “I was born in 1968 and grew up in Southport. I lived through the Red Rum years and remember watching him on the beach and the buzz of the town and area for those Grand Nationals.

“In my teenage years I attended Aintree by sneaking under the fence at the Melling Road with my pals and experiencing the thrilling sight of the steeplechasers attacking the big fences and the roar of the crowd enjoying the unique noise and atmosphere.”

Hinchy and his friends and family don’t have to duck and dive these days, and his table of 12 at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day certainly enjoyed themselves.

“It’s a bit of a tradition to go to Cheltenham that day and it was lovely,” he says. “We stayed the night, had a few drinks, and were on the gallops the following day.”

Shantou Flyer is trained by Rebecca Curtis, one of ten Hinchy has with her, while he is also excited by a more recent link-up with Dan Skelton, and has a couple of “longer-term projects” trained by Richard Hobson, best known for ‘discovering’ the likes of Hurricane Fly and Sir Des Champs in France.

Hobson’s ownership career got off to a rocky start when the first horse he had a small share in died on the gallops before making the racecourse, but he then had a good time with Diamond Racing and Henrietta Knight.

“Having small shares enabled me to get a taste of ownership and I hoped as time went by to be able to fulfil my ambition of owning a horse outright,” he says.

He certainly achieved that, and continues: “I’m 48 now and have owned around 30 or so horses. Shantou Flyer was our 40th winner and the most special of all by far.

“I’ve a strong relationship with Rebecca and her partner Gearoid Costelloe, which has survived through thick and thin, so it was very special for me and my family to enjoy a big win at Cheltenham. Although we’ve had winners at Ascot and Aintree, winning at Cheltenham was beyond compare.

“It’s so difficult to win there, and I’ve been attending racing for 30 years, dreaming of one day seeing a horse in my own colours storming up the hill. The feeling of watching your own horse come home in front is one of heartthumping joy and satisfaction, which you share with all those involved and is impossible to appreciate unless you have experienced it yourself.”

Hinchy continues: “I’ve enjoyed a brief but so far very successful relationship with the Skeltons; as we speak we’ve a 100% record, having won the Summer Plate with Long House Hall and a bumper with the promising Cause Toujours.

“I expect this relationship to go from strength to strength as I’ve nothing but the highest regard for Dan, Harry and his team.

They’ve outstanding facilities and ethos, and we’ve found them all to be engaging and warm on a personal level.

“I also have horses with Richard Hobson, who has joined me in a project of bringing through young well-bred horses from France in the hope of discovering an alternative route to market and utilising Richard’s eye for a horse, and hopefully a bargain, together with his skills of nurturing and caring for young horses.

“This is a project I’m very excited about. Richard has also trained me a Listed winner with one of my mares and I hope to enjoy breeding in the future. I have my dual Listed winning mare Aurore D’Estruval, also runner-up in the Fighting Fifth, booked in to be covered by Kayf Tara this spring – our first foray into breeding.”

Magical moments on the racecourse aside, the familiar feel of jumps racing gives Hinchy a lot of pleasure, something he failed to find in Flat racing!

“Our journey and experience of the National Hunt world has seen us meet lots of wonderful, great-spirited people, and there seems a unique camaraderie between owners, jockeys, trainers and lovers of the sport, who all wish each other well and offer congratulations and commiserations to each other at every turn,” he says.

“It’s a genuinely unrivalled spirit born out of an appreciation of the toughness of the job and the love of the sport. This spirit, we have found, binds National Hunt people together in a very special way. Probably this in itself is the greatest experience, win lose or draw, that we have had from our involvement in jumps racing.”

The solicitor was off to Barbados the day after speaking to Owner & Breeder, after which the road to the spring festivals at Cheltenham and nearby Aintree – where the likes of Shantou Flyer, Long House Hall, Definite Outcome and Tahira could be among Hinchy’s team – will loom large.

His seven runners at the Cheltenham Festival last season “all stank the house out”, as the owner put it. Here’s hoping there’s something for the scrapbook this time!

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