As we slowly turn our backs on the cold chills of winter and start to turn the corner into spring; the Bedford House team, staff and horses, are raring to go for the 2015 flat season. As always, the start of a new season brings a mixture of high hopes and dreams of victory at the highest level and we are more than pleased with the way the horses have grown and developed over the winter. With Andrea Atzeni taking the Number 1 retainer for Qatar Racing due to the “is he/isn’t he” retired Jamie Spencer; we have had a few changes on the jockey front for the coming season. Adam Kirby, who needs no introduction, is now retained by Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum and, weight permitting, will take the majority of rides. Adam is an excellent jockey and one that has an exceptional strike rate for us, so we are very much looking forward to a continued fruitful partnership. We also have a new and very promising apprentice in Kevin Stott who joined Bedford House from Kevin Ryan’s earlier in the year. Kevin, who originates from Denmark, has ridden a total of 55 winners since taking his license out in 2012 and still has a very valuable 3lb claim. We also still have the services of Lemos De Souza who is an invaluable part of our team and Kirsty Milczarek, who sadly had to retire from professional race riding due to injury, has returned to Bedford House as a regular work rider.
We made a satisfactory start to the new season with our first two runners last week both making the frame. Despite running a bit green, Grand Spirit showed some ability when staying on well in the final three furlongs to finish a solid fourth in a reasonable handicap at Lingfield. He will most likely be stepped up to a mile on the turf and on a more galloping track. Noro Lim had his first career start on the turf at Nottingham. With the ground officially declared as soft, it was a big unknown for him, but we felt it was an adversity that had to be faced sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, having being switched off at the back of the field, he ended up with too much to do but, nonetheless, showed an encouraging tenacious attitude, and stayed on well to snatch the third place. Winterval made is seasonal debut in a three-year-old maiden at Windsor where he finished fourth. He will have come on for the run and, being by Dubawi, we are hopeful that he will improve with time.
Our Flat season will really kick off at the Craven meeting this week with White Lake (pictured) being our flag bearer. Before that, however, on Wednesday we have Wren Castle running in the seven furlong Alex Scott Maiden and Spiriting in the concluding six furlong handicap. Although it was a difficult decision to bypass the valuable Tattersalls Sales race with its big prize in favour of the handicap, a close defeat in the former would almost certainly result in his handicap mark shooting upwards, while the same result in the latter wouldn’t inflict quite the same damage so that was the reason behind our choice. We will be disappointed if Spiriting doesn’t go very close – he’s more relaxed than he was last year, when very much a sprinter in his mind, but above all else he has a handicap mark that we feel markedly underestimates his ability. It might well be that he steps back up to seven furlongs in time, as he wasn’t beaten for stamina when second at Yarmouth last year, but this opportunity looks too good to pass up.
It’s hard to evaluate the chances of White Lake in the Craven without knowing what will be lining up against him, for while there are sixteen entries, several trainers are multi-handed so it wouldn’t be surprising if the race cut ups with only eight or so runners. White Lake has wintered well and looks our chief Classic hope among the colts at this point, but it’s difficult beyond that to say too much right now. He has been very pleasing at home, and had a racecourse gallop last week, so we go to Newmarket hopeful that the boy can turn into a man. We also run Bermondsey in the one mile Wood Ditton Stakes, while the trip will perhaps not be to his liking as he might need a bit further, it is a fair track for his debut and given his progressive profile at home, we are looking forward to learning a bit more about him. And our last runner will be Shakopee – bred and previously owned by Fittocks Stud this High Chaparral colt runs in the three-year-old mile-and-a-quarter handicap. Anyone who followed the Tattersalls Horses-In-Training Sales last autumn might wonder what Shakopee is doing back with us, but we are pleased his new owner has seen fit to let us continue training him. He’s been working very well and looks a decent three-year-old middle-distance handicapper in the making, though we are well aware there’s often a Group horse or two lurking in what is often the most strongly-contested three-year-old handicap run over any distance in April.
We are giving Newbury on Friday a miss, as we often do, but we will have several runners there on Saturday with Laurence contesting the mile maiden, Ayaar the Spring Cup and Lunasea the mile-and-a-quarter handicap. Laurence is a progressive horse, who will come into his own once handicapping over longer distances later in the season, while Ayaar is still somewhat at the mercy of the handicapper, and to a lesser extent the weather, though the forecast on that count is good this week, so our best chance of success is probably with Lunasea. He’s a Timeform 2015 Horse To Follow and it’s easy to understand why. Being a son of Sea The Stars from a very good female family much in demand at the sales in the last couple of years this colt won with authority at Lingfield last autumn. This is a race that we have won previously with Forte Dei Marmi in 2010 and have also had Bourne and Samurai Way reach the frame in in recent years, and we’ve had this target in mind for Lunasea for some time. Fibre Optic will also take his chance at Nottingham on Saturday evening.