Watson set for training career
Taking a gamble is an inherent part of racing but to take the plunge and jump out of a supporting role and into the cut and thrust of being a trainer is something only few dare do.
Archie Watson will be based in Upper Lambourn
With a CV boasting spells with trainers including Graham Motion and Alec Laird, the experience Archie Watson has gained makes him more than qualified for the next stage of his career.
After spending four years as assistant to leading Newmarket handler William Haggas, the 27-year-old has returned close to his roots in Uffington having taken up residency at Saxon Gate Stables in Upper Lambourn, once the base of both Mick Channon and Fulke Walwyn.
"I was thinking of starting out training in Newmarket, but there is such a lack of available yards. When Saxon Gate came on the market I made the decision to come here," said Watson.
"The boxes needed a bit of renovation and a lick of paint, but it's a beautiful yard and great for the owners, while there is plenty of room to build if and when we need to.
"It also gives you a bit of confidence that plenty of good horses have been trained out of the yard in the past.
"We have bought the yard which gives us a sense of prominence and shows we mean business. Hopefully we will be here for years to come."
While reaching the heights of those previously housed at his new base is likely to take time, Watson is optimistic he has purchased horses that will enable him to get among the winners sooner rather than later.
There is every chance he could enjoy a winner on his first day at the office, with Chevallier, Ebony N Ivory and Ride The Lightning taking their chances at Ripon on Monday.
He added: "I've only got a handful in at the moment, but we will have yearlings come in after the sales ready to go into syndicates.
"I've got three horses that I picked up at the Horses In Training Sale in July ready to run.
"There is Ride The Light that came from Brian Meehan, Ebony N'Ivory from Roger Varian and Chevallier from Karl Burke. The intention is to take them all to Ripon on Monday.
"Since they have been here they seem to have thrived for a change of scenery and I am very happy with all three of them.
"I think they go there with good chances. Hopefully they will all run well.
"I'd love to win with my first runner as to get that first winner would be a monkey off my back.
"The aim would be to win with all three of them before the year is out, as hopefully they can be flag-bearers for us."
With the likes of Hugo Palmer, Ed Walker and Charlie Fellowes all beginning to carve out successful careers having only gone it alone in recent seasons, Watson is hoping he can take inspiration from his peers in attempting to establish himself among more recognisable names.
He added: "I was very fortunate when I was in South Africa, as I had a satellite yard for Alec Laird.
"I had 30 horses for him and that was a great learning curve in terms of running my own stable without the financial pressures.
"I am not nervous on that front but of course it is daunting, as well as exciting, as I want to do well and train winners – but getting any business off the ground is difficult.
"Both Ed Walker and Hugo Palmer started with a small number of horses before making huge strides and getting where they have got today.
"It is encouraging for me seeing young trainers being supported and seeing what those guys have done starting in a similar position to me and obviously gives me a bit of confidence."
Settling into new surroundings can often take time, but those in Lambourn are renowned for offering a friendly welcome to newcomers.
Watson said: "They are a really nice group of people down here and everyone has been very supportive. Everyone has been incredibly accommodating
"Everybody has been coming up and introducing themselves and helping me out, if I need any advice or work companions for my horses.
"There is a nice atmosphere here and it is a nice place to train horses and I could not imagine training anywhere else."