Many of our runners over the past week stayed closed to home with ABWAAQ the first to go at Newmarket on Thursday. We had an inch of rain overnight and through the morning, which turned the ground pretty slow. That wasn’t to his liking at all and so we’ll just have to forget about this run and start again. He wants a sound surface and possibly 7f. In fact, he could even get a 1m although he will have to learn to settle early doors.
Our two runners on Friday appreciated the ease in the ground. GLEN ESK was unfortunately drawn on the wide outside and, as we wanted to get some cover early on his seasonal debut, this meant we were rather a long way back in the race. He did everything right – settled well, moved nicely into contention going down into the dip and looked like he might make the frame. One just crossed him, and he probably got a little bit tired, but this was a solid enough start. He’s another one that might move up a furlong in trip next time. The ground is the key to him as he can’t go on fast ground, so we’ll run him where there has been rain or, alternatively, we’ll see what options we have on the all-weather.
WALK IT TALK IT started off well last year, making a promising debut at Wetherby. Her two runs after that were worse than awful so had a bit to prove coming into this season. She had been working nicely and appreciated the ground. She did everything right – got into a nice rhythm, was staying on well, got a little bit unbalanced going into the dip being a big leggy filly but it didn’t make a lot of difference as she was already booked for third at that point. A solid enough start, she probably wants to go up to 1m6f or even 2m. The ground is key for her and we’ll have to look at all-weather options if we can’t find something suitable on the grass for her.
On Saturday, MOLLY SHAW ran ok having been a bit on her nerves. In a way, this was like a debut as her sole previous start was a bit of a non-event. She had wind op over the winter and that seems to have done the trick. She ran well for a long way before getting tired and I think we’ll see her to better effect next time. She’s a big filly and is sure to improve with racing and time.
We had four runners on Sunday, including two at Wolverhampton. FRONT OF LINE broke well, tracked the leaders always travelling well. The first two were probably over-racing and we didn’t get involved in that. She loomed up large in the straight and looked like she might go and win the race before getting tired in the final 50 yards. She finished a good third and this shows she can be competitive at this level. We’ll see what the handicapper does with her but 6f seems to be her bag.
PURGATORY got a little bit squeezed out going into the first bend, so we were further back in the field than we had planned to be. Other than that, he travelled round well, got into a good rhythm but was always too far back to make his presence felt. When he got into the straight, the first two had quickened up and gone before we were organised. He was lugging left in the straight, but I think that was because he was left on his own and this was progression on what he did last time. The blinkers obviously made the difference and hopefully we’ll get him back on slow ground on turf but, if not, we’ll keep him ticking over on the all-weather.
At Kempton, RUE DE LA GAITE ran very well. We know she stays further from what she did in France before joining us. However, she is a keen, free-going filly and so we were anxious to make sure we got her settled today. Josephine Gordon did a good job of that even though one or two of the other jockeys weren’t making her life easy. She stayed on nicely in the straight and, although she wasn’t going to beat the winner, it was a pleasing performance and something she can step up on in the future. Getting her to settle will be key and so whether we move up in trip or leave her at 1m at the moment is a decision to be made down the line. We’ll see how she comes out of this and what she does at home over the next week or two.
Finally, PENKELLA made her racecourse debut and was very green. I think we’ll have to put some blinkers on her because she was quite happy just to go her own pace. I know she was left at the start, but she didn’t engage to go with it, and I’ve known her do this at home. Blinkers will help put her mind on the job and get her doing things the right way because there is some ability there and she is nothing like as slow as she appeared to be here.
Looking ahead to this week, we’ve nothing until the backend of the week and then it will depend on whether horses get in their races. This includes HAN SOLO BERGER, who is entered at Doncaster and Newmarket on Friday but will need some luck to get in either of those. We’ve got a few dotted about but we’ll have to see how things look nearer the time.