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Newmarket's Lucky Clover

An Interview with Royal Ascot Winning Trainer Tom Clover

 

Luck might not come into training racehorses but rather hard work, venture and passion. Newmarket trainer Tom Clover was completing his higher education at the Royal Agriculture University in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, when he grabbed at the chance of getting into the racing industry.

‘I have no real family connections to racing,’ explains Tom. ‘One of my mum’s cousins was a jockey and lots of friends of the family were involved in racing.’ He remembers growing up around horses and attending point-to-points in East Anglia; how racing was never far away. ‘My Godfather sponsored the horses of the late Jim Lewis and I very fondly remember watching Best Mate’s three Cheltenham Gold Cups.’

After working his way up the proverbial ladder, Tom, 38, trained out of a couple of premises before, in 2019, settling at Kremlin House, where his late, legendary father-in-law Michael Jarvis trained a long list of big winners. Tom’s wife Jackie had come home – she is a huge part of the yard’s success, Tom’s righthand woman and very knowledgeable from a lifetime alongside racehorses.

Tom has already ticked off his own big winners. At Royal Ascot in 2023, Rogue Millennium won the Group 2 Duke of Cambridgeshire, ridden by Davis Tudhope and owned by The Rogues Gallery. She was also second at Leopardstown in the Group 1 Matron Stakes. This added to her ’22 win in the Oaks Trial, a Listed race, at Lingfield and was the yard’s first runner in a Classic when finishing a creditable seventh in the Oaks. Celsius has won seven races so far, including the Tatler Handicap at Glorious Goodwood in ‘19 and the Moët & Chandon Handicap at Newmarket’s July meeting in ‘22.

Tom and Jackie have a three-year-old daughter Elizabeth and one year old son George, plus a Labrador called Margaux. Something whispers that the Clover Family are all in this ride together and more big winners will not be far away. 

The Clovers at Christmas 2023


Did you have a horsey childhood? During my childhood in Suffolk, there were lots of ponies, long hacks and going hunting.

 

Did you have any childhood racing heroes? I was growing up in a time when Martin Pipe was doing very well over jumps and I always thought it was extraordinary how he revolutionised the game with interval training.

Jockey-wise, I loved watching AP McCoy doing so well over jumps. On the Flat, I always really really admired Sir Henry Cecil. He was always so charismatic at his job, was a really talented trainer and a lovely man.

 

How did you get into racing? Ever since I was very little, racing always captured my imagination. I was fascinated, and wanted to try and get involved in it. I wasn't sure how to do this, as it's often handed down from generation to generation.

I had a point-to-pointer, and I was about to leave Cirencester and go work in property but then I thought that if I don't try and give it a go now, I never would. I got a job at Charlie Longsdon and never looked back from there.

 

Were you ever jockey? I had a few rides, but I wouldn't say I was a jockey. I had one winner at Chaddesley Corbett, which was great. I loved it but my horse got a leg and I didn't get another one!

 

What trainers have you worked for? I stayed at Charlie Longsdon’s for three years, starting off as pupil assistant and working my way up to assistant. Then, I went to work for David and Jenny Simcock. I loved working there, and was assistant there for five and a half years.

 

When did you begin training in your own name? When I met my now-wife Jackie, we had a couple of years training at the bottom of Warren Hill at Lydia Pearce’s where her son Simon now trains and then we moved to Saville House, to Willie Musson's, for a year. At the time, Simon Crisford was renting ‘Kremlin’, where Jackie grew up, and he moved out. We moved in in 2019, renting half the yard ourselves and renting the other half out; we've been here ever since.

 

Favourite racecourse: It's hard to single one out. I love Ascot, especially Royal Ascot. I also love Newmarket’s July and Rowley Mile, particularly the July Course.

 

Favourite meeting: Royal Ascot is the biggest meeting for us.

 

What is the best aspect to training in Newmarket? There's so many! We're lucky to have so much here. In Newmarket, we have the most amazing facilities you could possibly wish for. There’s such an array of different gallops to use, which are maintained beautifully.

 

What has been your best day training so far? Winning at Royal Ascot was very special indeed. The moment will always be right up there. All the family were there, plus it was a special day for the owners, who had done a lot for us at the time.

I also love the whole thing about racing – I really love being around the staff we have, riding out a lot or two with them. As well as seeing the horses improve and change, and hopefully bringing them on from a young horse to have really lovely racehorse down the line. Another aspect I really love is seeing the horses every day.  It’s in my blood somewhere, I love everything.

What race would you most like to train the winner of? The Derby.

 

What does racing mean to you? I just think it's a fantastic industry where you get people from all walks of life coming together through a shared love of racing. It's a wonderful family – we've got lots and lots of friends in the industry, and I think it does so much for so many people.

 

Horse to follow for the season: Penelope Valentine.

 

Would you ever train jumpers? I really enjoy training Flat horses but we do have the odd jumps runner and had a point-to-point runner, which was great fun. I will continue to concentrate more on the Flat but if a few jumpers come my way then that would be great too.

 

Generally, what does racing do well? Racing is very good at looking after people going through difficult times. Everyone looks after the ones who aren't having an easy time of it.

 

Where can improvements be made? There's lots that racing does well: we have some of the most fantastic racecourses in the world that attract lots of people and are admired but ultimately, the prize money is not good enough.

 

What was the best advice were you given about training racehorses? Patience is the most important thing; quoting David Simcock, who would always tell me to be patient and then he’d add, ‘you'll get the best out of your horses if you are patient’.

 

Favourite meal: I like having a really nice Sunday lunch with my friends.

Favourite drink: Red wine.

Favourite snack: It’s seasonal but Mini Eggs.

Favourite holiday destination: Barbados.

Other hobbies and interests: I try to have a few days shooting and hunting, and I really enjoy the English Test cricket team.

Favourite music: I like lots of different music – everything really.

Favourite book: I like reading nonfiction about interesting people, like CEOs, and true lives, or books on World War Two or how the SAS formed. I’ve just finished one on Elon Musk, which was really good. Another one I enjoyed was Bob Iger’s about the founding of Walt Disney.

Favourite film: A Good Year, which is a bit soppy!


*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


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