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  1. We finished 2020 with a handful of runners in December, beginning with CHEESE AND WINE in a 12f handicap at Wolverhampton at the beginning of the month. She was well positioned through the race and had everything going for her but, once into the straight, emptied out fairly quickly, eventually finishing 6th.  Turning for home, I thought she might hit the frame and so that was a bit disappointing. We can’t find anything wrong with her and so this remains a bit of a puzzle. 

    We were back at Wolverhampton in the middle of month, firstly with FRONT OF LINE who finished runner-up a 7f novice. She ran well but just bumped into a good one on the day. We were tracking the leaders, following the eventual winner through, and looked briefly at the top of the straight as though we might get to the front. When the winner found its stride, however, we were never going to beat it. Still, she ran a solid race in defeat and certainly up to her best. 

    A few days later POET’S PARK ran in a 1m½f novice. Her previous race at Doncaster on bad ground had been very disappointing but on a sounder surface and upped in trip, she ran a much better race here to finish 5th. That was much more promising and being a biggish filly, gives us encouragement for the coming season. 

    As for January, the only horse like to run is FRONT OF LINE. There is a race for her at Kempton on Saturday and we’ll have a look at the opposition there before making a final decision about that. 

    The other horses are back from their winter break and so we’re all systems go, getting all the preparatory work going. Other than a couple of the yearlings that will be with us shortly, I think we’ve got our full complement in. All those that have had a holiday will be doing plenty of trotting over the next few weeks. We usually start them off in the indoor ride but try to get them out onto the Heath if we can. We’ll then start cantering them in early February, weather permitting. 

  2. Since the end of the turf season three weeks ago, we’ve had three runners on the all-weather. The first was CASTANA DIA on 13th November at Wolverhampton. She was a little disappointing, running quite flat on the night. Although not as badly as on her previous start, she rather fluffed the start again and was a bit slowly into her stride. We weren’t ever particularly well placed but, that said, we were never travelling particularly strongly. Early in the straight, Jack had to switch her inside and go for a gap, but there wasn’t enough petrol in the tank to take advantage. We may not have beaten the winter, who was impressive, but it was disappointing that she ran rather tamely. We’ll put her away now for the winter in the knowledge that she has plenty of potential, so we’ll look forward to her next year.   

    A few days later, MODERN BEAUTY ran at Kempton. He was drawn widest of all and so we decided to drop him in and take our time. Unfortunately, we got stuck behind two particularly slow ones going around the bend into the straight. By the time we were able to get past those, we were quite a long way detached from everything else. He ran on past some horses, but we were never able to get where we might finish respectably. He’s finished for the year and I think he’ll be a nice enough horse over a trip next year, so we’ll look forward to him.  

    MUSTAZEED was picked up at the Horses in Training sales by his new owners from Sheikh Hamdan, having previously been trained by Simon and Ed Crisford. Having run once for those connections, we sent him to Wolverhampton last Sunday. I thought he ran ok, travelling round well for a long way. He’s still a bit weak and when he was put under pressure off the bend, he wasn’t able to find a lot, but he still ran respectably enough. He’s another horse who off the right mark, can make his presence felt next year. He’s a nice big horse with scope and should be able to turn into something as a 3yo. 

    As we move into December, we run CHEESE AND WINE at Wolverhampton on Tuesday. We’re planning to run her through the winter and then she’ll probably go the February Sales. She’s been running all right but has been struggling to be competitive. As a result, her handicap rating has dropped, she’s in good heart and so I hope things will go right and she’ll post a positive performance. 

    This week we’ll be at Tattersalls for the December Mares Sales, where we’ve got PROMISE OF SUCCESS to sell. Unfortunately, she hasn’t made it to the track this year but her half-sister in Australia is supposed to be quite good and so there could be some Antipodean interest.  We’re also on the look out to buy one to replace THE FIDDLER, who was sold at the Horses in Training Sales.