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We have had an encouraging start to our turf campaign over the past couple of weeks, beginning with DOUBLE OR BUBBLE who won the 7f handicap on the opening day of the Craven meeting at Newmarket. She did it very nicely and has obviously improved from 3 to 4, showing some of the potential that we always thought she had last year. She enjoyed the fast ground and, if it can stay dry until May 8th, we would have her optimum conditions for the Group 3 Chartwell Stakes at Lingfield, a race we won a few years ago with her full sister, Mix And Mingle.

On the same afternoon HAN SOLO BERGER ran in the 5f handicap. You needed to be drawn high on the stands’ rail on the day and, unfortunately, he was drawn wide.  Although he broke well and was prominent for a long way, he couldn’t ever really get competitive. In addition, he didn’t come down the hill terribly well and lost a few places there. So, he didn’t run quite as well as we had hoped but the circumstances would not have helped him.

At Kempton on Wednesday evening, MUSTAZEED put up a satisfactory performance. From a wide draw, he was a bit slow into his stride but was staying on nicely through the closing stages. He’s now qualified for handicaps where I think he can make his presence felt, probably over 1m.

BUCEPHALUS had his first start for us at Nottingham on Saturday and didn’t run too  badly. He’s quite a free going sort and so we dropped him back in trip to make sure he wasn’t too keen. He got a nice lead and just as he looked like he was going to improve into a competitive position, got a little bit tired. He wasn’t knocked about by James Doyle and will come on for the run. Ideally, he probably wants a little bit more cut in the ground than he got here.  

Moving into last week, we had two runners at Yarmouth on Tuesday, beginning with OH IT’S SAUCEPOT who ran very well on her seasonal return in a race where the winner made all. We tracked it all the way and it pinched a couple of lengths off us at the 2f pole. Although she gamely battled on, we were never able to make it back. The first two had come nicely clear of the field and this was a very solid effort, probably up there with her best runs.   

Later on the same card, BAGUE D’OR did very well to win on his handicap debut. He is a horse we always liked last year but, one way or another, things never quite went right for him. He ran on very fast ground at Yarmouth on his debut, then in a bog at Goodwood and finally didn’t like the sand in his face at Chelmsford. On nice ground at Yarmouth, he was able to come through and win nicely. He gave the impression that he might stay a bit further in time and so, once we’ve seen what the handicapper does, we’ll consider our options.  

At Doncaster on Friday, MOLLY SHAW ran a bit fresh on her return to action. We had wanted to get a lead, but she popped out of the stalls like a cork out of the bottle. Jack tried to ease her back to get a lead, but she was a bit keen, and I think she ultimately paid the penalty for that as she got a little bit tired in the closing stages. She didn’t run badly to finish 4th and probably just needed this run to get the gas out of her.  

We had our third winner within a fortnight with KINGMANIA at Leicester on Saturday. She finished with a win last season and when we had wanted to run one more time, the ground had gone against her and so she was put away for the winter. This probably wasn’t the most competitive race, but she won it very well. She was always a rather gassy filly last year, but was nicely relaxed here, almost too relaxed at one stage. When she quickened up, however,  she soon put the race to bed and won with a little bit in hand.

We finished the week with two runners at Wetherby on Sunday. DIVINE  COMEDY made her debut and ran very satisfactorily from her wide draw in what was probably a good novice. She was a bit green early on, being slow into her stride and then taking a little while to get herself organized. The penny dropped in the last 2f and she started to run on nicely and pass a few horses. Ultimately, I think she’ll be a filly who stays a bit further but there was nothing wrong with her debut where she showed a bit of promise.

POET’S PARK had run three times last year including not running too badly on her last start. She was a bit gormless on her return and looked a bit rusty. She flopped out the stalls and took a bit of organizing in the early part of the race. She was beginning to stay on nicely and looked like she might finish on the heels of the first three but got wiped out at the furlong pole. I thought she showed enough here to think that her turn isn’t too far away. 

Looking forward to the coming week, we’ve got a busy few days before a quieter spell. FLYING STANDARD returns over 12f at Lingfield on Monday. He had a successful season last year, winning twice, and he’s strengthened up over the winter, and so I hope we might get a bit more out of him. He’s in good heart but will probably need this first run back. 

GOLDIE HAWK returns at Windsor in the evening, and she is crying out for a run. This ground will be the quickest she has encountered and so we’ll have to see how she gets on with that. She’s in good heart and has been working well, and so I’d be hopeful of a good return from her. She’s another filly who, with a bit of luck, should take a step forward this year.

On Tuesday, BLACK LOTUS runs in the Nottinghamshire Oaks, a fillies’ listed race at Nottingham. She was second in a similar race last year and the plan is to get a bit more black type for her. She’s been covered by Nathanial and tested in foal, and so we’ve got a limited period with her. She’s in good heart and, in a race where the main contenders look closely matched, it will be interesting to see how we get on.

At Yarmouth, TURNTABLE makes his seasonal debut. He’ll be running on quicker ground than we’ve encountered with him and I’m not sure small fields are his bag as he likes a decent pace to run at. He’s got to make a start somewhere, however, and we’ll see how he goes. HI HO SILVER is another one making his return on the same card. He likes the track and trip, but usually takes a run to dust the cobwebs off.

Finally, HAN SOLO BERGER has options at Ascot on Wednesday and Goodwood on Friday. We’ll keep an eye on the declarations and head for wherever we think we have the best chance.