Roger Teal is so immersed in training horses, he literally forgot how old he was. When his birthday came around on Sunday, he told friends he was turning 54. “My wife told me: ‘You’re 53, you doughnut’. Bit of a bonus, really!”
Being given a year of his life back may not be the only good thing that happens to the genial trainer this week. Just two years after Tip Two Win gave him the biggest payday of his career by running second in the 2,000 Guineas, Teal is once more punching miles above his weight with another Classic contender, Kenzai Warrior.
Nor is that the only big race in his sights. On Friday, he fields Oxted in Newmarket’s Abernant Stakes, while Sunday sees Tip Two Win try to rediscover the winning thread up at Haydock. For a low-profile trainer who has only recently completed his second change of stable in the space of five years, this is a very big week.
“There’s probably not gonna be many hours slept,” Teal said on Tuesday. “I guess the old nerves will kick in. Five days is a very long time for a racehorse, so fingers crossed we can get them all there.”
Despite having won a valuable race in Qatar, Tip Two Win was allowed to start at 50-1 in his Guineas, when he finished ahead of Masar, the subsequent Derby hero, and the multiple Group One winner Roaring Lion. Perhaps it’s a sign of the greater respect now accorded Teal that Kenzai Warrior is half those odds, even though he faces the unbeaten Pinatubo on Saturday.
“Obviously we know what we’re taking on but he’s wintered well, he’s strengthened up and working nicely,” Teal reports of his stable star, nicknamed Troy after Troy Deeney because his owner is a Watford fan. “We’re hopeful for a big run. He’s come on a lot.”
Kenzai Warrior is not, however, a speedball type like Tip Two Win and Saturday’s mile might be on the short side for him. If he runs well enough, Teal would consider entering him in next month’s Derby.
The benefits of having two such horses rather than just one show up on the gallops. “Tip’s been a good schoolmaster for Kenzai, bringing him along. It’s been good for Tip as well, having something nice to work with. The pair of them have been helping each other.”
Teal settled in quickly at Lambourn’s Windsor House stables, formerly home to Nicky Henderson and Peter Walwyn, and had a couple of winners early in the year before racing was suspended. “The facilities are a lot better, we’ve got a swimming pool for the horses and we’re closer to all the gallops.
“We’re hopeful we can keep progressing and building the string and getting a better quality of horse. I think we’ve proved we can do the job if we’ve got the ammunition.”