Since our last update we have not had many runners; however, from the ones we have sent out all bar one have finished in the first three. The highlight of our weekend was Penhill’s victory in the mile and a half handicap at Ascot on Saturday. Having arrived at Bedford House shortly after being purchased in the Tattersalls Autumn Horses in Training sale it quickly became clear that he was a useful acquisition and one set for better things. Despite jumping off quite fresh and keen over the first couple of furlongs; Penhill (pictured) finally settled and traveled smoothly to take up the lead with over a furlong to go. Having wasted energy so early in the race it is fair to say that we were a little concerned that he might not be able to showcase his talent during the closing stages. However, James Doyle gave him a wonderful ride and he was able to hold on by a short head from the fast finishing New Year’s Night and make his first start for us a winning one. Some of his beaten rivals might claim they gave him first run but nothing traveled as strongly as him and he was value for more than his narrow win would suggest. We will keep him to a mile and a half for now and we are confident of a better performance once we can get him more cover in a bigger field with a stronger pace. It is also in the back of our minds that he might well be a better horse with some cut in the ground so there is plenty to look forward to in the coming months.
While Penhill sparkled at Ascot sadly Bartholomew Fair disappointed in what appeared to be a weak Derby trial so it is back to the drawing board with him. He wears blinkers at home as he can be slightly difficult to train but applying them in a race might have the opposite effect and make him too keen. It was evident at Lingfield that, although he did not pull overly hard, he was always compromising his chance by doing too much. The conclusion for now has to be that he did not stay. As previously noted, his dam was a miler who, in turn, is by Machiavellian, so we will drop him back to a mile next time.
Elsewhere, there were promising runs from Lilian Baylis and Monotype at Nottingham, while at Doncaster; Winterval did enough once again to suggest he should win a handicap at some point. Of that trio we were most pleased with Monotype as his third place came in what looked a warm maiden for the track. This was a more than credible effort despite having had very little training last year. Still very much a baby he finished to good effect under a nice educational ride from Adam Kirby. This will have provided him with valuable experience and he should reap the benefits of this next time out. The same can be said about Lilian Baylis although the merit of her effort is a bit harder to assess as it came in a race run at a modest gallop. Nonetheless she still looked very green and will surely improve again. She will be kept to a mile and a quarter which is a trip that will probably be next on the agenda for Winterval. Unfortunately he found one just too good for him – a well-handicapped opponent dropped back to a mile on his handicap debut. He does not mind the soft ground too much but we might see a better performance on good going next time out.
We usually have a few runners at York’s Dante meeting but this year we are unlikely to have many unless the ground dries out sufficiently for Ajman Bridge to take his chance in the handicap on Friday. Lunasea was also pencilled in at York as well but he will now run at Newmarket in a mile and a half handicap. King Bolete is destined for Newbury on Friday (though the handicap for which he is entered looks to be a very hot race), and La Boheme might be too if we cannot find a jockey to ride her in our preferred option at Salisbury on Thursday. Optima Petamus, a colt by Mastercraftsman who was purchased by Charlie Gordon Watson at the 2014 Tattersalls Guineas Breeze Up sale, will make his racecourse debut at Newmarket on Thursday for Dahab Racing. Bess Of Hardwick also makes her debut at the same venue on Friday. Owned by the Duke of Devonshire, she is beautifully bred filly by Dansili out of Request which makes her a half sister to the Group 1 winner Ask. Wistar will look to improve on his seasonal debut at Pontefract and will run in the mile handicap on the same card.
On Saturday at Newmarket we will be represented by two Fittocks Stud owned colts Laurence and Duffel in the mile maiden, while Pamona will be making her seasonal reappearance in the Haras De Bouquetot Fillies Trial Stakes at Newbury. An eye catching winner second time out last year, she showed plenty of speed and an impressive turn of foot when scoring by just over three lengths at Newmarket in the autumn. The Qipco 1000 Guineas at Newmarket had been an intended target as part of her early season campaign; however, as with many fillies, she needed a little more time meaning the Guineas came too soon. The extra time seems to have done her good and she has been working well recently. The extended distance of a mile and a quarter should also suit her.