If you are needing a horseracing trainer, then Micky Hammond is one of the best in the business. The knowledge he has gained from being one of the top jump jockeys in the 1980s combined with his ability to get the best out of horses on all levels, is what makes his approach to training one of a kind.
Where it all began
Despite his success as a jockey and trainer, Micky wasn’t brought up in the world of horseracing. When he was 16 and about to leave school, he was unsure of what career he should pursue. Micky was only 5ft tall and weighed about 7 stone, which made him the right shape and size to become a jockey.
Micky then wrote to Brian Swift, the trainer who was based at Epsom, enquiring about becoming an apprentice jockey, and Swift arranged for an interview. In the meantime, he family’s milk lady mentioned this to local trainer TM Jones and he suggested that Micky should come to the yard at the weekends and help out whilst he was in his final year at school.
Micky worked every weekend and soon learned the basics of horse care, as well as learning to ride. Towards the end of the school year, Mr Jones went to see Micky’s parents and suggested he went there when he left school, rather than Brian Swift’s. Micky chose Mr Jones, so he could stay at home whilst he worked.
Micky stayed there for four years, developing his riding skills and learning the ropes of horse management. He had three rides on the flat as an apprentice, the last of these being a ride in Bath, in a race which was Richard and Michael Hill’s first ever ride for their father, Barry.
The switch to jumping
Between the ages of 16 and 19, Micky grew from 5ft to 5ft 7, and from 7st to 9st, making it clear that he was unlikely to make it as a flat jockey. He then decided to go and work for Hugh O’Neill at Coldharbour, a 30-strong jumping yard, where Mickey became a stable worker. He then went on to be a conditional jockey and had his first jump rides. He became so successful, he went on to ride out his claim with about 70 winners over three seasons.
Unfortunately, when riding around the southern tracks in 1985, Mickey was hit in the back by another horse when jumping over hurdles, resulting in him breaking two vertebrae. He was told his back was too inflamed to treat, meaning he had to go to hospital. As a result, Micky only rode four winners that last season.
The move North and how Micky became a top class jump jockey
After his injury at O’Neill’s, Micky got back in touch with a man named George Dawes, who had previously offered him a job in Middleham. Dawes had his horses with George Moore, and invited Micky up for a job as a lad.
In 1985/86, Micky rode Hardy Lad to win the Scottish national at Ayre, and since then, he has never looked back on his career. He went on to pick up many of the best rides from the various Middleham tariners and other jumps trainers in the North, including Mrs Monica Dickinson, Arthur “WA” Stephenson, Jumbo Wilkinson, Capt Neville Crump, Chris Thornton and Jimmy Fitzgerald.
Micky rode 63 winners in 1987/88 season, and was lying second to Peter Scudamore in the jockey’s title, until he broke his leg for the first time in April 1988. Although Micky returned again in March 1989, he decided to retire from race-riding on 1 January 1990 in order to become a trainer.
A Skilful Trainer
Micky’s skills as a trainer shone right from the get go, especially his eye to spot a horse with a lot of potential, and by showing the right attitude. An example of this is Valiant Warrior, who he bought for just 4,000 guineas. Micky went to sales specifically for him, as he had ran before in races, but was a bit of a rogue. After being trained at Micky Hammond, he went on to win 9 races in the rest of his career, and he was never out of the first 3 finishers in just his first 19 races with Micky.
Established at the top
Towards the end of the 1990s, Micky was regularly amongst the top 10 trainers, and one of the leading lights in the North. He was expanding and moved into Oakwood Stables, his present home, in 1997.
With horses skilfully nurtured like Sir Peter Lely, who was fourth in the Grand National in 1996 (claimed off the Flat), Deep Water who won the Glenlivet Hurdle at Aintree and over £100,000 in prize money, Outset who won a number of good handicaps including the Oddbins Hurdle, Turgeonev, who went on to win the Victor Chandler Chase for Tim Easterby, and Colourful Life and Heidi III, who both won the Great Yorkshire Chase, Micky was showing he had all the necessary skills to deliver success. His high to date was 6 winners in a single day in 1996.
A break from racing, but back firing on all cylinders
In 2001, Micky took a year out after his marriage to Alex unfortunately broke down. He returned to training at Oakwood in 2002, but obviously had to start from scratch.
Since then Oakwood Stables has been home to some of the most popular dual purpose horses in training, with the likes of Mr Crystal, Fair Spin, Pertuis and Dawn Ride regularly visiting the winners enclosure. The stable team have an incredible attitude and continue to achieve excellent results. Micky has slowly but surely improved the quality of horses, and has recently returned to the levels of success he consistently saw in the 1990s.
2015 was his most successful Flat season ever, while the jumps team have been performing miracles, having their best season since 1997/98 thanks to multiple winners Roxyfet, Auldthunder, Verko and Caraline, who all made incredible progress.
The improvement in quality is reflected by the likes of the hugely exciting and progressive chaser Just Cameron, who finished second to Arkle winner Un De Sceaux in a Grade 1 at the Punchestown Festival, and was sixth in the 2016 Queen Mother Champion Chase, Alderbrook Lad, a winner of seven races and over £60,000 in prize money who Micky bought at the 2013 Doncaster sales for just £8,500, the classy Rathlin, who has run with great credit over Aintree’s Grand National fences and Libby Mae, a first time out bumper winner who went on to make excellent progress over timber.
If you have any questions for Micky, or are interested in learning more about a stable tour or racehorse ownership, please feel free to contact him.