The beginning of July started nicely for Bedford House with three winners from six runners and all within the space of a week. Frenzified notched up her second career win of the season when comfortably taking the fillies handicap at Doncaster under Cam Hardie. 24 hours later Winterval lost his maiden tag in the classified stakes at Nottingham and he was then followed by Lilian Baylis who took the apprentice handicap at Pontefract to give Kevin Stott his first winner since joining the team in March. Of the three, Lilian Baylis is perhaps most open to improvement as she did well to win at Pontefract having found herself at the back of the field in a race that was slowly run over a distance probably below her optimum. She has gone up 4lbs in the official handicap ratings for her narrow win and, considering her opening mark was less than we had anticipated, there is every chance she will win again when stepped up to a mile and a half.
Of all the races that got away over the course of the last week, the Group 2 Princess of Wales’s Arqana Racing Club Stakes has to top the list and, even now, we are not sure how Second Step did not manage to win even though he emerged as the best horse at the weights. The pattern of racing at the July Course in recent weeks has been favouring front runners with the ground so fast. It was frustrating to be beaten by a horse whose form has wavered so far this year but, ultimately, Big Orange was at a big advantage by making the running from pillar to post. Second Step had mown down Telescope earlier in the season at the Rowley Mile from a few lengths back but that race was run at a stronger gallop than the Princess of Wales’s Stakes on a more testing track and Second Step found the winning post coming too soon in a race he should have won. He will now be aimed for the Group 1 125th Grosser Preis Von Berlin at Hoppegarten after which we will probably step him up to a mile and three quarters with the Group 1 Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger, run on an ideal course, looking absolutely tailor made for him.
While there have been instances where our horses were not good enough – there have also been some legitimate excuses for some of our other beaten horses. Jordan Princess ran well in the Group 2 bet365 Lancashire Oaks at Haydock but really would have preferred the ground to have been a bit faster. She is taking her time to come to herself and should get better as the season progresses. The idea is to win some Black Type with her but time is running out to an extent as it will have to be while the ground remains fast. She is a possible for the Listed Newsells Park Stud Stakes at Newmarket this weekend but that race might just come too soon after the Lancashire Oaks and it is more likely she will go for the Listed British Stallion Studs EBF Chalice Stakes, again, at Newmarket. Penhill, on the other hand, ideally wants a stronger gallop and more give in the ground than he had in the bet365 Old Newton Cup. At the Newmarket July Festival, White Lake was fractious again down at the start before the Listed Hastings Direct Sir Henry Cecil Stakes and found himself outpaced after pulling too hard early in a slowly run race. Frustratingly, Ayaar was too far back in the bet365 Bunbury Cup in contrast to the Royal Hunt Cup where he was too far forward and, despite an early chance to improve his position, he was never near enough to land a blow. At York, Ajman Bridge would have finished closer to Mount Logan in the 56th John Smiths Cup had his momentum not been interrupted with less than two furlongs to run and the race really confirmed that he is a mile and a half performer these days. A step up in distance also awaits Mount Logan next time. The ground was too firm for King Bolete at Ascot and given that he reproduced his latest running almost pound for pound with Space Age then we have to be satisfied with a another promising run from him. We feel there is still a bigger performance in him on easier ground. Blue Waltz has been slow to come to hand and probably bumped into a decent filly at Salisbury on her seasonal reappearance and we can look forward to a much sharper performance from her next time out.
Dreamlike ran another good race at Ascot and there is every chance she will improve once she gets the chance to run on a softer surface. She has already achieved more than her half-sister Silk Sari had at the same stage of her career and, given Silk Sari really came into her own as a four year old when given a test of stamina and soft ground, there is still time for Dreamlike to blossom. Monotype is another who will progress, and his first foray into Group company in the Group 3 Bahrain Trophy earnt him a 2lb rise in the official ratings. He is a possible for the Betfred Melrose Stakes at York, while Fiesole will probably be dropped back in trip after breezing through the field at Doncaster only to fall into a hole once getting to the front too soon still on the bridle.
We were happy with the performances of our first two year old runners of the season with the fillies running very much as expected and the colts shaping as though they needed the race. For all that, Al Khafji ran promisingly in what looked a warm maiden on the Friday of the July Festival meeting, while Sharja Queen fared better of the fillies and will be unlucky to run into another one as good as Lumiere in a maiden next time out. We shall be introducing some more two year olds in the next week or so, but as always in the week following a spate of good meetings, things will be quiet for a few days.