Until just last year, the name Sam Drinkwater was largely unknown in the racing world. Late in the year, his horses exploded onto the scene with a Boxing Day with that no one could have anticipated. His next dream is to see his horses in the Grand National and this 26 year old may just see that dream come true this year.
Tour Des Champs is the horse to watch out for at Aintree, as a shock contender. Drinkwater was once a promising jockey but very early into his career an injury forced him to quit. Undeterred, he took his love of racing in a different direction and began a new life as a trainer. His love for horses and the support of his family meant that he was able to still follow his passion.
Now the plan for his horse is to head to the Grand National Trial at Haydock in a fortnight. If all goes well, he’s hoping to see his horse among the 40 runners on the day. As a trainer, Drinkwater is composed but he’s not ashamed to admit he has some pre-race jitters. Prior to Tour Des Champs running at Cheltenham, Drinkwater said that he wasn’t able to sleep all week just thinking about it.
He said that the New Year’s Day race felt like everything he’d ever dreamed of, as he was surrounded by loved ones and his horse was on top form. It also held a special significance for the trainer, as Cheltenham was his local track when he was much younger. Walking into the winners’ enclosure only reignited his passion and desire to do well at Aintree.
Drinkwater has emerged onto the scene largely unnoticed but now the eyes of the racing world are upon him. He hopes that Tour Des Champs continues to be on this winning streak for the foreseeable future, as he seems keen to race and win. Drinkwater also stated that the horse is in fine health, checking him out before the race revealed him to be bright and aware.
This trainer is an underdog of sorts and after the injury that cost him his dreams of being a jockey, his tale is likely to go down well with fans. Though near six feet tall, Drinkwater had started on a promising path with victories and wins soon following. Many point to his height as a factor that would have caused weight problems but the point for Drinkwater is that he never got to try.
His accident was a gruesome one and he nearly lost his foot as a result. When riding his horse, the gelding slipped and Drinkwater’s foot became trapped in an iron bar. He was then dragged out by the horse and initially thought he just had cramp. Six hours of surgery later and his foot was saved but unfortunately riding just caused him too much pain.
Drinkwater has worked with some top trainers like Hilary Parrott and Fergal O’Brien, so it’s safe to say he knows a thing or two. Coming from a mostly industrial based stable, he’s been using Google Maps as his starting point for planning safe gallops. This kind of ingenuity is what makes him one to keep an eye on.
To support his move into training, Drinkwater and his family really risked everything that they had. Both he and his parents sold their homes and put the combined funds into a stable. This kind of underdog tale is one that really appeals to the fans, as they can see a trainer that has risked it all for the game. He’s been charming fans with his tales of running off to the races instead of going to school and overcoming an injury that would have had many leaving the horse racing world forever.
Whether Tour Des Champs can live up to the hype will be revealed at Haydock, then it could just be on to the Grand National in April.