Trainer's Report

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We had six runners last week starting with two at Windsor on Monday evening. HAN SOLO BERGER ran in the 6 furlongs Silk Series race for lady riders and was ridden by Emily Easterby. I think he is a bit too cute for somebody like Emily. He jumped out and travelled well but when push came to shove, he decided not to do more than he had to and tootled along in his own time. I think we are heading towards introducing some headgear for him as we’re not getting out of him on the track what he shows us at home. He needs something to focus his mind on the job in hand. 

Windsor has become a bad place at the minute for running horses that can get edgy as there is simply too much going in. The announcements are loud and frequent, and you are regularly bombarded with noise as you try to saddle one up. So much so, I am beginning to wonder if it is a racetrack or an entertainment venue. I am afraid it was all too much for OH IT’S SAUCEPOT. She was sweaty and worried beforehand, and was difficult to saddle which really isn’t like her. As a result, I wasn’t surprised she ran a bit flat and we’ll try again with her at a calmer venue. 

VANTASY made his handicap debut at Yarmouth on Tuesday and on this evidence he wants a lot further. I couldn’t really make any excuses for him on the ground because that was pretty good on the day. He was always a bit outpaced and shaped as though a step up to a mile and a half is required. 

Carole and I travelled up on the train to Redcar on Wednesday for DECIDING VOTE. I thoroughly enjoyed my day up there as it was a pleasure to be on a racetrack that wasn’t a themed day, where you didn’t have people sat in the stands drinking and where the crowd was there to actually watch the racing. I think she is another one that is not putting in as much effort as she might do. The whole purpose of keeping her in training as a four year old was to win another race and try to upgrade her, and we’re clearly not doing that. She’s quite a valuable broodmare asset and I expect she’ll probably be retired to the paddocks sooner rather than later. 

PENTLAND HILLS was sent off at a short price at Thirsk on Friday and, after finishing second, I think some people couldn’t wait to criticise the horse for his performance. I wouldn’t say he shone and put his best foot forward, but I think there were some slightly extenuating circumstances. Being drawn out wide didn’t help as we wanted to be handy but it was hard from where he started. Silvestre dropped him in and, with them racing in pairs he shared 5th and 6th, with the field going a reasonable gallop all the way. Early in the straight Silvestre got caught napping a bit and the horses that were behind him, including the winner, whizzed up his outside and we got caught in a pocket. The eventual winner got first run and was away and gone. Silvestre then pulled him out and, instead of giving him time to build up his momentum, tried to force the issue and gave him a couple of whacks. Having trained Motivator’s full brother, The New Pharaoh, I know the one thing you can’t do with this family is to bully them and instead you have to cajole and ask. I don’t doubt that he probably was the best horse in the race but I just think the way it was run didn’t get the best out of him. 

The week finished well with two runners in what ended up being a four runner race at Newmarket on Friday evening. With such a small field and with the favourite likely to make the running, I decided that ICE LORD needed to be up there in a good position. James Doyle did just that, sitting on the girths of the favourite all the way. They went a nice building pace and, after a couple of smacks, he soon put the race to bed and won nicely. The ground was probably a little bit quicker than ideal but it was nice to get the win under his belt and we’ll wait for a bit of rain for him now. In terms of future options, I’ll need to speak with his owners. The race he won at Ascot last year in early September is a possible but there are other options around including a trip up to Scotland for the Ayr Gold Cup or Silver Cup. 

ZEYZOUN, who had blotted his copybook at Ascot last time by pulling too hard and generally getting himself in a bit of tiswas, did a lot of things right here. He was relaxed throughout the preliminaries and in the race was on the bridle but not throwing his head about. As he was angled out to make his challenge, the one on his inside switched to its right fairly quickly and made him duck sharply to his right. As a result, Gerald Mosse’s saddle did slip slightly to the side and he had to wait for the horse to straighten up, sort himself out and get himself organised before he could ask him to go. Once he did, the horse ran on all the way to the line and was only beaten a length and so I was encouraged by that. I would think if we could keep him in that frame of mind and in that sort of form, he’ll be pretty competitive next time. 

Looking ahead to this week, things look pretty busy. We have two runners on Monday evening at Windsor. THE FIDDLER has his first run since May, whilst SOLFEGGIO, who has been going ok at home, makes her racecourse debut. I’d hope she would run a nice race. 

JUMPING CATS make his handicap debut at Newbury on Tuesday. He starts off a fairly stiff mark for a horse that hasn’t finished anywhere near the first three yet but we’ll see how he goes. 

I want to run SPRITZIG somewhere and she’s entered at Kempton on Wednesday. I fear that Kempton might be a bit slow as they have just resurfaced it and she’ll probably want a sounder surface. However, I haven’t made my mind up yet and she’s a possible. 

MARILYN is entered up in a few places later in the week, including two handicaps and a listed race. The priority would be go for a bit of black type at Haydock on Saturday but if that looked an impossible task then we might take in either the Yarmouth handicap on Thursday or the Newmarket handicap on Friday. 

BLACK LOTUS is also entered at Yarmouth on Thursday and Newmarket on Friday. She might run somewhere but I don’t want to risk her on particularly fast ground and so we’ll keep an eye on the weather forecast, particularly as there are supposed to be some showers around in the second part of the week. She also has a few more options at the beginning of the following week and so we’ll slot her in somewhere. 

MOUNTAIN RESCUE might run at Newmarket on Saturday as he tends to give a good account of himself here.