When your luck is out, it is really out. Philip Kirby not only suffered the blow of losing several smart horses owned by Darren Yates but lost them because of a bizarre reason, with the owner citing his immense superstition as the reason for moving them to Dan Skelton.
Big-spending owner Yates has moved all but one of his horses, who include Blaklion, Don Poli and Interconnected, in search of a change in luck with Skelton receiving five horses from the ambitious owner, who won over £500,000 betting on Frankie Dettori’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ in 1996.
Both Kirby and Yates stressed there had been no falling out and, speaking after the trainer revealed the news in a blog on his website, Yates said: “Phil is one of the best up and coming trainers in the country and I’m a very, very superstitious person. Obviously with the Frankie Dettori seven out of seven, you know that I’ve been a massive punter in the past.
“We just haven’t had any luck, people from the outside will think that’s a bloody pathetic thing to say, but it’s as simple as that.
“Phil’s a fantastic guy, he’s unbelievable, he’s looked after my horses incredibly but we were just continually getting no luck and I just thought I had to try and do something to change it.
“It’s got nothing to do with Phil and Pippa’s [Kirby’s wife] ability whatsoever, they are fantastic, it’s purely that I’m a massively superstitious person and I felt we were having no luck. Phil’s a friend and it’s been heartwrenching.”
On his website, Kirby said: “We’re very sad to report that the Darren and Annaley Yates horses have left us, but wish to make clear there has been no falling out. We wish them every success with them in the future.
“It’s a major blow to lose the exciting Interconnected and the hugely talented Blaklion, along with their other lovely horses, but these things happen.”
In May Yates forked out €700,000 for a potential Classic hope at the Arqana Breeze-Up Sale, less than a fortnight before he paid £620,000 for Interconnected at Doncaster, the highest auction price ever for a jumps horse in training.
Yates is hoping for a change in fortune with his select group of expensive purchases and said: “They’re going to Dan Skelton. We’re hoping for massive things from Interconnected, we think he’s a future Gold Cup horse.
“Because of the way Phil has looked after Blaklion and Don Poli, we believe they will have a fantastic season going forward. I would expect those three to run in all the top races.”
South Seas finished last in the Lincoln after struggling with the stalls and is set to run in novice hurdles this season for Skelton, with Yates explaining: “He’s got a massive stalls problem which, to be perfectly honest, was probably hidden a little bit. There’s no future for him in the stalls, he’s very claustrophobic. He’ll never be happy and the last thing I want is an unhappy horse.”
Yates, who also has the previously mentioned €700,000 two-year-old with David Simcock and a couple of horses elsewhere, has allowed Kirby to keep My Strong Man, who the trainer and his wife bred. “I’ve let them keep him because they’re quite sentimental about him, so hopefully they have massive luck with him.”
On why he chose Skelton as the lucky recipient of his select group of horses, Yates added: “I’m a big sports follower and I love the way the father won a gold medal at the Olympics, I think it’s amazing for the family that he got there.
“The set up is great, and his brother being the stable jockey is such a massive plus, he’s one of the best jockeys in the country. I like the way he’s sort of kept it in the family. You’ve got Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson and now you’re talking about Dan Skelton in the same breath.”