West Witton jumps trainer Ferdy Murphy has announced he is relocating to France.
The Cheltenham Festival-winning trainer will sell his Wynbury Stables, near Middleham before moving to a farm in Upper Normandy.
Murphy will continue his family’s breeding business in France and buy and sell young horses.
He then intends to use his new stables as a training base.
“It will be the end of an era,” the 64-year-old said.
“I’ve had many grand times at Wynbury, but I’ve always wanted to train in France.
“If I don’t do it now, it is probably something that I will regret later on in life. The opportunity is too good to turn down.
The County Wexford-born trainer moved to West Witton in 1996 and since has more than 650 winners including 10 at the Cheltenham Festival.
His list of successes include three Scottish Nationals, two Whitbread Gold Cups, an Irish National, Kerry National, Midlands National and Newcastle’s Eider Chase.
He also landed a Hennesssy and a Paddy Power Gold Cup while his Truckers Tavern was second to the legendary Best Mate in the 2003 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
French Holly’s victory in the Prix La Barka at Aueuil in 1999 fuelled Murphy’s interest in French racing and breeding.
Murphy said his experience of buying quality young horses from France – including Al Ferof, Cheltenian and Kalahari King – had bolstered his decision.
The trainer informed all his racehorse owners in the months planning the move.
Earlier this month, owner partnership Let’s Live Racing announced they had moved their horses from the West Witton yard to Cheshire-trainer Donald McCain.
“All my staff and owners have been very supportive, and it’s grand that some want to send their horses to Normandy,” added Murphy.
“I’ll be looking to have around 20 horses in France to begin with, which also gives me time to develop my new facilities and pursue other interests.”
“My eldest daughter Caroline lives in Normandy with my son-in-law Guy Petit, who is a top bloodstock agent, so it also makes sense from a family point of view.”