After plenty of placed efforts over the last couple of weeks we finally got our first winner of the new season on Saturday courtesy of Banksea in the Be Wiser Insurance Spring Cup at Newbury. However, it did not look likely for most of the way considering the trouble he met in running, losing at least a couple of lengths as Chelsea Lad dropped out of the field. Banksea did really well to get on top late on and he will now head for the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot. The short break will do him no harm given he goes well fresh and will guarantee that he will remain on a workable mark. One winner very nearly became two on Saturday evening at Nottingham, though unfortunately Wannabe Friends was just unable to overcome the trouble he met in running and, despite making up plenty of ground in the final furlongs, had to settle for second. This did show that he has fully recovered from the injury he suffered last season and it was good to see him get back on track. He will tackle a mile and a quarter in time, although on this evidence, he has wins in him if kept to a mile in the near future.
Earlier in the week we sent two runners up to Beverley. Pleasant Surprise ran a nice debut in a maiden over a mile and a quarter and considering she ran very green, she also should have learned plenty from her first run. She should be up to winning a similar race in the near future with that experience under her belt. Our other runner Manangatang was a little disappointing in the mile and a quarter handicap on the same card considering the promise he had shown when winning his maiden at Lingfield last season. However, they went very quick early and he did get tired inside the final furlong. It is obviously still early days with him and he will have a few weeks off before trying a similar handicap over the same trip. On Thursday there were two good placed efforts on Craven day at Newmarket from Spinnaka and Dubara. The former finished second behind Tomyris, who had caught the eye when finishing fourth in a maiden at Kempton behind subsequent Nell Gwyn winner Daban. Spinnaka should be up to winning a maiden on this evidence and she will be stepped up to a mile next time out. Dubara conceded race fitness to both the winner and second placed horse when finishing third in the mile handicap she contested. We would like to run her in a handicap against her own sex, but opportunities are sparse at this time of year and we are either forced to take on the males or not run at all.
Looking forward to the week ahead, Pacharana is also set to take on the boys in a mile and a half handicap at Beverley on Thursday. She is in good form at home and is ready to run, although we would prefer it if there were a shower or two around before then. She bumped in to a progressive Sir Mark Prescott trained horse on her final start last season who very much got first run on her and, with the third from that race winning next time out, there is plenty of hope that she can add to her win total this season. Vanity Queen is another of our fillies who we would rather not run against males, but she is working well and is also ready to run, and has an entry in a mile and a quarter handicap at Doncaster on Friday. On pedigree the extra two furlongs should suit her and she remains open to improvement. On the same day So Sleek, a half-sister to Silk Sari, should also appreciate the step up in trip from a mile, although a bit of rain would not go amiss for her at Sandown. One who will be sticking to a mile is Al Shaqab Racing’s El Vip, who has an entry over that trip at Haydock on Saturday. He ran a pleasing reappearance behind two race fit rivals at Bath on Good Friday, in what looked a strong race for the track, and should carry on progressing. He may develop into a listed performer in time.