PHILIPPI-based trainer Mike Robinson has achieved remarkable results with a small string, and he’s launched a media drive to get new owners into his yard. Robinson is the subject of today’s “Seven Questions” column. (TURF TALK)
1 Give us some background for readers who don’t know you. You learnt your skills from some of the best in the business?
I have been very fortunate to have worked under three super trainers before I went on my own. I started working as a groom for Mike Stewart back in the day. That was my grounding to start with and then I worked for a brilliant horseman couple, Chris and Sue Snaith. After that I spent many a year with the legend Dennis Drier.
2 There are rules of basic horsemanship. In your experience, and given your exposure to different taskmasters, what are two
aspects that are most important to you in a racing yard?
To be kind to your horses and owners and to stick to basics.
3 You have based your media promotions in part on a ‘family’ stable. Explain.
We are all horse crazy and we have all grown up with horses. Once they are in your blood it’s hard to get rid of it. My wife Luella basically grew up on a horse’s back so we like to keep it as a family orientated business as she is brilliant around horses. My daughter Caitlin loves them too and she is a brilliant rider. I find it very important to have a woman’s touch in the yard. They sometimes see things us men don’t.
4 Tell us about the special horses you have trained
I have had a few special horses in my stable and a few that I worked with in my previous years as an assistant trainer but I would probably say that Blarney Bay was probably one that stands out the most. He was a crowd favourite and gave us plenty of joy. He was probably also one of the most challenging to train but we loved him to bits.
5 Racing, and specifically small stables, are going through a tough time. Do you think the small trainer will have a role to play in future?
Most definitely. The industry needs the small trainer and sadly they aren’t being properly supported or at least given the opportunity to prove themselves. They sometimes don’t have the buying power and are sometimes not that fortunate to train a well bred horse. We have to make do with what we have to compete against the big yards and it is very
6 What do you think can be done to attract new blood, supporters and owners, to racing?
Tough question. A lot needs to be done but I think the only way to attract new blood is to increase stakes and offer bigger and better incentives. Money talks, as they say. The racing operators need to dangle bigger carrots out there and the crowds will come
running. The cost of living keeps going up but nothing lucrative is being offered in return.
7 What do you think of merit ratings being raised by 10 points?
I can not understand the logic behind this. The word “merit rating” is like a swear word to most owners and trainers. You never know what you getting punished with after a win or a place in the first place so why do they want to irritate us more?