Owners don’t come any better than Julie Wood, who is starting her twentieth season with us.
Julie has had over 150 horses here and nearly 150 winners. That’s good going by any standards, but among them have been horses as good as Gilded and Strong Suit, who both won Group races at Royal Ascot, and Chandlery, Olympic Glory and Zebedee, who all won at that level at Glorious Goodwood, as did Strong Suit. She’s also had the winners of some of the big sales races.
Julie would be the first to admit that her first two horses weren’t much good, but she stuck with it and luckily for both of us along came If Paradise, whose success you could say opened the floodgates.
Recalling how she first became involved at Herridge Julie says: “It all started at a Lambourn open day, after which my husband Chris bought me a horse with Rupert Arnold. “Rupert took up his position with the National Trainers Federation shortly afterwards, without having run him, and then while we were at a lunch somewhere it was suggested that if we were looking for a good trainer of two-year-olds we should go to Richard Hannon. “We gave Richard a call and although the horse we took with us wasn’t up to much. the welcome was fantastic, and so was everything about the whole set-up. The Hannons are renowned as great hosts, and right from the start we’ve always had a great time with them, both in season and out of it.”
Julie was in her fourth season when If Paradise came along, and he proved the catalyst for ownership on a much grander scale. She says: “We were looking for another yearling, and I fancied a Compton Place. If Paradise was available, and he was our first winner, at Leicester second time out. Two starts later he won the Weatherbys Super Sprint at Newbury, and the following year he won the Field Marshal Stakes.“We had only had one horse at a time until then, but he got us going and we decided to go into it in bigger numbers.”
Jullie calculates she has won 11 Group races and 16 black-type races. She’s also had three Group 1 placings with Strong Suit, who is one of four to have gone on to enjoy second careers as stallions, which she describes as “pretty amazing really”.Every one of the big wins has been special, but she says it’s been special enough for her just to have horses who good enough to take part in those races - the winning has been a bonus.
Julie has never minded selling her best horses when the time has been right, and she sold Strong Suit to Qatar Racing after he won the Lennox Stakes and Olympic Glory to Sheikh Joaan after he won the Veuve Clicquot Vintage Stakes.
Strong Suit would have been the horse of a lifetime for many owners, but there’s no question in her mind that Olympic Glory was the best she’s had. She has no regrets however at him winning a QEII, a Lockinge and a Foret carrying someone else’s silks. She says: “I knew early on that he was going to be the best horse I’d ever owned. He won the same Goodwood maiden as Chandlery, who went on to win the Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, and whereas Chandlery was a big galloping horse, Olympic Glory won it with a really good turn of foot. “He was beaten only by Dawn Approach in the Coventry and he then went on to win the Vintage Stakes too. That was the right time to move him on and it secured his future as a stallion. “I have no regrets at all about selling him and I got no end of pleasure from seeing him do so well afterwards. I want any horse I sell to stay at a decent level and have a decent home.”
Julie has always reinvested and says: “At our peak we had 36 horses in training, as well as yearlings with David Powell at Catridge Farm Stud, so it was quite a set up. We did have a chat about spreading the horses around a bit, but it was all going so well with the Hannons that we decided to stay where we were. When Richard senior handed over it all went seamlessly and so our relationships haven’t changed at all. “Richard senior is an amazing guy and we were immediately impressed by his attention to detail and the way he got the best out of every horse and often put black type into an ordinary pedigree. There are a lot more young owners now, but our relationship is the same with Richard, and senior still takes a close interest so it works very well.”
Numbers are lower now, but Julie remains involved on a significant scale and the Olympic Glory connection continues in 2019, for she is very hopeful of a good season with his colt Glory, who was second at Ascot and Newmarket as a juvenile. She says: “Glory has strengthened up since last year and I think he’ll get more of a trip than his father. He’s got the same great attitude and is one to look forward to.“I’ve also got four two-year-olds, and I love going to the yard to see how they are developing physically and then watching them on the gallops. They are all going the right way, which is as much as you can ask at this stage of the year.”
It’s too soon to say if there might be another Royal Ascot or Glorious Goodwood contender among them, but you never know. Let’s hope so.