Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Carpenter Returns At Ascot

Impressive debut winner Master Carpenter returns to the track tomorrow in an incredibly competitive conditions event at Ascot. Despite been outpaced in the early stages at Leicester, he made good headway two furlongs from home and wasn't asked a question by Andrea Atzeni as he pulled away from his rivals inside the final furlong to win by two and a half lengths. He clocked an excellent time and the form has worked out well, with the third, fifth and seventh all winning next time and the runner-up and fourth were second on their subsequent outings.

His pedigree (related to ten furlong winners) suggests that he will improve as he steps up in trip and his homework confirms that might be the case and he may just find five, especially against some useful sorts, on the sharp side. He was slightly flattered at Leicester as the leaders went off hard in front and the uphill finish on soft ground certainly played into his favour. While he should be fine on quicker ground over a trip, the quick drying nature of Ascot (currently good to soft) won't be ideal and although he should be sharper with the experience of a run, he may just lack the speed to make an impact. There are few suitable opportunities to run maiden winners at this time of year and it will certainly tell us if he has Royal Ascot potential.

It's hard to be too judgemental about the opposition, with three of them winning their only starts and all were impressive in their own way. Both Anticipated and Justice Day clocked good speed figures when winning at Windsor and Newbury, while the Kempton race won by Montagine was a very competitive event. With Far Gaze more exposed but getting a four pound allowance, none of the five can be ruled out and it's easily the most competitive two-year-old race run this season. It's nice to go to Ascot with a fighting chance and as long as he isn't disgraced, we will be happy as we know he's only going to get better the further he goes and he's an exciting horse to have in the yard.

A Head In Icebuster's Favour

After losing out by a head in his two starts at Kempton this year, it was a relief when Icebuster got off the mark, this time by a head, when winning at Haydock on Saturday evening. The Iceman gelding was unlucky on both occasions, with the very steady pace on the AW proving his undoing. We decided to drop him back to ten furlongs, in the hope he would settle better off a stronger early gallop and everything worked out perfectly under replacement rider Danny Tudhope.

The handicapper hasn't been too kind, raising him six pounds to a mark of 86 for this narrow victory and he may make a quick reappearance at Newmarket on Saturday, where he is entered in a £45,000 1m1f Handicap. The straight track will be ideal and with Shahdaroba entered in the three-year-old sprint on the same day, it could be an exciting day for the yard.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Hat-Trick Landed!

Poetic Verse made it three out of three since stepping up to twelve furlongs and recorded her fourth victory of the year at Windsor on Monday evening. The Link's Partnership's homebred filly couldn't be in better form at the moment and ran out an easy two length winner without being asked a serious question by Andrea Atzeni. Hopefully the handicapper won't be too harsh, as the race couldn't have worked out any better for her, with the pace up front far too strong and in such a small field, Andrea had plenty of time to switch her out wide as she made effortless progress inside the final three furlongs. Obviously things are going to get harder in future, as she will be forced into Class Four company and she can't remain in such blistering form forever. Although she has certainly exceeded our expectations so far, hopefully we can sneak in win number five at some point this summer!

Ultimately Monday was still a disappointing day for the yard as both Gladiatrix and Isis Blue ran well below expectations. Gladiatrix had won five of her last six starts but faced by far her toughest test at Windsor and only finished ninth, five lengths behind the winner. She stumbled in the early stages and didn't have a lot of room which may have affected the confidence of a filly that was very hesitant in her early races. Hopefully it won't be long before she's back on the winning trail but we might have to adjust our future plans. Isis Blue was very keen in the early stages which meant he was very awkward going round the bend and his action never really recovered up the homestraight. He was in a competitive event and may benefit from dropping in grade but he is proving quite frustrating at the moment.

Our final runner of the jumps season was Dance and she ran another solid race when third in her final bumper at Taunton on Wednesday. She was a bit keener on her fourth outing and didn't have any more to give when headed entering the final furlong. She will now revert to the flat and will enjoy dropping back in trip. Although we didn't get a win out of our bumper team this season, we did have eight places and Pat certainly gained some valuable experience which he will put into good use this flat season.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Hat-Trick For Poetic Verse?

As usual on a Monday, especially now Windsor is back up and running, we're very busy and have three runners tomorrow. The best chance would be Poetic Verse who runs in the finale at Windsor and this tough filly is going for three victories in a row. Having looked exposed off marks in the low sixties this winter, a step up to twelve furlongs has seen has seen plenty of improvement and she was impressive when winning at Kempton a fortnight ago. She is six pounds higher and eventually the handicapper will get hold of her but is extremely well in herself at the moment and certainly full of confidence. Small fields suit and her turf form over shorter distances was comparable to AW efforts over similar trips so that shouldn't be a problem and she has to go well again.

Meanwhile, if Gladiatrix hadn't gone over the top when third at Bath in October, she could be bidding for a six-timer, having won on her return at Southwell. We were slightly surprised that she won there, as the fibresand surface wouldn't have been ideal and it certainly augurs well for her this season. She is in a sixteen runner sprint at Windsor and it is by far her hardest test yet so it won't be an easy task. Some have suggested that she may be better at five furlongs but her first two wins were over Bath's extended five which is pretty stiff and she's normally doing her best work at the end of her races, so we don't think stepping back up to six will be a problem. She only went up two pounds for that Southwell success and we still feel she's well handicapped so we're hopeful she will go close, especially as we hope she can compete for black-type in Listed company this season.

Our third runner is Isis Blue at Kempton and unlike Gladiatrix, he failed to handle fibresand when a disappointing third nearly three weeks ago. He was slightly unlucky when runner-up on his handicap debut over course and distance in March and off a one pound higher mark, he is another with a solid chance tomorrow. He's a horse we really liked last year but was on the weak side and picked up a few minor problems but still showed some solid form on his first two starts. He has strengthened up nicely over the winter and we feel he's capable of exploiting a mark of 70 and progressing through the handicap ranks. It's a competitive handicap tomorrow and he needs to bounce back from a below par effort but he too shouldn't be far away, hopefully it will be a good day!

However, we didn't have much success on Friday and Saturday with the two-year-olds running well below expectations. Seaham was in a very competitive maiden at Newbury and probably ended up on the slower ground but he didn't look very comfortable at halfway and perhaps he will prefer a sounder surface. Meanwhile, Urban Dreamer got very upset in the stalls at Bath and while he showed plenty of speed, dropped away tamely from halfway. Hopefully both will leave these efforts behind next time. At Nottingham on Saturday, Astrum stayed on well for third and was slightly unlucky, getting shuffled back early on a track which favoured those racing prominently. He showed more resolution than when winning at Warwick and he should keep progressing off his low handicap mark.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Sharper Two Year Olds Make The Track

We already have one decent two-year-old in Master Carpenter and we have two more two-year-olds making their debuts today. Both Seaham and Urban Dreamer would be among our sharper sorts and have showed enough speed and potential at home for us to target them at the £10,000 Racing Post Bonus maidens. However, these races tend to be much more competitive than non-bonus versions and with few of these races so far in 2013, both races are strong on paper.

Seaham is a half-brother to two winners over five and six furlongs
and is Myboycharlie's, a very useful Group 1 sprinting two-year-old, first UK runner (has had winners in Southern Hemisphere and only Irish runner third). This Newbury maiden is traditionally very strong and this year's event has representatives from all the top yards and some expensive purchases so looks no exception. The only runner with experience is Paul Cole's Meritocracy and he finished third in a very competitive maiden at Kempton on Saturday (fourth Vodka Time won at Newmarket Wednesday) so sets a high standard. It certainly won't be an easy task and a mid-division performance is normally good enough to win an ordinary maiden but we're hopeful Seaham will put up a positive performance.

Urban Dreamer faces a field of fifteen rivals at Bath but his race doesn't look quite as strong. Obviously Beau Nash showed a useful level of form on his debut when second to Master Carpenter on his debut and with that form working out so well, he will be hard to beat with the benefit of experience. Urban Dreamer is also by a first season sire in Intense Focus and he is already off the mark with two winners from seven runners, while his dam was a very useful sprint handicapper in Ireland.
He shows plenty of speed at home and we're slightly concerned he might not stay a stiff five furlong on soft ground so might prefer it to dry out, although drawn out in stall fifteen, he might be better off if the ground is soft as they will come stands side, giving him a good draw. All in all, it will be very interesting to see how both two-year-olds get on and hopefully they put up a good show and show promise for the future.

 We also have Burnt Fingers in the sprint maiden at Bath and she made a very promising return when third at Leicester two weeks ago. That was over seven furlongs and we're not sure if dropping back in trip is the right thing to do, as there is a mix of speed and stamina in her pedigree. However, the form she showed at Leicester gives her each-way claims in a big field and this filly is likely to progress throughout the season and sure to be winning at some point.

At Wolverhampton last night, Ice Tres ran well on her handicap debut, finishing third in a 56-70 Fillies Handicap. She seemed to prefer a return to more patient tactics, although the slow pace meant it wasn't easy to come from behind. She's handicapped to win if things go her way this summer.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Ice Tres Makes Handicap Debut At Wolverhampton

Ice Tres has shown promise in some of her bumpers and maidens, although hasn't progressed quite as expected and was disappointing on her last two starts so has had a short break. She starts her handicap career off a mark of 56 which is fair and we will revert to more patient tactics which saw better efforts in her bumper at Lingfield and first two Flat maidens. With only seven runners, she won't be too far away even if sat in last place and hopefully she puts up a good show.

£20,000 Newmarket Success For Shahdaroba

Shahdaroba put up a much improved effort to land a £20,000 handicap at Newmarket's Craven meeting on Wednesday and winning a race like that is a massive boost for the yard. Despite being heavily backed, we felt a mark of 87 could leave him vulnerable to some unexposed sorts, especially after only finishing fourth on his seasonal debut at Doncaster so it was a nice surprise. He will now be campaigned in all the top three-year-old sprints, including the £100,000 Coral Sprint Trophy at York in June.

Meanwhile on Monday, Into The Wind made a very promising seasonal return when third at Windsor. As she normally needs a few runs, its augurs well for the future and she looks to have improved again from five to six.
Two-year-old Blue Anchor Bay was only sixth on his debut but should come on for the experience.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

First Monday At Windsor

You can tell the turf season is under way when the Monday meetings at Windsor have started and we have two representatives there tomorrow. Blue Anchor Bay makes his debut in the opener and he is bred for speed and should make up into a nice two-year-old. It's isn't easy for us to gauge our two-year-olds at the moment, Master Carpenter slightly surprised us by having enough speed to make a winning debut while Dovils Duel has proved very disappointing in his two starts. Blue Anchor Bay will certainly improve for the experience but we hope he puts up a solid show with only one of his rivals having a run under their belts.

 Into The Wind keeps progressing with age and won two races last season. We feel she has strengthened up again from five to six but normally improves for a run or two and may just need this seasonal return.

Runner Up Spot Again For Icebuster

Once again Icebuster filled the runner-up spot in a slowly run race at Kempton on Thursday evening. Unlike the previous week, he hit the front inside the final two furlongs and looked set to win before being collared yards from the line. He remains in great form but really needs a stronger pace to be seen at his best.

We were slightly worried that the rain would make the ground too soft for Dance at Ludlow but she ran a very solid race from the front, finishing third behind two useful performers. Hopefully we can find a weak mare's event for her final bumper run.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Rare Ludlow Trip

It's not often that we have a runner at Ludlow but as long as they haven't had too much rain, Dance will take her chance in the first division of the bumper. She obviously didn't handle the heavy ground when tailed off on her debut at Warwick but showed much more when runner-up on the AW at Lingfield. It probably wasn't the most competitive of events last time and she needs to improve again today but she receives plenty of weight from her rivals so you couldn't rule out more place money today.

Unfortunately there was no pace in Shavansky's race at Nottingham yesterday but he stayed on solidly for fourth place and is sure to win again at some point this season. Let's hope there is some pace in Icebuster's race tonight, more thoughts on his race in previous news.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Veteran Shavansky Back For Another Year

Shavansky may be the yard's oldest horse still in training, yet off a mark of 87, the nine-year-old is our joint-highest rated horse and remains a classy sort. He is quirky, often slow to stride and needs a strong pace to run at but when things go right, as when successful in last season's London Mile Final at Kempton last year, he's often in the frame. There is plenty in his favour on his seasonal return at Nottingham on Wednesday, he goes well fresh (won first time out in 2009 and 2010) and is two pounds lower than his most recent turf win at Chepstow. The only concern is that old age will eventually catch up with him but with a mile on easy ground his optimum conditions and the yard in such great form, he has to have solid each-way claims.

Once again Icebuster was unlucky not to win when denied by a head at on his return at Kempton last week, the early pace was very steady and he just didn't get going in time. Ideally we'd like to switch him to the turf but the lack of suitable races, combined with the possibility of unsuitable soft ground means we head back to Kempton off the same mark on Thursday. The race is also a qualifier for a £50,000 Final at Kempton in December which could be a possible target for him in the future. Looking through the runners, there isn't many pace setters and quite a few like to be dropped out, so he is unlikely to get his ideal pace scenario once again. However, he is drawn on the outside and although likely to start slowly, with a few rivals likely to be held right up, Andrea might be able to get a mid-division position without chasing him up and making him too keen. Hopefully he gets a bit of luck that has eluded him on the AW so far as he could be a decent handicapper when things fall right.

Third Win For Poetic Verse

The Link's Partnership's homebred filly Poetic Verse has had a terrific 2013 and recorded her third success of the year at Kempton on Monday. She has proved a revelation since stepped up to twelve furlongs and ran out an impressive length and three quarters winner under Ryan Moore. Although she will go up in the weights and be forced back up in grade, she showed a good turn of foot and could well stay further so hopefully she can keep progressing. While she was our fourth winner in eight days and the horses couldn't be in better form, long may it continue.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Poetic Verse Bids For Third Success

Poetic Verse has had a busy and successful winter, getting off the mark at Southwell in February and then showed improved form when stepped up to twelve furlongs to win at Lingfield three weeks ago. Her dam was a dual twelve furlong winner and this filly has clearly benefited from stepping up to the same trip and should give a good account at Kempton on Monday. She has only gone up three pounds for her Lingfield success, actually drops in grade from a 0-75 to 0-65 and the longer straight at Kempton should suit, so there is plenty in her favour. However, she has already had fifteen starts and may be vulnerable to some unexposed sorts that are starting out in handicaps. The Marco Botti trained Autrisk, by Authorised, may improve stepping up three furlongs on his handicap debut and the Queen's Handiwork has already done so, only beaten half a length at Lingfield last week, are such dangers. However, Poetic Verse has shown she's very tough and with Ryan Moore on board, the horses in great form, she should be in the frame at least.

We also have Sweet Alabama in the one mile maiden and she showed she had strengthened up during the winter when third on her return over course and distance. She should continue to progress with experience but faces much stronger competition on her third start and will probably find life easier in handicaps.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Successful Debut For Carpenter

Master Carpenter was an impressive winner on his debut at Leicester on Friday, our third winner of the week and our first two-year-old success of the season. He was also Mastercraftsman's first representative on the track and has got Coolmore Stud's first season sire off to a great start. Although he broke on terms, Master Carpenter was green and outpaced in the early stages, however, he started making progress from the two pole and was easily on top in the final hundred yards. His pedigree, half-sister to a ten-furlong winner while dam also won over ten furlongs, suggests he will improve the further he goes and it looks like we have a smart prospect on our hands. We are a bit limited to where we go from here as no six furlong races for six weeks but the Garter Stakes at Ascot, a race we won with Optimate, likely to be his next target.

On her second start, Burnt Fingers showed she had strengthened up nicely over the winter by finishing third in the fillies maiden. She should keep progressing with experience and shouldn't be long in winning this year.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Carpenter Makes His Debut

Master Carpenter

We have our second two-year-old runner of the season as Master Carpenter makes his debut at Leicester on Friday. His pedigree suggests he may need further, half-sister won over 10f for Henry Cecil while dam also won over 10f but he shows enough speed on the gallops to have a run. His sire, Mastercraftsman (MC is his first runner), was a useful two-year-old and made a winning debut in May so hopefully he's injected some speed into him and it will be interesting to see how he gets on but in all likelihood, he will improve for the experience.

Burnt Fingers makes her seasonal debut in the fillies maiden and she has strengthened up nicely over the winter. She had one run for experience last autumn at Newbury and showed speed before tiring in the soft ground. Her half-brother Coconut Penang was fourth in the Coventry for the yard in 2002 and while this filly is a late developing sort, she should progress with time and experience and we hope we can have some fun with her this year. It doesn't look the strongest of races on paper and it would be nice if she picked up some place money.

While it's certainly back to reality for James as he has a trip to Wolverhampton on Saturday evening with Winnie Perry in the 8.20. Winnie Perry had the three runs at two and ended his season with a third at Bath but the handicapper hasn't taken any chances with his opening mark of 67. There are only seven runners but it's a competitive race and he's the only maiden in the field so it isn't an easy task. However, the horses have started the new season in top form and long may it continue.

Also, Pat had his first winner as a professional when steering Shirataki to success for Peter Hiatt at Lingfield today. Hopefully it will help him get some more rides now the turf season has started and he will be supported by the yard when possible.

Successful Return For Gladiatrix


Tuesday was a busy day for the yard, with runners at Southwell and Kempton and we were unlucky not to come away with a double. Last year Gladiatrix racked up a quick four-timer in the autumn and made a very promising seasonal debut when winning at Southwell. We weren't sure she'd enjoy the fibresand at Southwell, especially as she normally gets behind early but Michael Murphy got her out quickly and kept her close enough to the pace to avoid the kickback. Hitting the front inside the final furlong, she just did enough to hold on in a bunch finish to land the valuable £12,000 handicap. She should improve for the run and progress throughout the season.

After his promising seasonal debut, when runner up in a competitive event at Kempton, we were hopeful Isis Blue would go one better on Tuesday. However, he was quite keen early and didn't handle the left hand bend too well before looking awkward up the home straight as he plugged on for third. He's come back home fine and we're hoping he just failed to handle the surface, as he'd beaten the winner at Kempton and he's much better than he showed on Tuesday.

We also had Icebuster at Kempton and he was desperately unlucky not to make a winning return, failing to get up by a head. Once again he was undone by a steady pace on the AW and even in a smaller field, he was unable to make up the ground in time. He's returned in good form and should be much more effective on a galloping turf track.

Astrum Finally Repeats Homework


During his two-year-old season, Astrum showed more temperament than ability but had always worked well at home so we were hopeful he'd come good at some point. He's strengthened up nicely this winter and in a modest seven runner contest at Warwick, we were hopeful he'd go close on his seasonal return. He travelled nicely throughout the race and gradually asserted up the home straight to win by three quarters of a length. Hopefully this win has boosted his confidence and he can progress this season.

Isis Blue Bids To Go One Better

We ended up having no runners last week but it’s a much busier week in prospect with runners at Warwick on Monday, Southwell and Kempton on Tuesday.

 Astrum was very disappointing last season, showing more signs of temperament than ability on his first two starts before a glimmer of promise at Leicester. He had excuses when disappointing on the AW in two nurseries (6f too short/hampered next time) but needs to fully focus on the track this season. His work at home suggests he’s well handicapped off 54, so hopefully he can show more on his return at Warwick on Monday. There are only seven runners and while the tacky ground isn’t ideal, it isn’t the most competitive of races, so he could run quite well, although nothing would surprise.

Tuesday sees the yard back at Southwell, our horses tend to do well on the fibresand surface but both Isis Blue and Gladiatrix are making their debuts there and until they have actually run on it, you don’t know how they will handle it. Isis Blue has strengthened up nicely over the winter and he made a very promising three-year-old return when runner up in a competitive race at Kempton, staying on strongly inside the final furlong despite been checked. He has only gone up a pound and as Tuesday’s race isn’t any stronger and as long as he handles the fibresand, we’re hopeful he will go close. Gladiatrix really progressed in the autumn, landing a four-timer and she should progress again this season. There aren’t many options for her in the opening weeks of the ‘turf’ season and she was balloted out at Kempton on Saturday, so our hand is forced to go to Southwell. It probably isn’t the ideal track to run her, as she can get behind early and it provides a unique test against some course specialists like Even Stevens. However, she needs to get a few runs under her belt and she has plenty of ability so it will be interesting to see how she gets on.

Nothing really went right for Icebuster last season, he missed most of the turf campaign and was then unsuited by slowly run races on the AW but showed he retains all of his ability when third at Kempton in a very competitive handicap in the autumn. He has had an uninterrupted preparation this winter and we’re hopeful he can regain the winning thread at some point this season. Once again, the main concern on Tuesday would be a slowly-run race but there are a couple of prominent runners and there are only ten runners so he should find some space up the home straight under Jamie Spencer and he definitely has each-way chances.

We have just uploaded a Stable Tour onto the website. At the moment it only contains the older horses but a two-year-old tour will be uploaded later next week.