An Interview with Top Trainer George Boughey
‘ For me, racing is the best sport in the world,’ George Boughey says with a big smile. ‘It’s a way of life – it never stops, it’s a constant circle of horses in and out and racing.’
In August 2019, Three C’s was the first ever winner for the then-rookie trainer. That ordinary Lingfield winner was the beginning of what has swiftly proved to be an efficacious career, clocking up over 300 winners in the UK and worldwide, including numerous Listed and Graded ones. In 2022, the days were sunny at Royal Ascot days, with the yard sending out Missed The Cut to win the Golden Gate Stakes and Inver Park the Buckingham Palace Stakes. He’s won two Pretty Polly Stakes with Mystery Angel in ’21 and Via Sistina in ’23, and sent out the 1000 Guineas winner in 2022 with the talented Cachet.
From a farming background, George, 31, grew up in Sherborne, Dorset, and now lives where he trains in Newmarket from Saffron House Stables. The future of racing is safe in the hands of this charismatic, articulate and talented young trainer.
Catchet winning last year's 1000 Guineas
Did you have a horsey childhood? Horses were always around me and were trained on the farm at home but I was never a very good rider. So, training was the thing that I really wanted to do.
Which trainers have you worked for? Gai Waterhouse in Australia and then Hugo Palmer was my main boss for six years when I was assistant to him, before I started training.
What was your highlight at Hugo Palmer's? Winning the Guineas with Galileo Gold – it was the biggest day. He was a very good 2-year-old but a better three-year-old and went on to win the Saint James’ Palace at Royal Ascot as well. He's now a decent stallion at stud so he was definitely the star.
What did you do in bloodstock before training? My first jobs at yearling sales were for Tom Goff, Blandford Bloodstock and Luke Livingstone. It was great to put myself in front of lots of people and to meet even more people – in turn, it got me the job working in Australia. It snowballed from there. The breeding side of the Flat has always been a huge interest of mine and has stood me in good stead.
Which horse would you have loved to have trained? Obviously, you say Frankel but Yeats was amazing – to come back year after year to win four Gold Cups. Arguably the highlight of Royal Ascot is the Gold Cup and he was a pretty cool horse. See The Stars holds the record for the most Grade 1s in the season – he would have been right up there too.
Which race would you most like to train the winner of? There's the Derby but I’m going to go for the l’Arc de Triomphe – it's the pinnacle.
Who influenced you the most to become a trainer? The biggest influence on my career to be a trainer was Hugo Palmer.
Racing hero: Sir Henry Cecil.
Favourite jockey: William Buick and Ryan Moore.
Favourite racecourse: Both Newmarket courses would be the best – we've had plenty of success at both. We also have a great record at Bath, which I'm a big fan of.
Favourite international racecourse: We had a good winter out in Meydan, Dubai. We will be taking more horses out there – it's a great facility.
Favourite meeting: Royal Ascot is the Olympics of our sport and is where we all try to have winners.
Favourite sire: I don't really have a favourite – we've been lucky with the progeny of lots of stallions, but there's the top ones like Frankel, who's the replacement for Galileo. He's taken up all the forums first on the track and so far during his career at stud.
What are the best things about training in Newmarket? We’re very lucky to have fantastic gallops, the sales company Tattersalls in the town is a great help, two racecourses and very good veterinary practices. There's a huge amount of trade – owners – coming through on a weekly basis to see their horses on the gallops, sell or run: all of these attract a lot of people. This traffic of people coming through helps build our business.
Do you have a horse to look out for? A filly called Soprano, who was third at Royal Ascot – she is a high class 2-year-old and star of the show.
Would you ever train more jumpers? I'd love to have a few jumpers. I've had a couple of runners over hurdles but I'm sticking to the Flat for now.
Generally, what does racing do well? The main thing we can hone is having the best bloodstock. Racing lacks prize money but people come from around the world to buy our horses and we can keep going around the world to their racecourses for their prize money.
Where can improvements be made? Prize money!!!
What does racing mean to you? It's been my passion for a long time, and I feel very lucky that I'm able to get up in the morning and train a lot of horses every day. It's all I've wanted to do since I've been very young.
What is the best advice you were given about training racehorses? To keep myself in the best company and my horses in the worst.
Photo Credit: Erika Rasmusen
Is social media positive or negative? I think it can be both. Where we try and put a positive spin on it, we can reach a wide audience of people from our small base in Newmarket. I'm a big fan of social media and will use anything to help out the sport I love.
Favourite meal: I could eat pizza every day of the year.
Favourite drink: Coca-Cola is my go-to.
Favourite holiday destination: South of France.
Hobbies: I'm a keen golfer when I've got time.
*Many thanks to Old Gold Racing for the help in securing this interview. They published it first in their fabulous newsletter Racing Weekly. To sign up, go to https://mailchi.mp/2f6ba62d6182/racing-weekly-lead-capture