'Three Months Ago We Wouldn't Even Have Thought About It': Clover Primed for First Classic Runner

Tom Clover on his hack on Newmarket Heath | Emma Berry


There are more than a few echoes of the past when it comes to G1 Cazoo Oaks contender Rogue Millennium (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}). Bred by Shadwell, and trained from Kremlin House Stables in Newmarket, she will arrive at Epsom on the back of just two runs, both this season. Such a profile was no hindrance for the 2005 Oaks winner Eswarah (GB) (Unfuwain), trained for Sheikh Hamdan by Michael Jarvis.

But while comparisons of yesteryear are understandable, Rogue Millennium, trained by the late Michael Jarvis's son-in-law Tom Clover, is a filly who very much represents racing's future. For her 36-year-old trainer she is a first runner in a Classic, and she will be supported at Epsom by 85 members, friends and family of the Rogues Gallery syndicate, who bought her from the Shadwell dispersal last December for 35,000gns with the help of agent Billy Jackson-Stops.

Clover, the son-in-law of the late Michael Jarvis, is now in his sixth season with a training licence, and he and his wife Jackie and their young daughter Elizabeth returned to train from Kremlin House, still owned by Jackie's mother Gay, several years ago. Certainly it has been a yard associated with much success, with Eswarah's fellow Classic winners Holding Court (GB) and Ameerat (GB) both having been trained from there, along with such names as Iffraaj (GB), Rakti (GB), and the Arc winner Carroll House (Ire).

As the winner of the Listed Lingfield Oaks Trial, Rogue Millennium has already earned the title of stable star, and if her affable young trainer is feeling any nerves on the eve of the Oaks, he is not letting on.

“We're in good shape,” he said on Thursday morning. “It's extraordinary how it has transpired. Three months ago we wouldn't even have thought about it really. But in the last month and a half this horse has really come around.”

Indeed, it was only on Apr. 24 that Rogue Millennium first came to public attention when winning on debut at Wetherby. Two weeks later she was asked another question in her Classic trial and her answer was resoundingly positive.

“She seems very well,” Clover added. “She learnt plenty at Lingfield, I know everyone else has had one more run, but she does seem to have come on plenty since then. She seems to be improving, she was bred by a great breeder, she is by a great sire, her mum was a Group 3 winner, and she will stay very well, I think.”

The dam in question is Hawaafez (GB) (Nayef {GB}), winner of the G3 Cumberland Lodge S. over 1 1/2 miles in soft ground at Ascot, and the rain which fell on the Epsom Downs earlier this week was a welcome break in the dry spring weather as far as Clover was concerned.

He said, “I am actually really looking forward to seeing her on slightly easier ground. I feel like she didn't love the quick ground at Lingfield and Wetherby. It will hopefully really suit her. I know it's a tall order but I think she deserves her chance.”

The Clover and Jarvis families will not be alone in shouting Rogue Millennium home on Friday afternoon.

“I think there's going to be 85 'Rogues' at Epsom. They have an open-top bus nearly on the finish line. It's going to be huge fun for them all,” Clover said.

“We don't have that many owner/breeders in the yard so we try to buy horses to syndicate and the Rogues Gallery have been such huge supporters of mine. I've had six or seven horses for them and they've been great, so it is wonderful to have a listed winner for them with a filly who is now running in the Oaks. I'm really happy with her and please God she runs a good race.”

In the Oaks favourite Emily Upjohn (GB) (Sea The Stars {Ire}), there is a touch of the Newmarket 'old guard' as she represents multiple champion trainer John Gosden, though he has of course been joined on the licence in the last two seasons by his son, Thady. But a new wave was already been in evidence this season at the Rowley Mile on 1000 Guineas day when George Boughey saddled his first Classic winner, Cachet (Ire) (Aclaim {Ire}), for Highclere Thoroughbred Racing.

“I really love the fact that Cachet was there at the breeze-ups for everyone to see and they bought her pretty inexpensively,” said Clover. “Even the favourite in our race, Emily Upjohn, was relatively inexpensive. When you start training you think to yourself, 'am I ever going to be able to get my hands on horses like this?' But actually, you can. They are there, you just have to keep chipping away at the sales.”

He continued, “When you start out you dream about having nice horses. I remember when we bought Rogue Millennium, and Jackie was on the phone to [syndicate manager] Tony Elliott. I was on the way to the races at the time, and when Jackie rang me she said, 'I can't believe we bought a Dubawi'. It's the kind of thing you dream about. And she is a gorgeous-looking filly. She really does knock your eye out.

“At the sales we always like to try to buy from good breeders who have a track record of breeding decent horses, and it is a testament to the late Sheikh Hamdan how many of his stock are still winning, even though it was sad that they had to sell as many as they have. He has had such an influence on British racing over the last 40 years.”

He added, “There are plenty of pictures of Eswarah in the house. I see a lot of her.”

Rogue Millennium now has her chance to have her photograph added to the Kremlin House wall of fame.

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