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Riches to Rags to Riches

Everyone loves a good racing story, especially a rags to riches one and the tale of star sprinter Tropics could be set to enter its most exciting chapter yet, if the 6yo can land a first Group One contest in tomorrow’s feature, the Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock. Hertfordshire trainer, Dean Ivory, spoke exclusively to the Coral Champions Club about his charges chances.

The old yarn in racing is that the best way to make a small fortune by owning thoroughbreds is start with a large fortune. Nobody ever expects to get rich from these ventures; instead, one is supposed to have a bottomless bank account.

The sport is renowned for wearing its elitism proudly; after all it is called ‘the sport of kings’, but every once in a while such a perception is contradicted. On Saturday afternoon Hertfordshire owner-trainer, Dean Ivory, will arrive at Haydock Park for the feature race of the day, the Betfred Sprint Cup, with a horse that cost him a mere £2,625. Everyone loves a good racing story especially a rags to riches one and the tale of his star sprinter Tropics could be set to enter its most exciting chapter yet if the 6yo chestnut can land a first Group One contest.

“I think we go there with a live chance,” says a confident Ivory. “He should run a big, big race for us. He hasn’t run at Haydock before but that shouldn’t be a problem. The ground, they’re giving it good to soft but it should be good ground on the day so that won’t be a problem. We’ve got a good jockey. The horse is well. We’re expecting a big run; you’d have to expect that on his previous two runs. It was phenomenal what he did in the July Cup and then he followed it up with that terrific Listed win which was like a Group race in many ways. Naturally we’re going to need plenty of luck in running, especially with a hold up horse, but if we get our fair share of luck we’re in with a great chance.”
So what are the dangers?

“Sole Power and Gordon Lord Byron are the two that I’d fear the most. With Gordon Lord Byron, the softer it is the more he’ll like it. He is more of a seven furlong horse, so you know that he’ll be finishing strong. Sole Power is better over five furlongs but will he finish strong at six? If the ground is soft he probably won’t but then having said that if the ground is good, he’s a horse who’s got a terrific turn of foot and can use it when he likes. I should think they’ll either be tracking us or we’ll be tracking him,” he says with a wry smile.

Plenty had been expected of Tropics this season after he was given a career high mark of 116 when sprinting clear to win the Group 3 Bengough Stakes at Ascot last October. But Harper Lodge Farm was struck down by sickness.

“We had a bug in the yard,” admit Ivory. “You know what it’s like; you get new horses coming in from the sales. You race on the All-Weather, you race in the winter and you pick up a bug. It was unfortunate as we just got ourselves going but they’re all well and firing at the moment, the trouble is the season is going to end too soon for us!”

In truth, it’s miraculous that his stable star ever got going. The Tropics tale is really, a riches to rags to riches story. When he was sold as a yearling, Tropics cost his connections, Godolphin, a jaw dropping $700,000. However the horse failed to ever make it to a racecourse and whereas many top horses have already experienced a full career and been retired to stud, Tropics arrived at Ivory’s yard just a few months shy of his fifth birthday.

“Graham Thorner bought him with a view to going jumping but realised that he was all about speed. He asked me would I be interested in taking him. It was simply a case of nothing ventured nothing gained. If it hadn’t worked out, I’d have put him into a seller. But he showed us so much speed. I liked him from the very start. It was just his presence. He was very well bred and I still don’t know what problems prevented him from making it to the track, but his pedigree suggested he was always going to be a better as an older horse,” he relates.

The affable Ivory is as big or small a trainer as he chooses to be. He may not have the racing resume of his contemporaries having only taken out a license at 40, but there’s no denying his own bloodlines. His father, Ken Ivory, who combined his racing interests with a host of business ventures, trained from the same 100 acres of leafy Hertfordshire, was a dab hand at training speedsters and taught his son well before handing over the reins and retiring to Spain in 2002.

The Ivory’s have never won a Group One race, but that may be about the change. And with visits to Dubai and America on the agenda, the Tropics tale could be about to get even racier!

Read More at the Coral Champions Club