Next Stop – Epsom

For the first time this season we have been absent from the winner’s enclosure since our last update but, regardless of this, it was extremely encouraging to see White Lake back on the right path at Sandown last Thursday in the Cantor Fitzgerald Corporate Finance Heron Listed Stakes. We have always had faith in this horse and his effort at Sandown suggests that with a little more patience he can fulfil the high hopes we have for him. We have previously mentioned his tendency to be a bit fractious in the preliminaries but on Thursday we were rewarded for our efforts when he remained cool, calm and collected. Jumping from the gates, White Lake was switched off at the rear of the field by Adam Kirby and traveled smoothly until the three-furlong marker. However, at this point, he made rapid improvement, showing an impressive turn of foot, to swoop past the field and go from last to first in the matter of a furlong. At the two furlong marker he found himself at the head of the group and, unsurprisingly, could not sustain his challenge to the finish line.  Looking forward, there is an option for him at York in a couple of weeks’ time but it will be up against older horses. We shall probably bypass that, and Ascot too, and aim to find him a race at a mile at the beginning of July.

Last weekend we were hopeful of at least a winner, however, in the end our best result was a couple of third places. Kleo was trying a new trip over a mile and a half in the Group 3 888Sport Pinnacle Stakes. Taking in to account the running rail had been dolled out, which added an extra forty yards to the distance at Haydock, she appeared not to stay the distance when looking set to come through and challenge with about two furlongs to run. Had we known the ground was to turn soft for the Nottinghamshire Oaks this week we would have saved her for that as she handles soft ground well and then rerouted Pleasant Valley elsewhere.  Kleo will now  be brought back in trip for her next run, which may be in France, given there are so few options here for fillies and mares over a mile and a quarter in the next couple of months.

Ryan Moore reported that Penhill did not handle the undulations at Newmarket and could possibly have spoilt his chance of making the cut for the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes at Royal Ascot if his handicap rating were to be adjusted.  At present, it still remains at 93.  If he misses Ascot he will head to Haydock for the Old Newton Cup where the prospect of easier ground will undoubtedly help his cause. As with some of our other fillies, Dreamlike has also been slow to come to hand and ran like a filly that was extremely rusty on her seasonal reappearance at York, though she did not help herself by getting upset in the stalls. Her previous form looks very strong, having finished second to Investec Oaks contender Star Of Seville as a two year old at Doncaster, and we are still hopeful that she will show herself to be a well handicapped filly. Comedy King ran respectably to finish fifth after racing three wide and only really got going in the last fifty yards. It is probably inaccurate to think that he will be better off stepping up in trip as he was inconvenienced by the slow early gallop and needs a good strong pace from start to finish.

Spiriting finished third at Newmarket trying a mile for the first time despite not really settling and we will now look for a race around a bend most likely at the same trip to try and help him relax more. Saigon City is another that probably needs to be running round a turn over a mile in a bid to give him some more cover, while Laurence and Stars And Stripes both finished second at Leicester on Monday without really stepping up on their previous form.  However, we feel that Stars And Stripes’ performance was a step in the right direction.

Looking forward to the Investec Oaks at Epsom on Friday, there are no doubts at the time of writing, that underfoot conditions are in favour for Lady Of Dubai when she bids to go two places better than Volume did last year. The trial at Goodwood might not look the strongest on paper, but there is no denying that she was visually very impressive and the extra two furlongs will very much be in her favour.  However, the same can also be said of leading contenders Legatissimo and Crystal Zvezda, who beat Pamona at Newbury, and the principals from the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes. As with any Group 1 contest it looks a warm renewal and if we run in to a place it will be an excellent result.   Whatever the outcome, we feel that there is an exciting future ahead of her.

A quiet weekend beckons as we will only have two Fittocks Stud owned and bred colts aiming to shed their maiden tags. Duffel will make his second career start at Lingfield on Saturday over seven furlongs on the turf while Fiesole will represent us at Goodwood on Sunday in a mile and a quarter maiden.