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  1. Having had a few near misses recently, last week was an excellent one with three winners from our five runners. Our first runner was THE FIDDLER at Nottingham on Tuesday evening and, although he didn’t win, he ran very well to finish second. If the race had panned out a little differently, we might have given the winner more of a race. He broke well and held a reasonable position in midfield. He got slightly squeezed out around the first turn, but we still weren’t too badly placed. The problem was that as they were going into the bottom bend, the horse that was in fifth place didn’t lay up to the first four, which included the winner. When we got levelled up into the straight, although he ran on very strongly, we were left with more ground to make up than we wanted. However, it was a good effort and, so long as he can hold his consistency, his turn shouldn’t be too far away.

    HI HO SILVER had been working well at home before he ran at Wolverhampton on Wednesday and so I was expecting better than his seventh place. In fairness, Richard Kingscote by his own admission felt that he had got it wrong by making too much use of him. Having been well drawn, we wanted to be handy in a race where there didn’t look to be a lot of pace. Richard gave him a bit of a dig to race up with the pace early on, but we ended up disputing the lead, which wasn’t Plan A. That didn’t suit him as he needs some cover and time to get going, then he finishes off well. If you try to make too much use of him, he can’t sustain it and so things didn’t work out for him here.

    On the same day at Yarmouth, we ran THE CORPORAL over 1¼m for the first time. He had two races over 1m and then we stepped him up to 1½m on his previous start, which he didn’t stay, and so we thought this trip would suit. They went enough of a gallop and he was always travelling nicely. At the beginning of the home straight, Hollie Doyle was trying to build him up into the race gradually, but one came up the outside very quickly and shut him off, leaving him trapped in behind horses and looking for space. Luckily, a nice gap opened up down the rail and Hollie, who despite her lack of inches is very strong, managed to get him organised and got him running on. The penny dropped and he quickened up nicely, winning well, which was obviously very satisfactory. I think this is his trip but also feel that he’ll stay further in time as he gets a bit stronger. So, we’ll keep at 1¼m for now and on galloping tracks, as he’s a long striding horse and little sharp tracks wouldn’t be his game.

    DRAMATIC DEVICE had been narrowly beaten on his previous start in a Newmarket handicap and, because he was still a maiden, we were able to run him without a penalty in a novice at Leicester on Thursday. This looked a decent opportunity for him on paper and we opted to keep it simple and make the running on him, which is probably not the ideal way to ride him. However, out in front, we were the master of our own destiny rather than being a hostage to fortune behind others. He got a bit unbalanced at the furlong pole and bumped into the rail, which I thought might cost us. James Doyle got him straightened up, and he stayed on well winning with a bit in hand at the finish. He’ll go back into handicaps now and he’s another that I’ll be happy to stick at 1¼m, but we could step him up to 1½m at some point.   

    On Saturday evening, FOLLOW INTELLO ran at Haydock and made it a third consecutive winner this week. I don’t know what went wrong when we ran him at Thirsk last time. Whether he didn’t like the track or it just all happened to quickly, he made amends here. We had a wide draw and so the obvious thing was to drop him in and take our time. I think that is the way to ride him and Jack got him nicely relaxed. The race wasn’t run at a particularly strong gallop and they obviously quickened up down the straight. When they first picked up the pace, he looked a bit flat footed and I thought we might be in trouble. However, when Jack gave him a squeeze, he made his ground up very quickly and, if anything, got to the front earlier than ideal, but he kept going and won nicely enough. He enjoyed the softer ground and the extra distance, so we’ll plan accordingly in the future.

    We’ve now got to see if we can keep things going into this week and our first runners will be at Wolverhampton on Tuesday. DELILAH PARK won last time and goes here with a chance, but there are two or three other recent winners in the race so there will be a few other people thinking the same. SOLFEGGIO has been running fairly consistently and she’s in a maiden handicap, which looks an opportunity for her to be competitive again and we’ll hope she can get involved in the finish.

    On Wednesday, we’ll probably just have the one runner with HAN SOLO BERGER heading to Sandown. OH IT’S SAUCEPOT is entered at Leicester on Wednesday and Doncaster on Thursday, but I suspect the ground will end up a bit fast for her, which is a shame as she’s in great form.

    SEPHIRA PARK will probably have her first run for us at Doncaster on Thursday. Although she is a four-year-old and has had a run for Clive Cox last year, she’s still green and has a bit to learn.  

    I think that will be it for the week. WALK IT TALK IT and ZEYZOUN have entries at Newmarket on Friday evening but both would need rain to run, which doesn’t look likely. It doesn’t look like we’ll have anything for the weekend and so we’ll be having Saturday at home.

    Let’s hope our good run continues. The horses look really well at the minute - they couldn’t look any better - and we’ll have to see what we can do while they are in such good form.

  2. We had four runners over the past week and, although none of them managed to finish with their head in front, we deserved a winner as they all ran well. 

    JUMPING CATS put up a creditable performance to finish third at Catterick on Wednesday, particularly as that wouldn’t be an ideal track for him. His race also had a red-hot favourite and so we knew we were up against it, but he’s a horse that doesn’t have too many other opportunities at the moment. They went quite a good gallop, but he still ran in snatches a little bit, as is his wont. He looked like he wasn’t going to make his presence felt on the race but then he stayed on strongly in the last two furlongs and, in the end, was unlucky not to finish second.  He’ll probably stay further than two miles, but I really think he wants somewhere a bit more conventional to be seen to best effect.

    Later on Wednesday, SOLFEGGIO finished fourth at Kempton. We were drawn down the inside and, early in the straight, found ourselves held in a pocket. I had hoped they would fan out and she would get a run, but they all made a dive for the inside. As a result, George had to bide his time and wait for a gap to come and, by the time she got racing room and was rolling, the race was all but over. However, she stayed on well at the end and now that she is settling better, I wouldn’t mind trying to run her over a longer trip. The extended mile at Wolverhampton or even a mile and a quarter somewhere, might be an option. We’ll see on that but, on the whole, she’s running consistently and we just need to find the right opportunity for her.

    I took a bit of a punt running HAN SOLO BERGER at Doncaster on Thursday. He was well at home, but we had always thought he was not so good on faster ground. He didn’t let us down and ran well here, travelling very strongly throughout. George waited for the leaders to soften each other up and pounced at the right moment. He looked like he had the race won but the winner came with a wet sail and did us in the last few strides. I can’t argue with the result as the winner was the best horse in the race, but it was nice to see him show his form again and hopefully his turn isn’t too far away.

    Finally, we sent ZEYZOUN up to Chester on Friday evening. It is not the easiest of tracks and things didn’t pan out ideally for him. Paul Hanagan rode a canny race on the winner, slowing it down from the front. We were in the right place tracking the leaders but, when the pace quickened, we were caught behind some horses and the winner got first run on us. We ran well to finish second and, as he’s been running very consistently all season, I don’t think his turn is too far away either.

    As for this week, THE FIDDLER goes to Nottingham on Tuesday evening. If he runs like he did at Wetherby, he should be competitive in this race. Things didn’t work out for him in his last race at Kempton but he’s in good heart and, as long as the ground doesn’t dry up too much, he should run his race.

    We’ll probably run HI HO SILVER at Wolverhampton on Wednesday as long as he gets in. He’s dropping back in trip and we’ll put cheek pieces on to sharpen him up and get him focussed on what’s he got to do. I might also run THE CORPORAL at Yarmouth on the same day. We think a mile and a quarter will be his trip, but we’ll find that out for sure here. 

    Beyond that, I need to have a good look at the races before committing to running plans. DRAMATIC DEVICE and FOLLOW INTELLO both have options on Thursday and Saturday. We’ll have to wait and see where they might go.

    Finally, TRADE TALKS was sold at Tattersalls on Friday and will now continue his career in Ireland. Hopefully the change of scenery will do him good and he will do well for his new connections.