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ARE THEY trainer Ben Hanbury; 'Not a day goes by when I don't miss my time as a trainer'.

FOUR and a half years have elapsed since the name Ben Hanbury - a name made by and forever associated with the 1986 1,000 Guineas and Oaks heroine Midway Lady - was last seen on a racecard. Long enough, you might think, for Hanbury to be free of the racing bug. Best think again.

"Not a day goes by when I don't think about my time as a trainer and miss it," says the 63-year-old, who saddled some 900 winners in an illustrious career. "But I've never thought about a return to training. My last two years as a trainer were rotten, there's no point in pretending otherwise, and I lost a lot of money.

"Once I had made that phone call to Sheikh Hamdan to tell him I was stopping, that was it. Once you're out, you're out, your owners all go and it's no good trying to come back. You can't turn round and say you've changed your mind. But I do miss it." In his final season in 2004, one of Hanbury's most frustrating struggles was with a two-year-old filly who never made the track as a juvenile.

When Hanbury decided to retire, the filly, Eswarah, was transferred to Michael Jarvis, and won the Oaks the following June. She was the best produce of her dam - Midway Lady.

Hanbury seems far from bitter about that turn of events and his premature loss to the training ranks as he lives his retirement in the house in Cowlinge, ten miles from Newmarket, where he has lived for 40 years. He went through what he says was a "horrible year" following the death of his wife Moira, but now keeps himself busy by dabbling in advisory work for breeders and those looking to buy yearlings, playing a round or two of golf every week, and spending time with his three grandchildren, aged seven, five and one month.

"I have many friends in racing and in Newmarket, and any of them will tell you that from the moment I wake at 5.30am to the time I go to bed, I'm on the go," says the likeable Hanbury.

"I don't know where the time goes, but I love to keep myself busy." Reflecting on his career, Hanbury remembers Midway Lady with great affection, but also mentions his 1996 Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine Matiya, who cost just 10,000gns. "She beat the subsequent Irish Oaks winner by three lengths at the Curragh," he says.

"She's not produced anything as good as Midway Lady as a broodmare, but she was very classy on the track." Trained, as she

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Trained, as she was, by a man renowned on course for his sartorial elegance, that should come as no surprise to anyone. Mark Blackman
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:May 10, 2009
Words:461
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