It was a week of ups and downs for us. Tuesday was a tough day. Battaash ran a great race in the circumstances in the Kings Stand as the Australian horse he was going to follow stumbled out of the stalls and took him out of the race. He did a couple of amazing sectional times to actually head Blue Point at one stage but was then outstayed. He’s absolutely fine and will head for Goodwood to try and win the King George Stakes for the third time. Equilateral ran a great race, and we were very happy with him. We’ll drop down in grade and try and get that illusive Group win for him, before having another crack at the top level.
As has been documented Phoenix Of Spain came back very sore from his race. He was sound by Saturday morning and we will now build him back up to his next target which could be the Sussex Stakes. Although his action suggests he wants cut in the ground he probably wants a firm surface, and Lope De Vega’s figures on good to soft or worse at Ascot read 0 from 27 runners.
However, what a difference a day makes because on Wednesday we were celebrating Afaak’s gutsy win in the Royal Hunt Cup. It was a great effort from the team at home to have him ready to win such a competitive race first time out. He clearly loves Ascot and we will wait to see what the handicapper does before we decide where to go next. Flippa The Strippa ran well, she got a bit far back on the soft ground which she didn’t enjoy at all. We’ll keep her in Group/Listed class now and may also step up to six furlongs.
In the Brittania on Thursday Dark Jedi threw his race away before the start by behaving very badly. He’s got his fair share of temperament and maybe the occasion caught him out. Pogo got a bit bashed about and was short for room at a crucial moment. We’ll try and find a race for him at Newmarket as he seems to love it there.
Fleeting Princess a good race in the Albany as she was on the wrong side and didn’t really get home over six furlongs. She’ll be winning more races. Khaadem was disappointing in the Commonwealth Cup as he’d been pleasing us at home. He wasn’t 100% when we got him back and we will get him right before making the next plan.
We were delighted with Vanbrugh in the Wokingham. Again he was on the less favoured side and there wasn’t enough pace to take him into the race, so he was in front earlier than ideal. There’s definitely a nice race in him.
She probably has the least regal name at the meeting but we are really looking forward to Flippa The Strippa running in the Queen Mary. She looks stronger than she did before her win in the National Stakes and her work has been good. The ground could be a bit of an unknown if the forecast is correct, however she’s a tough and talented filly who will do her best.
Afaak bids to go one better in the Hunt Cup, however it is going to be a bit of an ask on his seasonal debut. There’s been nothing specifically wrong with him, he’s just taken time to come to himself. He’s done plenty of work so it will be interesting to see how he goes.
Days don’t come much bigger than Tuesday 18th of June for our yard. In the space of 40 minutes we will see Battaash, Equilateral and Phoenix Of Spain run in the two big races of the day. All the horses appear to be in great form at home and those closest to each horse are very happy. They should all act on the ground, however we hope the forecast thunder storms don’t materialise too early in the afternoon.
Bob, who looks after Battaash, has quite a big hoodoo to overcome as he has never led up a winner at Ascot – and he has taken some seriously good horses over the years including Battaash’s sire Dark Angel. We really hope that tomorrow is the day he breaks it.
We’ll have a pretty quiet weekend with just a handful of runners on Saturday. A Momentofmadness is probably the most high profile runner, and he goes to Chelmsford to try and kick start his season. For whatever reason he hasn’t been jumping very quickly from the gates, but if he can get away and dominate he should have a very good chance.
Red Bravo has been waiting for soft ground and it’s certainly going to be that at Haydock! Silver Start and Rock Of Estonia would both have good chances at Chepstow, while Elena and Temujin are bidding to build on promising outings last time. Finally Autumn War should enjoy a bit of give in the ground when he runs at Newmarket.
It will be hard to beat the twenty five minutes between 3.40pm and 4.05pm on Saturday 25th May 2019. Both Phoenix Of Spain and Battaash were absolutely brilliant.
We are all thrilled for Phoenix’s owners Ann and Tony who a couple of years ago were very brave and ‘went big’ at the sales with the idea being to buy a proper horse. With the help of Geoffrey Howson and Matt Houldsworth they have. Apart from a little blip in the winter, and a couple of dirty scopes around the English 2000 Guineas the horse has been an absolute pleasure to train. He has a bomb proof temperament and now he’s filling his big frame he’s showing everyone just how good he is. He will improve for the run in Ireland and has come back showing no ill effects from the race.
Battaash has been in such good form at home and is much more relaxed this year, so we were pretty confident going into the race. Without a doubt Dane O’Neil riding his work has helped, as he knows the horse so well. Viktoria, who does the steering at home the rest of the time, has also helped keep him happy and we should all see the benefits of this as the year goes on.
Finally I’d like to say a big thank you to my team at home. Those close to these two horses do an amazing job, but it’s not just about them. Every horse in the yard is important and every winner is important and so much work goes into each and every one of them.
With her memorable name Flippa was always going to gather quite a following, however now it looks like she’s pretty decent she has acquired even more fans.
To be honest we were going into the National Stakes looking to pick up some black type by being placed, however she showed a great turn of foot to put the race to bed very quickly. We will now go to Ascot. She may well get multiple entries but the favoured race is probably the Queen Mary.
We have been patient with Khaadem this spring and it’s paid off following his win at Newbury. He was always doing enough to hold off the second placed horse, and won with his ears pricked. He’s come out of the race in great form so hopefully it’s all systems go for Ascot. The team at home have done a really good job with him and he is much more relaxed at home this year. It was great to see that although he got a bit worked up in the preliminaries he was good in the race.
It looks like Mutawaffer will be our only runner on Saturday when he contests The Windsor Castle. He was keen at Goodwood so we’ve decided to drop him back in trip. He’s been in good from at home since and should have a good chance.
Shanghai Glory is unlikely to get into the Wokingham, and if the weather forecast is to be believed the ground will far too firm anyway.
Our only runner on Thursday will be Glory Fighter in The Norfolk Stakes. This horse has been the ultimate professional from the word go and has always stood out in the crowd. Gerald Mosse feels the stiff 5 furlongs of this race will suit him and we are very hopeful. His work at home is always exemplary, and continues to be so.
We’ll have two runners on Wednesday, and they’re in the last two races. Afaak is one of the favourites for The Hunt Cup following his win at York. He’s grown up considerably this year and is now fulfilling the promise we’ve always seen in him. These handicaps are difficult as we don’t know about the draw, but hopefully he’ll be in the right place this year. He was unfortunate in The Britannia last year as he won the race on his side, but it was the wrong side as far as the draw was concerned.
Nebo will drop back to seven furlongs in The Jersey having failed to stay in the 2000 Guineas. He needs to step up on what he has shown this year, but on last years form should be capable of holding his own.