Adrian Wintle is the archetypal farmer's son who enjoyed a successful career in Point-to-Points and became a trainer to diversify the farm. The family farm, based in the loop of the Severn near Westbury-on-Severn mixes arable with 150 sheep and 50 or so racehorses running under both codes.
Born into a horsey family, it was virtually an inevitability he would pursue a career among thoroughbreds. His uncle David was a shrewd trainer who over 20 years trained close on 200 winners, and a master in laying a horse out for a long-priced success. Brother-in-law Chris Broad also trained, but latterly is better known as agent to some of the top jockeys on the circuit.
Adrian began his amateur career in Point-to-Points in the early 90's, riding locally. And it was at Maisemore in the mid-nineties where he rode a double that a fresh opportunity arose. Terry Biddlecombe was Judge that day, and espied a new talent on the block. The result was an offer to join Henrietta Knight as stable amateur which provided a wealth of new opportunity, additional rides and connections.
Some 200 or so winners later, having eschewed the opportunity to turn conditional as he was too heavy, Adrian retired from riding after breaking his back in a fall at Maisemore. Yet for all that, the local track next to the Severn remains his favourite.
Training was a logical next step after rehab, first with a permit, latterly with a full public licence since 2011. But whilst his heart might be in Jumping, the maths of training require a focus on the Flat.
Put simply, " It's easier to find a cheap Flat horse," remarks Adrian. Last year, their 86 runners in largely unremarkable races around the less fashionable flat tracks of the UK resulted in 13 winners, a highly respectable 16% strike rate. Over 50% of last year's Flat runners reached the frame.
But finding winners, whatever the level, is never easy. Inexpensive cast-offs from the big yards make for great fairy tale stories, but they don't happen often enough generally to pay the bills. There have been successes though; a £3k purchase - far less than you'd pay for a Pointer nowadays - has now won over £50,000 in prize money over 3 years, whilst a meat money horse is now a five time winner.
There is a viable business to be made with lowly rated horses from 55-80, given the lower overheads of training on the family property. "Dad's now in his eighties, so I am taking a closer interest in the farm business," adds Adrian. "But racing is our passion". He's in good company with partner Louise, minding the family full-time, comprising Pippa (9) and Leo (3). Both are already on the horsey treadmill, with ponies around the farm.
Are there highlights, I ask? Of course, one wouldn't expect any less. On the riding front, riding round Aintree three times was a big thrill, even if only finishing the once; there was a treble at Bredwardine in May 2008 comprising Sparklinspirit in the Men's Open, Ole Maestro in the Open Maiden, and St Reverien in the Confined, the latter for Andy Hobbs, source of nearly half his winners between the flags; and of course, winning the John Corbett Cup at Stratford on Philtre for Helen Needham were all big moments.
But the greatest satisfaction has come since retirement. A first ever winner took a season or two to materialise, but when it came, courtesy of Silver Coaster in a novices handicap chase in August 2012, ridden by great friend Dickie Johnson, it was the start of a growing stream of winners under both codes.
Flat handicapper Kenstone is another favourite. Winner of 6 of his 55 races, including a sparkling 2017, when he ran 12 times, winning at Chelmsford twice, Thirsk and Chester, improving his mark from 52 to 87 en route.
Today's winner at Chepstow, a belated first Jumps winner this term, is another example. Baratineur, a French-bred 10 year old was notching a third career win from 33 runs.
Wintle is a well-recognized name in racing circles around Gloucestershire, and for that matter beyond. And it looks like in Adrian, the Wintle reputation is set to continue through another generation.
The Berkeley Hunt has been in existence in some fashion or other since the C12th, but in keeping with the growth of organised sport, and capitalism in Victorian Britain, the hunt branched out into racing in the middle of the C19th, setting up an annual race day about a mile out of Berkeley in February 1859, which lasted until the 1870s.
At that time, there was stiff competition for racecourses. Virtually every small town had its own fixture, some over multiple days, and ready fruits of Victorian labour were pushed into racecourse construction all over the UK. Bristol having done very well from the Industrial Revolution, as witnessed by the quantity of elegant houses within easy reach of the city, it saw plenty of competition for racing.
The Bristol & Counties Races Company, of which more later, was, at least temporarily, better funded, to the extent that the Berkeley Races died out in the 1870s for around 10 years, before returning in April 1885 on a course of 2 1/2 - 3 miles. Whilst the meeting was well received, including a Yeomanry Cup restricted to riders from the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars that would make Rollo Clifford very proud, it couldn't be sustained and died a death the following year.
Bristol, by contrast, continued to spawn racecourses hither and thither, even though none sadly survive now.
The first recorded chase was somewhere in Bristol in 1832, and another is mentioned at Marshfield 2 years later. There were also races on what is best known as Clifton Downs, or Durdham Down, between the Zoo and the halls of residence for the university on the western side of the Common, but again, these died out by 1838.
A further fixture was held at Patchway, between the RAC Call centre and Cribbs Causeway Shopping Centre to viewers on the M5, in 1856, and a meeting west of Keynsham 3 years later, at Knowle. These were all, of course, rural areas before Bristol had grown to its current size.
But it was at Knowle that Bristol set up its biggest chance to make a racecourse of which to be proud. Just off the Wells Road, and south of what is now Redcatch Lane to Bristolians, land was leased by owner Sir Greville Smyth to the Bristol & Western Counties Racecourse Company.
Berkeley Races news brings you articles about racing folk and events in and around the Berkeley country