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We had our first runners on the turf last week and they all ran well, so it was a good start to our season. HAN SOLO BERGER was the first to go at Windsor on Monday. We ran him over 6f last year and although he had a couple of near misses and ran well a few times, I wasn’t convinced that he was quite getting home. We thought we would bring him back over 5f and see how he got on. He showed plenty of pace in a race run at a good clip and wasn’t far off the leaders all the way. He needed a bit of room 2f out which eventually opened up but, by the time he got there, he was just starting to get a bit tired being in need of his first run. He was only beaten 3 lengths and so this was a good start for him. He saw his race out well and I think we’ll probably stick at 5f. Indeed, a hard run, stiff 5f will probably suit him ideally and, in addition, a bit of rain wouldn’t go amiss.

ICE LORD ran very well at Newmarket on Tuesday, probably a bit above my expectations running off a career high mark. He was pretty fresh going into the race and so we were keen to get him settled early on. After a furlong or so he switched off, was okay in behind, and was a bit unlucky really as he could have done with gaps coming earlier than they did. He finished fourth, not beaten far, running on all the way to the line. On ground that was probably plenty quick enough for him, that was an encouraging start to his season and shows he can be competitive off his higher mark. There are a couple of races for him in the middle of May, one at York and the other at Newbury. I would have thought the Newbury track would suit him a little bit better than York but he’ll probably get an entry in both of those and we’ll see. He’s another one that would appreciate a bit of rain.

Our new recruit from Aidan O’Brien’s stable, THE CORPORAL, ran at Newmarket on Wednesday. I think he still has quite a bit to learn because, although he had run three times in Ireland, he had been allowed to jump and run over there. Based on the way he has been working at home, he strikes me as a horse who is going to stay further than the 1m he ran over here. We wanted to teach him a little bit more about how to race because if he is going to run over longer distances, he’ll need to learn to take a lead, get settled in and do things the right way round. He was a bit clueless doing that this first time, racing a bit keen early. When he did settle and was asked to quicken up, he really didn’t know how to do that either but eventually the penny dropped and he stayed on well. This was an encouraging start for him and he’s a horse that will hopefully improve as the season goes on. Physically he can get stronger and on pedigree he should stay further than 1m, although I’ll probably run him over 1m again next time. There’s another race for him in the middle of May back at Newmarket, so we’d certainly be interested in having a look at that. I don’t think he wants soft ground but we got the impression the ground here was as fast as he would like it.

Looking forward to this week, we are at Yarmouth on Tuesday with HI HO SILVER. He got held up early last season and was a bit disappointing in the end. We ended up running him over 1m3f but I was never really convinced that was his right trip and he’s certainly not bred to do that on paper. When he kicked off as a 3yo, he looked as though 1m was going to be about right and so we’ll run him over that trip here and see if we can learn a bit more. For what he is, he’s in good heart at home and we’ll see how he goes.

We could run JUMPING CATS and OH IT’S SAUCEPOT at Chelmsford on Thursday. Jumping Cats runs over 1¾m and will probably need the run a bit more over that sort of distance, as we’ve only be able to go 9f or 1¼m on the all-weather gallops since the ground has dried up. He’s done his work and should run okay but will probably need the run. Saucepot usually runs quite well fresh and seems to be going okay. She’s probably best at 1¼m but we’ll bring her back over 1m here and see how she goes.

We’ve got five entered up on Saturday but I will want to see what the ground conditions are like before finalising plans. FOLLOW INTELLO is in at Haydock and Doncaster, and he wouldn’t want it too firm. I’d be keener to run him over 1¼m at Haydock if he gets in.  BLACK LOTUS also has an option at Haydock but there’s a fillies race at Nottingham next week over 1m which I’d be keener to start her off in. She likes to get her toe in and so we’ll have to see if the rain that is around is going to come, particularly at Nottingham. I’d be keen to run SOLFEGGIO, PURGATORY and ZEYZOUN because they have all done their work and are ready to go.  The latter will probably get in as he is pretty well up the ratings but we’ll have to wait and see whether Solfeggio and Purgatory make the cut as they are in races with plenty of entries above them in the weights.