Owner in Focus - Nick Bradley Racing
Nick Bradley is proof that you can turn your passion into your profession, from his early involvement with Middleham Park Racing to purchasing Junior at the sales at a bargain price before he went on to win at Royal Ascot. So, how did Nick go from being a teacher to one of the leading owners in the country, we find out.
How did your involvement with horse racing start and which was the first horse you owned?
I was fascinated by the Grand National and used to study the race each year.
I remember backing Hallo Dandy in the 1984 Grand National when I was six-years-old, so I was interested in horse racing from an early age. I had a share in a horse called Pride in the Park around twenty years ago who won twice at Southwell and I was hooked from there.
What was your first Royal Ascot runner?
I bought a horse called Junior at the May Sales in 2010 for £35,000 with the aim of running him on the Flat and under NH rules. Around five weeks later we ran him in the Ascot Stakes on the opening day of the 2010 Royal Meeting. Seb Sanders rode him and he led from the stalls and made all over the two miles and four furlong trip to win by six lengths. Since then we have had around twenty runners at the meeting and won three times so we have a pretty good record at the meeting.
What is your favourite Ascot memory to date?
Raising Sand has given us some great days at Ascot having won four times at the track. Dandalla was very enjoyable last year when winning the Albany Stakes but to be there when Commissioned won the Queen Alexandra Stakes on the final day of the meeting in 2016 was very special. We were very confident of winning, Adam Kirby gave him a great ride and Ascot had arranged for NFL superstar Wes Welker to present the trophy.
The race you would most like to win in the UK?
We have over thirty two-year-old fillies in training in 2021 and plan to focus on the fillies’ races going forward. The Albany at the Royal Meeting was a target which we achieved with Dandalla in 2020, but the Fillies Mile and 1000 Guineas at Newmarket are Group 1s we aim to have runners in year on year going forward.
Which of your horses are you hoping will run at Ascot this year?
Fev Rover, Dandalla and Raising Sand all have Royal Ascot targets this year, but I hope to add another three or four two-year-olds to that list by the time the meeting comes around. Hopefully a few will start putting their hands up to go for either the Queen Mary or Albany in the next six weeks.
Syndicates are now very popular - what is the one piece of advice you give perspective members?
The most important piece of advice I would give anyone is to take things slowly.
I see many outright owners come into the game and leave shortly afterwards having had an unsatisfactory experience. Do your research, follow the sales, ignore win percentages and instead look at who is doing well with the horses they are buying.
A ‘Nick Bradley’ horse to look out for this year?
We have some very good three-year-olds on the track this year but I bought a record number of yearlings at the sales last autumn so I will select a two-year-old filly. The Time Test progeny were extremely good-looking at the sales and the nicest I saw was a filly we bought for 45,000 guineas. We named her ‘Simply Gorgeous’ and Richard Fahey who trains her likes what he has seen to date.
One horse you would love to own?
We have fifty broodmares at home so I am going to have to select a colt who I would send plenty of the mares to in years to come. Minzaal’s turn of pace in the Gimcrack last year was exceptional and is a horse that I am looking forward to seeing on the racetrack in 2021. He is a son of Mehmas who looks like being a phenomenal sire in the years to come.
You are a well-known face at the bloodstock sales, do you have a physical attribute that you look out for in any potential purchases?
I am a big believer in watching a horse walk away from me. I like to see a horse who has a good action in its hind quarters to help drive it forward when galloping. The most important factor is the horse’s action - it has to be athletic and propel the horse.
Is there a first-season sire’s offspring you are keen to acquire, or do you prefer to follow the path of proven breeding?
I am a big believer that all stallion’s produce progeny at both ends of the spectrum and the stallion is just a small part of the puzzle. We had Dandalla, Fev Rover, Mystery Angel and Furlong Factor in 2020 - each filly was the highest-rated daughter of their respective stallion’s two-year-old crop (Dandy Man, Gutaifan, Kodi Bear and Adaay). On each occasion we selected the fillies at the sales based on their physical attributes. That said, I do think the 2021 crop of first season sires is the most competitive group of stallions we have had in many years.