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The last week has been busy and, in all honesty, a little bit frustrating. On Monday, FIRST SITTING travelled up to Redcar to run in the Zetland Gold Cup. The conditions proved too firm for him and David Allan said that cantering down to the start, he had a fair idea he wasn’t going to enjoy it. He wouldn’t stretch out at all and David very sensibly didn’t make him do more than he had to and looked after him. That was good as he came back in one piece and we live to fight another day. Unfortunately, it was a classic case of a course being forecast rain which didn’t really materialise. They obviously hadn’t watered but, in the circumstances, you couldn’t blame anybody, and it was just one of those things.    

Also on Monday, SOLFEGGIO ran nicely in the fillies’ handicap at Leicester. She raced in mid-division and halfway up the straight, looked to be going nowhere and I thought we were going to finish nearer the back than the front. However, she stayed on very strongly in the last furlong and a half, running on to finish third. She was a bit of a way off the first two, who were the unexposed pair in the race, but this was still a good effort. We always thought she will want further in time and I still think that’s the case but, because she needs to learn to settle in her races, I’ll leave her at a mile on a stiffish track like Leicester for now.  They had done a good job with the watering and, although the ground was quick enough for her, she was able to operate on it, but she will appreciate more cut in the ground. She’s going the right way, beginning to fulfil the promise she showed last year and hopefully her turn isn’t too far away.

Back at Leicester on Tuesday, DRAMATIC DEVICE had his first run for us having raced in France last year. I wasn’t sure what to expect because although we know he’s a horse with talent, he can be a bit quirky at home. Pleasingly, he was well behaved throughout it all here. In the race, we were drawn wide, so we dropped him in before he stayed on resolutely in the closing stages. He just hung fire when he was first asked to go and then blew up a bit, but when he got his second wind, was staying on again at the end. He’s another one who, longer term, I would think will end up running over further but we’ll stick at a 1¼m for now.  

We ran HAN SOLO BERGER at Southwell on Tuesday simply because he’s a horse that wants juice in the ground. I wanted to get a run into him but you never know with Southwell whether they will handle the surface or not. He sort of handled it but wasn’t quick enough over this 5 furlongs where they go pretty hard. He was flat to the boards all the way and, although he didn’t run badly, was never able to land a blow. His ideal conditions are good or good to soft ground, and a stiff 5 furlongs. His next opportunity is at Sandown in the middle of the month, but we will need the weather to play ball for him to have his optimum conditions.

At Yarmouth on Thursday, HI HO SILVER was one of my stronger fancies for the week but the way the race was run really didn’t suit him. He broke well and, because he’s a bit one paced, you need to have him up close to the pace. There were two others that ultimately didn’t run any sort of race, but they wanted to go too fast, which set him alight early on. As a result, he got racing a bit too far out and so didn’t quite get home. This made him vulnerable to horses picking him up from off the pace, which is exactly what happened. Having said that, he wasn’t beaten far but, on this occasion, things just didn’t go right for him.   

THE FIDDLER was in action at Wetherby. He didn’t do much wrong at all, breaking well, sitting mid-division and travelling round on the bridle all the way which was good to see as he is usually a bit on and off it. Having got into a nice rhythm, he moved up to challenge 2f out and I thought coming to the furlong pole, he would nearly go on and win. When he met the rising ground in the final furlong, however, his stamina ebbed away and he finished 3rd, only beaten 1¾ lengths. This was a good effort, with the first three clear of the remainder, and I’ll probably move him back to 1¾m in the future. He’s another one that would appreciate a bit more cut in the ground. 

At Doncaster on Saturday, JUMPING CATS was in action over 1¾m. They went a nice gallop and he was flat to the boards all the way. He started to move up into contention two furlongs out and looked like he might stay on into the frame. They got away from him as they entered the last furlong, however, and Jack Mitchell let him come home in his own time once he realised he wasn’t going to get placed. He ran a steady sort of race and I think we’re going to have to step him up to 2m. He doesn’t mind faster ground and so I wouldn’t use the going as an excuse, but I think a little bit of cut would help him.   

A bit like First Sitting at the start of the week, BLACK LOTUS found the conditions too lively for her. I don’t think we would have beaten the winner, who bolted up, but on better ground, I am sure we would have been more competitive. She couldn’t let herself down to quicken and ran bravely under the circumstances, probably doing well to finish 3rd. We’ll mind her a bit more in the future and be patient with her. She’s still a filly that is progressing and going the right way. So, although it was disappointing not to follow up her recent win, this wasn’t a disaster.

This week is going to be quiet. DELILAH PARK has entries at Nottingham on Wednesday and Haydock on Friday. She is ground dependent and I wouldn’t run her if the ground had the word ‘firm’ in it. She’s a filly who has a few little issues and would get a bit sore if we ran her on fast ground. I’d like to run her if I can, as she’s ready for a race and worked well last week.