Over the past couple of weeks we have been very focused on the Yearling Sales and, although total numbers for 2016 are not yet in, it seems we will have around fifty two year olds for next year which is close to our usual numbers. Our loyal owners have rallied around magnificently and we are pleased to say we have also attracted some new owners too. We acquired six yearlings at the Tattersalls Book 1 Sale, including a Dubawi colt, and ten at Book 2, including some by sires we are not usually associated with such as Zebedee. It may be that our focus will shift slightly away from the middle distance footing on which we have built our reputation on over the years but we were put in a position at the sales where we had to have a close look at everything and, when we found an attractive individual with a good pedigree, we had to have a go at it. We did not necessarily buy early types, so the news that there will be a new programme of novice races replacing maiden races is not something that will affect us much seeing as we have very few runners in maiden races before the summer. However, the expectation that allowing previous winners to run against maidens under a penalty will increase field sizes (which seems to be the drive behind its introduction) is strange considering there is already evidence that maiden winners are disinclined to take each other on under penalties in novice races before Royal Ascot. If they were then we would not have any need for this new ‘initiative’.
As we have said before, our current crop of two year old fillies is very exciting and we recently added another string to our bow in anticipation of winning some of the better races next season when Materialistic made a winning debut in a Class 2 maiden at Newmarket. She started at bigger odds than her pedigree and work on the gallops suggested she should have, though that is not unusual for one of ours first time out, but she won in very pleasing fashion and is an exciting future prospect. Most impressive of all was the ease with which she travelled through the race and then was not hard pressed to maintain her advantage once hitting the front, handling the “dip” well for one so inexperienced. There are no immediate plans for her and where she starts off next year will be determined by how she does over the winter and how soon she comes to hand.
Mention of the “dip” brings us round to Beautiful Morning who ran a good race in the Group 1 Dubai Fillies’ Mile without handling that part of the course particularly well. The form of her win at York could not have worked out better, but it looked a well above average renewal of the Fillies Mile and she was caught out by inexperience as much as anything else. Also, looking at the runners in the paddock beforehand, she was clearly still very weak compared to all of her rivals, still on the leg, very big and some way off being fully developed. Being a shade keen early in the race did not help her cause either, but we were encouraged that, despite not finishing in the first three, she left us with the strong impression that she will be a completely different proposition next year as one would expect with her pedigree.
Besides Materialistic, Optima Petamus also scored for us at Windsor doing his bit to edge our seasonal total close to fifty winners – at the time of writing we are on forty-nine. Optima Petamus is in the Tattersalls Autumn Horses in Training Sales at the end of this month and will make someone a nice four year old. He is a big, scopey sort who has taken a while to come to himself and his work in the last month or so has really improved. He looked at one stage as if he wanted a mile and a quarter but as he has been working better he has shown us that he has enough speed for a mile.
We had hoped Second Step would win his second top level prize of the year on last Sunday night in the Pattisons Canadian International at Woodbine but things did not go anywhere near to plan. Maybe he was still feeling the effects of a hard race at the Curragh over a trip that stretched him in view of the strong gallop that race was run at but, whatever it was, he was a shadow of himself. Andrea Atzeni reported that he stumbled and lost his action for a while, finishing slightly lame, although he is now back home and appears to be sound and well. He will have the winter off and will be back next year where we expect he will mix and match the top races over a mile and a half, here and abroad, much as he has done this year.
Four On Eight ran a very creditable third on Wednesday afternoon at Newmarket on ground that was too soft for him. The best ground was clearly on the rail that day but, for some reason, the race developed in the centre of the course and Four On Eight found the conditions just a bit too testing for him. He was the last off the bridle and he tried his heart out to the line so, all in all, we are very pleased with his performance and he will be a lovely horse for next year. A horse we are not sure to have with us next year is Farandine, who broke her maiden in the opening race at Newmarket. She is the last horse to ever race in the famous Gerald Leigh’s silks as his daughter Sarah, who carried on the racing legacy, passed away a couple of months ago and all of the remaining stock, including Farandine, will now head to the sales. The association between the Leigh family and Bedford House goes back almost thirty years so, as you can imagine, it was a very fitting and emotional win for all of us. We hope that whoever buys Farandine at the sales will consider sending her back to us as we like her and it would be fantastic to be able to guide her through the rest of her career.
Our main hope for later on this week is probably Koora who runs in the Group 3 Worthington’s Victoria Club Stakes (Registered as The St Simon Stakes) at Newbury this weekend. This race is something of an afterthought but, Romsdal aside (even if he did not run that well last time), it does not look a particularly strong race and Koora is still open to improvement. The drop back to a mile and a half will be in her favour, though we would not want conditions to turn too testing, so we will be keeping one eye on the weather. Those comments also apply to Laurence who will probably have his final run of the year at Doncaster at the weekend if the rain stays away. He has been working extremely well lately and given good ground we are hopeful of a good performance. His profile has generally been an upward one all year, with legitimate excuses for the dips in that trend, and he promises to be a much better horse next year once he is gelded.