Roger Fell has enjoyed a meteoric rise since taking out his licence in 2016. After 34 winners in his first full campaign the following year, that tally rose to a phenomenal 56 last season, including big wins from Burnt Sugar in the Bunbury Cup and Gigaset International.
Those victories ensure that Fell, who had previously employed David O’Meara and David Loughnane to train from the yard he set up in the village of Nawton on the border of the North Yorkshire Moors, is now fully on the map as a top trainer in his own right.
Burnt Sugar encapsulates Fell’s success with cast-offs from other yards as he had been a high-class two-year-old in his youth for Richard Hannon but had lost his way before being rejuvenated following a move north.
Fell says: “We get horses from all over the place and many from very busy yards where the monotony of doing the same day in day out sours them a little. Up here in Yorkshire we make sure they don’t get bored and, by changing things around in the open spaces, it seems to make them more relaxed and content. I think that’s one of the main reasons we do so well, but I’m also very lucky to have such good staff who know the time of day.”
Fell picks out Watheer and Najashee as two new arrivals who should do well this season, sounding especially sweet on the latter, who is by a sire he has had success with in the past.
“I really like Invincible Spirit as a sire,” he says. “Muntadab and Presidential are both by him and have done well for us. I’m very keen on Najashee, as well as Watheer, and I think they could be horses to follow this year.”
Roger previews his horses for the 2019 season in his stable tour.
7 b g Lope De Vega – Lady Livius
He’s been with us for two years and has been a fantastic asset for us, winning the Bunbury Cup and the Gigaset International last year. He’s now on a mark of 103, but I know he can win off that – he was rated 112 at his peak. However, I can’t stress enough how ground-dependent he is as he really doesn’t like quick ground as he gets older. I won’t run him if there’s any ‘firm’ in the going description and I’d need to be very sure of that as the official descriptions don’t always match the reality. I wouldn’t rule out meetings like Royal Ascot if he got his ground, but we play it a day at a time and I don’t think he’ll run much during the summer, which could work to his benefit as there are so many good 7f handicaps during the second half of the season. He ran well enough for his first run back at Haydock recently and is in fine form whenever he gets some softish ground.
8 b g Lawman – Masnada
He’s been with us for a year after coming over from Jim Bolger’s yard in Ireland and everyone should be able to work him out by now. He won three times last season off marks between 74 and 81 but struggled when he got higher than that. He’s just about in his range to win again now as he’s come down to 79 after finishing fourth at Beverley on his reappearance this month. That was a pipe-opener and he’ll be ready to go again soon when he should be very competitive.
5 ch g Teofilo – Juno Marlowe
He came from David O’Meara towards the end of last summer and has done us proud. He won three on the bounce during the autumn, the last of them off 84, and he’ll be fine off his latest mark of 88. His recent form figures don’t look great, but we’ve tried him on the all-weather at Newcastle a couple of times and he simply doesn’t enjoy it. The key to him is soft ground on turf and we pulled him out when we took him up to Musselburgh recently as it was too quick for him. He can certainly win again when he gets his conditions.
5 b g Dandy Man – Gist
He won four times in the middle of last year and went up 10lb for the last of those to a mark of 86, which was too much for him and he struggled after that. However, he’s down to the right sort of mark again now and has been running better recently, including when fourth at Ripon on Sunday.
6 ch g Dutch Art – Kelowna
I was particularly pleased when we won with this horse at Chelmsford in January as you don’t usually improve horses if they come from John Gosden! I’m not necessarily saying we have improved this horse really as he’d come down a long way in the weights when he won that race, but he’s certainly found his consistency here as he finished second on all four runs either side of that win and was then a half-length third at Wolverhampton. He had his first poor run for a long time after that but he’s had a break. He’s basically an all-weather horse, but if we got proper soft ground I think he’d be effective on grass.
4 b g Invincible Spirit – Centime
We very much like this horse. We bought him out of Ed Dunlop’s yard last autumn as he’d run several promising races despite failing to win in 13 attempts. He made his debut for the yard at Hamilton last Friday and I was delighted to see him run so well, finishing a neck second. Our horses don’t tend to win first time out and we weren’t expecting him to win, so that was terrific. He should do well this year.
5 b g Lope De Vega – Caravan Of Dreams
He’s a nice horse. He was a Listed winner in Ireland for Jessica Harrington but had come down to a mark of 81 with David O’Meara when we got him at the end of last season. I thought that was a really good mark and, after he needed his first run back, he won really well at Newcastle by five lengths. That wasn’t missed by anyone as the handicapper put him up 9lb, but we think he could even be an Ebor horse so we’re hoping he’ll be able to climb the handicap even more to have a chance of getting in. He was a good fourth at York last week behind UAE Prince, keeping on well, and could do better when he’s stepped up in trip. He’s got a long way to go to realise our Ebor dream but he’s going the right way.
5 ch g Bahamian Bounty – Clytha
He won a couple of decent sprints last season, but I still don’t feel like things have really gone his way yet and he could win a good one when everything drops right. I’m aiming him at the Dash at Epsom next week and I’m hopeful for that race. He’ll love the track as he has so much early speed and he likes the ground riding fast, which you’d hope for on Derby day.
4 b g Swiss Spirit – Anne Bonney
He joined us from Kevin Prendergast last summer and gained his only win at Nottingham over 5f on soft ground, which is the key to him. We can run him on good ground as it won’t do him any harm, but he won’t win – only when it’s soft. He had his conditions at Nottingham last time out and I think he should have won, but things didn’t go his way and he finished third. He’s on a mark of 78, which is just 2lb higher than he won off last year, and that’s very winnable.
5 b g Big Bad Bob – Lamanka Lass
You wouldn’t mind a yard full of horses with his tenacity and determination. We got him from Patrick Prendergast’s yard and, although we couldn’t win with him last year, he’s really flourished recently, winning three of his last six races. He went up 6lb for his last win at Musselburgh at the start of the month, but I think he’d have won again there last week but for the ground. He found it just too quick for him but still went down fighting in third – you can never accuse him of not trying! He won’t be out for a couple of weeks as they were two hard races.
6 b g Lope De Vega – Wild Whim
He goes really well at Ripon and has gained both his wins for me there. The first of those was off 87 and he struggled for a while after that, but he’s on a good mark of 81 at the moment. He was fourth at Chester last time out and I thought that was a belting run as he was drawn wide and had to come from the back but stayed on right to the line. I then found a race for him at Hamilton last week, but he likes to get his toe in and we decided not to run him when we heard they were watering – I don’t always find the going reports too accurate there anyway and I didn’t want to waste our time going all that way only to find the conditions weren’t right for him. He’s ready to run, though, and is very capable of winning off his mark.
7 b g Invincible Spirit – Chibola
We had a terrific season with the old boy last year, winning three times, but unfortunately he’s on the easy list at the moment. His first run back at Thirsk was full of promise in second, but he then injured his way, which is the most frustrating, self-inflicted thing to go wrong. There’s nothing we can do now but wait for Mother Nature to put him right.
5 gr g Invincible Spirit – Tonnara
I’m very keen on this horse and we picked him up for 20,000gns out of Owen Burrows’ yard at the end of last year. He’s very lightly raced for his age having run only eight times, but he won as a three-year-old and I thought his third at Chelmsford was encouraging. He’s been going well on the gallops and did a particularly nice piece of work last week. I think he could be a proper dark horse.
5 b g Invincible Spirit – Poetical
We got him from Ireland at the start of last season and I knew from day one we could have some fun with him off his mark of 63, which proved the case as he won five times over the season. He’s now on a mark of 89, which is 26lb higher than when he started his winning run, but he won at Newmarket at the end of last year off 84 and I’m sure he can win again. The issue recently has been that he likes to be held up and then run through horses at the end, which means you need plenty of luck. Sometimes it seems like all of them are hold-up horses and you don’t get a proper pace, which happened in the Victoria Cup last time out when it was too tactical and he couldn’t get a blow in. He’s not a big horse and I’m not keen on him carrying lots of weight, so it’s better to keep going for these good races.
6 b g Kyllachy – Bright Edge
He’s won at least once every year I’ve been training and did particularly well last season, winning three times. The last of those took him up to a mark of 85, but he’s come down again and gave very encouraging signs at Chester this month when he was third from a bad draw before finally winning again at Carlisle on Monday. He’d been in great form and I actually thought he had a great chance at Thirsk last weekend but he doesn’t seem to like the track there. Hopefully the handicapper won’t go overboard now.
4 ch f New Approach – Reyaadah
She’s a very lightly raced filly. She ran a couple of times for Charlie Hills, winning the first of them at Salisbury last year, and then finished a half-length third on her debut for me in a novice race at Newcastle in March. However, her opening mark of 78 was too high and she’s struggled in a couple of handicaps since then. She’s getting closer to a winning mark now and possibly just needs to come down a little more. She wants genuine good ground rather than extremes.
4 ch g Leroidesanimaux – Sunset Shore
He could be a very exciting addition to the team. He won for Marcus Tregoning as a juvenile and must have been highly regarded as he was declared for the Vintage Stakes [non-runner] and later ran in a Listed race at Salisbury. He then disappointed in a couple of runs last summer and we were able to pick him up for £14,000 soon after. He didn’t look any great shakes when he arrived here, but we’ve been patient with him and I’ve been delighted with his work recently. He seems to have taken well to life here and looks terrific now. He’s not far off a run and could be worth following.
6 b g Kodiac – Zonic
He’s typical of a horse who paid the price for success. He was brilliant for us a couple of seasons ago, winning three times, but he went up to a mark of 86 and that was too much. He didn’t win for 15 months, by which time he’d gone down to a mark of 60, but he’s found his love for the game again now and is going the right way. After finishing second five times, he won again at Wetherby last time out off 65 and I was very happy with the way he knuckled down. The ground was good to soft, which suited him as he prefers cut in the ground. Thankfully the handicapper hasn’t gone overboard, putting him up just 3lb to 68, and he’ll win again very soon.
7 ch g Kyllachy – Belgique
He’s been here for two years and has done us proud, winning seven times. He opened his account this season at Southwell in February by three lengths, but the handicapper crucified him in putting him up to 93. On turf, though, he’s still rated only 74 and I’m hopeful he can exploit that. Ben Sanderson should have won on him at Thirsk last month but got it wrong from the front, which was disappointing.
3 b f Kodiac – Pearl Mountain
She won for Johnny Murtagh off a mark of 61 last year and I’d be disappointed if we didn’t get a win or two out of her soon. Her mark dropped back pretty quickly to just 56 after a couple of runs for us and she ran well off that rating when beaten a length at Musselburgh this month. We ran her back quickly at Ripon on Monday and she didn’t run as well, but hopefully we can get her back on track.
3 b f Toronado – Suite
She’s a really beautiful filly who also came from Johnny Murtagh’s yard and didn’t take long in winning for us as she took a 5f handicap at Wolverhampton in January off 84. She’s all speed and I thought we’d try her around Chester, but the ground went against her as she doesn’t act when it’s that soft. She’s come back down to a mark of 83, which is very workable, and I think she’ll be winning again soon.
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