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  1. As expected, we didn’t have any runners last week but we should be back on the racecourse again over the next few days. JUMPING CATS is entered in a 2m handicap at Catterick on Wednesday and I think we will run here as we don’t have too many other options for him. There are one or two others in there that would make it a competitive race, but we’ll have to see if they turn up. Although he has shown his best form on the all-weather, where he has won twice, I’d hope we could get him off the mark on the grass. He’s gone up a bit in the weights and so life isn’t going to be easy for him, but he’s in good heart and so hopefully he’ll go there and run well. 

    On Wednesday evening, we have three entered at Kempton. All of them are in quite competitive races and so we’ll wait to see how those races develop when declarations are being made on Monday morning. DELILAH PARK, who won last time, is in the apprentice handicap and that looks competitive enough, although it is a race that might just cut up a bit and so we’ll wait and see with her. To get a run, SOLFEGGIO will need her race to divide, which I think it probably will. OH IT’S SAUCEPOT, however, is unlikely to go as her race looks too competitive, involving some improving three-year-olds that would take a lot of beating.

    HAN SOLO BERGER has entries at Doncaster on Thursday and Chester on Friday. He’ll need a bit of rain but the forecast gives us some hope on that front, particularly towards the backend of the week, so we’ll hope we get his ground somewhere. I’d prefer to run him at Doncaster but we’ll have to wait and see. He is always a bit limited by the ground and ZEYZOUN is the same as he needs a bit of rain, but he may go to Chester on Friday evening.

    FIRST SITTING is entered in the early closing John Smith’s Diamond Jubilee Cup Handicap at York on Saturday but I don’t think we’ll run him there as I would like to wait and run him at Goodwood at the end of the month. So, I don’t think we have anything for the weekend although we are looking busier for the following week. 

    Finally, it is the July Sales at Tattersalls this week and TRADE TALKS is due to go through the ring on Friday.

  2. It has been an especially busy few days with twelve runners scattered around the country between Wednesday and Saturday. Things started at Kempton on Wednesday evening, where we had three runners. We thought DELILAH PARK would benefit from a step up to 7 furlongs and so it proved as she ran out a ready winner. We’ll have to wait and see what the handicapper does with her, but I’d be keen to stick at this trip in the future. I also think she is well suited to the all-weather and so we’ll try to keep to that, although opportunities on artificial surfaces are a bit limited at this time of year. This performance was a very good effort from her.

    OH IT’S SAUCEPOT also ran really well. She was another one we stepped up in trip and although she got squeezed out in the early stages and was a bit further back than ideal, she finished with a good rattle into third place. We’ll probably stick at this 1m3f trip although, on this evidence, she can probably move up to 1½ miles particularly on an all-weather surface. She’s a filly that wants a bit of cut to race on the grass and so, if we are in for a dry spell, there’s every chance that her next races will back on the all-weather.

    I think the stop-start nature of racing on the all- weather doesn’t really suit THE FIDDLER and, having had a decent position, his race got a bit messy and it all needs to flow for him. That said, I think the main reason he ended up beaten so far is that he doesn’t stay 2 miles and so we’ll have to look to drop him back to 1¾ miles in the future.

    Onto Thursday and ZEYZOUN ran very well to finish third over 6 furlongs at Nottingham. He’s a horse that wants juice in the ground and so we thought we had better run him whilst there were some easier conditions around. Ideally, he wants 7 furlongs and, as you’d expect from a horse that wants a little bit further, he got a little bit outpaced 2½ furlongs out but then stayed on strongly to beaten by two necks. It was a creditable run and shows he is in good form. He’s another that might have to resort to the all-weather if we get a dry spell.

    We tried a new trip withTHE CORPORAL at Newmarket. We always thought he would stay a trip but I’m not sure how much we learnt in this race. They didn’t go very quickly but he settled well and travelled strongly for much of the way. He got interfered with when the horse in front of him hung across going into the Dip and that stopped any forward momentum. So, it is difficult to stay for certain whether he stayed this 1½ miles but, on balance, we’ll probably run him over 1¼ miles next time. I think he’s a horse who still needs to strengthen up. He doesn’t find an awful lot of the bridle at the moment, but I believe there is more come from him as he gets stronger. 

    We had three runners at Leicester in the evening. TRADE TALKS was disappointing with no obvious excuse. This was his seasonal debut but he had worked well going into the race and so I expected him to run a nice race for us. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and when push came to shove 3 furlongs out, he was found wanting. Whether he was a bit ring rusty or just too switched off, I don’t know but he holds an entry in the July Sales, and I suspect he’ll be taking that up.

    PURGATORY wasn’t best drawn and was caught out a bit wide in his race. Coming around the bend into the straight, one on his inside veered out, knocked him out and got him very unbalanced. The result was that it was game over from that moment onwards. Although he stayed on into midfield in the closing stages, after that incident he was never in a position to throw down a serious challenge. This was a bit disappointing after his good effort at Yarmouth last time and he’s another I think we need to step up in trip to 1¼ miles on his next start. He’s also needs to strengthen up physically as he’s quite leggy and gangly at the moment.  

    SOLFEGGIO has been getting too keen for her own good in her races and that was the case again here. She broke well but was just seeing a bit of daylight, and she was pulling quite hard. Once she got cover, she eventually settled but it took a little while and I suspect she ended up paying the penalty for that in the closing stages. That said, she wasn’t helped when she was bumped and knocked off her stride in the last furlong by the winner. I thought she was just beginning to stay on at that point and might have finished a bit closer, but the bump was game over for her. She’s been quite consistent but just has this inclination to run a bit too keen in the early stages. My feeling is that she’s got to get out of that habit if we are to make much progress with her.

    Onto Friday and WALK IT TALK IT was a little fractious in the stalls in her novice race at Doncaster. As a consequence, she was on the backfoot when the gates opened and rather flopped out of the stalls. We ended up right at the back which we didn’t really want with her, but they went a good enough gallop in front of her. She’s a filly I think is destined to go a lot further in distance eventually and is still a bit weak. She was closing on the field in the latter stages and ran through the line strongly, so she clearly wants to go further. Some good cut in the ground will suit her and, although there was nothing wrong with the conditions here, it would have been lively enough for her.

    At Yarmouth, HI HO SILVER was disappointing as I had thought that if we were going to have one go close on Friday, it would be him. He wasn’t favoured by the draw and trying to get cover early on, the horse on his inside which was very keen kept knocking him out and got him racing too early. Also, the race developed a bit away from him but, all of that said, it was a disappointing effort as he simply didn’t find anything off the bridle. Whether that was mental or physical, I don’t know but we might resort to some headgear in the future.

    Coming off two disappointing efforts, we were looking for FIRST SITTING to run a positive race at Newmarket in the evening, which we got from him. Reunited with Gerald Mosse, who has got on well with him in the past, he settled well in behind, moved up into contention two furlongs out before just getting a little bit tired when he met the rising ground. He stayed on at the one pace to finish fourth and had a good blow afterwards, and so we’re hoping there is more to come from him. I was pleased with this good effort and it was nice to see him back showing some form again.

    Our final runner of the week was on Saturday at Newmarket. DRAMATIC DEVICE did everything right but was just beaten on the nod. They went a nice pace for the first two furlongs, then slowed it right down but James Doyle was wise to that and moved him up onto the heels of the leaders. He galloped on strongly and as they went past me standing on the grandstand, he was a head in front but credit to the winner who stuck to his task well. It was a good effort and shows he is competitive off the mark he is on. As long as the handicapper doesn’t do anything too drastic with him, his turn shouldn’t be too far away. For a horse that is a little highly strung and can get a bit wound up before a race, he’s very honest in the race itself.

    After such a busy few days, things will be quieter now for a while with HAN SOLO BERGER our only entry this week at Newbury on Thursday. His participation is probably unlikely as he’s a horse who wants to get his toe in. I doubt he’ll get those conditions here and so we’ll probably be looking elsewhere to run him. We might have one or two other runners the following week, but it will be the middle of July before we find a few more to run. That will give us a chance to get some two-year-olds on the go and we’ll see how that goes over the next week or two.