Trainer Magazine

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Trainer of the Quarter - Roger Charlton

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  The winner of this season’s Irish Champion Stakes, Decorated Knight is one of the leading lights in trainer Roger Charlton’s string and one of the best exponents of his trainer’s long-established skill in developing and maintaining a horse’s ability at the highest level.        The Irish Champion Stakes marked Decorated Knight’s third Group 1 success of 2017 in a campaign which started seven months earlier, and he follows in the tradition of numerous other Charlton-trained horses who have enjoyed lengthy and successful careers.        Owned by Saleh Al Homaizi and Imad Al Sagar, the five-year-old Decorated Knight joined the Charlton string nearly two years ago and his trainer says he was initially a horse who needed to learn to settle. “We worked Decorated Knight mainly by himself, and to his strengths. He gradually learned to settle and stay better, to finish off races to better effect. He’s a more mature horse now, he has travelled overseas a few times, and we have just kept him cantering away.”        Charlton attributes the calmness of Decorated Knight in part to the tranquil setting of his stables in the Marlborough Downs, around 20 miles south west of Lambourn.        Signs of progress were readily apparent last season as Decorated Knight won in Listed and then Group company, which led connections to take him across the Atlantic to the Grade 1 Arlington Million.       A pre-race injury meant that Decorated Knight didn't run in the Arlington Million and brought an end to his campaign, but he picked up in 2017 where he left off last year.        After winning Lingfield’s Winter Derby trial on his seasonal debut, a month later he landed the Group 1 Jebel Hatta at Meydan. Further top-flight success came his way in the Tattersalls Gold Cup, as well as a fine effort in defeat when second to Highland Reel in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.       A below-par performance in the Juddmonte International at York was attributed to the ground and a pulled muscle, and Decorated Knight wasn’t certain to run in the Irish Champion Stakes. However, Charlton was sufficiently impressed by his charge’s well-being to be swayed.       “He bounced back so well from York we had to reconsider the Irish Champion Stakes,” says Charlton. “However, the week had been incredibly wet and the ground was just OK by race day.”        On the flip side, while the drying ground came good, the field was stronger than expected, which included fellow British raiders, the Derby-fourth Eminent and the progressive Poet’s Word. “I was slightly surprised to see Eminent and Poet’s Word, but Andrea [Atzeni] gave Decorated Knight a masterful ride, timed to perfection.”        As well as clinching his third Group 1, Decorated Knight stepped up again on his previous performances, which could lead connections to look aim for the Breeders’ Cup rather than the Ascot Champions Day meeting this autumn.        The Charlton team are enjoying one of their strongest seasons to date, so while Decorated Knight’s form comes during something of a purple patch for the stable, he is one of many older horses that Roger Charlton has successfully handled over the years.        “There are a number of trainers who do very well with older horses, and it’s really what we are aiming to do. Ultimately, we want to improve the horse to the point where they can mix it at four and five years, and are consistent. Guiding an older horse through the programme book, perhaps having trained them from two years to four or five years, is pretty satisfying.”

Published in European Trainer - October - December 2017, issue 59

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The winner of this season’s Irish Champion Stakes, Decorated Knight is one of the leading lights in trainer Roger Charlton’s string and one of the best exponents of his trainer’s long-established skill in developing and maintaining a horse’s ability at the highest level.

The Irish Champion Stakes marked Decorated Knight’s third Group 1 success of 2017 in a campaign which started seven months earlier, and he follows in the tradition of numerous other Charlton-trained horses who have enjoyed lengthy and successful careers.

Owned by Saleh Al Homaizi and Imad Al Sagar, the five-year-old Decorated Knight joined the Charlton string nearly two years ago and his trainer says he was initially a horse who needed to learn to settle.

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