Rising star Boughey ready to take another step forward
With the Flat turf season complete and the year ready to draw to a close, there can be few 2021 success stories that gathered pace as quickly as the career of Newmarket-based George Boughey
The 29-year-old took out his licence in July 2019 after spells with Australian trainers Gai Waterhouse and Lloyd Williams and a six-year stint as assistant to Hugo Palmer.
Boughey’s first winner came the month after his licence was granted and since then the yard has followed a steep upward trajectory, multiplying in terms of horses, runners and winners returned.
The trainer’s 2021 aim had been to better last year’s final total of 26 domestic winners, something well and truly exceeded and which includes several significant overseas triumphs.
“I think it probably goes without saying that it’s been a better year than we could have expected,” he said.
“Our aims were to have a stakes winner and have more winners than last year – we’ve had over 80 domestics winners and a couple of stakes winners in France, so it’s been a great year really.”
The yard’s runners took no time to hit their stride as the turf season began and early in the campaign another of Boughey’s aims was realised as Mystery Angel provided him with his first stakes winner when taking the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket in May.
Mystery Angel was then aimed at the Oaks at Epsom in June – a race for which she was only regarded as a 50-1 chance but one she certainly held her own in when finishing second behind Aidan O’Brien’s Snowfall.
Stablemate Oscula also impressed when winning the Woodcote Stakes on the same day, a performance that was the beginning of her ascent into Group company and one that marked a particularly memorable day for Nick Bradley Racing owner of both fillies.
“I think Mystery Angel winning the Pretty Polly was sort of a stamp at the start of the year, we’d had a few two-year-old winners by then but to have a three-year-old go and win a Classic trial was massive,” he said.
“Then the second in the Oaks I think was probably the defining day of our year, Oscula also won the Woodcote in quite a decent field so I think that day was a real highlight.”
Oscula went on to perform with great consistency in Group events through the season, gaining four placings and providing Boughey with his first Pattern winner when taking the Group Three Prix Six Perfections at Deauville in August as stablemate Hellomydarlin finished fifth.
Corazon, another Nick Bradley-owned filly, was a further Group success when taking the Prix d’Arenberg at the same French track in September. But it is the recent overseas exploits of Highclere Racing’s Cachet that provided a fitting end to Boughey’s breakthrough season.
The two-year-old, runner-up in the Group Two Rockfel Stakes, travelled to Del Mar to represent the stable in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and did her connections proud when beaten just a length into fourth in a tightly-bunched finish.
“The Breeders’ Cup is somewhere I’d always dreamt of having a runner, let alone having a winner, and for about three-quarters of the race we looked like we might have won it,” Boughey said.
“To finish with a length behind in the Breeders’ Cup with Cachet was a huge, huge accolade to everyone in the yard.”
Many of the trainer’s wins are made all the more notable by the modest sums for which his high-calibre horses are purchased, with his partnership with Nick Bradley proving to be a particularly fruitful one when Mystery Angel, purchased for £22,000, was sold for 500,000 guineas at Tattersalls earlier in December.
“Mystery Angel was £22,000, Oscula was unsold at £4,000 and was bought as a private breeze-up, while with Corazon, Nick and I bought him for £11,000 and he won the Group Three in France.
“We haven’t had huge budgets and it’s fun to have lots of success with cheaper horses, we’ve also had Khatm, who has won seven races and he was bought for £8,000, so he was a success bought from one of those drafts.
“We’d have about 100 horses in this year, which is great. It’s always been a bit of a policy of mine to try to buy and sell at every sale, we sold plenty of horses in the October sale and bought some, we’ll have a big draft in February and restock for next year in a sense.”
Boughey has done markedly well with two-year-olds and while he intends to purchase more juveniles to uphold that prosperous niche, he is also hopeful his current intake will mature into useful three-year-olds to run alongside winter acquisitions from the big breeding operations.
“A lot of the horses were bought to be active at two and they were active at two. With their pedigrees and their physique it might be tricky for them next year, but Oscula is an example of a filly who may end up in Dubai or Saudi Arabia through the winter as she is very tough and resilient,” he said.
“We’ve bought a number of castoffs from Shadwell and Godolphin over the winter and they’ll be some fun three-year-olds going forward.
“When we started it was very much about trying to have winners wherever we could and trying to improve horses and we’re certainly not going to go away from that, but it’s also about the bigger horses now.
“It’s about the good horses, that’s what attracts the bigger owner and that’s what all of my staff and I want to be training. The better type of horses and having results on the bigger days is where we’re heading hopefully.”
Naturally the target for next season is to surpass this year’s final tally of winners, but there are surely more Group successes to be had and Boughey regards Cachet the most likely to impress next term.
“Again, it’s to try to basically get the best out of everything that we have,” he said of his chief 2022 target.
“In terms of winners we’ve set the bar pretty high and if we were able to have a similar number of winners and continue to have stakes horses that would be great.
“Obviously we want to win a Group One, but I’m a realist, the horses that we have at the moment have to take a big jump forward to get there. But we’re doing all we can so that they can do so.
“I think Cachet has to be the star of the show really this year and she’s a physical (specimen) who I don’t hope will go on, I expect she’ll go on.
“She’s a decent-sized filly with a pedigree that suggests she’ll make a good three-year-old and she’ll start in something like the Nell Gwynn all being well.
“She’s currently having a winter break, but she’ll be back in January and she’s a very exciting filly I think. Oscula obviously is too, they were two of the better fillies over that distance this year and they’re both very exciting.”
Alongside Nick Bradley Racing and Highclere, two of the most successful racing syndicates in Britain, Boughey has also received support from Amo Racing, the burgeoning operation of Kia Joorabchian.
These are prosperous links for a young trainer to forge and Boughey is very aware of the importance of both the owners that have backed him and the staff that aid him on a daily basis.
“To be training for one of those alone is an honour in such an early stage of my career, let alone the three of them,” he said.
“They have been massive supporters and hopefully will continue to be so as long as we keep training winners for them, it should be a lot of fun.
“We have been incredibly lucky from the start, my head lad Ady Rogers worked with me at Hugo’s and was with Sir Michael Stoute and Sir Henry Cecil before that.
“He’s a great rock, we talk a lot about the horses and he’s someone on the ground the whole time who has been there, seen it and done it.
“We’ve also got a very good team of young riders, many of whom have ridden winners, so that just makes everything a lot easier for a trainer.”
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