Saturday, 6 September 2014

Run Of Seconds

The horses generally remain in good form but are suffering a frustrating run of places at present. Both Taws and Cotton Club have progressed nicely as three-year-olds this season and it was slightly frustrating to see them both finish second at Salisbury. Cotton Club looked as if he was held by the handicapper but had been unsuited by slowly run races on his most recent starts. Ridden much more handily by Louis Steward this time, he battled on gamely up the home straight and fought past the long time leader before getting done on the line by the winner. He will make someone a lovely juvenile hurdler but hopefully we can get one more win out of him before he goes to the sales. Taws had won over course and distance two weeks previously and we were confident of a big run on easier ground. However, she did not get away well from the flag start and was not well placed. Although she stayed on past the rest, the winner had already flown (followed up under her penalty) and she remains likely to improve with time and a step up to two miles.

Dylan Centenary had been struggling to get away on terms since dropped back to sprints but he so nearly gave Sophie Killoran her first winner when just failing to get up in time at Bath. He certainly has the ability to win races and with maidens only getting weaker, he should get off the mark at some point and give Sophie plenty of valuable experience.

Kingsbridge had run in two competitive nurseries at Ascot and York (stayed on well last time) and dropped in grade, he ran well to finish third at Salisbury. He's capable of winning again. 

Prestige Second For Bonnie Grey

Bonnie Grey is becoming our two-year-old stable star as she picked up some more black-type when finishing second in the Group 3 Prestige Stakes at Goodwood. She proved extremely game from the front, repelling all challengers before the Mick Channon trained Malabar cruised past on the bridle. It was still a smart effort for the daughter of Hellvelyn and confirmed that her Sandown third was no fluke. It looks as if she will stay a mile, so her next target may be the Group 2 May Hill at Doncaster.

Second Win For Taws

Taws gained compensation for being badly hampered at Sandown, which could have cost her the race when staying on strongly to land the Class 4 three-year-old 1m6f handicap in mid-August. She looked an unlikely winner half a mile from home but she stayed on strongly inside the final furlong to end up a cosy winner. Although she certainly does not do anything quickly - she can maintain that one speed quite nicely and as a half-sister to Deauville Flyer (rated 94 at best and a five-time winner for Tim Easterby) she should progress quite nicely next season.

The ground was too quick for Master Carpenter at Salisbury so he did not take his chance and will wait for some softer ground and with autumn on the way, there should be plenty of opportunities for our stable star.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Galatian Noses Ahead At Kempton

Back on the polytrack saw a return to form for Galatain, as under a strong ride from George Baker, he just held on to win by a nose in the finale at Kempton last night. The horse has had a lot of problems with his feet which have stopped him from fulfilling his full potential and these issues seem to affect him more on turf, with the level nature of an artificial surface seeming to give him more confidence. He should not go up too much in the handicap and having won off a five pound higher mark back two years ago, he should remain competitive, even if he does not return to his best. With the tapeta at Wolverhampton looking to ride well when it opened on Monday, it does give him a few more options.

Stable star Master Carpenter has been declared for the Group 3 Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury but the drying ground is a concern, as he is certainly more effective on a softer surface, especially over a mile. Options are a tad limited with his three pound penalty for winning in France and it is frustrating Salisbury missed most of the remnants of Hurricane Bertha so Rod will walk the track to see if it is suitable. It is a very competitive race, as befits the excellent prize money on offer and Yuften certainly looks like he will be hard to beat but Master Carpenter keeps on improving and he certainly has each-way chances once again.

Taws would also benefit from soft ground but her last two efforts on a sound surface have been solid and she was badly hampered by Sebastian Beach at Sandown and stopped her from finishing a clear second. She is one pound better off and the very long straight at Salisbury will suit so she has every chance off a light weight under Andrea Atzeni.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Dance Bids For National Hunt Success

Our only hurdler in training Dance goes to Newton Abbot, her fifth consecutive run at one of our local tracks and she has her usual solid each-way chance in the 2m6f handicap hurdle. Unfortunately the handicapper gave her a rather harsh opening mark of 90 and although she ran a cracker to finish third on handicap debut, it was a very weak ladies race and she then got put up 3lbs to 93. She always tries hard, placed on eight of her sixteen starts under both codes but the handicapper has her stuck. Hopefully the step up to 2m6f will suit and it does not look the strongest of races, perhaps today is the day she gets off the mark.

We also have a couple of runners at Kempton (Dylan Centenary is a non-runner). Triple Chief paid for running above himself when second at Warwick on his second run which meant he got a very high handicap mark and has not found life easy. A good effort when third stepped up to ten furlongs last time suggests he is going in the right direction. Hopefully he settles in this small field today and he should not be too far away if he does.

Galatian was very disappointing back on turf last time, but it is likely that he just will not let himself down on the turf anymore. He is back at Kempton, a repeat of his second over a mile there a month ago should see him go close, if he is on a going day!

Masai Moon Retired

One of the yard's ten year old veteran's, Masai Moon, has been retired after suffering a career ending leg injury at Windsor on Monday evening. The son of Lujain has been in the yard since been purchased as a yearling for £8,000 in October 2005. He was originally owned by Kathy Stuart as a two-year-old, then Christopher Roper at three before being transferred to the Rod Millman Racing Club as a seven-year-old, providing it's members with plenty of fun during the two years it ran and then we decided to keep him for Pat to ride (also gave Ryan Timby his first ride when finishing third at Salisbury on his second last outing) in the twilight of his career.

He has had a very successful career, with 8 wins, 34 places from 84 starts and won just under £75,000 in prize money. At his best he was rated 95, effective on both turf and AW and gave both James and Patrick some great days. He has been a pleasure to have around the yard and has been expertly looked after and ridden in his work by Sue Davey through most of his career. We are now on the look out for a good home for him, although horses like him are very hard to replace, hopefully we get some that are just as good at the upcoming yearling sales.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Yard Hits Twenty As Indaria Scores Again

Speedball filly Indaria posted an all the way success on her handicap debut at Ffos Las under Ted Durcan, giving the yard it's TWENTIETH winner of 2014. The Sleeping Indian filly did extremely well to win under top weight and showed her defeat of Prime Exhibit at Newmarket was no fluke. As long as the handicapper does not overreact, she should turn into a decent filly.

Old man of the yard Shavansky is too high in the handicap after such a successful AW campaign but his still finished third in the Class 3 feature at Ffos Las and picked up over a grand in the process.

Run Of Thirds

We have enjoyed a slightly frustrating run of thirds recently. Stable amateur Ryan Timby had an enjoyable first ride, finishing third on yard veteran Masai Moon at Salisbury. Triple Chief ran a little bit free on his first start over ten furlongs when third at Windsor on rain-softened ground.

While Taws was unlucky to finish third at Sandown on Wednesday evening, staying on nicely when badly hampered by the winner, she certainly would have finished second and with space would not have been far off the winner. Biotic found the step up to Class 3 company beyond him but was not disgraced back in fourth on the same evening.

Black Type Secured For Bonnie Grey

After an impressive debut success at Warwick in an excellent time, we had quite high hopes for Bonnie Grey, although things did not really go to plan on her first two attempts at Listed level. In the National Stakes she was stuck mid-track on unsuitable heavy ground but was not disgraced in fourth behind Tiggy Wiggy. Then she got too far behind when stepped up to six furlongs at Newmarket before staying on strongly to finish sixth only beaten four lengths. Therefore we decided to step her up to seven furlongs for the a Listed event at Sandown, a race we finished third with Harvest Joy back in 2006. Settled at the back of the field, she stayed on strongly in the final furlong to claim third place and some valuable black-type for her future bloodstock career.

Creditable Third For Carpenter

Unfortunately thunderstorms in Paris turned the ground heavy at Maisons-Laffitte and it meant that Master Carpenter did not stay the ten furlong trip when finishing third in the Prix Eugene Adam behind Western Hymn. Nicely positioned under Christophe Lemaire, he looked to have every chance approaching the final furlong but could do no more as he stayed on the one pace while the superior stamina of the Gosden horse kicked in.

It was still a creditable effort stepped back into Group 2 company and he picked up another £11,000 in prize money, taking his career earnings past the £100,000 barrier. He has been very busy since that opening third in the Greenham so after two French trips he is having a well deserved break and will be back in the autumn, with the Group 1 QEII on Champions Day his long term target.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Maisons-Laffitte Group 2 For Master Carpenter

We break new ground with Master Carpenter heading to Maisons-Laffitte for the Group 2 Prix Eugene Adam and hopefully he can emulate his Chantilly success three weeks previously. The son of Mastercraftsmen keeps on improving this season and is back at his racing weight and training well so we are hopeful of a good run. There are only six runners, with one a pacemaker, so with prize money down to fifth he should cover his expenses whatever happens! Sadly Christophe Soumillion has to ride the favourite but Christophe Lemaire is an ideal deputy.

Obviously it is a step up in grade and he re-opposes the John Gosden trained Western Hymn, who beat him nearly four lengths in the Sandown Classic Trial and has subsequently finished sixth in the Derby behind Australia. However, Master Carpenter didn't handle the extremely heavy ground and has since improved and most importantly his confidence is sky-high after two facile successes while the Derby can leave its mark on horses so there should not be much between them.

The hot Evens favourite (Western Hymn is 9/4, Master Carpenter 11/2 third favourite) is the Aga Khan owned Shamkiyr, a son of Sea The Stars that was second in the French Derby behind The Grey Gatsby and is still unexposed having had just four starts and is probably the one to beat. French Godolphin's Army Bulletin was only fourth behind Master Carpenter last time out, Norse Prize could be exposed and Askkannd is a pacemaker for the favourite so there is every chance of Master Carpenter picking up some more black-type and valuable prize money. 

Biotic Back On The Winning Trail

It was a slightly frustrating few days before Biotic got us back on the winning trail at Sandown on Wednesday evening, the tall son of Aqlaam needing every yard of the seven furlongs to get up on the line. While a record of two wins, two seconds and a third as a three-year-old is solid, we have been disappointed with his progress this year. His homework is very strong, he shows plenty of speed but has not really shown that on the track so far. However, it looks likely that he may well need further to be seen at his best and as long as he is not too keen in his races, he should progress well beyond his current mark of 63, especially as he still has plenty of strengthening up to do.

We also had plenty of seconds, Taws ran a cracking race to finish second to a Sir Mark Prescott hotpot in Deauville Dancer at Nottingham and she showed she can handle a fast surface but will need extreme trips. She will be winning again in the right races. Galatian missed the break at Kempton which cost him victory from stall 1, when angled wide he stayed on extremely well. It appears an AW surface suits him best with his foot problems but opportunities are not so frequent in the summer months. While Eugenic atoned for a slightly disappointing effort at Lingfield when second at Salisbury four days later. Despite his breeding, it appears that he is most effective at eight to ten furlongs!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Galatian Down To Class 6 Company

It is a shame to see Galatian racing in Class 6 grade as we had such high hopes for him after a progressive three-year-old campaign but serious foot problems have stopped him from progressing and he has been rarely seen in recent years. He made a promising comeback when seventh, beaten just two lengths, in a stronger race at Kempton before disappointing on the turf at Leicester. We feel that with his feet issues, an AW surface is what he needs nowadays. His last win came off a mark of 72, so off 65 with Pat taking off seven pounds as well he should go close.

Galatian's older brother also runs at Kempton and despite being ten-years-old Masai Moon is actually rated higher! The veteran has had a cracking career, winning EIGHT races and nearly £75,000 in prize money and although he dropped down the ratings, returned to form on the fibresand this winter. He has not run quite so well for Pat on the polytrack at Kempton but used to have good form at the Sunbury venue (career best RPR101) so could go close if everything goes well.

Eugenic has taken a long time to get the hang of racing but finally came good when landing an apprentice contest at Salisbury ten days ago. That came off a mark of 50 and has gone up 4lbs to 54 but as it is an apprentice race, he can run without a penalty at Lingfield today. However, there were no suitable races over a mile and he is forced to step up to ten furlongs. While he looked as if he would stay last time, his pedigree suggests he should be a sprinter, so that has to be a concern. If staying and handling Lingfield, he has each-way claims. 

Gladiatrix Gets Back On Track

With her owner-breeders keen to chase black-type, life has been a little tough for Gladiatrix this year but back down to Class 4 level she returned to the winners enclosure at Windsor on Monday evening. She enjoyed the heavy rain that fell before racing and as she likes being in space, the race panned out ideally as they spread out across the track and she ran out a convincing winner by two and a quarter lengths. Obviously life will be harder back in Class 3 company but with confidence boosted, hopefully she can get back on track and will probably try to get black type again later in the season.

Purple Spot showed her first bit of form when finishing fifth in the fillies maiden at Windsor on Monday and her future lies with the handicapper but she should continue to progress. Burnt Fingers was a little disappointing at Haydock, but it was difficult to come from behind that day and it may be that she just runs best for Andrea Atzeni.

Biotic has not progressed as much as we liked but still ran a solid race when second at Kempton on Wednesday, he is still a giant of a horse that needs to strengthen up so should improve with plenty of time on his side. Shavansky ran a nice comeback race, looking dangerous for place money before weakening inside final furlong to finish fifth and Nelson's Trick made a promising debut in sixth.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Biotic Back At Kempton

Three runners at Kempton on Wednesday evening and Biotic is probably the yard's best hope of keeping up the winning run, four winners in the last seven days. Biotic was impressive when making a winning handicap debut back in March and was not disgraced when second under a six pound penalty a week later. After a short break he probably did not stay seven furlongs in a big field at Salisbury last time, although that form received a boost with the runner-up winning at Ffos Las on Monday. Returning to the polytrack at Kempton and dropping back to six furlongs should suit but the main concern is a wide draw in eight. It is a short run to the bend and he could be posted very wide, however, the favourite is in nine so that could help.

Veteran Shavansky had a cracking winter campaign, winning twice and often running with credit, striking up a good relationship with five pound claimer Shelly Birkett. Unfortunately he picked up a slight injury when fourth in the Rosebery last time out which meant he missed the £50,000 Apprentice Final at Lingfield. He returns for his summer campaign off a mark of 91, which might be on the high side but it does not look a strong contest so place money could be on the cards once again.

We have had a cracking 2014 with our 2yos so far, all five that we have run have found their way into the winners enclosure. However, four of those won on second start and most of our two-year-olds improve plenty for the initial experience and we expect the same for Nelsons Trick, especially as she has got the outside stall in eleven, which is always hard for a newcomer.

Victoire Fran├žaise For Master Carpenter

Our first runner at Chantilly was a winner as Master Carpenter put up a career best performance to land the Group 3 Prix Daphnis. It was the yard's second French winner, having won the Group 1 Prix Du Cadran back in 2006 with Sergeant Cecil and our first Group success since Cecil landed the 2007 Yorkshire Cup and it is a massive boost for the yard. Given a brilliant ride by Christophe Soumillion, he tracked the leaders in fourth place and was best placed to challenge off a steady early pace. Only asked a question inside the final three hundred metres, he eased to the front and ended up winning a shade cosily, with ears pricked as he crossed the line half a length in front and looked to have plenty more in the tank.

With Master Carpenter clearly most effective on a soft surface, we decided to miss Royal Ascot and our decision was certainly vindicated by success at Chantilly. It also showed that he can travel abroad which certainly opens up more options, especially as there is often ease in the ground in France. He could well head back across the English Channel for a Group 2 at Maisons-Laffitte in three weeks time. Long time aim could be the QEII at Ascot's Champions meeting, with soft ground likely and Top Notch Tonto showed last year that place prize money is achievable for horse that might not be true Group 1 class but are most effective in soft ground.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Chantilly Group 3 For Master Carpenter

We have our first runner in France for nearly five years as stable star Master Carpenter goes for a Group 3 in Chantilly on Monday (14.50GMT). There are eight runners and Christophe Soumillion takes the ride in a nine furlong contest. He is the only English raider and it is hard to equate what Master Carpenter's form is worth against his rivals but he comes out third top on official ratings. Favourite is Bodhi who has won his last four starts, including over course and distance and even with his 3lb penalty, looks the one to beat. However, Master Carpenter's confidence can only be boosted by that facile success at Sandown and with the rain-softened ground (why he has gone to France) in his favour, we are hopeful of a place at least.

We also have two 'home' runners at Southwell and Windsor. Masai Moon is back on his beloved fibresand and despite the fact that his last four wins have been at six furlongs, we still feel he is best at seven furlongs as he gets badly outpaced. He has a bit to find on official ratings but he is nearly always in the three at Southwell so should not be too far away. Ivor's Princess is not the most consistent but has won twice in the last six months, once over seven furlongs and then twelve furlongs at Bath. Whatever the trip, she is reliant on a strong pace, which she should get in a thirteen runner field and if on a going day, she should not be too far away.

Double, Second And A Lucky Escape At Salisbury

It was a successful day at Salisbury for the yard in general, although the highlight of the day was the fact that Sophie Killoran was ok after a horror fall when the saddle slipped on Dylan Centenary in the apprentice handicap. He was disputing the lead at the time and would not have been far away. With both horse and jockey ok, hopefully they can gain compensation soon.

At £58,000 Marcano is the most expensive horse the yard has bought and it looks like he could be one of our best as he won the maiden in convincing style on his second start. Having made a very promising debut in a hot contest at Newbury, a slight cough meant he missed his next intended start at Leicester and a tilt at Royal Ascot. However, it could be a blessing in disguise as it meant he was not rushed and could be stepped up to seven furlongs. The ground was plenty quick enough yesterday, but he was very professional, smartly into stride to make the running and then quickened away inside the final furlong to win by two and a quarter lengths. Targets for the future are fluid but the Group 2 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket's July meeting, a race we finished runner-up with Roi De Vitesse in 2009, could be an option.

We still ended up winning the finale, as Eugenic finally fulfilled some of the promise shown at home by getting off the mark under Jordan Vaughan. We are still unsure of his trip, as he wandered about inside the final furlong but found more when joined by the runner-up. Off a mark of just 50, he is at the right end of the handicap to progress and we will try to run him without a penalty in the next twelve days.

Icebuster didn't really stay fourteen furlongs in the staying handicap, having every chance at the one pole before fading behind Sunny Future. It was still a solid effort but he needs more help from the handicapper as he doesn't seem quite as good as last season. 

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Busy Sunday

Four runners for the yard at Salisbury on Sunday and hopefully the 10mm of rain Salisbury received yesterday afternoon has eased the ground slightly, as none of the runners will want it rattling fast.

We are looking forward to Marcano returning to the track, having run such a promising race at Newbury on his debut. The form of that contest has worked out well, with the first, second and fourth all running creditably at Royal Ascot. As most of our two-year-olds improve plenty for their first outing, we are hopeful of a big run. His pedigree suggests that the step up to seven furlongs will be ideal. Obviously the Richard Hannon trained Misterioso, a £130,000 yearling purchase, could be anything, the chosen mount of Richard Hughes from three stable runners and is very strong in the market this morning.

Icebuster has been a little disappointing in recent months, sometimes blowing the race with very slow starts. However, it was a step back in the right direction when second over twelve furlongs at Salisbury two weeks ago. George Baker felt that the ground was plenty quick enough for him on that day but it was not a bad effort and with six withdrawals already leaving just five runners, it is likely he will take his chance. Although 1m6f is a bit of a question mark, the fact there is a flag start will be a bonus and in an open contest he has every chance.

We have two runners in the finale, a hands and heels contest. Dylan Centenary ran well when fourth in a similar race under Sophie Killoran, who was having her first ride on that occasion. This race looks even weaker and Dylan is an uncomplicated horse so should not be too far away once again. Eugenic has been disappointing as he works nicely at home but has not really reproduced it on the track so far, failing to build on a promising fourth at Chepstow. The main issue is whether he will stay a mile as his pedigree suggests he is a sprinter but has lacked speed on recent starts. It would be great if either of them were off the mark!

Three Wins So Far In June

The yard's good run of form has continued in June, with three winners so far. Taws had slowly got the hang of racing in her three maidens but stepped up to 1m6f, encountering soft ground at Nottingham, she made an impressive winning handicap debut. She does not do anything quickly but kept to extreme distances, she is certainly capable of winning some nice races, especially when there is ease in the ground.

The yard is having a cracking time with the two-year-olds, with five having stepped foot on the racecourse and four of them have won already, while Marcano finished third on his only start in a very competitive maiden at Newbury. Kingsbridge showed plenty of speed on his debut over six furlongs at Goodwood, so Seb Sanders suggested dropping him back to the minimum trip, despite the fact he is bred for a bit further. However, he handled the speedier test at Nottingham with ease when improving nicely to secure success on his second start. Similar comments applied to Indaria who was green and needed the experience when only fourth on her debut at Bath. With that run under her belt, she showed tremendous early speed on her second start at Salisbury, racing a tad keenly under Oisin Murphy but always doing enough to hold on. She should have an exciting two-year-old season, especially as she seems comfortable on a fast surface.

Friday, 30 May 2014

First Ever Across The Card Treble

Thursday 29th May proved to be a red letter day for the yard as we recorded our first ever treble. Ivors Princess and Graphene doubled up at Bath before Master Carpenter ran away to Listed success in the Heron Stakes at Sandown.

Master Carpenter has been the yard's flag bearer so far in 2014, surprising us all by finishing third in the Greenham as an 80/1 shot, staying on strongly behind Kingman and Night Of Thunder, form boosted when they filled first and second in the 2,000 Guineas. Stepped up to ten furlongs, he showed that was no fluke by finishing third in the Sandown Classic Trial on heavy ground and then runner-up to Pinzolo on quick ground at Newmarket. We felt that he did not quite see out the ten furlongs there and a mile with ease in the ground may prove to be his optimum conditions, yet all three that have beaten him over ten furlongs are still engaged in next week's Derby.

Although he has had a busy start to the season, with all the rain that fell over the Bank Holiday weekend, we felt we had to run again, this time in the Listed Heron Stakes at Sandown's high profile Brigadier Gerard evening meeting. Admittedly we were slightly concerned about the heavy ground, as Ryan felt he did not really handle similar conditions in the Classic Trial. Although Master Carpenter had by far the best form going into the race, his rivals were unexposed and could have been anything and he was sent off third favourite at 3/1. Settled out the back by Ryan Moore, the running style which seems to suit him best, the field went extremely wide down the back straight and round the home bend. Ryan Moore is not Champion Jockey and best in the world for no reason and sensing that the other jockeys were needlessly wasting ground, went round the inside, saving plenty of ground and was in front when joining his four rivals three furlongs from home. Asked to quicken inside the final two, Master Carpenter rapidly pulled away from the opposition to record a seven length success. While the move by Ryan certainly aided Master Carpenter, we still feel that he was good enough to have won the race even if he had followed the others but it was by far the easiest race he has had this year and will have done his confidence the world of good. Plans are extremely fluid, mainly due to the fact we would like to run him where there is ease in the ground but he will probably step back into Group 3 company and deserves more success.

This was a first Black-Type success for the Links Partnership, long time supporters of the yard and without such loyal owners, we could not stay involved in the game, While Cheveley Park Stud, who acquired a half-share in him before Royal Ascot last year, have had many Black-type successes, it was very important for the yard to do well for such a high profile owner and hopefully a high-class horse like Master Carpenter will get some more owners into the yard.

While the double at Bath was highly rewarding for the yard as well. Ivors Princess is a tricky mare, who recorded her fourth career success in the 1m4f handicap, showing a surprising amount of stamina as her three previous successes came over six and seven furlongs. However, she clearly enjoyed the steadier pace and was on a going day. She will be capable of winning again, especially in the plethora of fillies races that are open to her over ten to twelve furlongs. Graphene had been very disappointing in three runs on the AW so we were not sure what to expect returned to turf on his fifth start. Slowly away, he enjoyed the strong early pace which spread out the field and was moving into contention when slipping on the home bend. Sean Levey did extremely well to stay on board but it looked as if his chance had gone. However, he did not lose much momentum and hit the front inside the final furlong to win a shade cosily. He is at the right end of the handicap, looks as if he will stay much further and should provide some fun for his owners this season.

We also had impressive Warwick winner Bonnie Grey at Sandown in the National Stakes and we were hoping for a big run. However, the ground was much softer than on her debut and she was not travelling from an early stage, not helped by being stuck in the middle of the track. She still stayed on nicely for fourth, certainly was not disgraced and she will probably step up to six furlongs. It is likely she will miss Royal Ascot and head to a Listed race at Newmarket. While Indaria was not disgraced when finishing fourth on her debut at Bath and showed she has ability, with the benefit of experience a race should certainly come her way.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

More Black Type For Master Carpenter

Stable star Master Carpenter has had a very successful 2014 and proved his Greenham third was no fluke by finishing third in the Sandown Classic Trial and then runner-up in a Newmarket Listed event at the weekend.

As he stayed on strongly in the Greenham, backed up by his pedigree, we felt that Master Carpenter would stay ten furlongs and when the Sandown Classic Trial re-opened, we felt it was worth an entry as we were guaranteed to get ease in the ground. However, we did not expect the ground to be so soft come raceday and like most horses that ran there, Master Carpenter found it pretty hard work and never moved as fluently as normal. He still put up a valiant effort to finish third to Western Hymn (a possible Derby candidate for John Gosden) but it did not really tell us what his optimum conditions were.

Last weekend there were two possible Listed races for him to tackle, one over seven furlongs, the other a mile and a quarter. With the ground drying out so quickly, we felt that we had to tackle the longer trip and with only five runners, it made it an easy decision. In the race he settled nicely off a steady early pace before being asked for his effort approaching the two furlong marker. While he looked to hold every chance coming out of the dip, the superior stamina and perhaps class of Godolphin's Pinzolo enabled his rival to pull two lengths clear. Although he handled the ground and stayed ten furlongs to pretty good effect, we feel as though a mile on easy ground will be his optimum conditions this year. Where such opportunities arise will be down to the British Weather but he certainly looks capable of winning in Pattern company and it is great to have a horse like him in the yard.  

Debut Success For Bonnie Grey

The yard had a rare two-year-old debut winner when Bonnie Grey got off the mark in taking style at Warwick. The Hellvelyn filly only started coming to herself ten days before her debut and is likely to improve plenty for this intial experience. The race was run in a good time and from a family we know well (half-brother Cop Hill Lad was runner-up in the Super Sprint and we also won with half-sister Bahamian Ceildh) she is an exciting prospect that could be anything. She may head to Sandown for the Listed National Stakes next week.

Another two-year-old to shape well on debut was Marcano, a £58,000 Arcano yearling that was the most expensive horse we have ever bought, who finished third in what is traditionally a very hot six furlong maiden at Newbury. He was outpaced mid-race before staying on very strongly in the closing stages. He is another individual we expect to improve plenty from the outing and if all goes well in his maiden next time out, he could be good enough for Royal Ascot. However, he is likely to need further in time and he is certainly a very exciting horse for the future.

Mylaporyours Off The Mark at Bath

Jeremy two-year-old filly Mylaporyours made a promising debut at Windsor, looking likely to run on into a place before getting badly hampered inside the final furlong so we expected a decent run second time out at Bath. Although a little outpaced in the early stages, she stayed on strongly up the hill to claim victory from the Richard Hannon trained Doomah (subsequent winner).

She made a quick reappearance in a Salisbury Condition Stakes on 1000 Guineas Day and ran a solid race to finish third to Tiggy Wiggy (subesequently second in a Listed race at York) where she was outpaced at halfway before staying on inside the closing stages. She needs six furlongs and will head to Pontefract on Friday for a Conditions Event which we have won three times with Cop Hill Lad (2003), Roi De Vitesse (2009) and Master Carpenter (2013) and while she needs to improve to be mentioned in the same breath as that trio, she will benefit from stepping up to six furlongs at a stiff track. 

Monday, 21 April 2014

Success For Cotton Club

It was an impressive success for three-year-old Cotton Club stepping up to ten furlongs at Nottingham on Saturday night. He was outpaced early off a very strong pace but switched wide by Pat up the home straight, he effortlessly made up the ground to hit the front inside the final furlong to win going away. While plenty was in his favour, he looks as if the further he goes the better he will be and The Links Partnership have another progressive three year old on their hands.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Three Easter Saturday Runners

It's three runners at three different meetings on Easter Saturday and with all three in sixteen runner fields, some luck will be needed. At Bath Gladiatrix goes in the Listed race as she aims to get some black-type for her owner-breeders. She has come back from her winter break in great shape and should prove much better than her current mark of 86. However, that mark leaves her with a lot to find and having drawn stall fifteen, it is a near impossible task unfortunately.

At Nottingham, Pat takes the ride on Cotton Club and he should prove another well handicapped three-year-old for the stable this season. He did not get much luck in running when fourth on his handicap debut and should have been second at least. The step up to ten furlongs should suit but this handicap looks pretty competitive with lots of unexposed types that could be anything it won't be an easy task.

Finally, it is a rare jumps runner for the yard as Dance goes to Newton Abbot for the Mare's Maiden. The Erhaab mare is a full sister to Shy, won three for the yard and Money Money Money, who won five in one season, so she should know how to win. However, although proved consistent in both bumpers and AW handicaps, she hasn't quite got her head in front so we revert to hurdles. She jumped big when unseating on her debut back in November and needs decent ground, hence the AW campaign when everywhere was waterlogged this winter. She has done plenty of schooling in recent weeks and although a clear round is the main aim, she is definitely capable of being placed in this kind of grade.

Cracking Greenham Third For Master Carpenter

Last Saturday was a brilliant day for the yard as Master Carpenter confirmed the Group-race potential he showed as an early season two-year-old by finishing third at 80/1 in an extremely competitive Greenham. When we planned to run him in the race, we assumed there would be five or six runners and hoped to pick up some minor prize money. However, when the declarations came out, there was ten runners and it looked the hottest Greenham run for sometime, we thought we might have made the wrong decision. With five horses rated above 109 and everything rated above Master Carpenter's official rating of 91, we would have been pleased with eighth, never mind third!

However, he surpassed expectations by staying on extremely strongly to grab third in the final yards and although he was seven lengths behind the superstar that could be Kingman, he beat some very useful horses on merit. Plans are fluid for now, the way he stayed on suggests a mile will suit, although ground conditions will be a strong consideration for future races as he jarred himself up in the July stakes and he does appear to be better on an easy surface. Either way, it is great to have a proper Saturday horse and is the best we have had since Roi De Vitesse back in 2009, with his official rating now at 103.

Winning Return From Injury For Burnt Fingers

After Biotic made a winning handicap debut on the Monday, it was nice to follow up just twenty four hours later with four-year-old filly Burnt Fingers at Kempton. She had one start as a two-year-old for experience and looked promising at three when finishing third on her seasonal reappearance before finding a sprint trip too short at Bath next time out. Sadly she then broke her pelvis and missed the rest of the season. However, her owner-breeder has been extremely patient and it was excellent to see that rewarded when she made a winning return. In what was a quite competitive handicap, she raced a little green in the early stages but really stayed on strongly inside the closing stages to suggest she has a bright future this season.

Winning Return For Biotic

The massive three-year-old that is Biotic made a winning handicap debut at Kempton. He was very weak as a two-year-old but showed promise in his three starts and looked well handicapped off an initial mark of 55. Although it was not the strongest of races, he could not have done it easier, travelling comfortably at the front before easing clear inside the final furlong to win by two lengths.

With few upcoming options he made a quick return under a six pound penalty at Kempton nine days later in what turned out to be a very competitive handicap. Although he was beaten into second, it was pleasing to see him battle off the bridle. He still has plenty of strengthening up to do and will not be rushed this season. His mother was rated 90 while his half-brother Isis Blue won off 72 last year so he should have plenty of improvement left in him off a mark of 62.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

£20,000 Handicap Success For Shavansky

Ten-year-old veteran Shavansky has been in cracking form in 2014 but luck had eluded him from adding to his ten career victories. In a £45,000 handicap he was too keen and a slipping saddle meant he hit the front at halfway but was only collared inside the final furlong. He then hit trouble in the home straight when coming from behind to be placed in two competitive handicaps at Lingfield before the tight nature of the inner track at Kempton meant he never got involved last time out. However, everything went right at Lingfield on Friday and he bagged the valuable winter handicap he deserved. Settled nicely in fifth place on the inside, a massive gap opened up the inside entering the home straight and he showed an impressive turn of foot to put the race away inside the final furlong. That takes his career earnings to over £120,000 and he heads for the Rosebery Handicap at Kempton next.

We nearly doubled up at Wolverhampton as Ice Tres finished second back over twelve furlongs. She may have hit the front too soon but was beaten by a well handicapped winner. Hopefully the handicapper won't go overboard as she is certainly capable of winning a race.

Three-year-olds Cotton Club and Graphene needed the experience at Lingfield but were not disgraced in what looked a competitive maiden for this time of year.

Back To Back Wins For Masai

Having struggled since returning from an injury, Masai Moon benefitted from some generosity from the handicapper to win off a career low-mark of 59 at the beginning of March. To keep Masai in 0-60 company, he made a quick return at Southwell eight days later under a six pound penalty. Despite a slow start and a wide trip from stall ten, he always looked like he would hit the front and won by a length from Laughing Rock, who was third the time before. Masai will now be forced into Class 5 company and will probably head for a 0-70 over 6f in a couple of weeks time. He probably needs seven furlongs in better company but there are no suitable races on the fibresand so hopefully he can get away with a sprint trip for a third time.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Masai Wins And We Are Off The Mark

Masai Moon took advantage of some generosity from the handicapper to get the yard off the mark in 2014. The ten-year-old had struggled since returning from an injury but dropped into a 0-60 and returned to the fibresand, he won cosily by three lengths. All being well he will return to Southwell next Wednesday under a six pound penalty in a similar contest and he should go close in his bid to follow up.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Masai Well Handicapped

While ten-year-old veteran Shavansky is in cracking form this winter, things have not worked out quite so well for fellow ten-year-old Masai Moon. After picking up an injury last spring, he has had three starts this year and lacked a bit of spark. However, the handicapper has been very generous and dropped him 11lbs in those three runs and was only beaten four lengths at Kempton last time. He returns to Southwell on Tuesday and runs in 0-60 company for the first time and he does seem more effective on the fibresand surface. His last win at the Nottinghamshire venue came off 79 and with Pat's claim, he is effectively 27lb lower. Six furlongs is a slight concern as he is getting older and the trip has always been on the sharp side but his two 2012 wins both came at the sprint distance.

Talking of Shavansky, he goes in a £19,000 handicap at Kempton on Wednesday over ten furlongs. The old boy is in cracking form and we have decided to put Andrea back on board to see if a professional can get anymore out of him. However, the tight nature of Kempton's inner track is not really ideal, eleven furlongs would have been preferable and it looks a very competitive race so it is no easy task.

It is a very busy Wednesday with Modem and Miss Tweedy in action at Lingfield. Modem has been progressive since switching into handicap company and stepped up to middle distances. He won nicely at Lingfield in first-time blinkers before improving in defeat when third off a four pound higher mark at Kempton last time out. The blinkers may have just made him a bit keen last time so we have taken them off to see if he still needs them to concentrate. It is a competitive race once again with three of his rivals on the back of a win but he's down from a 0-80 to 0-70 so should find it slightly easier than the Kempton race. Miss Tweedy shaped nicely on debut at Newbury before disappointing on her second start. She certainly has some ability but is the type to progress with time and experience and will probably find life easier in handicap company.

More Places!

Well we are now into March and we are still awaiting that elusive first winner of 2014 but the horses are running well with a 50% place strike rate. We are generally quiet during the winter months with a reduced string just ticking over but prize money wise, this looks set to be our best ever AW season, with over £28,000 in the bag. So far we have had twenty runners in 2014, racked up six seconds, two thirds and two fourths and £8,298, although it is certainly frustrating that one of those six seconds was not a winner!

Dance continues in good form on the AW this winter, making the running at Kempton on Thursday evening before being overcome by a 66/1 shot that had shown no worthwhile form in three months! However, she is certainly running well and the family improve with age so she should be winning soon. The waterlogged gallop, due to the never ending rain so far in 2014, meant that Wyndham Wave probably needed the run more than we thought on the same evening. The night before a slow pace was unsuitable for Ivors Princess but she ran a creditable race in fourth. The most important thing is that was three consistent efforts in a row on the polytrack at Kempton and she remains well handicapped.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Seaham Bids To Bounce Back

Seaham showed plenty of ability on occasions as a two-year-old and it was disappointing that he failed to get off the mark. Hopefully he has strengthened up over the winter as he tended to find little off the bridle and his return to the track was inconclusive at Southwell. He was slow to stride and got pushed along early which doesn't suit his running style and he weakened up the home straight. He was beaten too far out to blame the trip and surface may not have been ideal so you can forgive that effort. It looks a pretty weak maiden at Lingfield tomorrow, he comes out top on official ratings and he should go close if running up to that mark of 73, something that he is certainly capable of.

Another Second!

Veteran Shavansky remains in great form and ran a cracker to finish second at Lingfield and could be considered an unlucky loser as he did not have much room up the home straight. His rider Shelly Birkett received some criticism on ATR for the ride but that was probably very harsh, bearing in mind he runs best held up off the pace and the short straight at Lingfield always makes things tricky for horses like him. Shavansky clearly runs well for Shelly and people forget an apprentice claims for a reason, that five pound allowance probably enabled him to finish closer than if he had professional handling. Either way the old boy is having a cracking winter and deserves to win again soon.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

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Wednesday, 5 February 2014

More 2014 Places

We are already into February and the horses continue in good form but that first winner is proving elusive. Modem ran an improved race stepped up into Class 5 Handicap company when third at Kempton on Sunday. He was a little bit keen in the early stages which may not have helped but he still fared best of those that raced prominently and the winner Asia Minor is proving extremely progressive in recent months. Modem will only improve with time and he's an exciting horse to look forward to as remains unexposed.

The following day Dance stepped up to two miles and ran a solid race, also finishing third. She probably did not see out the trip in a strongly run race, despite finishing placed in three of her bumpers. She is proving consistent and certainly deserves to win a race soon. She may revert to hurdles when the ground eventually dries out.

Icebuster was disappointing when only fifth at Southwell and probably failed to handle the surface. Although he was a tad keen and was getting a lot of kickback stuck on the inside which did not help. He has been very busy in recent months so will have a short break.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Icebuster Heads To Southwell For 20k Feature

Southwell have put on a £20,000 1m4f handicap on the fibresand this afternoon and they deserve to be rewarded with a decent field. On paper it looks like a match between two dirt specialists in Masterful Act and Hunting Ground with our own Icebuster third favourite at an overpriced 16/1!

It's Icebuster's first outing on the fibresand and it's a bit of a quandary whether he will handle the surface. Generally our horses have a decent record at the track with the majority of our horses taking extremely well to the surface, which I feel is due to the fact our woodchip gallop rides like the fibresand, especially compared to the polytrack gallops which are used in the major centres. However, many experts place a high emphasis on sire stats on the fibresand and unfortunately Iceman has a poor record (1-51) which is a concern. We have had horses in the past defy similar stats, so we always feel it is worth giving them a go on the fibresand, most of ours that do disappoint just don't face the kickback. Also in Icebuster's favour is the fact that he is a strong travelling sort that rarely gets the fast pace he craves on the polytrack, which is why he is 0-15 on the AW, with his last seven run resulting in RPRs of 87-92, rather than the fact he does not handle it. He is readily excused his latest defeat as he ran away with Patrick over two miles and did extremely well to last as long as he did. With the professional handling of David Probert and dropping back to twelve furlongs, he should perform much better today.

Even if Icebuster takes to the fibresand, he may well be coming up against two 'Southwell Superstars'! Masterful Act is five from six on the fibresand and American bred, with connections planning to aim him at the Breeders Cup Marathon. However, he is certainly better at 1m6f plus and just scraped home off a three pound lower mark from Layl (Icebuster beat him six lengths the time before) and off 91 he could be vulnerable over twelve furlongs, a trip that he met his only defeat off a mark of 67. The Johnston horse Hunting Ground is certainly unexposed, his only outing on the fibresand resulting in a seven length success from the 84 rated Saddaqa in a very good time (RPR 92/ TS 86) but disappointed back on the turf. After a break he was certainly impressive when winning by eight lengths over two miles at Wolverhampton. It was not much of a race, Flash Crash was an exposed mid 60 horse before two easy wins in weak company and the big question mark is whether he can back this form up a week later under a six pound penalty (still seven pounds well in) and that he just isn't as effective on turf as he is on an artificial surface?

So with possible question marks against top two in the market, it is certainly worth attacking a £20,000 handicap on the fibresand and well done to Southwell for putting the race on.

Shavansky ran another cracking race in a Class 2 handicap at Lingfield, finishing fourth on Saturday, once again he was unlucky, this time settling dropped back to ten furlongs but he just did not get a clear run up the short home straight and would definitely have been third and maybe done enough to win. However, for the ten year old to remain in such great form is an excellent advert for the yard.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Four Seconds In 2014 Already

The horses have generally started 2014 in good form but we have not had much luck so far with four seconds from nine runners! Hopefully it will not be long before we are off the mark.

Ice Tres has resumed from a summer break in good form and has been second on two occasions at Wolverhampton, both times she has probably hit the front too soon and been nabbed near the line. She was slightly disappointing at Lingfield on Friday but the drop back to ten furlongs may not have suited and the race could have come too soon.

Although she did not like Southwell, Ivor's Princess showed that her 20/1 Kempton success in December was no fluke when runner-up returned to the Sunbury venue under a strong ride from Luke Morris.

It looked as if we had found an ideal opportunity for Icebuster in a five runner two mile handicap at Kempton on Wednesday, but a concern over two miles was whether he would settle if there was no pace on. Sadly he was far too keen and took off with Pat with a circuit to go. Despite having a clear lead entering the home straight, he tired in the final two furlongs as his stamina gave out but he still did enough to hold on for second. He is certainly capable of winning off his current mark granted a strong pace, which is rare on the polytrack.

After unseating early on her hurdling debut and with the ground so soft we decided to return Dance to the AW. She struggled in some strong flat maidens in the summer but was placed in three bumpers and she ran a nice race to stay on for second, having been left short of room when the pace quickened. She is certainly capable of winning a race, whether she can emulate her half-sister Money Money Money and rack up five in one year we're not so sure but she has just as good an attitude!

Modem Off The Mark At Lingfield

Having just been denied on his handicap debut at Lingfield two weeks previously, Modem went one better at the end of December. This Motivator gelding has enjoyed stepping up to twelve furlongs and this long striding type will do even better on a more galloping track so should continue to improve as a four-year-old.

That was our 21st winner of 2013 and the yard picked up over £165,000 during the year. Let's hope 2014 brings plenty of winners. A review of 2013 will appear on the site soon.