Since saddling his first runners in 1989 Mick Channon has established himself as one of the most successful in his profession and, after purchasing the historic West Ilsley Stables in 1999, he's been a regular top-six finisher in the British Flat Trainers' Championship.
He purchased his first horse, Cathy Jane, when he was at the height of his career as a professional footballer and the Bill Wightman trained filly landed the Brown Jack Stakes at Ascot in 1973.
It was the start of something Mick himself had no idea would escalate into one of the most highly-polished and successful training operations in the country.
Once football finished with Mick, his brother Philip and several of his close friends suggested he'd better "Get off his arse and stop feeling sorry for himself" and work out what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. Having spent nearly twenty years as an owner-breeder, his hobby seemed to be the most logical option for his second professional career. So, after a struggle to secure a licence whilst Assisting John Baker in Devon and Ken Cunningham Brown in Hampshire, he eventually struck out alone with just ten horses in Lambourn in 1989.
Mick is the first to admit that we all need a touch of luck and after only five years in the game one horse, in particular, provided a springboard to success. Piccolo took the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York in 1994, before going on to win the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot the following year.
The likes of the brilliant, but ill-fated Bint Allayl proved that Piccolo's exploits were no fluke and soon, the Lambourn operation grew to such an extent that it was time to move on. The opportunity to move to West Ilsley was fortuitous, but again fate granted a window of opportunity and from the famous old yard Mick cemented his reputation as a talented handler of juvenile fillies. Queen's Logic, Silca's Sister, Flashy Wings, Silca Chiave, Majestic Roi, Lahaleeb, Music Show and Nayarra have all proved high-class performers with Pattern successes to their names.
That is not to say Mick hasn't been able to reap a rich harvest of success with colts. The talented Tobougg, owned by Sheikh Ahmed, paved the way for other memorable Group 1 performers such as Imperial Dancer and the Jaber Abdullah-owned Zafeen.
In recent years, Youmzain was the stable's flagbearer, performing admirably in the World's premier middle distance events. Twice a winner at the top level, the Sinndar entire became a renowned Group 1 performer, three times finishing runner-up in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, as well as twice coming second in The King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot and Epsom's Coronation Cup. Youmzain was simply an inspirational horse. Costing £33,000, his career earnings totalled almost £4 million. As Mick insists, "You always have a chance."
Over half of the West Ilsley training string is represented by two-year-olds every year and Mick continues to unearth promising juveniles season upon season. Indeed, Queen's Logic, Zafeen, Nahoodh, Music Show and Malabar are examples of the top class horses sourced and developed at Hodcott, with hope springing eternal that several of our new team of juveniles can go on to emulate their feats of success at the highest level.
Samitar, bred by our close allies at Norman Court Stud was purchased by Gill Richardson and Mick for thirty-nine thousand guineas and went on to win the Albany at Royal Ascot as a juvenile before going on to achieve the ultimate.
Her victory in the Irish 1,000 Guineas in 2012 saw Mick finally realise his lifetime's ambition - he was a Classic Winner at long last.
Contact details: West Ilsley Stables, West Ilsley, Newbury, Berkshire, RG20 7AE
Tel: +44 (0) 1635 281166
Mobile: +44 (0) 7785 258494
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