The Brocklesby Conditions Stakes is synonymous with racehorse trainer Bill Turner.
The first Flat turf two-year-old race of the season simply wouldn't be the same without the Dorset trainer who sends out his better, if not best, juvenile to compete in this significant race.
The Brocklesby Stakes dates back to 1849. However, in those early days, it was a 12-furlong race for horses of all ages. In fact, it used to take place at the now-defunct Carholme racecourse in Lincoln.
In this modern era, most racegoers know the Brocklesby as a fast and furious five-furlong sprint held annually at Doncaster racecourse. It takes place late March or early April and presently sponsored by Unibet with the feature race on the card the Lincoln Handicap.
The Brocklesby moved to Doncaster in 1965.
Since 1988, an array of horse trainers has proven they can win the Brocklesby, making a bold start to the turf season with hopes of showing a quality horse that can go on to better prizes. That has been the case and a number of very talented two-year-olds have won the Brocklesby Stakes before going on to Group class success, while some achieve the distinction of becoming stallions.
Two very talented colts to do just that are Jack Berry's Mind Games who won the 1994 Brocklesby Stakes by a neck from a horse called Jobran. The apple of Jack Berry's eye [a horse trainer who is known for wearing his lucky red shirt when going to the races and founder of the charity Jack Berry House] saw his sprinter win multiple group races but fell short of group 1 success.
In 2016, The Last Lion, trained by Mark Johnston, won this Brocklesby in stylish fashion and later that season took the Middle Park Stakes Group 1. He achieved four victories from ten starts at two and was unraced at three when retired to stud for a fee of £7.500.
Other notable winners of the Brocklesby include:
The Bill O'Gorman-trained Provideo who won the Brocklesby Stakes in 1984 before setting a 20th-century record for a British two-year-old when he won 16 from 24 races. Surprisingly, his best performance saw him win at Listed class, while Timeform rated him 20lb inferior of the best juveniles of the year. However, he was named British/Timeform Horse of the Year for a feat that simply couldn't be matched nowadays because of the introduction of win penalties.
Hearts Of Fire is another colt worthy of respect. Trained by Pat Eddery, this son of Firebreak won the 2009 Brocklesby by an authoritative two-and-a-quarter lengths. A versatile horse, he won on all types of going but proved best in testing conditions. He culminated a successful juvenile season when heading to San Siro, Italy, taking the Gran Criterium Stakes (Group 1) in soft ground by a head. Other victories at Listed and Group 3 proved a very talented colt. He concluded his race career in 2011 after racing four times in Meydan (UAE). A racing career of 17 runs, 4 victories and total prize earnings of £326,543 details a Brocklesby winner who achieved much.
Santry had the potential to be a true star in the making when winning the 2017 Brocklesby by a head. Trained by Declan Carroll, this son of Harbour Watch won his next start under a penalty, then finished second in the Norfolk Stakes (Group 2) at Royal Ascot. Sadly, he was fatally injured on the gallops. Carroll said: ''He broke a leg on the gallops this morning. I can't belive we've lost him.''
Bill Turner has won the Brocklesby Conditions Stakes an impressive six times. The first victory coming back in 1996 when Indian Spark thrashed the opposition by four lengths. This remarkable racehorse went on to race 143 times and won 14 races. Very few thoroughbreds come close to this longevity.
In 2002, we saw The Lord, owned by Mrs M Teversham. This classy son of Averti won impressively by five lengths in testing conditions. He went on to win the Lily Agnes Conditions Stakes at Chester after failing to shine at Royal Ascot's Norfolk Stakes (Group 3) in between. The Lord was another fine horse who ran 68 times in his career, winning 8 times and achieving the highest official rating of 105. It was pleasing to see this dedicated sprinter win once at Listed class. A success most deserved. Without question, The Lord was Bill Turner's best Brocklesby Stakes winner, if not the best horse he has trained to this date.
Spoof Master was something of an anomaly for Turner, being a Brocklesby Stakes winner at Redcar. This was due to maintenance work at Doncaster which saw the race take place at a different northern venue. In addition, Spoof Master made his debut when finishing second place on the all-weather surface at Lingfield Park. This son of Invincible Spirit made the most of that first-time experience by winning the Brocklesby by four lengths. In a racing career which saw him run 65 times, he won just 3 races.
Next up, just two years later, Bill Turner would win the Brocklesby in 2008 with a filly named Sally's Dilemma. Very few fillies are capable of winning this race and it must have made Turner's day to achieve this meritable performance for loyal owner E A Brook. She was pushed out to win by half a length from Stuart Parr's Doncaster Rover. She raced just 12 times in a two-season career and the Brocklesby was her greatest and only success.
E A Brook was jubilant once more when He's So Cool won the Brocklesby on his second start after finishing third of seven on debut at Kempton, a disappointing flop at odds of 5/4. This son of One Cool Cat beat Redair at Doncaster priced 8/1. He raced 9 times at two, winning 2 times before being retired in August that same year.
The latest Brocklesby Stakes win for Turner came in 2013. Mick's Yer Man won by five lengths. He followed up by winning at Musselburgh. Originally owned by Tracy Turner, this colt lost his form before showing a resurgence in 2014 winning at Listed class.
Later, he was sold privately and trained by T P Yung to race in Hong Kong. Interesting to note that his name was changed to Always Win (no wonder I struggled to find his name when searching the Racing Post database). Hong Kong horse racing has the luxury of exceptional prize money compared to the UK. For instance, Always Win won a sprint handicap off an offical rating of just 62 bagging an incredible £73,557.99 prize. In 2018, this son of Bahamian Bounty won two more races over six furlongs (those two victories alone totalled to over £141,000). Rising in the handicap to 85, with total prize earnings of £328,456 from 22 runs and 7 wins.
The future looks bright for this Brocklesby winner who changed his name.
Great to see that Turner has Hell Of A Joker entered to run in this year's Brocklesby Conditions Stakes 2019.
A trainer who has taken on the biggest stables and proven when it comes to talented two-year-old horses the Brocklesby Stakes is his to win.
Bill Turner Trains Zebra as a Racehorse
Photo: Mick's Yer Man
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