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Horse Racing

Leading owner John Dance – whose best horse Laurens won six Group 1s – returns to racing with private trainer

TOP owner John Dance is to launch an exciting new venture just months after announcing he would wind down his racing operations.

Dance, whose best horse Laurens won six Group 1s between 2017 and 2019, has bought Manor House Stud in Middleham and will install Sir Michael Stoute’s assistant James Horton as his private trainer.

John Dance’s best horse so far was six-time Group 1 winner Laurens (right)

He announced last year his intention to step back from ownership having become disillusioned with parts of the sport, and he sold the majority of his horses.

But he has performed a 180 degree turn and will invest heavily in a new northern yard – with his and wife Jess’ horses set to carry a new set of gold and black colours.

Manor House Stud is an historic yard in North Yorkshire. The last northern-trained Derby winner, Dante, was born and raised there.

In a statement on his Dance Thoroughbreds Twitter account, Dance said: “We announced a temporary wind down of our operations last summer so we could step back from racing for a period and reevaluate.

“It proved a brilliant decision for us both, especially me personally as the mental space it created suddenly allowed me the opportunity to come up with a revised strategy for our participation.

“It (the yard) is in the most beautiful location and has stunning views, beautiful paddocks and incredible grass.

“We intend to split the farm into two separate operations, one a top-class private training facility and the other as a development stud for our homebred yearlings.

“Having dreamt up this plan in late 2020, we did buy a few sneaky yearlings from the December sale, bought a few previously unsold two-year-olds earlier this year from trainers and to complete what Jess has calls ‘the worst year off ever’ were very active at the Craven Breeze-Up sale.

“James has a fantastic CV for moving into the training ranks, and the team has very similar aspirations and philosophies.

“We are all looking forward to the yearling sales where we will officially start this exciting journey.”

Laurens was trained by Karl Burke, while Dance also has horses with Richard Fahey and several other trainers, including top jumps horse Bravemansgame with Paul Nicholls.

And he intends to continue supporting those yards.

He said: “We will naturally have a large number of horses at ‘home’ but we will continue to support our existing northern Flat trainers, this year and beyond, with new horses in Jess’ and my own name and also those of Titanium Racing.

“As a result we hope that the benefits of our planned investment will extend beyond our home farm and facility, but into the wider Middleham and northern training communities.”

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