Scott aiming for plenty more in 2018
Twenty-three winners and a strike rate of 20 per cent in 2017 - it is fair to say that George Scott was extremely satisfied with what was just his second season since going solo in the training ranks.
The impressive James Garfield spearheaded the charge with victory in the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury, while Scott’s horses contested 11 Pattern races last term and won or were placed in eight of them.
And yet with the 2018 campaign now under way, a determined Scott has already put those triumphs to the back of his mind.
His stock may have been upwardly mobile of late, but the 29-year-old is only too aware that a slippery slope is never too far away in this game.
As such, he cannot afford to lend too much time to reflecting on past glories, it is all about the here and now.
“We are very lucky to have worked ourselves into a position where we ended up with stats like we did after only our second year,” said the former assistant to Michael Bell.
“A lot of hard work went into it and is always nice to have a reward.
“As a yard I still feel like we are in a very vulnerable position. If we have two bad years I am off the bottom of the charts.
“I do not feel anywhere near like being established as a trainer. Everything else other than training winners is irrelevant at the moment.
“Every time I have started I have had in my head a number of horses I want to get to but as soon as I get there I want more.
“My team and I are hungry. I want to get to the top and compete with the best. I do not want to tread on anyone’s toes doing it, but you have got to want it.
“When you have had five years of 100 or so horses, you are established but I will not feel like that for a long time.
“I will not be satisfied until we are competing at the top all of the time.”
When you have a horse like the aforementioned James Garfield as part of your 60-strong string, it certainly makes life easier.
Co-owned by his father-in-law and brother-in-law — Billy and Tim Gredley — Scott could not have foreseen the success that the son of Exceed and Excel would provide.
Nor could anyone else, with competition for his purchase relatively scarce.
Scott said of his stable star: “The horse was relatively unwanted at the sales. He was at Doncaster and he was there for everyone to buy.
“Fortunately enough he was still relatively immature and therefore did not shine like he may do now in a sales ring.
“As a result, my father-in-law was keen to give me a couple of horses.
“He by no means gave me what we all perceived to be the cream of his two year olds, he gave me a couple to be going on with and I am lucky to have been given him.
“It is going to be hugely unlikely I have a horse as good as James Garfield in my two-year-old crop this year.”
“Those horses only come along - even for the big trainers - once in a while. For me to have another horse as good as him would be almost unheard of.”
November’s trip to the Breeders’ Cup may not have gone to plan for an out-of-sorts James Garfield, but Scott is confident that is nothing more than the slightest of stains on his copybook.
This year the three-year-old looks set to take his place among Guineas company, be it in France or at Headquarters.
A trip to Royal Ascot and the Commonwealth Cup is also on the agenda, with things kicking off in the Group 3 Greenham Stakes at Newbury.
“He will certainly start in the Greenham because that makes total sense - he is a winner at Newbury. He clearly goes well at the track,” said the Saffron House Stables trainer.
“We want to step him back up to seven furlongs. I know he ran a mile at the Breeders Cup but you have to take that out of the equation.
“Plans after that are quite fluid. I would imagine he will run in a Guineas. There is a chance he might run in France because the bend might suit him better than the stiff mile here.
“Although there are some great horses that have won the French Guineas, it is generally a slighter weaker race depth wise. Then he will run in the Commonwealth unless he wins the Guineas.
“There is plenty of time between those races, the gap certainly does not worry me.
“He took his racing well last year. He ran plenty and is a really tough horse.
“He might need to run himself into form and fitness. I am doing my best with him at home, but we will see.”
Scott is going to need more than James Garfield to produce the goods this year if he is to avoid paying out on a wager with friend Charlie Fellowes.
Whichever of them racks up the least winners and prize money will be buying the other lunch come the end of 2018.
The duo, alongside the likes of Amy Murphy, Richard Spencer et al, are part of the next generation of Newmarket-based trainers currently vying to make their move up the ladder.
And while the levels of the competitiveness between the young guns runs extremely high, Scott feels a genuine unity exists among them.
“Charlie Fellows and I are good mates. We have a lunch bet on this season’s winners and prize money.
“I tried to call it off the other day because I don’t like seeing his horses get beat! He is a really good friend but I need to beat him! Amy and Richard are good friends too.
“There is plenty of space to go around. There are plenty of owners out there to go around as well.
“I am as competitive as they come, but as long as I have got all my ducks in a row and the horses are running well, I like to see everyone else’s horses running well.
“If we are losing then it is hard to see others winning, but that is how it goes. We are all in this together.”
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More by this authorLiam Apicella