Bankruptcy-stricken coach forced to fend for himself completes remarkable comeback with winners Cheltenham and Aintree
AS the saying goes “where there is mud, there is copper”.
And it took a lot of shoveling and grafting for Milton Harris to get out of the hell of bankruptcy and rebuild his coaching career.
Now he has a dynamic contender for the Â£ 250,000 Ladbrokes Trophy to Danny Whizzbang, who can continue a remarkable increase in fortune for western-based Harris.
The winners at Cheltenham and Aintree this season put his team back on the map after a scorching spell.
The 62-year-old, who had amassed 172 winners in his ten-year career, filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and had his license revoked.
He tried and failed twice to be reinstated in the training ranks.
It was only after a period of seven years in the dark that the BHA finally gave in and Harris left the Cotswolds for his new home in Warminster, Wiltshire, with just two staff and a handful of horses. moderate.
He said: âIt has been hard work. The staff rode the horses and I emptied each stall myself.
âIt was not easy, I did the dirty work every day because we had no choice.
âIt was a difficult time, I wouldn’t want to go back. It was difficult for me personally, emotionally and financially.
âYou wouldn’t have wished that on your enemy.
âBut you try not to get down on yourself. We must get up and continue.
“Did I do some things wrong?” Yes. I have no bitterness towards the BHA as they have a thankless job, but sometimes you wonder if it’s something else you did.
After spending so long on the sidelines, the return was never going to be easy. Did Harris always plan to return to the game?
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âOh my God, yes,â he replied before the question was nearly over.
âI was always going to come back, the only reason I wouldn’t have been if the BHA hadn’t let me. I never left, I stayed in the industry as much as I could. I have managed horses for a few people, but it was not rewarding, especially not financially. I was struggling.
“I never left the industry but people forget about you and it was not easy to get back into the mix.”
Already out of 28 winners for the campaign, Harris is set to break his previous record of 32 with more than five months of the season to go.
Stable star Knight Salute has already landed a Rank 2 at Cheltenham and his coach believes he’s the real deal, with Aintree winner Legionar another youngster he praises.
After what he’s been through, most would be happy with a full fleet of horses and a growing team, but Harris wants more. He said: âWe have 52 stables and we are full, we have around 60 with a few in the fields and so on. But it wasn’t always like that, far from it.
âI’m so grateful I’m a tough guy but I’m grateful for where we are and it’s only possible through loyalty and hard work.
âIn my last full season before the ban I finished 22nd in the league, out of around 650 which I would say are in the Premier League – the relegation zone!
âNow we are back in this position, I would like to think, but we have to put ourselves in Europe as they say. It’s difficult with the horses that we have, we don’t pay a lot of money for those who come in but we do our best to get there.
âThe phone rings a lot more, which would not have happened 18 months ago.
“It’s beautiful, but you can’t lose sight of the fact that you have to train winners – the bubble can burst quickly, as we know.”
Danny Whizzbang was bought cheaply from Paul Nicholls and will be making his debut for Harris in the Newbury feature film.
Category 2 winner on the track, he is not a lost cause and the Harris horses could not be in better shape. The coach said: âIt was 50-1 when the race first came out, now it’s down to around 33-1 and I expect it to be around 25-1 before the start. .
âI have a feeling he might be the kind of horse to catch fresh. I have a feeling that as long as the horses are healthy, we have to try.
“He’s not a sexy workaholic, but damn he’s in good shape, his blood count is perfect and we’re going to put some headgear on him.”
âPaul is a good friend of mine. You’re never going to improve one of his massively, so we have to try to change something. A change of scenery can sometimes be enough to do the trick.
âEven having a runner in a race like this is something. God forbid, he’s having a good race!
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