JOIN TOGETHER (IRE) FACTFILE
b g Old Vic – Open Cry (IRE) (Montelimar (USA))
8-11-02 Form: 321P/F11P3-72P
Owner: Ian Fogg & Paul Barber Trainer: Paul Nicholls Breeder: J D Flood
I’m grateful to Racenews for supplying factfiles for every runner in the John Smith’s Grand National. I reformat these and publish as I get them, with the first batch coming out 2 weeks before the big race on April 6th. By the eve of the National all factfiles will be published here. You can find others by clicking on the factfiles tag at the foot of this post
Join Together, born on March 16, 2005, started his career in Ireland under the care of Liam Burke, a good friend of part-owners Paul and Marianne Barber. After winning a maiden point-to-point at Inch in March, 2010, the son of Old Vic was transferred to the powerful stable of British champion trainer Paul Nicholls, for whom he finished third on his debut under Rules in an Exeter novices’ hurdle in November of the same year.
He filled the runner-up spot in a three-mile Grade Two novices’ hurdle at Cheltenham’s International meeting a month later before registering a straightforward success over the same distance at Chepstow in February, 2011. Join Together lined up in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the 2011 Cheltenham Festival but failed to land a blow and was pulled up behind future Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth. Sent chasing for the 2011/2012 campaign, Join Together made an inauspicious start over the larger obstacles at Chepstow in October, 2011, as he fell five fences from home. He made amends on his next outing at The Open at Cheltenham the following month, when he got the better of future Welsh National runner-up Teaforthree in an extended three-mile novices’ chase.
Join Together followed up with another impressive success at Cheltenham in December, 2011, but he again failed to make an impact at The Festival in 2012, as he was pulled up behind Bobs Worth, this time in the RSA Chase. He ended the season with a better effort at Aintree’s John Smith’s Grand National meeting, coming home third behind stable companion Silviniaco Conti in the John Smith’s Mildmay Novices’ Chase. Join Together has made three appearances in valuable staying handicap chases so far this term, starting with an unlucky seventh in the United House Gold Cup at Ascot in November, in which he was hampered three fences out. He enjoyed his first taste of the Grand National fences in the Betfred Becher Handicap Chase at Aintree on December 8, as he stayed on strongly to go down by a neck to Hello Bud in the three and a quarter mile contest.
Join Together warmed up for the John Smith’s Grand National with a disappointing effort in Doncaster’s Grimthorpe Chase on March 2, when he was pulled up after being badly hampered at the third fence. Race Record: Starts: 12; 1st: 3; 2nd: 2; 3rd: 2; Win & Place prize money: £65,183
Paul Barber and Ian Fogg
Paul Barber’s family have farmed near Ditcheat since the 1830s and he oversees a 2,000-strong dairy herd on 3,000 acres, having started with 150 cows on 150 acres, which now produce 45 tonnes of cheese daily for Barbers and Maryland Farmhouse Cheese, run by Paul’s brother Nicholas.
Paul – who has been allergic to cheese since the age of five – was born on December 31, 1942, on the kitchen table in the house where he still lives, stating “I’ve never thought about living elsewhere” and despite no family involvement with racing, has been an owner since his purchase in 1958 of a horse that cost £450 and had to be paid for instalments. He has never owned a Flat horse and his first winner was Crazy Slave, who scored in 1963, and his main flagbearers have been the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Denman (owned with Maggie Findlay) and the 1999 scorer See More Business.
He paid £82,000 for Denman and refuses to pay over the odds for a horse after being stung when making a couple of expensive purchases following See More Business’s success. Others to carry his colours include See More Indians, who won eight races out of 14, and the John Thorne-trained Artifice. Barber owns Nicholls’s Manor Farm Stables, initially converted from a cow shed, and his house overlooked Denman’s stable. Many of his best performers have had an initial grounding in point-to-points, either with Liam Burke in Ireland or Barber’s brother Richard – who has trained four Festival winners – at Seaborough in Dorset. Ian Fogg, 66, became an owner after moving to Ditcheat with wife Wendy in 2010.
He is involved with six horses with Nicholls and owns the winning point-to-pointer Scotch Dry And Ice, a 175,000 euros store horse purchase, with Richard Barber. He founded the Vacancy Management Company in 2001 and is the managing director of the business, which is a pharmaceutical and health care recruitment and contract employment company. He previously built up the RDL Group between 1989 and 1997 to have 650 employees before selling the company to American interests.
John Smith’s Grand National Record (Paul Barber): 1996 Deep Bramble (PU bef 29th); 1998 General Crack (PU bef 11th); 2009 Big Fella Thanks (6th); 2010 Big Fella Thanks (4th)
Paul Nicholls (Ditcheat, Somerset)
Seven-time champion jump trainer Paul Nicholls was born at Lydney, Gloucestershire, April 17, 1962 and grew up in Olveston near Bristol. He has been training at Manor Farm Stables in Ditcheat, Somerset, since taking out a licence on November 1, 1991. The policeman’s son started out in racing as a jump jockey and partnered 119 winners between 1980 and 1989, with his biggest British successes coming in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on Broadheath (1986) and Playschool (1987), who also captured the 1988 Vincent O’Brien (Irish) Gold Cup with Paul up. He struggled to keep his weight down and gave up race riding.
Between 1989 and 1991, he was assistant trainer to David Barons, who trained Boardheath and Playschool and sent out Seagram to win the 1991 Grand National at Aintree during that time. He has always trained at Paul Barber’s Manor Farm, initially with just eight horses. Nicholls, who now has over 200 horses in training, quickly made his mark as a trainer with an early highlight coming on Saturday, November 7, 1998, when pulling off the amazing feat of saddling seven winners and three seconds from 10 runners and he later made history when he became the first trainer to saddle six winners on the same card, at Wincanton, his local track, on January 21, 2006.
Another early high point in his training career came at the 1999 Cheltenham Festival when he captured the major chase on each of the three days – Flagship Uberalles scored in the Racing Post Arkle Chase, Call Equiname in the Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase the following day and, best of all, See More Business took the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup. Having strongly challenged Martin Pipe for the jump trainers’ championship over a number of years, most notably when pushing his great rival right to the last day of the 2004/05 campaign, Nicholls claimed his first title the following season and he has retained the title every season since, though he is in a fight for supremacy this season with Nicky Henderson.
Recent flag-bearers for Nicholls have included the brilliant 16-time Grade One winner Kauto Star, who became the first horse to win the William Hill King George VI Chase five times and the only chaser to regain the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival (2007 & 2009). Denman captured the 2008 Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup and twice defied top weight to win the Hennessy Gold Cup, while Master Minded gained eight Grade One victories including two renewals of the Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase. Big Buck’s has also entered the record books with 17 consecutive wins over hurdles, beating Sir Ken’s record of 16 set between 1951 and 1953, headed by an unprecedented four successive victories in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.
Nicholls celebrated a first victory in the Stan James Champion Hurdle with Rock On Ruby last year and he is currently fourth on the all time list of trainers at the Cheltenham Festival with 33 wins to his name. He became the first trainer to accrue more than £4 million in a season in 2007/08 and recorded his 2,000th winner at Down Royal on November 5, 2011, 20 years after taking out his training licence, making him the quickest to reach this landmark figure in jump racing. After saddling 52 runners in the John Smith’s Grand National, Nicholls finally recorded his first success in the great race in 2012 as Neptune Collonges beat Sunnyhillboy by a nose – the smallest winning margin in the history of the contest.
John Smith’s Grand National Record: 1992 Just So (6th); 1996 Vicompt De Valmont (10th), Deep Bramble (PU bef 2 out), Brackenfield (UR 19th); 1997 Straight Talk (Fell 14th); 1998 What A Hand (Fell 1st), Court Melody (Fell 6th), General Crack (PU 11th); 1999 Strong Chairman (15th), Double Thriller (Fell 1st), 2000 Earthmover (Fell 4th), Torduff Express (Fell 13th), Flaked Oats (Fell 20th), Escartefigue (UR 30th); 2001 Earthmover (Fell 4th); 2002 Murt’s Man (PU bef 17th), Ad Hoc (BD 27th); 2003 Montifault (5th), Fadalko (UR 6th), Ad Hoc (UR 19th), Shotgun Willy (PU bef 22nd), Torduff Express (UR 27th); 2004 Exit To Wave (PU bef 9th); 2005 Royal Auclair (2nd), Heros Collonges (8th), L’Aventure (15th), Ad Hoc (Fell 22nd); 2006 Royal Auclair (Fell 1st), Le Roi Miguel (PU bef 19th), Cornish Rebel (PU bef 19th), Silver Birch (Fell 15th), Le Duc (UR 8th), Heros Collonges (UR 15th); 2007 Royal Auclair (Fell 9th), Le Duc (UR 6th), Eurotrek (PU bef 22nd), Thisthatandtother (PU bef 30th); 2008 Cornish Sett (12th), Mr Pointment (PU bef last), Turko (Fell 25th); 2009 My Will (3rd), Big Fella Thanks (6th), Cornish Sett (17th), Eurotrek (PU 17th); 2010 Big Fella Thanks (4th), Tricky Trickster (9th), My Will (Fell 4th), Nozic (UR 20th); 2011 Niche Market (5th), Ornais (Fell 4th), The Tother One (Fell 6th), What A Friend (PU 27th); 2012 NEPTUNE COLLONGES (WON).