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  1. Last week was a quieter one with JUMPING CATS the first of our runners at Wolverhampton on Monday where things didn’t go for him in his race. He got a bit squeezed out at the start, so he ended up at the back. They then didn’t go very fast and he really needs a stronger gallop to get involved because he is a thorough stayer and it takes him a little while to get wound up. Just as he was beginning to get rolling as they left the back-straight, one in front of him stopped quickly and he had to pull up to get around that, which stopped his momentum. It was game over once that happened and it clearly just wasn’t his day.

    HAN SOLO BERGER was another that didn’t have much luck at Doncaster on Wednesday. Although the Racing Post reported that he dived left coming out of the stalls, the reality was that the one next to him jumped into him and unbalanced him early on. As a result, he was further back in the field than we wanted to be and then, in the closing stages, he had a wall of horses in front of him with nowhere to go. On the positive side, he didn’t have a hard race and we’ll hope he can make amends at Yarmouth on Tuesday.  

    On Wednesday evening, PURGATORY became our second winner in a close photograph within a few days and I must admit that on this occasion I didn’t think we had won. He got a decent position from a wide draw in the early part of the race. Having followed the leaders, he picked up well and looked like he would go and win. However, from the grandstand, it looked like the horse that finished second had stumbled in the closing stages but then had got back up to win the race. When they called us the winner, I thought it was a miracle although, having seen the head-on and how the second horse hung violently across the track, even if we had lost the photo, we might have got the race in the stewards’ room. It was good for him to win again and this confirmed he is tough.

    We were back at Doncaster on Thursday with FIRST SITTING.  On his last start at Goodwood, we had been drawn wide and we had used him up to get somewhere near the front. He did too much that day and got tired. On this occasion we were determined to hold him up and with a couple of confirmed front runners in the race, we thought there would be a genuine pace. In fact, they crawled for much of the way and the race turned into a sprint finish, and he could never get competitive. On the plus side, he ran a solid enough race, running through the line and showed he retains his enthusiasm. We’ll probably get one more roll of the dice with him towards the end of the month.

    This week will be busier, starting with two handicap debutantes at Kempton on Monday evening. Both GLEN ESK and CAPLA HUNTRESS have shown enough in their maidens to think that they will run all right and be competitive in this sort of company.

    On Tuesday, we have HAN SOLO BERGER at Yarmouth and THE FIDDLER at Redcar, which I hope will be well watered. Both are in races where they can run well.

    FLYING STANDARD will make his racecourse debut in the 2yo maiden at Yarmouth on Wednesday.  He is very green and will need a race to wake his ideas up and get him concentrating on what he has got to do.

    On Thursday we’ll probably run MOLLY SHAW and GREEK OASIS in the 2yo fillies’ novice at Yarmouth. Both will be making their debut but have been working ok so will hopefully run nice introductory races.  THE CORPORAL and OH IT’S SAUCEPOT could also both run here on the same afternoon, although it might be a bit firm for the latter who could wait for a race on the all-weather next week.  The former, meanwhile, has an option at Newbury on Friday. LUCKY CHARM will probably go up to Newcastle on Friday, whilst the weekend looks like being a quiet one.

    With seventeen winners on the board, we’ve equalled our score for last year and if we can get another three winners that would take us to twenty, which would be our best score for a few years. It would be great if we could manage that and let’s hope one or two can add to the tally this week.

  2. We had five runners last week beginning at Chelmsford on Wednesday with ZEYZOUN. He had a very awkward draw, 11 of 11, for a horse who wants to be handy but is also at his best with some cover. Although James Doyle did a good job of having him prominent and also keeping him reasonably relaxed, he never switched right off. We were stepping him up 1m here and, having put himself in with every chance, he was just getting a bit tired and was then the meat in the sandwich close home. I think he might have finished in the places otherwise. Looking ahead, I think he wants a strongly run 7f and we’ll hopefully find a race where they go a proper pace over that trip, which would allow his stamina to kick in at the end.

     On Thursday at Lingfield, we finally managed to win with HI HO SILVER. A bit like Zeyzoun, he’s a horse that probably doesn’t quite get the mile. This race was over 7f and they went a right good gallop all the way, and the ones in front were starting to run out of petrol inside the final furlong. He stayed on strongly, making up a lot of ground in a very short amount of time, particularly for that grade. I am delighted that he has won a race, particularly for his owner Pat Toye who has been very patient and stuck with him. Now he has learnt how to win, he is one of those that just might go and do it again.

    We sent two runners to Haydock on Friday starting with ICE LORD. He has got us baffled at the moment and we just can’t work out why he hasn’t shown any finish in his last three races. He’s doing everything right at home and we go to the races expecting better of him, but he’s just not getting competitive. It is disappointing because he has been a consistent horse all his life. Even when things haven’t gone his way, he’s finished off well and run a race. In this race on slow ground which he really enjoys and behind a decent pace, he travelled quite well throughout the race. However, once again, when he came off the bridle, he’s didn’t find anything and, at least for now, we can’t put a finger on why.

    In the closing race, FOLLOW INTELLO was a bit unlucky. They went no gallop in this race and, having been drawn down the inside, he raced around on the rail. Initially when they quickened it up, he was caught a bit flat-footed. There were some gaps just after that point, but he wasn’t travelling well enough to get off the rail and out of trouble. By the time, he started to travel all the gaps had shut. Almost the whole field went over the line together and we finished 7th, only beaten 1¾l, having never really had a chance to get a blow in. So, it was all a bit unfortunate but he’s in good heart and I’m sure he’ll remain competitive off his mark in the future.

    The week ended well with DELILAH PARK winning at Kempton. She is a really tough filly who tries very hard. Last time out, she had been denied on the line after a good battle and it looked like it could be a similar story here. As we approached the closing stages, I thought she was going to win but then she was headed inside the final furlong. We’ve been involved in something like six close finishes this season and, at last, it was our turn to prevail as she just managed to get her head in front on the line. It was a gutsy performance from a filly who is in a good vein of form at the moment.

    That was our sixteenth win of the season and I would like to think that we could hit twenty by the end of the year. We’re not overly busy this week with just a steady flow of runners. JUMPING CATS runs at Wolverhampton on Monday. He’d probably have to run a personal best to win this, but he seems to run his best races on the all-weather. Although he was a bit below par last time, he seems in good heart at home and I’d hope he’d be competitive.

    On Wednesday, HAN SOLO BERGER goes to Doncaster. This will be a competitive sprint handicap at a Festival meeting. However, he won last time and, if he runs up to his best again, should be in the mix although, being a 5f race, you obviously need lots of things to go right for you.

    In the evening, PURGATORY will probably run at Kempton. He was a bit unlucky last time at Thirsk when he got interfered with in the closing stages. He’s another one in good heart and so we’ll probably run him and see how he gets on.

    We’ll be back at Doncaster on Thursday with FIRST SITTING as long as the ground doesn’t get too lively. A bit like Ice Lord, he’s underperformed this year, lacking a bit of finish in his races and we can’t really put a finger on why. If he bounces back to something like his best and based on the way he has worked at home, he’d have a good chance off his mark.

    LUCKY CHARM has an entry at Sandown on Friday but she’s not certain to run. Because she’s tricky at the stalls, we need to make sure she is in the right frame of mind at home. If I want to run her on the grass, she could do with getting her toe in. That might not happen and so we might have to wait for Newcastle the week after.

    As for the weekend, THE FIDDLER will have an entry at Lingfield on Saturday. He’s very well but is another who would welcome some rain.  

    That will probably be it for this week, with more runners looking likely the following week including at the three-day Yarmouth Festival. The horses remain in good form and we’ll keep going while they are well. It is great to have been in a good run of form since the beginning of August.