04/05/2013 11:38AM

Team Valor, Graham Motion parting ways

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Barbara D. Livingston
Graham Motion on his tenure with Team Valor International: "I am extremely proud of the job my team has done."

Less than one week after Team Valor and trainer Graham Motion appeared in the winner’s circle of the Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse with Animal Kingdom, the ownership group and the trainer announced Friday that they have agreed to end their business relationship, with trainer Rick Mettee set to take over Team Valor’s horses at the start of May.

Barry Irwin, the founder and managing partner of Team Valor, said the pair had decided to split after Motion declined to train exclusively for Team Valor, which expects to have 40 horses, including eight 2-year-olds, in training for 2013.

“I just feel that we get more bang for our buck with a guy that is 100 percent devoted to our horses,” Irwin said. “It wasn’t like I was disappointed in him. If Graham could be that guy [a private trainer for Team Valor], that would have been great.”

Motion, who was at Keeneland on Friday to start four horses – none for Team Valor – said he wanted to limit his comments to a statement he released via thisishorseracing.com. However, Motion did say, “It was always set up as something that I could walk away from, and that is what I am doing.”

Motion said he currently has 70 to 80 horses at Fair Hill Training Center.

In his statement, Motion said: “We have enjoyed the association and are immensely grateful for the opportunities given by Barry and the partners at Team Valor International. At this point I feel that Team Valor is best served by a private trainer situation and this is not something I am prepared to do.”

Animal Kingdom, who is in England training for a race at Royal Ascot after last Saturday’s win in the $10 million Dubai World Cup, will remain under Motion’s care until the horse is retired, according to Irwin. Earlier this year, Team Valor sold a majority share in the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner to Arrowfield Stud in Australia, where he is expected to start his stud career this summer for the Southern Hemisphere breeding season. Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum’s Darley announced earlier this week that it had purchased a 29 percent interest in the horse and that the horse will stand the Northern Hemisphere breeding season at Darley’s Jonabell Farm in Lexington, Ky.

The 5-year-old may make one start at Royal Ascot prior to his retirement.

Team Valor’s horses will continue to be trained out of Fair Hill, Irwin said. Mettee, who had trained some of Irwin’s partnership horses in the 1990s and has over the past several years trained the U.S. horses of the international Godolphin racing operation, will take over the Team Valor horses as of May 1.

“As a matter of fact, I offered to buy a barn at Fair Hill in the 1990s and have Rick train for us then,” Irwin said. “I really thought Fair Hill was the place we wanted to be. But Rick was young then, in his 30s, and there were things he wanted to do with his career. Now that he’s done them, it’s all working out.”

Matt Zebriski More than 1 year ago
Barry Irwin is clearly an owner not worth training for...now he knows what it is like to be called out on a national stage!
daniel More than 1 year ago
Three loud cheers for "Animal Kingdom".
Jack More than 1 year ago
What next? Animal Kingdom is now going to be asked to indulge the apparent fools managing him, to run twice as far, carry more weight, and jump fences at the same time! Didn't he do enough for the game already? Here is a great racehorse that deserves to go out on top, right now! Wake up people, shame on all of you, you have no right to risk that horse any further, he's done enough!! saratoga jack
daniel More than 1 year ago
You are dead wrong.Graham motion would not endager "Animal Kingdom" for love or money.
Wade Teasdale More than 1 year ago
Surely you're aware that story was an April Fool's Day story put on on April 1st?
Mark. More than 1 year ago
Barry Irwin is a tough fellow who really doesn't deserve the ultra classy Graham Motion.
John Nicoletti More than 1 year ago
Welcome home, AK. A true CHAMPION.
John Burton More than 1 year ago
So sorry to hear this news! My wife and I love and respect Graham Motion! He's the epitomy of class - a real gentleman! I see this as Team Valor's loss! Graham will be fine and will continue to have the success he has enjoyed. This might trun-out to be a blessing in disguise for Mr. Motion!
daniel More than 1 year ago
Go to the head the class Mr. Burton.
Quite A Dude More than 1 year ago
Why is AK being retired after one race at Ascot?
prose More than 1 year ago
I like both Graham Motion and Barry Irwin. Motion is a major trainer without medical violations; of how many major trainers can that be said? Pletcher? Asmussen? Baffert? Nope. And Irwin is concerned about the future of the sport, not just making money in the breeding shed. He is a FAN of racing itself, and believes that 3 yo stars should be kept in training to run as 4 and 5 yos, something this game desperately needs.
daniel More than 1 year ago
Masy God bless you,prose.You are absolutely correct.Thank you for your erudite and succinct comments.
Eddie Lazaro More than 1 year ago
As a CLASS ACT TRAINER he is, Graham does not want to be isolated in the Racing Industry under the confinements of Team Valor which is a very wise Business decision. He has enough Horses, Great Owners and GREAT HIS FANS around him to always be in the hunt of a BETTER FUTURE
jttf More than 1 year ago
the dubai trainers are not nearly as good as american trainers like motion and clement. when the dubai trainers receive an american horse, do they ever improve the horse ? i have seen many horses get worse when being sent over there to a different trainer. look at richards kid. he wins 2 or 3 grade 1 races over here and then gets sent over to dubai to run up the track everytime. then richards kid gets sent back to the states and starts winning again. team valor needs to hire me as a consultant.
daniel More than 1 year ago
Not in this lifetime,jttf.