Owner Simon Hunt looks forward to another good season with Stow-on-the-Wold trainer David Bridgwater and The Giant Bolster
AS the owner of stable star The Giant Bolster, Simon Hunt can reflect on the incredible journey he has enjoyed with trainer David Bridgwater.
When he first walked through the gates at Wyck Hill Farm six years ago, he could hardly have imagined the duo would go on to celebrate two wins at Cheltenham with The Giant Bolster and watch him twice finish placed in the Gold Cup.
Not only that, team player Hunt has taken huge pleasure in seeing other owners achieve notable wins with Grand National prospect Wyck Hill – now back in training after a summer break in Ireland – and other horses in the yard throughout the year.
Now, as The Giant Bolster works towards another crack at big prizes this winter, Hunt is looking forward to more thrills with the former top jump jockey.
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"The yard is buzzing," said Hunt, who also owns novice hurdler Bawden Rocks and has shares in two-time winner Present To You and the returning Big Talk.
"When I first walked in that yard and I bought my first horse, Lady Romanov, lots of people asked me why I was going to David Bridgwater's.
"Lots of people were trying to put me off, but I met Bridgie and then had a look around the yard, then went back to see him with the intention of buying a horse.
"At the time it was a really small operation and he had about seven horses in.
"I think he's got about 36 horses in now and a few in the field, so it's a total transformation.
"The reason I went there was because I like Bridgie, I liked what I saw and basically you can't do it if you don't have someone buying horses.
"Maybe he needed something to just spark it off and what I look at now is a bloke who's still the same David Bridgwater but a more confident fella.
"I believe in what he's doing and he's so passionate about it.
"Cut him and the racing blood runs deep and he's got a real belief in what he's doing, and you wouldn't meet a more enthusiastic fella.
"It's not just about The Giant Bolster, it's about lots other horses in the yard, but sometimes you need a catalyst and a springboard.
"I can walk happily down the road hopefully in a few years' time when hopefully Bridgie's even more established and think that The Giant Bolster has been a catalyst to pulling the fella forward and people realising what a good trainer he is.
"He's doing great and he's got some lovely horses in."
Hunt doesn't need any reminding of the great times he has enjoyed thanks to The Giant Bolster and the three men most closely associated with him – Bridgwater and jockeys Tom Scudamore and Rodi Greene.
Pictures of the quartet's most memorable days adorn walls of Hunt's home, with the possibility that extra wall space may be required for even greater days to come.
"I was looking at a picture of The Giant Bolster the other day and it stopped me for a minute," said Hunt.
"This horse has taken me, Bridgie and everyone else at the yard to places we didn't even dare think about.
"He owes us absolutely nothing but he's given us everything and he might just have another big one in him – that's the exciting prospect.
"As an owner and a trainer last season was the first time either one of us has planned a Grade One/Grade Two campaign from the onset.
"The season before we built up to it and found our way there.
"I think both of us learned a lot last season and with a few tweaks hopefully we can go one better in a race, if we're lucky enough.
"He's quite a difficult horse to place because of his rating so the early options are the Charlie Hall at Wetherby and the Betfair at Haydock, both in November
"Last year we went for the Betfair and I'd probably like another crack at it. I don't think you will see him in the King George.
"My dream season would probably be a crack at the Betfair, then maybe the Argento at Cheltenham in January or the Denman at Newbury in February and then the chance of going back for the Gold Cup, if we're lucky enough.
"To get a horse to the Gold Cup two years in a row is a great training achievement in its own right, so we'll take it one race at a time."
"Ultimately I'd love to go to Punchestown with him.
"Both myself and my mate Gary (Lambton) are 50 next year and when we were 40 we watched Best Mate win his third Gold Cup, which was amazing. To think where we've ended up is fantastic.
"If we got the chance to go to Cheltenham and Punchestown, that would be the dream ticket.
"But I recognise it's a long season and what we want to do is have a real crack at every race.