Within the space of a month Newmarket's racehorse training community is set to lose its second well-known name following the news that the popular Hugh Collingridge is to quit training only a matter of weeks after another well known senior handler, Paul Howling, handed in his license, writes Elliot Slater.
Although he wouldn't be known to the average man in the street, Collingridge has been a long-standing part of the fixtures and fittings of the Newmarket racing community where he rents the Harraton Court Stables from well know jockey Darryll Holland. In recent years Collingridge has been finding it increasingly hard to make ends meet as prize money levels have dropped in real terms and the day-to-day cost of training racehorses has increased significantly.
63-year-old Collingridge has held a trainer's license for over 30 years and during the 1980s enjoyed notable successes when his smart performer Buzzard's Bay won both the QEII Stakes and the Royal Hunt Cup, while towards the end of the decade his Cuvee Charlie famously landed the Lincoln Handicap.
Former champion jumps jockey Richard Dunwoody has rightly drawn attention to the plight of a trainer who represents something of a litmus test for other handlers of his ilk, and has pointed out how Collingridge, an easy going, gentle man, has become frustrated and disillusioned with the sport as a whole. The Exning handler lays much of the blame at the door of those who are governing the sport and have willingly overseen the steep reduction in prize-money and the reshaping of the racing schedule that he believes is turning middle-of-the-road owners away from the sport and causing smaller trainers to face financial ruin. If this is true, it should be cause for concern for anyone who likes a horse racing bet.
Put in such terms it is sad indeed that Collingridge is leaving the training ranks, and if his predictions are true he will probably be the first of many to shut up shop in the coming year.