The second week of the season and our first runner was TURNTABLE at Pontefract on Wednesday. Things didn’t quite go to plan as a result of a combination of factors. He jumped out the stalls nicely, was relaxed, dropped his head and Jack had him on a nice long reign to let him settle. When the horses compressed together not long after the start, one on his outside gave him a bump which frightened him. Jack wasn’t expecting that and lost his balance, looking like he might fall out the back door. Before he could get the horse reorganised, along came a sharp bend and, instead of turning left, he went straight on. It was just one of those things and we’ve learnt that he is still a bit of a baby and needs to gain a bit more confidence. We’ll regroup and start again.
Later in the day, HI HO SILVER returned to action at Yarmouth. He can go on quick ground, but it was lively enough for him and they went a fairly good gallop all the way. He ran ok but was never quite comfortable in the race. This run will have blown the cobwebs away and on good ground with his racing head back on, I expect he’ll run a bit better next time.
On Thursday, CAPLA HUNTRESS made her seasonal return at Lingfield and I was very pleased with her run. I’m pretty certain she wants 1½m but we started her over 1¼m as it has been quite difficult to get distance work into them on the gallops as we haven’t been able to get on the grass this spring and you can’t go much more than 1m on the all-weather gallops. She travelled round nicely on the inside, made some ground up but just lacked the pace to get into the race. It was a solid effort and a good start to her year. We’ll step up to 1½m next time and hope to make this run count.
At Kempton on Friday, THE CORPORAL was a bit fresh first time out. We had hoped to get him relaxed behind a lead, but he broke the stalls quite alertly, was quick into his stride and always seeing daylight. As a result, he raced a bit keenly until they got round into the back straight. He made a bit of an effort once he got into the home straight but then got tired and emptied out fairly quickly, having exerted himself early on. He’s another one that now the cobwebs have been blown away, should be more tractable next time and we’ll get a better run from him.
Later on the card, DELILAH PARK did very well. On paper she had a decent chance, but I thought she looked a little bit burly going into the race. Like a lot of ours, although they have done plenty of groundwork, we haven’t done a huge amount of fast work with them. She travelled round well, moved nicely into contention and, despite getting a little bit tired in the last 100 yards, had done enough and held on to win nicely. She really likes it at Kempton and seems better there than elsewhere. We obviously can’t keep racing her there as that would be very limiting but she’s always a force to be reckoned with at that track.
Finally, at Newmarket on Sunday OH IT’S SAUCEPOT, a bit like The Corporal, was a bit fresh and full of herself on her return to action. In the race, we had a lead early on but then they all switched and didn’t really know where to go. We ended up seeing daylight and she was doing a little bit too much from there. She paid the penalty at the business end of the race but 5th from her first time out was a solid enough start. She would have enjoyed a bit more cut and is another one that I would expect better things from next time.
In the closing race on the card, THE FIDDLER ran very well into finish 3rd having travelled sweetly throughout. There was a bit of drama when they turned into the straight when the one in front of him stumbled and he clipped heels. Apart from that, however, everything went well. He moved up at the bushes looking a threat but just plugged on a bit. He wants a bit further and so is another one who made a satisfactory start. I’d hope we can build on this run in the future.
Looking ahead to this week, we’re trying to get some 3yos going including one or two that need more experience in maidens before they go handicapping, plus others that are already handicapped. ABWAAQ is in the latter category and will have his first start for us. We’re still learning about him, but I think 6f/7f will be his trip and he starts in a 6f handicap at Newmarket on Thursday. The likes of FRONT OF LINE, MOLLY SHAW and CHEESE AND WINE have all got maiden opportunities from the end of the week and through the weekend. We’ll try to run GLEN ESK unless it is too firm as he is a big heavy horse. If we get a bit of rain at Newmarket, he could run on Friday.
Of the older horses, BLACK LOTUS is a possible at Redcar on Thursday, but I wouldn’t want to run her if the ground was too fast. ICE LORD, meanwhile, could possibly go to Ascot but has alternative options the following week so we’ll see with both of those.