Ebor Festival Review

After several near misses over the last week it was good to get another win on the board when OTI Racing’s three year old colt Testimonio made a winning debut in a mile and a quarter maiden at Brighton on Monday. It was a fairly easy race to pick up with only four runners going to post, and the handicapper could take the form literally with the runner up rated 74, but we could not have asked much more from Testimonio and he should make up into a nice middle distance handicapper. It was also nice to be able to provide jockey Adam Kirby with a winner on his 28th birthday!

The near misses all came on Friday from Banksea and Shakopee at York to Blind Faith at Sandown. Mr Leonidas Marinopoulos’ Banksea was particularly unlucky as he finished a close second of seventeen to Arcanada in a three year old handicap over a mile and, had he started his run at the same time as the winner, he might well have beaten him. It was good to see Banksea get back on track as he has generally been progressive this year, so hopefully there may be even more to come from him, although he will need to produce it as he has been raised 5lb for his York efforts. Earlier on the card, Kangyu International Racing’s Shakopee had also bounced back to form, when stepping up to a mile and a half, as he beat all bar Barsanti in a fifteen runner handicap. While Shakopee may have found one just too strong in the finish, he did prove that he stays the longer trip, which now opens up our options for him. He was also suited by the return to a flat, galloping track and has been raised 3lb for his efforts. Mr Chris Wright and Miss Emily Asprey’s Blind Faith improved from her debut two months ago when going down by just a head to recent winner Hollywood Road in a three year old handicap over a mile and quarter. In the last few strides, it was probably just inexperience that let her down and there should be more races to be won with her from a new mark of 80 (raised 4lb) as she certainly possesses a good attitude.

In a similar mould to Shakopee is Fittocks Stud’s Bermondsey who was dropped back to a mile and a quarter when finishing a close fourth to Baydar in a handicap at Sandown on Saturday and he could easily go back to a mile and a half for his next start. He was also suited by having a sound pace to chase and his jockey, Oisin Murphy, thought he could have won if he had not had his run checked a couple of times, although, in truth, he still may have had his work he cut out to run down a progressive three year old. One consolation was that Fittocks Stud bred the winner!

Total Star was disappointing when ninth of ten in the Group 3 Solario Stakes on the same card, but he had a couple of excuses, and we still think he is a smart colt in the making. His rider, Adam Kirby, blamed the ground which became rather strange after the downpour that hit the track in the morning. Total Star was also still a bit green, brought about by the fact he was on the outside and the field gradually crept towards the stands rail. This mean he had to change lanes instead of being able to concentrate on running in a straight line. We will probably look at a nursery next even though he has been dealt a very harsh blow by the handicapper who has seen fit to put him up 7lb (to 90) for finishing where he did.

Unfortunately, the ground was just too quick for both Koora and Loving Things in the Group 1 Darley Yorkshire Oaks at York last Thursday, and it was the same story for Tiptree in the Listed Galtres Stakes on the same card. Tiptree’s win last year came on good to soft ground, while Koora’s win in last year’s St Simon Stakes came on heavy (even though she ran well on good to firm on her return this year), and her tame finishing effort after travelling well was probably her telling us she has had enough of racing on a fast surface.

Among our other runners, Mr Michael Tabor’s City Limits unfortunately had a wide draw for his debut at Kempton last Tuesday and could never get into the race. He is bred to be a middle distance three year old and remains a nice longer term prospect. Fallen For A Star finished out the back in a handicap over the extended mile and a quarter at York on Saturday but it was really a non-event for him as nothing got into the race from the rear. The pace was slow and there was a strong tail wind up the straight which helped those up front to stay in front. Fallen For A Star behaved well, which was good to see, and we could look for something over a mile and a half for him now as mentioned previously.

Looking ahead, we have a quieter week in store but we could still be in for a winner or two, especially on Thursday, when Mr Stuart Stuckey’s pair Pacharana and Four On Eight both take their chances at Kempton. Stepping up in trip should suit both of them although it will need to bring out the best in Pacharana who has gone up 8lb for coming clear with another horse last time – one that was subsequently beaten at short odds off the same mark next time out. The same owner’s Vanity Queen will take on the colts in a nursery, as there are no fillies only nurseries over a mile for the foreseeable future, at Newmarket on Friday. We are hoping for a big run although we know she will be up against a number of other promising types. We could also run Merry Fox Stud’s Second Step in the Listed Sri Lanka August Stakes at Windsor on Saturday. We will obviously be hoping for a big performance from him considering it will be the first time he has raced outside of Group 1 or Group 2 company since winning the Listed Finale Stakes at the Curragh in October 2014.

Finally, as some of you might have seen on social media, our assistant trainer Amy Murphy will shortly be leaving us to pursue a career as a trainer in her own right and we would like to take this opportunity to wish her the very best of luck. Amy is a very good horsewoman and also very personable, and we are sure she will be a worthy addition to the Newmarket training ranks.