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Following on from DOUBLE OR BUBBLE’s successful return at the Craven meeting, events from the last week show that our horses are generally fit, well and forward.

OH IT’S SAUCEPOT returned to action at Yarmouth on Tuesday. She had been off the track for a fair while having had an injury just after her last run back in August. This was a decent comeback considering she had been off a while, running well for a long way before getting tired in the closing stages and finishing 3rd. We were runner-up to winner in the same race last year and I thought we were going to finish 2nd again here until she ran out of puff. She hasn’t won a race for a while but is starting to get to a handicap rating where I would hope we can find something and get her head in front again.

We sent FLYING STANDARD to Salisbury on Wednesday, and he had run well to finish second on his only previous visit to the track last year. On this occasion, they went a nice even tempo all the way and he dropped out and switched off nicely. We were always travelling well, and Jack kept it simple, easing him to the outside before staying on to win nicely. Although it probably wasn’t the strongest race, he won it well and for a horse who missed out last year, finishing runner-up on five occasions, it was nice for him to win again. It certainly gave his owners a lot of pleasure and a well-deserved success.

On Saturday, I travelled up to Haydock where we had three runners. CHIPS AND RICE had run quite promisingly in her two maidens at Newmarket last year and we were on a fact-finding mission here to see where we stood with her. She ran a nice race to finish 6th behind some good fillies. Drawn on in the inside, she got rather stuck on the rail, and we ended up in a bit of a pocket, which probably cost her a place or two. She stayed on well at the finish and is now qualified for handicaps. I would have thought 1¼m would suit her better than the 1m here, and she didn’t mind the ground which was nothing like as quick as one or two people have suggested. This was a decent seasonal return for her and something we can build on.

KINGMANIA had been off the track since July. She hadn’t had any major injury, but had got a bit jarred up and wasn’t moving terribly well. So, rather than persevere and put her off racing, I thought we would give her a nice long break. Unfortunately, things didn’t go for her on her return to action. Unusually for Haydock, they didn’t go a particularly strong pace up to the bend. She was a bit keen and fresh, and it took Jack a while to get her settled and we ended up right out the back. Once she got settled and into her rhythm, she was going along well. Jack eased her out and she started to make her ground up. I thought for a few moments that we would take a hand in the finish but, having been a bit lit up early on, she ran out of steam in the final furlong and was allowed to cruise home, finishing 7th. She’ll be more settled next time now that she has got the gas out of her system, and I expect we’ll get a truer reflection of what she can do.

By the time we got to GLEN ESK in the final race on the card, I was a bit worried about the ground drying up for him. It had been a warm afternoon with a strong wind blowing down the straight. However, he really seemed to enjoy the conditions and I suspect there was plenty of moisture under the ground even if it was getting a bit dry on top. He was dropped in from a wide draw and travelled well throughout the race. They went a nice gallop in front and Jack took his time. Most of them were gasping from breath between the 2f and 3f markers, and he made his ground up nice and steadily. I thought we might not catch the leader who had got a break on the rest of the field, but he started to tread water in the final furlong, and we stayed on well to win nicely. That was an excellent start to his season and helped make the journey home from Haydock seem much shorter.

 

At Leicester, CASTANA DIA also made a terrific start to her season. Drawn on the outside, Kaiya dropped her in and allowed her to take her time. The others went hard enough in front, and she was always travelling well. She was eased out and delivered with a well-timed challenge inside the final 2f. She took a funny step with 100 yards to go, becoming unbalanced for a second or two, but they had more than enough momentum to hold on for victory, starting this year in the best possible way.

All of that means we had four winners from our first seven runners this year, but I must admit that I don’t really feel that we have done things very differently in the lead up to this season. That said, we have done a lot of our training on the grass up to this week when it got a bit too quick. With many others doing most of their training on the all-weather surfaces, perhaps that has been a factor.

Looking ahead, it will be a quieter week as most of the horses that I would like to run at the moment don’t want top-of-the-ground. HI HO SILVER goes to Yarmouth on Tuesday as he doesn’t mind fast ground. We might run TURNTABLE at Newmarket on Saturday, and, for the same day, I’ll enter BAGUE D’OR at Doncaster. He doesn’t want top of the ground but can run on a sound surface, so we’ll make a decision about his participation later in the week.