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  1. It has been a slightly frustrating week with things not always falling our way. At Yarmouth on Monday, BAGUE D’OR was drawn wide, and we opted to drop in to get some cover as I thought that him seeing daylight at Newbury from a wide draw last time out hadn’t helped him very much. As Jack challenged down the outside, he got taken wider and wider until we were nearly in the car park. We were only beaten half a length by a horse who we probably should have beaten if we hadn’t taken a tour of Norfolk to get there! He ran very well though and has had a good year. It looks like he’ll stay in training next season, and I think he is a nice prospect as a staying handicapper.

    Later on the same card, SWEET EXPECTATION stepped up in trip and I thought she would appreciate both the extra distance and better ground. She looked like she might get on terms about 2f out but never did and so I suspect the reality is that she hasn’t quite got what it takes.   

    DIVINE COMEDY’s most recent runs had been on the all-weather, where she had been a little disappointing. Both the surface and the nature of staying races on the all-weather probably didn’t play to her strengths and so she went to Leicester on Tuesday as I wanted to run her on slower ground on the grass just to prove to myself that was the right thing to do. Although the 10f proved to be too short for her, she was staying on well at the end of race. I think we can conclude that turf racing, slow ground and at least 12f is what she wants. She stays in training next year and we just have to hope that when she is in good form, that we have the right ground for her.

    On Wednesday at Kempton, MOLLY SHAW was another drawn on the wide outside. She did a bit too much early on, racing with the choke out. Having looked like she would take a hand in the finish, she ran out of petrol inside the final furlong and faded out of contention. I think she can handle racing on the all-weather but we just want a better draw for her so she can jump and get some cover straight away, rather than seeing daylight.

    Finally, FLYING STANDARD ran very well to finish second at Wolverhampton on Saturday evening. The way we ride him to get the best out of him is to drop him out to get him to settle so that he will stay. That is often quite difficult on the all-weather because they get a bit strung out and you end up having to make up a lot of ground. That is particularly difficult at Wolverhampton where you end up trying to make up ground around the bend. I thought George Wood did a good job here and the horse ran on strongly in the straight. Even if we had got first run, I got the impression that the winner, who was unexposed at the trip, won with a good deal in hand and we would have struggled to beat him. He has now finished second on five occasions this year and was beaten quite narrowly on two or three occasions, so he has deserved to win one. He has proved himself to be pretty consistent.

    Looking ahead to this week, THE THUNDERER runs at Wolverhampton on Monday evening. Although he copes with the surface, he isn’t always the fastest of starters which can make things difficult on the all-weather. Kaiya Fraser is having his first ride on the all-weather and so hopefully they can do something together.

    Onto Tuesday at Yarmouth, GLEN ESK will appreciate returning to 10f and the easy ground. He has a wide draw but he is in good heart, and should give a good account of himself. HI HO SILVER also runs and we’re never sure which version of him will turn up on the day. It will be another ride for Kaiya and we’ll see how they get on.

    At Newmarket on Wednesday, CHIPS AND RICE and YOU’RE ON MUTE will have their second starts and they will hopefully both get a run. The former ran well first time out and has come out of her race well. I’d hope she will improve again. The latter was a bit disappointing on her debut and I’d hope she can get herself back on track here.

    MUSTAZEED has a couple of entries at the end of the week, but he is more likely to head to Doncaster on Friday. He didn’t quite get home last time but, if he can get away from the stalls well, he’ll hopefully go well here.

  2. DOUBLE OR BUBBLE was our first runner last week in the Group 2 Challenge Stakes at Newmarket on Friday. She broke well and was travelling nicely behind the leader on the better ground out in the country. The leader quickened up very well, which put us on the backfoot, and then she ran into the dip and hit the much softer ground. As Jack Mitchell said, it was like driving a car into a deep puddle, and she lost all her momentum. That was game over and he wasn’t hard on her once she came out of the dip. She has had a good year and goes off on holiday now. All being well, she stays in training next year.  

    POSH GIRL was in action at Chelmsford on Saturday. She has proved a little disappointing and we can’t quite work out her best trip. She seems to run 6f like she wants 7f but runs 7f like she wants 6f. From a wide draw, which always makes things a bit awkward here, we were further back than ideal. She was travelling well at the top of the straight and threatened to run into a place, but was rather one paced inside the final furlong, just staying on to finish 6th, beaten just over 3 lengths. I think she will strengthen up for another year but her next engagement is likely to be the horses in training sale at the end of the month.

    Later on the card, RODOLFO ran well on his second start. He had made his debut in a hot maiden at Yarmouth where he wasn’t beaten out of sight. On this occasion, he broke well here and travelled along nicely. He was slightly outpaced when they first quickened up but stayed on nicely in the closing stages, showing good progress from his first start. He’s going the right way.

    Finally, BUCEPHALUS ran at Goodwood on Sunday. He’s been very consistent all year and ran another good race here. He broke well and James Doyle had him well positioned just behind the leaders. He took it up 2f out and looked like he had the race at his mercy, but the unexposed winner emerged out of the pack travelling even better than he was and we had to accept second best. He finished a very clear second and this was another good performance from him.

    Looking ahead to this week, we’ve got two runners at Yarmouth on Monday beginning with BAGUE D’OR. If he can return to the form he showed at Newmarket and Yarmouth, he’ll go very well. However, if he repeats what he did at Newbury last time, then it would be a bit tougher. He seems in good heart at home and so we go there with a bit of optimism. SWEET EXPECTATION runs in the following race, and she seems to have benefitted for her recent run and is in good heart. She has a bit to prove yet but the easy ground and the 10f should suit her, so I would hope she would show more here.

    DIVINE COMEDY goes to Leicester on Tuesday. She hasn’t really enjoyed her last two runs on the all-weather but should be suited by the soft ground on turf. We are also going to try her in cheekpieces because I think she has been lacking a bit of concentration. She’s another one that I want to see put in a performance as her runs in maidens back in the spring were solid efforts in decent races, but she hasn’t really been able to put it together since. I am hoping we’ll get a better run out of her here.

    On Wednesday at Kempton, MOLLY SHAW makes her debut on the all-weather. She has run consistently through the season, although it has been a bit stop start as she is a top of the ground filly and quite of the few of the races we had planned to run in here ended up on a soft surface. We thought we would try her here as she has plenty of natural speed and so should be able to cope with the pace of all-weather racing.

    Finally, at the weekend, FLYING STANDARD might run at Wolverhampton on Saturday evening.