This time off year sees the yard being very quiet on the racing front as the All-Weather season continues to roll along. Now all the horses are back from their winter breaks and the stable is in full swing, gearing up to the 2020 season ahead. Over the next couple of months the number of runners will slowly increase with some lightly raced 3yo’s getting important runs under the belt and other horses who maybe didn’t get the number of runs expected last year. Coast Of Alfujairah fits both of those criteria and the 3yo Gelding gained his first career win when taking the 5f Ladbrokes Home Of The Odds Boost Handicap at Newcastle.
The son of Brazen Beau was one of Kevin’s first juvenile runners of 2019 and looked like a winner waiting to happen the moment he took to the track. After a very green run on debut, where stage fright seemed to take over, Coast Of Alfujairah then shaped promisingly next time out over 6f. Travelling like a dream at Carlisle, the colt faded in the final furlong on the testing ground but had again shown that the ability was there. The third and final run of his juvenile career was the one that was disappointing as Coast Of Alfujairah weakened quite visibly in the latter stages in a Nottingham novice.
Following his final run Kevin felt that the colt would be more likely to reach his potential with a bit of time to mature and strengthen up. Unfortunately he was set to head to the sales but thankfully, following the recommendation of Kevin, Hambleton Racing purchased Coast Of Alfujairah. Sent for a winter break and subsequently gelded, he spent a little time away with a small all-weather campaign in mind at the beginning of 2020.
It was clear that time had allowed Coast Of Alfujairah to fill out and the stronger model returned to training. Having progressed through his work well, it was time to find a race for Coast Of Alfujairah when the new year came around. There are plenty of races around the turn of the year and it was Newcastle chosen to be his opening outing of 2020. Although the 0-65 contest didn’t offer heaps of form, the 3yo handicaps can offer some hidden gems and horses to follow for the year ahead. There were only 7 declared for the event and Coast Of Alfujairah was vying for favouritism with Kayat. Both 3yo’s were backed on potential improvement and were the most interesting contenders in the race. Tom Eaves was booked for the ride and was fresh off a winner on the night, looking to complete a double.
Tactics were quite straightforward once the stalls opened. Coast Of Alfujairah jumped smartly and into the lead immediately. His rivals were happy to tuck in behind and with this Tom allowed the gelding to stride on. The favourite Kayat adopted more patient tactics and was held up further to the rear. Tom made a beeline for the stands side rail and this saw the field follow suit. Coast Of Alfujairah set a strong gallop as he was allowed to stride along in front.
There was no change throughout the first half of the race as Coast Of Alfujairah dictated as he pleased. By the time they reached the 2f marker Coast Of Alfujairah was still travelling strong and it was now up to his rivals to try and close the gap. One by one his rivals started to come under pressure to mount a challenge. The favourite Kayat made a move through the field and whilst there was no real impression made on the leader, the favourite was the one who came through with most promise.
Between the 2f and 1f Tom shook up the reins and got Coast Of Alfujairah to lengthen. He did just that and with the favourite giving chase, the pair began to move away from the field. Coast Of Alfujairah looked to have plenty left in the tank and when Kayat came off the bridle to lay down his challenge it was up to the gelding to respond. Passing the 1f marker Coast Of Alfujairah held a length lead and it was here that Tom had to ask him to put the race to bed. Getting lower in the saddle he asked the gelding to quicken up which he duly did. Kayat had no answer and Coast Of Alfujairah pulled clear with ease. The final furlong was just a question of how far and Coast Of Alfujairah managed to put 2 1/2 lengths between himself and the field, gaining his first career start in dominant fashion.
It was great to see Coast Of Alfujairah off the mark and the perfect start to his 2020 season. His handicap mark looked fair for the form he had shown but he did look like he had plenty of improvement to come. This win was impressive and no doubt there will be a hike in the handicap mark now. That said he looks a likely improver this year and it will be interesting to see just where he can go as the year progresses. It was the perfect start and gets the team off and running for 2020.
So as the weather becomes worse and the evenings are getting darker in the earlier hours the 2019 flat turf season comes to a close. What has this given the team at Hambleton Lodge? Well with 2 Group 1 winners, breaking the £1 Million barrier for ninth straight year, multiple pattern successes and promising juveniles it has been another very good year which brings about plenty of dreams and promise for the future.
There can only be one place to start and it has to be the Group 1 winning duo HELLO YOUMZAINand GLASS SLIPPERS. The two 3 yr olds produced a couple of the best sprint performances of the year to secure top honours and really announce themselves at the top table of the sprinting division.
HELLO YOUMZAINcame into the season with a Group 2 win on his final outing of his juvenile year. The winter months had seen the powerful Kodiac colt grow and strengthen, maturing into a lovely 3yr old. Having shown himself to be a strong galloper and seeing his races out well over 6f, as well as stamina from his dam, Hello Youmzain would start his season with a trial over 7f. The Greenham was the chosen race and this was a trial in every sense, with the run dictating his season. It was a fine effort to finish 4th but it was also clear that he was a sprinter and that would be the route he would take. The Group 2 Sandy Lane at Haydock was the obvious race for him following his seasonal return. The 6f race fits in perfectly to the 3yr old sprinting program and Hello Youmzain headed to the race to tackle 3 rivals. It was only a small field but there was a potential star in the line up with the unbeaten Calyx, who was unbeaten and viewed as a champion sprinter in waiting. It was a stern test for Hello Youmzain but he came through in flying colours. Settled just off the leader, the colt picked up the lead 1 1/2f from home before powering clear. Hello Youmzain proved he was a sprinter and a sprinter to keep an eye on.
The Commonwealth Cup, at Royal Ascot, has been a great introduction to the racing calendar, offering 3yr olds a crack at Group 1 sprinting honours against their own age. Hello Youmzain headed into a fantastic renewal for his first crack at the top level. Unfortunately he got a little fractious in the stalls and just missed the break slightly. Having worked his way into the contest 2f out, Hello Youmzain looked to have a huge chance. He paid for the start in the last 1/2 furlong where he stayed on well but couldn’t quite reel in the winner, Advertise. It was a great run and immediately Kevin set out a plan. Patience would see Hello Youmzain wait until the Haydock Sprint cup.
Since Royal Ascot the 3 yr olds had dominated the sprinting division. Ten Sovereigns had beaten Advertise in the July Cup before Advertise then secured another Group 1 in the Prix Maurice De Gheest. It was now Hello Youmzain’s turn to step out of the shadows and put his name at the top table. Back at the scene of his Sandy Lane triumph Hello Youmzain was set to tackle the Sprint Cup with the 3yr olds dominating the betting. Unfortunately his two rivals did not run due to the softer conditions and so it was up to Youmzain to represent his generation. The colt did just that making almost every yard of the running. After bouncing out into the lead, Hello Youmzain just continued to turn the screw from the front, setting a pace that his rivals couldn’t live with. After kicking clear in the final furlong he then showed guts to see out the trip and repel a late challenge from The Tin Man. It was a proper sprinting performance from Hello Youmzain who kept the 3yr old’s at the top of the sprinting division and proved to be a potential champion himself.
Following his Group 1 success, Hello Youmzain was purchased by Haras d’Etreham and Cambridge Stud to stand as a stallion once his racing career has finished. His final outing was in the Champions Sprint at Ascot. Hello Youmzain once again showed his powerful running style but the very heavy ground scuppered his chances. Nothing was lost on that run and thankfully he will remain in training next year. Hello Youmzain is still not the finished article and another winter on his back could see the colt really fill his frame once again. He is a serious talent and with the retirement of his fellow 3yr olds, Hello Youmzain will have a target on his back next year in the sprinting division. He has been a star this year and will be a real flag bearer for the yard in 2020.
There were some big expectations for GLASS SLIPPERS at the start of the season but one thing that probably wasn’t in many people’s minds was one of the fastest Group 1 sprints in the world. Having had a successful 2yr old season, where she gained two wins and was bordering on pattern company, Glass Slippers looked to take the same route as her Group 1 winning stable mate. It seemed as though she may appreciate a step up in trip and this set up a return to action in a Guineas trial. Just like Hello Youmzain, Glass Slippers headed to Newbury for the 7f Fred Darling. Things really didn’t go to plan with the filly hating the tacky, soft going, missing the break and also losing a front shoe. It wasn’t the ideal start and didn’t give much information moving forward for the season. Kevin decided to drop Glass Slippers back to 6f, going back to something they knew had suited before. The 6f fillies Listed race at Haydock proved to be a catalyst for Glass Slippers who made a good late run to just miss out on a place and finish 5th. It was lovely to see her show some form and the race worked out well with the winner going on to finish placed in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup.
Glass Slippers took a step forward on her next two races finishing runner up at Listed level and then 4th in a Group 3. What happened next was a sequence of performances that everyone dreams of. At the beginning of August the filly travelled over the channel to contest a Listed race over 6f. Glass Slippers has made a habit of being slowly away from the gates but her latest run she had shown plenty of speed which she continued into this run. Having travelled smoothly into the contest, Glass Slippers took the lead up with 1 1/2f to run. Kicking clear she was then joined in the last 100 yards but showed her tenacity and bravery when out battling the runner up. Glass Slippers gained her first pattern success, the vital win for her owner/breeders Terry and Margaret Holdcroft of Bearstone Stud.
Options were limited back at home so the races available were back over in France. Unfortunately the first intended race was skipped at the 11th hour due to Glass Slippers picking up a poison foot. It was a blow but thankfully there was a race 3 weeks later. The race would mean a drop to 5f but also a step up to Group 3 company. There was a strong British contingent for the contest and the favourite was a horse that Glass Slippers had around 4 lengths to make up on. At no stage through the first 4f did Glass Slippers look like the winner, having missed the break and being outpaced throughout the contest. Once Tom (Eaves) pulled her to the outside, the filly began to pick off her rivals at an increasing rate. Coming with a storming run, Glass Slippers grabbed the leader in the dying strides to win the contest in a thrilling finish. The Group 3 contest is a well known trial for the Prix De L’Abbaye so it was a clear option to go for the Group 1 contest next.
Glass Slippers was on a roll but the Prix De L’Abbaye was a different race altogether. Superstars Battash and Mabs Cross were joined by a handful of Group 1 winners, so the task was clear. Confidence was high that the filly would run well and could get in the mix but she would need to take her form to another level to think about winning, especially if she were to give away a head start to the competition. All theses worries were dispelled immediately as Glass Slippers jumped smartly and forced the early pace. It was quite a surprise to see her to the fore in this race but after 1 1/2f she managed to surpass El Astronaute and take up the running. For a filly who was outpaced last time out to then lead one of the fastest races worldwide was testament to Glass Slippers attitude and class. Leading the contest and winning it were two different prospects but then suddenly she kicked clear. Looking back through the field you could see the main protagonists coming off the bridle and struggling. From 2f out Glass Slippers just turned the screw and drew further and further clear. It was an amazing performance and Glass Slippers made the race her own, making some world class rivals look moderate.
Following her stunning performance Glass Slippers was finished for the year as she will be coming back in 2020. She has shown herself to be top class and that’s what the plan will be next year. She has thrived as the year went on and deserves a nice, long winter break. There are few options early doors over 5f, which could be the best option for her. Races like the Kings Stand, Nunthorpe and Prix De L’Abbaye are obvious targets and will likely make up her plan. Glass Slippers has been a star, proving her class but matching with a brilliant attitude. ]
The sprinters have really stolen the headlines this season and the Group 1 performances were backed up by some other impressive displays in the same division. No season review can ever be complete without the legend that is BRANDO. This year he turned 7, an age that many people thought would see his powers wain and Brando’s star begin to diminish. The doubters believed they were right when his bid for a hat-trick of Abernant wins came up just shy. Then he was down the field in the Duke Of York so again the questions were being asked of Brando. Unfortunately very few people actually allowed for the very quick ground and so when the 7yr old headed to Hamilton for 6f British Stallion Studs Clyde EBF Conditions Stakes all looked to be in his favour. The ground had turned soft and the track offered him the downhill run he enjoys. Although it was Hamilton the race turned up very strong but Brando showed his class to convincingly tank his first win of the season. He took his usual path, avoiding Royal Ascot before running in the July Cup. Unfortunately that didn’t go to plan but his run in the Prix Maurice De Gheest certainly did. At the scene of his greatest triumph, Brando rewound the clock, travelling like a dream throughout. Picking up in the final 1 1/2f he came with a storming run looking like he may pick up a second Group 1. Brando gave it everything but just came up short, going down by a neck to Advertise. It was a huge run and arguably one of his greatest. Brando didn’t quite match this effort but he put in a further two stunning runs in the Group 1 Sprint Cup and Champions Sprint, finishing fourth on both occasions. He is a legend and proved it all year once again. Brando isn’t getting any younger but he proved there is still plenty left in the tank and will be back in 2020, doing what he does best!!
The sprinters have always flown the flag for Kevin and the two Group 1 wins were backed up by some fine efforts over the shorter distances. There is no horse in training who has been more consistent over the past couple of years than MAJOR JUMBO.Having worked his way through the handicap system, rarely finishing outside of the first three, the grey rounded last year off with his biggest success to date. Winning the Coral Sprint on his final start, Major Jumbo saw his mark rise to 107, pushing the boundaries of pattern company and that is how he would start the 2019 season.
The 5 year old was ready early on in the year which allowed Kevin to aim him straight for the opening meeting of the flat season. Jumbo took on the 6f listed Cammidge Trophy, running a huge race to kick off his season with a fine second to Invincible Army. He then dropped back to 5f to tackle the Group 3 Palace House, once again finishing in the places when gaining a third spot in his first group contest. Major Jumbo showed his typical consistent and genuine attitude when he chased home Invincible Army once again in the Group 2 Duke of York before gaining another Group placing in France. His first four starts had resulted in two second places and two third places, showing he was certainly up to the task. Connections had a crack at the elite in the July Cup, where Jumbo ran with great credit but he then gained a much deserved pattern success next time out. Having finished 2nd in the Listed Queensferry Stakes at Chester in 2018, Major Jumbo went one better this year. In all honesty the race was turned into a bit of a procession with Kevin (Stott) riding the grey with extreme confidence. Jumping well and making all, Jumbo led throughout, kicked off the bend and never saw a rival. He proved to be a cut above his rivals and deserved to pick up a race at this level. Following this win he ran a fine race in the Haydock Sprint Cup before rounding the year off in the Ayr Gold Cup. Major Jumbo proved that he is a top quality sprinter and next year he will be tackling a similar sort of route. There are plenty of Group races for him to tackle at home and abroad so it should be a really fun year and there’s no doubt Jumbo will run his heart out at every attempt.
BIELSA started this season with just one run to his name but that had resulted in a debut win. It meant that Kevin would need to find a Novice race for the 4yr old and that option was Doncaster in May. Due to his age and his victory, Bielsa had a formidable task set to him as he was lumbered with 10 stone. It proved to be no issue for Bielsa who gave away over a stone to the runner up but still beat him by 1/2 length. Maintaining his 100% start the gelding was given a reasonable opening mark of 87. Unfortunately it was quite difficult to get him into some of the races that Kevin had in mind due to Bielsa only having two runs, with 3 being required for the better handicaps.
Bielsa returned after 3 months of waiting and entered his first handicap at Thirsk. Although he was pushed to his narrowest win of just a head, the front two pulled a long way clear and Bielsa maintained his perfect record. Next up was the Portland handicap which just didn’t go to plan at all. Despite that below par effort the 4yr old returned to Town Moor the following month to get back on track. Now running off a mark of 93, Bielsa bolted up in the rain, showing his rivals a clean set of heels and running out an impressive 2 1/2 length winner.
Bielsa’s intended last run of this year was the Listed Wentworth stakes but unfortunately that meeting had to be abandoned. He is now off a mark of 101 so is really bordering pattern company. This means there are plenty of options for him next season and with very little mileage on the clock, Bielsa could still have more improvement to come.
It was Listed honours for QUEEN JOJOthis season who took forward her fine juvenile form. With two placed efforts in group company last year, Queen Jojo was another 3yr old who was set a classic trial to kick start the season. Just like Glass Slippers, Queen Jojo travelled to Newbury for the Fred Darling. She ran with great credit, travelling into the race well and looking like a big danger. She had never raced further than 6f and once she got to this point the stamina began to dwindle. Jojo ran a great race but proved that a drop in trip would be the best option for her moving forward. This was put into immediate affect as Queen Jojo headed to Nottingham next time out for the 6f Kilvington Stakes. Sent off as favourite, Queen Jojo tracked the leaders before moving through inside the final 2f. For a few strides passing the 1f marker it looked as though the leader had got first run but Queen Jojo dug deep and in the final 50 yards picked up to reel in the leader. She stayed on strongly to grab the win in the dying strides and take her first pattern success. Queen Jojo would only race once more this season and that resulted in a fine third place in Group 3 company in Ireland. Going down by just 1/2 the 3yr old took another step forward and that form was well and truly franked when the winner then went on to Group 2 success next time out. Queen Jojo proved she was a quality filly and with another year on her back she will be a strong filly next year. There is a great fillies sprint program and this will be ideal for Queen Jojo.
No horse won more races this year than PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH who really bounced back to his best form. Having been a little bit of an enigma last year, usually flying home late on and seemingly being unlucky, Pennsylvania Dutch put that all behind in 2019. The introduction of eye-shields and a more prominent running style saw the 5yr old get his head back in front for the first time since moving to Hambleton Lodge. His first win came off a mark of 70 but that quickly rose as Pennsylvania Dutch rattled off a quick fire hat-trick. Winning over 5f at Musselburgh and 6f again at Thirsk, the hat-trick came within the space of 16 days. The sequence was broken on his next outing, where the ground raced slower than the official description. It was easy for people to suggest he had found his handicap ceiling but Pennsylvania Dutch dispelled that theory next time out when he travelled to Goodwood. Kevin decided to leave the headgear off for the first time this year, feeling it may just be becoming redundant. Pennsylvania Dutch proved to be back on dong and took his fourth win of the season showing a real tenacity that had not been seen before. Again he headed to Thirsk, next time out, when the ground was riding soft and it proved once more that he was unsuited to it. Pennsylvania Dutch had already shown his liking for the local track and had his final run for Kevin at Thirsk. This time he was running off 86 but the extra 16lbs, from the start of the season, proved no problem at all. Pennsylvania Dutch racked up his fifth win of the season to finish with a career high mark of 90. Subsequently the 5yo was sold for £25,000 and will continue his career in the UAE.
ROULSTON SCAR quickly developed into a smart performer but was also one of the most likeable horses in training. With no win coming into this season, Roulston Scar would be starting with a mark of 77, which seemed fair as his form looked fairly strong. Although he isn’t the biggest Roulston Scar showed his attitude and quality more than makes up for his size. Starting off at Wetherby over 5 1/2f, the 3yr old got off to the perfect start when easily winning on his return to action. His next run was at York’s Dante meeting where a drop to the minimum trip saw Roulston Scar finish a solid third and continue his progression. His second win came next time at Pontefract when stepping up to 6f and this was then backed up with another third place at York, over 5f. His finest hour was again at York but this time over 6f. Roulston Scar made all and won easily, stretching the field and never seeing a rival. It was an impressive display and saw his mark rise to 98. Unfortunately his final run for the yard was at Ascot but he stumbled leaving the stalls, somehow managing to stay on his feet but giving himself no chance of getting into the race. In October Roulston Scar was sold for £110,000 and we wish his new connections all the best for the future.
The trio of fillies LAST EMPIRE, DANDY’S BEANO & PRINCES DES SABLES put up some top performances and had good performances in listed company. Last Empire was a maiden coming into this season with just one run to her name but that didn’t last long. She quickly fired in two wins in as many races with both in Novice company at Hamilton. Impressive displays which showed her to gallop powerfully. Considering both wins were impressive and Last Empire had only run 3 times, so there was plenty of improvement to come, it was very surprising that she only received a mark of 80. Easy ground looked to be ideal for Last Empire, being sired by Pivotal, so the heavy going at Haydock on her handicap debut was no worry. She was taking on exposed handicappers and Last Empire well and truly put them in their place. Making all she galloped them into the ground to win by a hard held 4 1/2 lengths. She had always been held in high regard and now she was really showing it. Kevin decided to take a chance in pattern company with the 5 1/2f listed fillies race at Ayr, during the Gold Cup meeting. Unfortunately usually warm weather fro that time of year quickened the ground up and although she ran a big race, Last Empire couldn’t quite quicken up like she can but finished a very solid fourth. She did run once more in the 6f Listed Boudicea Stakes but a line can be drawn through that. Pattern company in the fillies program will likely be the call next year with plenty more improvement to come.
Dandy’s Beano thrived this season but it wasn’t exactly obvious at the start of the season that she would do that. Always a filly who had won her races and performed with credit she flitted in the 70’s. When she dropped to 67 after a couple of runs this year, it seemed as though she was ready to win once again. One thing that had been holding her back was the keen running style and attitude she had so Kevin fitted a hood to try and combat that. Settled and easy going underfoot, Dandy’s Beano took advantage of her lowest career mark to win at Thirsk in May. Unfortunately he didn’t build on that immediately, due to firm ground and then being drawn on the wrong side. Another win came along at Newcastle as Dandy’s Beano new relaxed attitude paid dividends when she made all to win by 3 1/2 lengths. Again that run wasn’t backed up but straight away but it certainly was in her final few runs. Returning to Newcastle she produced a carbon copy performance of her last win. This time she did build on that and made it a brace of wins as she won on heavy going at Ayr. These wins took her handicap mark to a career high of 85 and connections decided to take a chance in the 5 1/2f Listed race back at the Scottish track. Although she couldn’t quite make the frame and pick up the important black type, Dandy’s Beano ran a huge race to finish in 6th. She is now on 87 and it will be interesting to see just how far she can go next year with her new found relaxed running style.
Nobody put up a more dominant display than Princes Des Sables. She started the year in a very auspicious manner. She decided that her first run was not going to happen and not only refused to load but then ran loose. That led Kevin to send the filly to Witherford Equine in order to re-edcuate her with stalls work. Having passed her stalls test it was then her form that was in question as Princes Des Sables failed to fire on two runs, showing a very lack lustre attitude. It was a head scratcher and did have connections slightly concerned but all the wrongs were righted emphatically next time out at Haycock. A lot more relaxed in and around the stalls, Princes Des Sables jumped well and led throughout setting a strong gallop. All she did was get quicker and quicker which in turn stretched her led with every yard they went. Unbelievably she won by and eased down 8 lengths, a hugely impressive display. Obviously the handicapper gave her a huge 12lb rise but that didn’t matter as next time out she took the step up to Listed class. Another good performance saw Princes Des Sables finish fourth. She has done everything asked of her this year and all that is missing on her CV is the black type so that will be her aim next year.
3 YEAR OLDS
Although the stars of this year were certainly the two Group 1 winning 3yr olds their stable mates certainly provided a very good supporting role throughout the year.
One of 2018’s stand out performances was EMARAATY ANA’sGimcrack win. That had everyone dreaming of a classic tilt for the Shamardal colt. His pedigree suggested that the extra distance would suit and Kevin decided that he would go straight for the 2000 Guineas as his return to action. Unfortunately it didn’t quite pan out with the colt running very free through the early stages, never able to give himself a chance of seeing out the extra 2 furlongs. As it was his first run of the season, connections decided to give it one more try over the 1 Mile classic trip, travelling over to Ireland for their equivalent. This time he did settle better early as he pressed the early lead. Straightening up for home he moved into contention with 3f to run and looked to be running a huge race. Unfortunately the trip proved to be too testing and Emaraaty Ana weakened in the final 1 1/2f, showing that the trip certainly wasn’t for him.
Kevin decided to revert back to sprinting with the colt. Wanting to try and get a win into him as a nice confidence boost, Emaraaty Ana was dropped into Listed company for his next start at Salisbury. Unfortunately the weather turned the ground very soft and this scuppered Emaraaty Ana who loves to hear his hooves rattle beneath him. The 3yr old would not be seen again until September, where again he headed to Salisbury. This time everything was in his favour, the ground was perfect, he had been freshened up and was 5lbs clear on official ratings for the Conditions event. Andrea (Atzeni) took the bull by the horns straight from the off, sending Emaraaty Ana into the lead immediately. Showing good speed the colt lead throughout, coming under pressure at the 2f pole and finding more. Although his rivals closed the gap, Andrea had kept plenty in the tank and kicked from the front as they challenged. Emaraaty Ana found plenty and stayed well, finding more and more for pressure. He gained his first win of the year by a comfortable 1 1/2 lengths.
It is clear that Emaraaty Ana is a sprinter going forward and it was great to see him get his head back in front. He deserved to take his chance in the Guineas but the trip was just wrong for him. Emaraaty Ana enjoys quicker ground and will be aimed for a sprint campaign next year. He has been lightly raced this season so there are very few miles on the clock and Emaraaty Ana could make a name for himself in the sprinting division in 2020.
EAST provided a real highlight in 2019 and gave everyone a huge thrill when she headed over to the USA for the Breeders Cup. Having won her first two starts, inc a Group 3, East then finished runner up in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, Kevin’s first ever runner at the iconic meeting. That performance, where she finished in front of some top European fillies, put her towards the front of the 1000 Guineas markets over the winter. Connections decided that would be the plan but would need to wait to decide which one they went for.
The decision was left as late as possible this year but France was the chosen destination for East. Having won over there as a juvenile it had shown that she was suited to their style of racing. East lined up for the Poule d’assai des Pouliches as the 3rd favourite. She was ridden in the usual patient style by Jamie Spencer and travelled beautifully through the first half of the race. Down the straight she cruised into contention and came down the centre of the track with a dangerous looking run. At the 2f maker Spencer asked for her to go and pick up the leaders which East tried to do. She quickened up and it looked as though she would sweep through to claim the classic win. Unfortunately the leaders had kept enough in reserve and as East came to join them they found a bit more. East ran a great race but ultimately finished a very good third. It was a brilliant effort and a lovely starting point for the season ahead.
Having raced very in quick succession in her juvenile season, it was decide that East could take her chance now in the Irish equivalent. This race brought together the best 3yo fillies and had the first, third and fifth finishers in the English 100 Guineas. Unfortunately there was no run from East and it was clear to everyone that there was something amiss, with the chestnut filly trailing in an eased down 10th of 10. Thankfully after a little break East came back to herself and took on the older fillies and mares next time up in the Group 1 Prix Rothschild. She ran a big race, gliding into contention before being scuppered by the very heavy going .
Unfortunately East left the yard following her run in France having been sold. She is now trained by Mr Cristophe Clement and we wish them all the luck in the world with her. East was a real star for the yard and her run in the USA broke new boundaries. It was unfortunate she never managed to gain a top level success in Europe for us as she had shown the class to do so. The memories will live on and hopefully her new owner, Mr Katsumi Yoshida, can enjoy success with a cracking filly with a wonderful attitude.
MAGICAL SPIRIT had a good season with two wins and a rise of 11lbs. Having started with two runner up spots, the gelding took his first win of the season in impressive fashion next time up at Ripon. What looked like springboard for bigger and better things suddenly came to a halt with two below par efforts. They were definitely out of left field but when a small wind issue came to light, not only did it explain his efforts but gave connections the chance to rectify it. This did mean a break before his next run and it was well worth the wait. Magical Spirit returned to action at Newcastle and got back on track with a smooth success. This time he backed it up with another top effort, running once again at Newcastle and finishing a very solid runner up. He has had a good season and looks to be typical of his sire’s progeny, they get better with time and racing. Still on a fair mark, Magical Spirit could go on once more next year.
He didn’t start the season at the yard but ALOTABOTTLEquickly made up for lost time with a fine second part of the season. Having arrived at Hambleton Lodge in July off just 62, Alotabottle was turned out quickly. Alotabottle had raced over 5/6f but having watched his races, Kevin immediately stepped him up to 7f when going to Epsom for his stable debut. Alotabottle travelled nicely and after hitting a slight flat spot he stayed on powerfully to win by a comfortable 1 1/2f. Impressing everyone on debut meant that Kevin was quick to get him out again with the felling that a penalty would be less than the rise from the handicapper. This time it was the sharp track of Catterick but the result was even more emphatic. Alotabottle bolted up by 3 1/2 lengths, giving him a perfect start for the yard. His two wins resulted in a total of 13lbs to his mark taking the chestnut up to 75. Unfortunately Thirsk didn’t continue the winning trend although Alotabottle only went down by nose and probably should have won. So his three starts had resulted in two wins and a runner up spot but now Kevin decided he deserved a bit longer between his run now. Career high of 78 and a step up in trip to 1m was the next port of call when Alotabottle headed to Carlisle. He got back on the winning trail and took the biggest result of his career when again running away the race. He has improved hand over fist this year and looks to be a nice handicapper for next year. It seems as though 1m is his trip but he has also shaped like a little bit further could also suit him in time. Now off a mark of 86 Alotabottle will be taking another step up in grade when he returns but is an exciting prospect.
RATHBONEmade the perfect start to the season but then just faded as the year went on. As a juvenile he had shown so much promise so starting off with a mark 87 seemed very workable. The plan was to hopefully get into the the big 3yr old handicaps but the first step was to get his first win. That was a Pontefract Novice race which he took easily. That didn’t affect his handicap that much so Kevin sent him to Leicester where the 3yr old did exactly the same. Having taken his record to 2/2 for the season it was now time for the bigger targets. York was first where he ran well off 94 and was probably just hindered but the draw. Unfortunately the subsequent three runs were well below par, failing to get involved in the contests at all. Although the second half of the year was disappointing, Rathbone is a talented individual and hopefully next year he can match the mental approach with his quality.
WILD HOPEmanaged to shed his maiden tag on his second start this season and then added another win later on in the season. His second win was off 81 and he will be starting off that next season. CONGA came into the year with 1 win from her sole start and threatened to add to that all year. It was her final start when she managed to and it coincided with a drop in trip to 6f. GEORGE MALLORYhas tried various trips all year but it was 1m2f at Haydock will got him into the winners enclosure and gain the first career win. There is a lot of ability under the bonnet and hopefully that can be unlocked next year. SECRET VENTURE didn’t gain a win but has now been gelded and hasn’t run that many times. Next year could be a big year for him as a stronger 4yr old. THE GREAT HEIRprovided a huge bonus pot for connections in 2018 when he won the Weatherbys Insurance 2yo Stakes at Doncaster. Unfortunately he didn’t match that this season but his final two runs were a big step forward back towards his best form. If he can build on that finish to the season then 2020 could be a fun year for him.
2 YEAR OLDS
The 2yr old team is very important to all trainers as they are the future and a few bad crops can really scupper progression. Kevin has always been known for having a dab hand with the juveniles and this season saw another exciting batch of youngsters.
Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum had purchased Emaraaty Ana following his Gimcrack win and along with that he asked Kevin to train a team of 2yr olds for him. REPARTEEwas the first one to make a mark on the season with a run away success on his debut at York. The Invincible Spirit colt was hugely impressive and entered many people’s notebooks with his display. Kevin avoided the lure of Royal Ascot and Repartee would be seen again at Listed level, down at Newbury. Unfortunately the soft ground did not suit but he bounced back with a fine effort in the Gimcrack. Finishing 3rd in the Group 2 contest showed his quality and the colt would round off his season in the Doncaster 2yo Stakes. Again he put up a big performance and after having to switch around horses, he stayed on strongly to finish runner up. Repartee’s form has been quality and he looks a really bright prospect. He has seen out his trips well this season and enjoyed the step up to 6 1/2f so there may be a trial for him next year to start the season.JUAN ELCANOwas another smart debut winner but he did it the hard way on his first start. Unlike his stable mate, Juan Elcano was slowly away and very green through the first of the race. Even down the straight he took time to get to grips with things and when the leader kicked clear it seemed as though the race was done. Elcano improved with every yard of the trip and once the penny dropped he flew home, making up multiple lengths in the final 1/2f to grab a debut win. That was an impressive performance to get himself out of trouble and he showed his class when stepped up to Group 2 level next time out. He ran a huge race to finish 2nd in the Superlative stakes, just running green when going into the dip at Newmarket (July) but going down by a length. He was then only beaten the same distance next time out in another Group 2 event, the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster. He has done great to finish placed in these races and done so whilst still showing inexperience. He is a bright prospect for next year with a winter to strengthen up and mature, which should see him thrive. RHEAwas another smart performer and likewise she was a debut winner. Like Juan Elcano, Rhea had headed to Haydock for her debut and made a wining start. Chasing the leaders from the off she settled nicely just Ibn behind and travelled well throughout. Down the straight she made some nice headway to move into 2nd place 2f from home. Once asked, Rhea quickened up to lead going into the final furlong and then held off some late challenges to get off the mark by 3/4 length. Immediately Kevin stepped her up to pattern company at Sandown and for a long way she couldn’t get into a smooth rhythm. This was a sign of her inexperience but as the race progressed, so did Rhea. In the final furlong she really started to make up ground and finished with a rattling run, ultimately too late, but making impressive headway. This was her last run this season and she looks like a filly who will improve as a 3yr old. The way she finished and saw out the trip of 7f suggests that a bit further will be ideal for her next season. DIVINA GLORIA was only seen once but she made sure it left an impression. Starting out over 1m at Thirsk, the daughter of Dabirism was very green for the first half of the race. Turning for home she was well off the pace, sat in last and giving over 10 lengths to the leader. When switched to the centre of the track she began to make a bit of headway 3f from home. As she picked up it looked as though she would make a nice debut and get quite closet’s the front but surely had too much to do. It was the final furlong where suddenly Divina Gloria just took off. The open dropped and she ate up the ground, sweeping past rival after rival and grabbing the lead, before galloping away to win by 1 length. It was a very impressive debut and she looks like a quality filly. Always looking likely to improve with time, Divina Gloria should develop into a lovely 3yr old and she is very exciting. GALADRIELdidn’t win on debut but made a big impact with a lot of racing fans. Starting out in the Listed Marygate Stakes at York, the filly was very green and was adrift at the rear of the field. Late on she began to make up a little bit of ground but then in the final furlong she grew wings and flew home to finish a close up fourth. Considering the quality of the field and the inexperience she showed, this was a debut of huge promise. So much so that Kevin sent her to Royal Ascot for the Albany stakes over 6f. Unfortunately the ground was far too sticky for her that day and then the trip was too far next time out when she ran at Thirsk over 7f. Galadriel deservedly got off the mark on the fourth time of asking when reverting back to sprinting at Beverley. Back over 5f she tracked the pace before taking up the lead over 1f out and kicking clear up the hill to shed her maiden tag. The season was rounded off with a good effort in Nursery company and she will start next year off a mark of 80, something that Galadriel can build on. YORKSHIRE GOLDwas one who made a winning debut and then set some tall tasks in difficult conditions. After overcoming inexperience on his debut, Yorkshire Gold stormed from the rear of the field to win. Having given the leaders a big head start he proved too powerful at the finish and won by a convincing 1 3/4 lengths. This impressive debut led to him running over a furlong extra in the Group 3, 7f Acomb stakes at York. Unfortunately he didn’t handle the ground that day, riding a lot quicker than on debut and the official going description. His final run was below par but came in October and can certainly be written off after a long year. His sire Muhaarar was having his first crop on the track this season so everyone is still learning about him, plus he improved with age. Yorkshire Gold looks likely to be the same with a break helping him fill out and mature again.
Bogart was a stable legend and having been retired last season it was quite fitting that Kevin bought into the family once again. Following in the footsteps of Bogart and Blaine, BYLINE arrived into the yard reminding everybody of his elder siblings. His debut was a takes of two halves. At Ayr he was slowly away and green through the first half before suddenly understanding what to do and powering home, just being denied in the dying strides. The win was clearly going to happen and Byline made sure of it next time out at Hamilton, keeping everything simple and winning with the minimal fuss. He was set a stiff task in the Gimcrack next time out but ran admirably to finish in mid-division, boosted by the fact he didn’t really enjoy the quick ground. Rounding the year off at Ayr he was below par but at that point many of the runners were felling the affects of the long season. He has been gelded now and is a nice horse to look forward to for next year. ROMANTIC VISIONquickly developed into a smart performer. The Dandy Man colt was a breeze up purchase and wouldn’t make his debut until August. Slightly disappointing and inauspicious start where everything seemed to go wrong was quickly put behind him. He made no mistake next time out at Catterick, winning over 5f but then took a big step forward to win at the same track over 6f, lumbering a penalty to some decent rivals. His final start was in a York nursery, running well to finish fourth and unfortunately that was his last start for the yard as Romantic Vision was purchased to race abroad. TREBLE TREBLEcarried some very familiar looking colours to victory this season. Owner Brendan Macdonald was involved in Amadeus Wolf, Kevin’s first Group 1 winner and he paid homage to that with his choice of colours almost matching this worn by Neil Callan in 2005. Treble Treble had come out of the breeze up sales and took that experience straight to the track when finishing a very good third on debut at York. That race was a strong contest and Treble Treble built on that performance to shed his maiden tag at the second time of asking. At Haydock he convincingly got off the mark, winning by 1 3/4 lengths and the form of the race worked out well. He was then set a couple of tough tasks in pattern company. Now gelded he will certainly fill out over the winter and can develop into a nice sprinter next year. Two fillies owned by Clipper Logistics did well and should be better as 3yr olds. QUEEN’S ORDER & SHE CAN DANCEboth won and then dipped their toe into pattern company. Queen’s order won on just her second start and did so with ease. She Can Dance took a little longer but took advantage of a lenient handicap mark to win a Nursery on her fourth effort. Both fillies headed to Ayr’s Gold Cup meeting for the 5f Listed race. Unfortunately neither ran to form and they did look to be feeling the affects of the season, showing signs of getting their winter coats. The break will do them well and they can come back as 3yr olds to continue their progression. ROMEROwas hugely impressive on debut at Doncaster. Missing the break and held up in the rear of the field, Romero was then trapped for room when trying to make his run. It was the final 150 yards where he got a clean run and once he did he took off, scything through the field and winning a shade cosily. Following that he tackle the Group 2 Railway stakes but didn’t perform to his true ability. With only two runs to his name there is a lot more to come from him. LADY ERIMUSpicked up a nursery win for her syndicate, The Riverside Racing Syndicate, who enjoyed a winner with their first horse in training. It was great to see them get into the winners enclosure and with Lady Erimus moving on hopefully the next one can do the same. MASTER MCGRATHwas off the mark at the second time of asking when taking a Maiden down at Sandown. He tried Group company following that and was far from disgraced, where the ground didn’t seem to suit him. He is another to move on following this season.
Although they didn’t get a win on the board there were some other good performances that did promise much for the future. SPIRITOFTHENORTH started in fine fashion , finishing 3rd on debut. Now he has had three runs and will be starting with a mark of 74 in the future.VEGA MAGICwent very close on debut, finishing 2nd in a York Novice. Unfortunately ground scuppered him next time out where tough going did not suit. BARBARELLA & STARS IN THE NIGHTboth had a few runs this year but didn’t quite manage to gain their first wins. It is only a matter of time and both fillies will be starting their 3yo careers with fair marks so hopefully it won’t take long. BLACK CASPIANhas the experience of three runs and the second of those was a fine second placed effort, in a smart Haydock Novice race. He should improve for a little it of time. OAKENSHIELDlooks to have a very similar profile and his fine debut effort was followed up by a run on very testing ground. THRONE HALL & WILL SOMMERS are both bred to do better with time and trip so to see them run promising this year was a bonus and they look like 3yo types. REVIETTE got three runs in the bag, showing promise on the first couple of runs before finding heavy ground against her. GIVE OF KINGS & WESTERN HEROare another couple of colts who look likely to improve as 3yo’s and have been managed lightly this year, both making a couple of starts and ganging vital experience.
The older horses this season have been whittled down a little due to retirements and sales. This does need to happen as though young pretenders are coming through to try and take their spot as time moves on. Some yard favourites have performed admirably this year but unfortunately many have moved on and we wish them well.
AYUTTHAYA was a horse who was always highly thought of. It didd take a bit of time for him to find his feet but it was a change of tactics that saw him perform this year. For much of the season it was inconsistent, a good run wouldn’t be backed up and it was becoming a bit frustrating as to why he hadn’t won for almost 17 months. Chasing tactics to being more patient was the key and when Ayutthaya headed to Haydock to adopt these he showed his true colours. A cosy win was backed up next time when he utilised the same late run to bag a brace of wins, this time at Pontefract. He was sold at the October HIT sale and good luck to his new connections. EVERYTHING FOR YOUput up some good runs this year and gained a victory at Ripon on his penultimate start for the yard. His final run was a fine second in a Class 2 Handicap before being sold at the GoffsUK HIT sale. He was bought to go jumping and has since run once in that code. TERUNTUM STARpicked up some big wins for the yard in his time and started this year off in perfect style when returning to action with a win at Beverley. Unfortunately he couldn’t match that and was subsequently sold at GoffsUK but he gave connections many highs in his time at Hambleton Lodge. BEYOND THE CLOUDS tackled the flat this year for the first time and managed to secure a 1m4f Novice at Ripon. He too has moved on since.
There were a couple of occasions where HEY JONESYthreatened to secure a big prize this year but unfortunately he didn’t manage to get on the scoresheet. His record of 1 career win really doesn’t do him justice as the 4yr old is very talented and has tackled some top class races. His first run of the season saw Jonesy finish runner up to subsequent Group 1 runner up Dream Of Dreams. Fifth in the Duke Of York (Group 2) again showed the class he possesses and Kevin plotted for some big handicaps. Another good effort came in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot before he just went down by 1/2 length when stepped up to 7f for the first time. He looked the ideal type for the Ayr Gold Cup but it didn’t quite materialise for him. Hey Jonesy is a quality individual who deserves to pick up a nice prize. Hopefully a winter break will freshen him up and he can improve his record next year because it doesn’t match his ability and Jonesy deserves it.
So it has been a very good year once again and huge credit must got to the team. The staff work tirelessly all year round and without their dedication non of this would be possible. Everyone will be readying the team for next year though the winter months and there is plenty to look forward to. It will take something special to top this year but with the crop of horses we have, plus some excitingly bred yearlings, 2020 could potentially be even better.
When you share your name with a Leeds United hero it immediately increases your popularity. Many Leeds fans felt a connection with Bielsa, named after their current manager, and followed the gelding from day one. Their support has been repaid as Bielsa began his career with a 100% record taking his first three wins from three starts. Below par in the Portland Handicap last tine out, Bielsa emphatically bounced back when returning to Doncaster and taking the 6f Vertem Leading The Field Handicap.
Bred and owned by Highbank Stud, the die hard leads fans are known for showing their support through their horses. Marcelo Bielsa has a reputation as one of the world’s greatest managers so if you are going to name one after the Argentinia then they need to be good. Fortunately the equine Bielsa, son of Invincible Spirit, looked above average from early on and so he has proven to be.
Bielsa was a late comer to the track and only had one run to his name before the start of this season. Starting the year off at Doncaster, Bielsa impressively managed to lump 10st in a novice race to make it 2 from 2 and earn his first handicap mark. Starting off 87 Kevin would not run the gelding again until August where he ran close to home, at Thirsk. With only 2 runs to his name Bielsa was limited in what handicaps he was eligible for so connections had to wait until the Thirsk race before seeing him in action again. Stepping into handicap company for the first time, Bielsa showed good speed before bravely holding on. Taking his record to a perfect 3 from 3 it was clear that Bielsa deserved a crack at a top handicap.
Having been unable to enter the 4yr old in the Ayr Gold Cup, Kevin decided to that the Portland Handicap at Doncaster was the best option. Trying 5 1/2f for the first time, Bielsa was sent off as the 7-2 fav with punters backing the potential that he could possess. Unfortunately the race just didn’t pan out and he put in the first poor run of his short career. Although disappointing, it was clear that Bielsa just had an off day and Kevin quickly set about looking for races following this run.
The Coral Sprint at York was the plan for Bielsa but unfortunately he did not get into the contest. This left the 6f handicap at Doncaster, meaning Bielsa would be returning to Town Moor to try and put his Portland run behind him. There were 12 declarations for the race and the Autumn downpours had turned the ground very testing, leaving the going described as Heavy. Kevin Stott has been in the saddle for every run and continued the partnership by getting the leg up once again. The punters looked as though they were forgiving Bielsa’s blip last time out as they were to send him off 5-1 fav, the fourth time he would be sent off favourite in his five runs.
Drawn in stall 1 Bielsa was stuck out on the wing a little with the stalls positioned on the stands side rail. The 4yr old jumped smartly and immediately found himself to the forefront. Quickly into stride Bielsa held a slight lead and this meant that his rivals were to follow in his hoof prints. Kevin stayed in a straight line and lead the field through the first furlong as his the field settled down. It was the David Armstrong pair of Dalton and Pendleton who came through to challenge Biesla and the three were separated by very little as they spearheaded the field.
With the heavy conditions the jockeys were riding appropriately, setting a decent gallop but nothing too fierce. Bielsa travelled very well in the ground and Kevin allowed his mount to stride on. His market rival Pendleton is a known mud lover and moved through to challenge for the lead heading down towards halfway. The going was proving difficult for some of the field as they toiling towards the rear, unable to get their legs out of the mud. Baring down on the 3f marker and already the race was looking like a stern test as the market leaders had daylight ahead of them, or what could be called daylight.
Moving into the second half of the race the jockeys became more animated in the saddle as they tried to get into the contest. The leading pair thought were travelling powerfully and just began to edge a little further from the main group. In testing conditions the best place to be is in front as you have the advantage and those behind have to try and overhaul the margin in energy sapping ground. As they moved into the final 1/4 mile there was only 2 horses left on the bridle and it was the leading duo, the market leaders. They held over a length advantage over their nearest pursuer as they began to challenge one another whilst also turning the screw in front. Pendleton probably just held the narrowest of leads but neither was giving the other an inch and the race would be decided in the final 1 1/2 furlongs.
With the leading pair still travelling well with 300 yards to run it seemed clear that the winner would be coming from this duo. Who would crack first or who would play their hand first. It was Kevin who got lower in the saddle initially but as soon as Bielsa felt this he comfortably lengthened. This move forced Pendleton to match and suddenly in few strides he came under pressure as Bielsa retook the lead. As his rival came under a drive, Kevin just cajoled his mount into the lead. Heading into the final furlong Kevin took a couple of looks at his rival just see just what he had left.
Passing the 1f marker the leading pair had a clear lead and it was here that now Kevin wanted to assert his authority. Now he asked Bielsa to go and finish his race and the 4yr old responded well. Initially he edged away from Pendleton but was still looking to respond and find another push. Bielsa was having none of it and under a drive he now started to power on. His lead moved to 3/4 of a length with 1/2 furlong to run and it was here that he now started to dominate. Pendleton had now answer to the leader and the race was now in Bielsa’s hands. Powerfully he galloped away from his rival and really started to put distance between the pair. The further they went the stronger Bielsa was and he confirmed his dominance with an impressive 2 1/4 length win.
It was great for Bielsa to bounce back to form and he did so with authority. He has now proved himself on various types of ground although a little bit of cut looks like his ideal conditions. He continues to improve with every run and with very little mileage on the clock there could be plenty more to come from Bielsa. This win was off a mark of 93 and the handicapper will look to give him another rise now. Depending on what he does will decide what Bielsa does next. He is getting close to the 100 mark which closes the gap from handicap company to pattern. Whatever he does do, Bielsa has had a great season and it gives connections plenty to get excited about for next year.
Group 1 races are the highest echelon of racing, the summit that everyone is trying to reach. That means they are the hardest races to win, attracting the best of the best. Group 1 sprints are rarely won by a wide margin, 5f Group 1’s are almost never won by a wide margin. The Prix De L’Abbaye is almost certainly finishing in a bunch with little separating most of those towards the front. The Longchamp sprint is one of the fastest 5f in world racing but Glass Slippers dominated the Group 1, routing her rivals to win by an easy 3 lengths.
Glass Slippers started the season off over 7f seeing if a classic run could be on the cards but has developed into an electric sprinter. The story of 2019 has been one of steady progression throughout the year before suddenly bursting out and announcing she was very smart. Having run well over 6f, placing in listed and group 3 company, Glass Slippers travelled over to France for the first time. The 6f Listed race at Deauville was a 3yr old contest that provided the support to the Prix Maurice De Gheest. Making all, Glass Slippers proved to be very tough repelling a constant challenge and taking a first pattern success by just a short head. This win was fantastic as now Glass Slippers had that all important black type victory to her name but it would actually just be the start of something special.
It was back across the channel for the next run as the Dream Ahead filly tackled 5f. The race was a step up in grade as the Group 3 contest was the trial for the Prix De L’Abbaye. Glass Slippers had to improve again as she was taking on a stronger field again. After missing the break slightly she was shuffled all the way to the back of the field. Having been outpaced through the first half of the race, Glass Slippers began to make headway 2f from home before suddenly showing an electric turn of foot to come swooping down the outside and grabbing the win in the dying strides. Another fantastic win on the resume and another vital tick in the box for her future breeding.
Evidently in the form of her life it seemed like a simple decision to take on the challenge of Group 1 company. She was thriving, had won the trial for the race and was bouncing at home so the decision was made to head to France’s biggest meeting, The Arc, and take on the very best 5f sprinters around. This would prove to be the very sternest of tests for Glass Slippers with the superstars Battash, Mabs Cross and Fairyland all lining up then a supporting cast of Soldier’s Call, Invincible Army and Spinning Memories. This was one of the best line ups for the race in recent memory and was a mouth watering encounter.
Tom Eaves has struck up a great relationship with the filly and travelled over to take the ride once again. Recent weather had seen the ground turn very soft and this was a bit of an unknown for Glass Slippers. The last time she had raced on it was Newbury and the filly had not enjoyed it at all. There was confidence thought that she would be doing her best work late on and so the testing going could see her get involved with her turn of foot. The race revolved around Battash, the superstar who had smashed Dayjur’s record at York in the Nunthorpe. The line up would attract 16 runners and would be over in the blink of an eye.
Tom went into the contest with very little instruction. Having been outpaced last time out he just needed to let his filly race in her comfort zone, wherever that may be. What was to happen next surprised everyone. Drawn in stall 3 she was positioned close to some very fast horses. Away on terms, Glass Slippers was quickly into stride and immediately showed plenty of early pace. El Astronaute had been drawn alongside the filly and is an extremely fast horse. The gelding took overall control and lead the field through the first furlong but Glass Slippers moved through to chase and sit in second place. This was all the filly and she looked very comfortable going the gallop.
The next furlong saw Glass Slippers move closer to the lead as the 3yo was showing electric speed. They were not hanging around with Battash sat menacingly just behind the leaders. Glass Slippers was travelling beautifully and looked to be enjoying the conditions. She was going that well that Tom suddenly found himself taking on El Astronaute for the lead but only for a moment because Glass Slippers then took up the running well over 3f from home. This was certainly not expected but Tom felt she was in her comfort zone and let Glass Slippers stride on, leading one of the fastest races worldwide.
As they reached the halfway point the race was starting to take shape. Glass Slippers had made her way to the front and Tom was going to try and utilise this advantage. the only problem was that Battash had inched closer, dangerously stalking the pace. Alongside him was Invincible Army who was just 3/4 length down on Glass Slippers. Tom now shook his mount up and decided that he had to go for home. What he had underneath was a very tough and genuine filly so Tom asked her to put these attributes to the fore. If they were going to go down then it would be on their terms.
Nothing had got to Glass Slippers yet as they moved into the final couple of furlongs. Tom only had eyes for the winning post but everyone else watching were fixated on Battash. Suddenly the superstar, who had moved through sweetly, came under pressure and then serious pressure. El Astronaute was still on the scene and Invincible Army was sticking to the task but it was Glass Slippers who began to assert. As the filly stuck her head down she started to pull away. The narrow lead began to increase and Glass Slippers opened up into a length advantage. Battash began to back pedal and was beaten but the race was now revolving around Glass Slippers. She was foreign clear for Tom and nothing had an answer.
Having kicked clear Glass Slippers entered the final furlong with a 1 1/2 length advantage the run to home was going to really test the filly who had made most of the running. As her rivals were trying to close Glass Slippers just continued to surge forward. The advantage grew with every stride and Glass Slippers pulled further and further clear. There was no stopping the 3yo filly as she kicked clear into a huge 4 length lead, leaving some of the best sprinters toiling in her wake. The Prix De L’Abbaye doesn’t get won in this fashion but Tom had the opportunity to ease up on his mount close to the line. Glass Slippers had demolished the Group 1 field to win by an impressive 3 lengths and lay down one of the best sprinting performances seen this season.
Glass Slippers has reached the highest echelon in racing and done so in emphatic fashion. If everyone is honest there is nobody who could have envisaged the race going like this. The filly is thriving and has really come to life in the last few months taking her form to unbelievable levels. There was confidence that she could get involved in the finish but when you saw how strong the line up was, connection were under no illusion that she would have to find more improvement to challenge. Glass Slippers has found that in spades and won like a high quality sprinter. The 3yo filly has the world at her feet now and will look to build on her Group 1 exploits next year. The Breeder’s Cup sprint was an obvious option next but Glass Slippers deserves a nice break now and will be finished until 2020. The plan looks quite clear with the Group 1’s mapped out nicely for her. The young filly has proven herself but with another year she could improve once again and that would be very exciting for all involved.