We have had a particularly fruitful time since our last update and it was Laurence that got the ball rolling at Beverley when he landed the feature handicap on their biggest race day of the year. We rarely make the North Eastern journey to Beverley these days and have avoided this race since its winning prize money dropped substantially. However, it was worth significantly more this year and could really have attracted a stronger field. Laurence has been slightly frustrating since the spring in that he (a very late foal) had not progressed quite as we had expected. His previous run at Newmarket, when coming from a very long way back in a slowly run race behind a subsequent winner at York’s Ebor meeting, suggested he was back on an upward curve and he went and won in convincing style. The turn of foot he showed to draw a few lengths clear shortly after turning for home took both his excellent jockey, Danny Tudhope, and us by surprise, and he was value for a bit more than his winning margin. Hopefully he will take his chance in the Dubai Duty Free Handicap at Newbury on the 19th September as long as the ground isn’t too soft and providing he gets in the race. He is going to be a lovely horse to have in the yard next year now he is developing more speed and we are very excited about his future.
Penhill is also in the Dubai Duty Free Handicap but it seems, on the evidence of his latest win at Haydock, that a mile and a half is really a minimum trip for him despite his tendency to race keenly through the early stages. The race at Haydock developed in very much the same way as the one he had won at Ascot earlier in the year with little early pace so jockey, Adam Kirby, took the initiative and sent Penhill to the front. The horse had a fight on his hands at halfway up the straight when challenged, but he showed plenty of determination and left the impression that a stronger gallop would have suited him better. With only one three year old in the field (that did not run very well) it may not have been a race that took much winning so things could be tougher for him from now on. His obvious end of season target, although it is not as valuable as it used to be, is the Betfred November Handicap at Doncaster and he, for one, would not mind soft ground.
Richard Of Yorke is a horse we have always had a lot of time for having trained his dam Cascata to win at Great Leighs (as it was then) and, having had a break since disappointing on fast ground at Newmarket’s July Course, he returned to winning ways last Friday at Ascot. Ascot’s short straight means a handy position turning in is vital in a steadily run race and Richard Of Yorke was ridden to perfection by Jamie Spencer who turned for home in second and never looked like being headed once he went to the front. There was a bit of trouble in behind and, Richard Of Yorke himself drifted right across one of the other runners, but he was very strong at the finish and could be a nice horse next year at a mile and three quarters even though he is by Oasis Dream. He will have another run this year, probably at a mile and a half, though there is some uncertainty as to whether he will still be with us next season given he has an entry in the Tattersalls Autumn Horses in Training Sales.
As we have said before, we are immensely proud of our record of winning Group or Graded races around the world, and Connecticut (pictured) improved our impressive record in Istanbul when landing the Group 2 International Bosphorus Cup at Veliefendi on Sunday. With Windshear running below his best – Connecticut really had only Maftool to beat. He probably did not have to run up to his best but the return to a more galloping track and firmer ground than at Goodwood suited him and he probably won a shade more readily than it looked. Unlike Danadana, who had to carry a Group 2 penalty for many months following his win in the Anatolia Trophy in 2013 despite it being recognised only as a local Group 2 and not an international Group race, Connecticut can rightfully boast that he is a bonafide Group 2 winner. He is not a horse that can race very often and ground requirements mean we have to campaign him cautiously, but the Group 3 Worthington’s Burlison Inns Stakes (formerly registered as the St Simon Stakes) at Newbury might be a possible target later this season.
Four On Eight has made great strides since his Newbury debut and looked to have strong form claims in the maiden at Windsor on Monday after the horse that finished behind him at Newmarket last time went on to win at Ascot on Friday. Even so, it was hard not to be impressed by the manner of his success under Frankie Dettori – always travelling strongly and not pressed to win pretty much as he liked. As the cliché goes, his immediate future will be determined by the handicapper given he has no lofty ambitions as yet but with his current rate of progress we would be disappointed if he is not up to winning a nursery.
We have a big weekend coming up and hopefully Koora will kick start it all by following in Silk Sari’s footsteps and win the Group 2 DFS Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster for us for the second successive year. She is another who has made rapid strides in a very short space of time showing much improved form when stepping up in trip for the Listed Galtres Stakes at York’s Ebor Festival last time and the extra distance of the Park Hill Stakes should suit her even better. There does not look to be an outstanding filly at the six day entry stage so we would have to be very hopeful of another promising run. We unleash our biggest guns in to Europe at the weekend with Postponed running in the Group 2 Qatar Prix Foy at Longchamp, Second Step in the Group 1 Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger and Lady Of Dubai in the Group 2 Moyglare Jewels Blandford Stakes, both of which are at the Curragh. The weather forecast for Paris suggests that the ground is likely to be no worse than good to soft and that will not inconvenience Postponed. There is, disappointingly, no suitable Arc trial to run him in over here on the turf, so we had to look abroad and take the unusual step (for us) of declaring a pacemaker given that races in France, as a rule, tend to be slowly run affairs left to the French jockeys. As the Prix Foy is not open to geldings we were rather limited by the pacemaker we could take. Ajman Bridge (who will go for the Listed Feel The Rush At Betfair Cup at Chester on Saturday) being the obvious but ineligible choice, meaning that Roseburg (who was going to run in the Dubai Duty Free Handicap) will be an able substitute and will be ridden by Kevin Stott who rides a lot of pace making work at home. Hopefully all our forward planning will pay off.
Lady of Dubai is on something of a retrieval mission at the Curragh but, if pressed, we would have to say that Second Step has the better chance of the pair of winning and we cannot figure out for the life of us how he can be 10-1 at the time of writing. He is a Group 1 winner who would also have won the Group 2 Princess Of Wales’s Stakes in another few strides and he will relish the galloping nature of the track and the step up to a mile and three quarters. Agent Murphy was impressive at Newbury but Second Step is the clear form choice on Timeform ratings and we would not swap our horse for any other in the field.
Picture courtesy of Numan Sakar Photography