It's all happening at Manor House Stables (MHS).
There are exciting changes taking place at Manor House flat racing stables (MHS) on our doorstep a few miles away at the end of the Cheshire Sandstone Ridge. The enterprise was founded by Michael Owen, retired England star footballer 17 years ago, assisted by fellow investor Andrew Black and for the last 12 years with trainer Tom Dascombe.
In December last year Michael announced that Tom's responsibility as trainer was being brought to an end. Tom's long tenure had brought above-average success with a notable string of wins at Chester and Haydock Park and big race successes nationally and internationally. Star performers he has trained include big race wins by Brown Panther and star sprinter Kachy plus numerous winners at all levels of flat racing .
Many were surprised by Dascombe's departure. He had been a key member in building up Manor House Stables to the operation it is today – 80 horses in training, a diversity of owners locally and nationally supported by a happy and well motivated staff. On the other hand, 12 years was a considerable length of time and it was argued that a change of leader would help to bring about steps to propel MHS to an even higher level.
The extent of Michael Owen's ambitions are now emerging. Top young Newmarket trainer Hugo Palmer has been recruited to train at MHS and he has already come up to Cheshire to take over. An added bonus – he has brought with him 40-50 horses that he had been training in Newmarket, creating a step change in the size of MHS to 130+ horses in training.
The excitement at MHS is palpable. In the blink of an eye, temporary stables have been erected to accommodate the extra horses. The training regimes of resident and new horses have been implemented with the minimum disruption. Expansion plans include a third large American-style barn and additional training facilities to add to those already existing.
MHS has built a reputation for good quality, well trained horses. Hugo Palmer's horses provide a further shot in the arm of high quality horses and owners. The level of ambition can be judged by the planned participation of Dubawi Legendin April's classic 2000 guineas, a race that Hugo won with Galileo Gold a few year's ago. MHS already houses MrMcann who holds an Epsom Derby entry; fingers crossed for that one and for the exciting bevy of two-year-olds starting out this year.
Finally it should be noted that expansion of MHS provides a boost to the local economy, directly with employment at the stables, with a knock-on effect to local businesses and a further promotion of Cheshire as an important equine industry hub.