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Oliver Sherwood to call time on training career

Oliver Sherwood will hand in his training licence in the coming weeks to take up a position as assistant to Harry Derham.

A former champion amateur rider, Sherwood began training in 1984 with the 2015 Grand National winner Many Clouds providing one of the highlights of his near 40-year career.

During his 27 races, Many Clouds also won the Hennessy at Newbury in 2014 and two Cotswold Chases at Cheltenham.

Oliver Sherwood and Many Clouds (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Sherwood trained plenty of other high-profile competitors too, not least dual Grade One-winning hurdler Large Action and 1990 Hennessy hero Arctic Call.

Other familiar names to have passed through his yard include the likes of Cruising Altitude, Coulton, Young Snugfit, Silver Wedge, Cenkos, Rebel Song and The West Awake, while Listed bumper winner Queens Gamble proved his flagship horse last term.

Sherwood has endured a testing couple of years, having been given the all-clear from cancer last spring following multiple rounds of chemotherapy.

His health troubles, combined with dwindling numbers in his yard and the recent death of close friend Richard Aston, has prompted Sherwood to reassess his priorities, with the trainer and his wife Tarnya content to draw stumps at this point.

Sherwood said: “There’s no way I can get out of the game, it’s in my DNA, I’ve got to be involved with horses.

“It’s something which has been bothering me for the last four or five months, knowing I didn’t have the horses, so you’ve just got to be realistic.

“Obviously with my illness and with Richard Aston passing, that rather frightened me – not my illness because I never thought I was going to go – but Richard’s did and you’ve got to be realistic.

“When you are involved in racing it is 365 days a year, 24 hours a day and there’s more to life than training racehorses. Our son lives out in New Zealand and there are one or two things we want to do before it is too late, if you know what I mean.

“Racing is not a job. We are very lucky to earn a living out of a hobby, working with horses there couldn’t be a better job in the world but it does take its strain. Things go wrong nine times out of 10 but we are very lucky to work with them, that’s a certainty.”

<img loading="lazy" decoding="async" src="" alt="Queens Gamble was Sherwood's star performer last term " srcset=" 320w, 640w, 1280w" sizes="(max-width: 767px) 89vw, (max-width: 1000px) 54vw, (max-width: 1071px) 543px, 580px" width="640" height="411"/>

Queens Gamble was Sherwood’s star performer last term (David Davies/PA)

Sherwood will relinquish his licence next month and hopes to take many of his current inmates with him to Derham, who enjoyed a fine start last term in his first season with a licence.

He explained: “I’m planning on carrying on until July. The majority of the horses, I don’t have many in the summer anyway, when they come in off grass will hopefully go to Harry. I’ve spoken to all of the owners and they have all been very positive, Queens Gamble is certainly going to go.”

Sherwood reflected on a career that has seen not only equine stars in his yard, but also plenty of future star trainers.

<img loading="lazy" decoding="async" src="" alt="Oliver Sherwood enjoyed his high point with Many Clouds' Grand National success " srcset=" 320w, 640w, 1280w" sizes="(max-width: 767px) 89vw, (max-width: 1000px) 54vw, (max-width: 1071px) 543px, 580px" width="640" height="427"/>

Oliver Sherwood enjoyed his high point with Many Clouds’ Grand National success (Mike Egerton/PA)

He said: “I was very lucky to have a great apprenticeship with Arthur Moore in Ireland and then I took over from Nicky (Henderson) as Fred Winter’s assistant before starting on my own.

“I’ve had some incredible success which showed I learned a fair bit from those two and I’ve been lucky enough to have some really nice horses and some great people working with me.

“I had the likes of Donald McCain, Ben Case and even Tony Martin was my assistant for a bit. John Durkan, god bless him, was too and he found Istabraq for JP McManus – I’ve had some fun times. I didn’t have many jockeys either so I must have put up with them. I’ve had a lovely time.

“I’m still going to be around horses but they’ll be running under the name of H Derham.”

<img loading="lazy" decoding="async" src="" alt="Large Action (right) finished second in the Champion Hurdle" srcset=" 902w, 320w, 640w" sizes="(max-width: 767px) 89vw, (max-width: 1000px) 54vw, (max-width: 1071px) 543px, 580px" width="902" height="646"/>

Large Action (right) finished second in the Champion Hurdle (PA)

While Many Clouds and Large Action were Sherwood’s highest achievers on the track, the handler felt Coulton – a winner at Cheltenham and Aintree in 1995 – was probably the most talented horse he trained.

He added: “Many Clouds would certainly be the gutsiest horse I’ve ever trained but Large Action was placed in two Champion Hurdles, he just didn’t jump fences well. Probably the best I ever trained, with due respect to all the others, was Coulton who won a Cathcart at Cheltenham and a Red Rum up at Aintree but he wasn’t a natural jumper – he had the most natural ability.

“I was very lucky to have some good horses, trainers are only as good as their horses and that is another reason of why I’m having to stop. Barring Queens Gamble and one or two others, we’ve had an average bunch of horses and that happens.”

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