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  1. In a week where we had plenty of runners, things started very well at Kempton on Monday with FLYING STANDARD winning his second race of the season. He is a horse that benefits from having a race set up well for him, which this one did because, although the early pace wasn’t particularly strong, they got racing a long way out. He was travelling well at the top of the straight and stayed on strongly to win well. I dare say he’ll pay the price when the handicap reassesses him on Tuesday, but we’ll see what he does before making a plan. He is well suited to 2m and so we’ll probably stick at that. 

    ANGEL AMADEA had a wide enough draw at Lingfield on Tuesday but she broke well and William Buick was able to get a nice position, tracking the leaders. She was switched outside coming off the final bend and looked to have the race won but was outbattled in the closing stages to go down by a short head in a photo finish. That was her best run to date, but it was a bit frustrating given that it looked like she had the race in her grasp.

    On the same day, DIVINE COMEDY returned to action at Nottingham having been off the track since winning at Newcastle in May. I was keen to get a run into her and, although 1¼m is probably a bit sharp for her, they put plenty of water on at Nottingham and so it wouldn’t be rock hard. She put up a satisfactory performance to finish 3rd, doing all her best work in the closing stages. This run confirmed that she wants at least 1½m and we’ll look to step her up to that trip next time. 

    HI HO SILVER ran well at Yarmouth on Wednesday. I think there were two well-handicapped horses in the race, who are probably better than the grade. We stayed on well behind them to finish 3rd and hopefully we won’t bump into too many more horses like those again this season. He is getting to the point where you would think he might get his head in front shortly. 

    At Kempton in the evening, THE THUNDERER ran better than his finishing position of 6th might suggest. He was drawn wide and is always a bit of a slow starter, which isn’t a good combination at Kempton. We always going to be stuck out the back but, fortunately, the race wasn’t run at too steady of a gallop and Richard Kingscote was able to work his way into the race down the home straight. However, we were always fighting a losing battle as we were starting too far back. He stayed on well though and I would hope he is another one who, as long as he can hold his form, can win a race soon.

    TOTAL JOY finished 3rd at Nottingham on Friday. He ran over an inadequate 6f on his debut and stepped up to an extended mile, he travelled well for a long way. He got a bit outpaced when they first quickened up at the beginning of the straight, but then stayed on well. The winner won easily but at least he showed us something. He’s a big horse with a lot of physical improvement in him and this performance confirmed he is going in the right direction.

    On the same day at Newbury, MANGO BOY ran with blinkers on for the first time. We didn’t think he had been putting the full effort in and he ran much better here. This was another race where the winner was head and shoulders above the rest, but he ran a solid race to finish 2nd. As long as the blinkers work again and we can find the right contest for him, you’d think he’d be competitive again next time.

    Finally, we had hoped to send DOUBLE OR BUBBLE to the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes at Newbury on Saturday but, unfortunately, she had some filling in her hind leg on the morning of the race. We weren’t too sure what it was and, being cautious, we didn’t want to take any risks with her. I’ll have a discussion with Mr Fustok and there are three upcoming options for her: the Supreme Stakes at Goodwood, the Sceptre Stakes and Park Stakes at Doncaster. She would incur a penalty in the first two, but not the latter which is a Group 2. 

    We’ll have fewer runners this week. SPIT SPOT heads to Kempton on Tuesday, whilst FREE STEP will probably go to the same track the following day. YOU’RE ON MUTE is a possible for Newcastle on Friday evening, whilst we will have some entries for Yarmouth on Sunday. Most of those are ground dependent so running plans will only be confirmed once we see how much rain arrives in the next few days.

  2. Last week began with a disappointing evening at Windsor on Monday. ROSE CAMIRA was making her handicap debut where the plan had been to track the leaders, but we ended up sitting second last which is rarely a good place to be here. The race was a bit stop-start and, with no gaps emerging when they were needed, she got stuck behind some of the no hopers. As a result, she simply couldn’t get into the race and the whole thing became a bit of a nightmare. She’ll hopefully have much better luck next time and, whilst this was all very frustrating, there will be another day for her.

    RODOLFO ran creditably to finish 3rd at Nottingham on Thursday. He is still learning and was a little bit on and off the bridle through the early stages of the race. He was never too far off the pace and was making up ground nicely in the straight, looking like he would get a nice run up the rail. Unfortunately, it all got a bit tight for a few strides and he just hesitated briefly, which was enough to get him beaten. He ran with credit however and I feel that a win for him isn’t too far away.

    I can’t remember having two dead heats in my previous 30 years of training, but COMMANDER HECTOR was our second this season at Ayr on Thursday evening. He did very well in the circumstances because in a race where they went a good gallop, he was always a bit outpaced and never quite as close to the leaders as you would have liked to have been. For much of the way down the home straight, it looked like he was booked for 3rd place, but he really found his stride inside the final furlong and got up for a share of the spoils right on the line. He enjoyed the ground, which was on the easy side of good, and I think he’ll handle softer ground than that too. He is clearly a nice stayer in the making and wants 12f now. This was a gutsy performance, and he is a horse who should continue to improve physically.

    Finally, SAVROLA didn’t do anything wrong at Windsor on Sunday but frustratingly ended up finishing 2nd in a messy race. Having thought we had a good position, they came round our outside and, all of sudden, you haven’t. He then gets his position back and you think you are following the right one, but that one goes nowhere. You are then stuck behind a wall of horses and have to be pulled to the outside to get a run. He tried his hardest, but it is difficult to make your ground up once one has got first run on you. So, another frustrating race at Windsor this week but it just comes with the nature of the track. This was another creditable run by him and he’ll probably step up to 10f now.

    The week ahead looks like being our busiest for a while. FLYING STANDARD is back over 2m at Kempton on Monday, whilst ANGEL AMADEA goes to Lingfield on Tuesday. On the same day, DIVINE COMEDY is in at Nottingham and will run as long as it doesn’t dry up too much by the time of her race, which is the last on the card. She’ll have an entry at Southwell on Sunday just in case it does, but I would like to run her here if I can.

    On Wednesday, THE THUNDERER runs at Kempton whilst HI HO SILVER is a possible runner at Yarmouth.

    TOTAL JOY has a couple of options towards the end of the week but is more likely to go to Nottingham on Friday. On the same day, MANGO BOY heads to Newbury. He’ll have the blinkers put on in the hope that they help him concentrate a bit better.

    Finally, and all being well, DOUBLE OR BUBBLE heads to the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes at Newbury on Saturday.