Gold Stone – 4th December – Lingfield – 5f Betway Sprint Handicap
Having finished second and first on just two starts last year as a juvenile, Gold Stone looked set for a big year in 2018. There has been flashes of form but the winners enclosure has eluded the filly. She made amends for all of that with a stunning turn of foot, coming from last to first and taking the 5f Betway Sprint Handicap at Lingfield.
With just 2 runs to her name coming into the new season, Gold Stone had to start in Novice company. Her seasonal return was full of promising, finishing fourth in a very good race. When she followed that up with a 2nd on handicap debut it seemed as though wins would soon be following. That never materialised and the resulting three runs were well below par. After her run at Beverley, Kevin was convinced something must be holding her back as her form was not matching her work.
Small wind operations are very common and Gold Stone had one done after a check resulted in an issue being found. Now down to 69, Kevin was confident that she could quickly improve from that now the issue was sorted. The only problem was that after recovery the races would be on the AW and options were a little limited. She had already proved that she handled the artificial surface so there were no fears there but it was a waiting game for the correct race.
Lingfield is a good trip from Hambleton Lodge but with good prize money on offer it seemed the best option as Kevin sent two runners on the long journey. The race attracted 10 runners and it was a real mix of ages. With her recent wind op Gold Stone probably was the one in the field who was least exposed and likely improver. With the talented young Thomas Greatrex booked for the ride, Gold Stone was getting 5lb taken off although the pair were stuck with the worst draw, 10 of 10.
The filly jumped well from the stalls but there were some real trail blazers in the field. King Crimson was away quickly and set a furious gallop immediately, taking along those around him. The pace was break neck and as Thomas tracked over from his draw, Gold Stone found herself towards the rear. The field blasted through the first furlong and Stone found just one behind her and already struggled to go the early gallop. They start entering a bend so after completing the first furlong the field entered the back straight for just another furlong.
It was a crazy pace being set up front and this had the field well strung out. Thomas was already niggling away, trying to keep tabs with the rest of the field as they headed towards the home bend. King Crimson was not holding back and already had them moving into the second half of the race. By the time Gold Stone hit the bend the leader was almost halfway round.
Swinging off the bend the leader entered the home straight and kicked for home. It became clear that the pace was going to take its toll now as King Crimson couldn’t shake off those in pursuit. Thomas was low in the saddle as his filly straightened up for home and now he was getting a response. Although still well off the lead, Gold Stone was beginning to shift through the gears and did make up a bit of ground.
With 1 1/2f to run the lead had yet to change hands but it was obviously coming and those coming from off the pace were looking the most dangerous. Staying out of trouble, Thomas had decided to try and slingshot around the field and set his route down the centre of the track. Angel Of The South was the one who was making eye catching headway as those in front began to stall. Gold Stone was eyeing that rival but had about 3 lengths to find on that and even more to the front. That being said she was now starting to really pick up but it looked as though the task just might be too much to ask.
Entering the final King Crimson folded as Meerpat took the lead along the rail. Although there was just 200 yards to run that lead looked in danger with Angel Of The South still rattling home. Gold Stone was hitting top gear but the deficit was still looking impossible to overturn. They raced passed the 1/2f marker and now Angel Of The South snatched the lead and dived for the line. Thomas was asking for everything from his filly and Gold Stone was responding. Gold Stone was finding more and more and now was really flying home down the outside. With just 75 yards to run she still had 3 lengths to find but was full of momentum. Every stride taken was eating into the lead and as the post loomed Gold Stone was within inches of the lead. With one fell swoop she passed all of them and grabbed the lead in the dying strides, taking the win by a neck.
It was a very impressive performance from Gold Stone who was earning her second career win. She looked a filly who was well handicapped but there was plenty going against her here. Although a wind op was going to help sometimes the recovery and time between races can take its toll. She was also given the worst draw to overcome. Obviously the race was run to suit those held up but Gold Stone had so much ground to make up and did so very impressively. She will definitely come on for the run so this could be a precursor to more success. All will depend on what the handicapper does but she may well stay on the AW for the meantime and try to pick up some more wins, which certainly looks well within her grasp.
Consistency has proven to be his Achilles heel and trying to catch Tagur on a “going” day has been the key. Ability is there, as proven by his 4 previous career wins but the form reads like a sequence of good then bad. Having won easily last time out Tagur had no issues backing that up with another comfortable win when running away with the 1 mile Follow Sun Racing On Twitter Handicap at Southwell.
Having won twice on the spin earlier in the year, Tagur had gone up to a career high of 67. That didn’t seem an issue with the chestnut in good form, he looked to be finding a new level. Unfortunately he couldn’t maintain this and a few poor efforts forced Kevin to have a think about what to do. Ground was though to be one issue so therefore he decided to wait for until the autumn months with softer going and AW available.
Newcastle provided a positive step back into the right direction with a solid 3rd. Again that good performance was backed up by a poor effort when he went to Ayr next time out. Connections were scratching their head a littl with that run so it was suggested that Tagur should be freshened right up and wait for his ideal conditions. Kevin found a seller at Redcar with the aim of a confidence booster for the gelding. It proved to be just that when Tagur made all and bolted up winning by 3 1/2 lengths, although it could have been as far as he liked.
No bid came for him following that win, just as none had at the sales previous. Back on song it was time to go back up in grade. The turf season finished so it was on to the AW and Southwell, the track where his last win came at. The 0-65 mile handicap would be exactly the same contest that he won back in March. Being rated 2lb higher meant he would be carrying top weight so Kevin booked the up and coming Thomas Greatrex to utilise his 5lb claim.
Tagur loves to go forward but the widest draw of 11 would give Thomas a little headache early on. Southwell always sees a strong pace set and this was true once again as the stalls opened. Tagur was a little bit sluggish in the early stages, jumping a stride slow and not really into his stride. With a trio looking to push on, Thomas had to work his mount into the bridle. Tagur got the message and moved up to chase the leaders.
Racing down the back straight they headed into the first bend with Tagur now moving up challenge for the lead. Thomas had inched closer to the inside but would enter the bend racing still 4/5 wide. Having raced through the first few furlongs the bend is a long sweep which would take the field past halfway and into the business end of the race. Having raced wide Tagur surrendered his lead to those inside of him, although it was only by a nose. Sooqaan moved up along the rail, the shortest route possible, to now make four vying for the lead.
Thomas was being very positive throughout the contest and made sure he was giving no ground away despite having to go the furthest was around. It was Tagur and Sooqaan who started to edge away as they made their way inside the 3f and headed towards the home straight. The pair who split them now came under pressure to maitain their position but were not going as well. Sooqaan moved into a length lead and this took Tagur along too, matching his rival stride for stride as they swung off the bend. The pair were now clear of their nearest pursuers and looking back through the field there was very little coming from behind.
With the lead between them and no pressure coming the leading pair now made the best of their way home heading into the final 2f. Sooqaan has travelled as well as Tagur to this point but it was the chestnut who quickly took the lead when asked. Thomas continued with his positive approach and kicked for home. Tagur answered his jockey by moving into a 1/2 length then length lead. Sooqaan couldn’t match the new leader and Tagur started to pour it on once he saw clear daylight.
It was clear before he entered the final furlong that the race was done so it was up to Tagur how far the winning margin would be. Thomas kept him up to his work and the lead extended with every stride. Tagur was enjoying himself and galloped powerfully through the final 150 yards. Having opened up an unassailable lead Thomas sat up with the winning post in sight and allowed to coast in. Passing the line there was a 2 1/2 length lead over Sooqaan with a distance to the rest who were all strung out like chasers.
Tagur is in great order and proved once again that he is far superior in this level. Consistency is the biggest factor with him and if he can start stringing together good runs than he can easily improve into better grades. He loves to bowl along with give underfoot so the AW is ideal for him. This win was off a career high 67 and the handicapper will pile on some more pounds now. It could be maturity at the age of 4 that may well be helping Tagur and it would be no surprise to see the gelding continue his rise over the next few months.
SIRE – Starspangledbanner
DAM – On The Dark Side
SEX – Filly
COLOUR – Bay
DOB – 3/2/2017
PRICE – £40,000
SALE – Tattersalls Book 2
NOTES – +10 Bonus Qualified
- Listed placed Dam trained by Kevin
PICTURES & VIDEO
SIRE – Muhaarar
DAM – Lauren Louise
SEX – Colt
COLOUR – Bay
DOB – 15/2/2017
PRICE – £140,000
SALE – Tattersalls Book 1
NOTES – +10 Bonus Qualified
- 1/2 Brother to the yard’s crack sprinters Bogart (DBS sales race & Listed Redcar 2yo winner) Blaine (Group 2 Gimcrack winner).
PICTURES & VIDEO
Last weekend we were finishing the flat season and celebrating a winner on the flat. Fast forward a week and it was another winner being led in for the team although this time in a different sphere. Kajaki had made a winning debut over hurdles a month earlier at Sedgefield and took his perfect record to 2/2 when winning the 2m Biggest Ever Jumps Season On RacingUK Introductory Hurdle at Wetherby.
Having proven effective on the flat, Kajaki took to hurdling like a duck to water. He had schooled very well at home so it was no surprise to see him make a great start to his jumping career. For most of the way he was foot perfect, only getting the last slightly wrong when losing a bit of concentration. He ran out a ready winner and immediately following that win Brian Hughes suggested the race at Wetherby.
With the flat out of the way now, attention really turns to the NH scene. There were some big meetings around Britain and Ireland, including Cheltenham’s November meeting. This saw the race cut up quite a bit with just 5 runners opting to go to post. On paper Kajaki held the strongest form with his maiden win looking better than fellow winner Tight Call. The pair would have to carry a penalty to the other fancied runner, a bumper winner making his debut, Skandiburg. This trio were looking the obvious winners, with the other two set to start at 20/1 or bigger. With seemingly the best form, Kajaki would go off the 11/10fav.
Brian had been summoned to Cheltenham so Henry Brooke, who used to work for Kevin in his youth, would deputise in the saddle. Lining up by the tape, it was Tight Call who was closest to it and as it went up you could see why. Jumping off into the lead he quickly went 3 lengths clear of Kajaki who settled in second. Skandiburg was another couple of lengths in third whilst the outsiders were in a pair at the rear of the field. Initially it was a good gallop set but once the leader realised that he had no pressure it was settled down to a nice even gallop. Racing into the first Kajaki had clear sight but got in a little tight. Although awkward over it he made the adjustment, landing back in stride.
The first 3 flights took the field down past the stands and onto the final circuit. Hurdles 2 and 3 were taken well by all the 5 runners which offered little change as they continued to race in their original starting positions. Kajaki was happily racing on his own with a few lengths either side of him. Passing the post for the first time Tight Call slowed the pace a little, allowing the gap to close as he rounded the bend and headed up the back straight.
As they raced back away from the stands they would face another 3 hurdles in their journey. All the field were still travelling well and seemed content with the leader’s fractions in front. Henry allowed Kajaki to travel within himself, wherever the grey was happy to do so. Heading into the fourth flight the lead opened up again to the 3 length margin. They were all over it safely and bared down on the fifth, passing the halfway point of the race. Both the leader and Kajaki were a little untidy over this, nothing major and it didn’t stop either in their tracks. The final hurdle in the back straight saw both of the first two make amends and get back to their smooth jumping.
Now the race began to heat up a little as Tight Call took the field along into the final bend. There was a distinct injection of pace which Kajaki and Skandiburg both matched. The two outsiders now just came under pressure to try and stay with the fancied trio.
Entering the home straight the first three had now gained a break and it was clear, barring any major errors, that the winner would come from these. Moving inside the final 4f they were racing to the 7th flight. Here Kajaki was clean over and quicker away than the leader, halving the lead in the process. This caused Tight Call to come under the drive as Henry sat motionless on Kajaki. Skandiburg made a mistake which handed the initiative to the leading pair and more or less ruined his chances. The race looked like it had come down to two.
Bounding down to 2 out and Kajaki had loomed up on Tight Call, travelling much the better. Both horses made a mistake at the hurdle but Kajaki’s was less untidy and he landed much the better. Quicker away he allowed Henry to maitain his patience as his rival came under strong pressure. There was little between the pair heading down to the final flight. Again both horses made amends for their previous mistakes and took the final flight together. Kajaki had shown himself to be quicker away than Tight Call and did so once again. He pulled into a 1 1/2 length lead inside the final furlong. Tight Call was proving a tough nut to crack and was responding to pressure. Henry had to keep Kajaki up to his work as Tight Call began to close again. Although the lead was being eaten into, Kajaki was always doing enough in front and held on to win by a much narrower margin than it could have been, 1/2 length.
Kajaki has really enjoyed his hurdling, from schooling to racing. He is a fluent jumper and clever enough to adjust when he does make a slight error in judgement. Although he has plenty more to think about over hurdles than the flat, he does still hold the trait of thinking he has done enough. Kajaki is a smooth traveller and jumps well which will always put him into a good position but he can get complacent towards the end of his race. The small error he made 2 out was due to the ease he had got into a winning position and then the final furlong was Kajaki believing he had done enough. Owner Frank Gillespie enjoys both codes of racing so it is great to have a horse who can do both. Kajaki looks a lovely prospect and it could be that a better grade of race will see him improve more. This could really help with his concentration which in turn could see an even better performance. Kajaki is certainly one to look forward to.
As the evenings draw in and the winter months begin to get ever closer the 2018 turf season comes to a close. It is now time to reflect on another successful season for the team at Hambleton Lodge. Soon the statistics return to zero and every trainer starts over again. This years stars are away on holiday and the hard work continues as the future begin their journeys. For the next couple of months the yearlings take centre stage as they begin their racing careers. It is a learning curve for them as they begin to get lessons that will see them become racehorses. Although starting from scratch, it won’t be long until they are seen on the track and hopefully adding to already powerful string for 2019.
So what did 2018 bring for Kevin and the team?? Brando came close to Group 1 glory again but did pick up his second Abernant (Group 3). There were 3 Group winning juveniles who really look promising horses for next year. We had our first Breeders Cup runner. Then there was a big sales race win, some top handicap performances and some promising horses for the future. It was also the highest earning year in Britain for prize money. Added to that was a $210,000 prize fund from USA and over E130,000 from France, which takes the overall prize money won to over £2 million.
This is always the category that takes top billing, the highest class of racing. It is always important to find Group winners and this year 4 horses managed to take this honour.
BRANDO again entered the year as the stable star, the flag bearer who would ensure that the yard would be on the biggest stages. After last years Group 1 success in France it was clear that he would again be targeting all the top sprint prizes in Europe. Initially Dubai was sounded out as his starting point for the season. Unfortunately he just wasn’t quite ready and it is certainly somewhere you need to be going in 110% condition.
Missing a trip to Dubai meant that he would follow the same path as 2017. The Group 3 Abernant Stakes, which he won last year, was again the first target. This years renewal was a stronger race which was shown by Brando’s price of 9/2. He looked as well as ever, travelling strongly throughout before quickening up and powering up the hill to take the race with a bit in hand. It set up a tilt at the Duke Of York and another crack at Harry’s Angel. Just 5 turned up for that race and although he ran another blinder, beating Sir Dancealot by further, he just had no answer to Harry’s Angel. Kevin decided that Royal Ascot was out of the question so went to Ireland just 10 days later for the Group 2 Greenland’s. It just came too soon, plus the winner Merchant Navy went on to win the Diamond Jubilee.
Freshened up, Brando lined up for the Group 1 July Cup. With the field splitting, Brando was left towards the stands side in a small group of 4. Cruising through the race Tom (Eaves) then had to switch over to the opposite side to lay down his challenge. Cutting through the field it looked as though Brando was coming with a winning run but just found one too strong in the final stages. It was a great run showing his bravery to finish 2nd, an improvement on his 3rd from last year. He went over to France after this to defend his crown in the Gr 1 Prix Maurice De Gheest. Just like his winning performance Brando travelled well throughout, coming down to the 2f marker on the bridle. Unfortunately this year the race didn’t pan out and the race developed away from him on slightly better ground. It was a good effort but just wasn’t to be.
Haydock was next and when the rain came it was clear that the Gr 1 Sprint Cup was going to be a test. Proving that he was as well as ever and as usual being overlooked, somehow going off at 16/1, Brando settled towards the rear. Again travelling with ease he crept into contention passing the 2f marker. When asked he quickened up well to throw down a massive challenge. For the first time ever he looked to have the measure of Harry’s Angel but towards his inner, The Tin Man was also bursting through. The pair would battle the finish out but Brando just came up short, going down by 1/2 length. He would finish his season on Champions Day in the Gr1 sprint. Brando would show his consistency again by finishing fourth in a very muddling and slowly run race, which just didn’t give him the chance to pick up the leaders.
It was a fine season again from Brando who really deserves another Gr1 win to his name. Although not adding that this year he arguable was the most consistent sprinter out there, turning up at most of the big occasions and very often finishing in the frame. Obviously he will be another year older next season but for his age he is still lightly raced and looks as well as ever. Brando will be back again and hopefully can earn that second top level win!!
EAST has only had three runs this year but has really thrown herself into people’s notebooks with some high class performances. She didn’t make her debut until September but quickly established herself as one of the best 2yo fillies in Europe. The daughter of Frankel was breaking records from the day she went through the sales ring, being the most expensive 2yo sold at Goresbridge Breeze Up sales. Kevin gave her time before unleashing the chestnut but she would show her class in all 3 runs.
Starting at Hamilton over 6f, you would be forgiven for not thinking that the Scottish track could be seeing a future star. Settled off the pace early on, East travelled well through the early stages. Shaken up 2f from home, she cut through the field before powering up the hill and making a smart winning debut. It was good form but going from that to Gr3 company would be a big ask. East headed to France for the Prix Thomas Byron. Again ridden patiently, she produced a devastating turn of foot. Flying down the outer, East swept past her rivals with ease under a hands and heels ride.
Dreams were big and a trip to the USA followed to give Kevin a first Breeders Cup runner. Lining up in the Gr1 Juvenile Fillies Turf, East had to overcome a horrible draw and a top class field. Whilst the winner, Newspaperofrecord, would go on to make all and win well, East endured a tough passage. Coming from last she was interrupted initially in her run but once a gap came 1 1/2f from home she showed her tenacity and turn of foot. Flying down the centre she passed all to grab 2nd in the closing strides.
East has thrived this year and her form really puts her in the top bracket of European fillies. She beat the 1000 Guineas favourite and Gr 1 winners so showed that she is very exciting. The winter break will do her great and obviously ideas will now turn to the classics next year.
EMARAATY ANA stood out from day one as an exciting juvenile and duly delivered this year. Having been bred by owner Ahmad Al Shaikh, he went on to secure group success for the owner before changing ownership to Sheikh Obaid Al Maktoum.
Ana made his debut early on in the season when travelling all the way to Windsor. That race revolved around one horse, the favourite Blown By Wind who had been very impressive on debut. Emaraaty Ana was always to the fore with the fav as the pair forged clear. When they headed into the final furlong neck and neck it was Ana who quickened up best and soon pulled clear. Winning by 2 1/2 lengths on his first run put Ana into the early equation for Royal Ascot betting. Opted to wait, feeling that Ana would do better with time to grow, feeling the Royal meeting was just too soon. After a short break he went on to finish 3rd in a Newbury listed event, showing inexperience.
Kevin had always had the Gr2 Gimcrack Stakes, a race he had won 3 time previously, in mind for Ana. The colt showed that he had learnt and grown up a lot since his last run. Jumping well and leading throughout the contest Ana laid it down to his rivals. Under a strong Frankie Dettori he kicked on from the front 1 1/2f from home. Having moved on he then had to battle bravely to repel a late thrust from Legends Of War. Ana repelled all comers to take the historic race by 1/2 length. The Group 1 Middle park was the obvious next step. He ran very well but just couldn’t finish as strongly as the first few, passing the line in fifth.
Anything that Emaraaty Ana did this year was going to be a bonus so to win a Gr2 shows how much potential he has. Ana certainly looks like a horse who will mature through the winter and there is a feeling he will need further. His breeding suggests that he will not be a sprinter so all eyes will be on the classics for him. It’s too early to tell but the Guineas will be a possible target and it will be great to see how he develops through the winter.
HELLO YOUMZAIN went from looking like an earlier type to developing into a powerhouse. That maturity saw the Kodiac Colt grow in stature and thrive with the time given to him. With each passing week his work got better and better so when he turned up at Carlisle to make his debut it looked like a good opportunity. Travelling with ease towards the rear in the early stages, Youmzain moved through the field powerfully at halfway. Still hard on the bridle he moved up to the favourite 1 1/2f from home before sweeping past and kicking clear. A winning margin of 4 lengths confirmed what everyone at home thought.
It would have been understandable to go straight for pattern company but Kevin stuck with the Novice route. Having won so easily but Kevin felt that more experience was needed. Youmzain ran very well but he just went down, by a nose, trying to conceded a 5lb penalty. The winner went on to listed success and looks likely to be a rival coke their 3yo season, so the form was very strong.
Despite the loss Kevin knew just what he had on his hands and opted for the Criterium de Maissons-Laffitte, a group 2 in France. Allowed to bowl along he loved the soft ground and travelled powerfully throughout. Just hitting a slight flat spot about halfway, Kevin Stott soon had Youmzain gathered up and sent for home. Quickening up well over 2 1/2f from home, Hello Youmzain kicked clear with plenty to do. Despite drifting over to the rail he crushed the field, pulling clear and looking very smart. Eased down in the last strides, Hello Youmzain took the Group 2 by 2 1/2 lengths.
Strong and powerful, Youmzain looks like a real sprinter although he does finish his races very strong. It will be interesting to see what lies ahead for him but he has established himself as a very smart horse. If he is to fill his frame and strengthen up then he could really be a sprinter to follow. Races such as the Commonwealth Cup could be on his radar next year.
It was a young team this year as over the past couple of seasons there has been retirements and a lot more younger horses coming through to replace. That being said there were some top performances from the older brigade and it’s funny to say about older horses but there are some real improvers who could go on to better things next year.
Of the sprinters MAJOR JUMBO proved to be the top performer. After winning on his seasonal return everything looked set for a big year. Ultra consistent he was always there on Saturdays in the big handicaps. His form was quality but also so agonising as he was always in the mix. Figures read 342332 showing his amazing consistency. He saved the best for last though and signed off for the year by taking the 6f Coral Sprint Trophy at York. It was the first time he had got a real lead deep into the race and nobody could argue that he wasn’t deserving of a “big one”. Now rated 107 he will look at the big handicaps and possible pattern races for next year. He looks like a proper sprinter where the better races will suit.
COMPANY ASSET was another to save her best till last, taking listed honours on the final day of the season. Having proven to be of that calibration last year, finishing 2nd in France, this season was all about trying to gain that black type win. Starting early in the season the ground just proved to be against her, although she ran very well considering. Patience was what was required and connections waited until the rain would come. After a break she ran very well in a York Handicap before heading to Doncaster for season finale. Testing ground and the time of the played right into her favour and the filly didn’t disappoint. Racing in rear she scythed through the field before quickening clear and striding out to an impressive 2 1/2 lengths winner. She earned the all important black type win and repaid the patience shown by Hambleton Racing.
EVERYTHING FOR YOU & ARMANDIHAN are two horses owned by Mr Rahman who could go on to bigger things over middle distance next year. Everything For You has improved a stone in the handicap and proven to be very consistent. With 3 2nd placed efforts and a dominating win he improved through the ranks to go on to compete in the November Handicap. He ran well for his first try in that grade and looks like that is where he will race next year. Armandihan has been a bit hit and miss but the stamina test looks his fortay. Only one win this season but he had some good efforts in defeat and is only 1lb higher than when he started. With more maturity he can improve again next year.
TOMMY TAYLOR had big expectations this year but failed to deliver. Ground and disappointing efforts were frustrating but at the end of the season there were some positive signs. New tactics look likely to be the key and he is one for the top handicaps next year as he has the ability to take one. NAADIRR won on the opening weekend of the season and looked like he could really be a force this year. Unfortunately he is a law to himself. Very good when he wants but frustrating when he doesn’t. He will come back again next year with a similar agenda and hopefully he can have more good days than bad, although he will decide that. LUALIWA was another to win early in the season. He bolted up at Musselburgh but then had to battle some terrible draws. It also became clear that now he enjoys ease in the ground. He was very unfortunate not to gain another win when he ran great at Chester but ran into a well handicapped rival. Now knowing his ground preference, Lualiwa will be campaigned around this and he will start next year on a favourable mark, hopefully he can get some more luck with draws. Another well handicapped horse could be PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH who was a new recruit. This year Kevin was learning about him and he put up some good runs in defeat. Being a hold up horse he can get unlucky in running, which happened a few times, but once he gets his head in front he could improve from his current mark next year. MOUNT TAHAN made great strides on the AW when stepped up to 1m2f and after a couple of below efforts it was decided that he will he raced there with the AW finals day being the aim.
3 YEAR OLDS
Heading into this season there looked a nice bunch of 3yr olds who could improve through the season and go on to better things. They proved this to be true and they also look likely to continue that progression next year too.
HEY JONESY was the one coming into the year with the form in the book and plans afoot. Having finished his 2yr old season with a fine 4th in the Group 1 Middle Park Jonesy had shown his class. Not built like a sprinter, Kevin wanted to see whether he was or whether he could tackle Classics. Mid division in the European Free Handicap over 7f didn’t really answer any questions but his home work following that run did. He got quicker and looked like his future was definitely in the speed division. All eyes were on Royal Ascot so a good 2nd in a 5f listed race at York set him up for the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup. He ran a huge race to finish 5th, which could have been better with a more favourable draw. Showing himself to be a quality 3yo, Jonesy then went off the boil, just not being his typical self in mid summer. Thankfully he bounced back to form in his final two runs. Finishing 3rd in an Ascot Group 3 set him up for the listed Wentworth Stakes at Doncaster. He had the race won everywhere bar the line, where he was just collared in the last couple of strides. It proved he was back and with a winter on his back he could well come back next year even better. He looks like a horse who appreciates a little ease in the ground. Hey Jonesy is a group horse and will be aiming for those races next year, where he could really make a mark.
We won’t be seeing her next season as she is off to stud but ELNADIM STAR flew through the ranks in just 4 runs. Starting at Wetherby she got up late on to complete the hat-trick of wins, having finished her juvenile season with two on the spin. Stepping up to 6f she ran very well to finish 2nd in a top handicap. Having won 3 times and gone up to 91, Kevin decided to tackle pattern company. Elandim Star took the step up seemlessly, comfortably winning the Land O’Byrne listed race at Ayr. Taking on older horses and out of her own sex group, Elnadim would round off her season in the Beverley Bullet. It was a fine effort to finish third, in a race that would see the winner go close in Gr1 Company. Unfortunately we won’t see her on the track again as owner Mr J Abdullah Will now send her to the breeding sheds but she will surely make a lovely Broodmare.
There’s a couple of sprinters to really look forward too next year but SAVALAS & STORMBRINGER had different profiles this season. SAVALAS started off on the AW to utilise his nice mark of 79. He comfortably won on his comeback at Wolverhampton. Then off 7lb more he did the same next time out at Thirsk. He completed the hat-trick at Hamilton in a conditions event. All those wins came over 5f so when he stepped up to 6f for the first time at York he was doing so with a few question marks plus 19lbs higher than just weeks before. A fine 2nd proved he was equally adept over 6f. Unfortunately his form petered off for a couple of runs but he finished the season with a solid 3rd in a good conditions race. Stormbringer came into the season with a high mark and maintained it throughout. Having shaped like a 7f horse as a juvenile and at in his home work, this wold be the trip for his first 3 runs. It was 3 good, solid performances but as he raced and with time, Stormbringer got stronger and quicker. Trying 6f for the first time, he went agonisingly close in an ultra competitive 3yo Handicap at Newmarket. Soft ground scuppered him when returning there but he got back on track with a fine 2nd to top sprinter Limato in the Garrowby Listed Stakes At York. Now off 103 he will have to look at the top handicaps and possible pattern company from there.
KNIGHTED improved hand over fist. After getting off the mark on his second run, he had a couple of rough races. Thankfully they didn’t affect him and he went on a nice run, making a mockery of his 77 handicap mark. Two wins at Redcar and one at Pontefract showed that he was a very progressive 3yo. He loved to just bowl along so a line can be drawn through his final run where there was a big draw bias due to the ground. With a mark of 91 he will need to continue his progression but with his attitude it would be no surprise to see him make the step up in grade to tackle top 1mile handicaps.
Although he didn’t get the number of wins that may have been expected, AYUTTHAYA looks a lovely prospect. There was a lot of expectation from him when he returned off a mark of 86, which looked well below his potential. Very soft ground didn’t allow him to show his best form but he quickly made amends to win a Novice race next time out at Thirsk. Gelded following that run he went on to finish 2nd over 1m, then again when stepped up to 1m1f. His final 2 runs were huge asks, tackling listed company at Ayr and then taking on elders in a York premier handicap. He will only improve with time and next year could see him thrive. He is still unexposed at the trip and could well be horse for something like the John Smiths Cup.
You will struggle to find a horse tougher than HOW BIZARRE who just goes out and runs as hard as he can every time. With two wins to his name it was a good season but he also managed to only finish outside the first 3 on one occasion. Will improve for the winter break and still on a fair mark so he could be a really fun horse to follow. MONT KINABALU delivered two thrilling wins, cutting through his rivals and landing the race in the dying strides. He looked like a really progressive horse but for some reason his form just tailed off following that brace. He has had a break since his last run and will continue on the AW to try and find the spark again. Back down to 78 and if he recaptures his form then a win will be coming soon enough. QUEENS SARGENT gained a much deserved first win when dominating a Novice race at Musselburgh. Unfortunately for him the summer months provided no relief from quick ground. Once he got back to ease underfoot o his form took a big upturn again. He finished the season with two solid efforts, runner up in both. He will be campaigned with the ground in mind next year and could be dangerous off his mark because he certainly tries very very hard. COMMANDER HAN announced himself with a 7 length destruction at Chelmsford. That was his first win and he returned there with a solid 2nd too. Unfortunately he couldn’t build on that when tried back on turf. His form came back though when he went back to the AW and this could lead Kevin to try and qualify for the finals day on Good Friday. He is a nice horse and it wouldn’t be any surprise to see him improve next year when tried again on turf.
2 YEAR OLDS
Wetherbys Always renowned as one of the best trainers of youngsters, Kevin once again enjoyed a good season. With 3 of his juveniles turning in Group success there was also other smart performances as well as some nice 3yo types who gained vital experience.
The big sales races offer huge prize money so it’s no surprise that they are very competitive. THE GREAT HEIR cut through the field to take the Wetherbys sales race at Doncaster. He was always one of the first juveniles to come to hand and looked a real sharp type for the early season. Making his debut in April his first couple of runs were full of promise. The form of those races turned out to be very strong so it was no surprise to see him off the mark at the third attempt. That was followed up by a strong win in a York nursery when stepped up to 6f. Down the field at Goodwood, he bounced back in the DBS sales race back at York. With a feeling that he could get a little further the Doncaster race over 6 1/2f looked the perfect opportunity. Settled in the rear of the field he travelled supremely well throughout. Picking off rivals one by one he came with a storming run down the far side before powering on and repelling all comers. It was a huge performance which pocketed owner Dave Stone a cool £147,540. The handicapper hasn’t been very harsh following that win and he will kick off next year off 90. With his form that looks fair and it’ll be interesting to see whether he is a sprinter or will get a bit further. The top 3yo handicaps will be first port of call.
A couple of fillie, QUEEN JOJO & GLASS SLIPPERS look smart prospects and hopefully can progress to the top level. Jojo got her win on her 2nd start when comfortably taking a Novice race at Beverley. Knowing she was nice, Kevin stepped her straight up in grade to one of the very best fillies group races, the Group 2 Lowther at York. She ran a massive race to finish 3rd, showing signs of inexperience throughout which proved her class. The first two went on to fill the same spots in the Group 1 Cheveley Park so it was a very good race. Glass Slippers made a promising debut, then was very unlucky in running before shedding her maiden at the 3rd attempt. She followed that by a fine performance at Chester, taking a conditions event. Both fillies finished the year off in the Group 3 Firth Of Clyde Stakes at Ayr. The result of 4th (Jojo) and 6th (Slippers) was better than it suggests. Dead, tacky ground scuppered both fillies. They both look likely to improve as 3yo and possibly get further so a trial may be in order to see if they could be classic bound or back to sprinting.
Another 2yo who is lightly raced and has big plans is SECRET VENTURE. After a debut win at Leicester, where Jamie Spencer rode hands and heels, he was being aimed at some top class races. Unfortunately the summer whether meant he had to be waited with until a bit of juice was around. That wasn’t to come so the DBS sales race at York was his second start. In the big field, which created a very rough race, his lack of experience just cost him at the business end. Dropped in trip to 5f once more he headed to Ayr with ground that he had yearned for all year. The Listed race brought together some very speedy juveniles. Venture cruised through the race and when Danny Tudhope edged out for some room 2f from home he got a surprise. The colt took off and in a matter of strides went clear. It wasn’t the plan but it nearly worked until the testing conditions took their toll in the final 50yards. He ran a great race to finish 3rd and showed that he had learnt. He could well be a very smart sprinter and looks all speed so that’s what the aim will be next year, possible the very best 5f Group races out there.
Hambleton Racing enjoyed winners at the start and end of the year with CELEBRITY DANCER & MAGICAL SPIRIT. Dancer was an impressive debut winner at Pontefract. Strangely he got his first runs the wrong way round and going back to the track he proved to be very green and immature when finishing 3rd in a conditions race. Not to worry though he got back on track next start, winning another Novice race at Ayr. It was time to go for the big prize and the DBS sales race at York. Trying to make all he ran very well finishing 4th. Unfortunately his final start in the Doncaster equivalent didn’t go to plan. He’s a lovely individual and has the scope to go on as a 3yo, possible could get further too. With a mark of 90 he has plenty to aim at. Magical Spirit was a late breeze up purchase so didn’t make his debut until July. All three of his runs were at Beverley and with each one he got better and better, learning all the time. Improving with racing he rounded off by winning at the third attempt. The handicapper hasn’t given him a mark yet so it will be interesting to see what he can do next year. Big and powerful he will certainly do better once he has matured over the winter.
YOUSINI always shaped like a nice individual and thankfully he proved it. Hamilton was where he made his debut and there was plenty of confidence behind him. That dissipated when he found loads of trouble in running but his class shone through as he quickened up and won anyway. That was followed by another win over 5f in a Carlisle Novice race, which worked out very well. Crying out for 6f he got that step up in the Ripon Hornblower. Trying to make all he just didn’t quite handle the track but race well to finish runner up. After not performing on unsuitable ground next time out he went on his holidays and is a nice horse to look forward to. The top 3yo sprint handicaps are an obvious starting point.
For any juvenile to win multiple times is impressive but with a record of 4 wins, 3 seconds and a third from her 8 runs, PRINCESS DES SABLES had a first season to remember. With three runs under her belt it was Hamilton where she dominated. Three nursery wins were rattled off north of the border, seeing her mark rise from an opening 68 to 84 and the filly taking their 2yo series. She needed to step up in grade and she did at Chester. From the worse possible draw she sat in the unfavourable position of dead last before sweeping past her rivals and landing the class 2 nursery, giving her her fourth straight win. Stepping up to conditions class she rounded the season off with a good 2nd at Newcastle. She has been a star this year and with her great attitude she should have no problem off 89 next season, with some nice fillies only races available.
Guy Reed Racing enjoyed four winners this year with THREE CARD TRICK, CONGA, TRIPLE DISTILLED & DAME GLADYS. The latter pair have headed to new ventures having been sold but the former will be back. Trick had a good level of form before getting off the mark. Very soft ground hindered any chance of performing on his final start. Being a full brother to Tiddliwinks it would be no surprise to see him get better with age. Conga is one from one after making an impressive debut. She travelled well and galloped on powerfully towards the end. She always looked a 3yo so Kevin has taken his time with her. She looks nice and could get further than the 6f she won over.
Whislt there were plenty of winning juveniles there are some who haven’t managed it yet but will surely be doing so before long. MO EMMAD ALI, GEORGE MALLORY & SHAQWAR all looked like they would need a trip. They have show promise so far and with time they will surely develop into nice horses. SENSE OF BELONGING has had good form whilst not getting his head in front. RATHBONE was always impressive at home and it is amazing to think that he is still a maiden. Possibly still weak he will certainly be winning soon and could be a smart 3yo. JOEY BOY is still learning and will have a few runs on the AW before making plans for next year and once he matures mentally he will be winning. SWINGING EDDIE is a giant of a juvenile but has blistering speed. Again he might be one that just needs time to fill his frame before being able to show his best.
So with what has run this year it looks like 2019 could be one of the strongest teams ever assembled at Hambleton Lodge. Kevin, along with Steven Hillen, have been busy buying yearlings in recent months. With usual support from loyal owners there are some new faces welcomed to the team too. Sheikh Obaid Al Maktoum has also put his support to the yard which has seen some very well bred yearlings arrive in the yard. It is all about the preparation now and although the season has only just finished, it will soon be back around where everyone is readying themselves for the opening meeting at Doncaster.
Horses can come to life for many different reasons. Sometimes it’s just a time of year when they seem to thrive, when their form steps up to another level. This can be even more evident with fillies and mares. Company Asset is a nice filly but when the ground gets testing around the back end of the season she is a very good filly. Having improved through the ranks last season she took her form to another level again when storming home to take the 1m2f Listed Marathonbet Sportsbook British EBF Gillies Fillies Stakes.
Company Asset has always shown a good level of form throughout her career but it was last season where she really took off. Having raced over 7f & 1m predominantly it was a stamina test that really helped her improve. Two wins at Hamilton with a increases in trip each time saw her rise up the handicap. This was backed up by a couple of good efforts but it was Haydock over 1m2f in heavy, gruelling conditions that saw her come alive. Six lengths on the bridle propelled Company Asset towards the three figure mark.
Having proven herself in handicap company there was no option but to go for pattern company. Finishing second in a French listed race gave her the vital black type and meant that this season would be spent in search of even more. Unfortunately the key to her improvement was finding out that ease in the ground was what she loved. Three efforts showed that Asset was certainly up to the level but quick ground was definitely not in favour. Connections decided that patience was key and to wait for the ideal race with ground that she would relish.
With the glorious summer weather Asset ended up with a 2 1/2 month wait between runs but eventually the rain came. She ran very well at York’s final meeting, just showing the effects of a break and needing the run. With that under her belt the attention turned immediately to her next run and Doncaster looked ideal, trip, conditions and time between races should all be in favour.
It was a typical fillies listed race at this time of year, large field and very competitive. The ground had come and Asset was in great nick heading into the contest. Kevin Stott was reunited with the filly who he had last ridden to success. The strength of the race was shown in her odds of 16/1 but there was very little separating the entire field.
Drawn 14 of 14 can be the death draw but thankfully Asset is a filly who enjoys to be held up. Kevin wanted to settle early doors and take his time but he got a little more than he bargained for. Slowly away, Asset gave the field a few lengths start. It did allow the pair to track right over to the rail and shorten her trip round but Kevin just needed to nudge her along to latch on to the back of the field. The early pace was fair as the fancied runners went forward to fight out for the lead. It was Queen Of Time who took them along through the early stages.
Straiht into a bend the field rounded that and headed down the back straight. Asset settled nicely at the rear of the field but she was given away a good 15 lengths to the leader. With the ground kicking up quite a lot the field shunned the rail to race just off it and find some better ground. Now settled into their positions the pace calmed to nice and even gallop, giving all the runners a chance.
Little would change through the first half of the race and Queen Of Time would continue to set the fractions in front. The field was well bunched up racing down the home straight and entering the home bend all were going well. Doncaster has a long straight that gives horses plenty of time to find their feet and lay down their challenge. This meant that there was little movement coming around the bend as the jockeys bided their time. Kevin was still happy to just wait and make up ground closer to the finish.
Turning for home they entered the final 1/2 mile and now the pace just increased. From the front Queen Of Time started to wind it up, only steadily but it was the first move made. Kevin loosened the reins on Asset and she responded by lengthening and moving up a couple of places. With the testing conditions the finish would be a real battle and the jockeys were wary of getting racing too far out. Passing the 3f the order was very much the same with Queen Of Time still heading the pack but now the leader had to try and kick clear of the field. The race warmed up but the leader had failed to gain any advantage.
Between the 3f and 2f poles the runners started to make their moves, getting into a position to lay down their challenges. Company Asset was picking off rivals one by one and Kevin decided to stick to the far side as they raced towards the centre. He had a lovely run up the inner with clear daylight if he had the horse underneath him. The race was now heating up and as they headed to final couple of furlongs the leader started to look very vunerable.
Company Asset was closing towards the lead with ease and travelled powerfully. Having moved through the field she was now just a few lengths from the front. With Queen Of Time now starting to struggle to maintain the lead there was finishers from all around. The favourite Bona Fide was now poised to take over down the inner. This filly gave Asset a lovely toe into the contest and with 1 1/2f to run Kevin now got lower in the saddle to throw down his full challenge. Asset responded by quickening up and looked a massive threat, going the best at this stage.
Into the final furllong there was still plenty of chances. Bona Fide held the lead but it was Asset who was finishing strongest. Although going the best it suddenly looked as though the better ground may be towards the centre of the track. As they all swarmed on the leader Company Asset found another gear. There was 5 across the track separated by only a length but it was Asset who took the opportunity. Finding again she passed the favourite and took the lead. Nothing could match her finish and Company Asset just drew further and further clear. Pushed out to the line she galloped all the way through and stride out an impressive 2 1/2 length winner.
It was an impressive win for Company Asset and very important, earning her winner’s black type. She is a different horse on this type of ground and very little can match her turn of foot in testing conditions. Hambleton Racing have had some nice fillies in their time and Asset has giving them so many good days out. She is in great form so could well head to France for another listed event in just 6 days time. Company Asset has really thrived and it would be great to grab some more black type. On this form it will be very hard to see otherwise.
Foxy Lady – 1st November – Wolverhampton – 1m1/2f sunracing.co.uk Handicap
Tagur – 6th November – Redcar – 1m Watch More With Racing UK Extra Selling Stakes
Company Asset – 10th November – Doncaster – 1m2f Marathonbet Sportsbook British EBF Gillies Fillies Listed Stakes
Kajaki – 17th November – Wetherby – 2m Biggest Ever Jumps Season On RacingUK Introductory Hurdle
Tagur – 30th November – Southwell – 1m Follow The Sun On Twitter Handicap
Horses who run in lower grade races such as claimers and sellers tend to have a few kinks in them. It can be that injury has led to a decline, age has caught up with them, ability or sometimes it can be just that they overthink the game too much. Tagur certainly falls into the latter, a horse who is well capable of better but consistency being his downfall. With everything in his favour he decided that he was on a going day when cruising to victory in the 1m Watch More With RacingUK Extra Selling Stakes At Redcar.
Having won or been placed in about half of his career starts, Tagur has shown ability and should really be racing off higher than his mark. Since getting his handicap mark he has always be flitting in and around the mid 60’s. Just when he looked like improving to a higher grade, Tagur’s consistency would let him down. This year has been a prime example. Two good efforts were followed by a poor run, before Tagur went to win two on the bounce. Looking like he was set to thrive back on the turf he went on a bit of a disaapointing run. Bouncing back to form in August on the AW that run was then followed by a weaker effort at Ayr in September.
Kevin decided to freshen the chestnut up and it really did help. Tagur was bouncing at home and really worked well a week before he lined up at Redcar. Dropping into selling class gave connections plenty of confidence that they had the best horse, if Tagur would put his best foot forward.
Recent weather meant the ground had gone soft and after a few races the jockeys felt it was testing, tacky ground. This is what Tagur loves so Kevin Stott, taking the ride, was going to be positive knowing his mount would enjoy it and that making ground up would be very difficult. Despite dropping in grade, Tagur was quite a big price, set to go off at 8/1.
Away well Tagur was rousted along for the first few strides to ensure he was to the fore. On his inner Supreme Power also wanted to be positive so rather than take each other on, Kevin just sat alongside his rival, around a neck down. It’s was a good pace being set as the field settled down through the first furlong as they all bunched up to race down the centre of the track.
As the soft turf kicked up from the hooves of the runners, Tagur travelled well. Despite the testing ground the pace was strong throughout. Supreme Power was getting no leeway up front and it was Kevin who really ensured the leader was honest. Favourite Benjamin Thomas was sat just behind the lead so those up front were in the firing line come the business end.
The halfway point didn’t take long to arrive and the field were already starting to race so far from home. Tagur moved smoothly and really started to lay it down to the leader, edging closer to the front. By 3 1/2f from home Tagur had nosed his way to the lead which now caused a chain reaction. Supreme Power came under pressure which in turn caused those around to also come under the pump. The fav was still going ok but moving past the 3f marker it was Tagur who was powering along in front.
Kevin loosened the reins and Tagur skipped along merrily with just daylight in front. The race had been run at a good gallop and increased from a long way out. It looked to be taking it’s toll on everyone bar Tagur. By the time he move past the 2f marker he had a comfortable 3 length lead. Although some may think Tagur could come undone in the latter stages, with the pace shown through the race, Kevin was still oozing confidence. He had yet to ask the question ino he had plenty underneath him he waited for another 100 yards. With a comfortable lead and 1 1/2f to run Kevin decided that he had to ensure Tagur kept up to his work.
The final furlong was a procession. Once asked, Tagur kicked further clear and opened up into an unassailable 6 length lead. He showed that he was a class apart on the day and as Kevin checked the big screen he saw the race was over. The brakes were put on and Tagur cruised to an eased down 3 3/4 lengths victory.
Yes this was a step down in grade but Tagur could not have been any more impressive than this. When conditions are like this they really suit Tagur and especially when he is on a going day. That is his 3rd of the year and hopefully he can go on from this and maintain a good level of form. He acts on the all-weather so there is no reason why he cannot step back into handicap company and give owners Mr Andy Turton & Mr John Blackburn a few fun days out through the winter, with hopefully some more wins to his name.