Sunsque House Stables
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Sunsque Stables and the Dante yard are on the same site as Manor House Stables, the name Sunsque House was first mentioned in the time of James Bethell.

1992-October 2000 James Bethell
James David William Bethell, son of David, 5th Baron Westbury, was born on 22nd February 1952 and was always likely to forge a career in racing given that his father was a prominent Member of the Jockey Club. After completing his compulsory education, James gained experience of training, initially with Bruce Hobbs in Newmarket, and then Arthur Budgett at a time when Budgett won the Epsom Derby with Morston in 1973, having already won it in 1969 with Blakeney before Bethell had joined him. In 1975, at the tender age of 23, James took over from Arthur Budgett and very soon celebrated his first winner, Baffin Bay at Bath on 28th April 1975. Within 2 years he had landed his first prestigious prize, the 1977 King George V Handicap at Royal Ascot with Celtic Pleasure. Two months later James sent Daring March to Newcastle to capture the Northumberland Sprint Trophy, having run well when 5th in the Stewards Cup at Goodwood a few weeks beforehand, and was a key part of James's best season in terms of winners when he totalled 25. Celtic Pleasure was to do James another favour in 1978 when he won the Rosebery Stakes Handicap at Kempton, while Daring March won the Group 3 Criterion Stakes at the rewarding odds of 25/1. In 1992 James transferred his string to Middleham to take over at Manor House stables, and knew that he had a high standard to maintain. In his first season at his new premises he had a string of 19, but the next year it increased to 28 and the year after to 29. At some stage the premises became known as Sunsque Cottage and the famous yard was labelled the Dante Yard after the 1945 Derby winner.

In 1996 Bethell became linked with Clarendon House, a grade II Listed building on the south side of the market place in Middleham when his string decreased to 20. However, in 1997 Sally and James Bethell launched Clarendon Thoroughbred Racing from their Manor House Stables, a group which went on to enjoy tremendous success. James won the Group 2 July Stakes in 1996 with Rich Ground, and in 1998 won the early season Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster with Hunters of Brora owned by Robert Gibbons. At the end of 2000 James transferred to Tupgill Park, taking over stables previously occupied by Micky Hammond who had relocated to Oakwood Stables, on the outskirts of town. Manor House stables were purchased by Patrick Haslam who moved just across the road from his Castle Stables.

I am grateful to Ordnance Survey (© Crown Copyright) for permission to use the 1882 map shown above.
1977 King George V Handicap at Royal Ascot CELTIC PLEASURE 12/1 owned by Miss F Rigden, trained by James Bethell and ridden by Richard Fox
1977 Northumberland Sprint Trophy at Newcastle DARING MARCH 11/4 fav owned by Mrs D Shirley, trained by James Bethell and ridden by Bruce Raymond
1978 Rosebery Handicap CELTIC PLEASURE 4/1 fav owned by Miss F Rigden, trained by James Bethell and ridden by Willie Carson
1978 Criterion Stakes Group 3 at Newmarket DARING MARCH 25/1 owned by Mrs D Shirley, trained by James Bethell and ridden by George Duffield
1978 Zetland Gold Cup at Redcar ABERCATA 12/1 owned by Mrs Neville Napier, trained by James Bethell and ridden by Richard Fox
1981 Bovis Handicap at Ascot MARYLAND COOKIE 11/2 trained by James Bethell and ridden by Lester Piggott
1985 Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket DOMYNGA 20/1 trained by James Bethell and ridden by Steve Dawson
1986 Silver Seal Handicap at Epsom GAY CAPTAIN 8/1 owned by J Galvanoni, trained by James Bethell and ridden by Cash Asmussen
1996 July Stakes Group 2 at Newmarket RICH GROUND 40/1 owned by Mrs J E Vickers, trained by James Bethell and ridden by John Reid
1998 Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster HUNTERS OF BRORA 16/1 owned by Robert Gibbons, trained by James Bethell and ridden by Jason Weaver
Thirsk Subscription Token Ripon Stand Token Catterick Token 1848 Thirsk Gents 1932 Ripon Gents 1930
2000-2009 Patrick Haslam
Patrick Haslam was born on 10th January 1948 and assisted Alec Kerr, George Todd and Gordon Smyth before taking out his first trainer's licence in 1971. He began training at Lynchets in Lambourn, training on both the Flat and National Hunt racing. Indeed, one of his two main claims to fame was that he trained a winner at every racecourse, although Ffos Las and Chelmsford City opened after he had retired. He transferred to Neardown Stables in 1977 where he remained for a year. He left Lambourn in 1979 to take over at Pegasus Stables, replacing Michael Jarvis. He won the 1981 Singleton Handicap with Pencil Point and the Bunbury Cup in consecutive years in 1983 and 1984 with Mummy's Pleasure, and the 1983 Richmond Stakes with Godstone. In 1984 he achieved a Royal Ascot success in the Royal Hunt Cup with Hawkley. At the end of the 1988 season he handed back his licence and took a sabbatical from training, but 2 years later he purchased Warwick House stables from Neville Crump who had retired, moving to Middleham in North Yorkshire in February 1991. Thus, he achieved the second of his claims to fame, which is that he trained in all 3 principal training areas in the country, Lambourn, Newmarket and Middleham. Arriving in Middleham, he was impressed by the gallops, the attractive town and the spectacularly beautiful Wensleydale countryside, with 9 flat racecourses within an hour's drive of Warwick House. He began 1991 with a string of 30 horses, but rapidly expanded to 40 in 1992 and 44 in 1993, although it was reduced to 38 in his final year at the historic stables. His best horse during his time at Warwick House was Pipe Major who won the Soham House Stakes at Newmarket in 1994. In 1994 he sold Warwick House to Mark Johnston, who needed to expand across the road from Kingsley House, and Patrick moved to Castle Stables where, in his first year he trained 32 horses. His numbers remained steady throughout his 6 years at Castle stables, although they had increased to 42 in 2000 and he thought the time was right to take on larger premise. During his 6 years at Castle Stables he enjoyed further success with Pipe Major in the Group 3 Van Geest Criterion Stakes at Newmarket, but the stable star was undoubtedly Nigel's Lad who won an incredible 23 races on the Flat, over hurdles and jumps. Patrick was very good at placing his horses; Nigel's Lad won 4 consecutive races and, on another occasion, won 3 in a row. He won the 1998 Crowther Homes Long Distance Hurdle at Haydock and shortly afterwards the Christopher Saul Memorial Handicap on the flat at Ripon. In 2000 he purchased the historic Manor House stables, just across the road from Castle stables, and revelled in the history associated with the 1945 Derby winner Dante. By 2001 his string had increased to 54, increasing in each of the next 3 years when it was reported in Horses in Training that he trained 59 horses. He upheld the fine tradition of Manor House Stables, winning the Group 1 Prix de L'Opera at Longchamp with Kinnaird in 2005 and the 2006 Prix Minerve at Deauville with Maroussies, both owned by loyal supporter of the stable, Renata Jacobs.  He enjoyed further success with Nigel's Lad and King Revo and landed the 2003 May Hill Stakes at Doncaster with Kinnaird. Also, in 2003 he was immensely proud of son Ben who partnered King Revo to win the Bollinger Champagne Handicap at Haydock for Gentleman riders. After running up a sequence of wins with King Revo in 2003, the next year he guided the horse to success in the prestigious Victor Ludorum Juvenile Hurdle at Haydock. At the end of the 2009 season he decided to retire and hand over the licence to son Ben who had assisted him for some time. Around this time Manor House Stables, which was very large, was divided between Sunsque Stables including the Dante Yard, and Castle Hill Stables a few hundred metres away. Ben Haslam took over Castle Hill Stables, while Sunsque Cottage, which had been occupied by James Bethell prior to Haslam buying it, was taken over by Jason Ward in 2011. Patrick Haslam trained 988 winners in the UK, 778 on the Flat and 210 over jumps, his final winner being Bateau Bleu at Nottingham on 30th September 2009, but sadly died on 14th October 2017 after a long illness.
2011-2018 Jason Ward
Jason Ward, born on 30th December 1969 in Doncaster, is the sone of former trainer Bob Ward and grandson of Charlie Ward who was crowned Champion Apprentice in 1895 bit tragically died just 2 days after a fall at Kempton, so it was always likely that he would hold up the family tradition and carve out a career in racing. Just as Ken Payne, trainer at Kingsley House, Middleham in the mid-1970s was labelled the Selling Plate King, so also was Jason's father Bob known by the same nicknane a decade before Payne. Jason proudly claims that his great grandfather on his mother's side, Captain Edward Ted P Wilson, rode consecutive winners of the Aintree Grand National, firstly in 1884 on Mr F H Boyd's Voluptuary 10/1 trained by William Wilson, followed a year later on Mr A Cooper's Roquefort 100/30 fav trained by Arthur Yates. Ted was the 5th jockey to have ridden back-to-back winners in the Grand National, the first being Tom Oliver in 1842 and 1843, the second and third being George Stevens in 1863 and 1864, and again in 1869 and 1870, and then J M Richardson in 1873 and 1874. Jason joined the Irish Apprentice School of racing at the Curragh in 1984, winning the title of best apprentice of his cohort, and he then gained further experience with Mick O'Toole in Ireland before transferring to Walter Wharton's stables at Melton Mowbray in 1986. He was awarded his first ride in public on 25th March 1986 on Miss Pisa at Leicester, but the pair finished down the field in 10th place. It was four months later before Jason won his first race on Our Children at Nottingham on 28th July 1986 riding for Walter Wharton, going on to carve out a decent professional career thereafter. However, he always knew that he would ultimately go on to train and, with that in mind, he joined the Pegasus Stables, Newmarket of James Fanshawe, acting as his assistant for 7 years, but also appreciated the importance of widening his experience overseas, assisting Peter Launter in Germany, the legendary stables of Criquette Head in France, Patrick Biancome in Los Angeles and David Bell in Toronto Canada.


Jason then spent a year acting as Head Lad to Richard Whitaker before forming R Jay Racing in 2010, and shortly afterwards successfully applying for his own licence in 2011. He moved to the Dante Yard, Middleham, with just 4 yearlings in 2011, part of the historic Manor House Stables where the 1945 Derby winner Dante was based throughout his successful career. He spent a productive, successful 8 years at the Dante Yard, training almost 50 winners, with Maifalki, owned by Lamont Racing, arguably his best horse, winning the 2018 Premier League Handicap at Haydock before landing Ward's highest profile race to date, the Listed Prix Dirickx at Craon in France when partnered by Alexis Badel. However, at the end of the 2018 season he transferred his string to Tall Trees Stable where the legendary trainer of sprinters, David 'Dandy' Nicholls, had trained so successfully.
2012 Engineering & Fabrication Handicap at Doncaster EASTWARD HO 12/1 owned by Miss Vivian Pratt, trained by Jason Ward and ridden by Tony Hamilton

2012 Racing UK Handicap at Redcar KUWAIT STAR 7/2 fav owned by Miss Vivian Pratt, trained by Jason Ward and ridden by Tony Hamilton
2012 Conference & Banqueting Handicap at Pontefract SWEETNESSANDLIGHT 9/2 owned by Mrs Jill Ward, trained by Jason Ward and ridden by Dominic Fox
2013 32Redbet Handicap at Wolverhampton ROMATICIZE 5/1 owned by Miss Vivian Pratt, trained by Jason Ward and ridden by Graham Lee
2018 Totesport New Customer Handicap at Hamilton MAIFALKI 6/1 owned by Lamont Racing, trained by Jason Ward and ridden by Rossa Ryan
2018 Alec Scotter's 70th Birthday Handicap at Beverley MAIFALKI 7/1 owned by Lamont Racing, trained by Jason Ward and ridden by Rossa Ryan
2018 Premier League Handicap at Haydock MAIFALKI 7/4 fav owned by Lamont Racing, trained by Jason Ward and ridden by Richard Kingscote
2018 Prix Dirickx Listed race at Craon, France MAIFALKI 66/10 owned by Lamont Racing, trained by Jason Ward and ridden by Alexis Badel

m 2021-present Neil Mechie
Neil Mechie, ably supported by his wife Lucy, took over the Sunsque House/Dante Yard, previously part of Manor House Stables, in 2021 and has, to date, enjoyed two season as a dual-purpose trainer. He received an excellent grounding in the art of training whilst working for 8 years as a vet for the Kingsley Park Mark Johnston team, but in 2021 he thought the time was right to launch his own career and successfully applied for a licence. In his first two seasons he celebrated 19 successes, some in point-to-point races and others under rules, and is presently content with his small yard of just 16 boxes. On 5th June 2021 he landed the Racegoers British Horseracing Handicap Hurdle at Hexham with Coolnacritta, while in 2022 he won the Mill Hill Handicap at Catterick Bridge with Gold Ring. More recently, in 2023 Gold Ring won the Better Value with Racecourse Bookmakers Handicap ar Redcar for the 4 person syndicate of Mechie, Kerr, Tate and Lawson. Neil Mechie's advertising literature rightly emphasises the personal attention given to each horse, with just 16 boxes, and the extensive facilities he has access to on Middleham Moor. Furthermore, as a qualified vet he can boast 24 hour on site veterinary care by 2 experienced equine vets included as part of the training fee.
2021 Racegoers British Horseracing Handicap Hurdle at Hexham COOLNACRITTA 40/1 owned by Finian O'Toole, trained by Neil Mechie and ridden by Ross Chapman
2022 Mill Hill Handicap at Catterick Bridge GOLD RING 22/1 owned by Mechie, Kerr, Tate and Lawson, trained by Neil Mechie and ridden by Andrew Breslin
2023 Better Value with Racecourse Bookmakers Handicap at Redcar GOLD RING 22/1 owned by Mechie, Kerr, Tate and Lawson, trained by Neil Mechie and ridden by Andrew Breslin
© John Slusar 2023

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