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  1. With things beginning to wind down, we only had the one runner last week. TRADE TALKS ran at Wolverhampton on Saturday evening. We were forced to run again fairly quickly because there aren’t many 10f maidens after this one. He ran well last week and did so again here. He got bumped off his stride coming out of the stalls when the horse next door jumped into him. As a result, he ended up further back than we would have liked but, in what was a stronger race this week than the one he ran in last week, he stayed on well to finish 5th. He was a beaten a long way but I think that the winner is a very good horse and certainly a much better horse than you’d normally find in a Wolverhampton maiden at this time of the year. Trade Talks is learning and going the right way. Once he gets a handicap mark this week, I hope we would be able to find a slot for him in a handicap somewhere and see if we can win something before the end of the year.

    Looking ahead to this week, I’d be quite keen to send SPRITUALLY to Newcastle on Thursday. I wouldn’t normally send one quite so far away for its racecourse debut but I would prefer that she can go in straight line rather than whizz round bends when she doesn’t really know what is happening. The last twice we’ve declared her to run, she’s managed to find an excuse not to run on the day. So, having made the entry, there is a little bit of trepidation. She seems in good heart though and we’ll hope we can make it third time lucky.

    DELILAH PARK is entered at Wolverhampton, also on Thursday. I thought this looked quite a competitive race. The likelihood is that it will divide and so it might ease a bit. I’ll make a decision about her participation on Tuesday morning when we have to declare.

    Back at home, the yearlings that came from the Sales have all been broken in and ridden away. Everything has gone fine with that but a lot of these Sales yearlings have come in with coughs and colds so we’re having to be cautious and watchful. This week we’ve had the homebreds arrive and we’re making a start on them.

  2. As the 2018 turf season drew to a close, we had five runners last week all on the all-weather. The first was MARILYN at Kempton on Monday. I was a bit disappointed with her as she had been going well at home and, although this was a competitive race, I thought she would run well and put up a performance. Having got to the lead and travelled quite comfortably for a while, she had no pick up and finish. In fairness, this was the end of quite a long season for her and I suspect it was simply a case of being one race too many.

    Later on the same card, HI HO SILVER also disappointed. Having suffered from a lack of enthusiasm in his recent races, he displayed a surplus of enthusiasm here. We had put the cheek pieces on and they had a dramatic effect as he was far too keen and gave Ray Dawson no chance of getting him settled. I’m afraid it was a fairly inevitable result in the end.

    On Tuesday at Wolverhampton, TRADE TALKS had his first run for us and ran well. He had appeared quite green and a bit gormless in his work at home. In the race, he popped out nicely, travelled round quite well and stayed on nicely at the finish, so this was a promising start for him. We’ll make a plan for him and he seemed to be suited by the 1¼m, although, in time, he might want to go a bit further.

    Also on Tuesday but at Kempton, PURGATORY was another I expected a bit better from. I just wonder in hindsight whether we took him back to the racecourse a little bit too soon as it wasn’t that long since his previous start, where he had run very well. He is still a rather weak and backward horse, and so it possible he hadn’t made a full recovery. He ran pretty flat and was never travelling at any point in this race, which was disappointing.

    Our final runner of the week was DELILAH PARK at Newcastle on Wednesday. From an outside draw, I wanted to try and get some cover for her but, inevitably, you end up out the back. They went no pace and she was a bit keen early on as she would have liked to have got on with things a bit more. She didn’t finish her race off which was a bit disappointing. On the other hand, I have learnt something about her, which was important as she’s a filly we’ve not had for very long. A drop back to 6f and letting her bowl along will be more her thing.

    Other news from last week was that FIRST SITTING was promoted from 3rd to 2nd in the Group 3 Prix Gontaut-Biron at Deauville in August. This was because the second horse was disqualified for failing a dope test and the extra prize money he’ll pick up is not to be sneezed at.

    Looking to the next few weeks, we’ve only got a handful left to run, namely TRADE TALKS, SPIRTIUALLY, HI HO SILVER and DELILAH PARK. Most of the others are finished for the year. Some have already left for their holidays and those that haven’t will probably be gone somewhere this week.