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Weighty burden was too much.

YOU have to be superhuman to follow a legend. Charlie Brooks deserves no censure for coming up some way short of that standard.

He took over at Uplands at the age of 25 following the enforced retirement through injury of Fred Winter.

Stupidly, some woodenheads automatically assumed he would be the next Winter; the aura of expectation placed on the Old Etonian's shoulders when promoted to the driving seat at Uplands placed an unreasonable burden upon him.

Brooks did well to survive for as long as he did and there can be no surprise that he is anxious to find a pay-packet beyond training. He is still owed pounds 100,000 by owners who could not, or would not, pay their bills, so his venture as a trainer proved crazily uneconomic.

At one stage he was losing close on pounds 1,000 a week and sliding to possible bankruptcy. His accountant had recommended taking up that option.

Problems began when he purchased Uplands from the Winter family for pounds 1.2 million. That drained the trust fund left by his father, who had died when Brooks was 14. Another pounds 600,000 was required to get his name on the Uplands deeds and that was borrowed from a merchant bank.

Brooks recalls: "I managed to pull off a masterstroke of buying the yard at the top of the property boom and selling [to Andrew Cohen in 1994] at the bottom."

He once said: "I think the joy for a Flat trainer is that you can actually make quite a lot of money out of it. As far as I can see, unless you're dishonest, it's impossible to make any money if you're a jumping trainer."

Although the name F T Winter appears in the form-book with 1988 Champion Hurdle winner Celtic Shot, he had played no active part in the horse's preparation over the previous six months following his accident. It was the young Brooks, with head lad Brian Delaney for ever at his side, who was responsible for getting the horse to Cheltenham.

"I was so lucky to have Celtic Shot in the yard when Fred had his accident," Brooks has said. "Without that kind of start you're nothing. It's possible I'd never have got going at all."

Brooks produced many high-class winners, and one of his best days came in the winter of 1995 when Couldnt Be Better won the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury and Padre Mio the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.

Other matters took him to the headlines with little effort on his part; he was fined pounds 900 for withdrawing his runners at Perth; he climbed a tree on the route of the Newbury bypass in support of demonstrators; and, as an Old Etonian living with the wife of a former champion jockey, he was a target for gossip columnists.

Brooks had started his training career at the top. To his credit, that is where he ended it. Poorer for the experience, richer in the experience. It would come as no surprise to see him do well if he decides the US is where his future lies. They'll adore the Brooks style.

CV

Full name: Charles Patrick Evelyn Brooks

Born: Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, 3 March 1963

Stables: Uplands, Lambourn, 1988-98

First winner: Chalk Pit, Devon & Exeter, 24 August 1988

Cheltenham Festival winners: My Young Man (1992 Grand Annual Chase), Sound Reveille (1995 Grand Annual Chase)

Dual Grand National runner-up: Suny Bay (1997, 1998)

Other big winners: Celtic Shot (1989 Welsh Champion Hurdle, 1990 Future Champions Novices' Chase, Charlie Hall Chase, Edward Hanmer Memorial Chase, 1991 Charlie Hall Chase), Battalion (1990 Ascot Long-Distance Hurdle), Bokaro (1990 Queen Mother Supreme Hurdle, 1991 Corsa Siepi di Milano), Espy (1992 Agfa Diamond Chase), Black Humour (1993 Charisma Gold Cup), Couldnt Be Better (1995 Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup, 1997 Thyestes Chase), Suny Bay (1997 Greenalls Grand National Trial, Edward Hanmer Memorial Chase, Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup)

Last winner: Father Rector, Market Rasen, 30 May 1998

Most wins in a season: 56 in 1989/90

Compiled by JOHN RANDALL
COPYRIGHT 1998 MGN LTD
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Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Masters, Rodney
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jun 17, 1998
Words:680
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