The 2016 Flat season is now fully up and running and the first of our big guns returns to action on Wednesday as Mizzou bids to repeat his 2015 win in the Group 3 Longines Sagaro Stakes at Ascot. It looks a more competitive race this time around and he will also be without the allowance he received as a four year old 12 months ago. However, he has recovered well from the setback that ruled him out of last autumn’s Group 2 Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup and should have a good chance. He is versatile with regards ground but we will require some luck in running over a course which does not really play to his strengths with its relatively short straight. Hopefully he can, once again, book his ticket to the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in June.
We were obviously delighted to get off the mark for 2016 with one of our first runners when Mr Geoff Grimish’s War Story (pictured) took what looked a warm maiden at Chelmsford City on Monday. We also had debutant Diamond Geyser, who ran encouragingly in the same race, but he will need more time. We have liked War Story for a while and it will be interesting to see what handicap mark he is given. Cryptic, who runs in Mrs Angie Silver’s colours and was our final winner of 2015, ran a fine race in the three year old handicap later on in the card and simply bumped into one too good in Hugo Palmer’s We Are Ninety.
Our first runners this year have appeared a bit later than usual which primarily was because of the ground. It’s a long season ahead and we do not want to bottom horses by running them on testing conditions first time out. Also, the cold weather has made it a bit tricky for our fillies who have perhaps not come to themselves as quickly as in previous years. We have three entered for the Group 1 Investec Oaks at Epsom and at least two of them are on course to contest in the upcoming trials. Mr Jon Kelly’s Beautiful Morning is set for the Listed Haras De Bouquetot Fillies Trial Stakes at Newbury (formerly known as the Swettenham Stud Stakes – we won this race with subsequent Oaks third Volume in 2014) and Michael and Michelle Morris’ Tiptree is being aimed for the Listed Tweenhills Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket this weekend. We were very pleased to see Tiptree’s Newmarket form franked when Swiss Range made a comfortable winning return during Newmarket’s Craven meeting. Helena Springfield’s Very Dashing completes the trio and will most likely reappear in a maiden. Dubai Future Champions Day maiden winner Materialistic has not quite come to herself and her reappearance is still on hold – hopefully the wait will prove worthwhile.
Pamona, owned by Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, finished third in the above Newbury Oaks trial last term and she has done very well physically over the winter. She could run in the Group 2 Charm Spirit at Tweenhills in 2017 Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket on Sunday (in which Kleo was a close second last year) but also has the option of the Listed Betfred TV EBF Stallions Daisy Warwick Stakes over a mile and a half at Goodwood on Saturday. We have confirmed the entry for Second Step in the Group 2 Dunaden at Overbury Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday; however, his participation will very much depend on whether or not Jack Hobbs runs. If so, then it is more than likely that we will reroute to the Group 2 Betway Yorkshire Cup at York’s Dante meeting next month. We hope our Group 3 St Simon Stakes winner Koora will be ready for the Group 2 Betfred Middleton Stakes, also at the Dante meeting, but there is always the Group 3 Pinnacle Stakes at Haydock as a back-up option. Another four year old filly who will hopefully do well this season is new recruit Rosental who was bought out of Andre Fabre’s yard last December. She has ‘won’ two of her four starts in France (awarded the race on the second occasion) and, although we are still getting to know her, we are happy with what we have seen so far.
Normandie Stud’s Wannabe Friends could be an interesting three year old colt this year and he is by one of my favourite stallions in Dubawi. He beat just one horse home on his only start for John Gosden at Newbury last July – he actually finished just behind our Four On Eight who did well subsequently – but we have been pleased with his recent work on the gallops and hope he will prove useful in time. He is beautifully bred being a full brother to Thoroughbred Stakes winner Wannabe Yours.
While we may not have the same numbers among the three year olds and older horses this year, we are very happy to say we have the same number of two year olds that we have had for the past 10 years and hopefully there will be a few stars among them. As we said in our first update of the year, we have more speedily bred types than has often been the case, including youngsters by stallions such as Bated Breath, Dream Ahead and Zoffany (as well as a Frankel), and we may have our first runners in the latter part of May. We will hopefully be busy again at the yearling sales in the autumn and then next year we should be back up to full strength.
Picture courtesy of Megan Rose Photography