The quiet man of Irish racing
With up to 100 horses in training, Michael Halford has come a long way in his 30-year career in the flat racing game
Published 02/09/2015 | 02:30
It's 7.30am and there's hardly a parking space to be found at Copper Beech Stables. The first lot are due on the gallops in 10 minutes and trainer Michael Halford is gearing up for yet another busy morning at his glorious base at Doneaney on the edge of Kildare town.
With close to 100 horses in training, and a team of staff which includes up to 30 exercise riders, it's obvious that there's little time for chit-chat in the height of the flat racing season.
It could be seen as the equine equivalent to New York's Central Station. Everyone is going in different directions, but there's always one man with his finger on the pulse.
Michael Halford may be known as one of the quiet men in flat racing, but there's certainly nothing modest about his success as a trainer which has spanned some 30 years.
Having cut his teeth in racing as assistant trainer with Noel Meade while also enjoying a stint as an amateur jockey, Halford was one of the youngest of his time when taking out a licence at the age of 21.
One of his first ever successes came with Cockney Lass, winner of a maiden at the Curragh in 1985, while a few lean years were followed with high-profile wins on the flat from Invincible Ash, Miss Emma, Snaefell, Miss Sally and Deauville Vision. Golden Cross also flew the Halford flag under National Hunt Rules when winning the Grade 1 Bewleys Hotels December Festival Hurdle at Leopardstown in 2003.
Having spent the early days at Birdcatcher Stables in Maddenstown, before moving to Pollardstown, in 2006 Halford made the decision to purpose-build his own facility.