By Jon Lees
GB: Sean Woods has been granted a training licence following the the renovation of Shalfleet Stables in Newmarket and will be ready to send out runners in 2021 – 20 years after he last saddled a horse in Britain.
The former yard of multiple G1-winning trainer Jeremy Noseda has been significantly upgraded over the summer, with the addition of horse walkers, turnout paddocks and an indoor ride, and will have capacity for 93 horses.
Woods will start with a string of around 30, nearly all two-year-olds bought with the purpose of restoring the trainer to the heights he achieved during a ten-year stint in Britain when he saddled over 250 winners and achieved G1 success with miler Mistle Cat.
“The good news is I was granted my licence last week,” he said. “The place has been transformed in the last six months. We have put in a couple of walkers, we have ten turnout paddocks, the indoor ride and boxes are done. We have a capacity of 93.
“All the infrastructure I wanted has been put in place in the last six months. It’s been a massive effort from myself and the family and people who are close to us. It’s been one of the nicer stories of lockdown.
“People who have had horses here before have come back and been absolutely blown away. We had to remove leylandii and conifers that were choking the place up, but now it’s all functional and ready to go.”
Woods left Britain for Hong Kong in 2002 where he had sent out 279 winners with his horses winning more than HK$239 million (nearly £25m) in prize-money before he departed in 2016.
He describes Shalfleet’s location close to the Heath on the Bury Road, where John Gosden, Sir Michael Stoute, Saeed Bin Suroor and Roger Varian are near neighbours, as “the Mayfair of Newmarket”.
There are no horses in the yard yet but that time is not far off, with the licensing only just completed.
“At the moment I will have 23 yearlings which I have been buying over the last four months with the help of my brother (bloodstock agent Dwayne). We will probably only have three or four older horses.
“They will all come to Shalfleet in the first week of January – they’re being broken in at the moment. I must thank Jockey Club Estates who have gone above and beyond to be helpful.
“I’m in no rush. This is a long term thing. I need to produce very good horses and the best way to do that is with babies.
“We’ve bought some cracking yearlings, we worked bloody hard at it. We will be sent one or two by different breeders so I am really looking forward to it.”