Published on 17th Jun 2013
Trainer Phil McEntee’s feet haven’t touched the ground since a horse he bought for £400 at the sales seven weeks ago burst onto the racing scene with an emphatic win – and is now heading to Royal Ascot.
The Newmarket trainer was at the Ascot Spring sale to buy a horse for his 16-year-old son when he spotted Baytown Kestrel (pictured) in the ring. “She just looked like a racehorse,” he says. “She was obviously strong and a great mover. Everything about her looked perfect.”
After snapping her up unopposed for £400, McEntee got her back to his stables and saddled her up. “I’ve been riding out on her every day since and within a week I knew she was something different,” he says.
“She’s just so straightforward. She’d only been ridden three times in her life when I got her but was getting decent times from the start. I put her into the stalls with some other horses to see how she reacted and she walked in and bounced out like she’d done it 100 times before.
“It’s unfathomable that a horse can come on like she has.”
McEntee, who runs a small yard at Racefield Stables in Newmarket, entered Baytown Kestrel for her first competitive race at Lingfield earlier this month. She started as a 50-1 outsider – and romped home four and a half lengths clear.
Now he is preparing to enter her for the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot on Wednesday. He’s also taking calls from potential buyers from as far afield as America and Singapore.
“I’ve been waiting a lifetime for a moment like this!” says the former jockey who’s been a trainer for more than 15 years. “She is for sale, but I’m hoping to hang on to her till after the Queen Mary, because it will be such a fantastic experience.”
McEntee’s four children and wife Rebecca, in whose colours Baytown Kestrel races, are also riding the wave of euphoria in the run-up to this week’s Royal Ascot meeting. “The phones haven’t stopped ringing, so the kids are certainly aware how big this is for us,” he says.
“It’s been really good for us financially, which like all kids they’re keen to take advantage of; they’re now looking to buy new outfits for Royal Ascot, for a start.
“My brother, who I haven’t seen for six years, has just arrived form America for a pre-arranged trip, so the timing for Royal Ascot couldn’t be better. My mum will be there with us, too, so it’s a massive day for us.
“It’s my 44th birthday today and to celebrate with a Royal Ascot win on Wednesday would be unbelievable. Whatever happens, we’re all really going to enjoy this week!”