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You're listening to episode two of Tiger Road, The People's Choice, a six part podcast series from Artie's documentary in One in Ireland, has won his second national. My name is Lamebrain and together with my colleague Michael Lawlis, we've been following Tiger Gold and all those who've played a part in his life. What's an extra day without Tiger? At the end of Episode one, Tiger Rory or like 1975, had just been sold in December 2010 as an eight and a half month old form.
My name is John Ferguson, bloodstock advisor to Shaikh Mohammed for many years, purchase Tiger as a foal for seventy thousand dollars and last time John Company like that.
And when Tiger Royal came out of his box as a full at the sales, he was a little bit on the small side, as he still is, but he was very athletic, very athletic. When Gerry O'Brien did a half share deal of his fall Tiger role, it was Sheikh Mohammed who owned the other half as he owned Tigers father the stallion authorised. So when the sheikh purchased Tiger role at the fall sale, he now owned all of Tiger all.
There were many different reasons why we bought Tiger owners of. So number one, it was authorised who is a stallion that Sheikh Mohammed owned, and it was his second crop of foals that year. So nobody knew at the time whether authorised is going to be a great stallion or not. And therefore it was important to support the market, to show confidence to breeders that we felt that authorised was a stallion that was going to go places. So we were looking for good looking sons of authorised.
The other factor was that Tiger chose pedigree was one that appealed to us. So was a pedigree we knew well, and it was a pedigree that have class.
When the hammer came down in the sale of Tiger, all his breeder, Gerry O'Brien, said his goodbyes. Tiger was now going to a new home, a Godolphin yard in, of all places, County Tipperary. My name is George Osborne.
I'm managing director of Godolphin Ireland. The irony of it in some ways, though, he was born in Tipperary, brought over to the UK to be sold and put on a transporter to go back to Tipperary again, to be reared. But it came back to the backlash against the odds and joined the team here.
Tiger was no part of a global family, and his new home for the next twelve months was Godolphin Balli Shihan Stud just outside Cashel and County Tipperary, where he joined dozens of other young foals were part of the Godolphin Group, the largest thoroughbred operation to world has ever seen.
From an Irish point of view, we've got eight stud farms, over 700 horses in Ireland, 250 employees. And that's just the Irish operation. We're in the UK, we're in France, we're in Japan, we're in Australia, in America and Dubai. So it's massive in scale. Tiger always was part of that part of a very big, big team.
It can be hard to get your head around all of this. Godolphin is a billion euro global horse racing operation, thousands of horses, hundreds of foals, dozens of training yards and all spread across the world. And in 2011, Tiger Role was a young foal.
In the midst of all of this, Tiger's new owner, Sheikh Mohammed, is amongst the super rich, the ruler of Dubai and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates. The sheikh has an estimated fortune in excess of 18 billion euros. And as Greg Ward, racing correspondent for The Guardian newspaper, explains, he's transformed Dubai.
He's the ruler of Dubai and has been for many, many years. He was actually the third son of the previous ruler of Dubai. That's he was the crown prince who is the anointed heir. And he's been hugely influential in transforming Dubai over the last 30 or 40 years from what quite a small economy, but one that's based on oil to a huge tourist destination, the financial hub for the Middle East. Dubai Ports is now, I think, the biggest interchange, the biggest hub on the planet.
He transformed the fact the famous skyline with its skyscrapers. It's all been done basically in the last thirty years.
The sheikh has six wives and at least 25 children, and he's currently in the news in relation to some very serious allegations, namely the alleged abduction and confinement of two of his daughters, princesses Hamza and Latifa.
And for a campaign of intimidation and harassment against his youngest wife, Princess Haya, the sheikh denies all these allegations. And Godolphin continues to compete in horse racing around the world.
Godolphin is the main racing operation of Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai. He set it up over twenty five years ago now as a way to promote Dubai as a destination for tourists and a way of bringing a lot of his bloodstock operations under sort of one banner and branding it all in the same way. Godolphin, they are sort of sponsored by Emirates Airline. They have blue collars, royal blue colours, and it's been hugely successful over the last 25 years.
Back in 2010, the Godolphin dream for Tiger all when they bought him. Would have been similar to Tiger's father authorised to win the richest, fastest flat race in Britain, the Epsom Derby, and then retire to start earning millions of euros in the process. But right now, in December 2010, Tiger was only starting out in the Godolphin operation with George Osborne in County Tipperary, Tiger.
All would have been here from December of his full year until the following autumn.
Balakian Stud is some playground for any young horse to grow up and over 500 acres of beautifully manicured paddocks and stables with rich grazing and gold and vale soils.
And this is where Tiger came once Godolphin had bought them.
We bought a handful of foals there that would have come back here with them. So what we would tend to do is he'd come back here with transport, get off the box and just stay with his group of companions for those first couple of weeks just to get settled in here. Come in at Night-Time, just get back out for exercise and grass during the day and then by the middle of January, then he'd be on the same routine. The stress of that is 20 hours a day just comes in in the morning, time gets fed and groomed, checked over and turned back out again.
And there's no routine right.
The way through to the end of the summer of this period in Tiger's life was all about growing up. These were his days of running free and open paddocks with foals and young horses of his own age.
The Balakian Stud staff, including George Osborne, all noticed one thing about Tiger.
We would keep notes on him right to way through and consistently from that. He was expected at the sales and right, which was the one phrase that kept being used, was good mover.
Throughout the spring, summer and early autumn of 2011, the good moving tiger began to really float around 12 to 18 months of age. Horses are like teenagers sprouting up fast and beginning to fill out.
Tiger was now about 1100 pounds and weighs and almost 16. Hanns tall, which is about five and a half foot to his back. By the time he he was the finished article, he was just under sixteen hands. That isn't actually a small horse by any standards. Learning is that some of those horses that are well conformed tend to look a bit smaller, that they're all the proportions are right. That is a good size and good weight.
When he was with us know about 18 months old in the autumn of 2011, the as of yet unnamed Tiger, all departed Balakian Stud bound for Newmarket towards the east coast of England, where Sheikh Mohammed UK training stables are based. Tiger would first enter a pre training phase in the Hamilton Hillyard where he'd be broken. That's where a saddle is first placed in his back and a rider gets to sit on top of him.
So I'm Tim Denef and I used to work at the free training at Hamilton Hill. I do remember him as a yearling. It was quite a neat, compact little horse, to be honest, from the word go with an absolute pro. Everything we did with him, he talked to very well. Basically, when they come in, they come in from the start to handled, but they haven't had a saddle.
They haven't had a rider on.
We knew the first man up in his back. No, I wasn't. I was sort of in charge of the breaking in there, but I wasn't the first to ride him away. It was a chap called Peter Gunn who rode him away.
Right. Well, my name's Peter Gunn. I felt for want of a better thing is I was the guy that broke in Tiger role. You know, I'm proud of it.
Peter Gone has been breaking horses for years for Godolphin. As Peter drives us to where Tiger was stabled, you get a sense of this place. It's pristine behind locked gates, white picket fences, long avenues, fenced off paddocks, which was well maintained as any golf course, a place where no expense is spared in the search for the next champion racehorse.
And in actual fact, the bit that sticks out, that was his stable there. So this was the pre train in Hamilton Hill, Gainsborough Stables. That's where he was trained. So that's what they're driving by now. And looks almost like a hotel, doesn't it? So this is where Tiger all would have spent, I would say, 90 percent of his time with us being exercised on account of that. I'm just about to show you now. Once Tiger had arrived over to Newmarket, he was given a few days to settle in thoroughbred race.
Horses, by their nature, are highly strong. The DNA in a horse is fight or flight in the wild. There were a hunted species, so they had to learn to fight or run away.
The first time I saw in, you know, my own first impressions were it was just a typical yearling of Sheikh Mohammed Compact. It was a nice horse.
Tiger was now a big boy, at least physically. But like all horses his age, he was mentally. Immature and all these new surroundings, new people, new voices. It took him a bit of time to settle into all of that tiger.
He was a lively little critter, that's for sure. But you did have to have your wits about you when you was around him. You just had to be thinking on your feet quite rapidly if you're going to be stable. When he was tied up and say, for instance, you tripped over your bucket or anything like he would run backwards, break the string and panic. He wasn't the quietest of all. Says he was a little bit nervous when he was in and around him in the stable.
And it would probably rather give you a little flick with his leg through nerves. But it was a funny looking horse. A lot of the horses we used to get here all looked the same. And of course, he's a little baby horse, the big white scar on his forehead in the pre training stables.
These horses are still unnamed, so they're labelled by their mother's names. But Peter and his co-workers like to put a nickname on each of the horses just to personalise them. And it's lucky for Tiger that his nickname didn't stick most of them.
We try to give them nicknames because of his outerspace role. All call, you know, you get something in your mind. And because he was called Celestron, I mean, obviously, we didn't know he was going to be called tiger role. But Swiss rolls of Swiss roll just naturally becomes sausage roll. And then we called him sausage and, you know, and it stuck with him while he was here, certainly with me in a couple of other lads.
And the fact that they've called him Tiger role is even better, you know, that's for sure.
To become a racehorse, Tiger would need to learn how to carry someone on his back, a jockey. It's a centuries old skill known as breaking. Peter Gunn is a master of his craft and begins by building a relationship of trust with Tiger.
First time that you met the horse, I wouldn't say, you know, to be too soppy to say that you've got to bond with him. You go in there, you're as quiet as you can, always gentle, always calm in and talking to him like a human being, really. You know, they do respond. They're just like a dog. If you scream at a dog, it's going to run away from you scream the horse will run away from you.
It's braver to be quiet around them and try and get on with them and a calming influence. So ask the horse to do what you're asking it to do, not make it. Ask it to do it. So when it's done, then it's rewarded by, you know, good boy, little Pat. The first stage of breaking was to take Tiger into a lunging pit. This is a circular arena with high walls and where Tiger begins to walk in a wide circle with a long rope attached to the bridle and his head.
At this stage, this allows Peter to get used to Tiger and Tiger to get used to Peter.
The horse tells you when it's ready. So maybe typically after four or five days you think, right, we've had enough lunging, we'll get something on his back. So we'll put a pad and a roller, which is a thing that just goes right round the middle and across his chest. And then you pull that up. So it's tight round his middle and then you send him off again round and round and round. And you look at their eyes, you look at their body language and you see their reaction.
And if they're accepting it, you bring them back into you pull it up another notch, send it off again.
This is all new to the young tiger. So Peter has been guided by him. And when he feels Tiger is calm enough, he moves to the next step.
And then when the horse is telling you, you get a saddle on it, you send it round with the saddle, with the stirrup irons. OK, so they're up at the top of the saddle, so they're not banging. And then when you're happy, you drop the stirrup irons down. So now the stirrup irons, you can imagine it's going round in a circle. It could be trotting or they're hanging and banging into its middle bang bang like your legs will be when you get on it.
So you're trying to cut out all the problems that could happen when you get on. We're not cowboys. We're not going to just attack on them, get on them and Yahoo them round and hope for the best. So then when you're happy and for the likes of me, when I got on Tiger, I would look at him, look at his eye. And I would think, yep, I think I'm about ready.
Breaking a horse is about walking with a horse. Slowly, gently. You don't actually break anything. How Tiger was about to react to this seismic change in his life would give some indication of how he might be into the future.
We would have corn stables, which were much bigger stables than the regular stables, and we would then get into the stable with Tiger. And then I got one of the bigger yardman, rather than a small guy like me who was a bit stronger, who would then hold him and bring his head in. And then he would go to like milk, like you would see a jockey getting like dog, but you wouldn't get on, you would only lean over.
So you'd lean over from your midriff over the top of the saddle and lay on him one, two, three, and then back down. Tiger was a little bit apprehensive when I went to get help. He did a couple of little stunt, but we did it three times. Up, down, up, down, up, down. And I said, OK, we'll leave it at that for today. And then we repeated it again. The next day the lunging got him and leant upon him three times.
It was a little bit more acceptable. And I said, right. And then once you commit, you've got to commit. There's no going back.
This is the most intimate and profound moment in any young horse's life when a person first gets on their back that age old connexion between horse and human. So I said to the guy, keep older, then you tell me, because he's looking at Tiger's eyes now and if he goes, this don't look good. You know, if he says, go back and his eyes look a little, you know, get off. But he said, no, he's all right.
He's all right. And I'm leant on him. And then what I would do is slowly swing my leg up and over, but staying down so I would still be laying on his neck, no feet in the stirrups, hand on the reins and the neck strap. And then I would say to him, right, just walk him around the box so he would walk around the box to three turns if he was happy on the end of the rope, said, yeah, he looked all right.
I was happy and felt safe because you can feel him underneath you, whether they're tense. Tiger, he was fine. And I said, right. And then you slowly come out because as you come off the horse, then he's got peripheral vision so he can see behind as well as forward and sideways. So he sees you all of a sudden appear on his back. So for a horse, first time, that's like, whoa, what the hell's happening here?
But he was OK. And then once you do that, you go another few laps around, put your toes in the stirrups, you can keep walking around the stable, you know, getting used to your feel of your leg. And once you've got to that stage, there's no turning back. The next day on you get on him in the stable, riding around the stable.
Over the next few weeks, Peter slowly built up Tiger's confidence and he progressed well right up to when it was time to run on the gallops. And that's when some issues first began to arise with Tiger. He would be alert all the time, so be like it is would be always perfect and if anything sort of went on in front, i.e. we were coming down this track where we're stood now, which we did every day of the week, and because he's a flight animal, always looking really for danger, if a pheasant jumped out in front, he'd be the first, you know, one of the first ones to pop his head sort of down and turn around and sort of run back into the other horses.
We call it whipping round. And if you're not, you've got to be on your A game and sit tight. You know, you'll be over the side and gone. And he was a little bit like that. I'm not saying he was like that every single day. There was no malice in him, but he was just always ready, always alert. So it was always a very active horse.
Peters worked with Tiger was no Don, and he would move on to the training stage of learning to run, getting fitter and stronger. It was around this time the Tiger all was officially named by the Godolphin racing office manager, John Gardner, and her team.
They had based his name on his mother's stress role. And to bring Tiger into the naming equation was an inspired choice for what he'd become. But right now, in January 2013, the Godolphin operation was rocked by the sad news of the death of Mick Pockley.
The man who'd helped Gerry O'Brien with the deal in the stallion authorised Tiger's father, McDowd, suddenly at home, aged just 45, leaving a wife and young family behind him. He'd never get to see Tiger all make history back and Godolphin Training Yard, Newmarket in the spring of 2013, things were not going to plan for Tiger as a horse bred to race in the flat. He was supposed to run short distances at fast speeds, no fences. But out in the training, Gallop's tiger was beginning to fall behind his peers.
Tim DNF was involved in Tigers training at this time.
So they all they differ. You know a lot at that stage. You know, you'll see some horses at a big, long and up behind. Do you think that's going to need more time to grow? Others are sort of from the word go. They're well put together, compact and fairness to Tiger. He was always a neat little horse, and it probably wasn't until we started stepping him up into his work, although he was neat and well to get put together, it didn't really show that sharpness that you'd expect.
He didn't really have that natural speed, very similar to athletes, humans. They just need more time to develop. The right thing to do is to generally back off them and give them more time.
This is the point where the Godolphin dream for Tiger was falling apart. His racing career looked like it could be over before it even began. It was clear that he was never going to become a derby winner like his father, nor was he going to become a pro stallion. Owners only want to breed through from the best horses. And right now, Tiger was showing nothing of what he'd come to achieve into the future. So he was gelded or castrated.
He'd never further falls himself.
Throughout the late spring of 2013, Tiger continued to struggle in training at his Godolphin base and Newmarket.
For whatever reason, he just wasn't enjoying life. Then in April, the Godolphin racing operation became world wide news for all the wrong reasons.
One of the world's best known horse racing stables is Godolphin. It's owned by Dubai's ruling Sheikh Mohammed.
And today it's at the centre of a doping scandal after Godolphin trainer Mahmoud al-Zahar Rooney is the man caught in the middle of the storm after eleven horses under his care tested positive for anabolic steroids at his UK based stable. Godolphin are a major player in worldwide racing, and its blue collars can be seen everywhere from the Dubai World Cups.
Sheikh Mohammed is yet to release a statement. Within four days of the story breaking, the British Horse Racing Association handed an eight year ban to Sheikh Mohammed's new market based trainer, Al Zahrani.
This whole episode had put everyone at Godolphin on the back foot, and it was a huge interruption to the sheikh's racing operation. Meanwhile, Tiger's time with Godolphin was coming to an end. He simply hadn't proved himself as he should. The same phrase kept cropping up. He was slow to come to hand, which means he was behind other horses of the same age, just not progressing as he should. Godolphin made their decision and the young Tiger role was put up for sale.
Marie Sullivan is bloodstock sales manager for Godolphin, responsible for all the horse sales in Europe and Dubai.
And so I'm the person who sold Tiger. So I met him, first of all, in July of 2013 when we were deciding which sale to put him in my notes, ask some questions of the team. I believe the word Nagel's along the way, nothing ever major. I think the feedback was that he was slow to come to hand and he'd been guarded. He was an unruly three year old.
He he was a horse we probably didn't have a role for and just dare I say it now, unremarkable for us at the time.
But the first week of August 2013, Tiger all was back in the sales salesroom, this time at golf's in Doncaster in northern England. So my name is Henry Bibby and I'm the group chief executive of golf's. We on a regular basis sell horses for Godolphin, Tiger Woods. He was there to be sold whatever he made above 800 pounds. And his pedigree suggested he would probably be more likely to be a flat horse when he was bred. But when he came to us as a three year old, he was still on reste.
So perhaps he hadn't lived up to the potential for what he was originally bought for. You know, the time. It wasn't an extraordinary sale, but it turned out to be an amazing sale.
When Henry Bibby says the tiger didn't turn out for what he was originally bought for, he's referring to Tiger being bred as a flat horse. Remember, flat racing is for horses who run fast over short distances without any obstacles offences. Hence the term running on the flat. Tiger's mother, Swiss roll and all before her were flat horses. His father authorised the same. So what to do with a flat horse who just isn't fast enough? Could he switch course to the other type of horse racing national hunt?
But that's a whole other ballgame where horses jump fences and race over much longer distances. And this is where Nigel and Catherine Hawke come into Tiger story.
I'm Catherine Hawke. I'm the wife of the trainer, Nigel Hawke. I was involved with Taichiro in the sense that I was one of the owners and I was at the sale with Nigel when we bought Taichiro.
Nigel and his wife had recently set up Thawne Farm, a new up and coming training stable in a picturesque valley in mid Devon in the southwest of England. They were at a different end of the market to Sheikh Mohammed.
I could see I saw half a business. I do a certain type of horse, which is what the two different type of horse is very well bred, you know, very nice type of horse that wasn't quite strong enough to run the flat. They were coming on the open market. I like to see an opening that you could produce then and then run the bumper back in the season, hopefully with a bumper and move them on and make some money.
A bumper race is a flat race, but on a national track. Now, I know this can be a little confusing, but basically a bumper is a really long, flat race. And it's not so much about speed, but stamina. It's like an introduction to running in a race track. These races are much slower than normal flat races because these horses are national hunt horses, usually bred for jumping fences so bigger, stronger and slower than flat horses.
A bumper can be the first step in racing for a lot of national hunt horses. If they do OK there, then you can think of the next step, which is to start jumping them over hurdles or fences. Nigel's plan was to get Tiger to run in a bumper, hope that he did OK and then sell him on.
That was a hole where the scheme started from and obviously Taichiro fits the bill. Obviously it had to go to set alight light, but you know that I'm a great believer. Forget the breed in ABCDE. You over like a horse. You don't the moment. So I'd like to I a lovely nice to him. He's a lovely face to you know he just caught there. I must set my heart on to get that horse that day.
I think I first saw Tiger, we were walking down the road stables and we saw this rather attractive head looking over the stable door. I do like a horse with a good eye and obviously he's got a very attractive star as well. So I was immediately drawn to him. The joy with the Godolphin horse are that you do get some history with them and usually they have sort of some papers with descriptions about what they've been doing, etc.. So I was busy looking at Tiger over the stable and Nigel was going off and talking.
To the lady in charge of those bunch of horses, so he came back with the paperwork and then asked if they could bring Tiger out so he could have a look at him. He didn't have a straightforward history. He did have problems on his page. And I think that probably put a few people off as well. I think it was leg problems and he had all the treatment and he'd been given the all clear. So in theory, he was fine.
But obviously, because they disclosed all of that information, it did put a few people off when there doesn't seem to be anything physically wrong with a racehorse and he's just not performing, it can be as simple as him just not being happy. And that's the kind of thing that can sometimes be really difficult to figure out in horse racing.
We do a lot of that. We do a lot of that sort of contemplation because we are dealing with that sort of price range. So you're not going to get the perfect horse. And at the end of the day, you do have to go with your instincts. Really.
That August day in 2013, Tiger all sold for 10000, a fraction of what Godolphin had paid for him as a fool, not to mind the time and investment they'd put into him over the previous two years. Nigel, Catherine and the business partner Bill Simms were no tiger rolls, no owners.
I think, in fact, we would have got him slightly cheaper if we weren't bidding against someone else who is a personal friend of ours. And afterwards he sort of jokes aside and said, For goodness sake, let let me know when you you're going for a horse and I'll back down. So I think we might have got him slightly cheaper once the paperwork was done.
Nigel loaded Tiger all up and drove from all the way down through England to his new home near Tiverton in West Devon.
I obviously bring him home and start training them.
Nigel had been around horses for years.
He'd been a professional jockey at his greatest day came in 1991 when he actually won the Grand National himself riding a horse named SEGRA.
Being a jockey is a tough, rough business, having retired from being a professional jockey and now training full time. Nigel still occasionally rode out some of his horses at home, but he also had a number of younger jockeys who worked his horses each morning and would then ride them out in races.
Mark Quinlan was the jockey assigned to take a role.
My name is Mark Quinlan. I'm a professional jockey from Kildare in Ireland and I worked for Nigel Hawke at the time that he bought Tiger Old. I'd written about 70 winners at this stage, but I'm going to Nigel and career is going good. And, you know, obviously a lot of experience behind me. Tiger all came to us after Flach it off of Godolphin. So he needed an awful lot of. Learning and he was, you know, an awful lot of educational, you know, so.
When Tiger arrived down to Nigel and Katherine's stables, it took him a little bit of time to settle in. This was his third new home in as many years.
Yeah, we put him into the stable and we're all having a look at him and see what he was like. And he just reunited with his ears back. He was it was very soured. And, you know, he wasn't the most friendly face at the time. He was just never the most inviting. Or if you walk into the stabilities bombed here rather than coming at you, you know, like with his head towards you, you know. So we looked at the back of the table.
He was a small, little well-bred animal. And we're thinking, jeez, what are we going to do with this? You know, he looked like a small little woolly bear, to be honest with you. But just you. I was very new when you get into a new stable and he was very reserved, you know, shall we say it was a difficult, difficult.
But when he came but he pursued Nigel and Mark faced a huge challenge with Tiger, all in a new home and displaying all the signs of just not being happy.
They'd have to get inside his head and tried to walk him out.
He was very cheeky in the sense that there were issues with him not wanting to go on the gallops and things like that, really. And that's where we'll be going in Episode three of Tiger, All the People's Horse. Tiger, All the people's horse was written, recorded and produced by Michael Lawless, Tim Desmond and myself anymore, Brian. Sound design by Damien. Production assistance from the documentary won t and a special thanks to all our contributors and to the auto design, marketing and creative audio departments.
For further information on the series, visit or to a forward slash Tokoroa, thanks for listening.