Merry Fox Stud’s Second Step was our first Group 1 runner of the year when he contested the Investec Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Cup at Epsom on Derby day. While he had a bit to do against a couple of his rivals on paper we were still a little disappointed to finish fifth. In the end the race was not run to our advantage with the stop/start gallop failing to place enough emphasis on Second Step’s stamina and, as it turned out, being ridden that way, inevitably meant he could not close the gap. If the race had been run at a good pace we still believe Second Step would have had a good chance of getting a place. However, we now look forward to the rest of his campaign with the Group 2 Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket, in which he finished a close second to Big Orange last year, his next likely start and we hope he will put in a good performance.
The objective of Wannabe Friends’ run at Doncaster the previous evening was to get him settled and finish the race strongly and he did this very well indeed. He had run his race upside down at Newmarket on his first start for us and this performance was a step in the right direction. Jamie Spencer managed to get him nicely relaxed in mid field and, while unfortunately bumping into traffic in the straight, he still showed a good turn of foot and crossed the line in very good style. Shakopee was a little keen again when fifth at Windsor last Monday albeit not as much as on his return 17 days earlier. The race, again, did not really pan out in the right way for Shakopee and his homework is much better than what he is showing on the racecourse at the moment. We hope there are still more races to be won with him under different circumstances.
We have been promising to have some two year old runners and three of them will make their debuts on Thursday with Spun Gold going for the 6 furlong novice race at Nottingham and Party Nights and Dubara going for the respective divisions of the fillies’ maiden at Yarmouth. We cannot make any predictions as we obviously do not have a form line on any of the others but we would like them all to have positive experiences that they can build on in the future. On the same day, we also run Michael and Michelle Morris’ Tiptree in the Listed Lord Weinstock Memorial EBF Stallions Stakes at Newbury and Mrs Angie Silver’s Cryptic in a handicap at Yarmouth. Tiptree seems to be in better form now than when she was fifth on her reappearance in the Pretty Polly at Newmarket and it will be interesting to see what she does. At the moment the aim with her is to gain some black type and then we will see what happens after that. The combination of the return to a mile and the galloping track at Yarmouth will suit Cryptic and we are hoping for a much better performance than last time.
Friday will see three Bedford House residents on the racecourse. The first one will be Al Khafji, who is being stepped up a furlong to a mile and a half at Goodwood. His return this year was not the most sparkling but he appears to have woken up since this race and might also improve with the longer distance. Laurence hopefully will build on his first run back when he runs at York in mile and a quarter handicap while Bermondsey is scheduled to make his belated reappearance in what could prove a competitive handicap at Sandown. On Saturday, Mr Geoff Grimish’s War Story will quickly drop back to seven furlongs for his second start in a handicap at Sandown, which should suit him based on the way he raced last time, and Normandie Stud’s Stanley is pencilled in to make his debut in a mile and a quarter maiden at the same track. This son of recent Derby winning sire Sea The Stars has been showing nice things at home and, while he might need the experience of a race, we are hoping he can lay down a good foundation to build upon.
Looking ahead to next week, Group 1 runner number two will be Mr Jon and Sarah Kelly’s Mizzou when he has a second crack at the Gold Cup In Honour of The Queen’s 90thBirthday at Royal Ascot in which he finished a somewhat unlucky seventh 12 months ago. Order of St George, who made a nice winning return in the Listed Saval Beg Stakes at Leopardstown last Friday, is obviously a very worthy favourite. However, Mizzou is well and came out of the Sagaro Stakes in much better form than he did last year so we are going there pretty sure that he will run a good race.
Finally, it is worth mentioning just how good Minding was in the Investec Oaks last Friday. As we all saw, she suffered a terrible journey around Tattenham Corner and a difficult passage up the home straight, through the field, compared to the runner up. With all the trouble she encountered most people would have thought that her race was over, however, she put in an exceptional performance to win in style. As for the colts in the Investec Derby, it is difficult to say how good the principals are as it was a slow time, even acknowledging the ground, despite the fact they seemed to go a good pace. One thing is clear: Harzand won on merit and is a very progressive horse, though it will still be fascinating to see the rematch with US Army Ranger in the Irish Derby.