Ollie Pears’ tree continues to blossom in Norton

A quiet revolution is going on at Old Farmhouse Stables. The caravan has gone; in its place are new boxes – inhabited by eager racehorses. All are signs that Ollie Pears continues to be a trainer on the up.

In three and a half seasons at his yard, opposite the famous Highfield stables in Norton, former jockey Pears has racked up more than 70 winners and gained a reputation as one of the country’s shrewdest young trainers.

Now he has 34 boxes and better horses in the yard. Hard work and an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of the racing calendar is driving the progressive Pears.

“I didn’t really have any expectations when I started apart from that I knew we could do it if we, and it is we – me and Vicky (Coates, fiancée and assistant trainer) – if we got a chance,” he said. “Life is all about getting chances, isn’t it?

“We walked into this yard with Lujano, bless him, a couple of horses who were very moderate and, when James (Hetherton, former trainer) retired, I picked up a couple off his father. So we started with very little.

“It would have been wrong of me to have any expectations at all, to be honest, apart from that I just wanted to take a chance and then make the best of it.”

That old caravan was the sign of his commitment to the cause.

There he lived for two-and-a-half years before finally getting the chance to buy the Old Farmhouse complex last year and start his expansion projects.

That widening world view has brought its rewards on the track. Following 24 winners from just 22 boxes last season, Pears has already run 13 successes in 2011.

My Arch won the Pontefract Cup last month, while Fleetwoodsands won four times in 11 tries for the trainer before being claimed following his last victory.

And if you had backed Pears’ runners at Beverley, you would be counting an impressive sum. Of his 47 outings, his horses have won ten – at a profitable return of £45.28 to a pound stake.

He hasn’t got money to burn. But, having made the best out of sellers and claimers, Pears is now proving he can also pick up an improving horse at a bargain price.

“We have 34 boxes,” he added of the set-up at Norton. “Things have gone really well in what are probably quite difficult times. I think it is certainly a yard on the up. Everybody seems happy. All the owners seem happy and we are doing our best.

“We have got better horses. Last year we had winners at the likes of Newmarket, Chester and Ripon whereas before we were running sellers and claimers all the time – getting the best out of them and old horses – but now we have steered away from them.

“I’ve only the odd one running in those types of races whereas before it was a rarity to run a horse in a handicap – because I knew they couldn’t win.

“We were nicking little races with cheap horses and we have made some decent purchases along the way as well – one of those being The Caped Crusader.

“He was a cheap horse – he cost £2,200 – and you have always got to have an eye for a bargain as well.

“I haven’t got owners with a lot of money to spend and I firmly believe, and I think we have proved, that you can get a decent horse without spending masses of money.

“Fleetwoodsands, for instance, cost £5,000 and won four times from 11. They are there; you don’t have to spend a lot of money.”

From York Press. By Steve Carroll

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