Mr Jon and Sarah Kelly’s Mizzou could not quite add his name to our list of recent winners in the Group 1 Gold Cup In Honour of The Queen’s 90th Birthday at Royal Ascot last Thursday but he ran his heart out to finish an honourable second behind Order of St George and we are obviously very proud of him. Mizzou’s performance was a career best on Timeform ratings and shows the improvement he has made since last year and the amount of improvement he has made since his Sagaro Stakes win in April, bearing in mind Flying Officer came out the best horse at the weights that day. We have always believed Mizzou would be better when faced with a strongly run race and a real test of stamina so it was it nice to see our predictions realised. Mizzou did not make his racecourse debut until three due to immaturity and a couple of setbacks; however, to look at him as a physical specimen along with his pedigree told us that, as long as we were patient with him, he was always going to get better with age. Who knows, there could even be a bit more to come from him yet. As mentioned before, the Group 2 Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup is another big target for Mizzou this season, especially after a late setback ruled him out of the race last year, although the route he takes to that race during the remainder of the season is still open for discussion. The Group 2 Qatar Goodwood Cup is out because we do not feel that Mizzou would be suited by the track, while the Group 2 Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup, in which he finished second in 2015, is a slight problem in as much as it is two miles on a fast track in mid-summer which does not play to his strengths. So the question is whether we go to the Lonsdale again or wait for the Group 2 Doncaster Cup before we go to Ascot.
Mr Christopher Wright and Miss Emily Asprey’s Blind Faith justified strong market confidence at Chelmsford on her debut on the same afternoon. We knew she was a filly with good natural ability (as we said in our last update) and we were not surprised to see her win what was probably a weak maiden under Adam Kirby. She will now go into handicaps with an opening handicap mark of 76 and we will see how far she can climb. As a half-sister to dual Group 1 placed miler Gabrial she is already a valuable broodmare prospect for her owners.
We had two excellent results on Sunday with Banksea and Loving Things (pictured) both winning at Pontefract. The former took the mile and a quarter handicap while the latter coasted home in the Listed totepool Pontefract Castle Stakes on her first start for us. Banksea was slightly keen early on and also had to come three wide around the bend, however, he quickened well in the straight and won going away by two and a quarter lengths under a hands and heels ride from Andrea Atzeni. If anything he probably won a little bit too well with his handicap mark in mind and he will probably have to compete in the big league from hereon in. Banksea was the only three year old in the handicap and there is the feeling that, after Royal Ascot, three year olds with a bit of experience are capable of beating more exposed older horses, so we may well look for a similar type of race next time out. A mile and a quarter is clearly a suitable trip for him although we still believe he has the speed for a stiff mile if required.
Martin Lane took his record for us to three wins from six rides when partnering Loving Things and it was fantastic to win a black type race for the filly’s owner – Philippa Cooper of Normandie Stud. Philippa deserves big winners as she does an excellent job breeding racehorses so it was very satisfying for us to provide her with another good success. Being a new recruit; we did not know for sure whether Loving Things would reproduce her homework on the track. We were slightly fearful as she had disappointed in a listed race on her final start for her former yard, however, she did so in good style to win by a length and three quarters. The quality of Loving Things’ home work has been excellent and there are plenty of options open to her now with the obvious next step being a Group 3 race. The Group 1 Darley Yorkshire Oaks has not been ruled out although that may be too big a step too quickly. Loving Things definitely looks a pattern filly on the gallops and there would not be a lot between her and the likes of Koora so we are hopeful there are more good races to be won with her.