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Greentree: Saratoga's Secret Oasis

J A McGrath
A short walk along the backstretch at Saratoga racetrack, amid the leafy shadows cast by endless rows of dark-timbered barns, lies one of American racing's best kept secrets, Greentree Stable.

A short walk along the backstretch at Saratoga racetrack, amid the leafy shadows cast by endless rows of dark-timbered barns, lies one of American racing's best kept secrets, Greentree Stable.

Tucked away behind hedges and stone walls can be found this magnificent 106-acre estate, comprising a training track, two huge stable blocks with accommodation for 96 horses, and a 10-bedroom mansion featuring colonial architecture of the 19th century, with views of the Vermont Green Mountains.

Once the summer residence of John Hay "Jock" Whitney, a former American ambassador to Britain, and one of the leading owners of his time, the property now belongs to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed as part of the Darley operation.

Sheikh Mohammed acquired Greentree Stable in 2007 in a deal in which he purchased Stonerside Stud from technology tycoon Robert McNair and his wife Janice.

These days, Greentree is home to Godolphin, with the yard split between Kiaran McLaughlin and Tom Albertrani.

McLaughlin, who has trained for the Maktoum family for 22 years, describes Greentree as "horse haven." He added: "It is a huge advantage to be training here. If a horse doesn't do well here, he won't do well anywhere.

"We have Polytrack, which most horses seem to like. But those who don't, we take them over to the main track, which is just a short walk from Greentree. We are beautifully located.

"Also, having this private track, we are able to work right-handed, which I believe is a big help in lowering the risk of injury. So many horses suffer injuries to their left-front, right-hind (legs), which comes from working and racing left-handed day after day," he explained.

McLaughlin has sent out a series of Grade 1 winners from Greentree, most notably Alphainfo-icon, who won the 2012 Travers.

Whitney, incidentally, owned hundreds of horses, but perhaps two of his best-known were jumpers trained in the UK, the dual-Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Easter Hero, and the great hurdler Sea Pigeon.

The latter ran in the Epsom Derby for Whitney but was later sold. After being gelded, he went on to win two Champion Hurdles.

Greentree: Saratoga's Secret Oasis
Greentree: Saratoga's Secret Oasis © www.godolphin.com