It was nice to see Laurence return to something like his old form when he finished a close fourth at Yarmouth last Wednesday and we now are now hoping that he is back on the right track. It was also pleasing to see him settle better than on his previous two starts this season even though he unfortunately got rather boxed in inside the last couple of furlongs. Laurence was dropping back in trip to nine furlongs on this occasion but, both that distance and a mile and a quarter come alike to him, and hopefully he will soon be back in the winner’s enclosure. The Cambridgeshire consolation race could be a long term target this season although we do think he may be better on round courses than on straight courses.
Unfortunately, nothing has come to light to explain Second Step’s moderate fifth in the Group 2 Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket last Thursday. He seemed well in himself going into the race but, sadly, just did not pick up behind the winner Big Orange who, of course, had beaten Second Step by just half a length (with Second Step conceding weight) in the same race in 2015. There is not much on offer for Second Step in the immediate future so we do not really have a firm plan in place for him right now.
Diamond Geyser found just one three year old too good for him when second at Newbury, also on Thursday, when perhaps not quite seeing out the extended mile and five furlongs, certainly in relation to the winner. Diamond Geyser also found himself in front too far out and we shall ride him with a bit more restraint back over a mile and a half next time. He is a straightforward horse who is developing a turn of foot so we are hopeful there are more races to be won with him.
Banksea was uncharacteristically keen in his race at Newmarket last Friday but he still showed his trademark good attitude to finish fifth. Newmarket trained horses can often boil over when running at Newmarket, presumably because they can still be in a horse box less than an hour before the race and, therefore, do not always have enough time to settle down. Banksea was a bit unsettled both in the saddling area and in the parade ring, which is unlike him, and he was also forced to race without cover in the early stages which did not help either. With that in mind; he did well to finish where he did and he is still potentially a top class handicapper.
War Story produced another good effort when second at Ascot on the same afternoon behind a winner that was given a peach of a ride from Adam Kirby. War Story was given a good ride by Shane Kelly but, unfortunately, he just could not claw back the deficit in the final furlong. Both a mile and seven furlongs come alike to him (as long as it is on a round course) so it is just a case of finding similar races and hoping he can go one place better.
Two year old Dubara stepped up on her debut when third in a maiden at Newmarket last Saturday but, unfortunately, bumped into two potentially top class fillies. The initial plan was not to make the running but, in the end, it made no difference and we will aim to find an easier race and hopefully get a win under her belt. Al made an encouraging return when third behind two three year olds in a mile and a half handicap on the same card and he probably just needed the run, which is understandable, considering he has been off the racecourse since last October. He looked as though he was going to take a hand in the finish before getting tired in the final furlong and he will hopefully come on for the run next time out. We will probably stick to mile and a half races before seeing if he needs a return to further.
Looking ahead; Fallen For A Star makes a return to the turf in a mile and a quarter handicap at Yarmouth on Wednesday with Jamie Spencer back in the saddle. If he behaves and runs as well as he did last time then he has obviously got a chance, especially if we have a decent pace to aim at like we did at Newcastle. Two year old filly, Vanity Queen, makes her debut in a Doncaster fillies’ maiden on Thursday over seven furlongs and should give a good account of herself although, as ever with our younger horses, she will benefit from the experience. She is from a family that we know very well being a half-sister to Validus, Velox and Volume who was third in both the English and Irish Oaks in 2014. Vanity Queen ultimately may want further than seven furlongs, just like another of our juvenile fillies, Party Nights, who finished a staying on fifth over six furlongs at Ripon last week. Shakopee has not settled in his first two starts this year and we are hoping that Jamie Spencer can work his magic on him, also at Doncaster, on Thursday. Very Dashing is due to make her belated return to the races in a mile and a quarter fillies maiden at Nottingham on Friday. On Saturday, we potentially have Bermondsey in a mile and a quarter handicap at Newbury (provided there is a drop of rain) and Tiptree in the Listed Newsells Park Stud Stakes (formerly registered as the Aphrodite Stakes) at Newmarket.