It has been a fruitful few days thanks to Loving Things (pictured) winning the Group 3 Prix de Flore at Saint-Cloud on Sunday and the Class 3 and Class 2 handicap victories of Laurence at Doncaster on Saturday and El Vip at Leicester on Monday. After winning a Listed race at Pontefract on her debut for us in June the plan since then has always been to win a Group race with Loving Things. The victory was fantastic for all concerned especially her patient owner, Mrs Philippa Cooper of Normandie Stud, that she could achieve just that at the weekend. We had earmarked the Prix de Flore as a target for Loving Things some time ago and it was very satisfying that the plan came together, with Christophe Soumillon bringing her with a well-timed run in the closing stages. Loving Things is a beautiful and wonderfully behaved filly and will clearly make an excellent addition to the high class broodmare band at Normandie Stud. It appears she will be covered in 2017 by the 2009 Prix du Jockey Club winner Le Havre sire, among others, of this season’s unbeaten dual French classic winner La Cressonniere.
Another filly heading to the paddocks is Fittocks Stud’s Koora who, like Loving Things, had been off the track since disappointing on fast ground in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks in mid-August. Koora contested the Group 3 Worthington’s OCSL Stakes (registered as the St Simon Stakes) at Newbury on Saturday and, having won the corresponding race in 2015, was clearly well below her best as she finished tenth. In hindsight, it might have been that a hard race on ground quicker than ideal in the Middleton Stakes on her reappearance left a bigger mark on Koora than we had thought at the time. All being well she will visit Dubawi next year.
Blind Faith’s future plans are still to be confirmed but we would be very happy if she were to remain in training as we think there is some unfinished business with her. She has not added to her debut success in four runs since, but we feel we are close to nailing down her optimum trip and how best to ride her, and we are sure she can win more races. Her recent starts have been a bit upside down in that when dropped to a mile we held her up (and she stayed on) and then she did too much too soon in front when returned to 10 furlongs at Newbury on Friday. Blind Faith does need to learn to relax more in her races but we can continue to work on that as she is an easy horse to deal with at home.
Laurence has been knocking on the door all season and his win came at the perfect time as he will be one of a number of horses that we will consign at Tattersalls Autumn Horses in Training Sales on Wednesday. Laurence got a beautiful ride from Ryan Moore, sweeping through from the rear to hit the front a furlong out. He did jink to the right in the closing stages, which prompted a steward’s enquiry, but some horses can do that at Doncaster as about a furlong from the winning post is where they exit the stables and stables always represent safety to horses. The Horses in Training sale consignment also includes the likeable Cryptic, who was bidding for hat-trick of wins at Kempton when finishing third last Tuesday, and two year old Houndstooth, who ran another good race when third in a maiden at Chelmsford on Saturday.
El Vip is very much a horse for next year. As we have said before, his dam improved with age, so it is highly encouraging that he has now won two of his four outings this season. He only made his winning debut in late July and, having gained valuable experience when placed in a couple of competitive handicaps, he returned to winning ways at Leicester. Another exciting point with El Vip is that he has now proven himself to be effective from an extended mile to an extended mile and a quarter, which gives us plenty of options going forward. It was obviously an experiment to drop him back in trip at Leicester but he has always worked at home like a horse with plenty of speed. The handicapper will have his say now, but El Vip remains with plenty of potential and will hopefully progress into a very smart performer in 2017.
Postponed’s half-sister God Given ran another promising race when third at Yarmouth last Tuesday and is another horse we feel it will pay to follow next year. She will return in a mile and a quarter maiden and hopefully will develop into a useful filly over middle distances. A similar type is Great Court although we were disappointed with her fifth at Chelmsford last Thursday. Following her very promising debut, we thought she would go close to winning at the Essex track, but perhaps she just failed to handle the surface which, apparently, was riding on the very testing side. We may well give her another try back at Kempton before the year is over.
The rest of this week is going to be a quiet with just a few runners. Hopefully, Bess of Hardwick will run well in the Listed EBF Stallions River Eden Fillies’ Stakes on the polytrack at Lingfield on Thursday. It is obviously a step up from her win in a handicap last time in terms of race status, but there are actually only a few fillies in the race that are ahead of her on Timeform ratings as things stand and she is also still lightly raced for a four year old. Stepping up to 13 furlongs should not prove to be a problem either and we have always thought that she is more than capable of competing at this level. We may also run debutante Polly Glide at Newmarket on Saturday. She is hopefully a nice filly in the making but, like God Given, she is by Nathaniel so we may not see the best of her until she tackles 10 furlongs plus as a three year old.
Finally, it was also an excellent weekend for our son and former Assistant Trainer, Matt Cumani, as he saddled Grey Lion to finish a close second in the Group 3 Geelong Cup. It was a great achievement for Matt to go so close in such a prestigious race less than seven months after sending out his first runner and he has clearly got a big career ahead of him. Grey Lion spent a period at Bedford House over the summer while he was waiting to travel and, hopefully, we can help Matt source some more potentially smart horses for Australia at the sales this week.