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  1. We had our final runners of the year in recent days with GOLDIE HAWK running a nice race on her debut at Wolverhampton on Thursday. She was a little bit slowly into stride but that probably wasn’t a bad thing when you are drawn one over seven furlongs there. If you break reasonably well, everything on the outside squashes in on the bend and you end up getting bumped around, which isn’t ideal first time out. She travelled round well, was a bit green once or twice when she came off the bridle but then stayed on well up the home straight. I thought she ran nicely, and this was a satisfactory start for her.

    SOLFEGGIO was our last runner of the year at Newcastle on Monday. She had run well last time at Wolverhampton, and I thought this stiffer 1¼m would play to her strengths. She ran well enough again, leading for much of the way. She was joined by rivals just over 1f out and although she ended up finishing 5th, she was only beaten just over 2 lengths.

    We were also in action at the December Sales where we bought a yearling for Bernie and Jane Westley. The only instruction I had was to make sure it was chestnut because that was the colour of their previous star, Premio Loco, and we managed to find a nice Dandy Man filly that met that requirement. She has lots of speed in her pedigree and so might even be a bit of a two-year-old, but she certainly should be a sprinter.

    We also bought the Clodhoppers a replacement for Dramatic Device. She is a three-year-old by the name of PROMISE OF SUCCESS and joins us from Godolphin. She’s a nice filly with a bit of a pedigree and not many miles on the clock, so she ought to progress into something a bit better as she gets older. We’ve got a bit of a track record with Dansili’s so we’ll have to hope she can keep that going.

    Reflecting on 2019, we’ve had a good season on the whole. I wouldn’t call it a vintage one because we’ve lacked a little bit of quality, but we can’t complain about reaching 25 winners when we’ve only had around 30 horses to play with all year. In fact, I think that was a significant achievement.

    We had a slow start to the year and when we got to July, we only had four or five winners on the board and things were looking a bit glum. However, things really improved from early August and in the second half of the season we were going along with a strike rate of 20%, which reflected well on the horses and the staff team, who did a grand job.

    Whilst there was no standout performer, I would say that DRAMATIC DEVICE and PURGATORY both winning three races was good. It was also pleasing to see OH IT’S SAUCEPOT returning to the winners’ enclosure having missed out last year.  

    Of course, thoughts now turn to next year and, of the older horses, I’d probably mention BLACK LOTUS who had a bit of an unfortunate season. She is a good filly and won in some style at Doncaster, looking as though she could be Listed class.  Then she wasn’t quite right and disappointed twice, before coming back and winning in good style again at Windsor but she got struck into that day. Although we got her back in time to run in a Listed race, it didn’t happen when Doncaster’s final meeting was abandoned, and she then missed the cut for the replacement race. So, we’ll keep pursuing Black Type with her and if she stays healthy, and fit and well, I think it is an achievable target.

    PURGATORY also stays in training and I think he’s got a bit of improvement in him. He really improved for blinkers and won well on his last outing, suggesting he might stay a bit further so we could try him over 1¼m at some point.

    Although we haven’t had a two-year-old winner, a lot of them have run with plenty of promise and they are the sort of horses that should improve at three. DOUBLE OR BUBBLE is probably the best of them, having finished second in a novice at Yarmouth on her only start. She was growing a lot through the year and so we’re looking forward to her next year, once she stops her growing. GLEN ESK also showed plenty of promise and then we had some good runs from one or two others in recent weeks on the all-weather. You’d be hopeful they could step forward next year and keep it going.

    Also, off the back of a good year, we’ve got some nice yearlings and I’d hope that one or two of those might prove to be halfway decent.

    So, lots to look forward to and, as well as those that I have mentioned, you live in hope that one or two others might emerge to become headline makers next year.

    The blogs will be back in 2020 and so, in closing, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy Christmas and New Year.

     

  2. Although we’re in the second half of November, we had three runners last week beginning with SOLFEGGIO at Wolverhampton on Monday. We stepped her up in trip to 10f, which is something I’ve been waiting to do with her. She had a break after she had fallen over and cut herself in the summer and it took a while for that to come right. She returned recently over 7f because she can run a bit free and I didn’t think we had her quite fit enough to go straight to this longer trip. On this occasion, however, she did everything right. She broke well, got into a nice position but was probably a little bit keen going into the first bend although that isn’t unusual at this track.  She then settled in, got into a nice rhythm and, turning into the straight, was one of the few left on the bridle and I thought she might nearly go and win. She just seemed to take a little bit of time to get going and a longer straight elsewhere might have suited her better. Nevertheless, she saw it out well and we were only beaten a head and a nose for second, so it was a good effort and I was pleased with that. We’ll stick at that trip and, looking at the programme over the next couple of weeks, a return to Wolverhampton is on the cards.

    The following day, CHEESE AND WINE ran at Chelmsford. She ran ok but I don’t really think all-weather racing is her thing having run pretty satisfactorily at Newmarket on debut. She broke ok from a wide draw, got a position but they didn’t go terribly quickly. Coming off the bend, they picked the pace up, she was flat footed and dropped back with plenty of kickback in her face, which understandably put her off. Although she was staying on again in the closing stages, she got out of position and out of contention. On the plus side, this provided a bit more experience for her, but I am not sure I’d want to run her on the all-weather again and we’ll put her away for the grass next year. Over a trip next season, I think she will be fine.  

    We were back at Chelmsford on Thursday with FRONT OF LINE in what could be a decent maiden. She didn’t break the sharpest and was at the back. The kickback wasn’t very good that night and she had to face the full force of that. George took her to the outside to let her see what she was doing and get some confidence. After a furlong and a half, she found her stride and was traveling nicely, before staying on well in the closing stages, running on all the way to the line. This was an encouraging start for her, but I am not sure if I’ll run her again this year or not. We might wait for next year and she’ll only improve in time.

    Looking to this week, I’d like to run GOLDIE HAWK on Wednesday at Kempton, but I suspect she won’t get a run. If that’s the case, she might have to go to Wolverhampton at the weekend.

    Finally, the Sales resume at Tattersalls this week and although we’ve nothing to sell, we’ll be looking around for something nice to replace Dramatic Device. I’ll also have a scratch around the yearling sales on Monday, but I fear the nice ones will probably make more money than you want them to. We’ll see though as you just never know!