Firstly, we were obviously delighted when it was announced our daughter Francesca had been appointed as co-host of ITV’s Flat racing coverage for 2017. We are extremely proud of her and we are sure she will bring a fresh angle to the coverage as she has gained plenty of experience in Channel 7 in Australia and CNN around the world. Francesca is set to carry on her work covering the Melbourne Cup and the Sydney Autumn Carnival which means she will split her time between Australia and Britain and will, therefore, be living in permanent summer – lucky girl. We are very much looking forward to having her on our screens next spring.
Since our last update, our first runner was a winner when Pacharana proved too good for her rivals in a mile and a quarter handicap at Yarmouth last Thursday. It was nice for Pacharana to finally get off the mark as she is from the family of multiple Group 1 winner St Nicholas Abbey and was bred by her owner Mr Stuart Stuckey. Sent off at even money favourite, she responded well under a strong drive from Jamie Spencer and we now have the option of going back up in distance with her next time as long as she has good fast ground.
Fittocks Stud’s two year old Total Star ran very well when making his debut at Doncaster later that same day, finishing a clear second to Samharry in a seven furlong maiden and running to a Timeform rating of 88p. We were pleased to see him travel strongly and respond generously to pressure under Danny Tudhope and probably bumped into a horse with more experience and speed than he does at this stage as Total Star is bred to stay further than a mile next year. However, he showed sufficient ability for us to think he can win over seven furlongs next time out which will be in about two to three weeks’ time.
Our three runners last Friday, unfortunately, did not fare as well, although Mrs Angie Silver’s Cryptic at least ran a more competitive race than on his last two starts under our apprentice Gabriele Malune at York. Although it did not make a difference to the final result, it probably was not ideal for him to make the running and he will be ridden with a bit more restraint back over a mile next time. The good to firm ground may have been against Rosental even though she was second on a similar surface on her first start for us. She is a daughter of Pivotal and has won on good to soft going in France. We still think Rosental can be competitive at Listed level as she was fourth in such a race the time before. We may look at going back into a handicap with her next time just to help her get her confidence back.
At Ascot, Bermondsey had no chance come the last few furlongs of his race after he had raced keenly early on and we can put a line through his run. He jumped too well from the stalls and found himself vying for the lead. The Ascot mile and a half downhill start is always tricky because if you do not get cover straight away you run the risk of running free and, unfortunately, that is what happened. While we learnt nothing in terms of whether Bermondsey stays a mile and a half we will probably go back to a mile and a quarter with him next time and, therefore, the Ebor looks unlikely.
Continuing at Ascot on Saturday, Second Step unfortunately could not pick up many pieces in the Group 1 King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes but still ran well on form, only beaten six and a quarter lengths by the winner Highland Reel, who was given a very good ride by Ryan Moore. Second Step’s performance showed that he should still be competitive back in Group 2 and 3 races although we do not have any firm targets for him at present.
Glorious Goodwood starts today, and we have had many good days at the meeting, including when Mount Logan won the opening mile and a quarter handicap twelve months ago. We have Kangyu International Racing’s Shakopee for this year’s renewal and we would like to think he has as good a chance as any given the horse he beat at Doncaster twelve days ago has already won since. The quick turnaround is a slight concern but there is no doubt Shakopee has come out of his last race in good form and it is a nice prize to go for. We are drawn in stall 3, so hopefully Jamie can grab a good position without getting too far back, as we all know Goodwood can be hard to watch when there is a wall of horses in front of you in the straight. It will be nice to see Fittocks Stud’s Haggle back on the track in the one mile fillies’ handicap on the same card. She is now completely over the injury she sustained over the winter but, naturally, she is still likely to improve for the run having not raced since October. Her form certainly looks solid as she was third behind Ballydoyle and Nemoralia on her debut before winning and then finished third to subsequent 1000 Guineas fourth Fireglow in a listed event. Hopefully she can produce a positive performance that we can build upon in the coming weeks and months.
We are hoping for another good performance from Mr Geoff Grimish’s War Story in what looks a competitive handicap at Sandown on Wednesday. He takes on his elders for the first time and will also have a new jockey in Andrea Atzeni, as Adam Kirby, who normally rides him, is riding for Clive Cox in the same race. Andrea will also ride Mr Leonidas Marinopoulos’ Banksea in the mile and a quarter three year old handicap at Goodwood on Thursday and he has been in good form at home since his last run. We are also going to run Normandie Stud’s Loving Things in the Group 3 Betfred Glorious Stakes at Goodwood on Friday and, with a number of other runners in line to run on Friday and Saturday, we are going to write another update later in the week, so make sure you come back to find out our views on their chances.
Finally, we were saddened to hear about the death of one of our former charges, Midnight Legend, last week although he has had a good innings at the age twenty five. He was a lovely horse to have around and he hardly ever ran a bad race. We had him until the end of his five year old season in 1996, during which time he won three listed races for us. It was great to see him go on an excel in his second and third careers, winning two Grade 2s as a novice hurdler before producing a number of good National Hunt horses at stud.