When you get a 3yo who won on debut as a juvenile on their only start it can really get exciting thinking of the potential that lies ahead. Just a year ago Conga made her winning debut, going down to Haydock for a fillies novice race. Twelve months on and in very similar conditions she doubled her career tally when making all in the 6f BB Foodservice Fillies Handicap at Hamilton.
Conga came to hand early on in the year and Kevin would have the filly ready to run at the beginning of the season. Although her juvenile win had come over 6f, Conga’s work had indicated that a step up in trip would suit. Her first two runs of the year would both be back at the Lancashire track and both Novice events were over 1m. A promising return was followed another solid effort but one that showed Conga did not appreciate the stiffer test of stamina. Although the new trip did not work it did mean that Conga had qualified for a handicap mark, opening up options for the rest of the season.
York was her first taste of handicap company when dropping back to sprinting. Having not stayed 1m it looked as though she didn’t have the pace for 6f, especially at a sharp track. Kevin had one option then and it was to meet in the middle, trying Conga over 7f. Her next start would come around Chester over an extended 7f and would prove to be the best performance since her debut win. Just touched off for second late on, it seemed as though the new trip could be the one. Unfortunately next time out it again seemed as though it was too far and Conga didn’t quite see it out.
It was clear that Conga retained a huge amount of ability but finding the key to unlock it was proving to be problematic. Soft ground, drop to 6f and a stiffer track was the combination Kevin would search for. Hamilton provided all of this and Conga would head to Scotland to take on 5 rival fillies. Small fields are becoming more common as the season progresses with the weather turning and ground becoming an issue. For Conga this was ideal and she would line up in a trappy race. Kevin Stott was back on board, looking to repeat the pair’s win 12 months on.
Although Conga was the top rated filly in the field and proven on the ground there were two rivals shorter in the better. Dancing Rave and Quirky Gertie would both enjoy conditions and Brough better recent form to the race, so would vie for favouritism. Conga has been quickly away all season and despite the drop to sprinting she was fastest away once again. As Kevin whipped the hood off Conga was away and straight into her stride, landing at the from of the 6 runners. With the stalls positioned towards the far side Kevin decided to come towards the centre and the track and the rest followed suit. Racing downhill Conga held a narrow lead as the market leaders tucked in behind her.
Conga didn’t travel ideal for Kevin through the early stages. The ground was fine but she was just fighting for her head a little bit and Kevin had to restrain her from doing too much. With Melrose Place sat on her girths it did press Conga and was probably why she was trying to do a little more than Kevin wanted. The first two pressed on and had a small break on the other quartet.
Heading down to the halfway stage the ground levels off. Kevin tried to utilise his advantage and asked Conga to begin stretching out and lengthening her stride. As he began to wind her up, Conga began to just edge right. Quirky Gertie had tracked her throughout and was travelling smoothly into contentions Melrose Way began to fade away. Despite not giving Kevin the easiest of times Conga was still going forward and began to quicken up.
The race quickly took shape passing the 2f pole. Having travelled sweetly up to this stage, Quirky Gertie now came under a drive to go and pass Conga. Now racing closer to the far side rail, Conga had set sail for home and would be joined by the second favourite as they met the rising ground. As the pair began to fight it out they started to pull away from the rest of the field who could not get involved. Quirky Gertie quickened up to join Conga just over a furlong from home and the last 200 yards would be a real test for these fillies.
As Conga caught a glimpse of her rival she straightened up, changed her legs and looked set for a battle. Quirky Gertie had come through looking the stronger of the two and seemingly she would sweep past the leader. Conga quickly showed that there was plenty left in the tank and as she was joined immediately put a stop to her rival’s run. Both fillies were responding to their jockeys urgings and with 1/2 furlong to run they were eyeball to eyeball. Conga was proving very brave and was battling back at her rival who now knew the race was far from over. The pair were well clear but only had eyes for each other. The rising ground was sapping the energy from the fillies legs and it was Conga who was just finishing the stronger. She had been joined but never passed and fought back with every stride. With just 75 yards to run, Conga stuck her nose back into a clear lead. This was the move that Quirky Gertie had no response for and the win was Conga’s by just a head.
Conga is a filly who has always been well regarded but this season hasn’t quite worked out. She looks the type who needs a real test of 6f or possibly an easy 7f. This will be her last run of the year and Conga will now be sent on her winter break. It does feel as though another year on her back to let her grow once more will really help and next year she could go on to bigger and better things. Mr Guy Reed always produced tough horses Aho seemed to do better with time and Conga looks to fit this bill. This win will see her pushing on to the 80 mark and hopefully this is an ideal stepping stone when she is back in action in 2020.
Seeing any horse improve is fantastic but it can especially important with 3yr olds who are just in the infancy of their careers. Whether they were a backward juvenile or just finding the correct trip, 3yr olds have their own age races before then going on to mix it with their elder counterparts. Unfortunately promising starts can go a little bit off track and Magical Spirit did just that. Thankfully a small fix helped him back to his best and the 3yr old was back in the winners enclosure when he scored at Newcastle in the 6f betuk.com Your Home For Online Betting Handicap.
It was the Tapeta surface that Magical Spirit made his return on at the beginning of the season. Off a mark of 71 he went on to finish second on his first foray into handicap company. The same spot was filled on his next run too, when Magical Spirit headed to Redcar and pushed a well handicapped rival close. These two runs had shown plenty of promise for the season ahead and the gelding gained his much deserved win on his third start of the season. Despite hating the track, Magical Spirit won comfortably at Ripon and looked a 3yr old to keep on the right side of.
Unfortunately plans don’t always work out and Magical Spirit ran very disappointingly on his subsequent two runs. On both starts he weakened out of contention very tamely and was beaten a long way. Definitely head scratching performances from a promising gelding, Kevin needed to check under the bonnet and the issue was found. Wind ops are commonplace in horses and in this day and age they are very straight forward procedures.
Ready for a run once again Magical Spirit had the issue of weather, with recent downpours turning many of the tracks to heavy slogs. Thankfully he had form on the AW and so he would return to the Tapeta of Newcastle. The 6f contest would be the first time that the chestnut would tackle his elders but he would be going into the race as the highest rated. There was nine declared and being the highest rated, along with the benefit of his wind op, Magical Spirit was to be sent off as the 7-2 second fav. Kevin Stott is his usual partner and was in the saddle to ride under the Newcastle floodlights.
Jumping well Magical Spirit was to the fore from the off. Although some of his rivals were quicker away their jockeys did not seem too happy with going forward and quickly fought to rein in their mounts. Kevin was happy to let Magical Spirit get into his rhythm and so with minimum fuss the pair were handed the lead. Without any pressure Kevin was allowed to dictate at a relatively calm pace as Magical Spirit spearheaded the field who slotted in behind the chestnut.
After the first furlong Kevin let Magical Spirit stride out and the lead increased to over a length. This saw the pace increase but still no pressure was put on the leader. They edged towards the stands side and as they did so Magical Spirit continued to increase the tempo. For the first half of the race everybody looked happy with their position as well as the way the race was panning out. This would change as they moved past the 3f marker and into the second half.
Magical Spirit was travelling powerfully in front and this seemed to send distress signals to the rest of the field. One by one the jockeys began to ride away trying to reel in Magical Spirit. Now the chestnut was almost against the rail and was still travelling sweetly for Kevin. Despite coming under pressure, nothing was getting into the contest just yet and would need to make up quite a bit of ground int he final 2f.
Having taken Kevin all the way it was now the jockey who asked the question. As the 2f marker whizzed passed them, Magical Spirit and Kevin now kicked for him. The 3yo quickened up and really had the field on the stretch. Between the 2f and 1f marker he pulled away from Almurr who had been giving chase throughout the contest. Although moving away from his rivals, Magical Spirit just began to hang away from the rail and moved into the centre of the track. This gave his rivals a sniff of victory but they still had around 2 lengths to make up.
As they entered the final furlong Kevin had adjusted his mount and got him back into a straight line. Favourite Buccaneer’s Vault and Final Go were the two who had come out of the pack and were giving chase to Magical Spirit. The lead had been cut down to 1 3/4 lengths and it was who could see out the final 150yards the best. Magical Spirit was giving everything out in front but his rivals were really hitting top gear and started making great gains. The lead was getting cut with every stride but Kevin was keeping his own mouth up to the work required. Although holding a decent advantage Magical Spirit was coming back to his rival and the win was far from guaranteed. Fortunately he was brave in front and with 75 yards to run he was still striding out. His advantage was dramatically cut but Magical Spirit was not to be denied and held on to win by 1/2 length.
It was great to Magical Spirit bounce back to form and showed that his poor runs were down to an issue rather than ability. He was on an upward curve so this win puts him right back on track and proves that he is still a progressive horse. Magical Spirit showed good pace but then quickened up nicely before battling away when the challenge was laid down. His sire, Zebedee, does seem to breed genuinely tough progeny and they tend to continue to get better with age and racing. With the AW season beginning there will be plenty more options going forward with Magical Spirit but that will depend on what Kevin and Hambleton Racing decide to do. One thing is for sure, Magical Spirit is back on track and could be a nice sprinter going forward into his 4yo season.
Confidence can be key to a horse and really help them to unlock their full potential. Once they get the feeling of getting their head in front then they thrive and it is not uncommon to see horses rack up a sequence of victories. Ayutthaya had been on a 17 month winless streak but bounced back to winning ways last time out. This victory proved the catalyst for the 4yr old gelding who made it a brace when taking the 1m2f Simon Scrope Dalby Screw-Driver Handicap at Pontefract.
Patiently ridden at Haydock, Ayutthaya travelled supremely well before picking up nicely and staying on powerfully through the line. Although the win was 2lb below his last winning mark the race was his first victory in handicap company and was the first time that Ayutthaya had won over 1m2f. With the softer going ideal for Ayutthaya, Kevin was quick to look for another similar contest with the season winding down and the autumn weather providing perfect conditions.
There has been plenty of racing in the north recently and with the weather turning, as well as a long season coming towards the end some races are not getting the size of fields expected. The 1m2f contest at Pontefract was going to be contested by just 5 runners and although it offered more prize money it looked an easier race than the one that Ayutthaya had won. The 2018 winner Francis Xavier would be contesting the race once again and would be the main danger to Ayutthaya going in again. With just a 4lb rise on his back it did look like a nice opportunity for Ayutthaya but would the race pan out like last time with a small field.
Tom Eaves was in the saddle again, attempting to implement the same winging tactics. It was difficult to really work out how the race would be run but there did look to be a front runner in Leroy Leroy. Once the gates opened the 3yo took up the pace setting tactics and allowed the other quartet to settle in behind. Initially a decent gallop, Ayutthaya dropped to the rear of the field but with just 5 runners there was very little separating first to last. Main market rival Francis Xavier was closest to the leader and as they raced down the back straight the field thinned out to race closer to single file.
It was a strange pace set through the first half of the race as the 3yo tried to race a little keenly for strides before settling and repeating. Ayutthaya travelled smoothly as Tom played his waiting tactics once again and his position offered him the perfect sighter of his main rival. As the rain fell on the runners they continued to get a patchy pace, quickening then steadying constantly. This probably owed to the undulating track as the leader who quicken in the hands of his jockey racing downhill, get back into a rhythm before hitting another undulation a few yards later. Thankfully this allowed the race being run quite truly given each of the runners a chance.
Moving into the last 1/2 mile of the contest the field broke formation and the line became a diamond with Tom edging off the rail. Running down to the home bend the first four began to bunch up and started to move away from the outsider in the field. Just as they started to hit the bend there was a distinct injection of pace from the front which was matched by Francis Xavier who loomed up on the outer. Tom measured this move and likewise edged closer to now have the front 4 racing in two pairs.
Sweeping around the bend the leader was now being joined by Francis Xavier and Ayutthaya shuffled up to. This trio started to pull away from the other two and entering the final 2f there was a line of three. Hitting the top of the home straight this line was broken as Francis Xavier took over and kicked for home. Immediately snatching the lead he was chased by the big white face of Ayutthaya who himself demoted the pace setter to third, who was now weakening right out of contention.
Ayutthaya came to join his market rival Francis Xavier as they passed the 1f marker and the pair settled down to tussle it out. The pair had put a good few lengths between themselves and the rest so could now concentrate on fighting each other. Tom had nursed his mount into the race but once they drew alongside their rival he asked for everything from Ayutthaya in one fell swoop. The chestnut responded to pressure and edged his nose to the front but what he found on his inside was a very willing adversary. With just a neck separating the pair they battled up the rising ground for the final 150 yards. Ayutthaya had come to challenge looking the strongest and he put this to his advantage the further they went. Finally he was getting on top with 100 yards to run and Ayutthaya stretched his head lead into neck, then 1/2 length and then 3/4 length, crossing the line to gain his second victory on the bounce.
After some very good efforts this season Ayutthaya has really thrived with the change of tactics. He was always travelling well in his races but either found one too good or just didn’t quite see out his races. Being ridden more patiently has really helped him quicken up in the latter stages and it has been this turn of foot that has seen off his rivals in his two wins. He is obviously in great form and with soft ground being no issue there are plenty of options still open to him for the remainder of the season. There is no doubt that He will be due another rise in the handicap which could see him close to his highest once again but in this form it would be no surprise to see him complete the hat-trick and go even higher.
The new rules regarding handicapping have made it difficult for some trainers to find opportunities for juveniles. Where as you used to be able to get a mark following a win or three runs, it is now two wins or three runs. This means there are many juvenile winners having to carry big weights due to penalties before heading into the nurseries. Romantic Vision had opened his account at Catterick over 5f last time out which meant that if he were to run in another novice race then a penalty would be added to his weight. The Dandy Man colt headed back to Catterick, this time over 6f and duly repeated his winning effort when taking the British Stallion Studs EBF Novice Stakes.
On debut Romantic Vision showed his lack of racing experience when racing keenly, then getting caught for room before weakening late on. It was a run that a bit disappointing but easily forgivable and could be left behind. Romantic Vision did just that on his second run. Jumping smarter, he chased the pace throughout the contest, settling nicely before getting up late on. He had shown a far more professional attitude and looked to have won with a little bit in hand. Doing his best work at the end of the 5f trip it gave the impression that a step up in trip would suit and could be done sooner rather than later.
Kevin took the option of returning to Catterick with Romantic Vision having the vital course experience, which can be key around the Yorkshire track. The declarations showed a strong looking race and it would be more difficult for Romantic Vision having to carry a 4lb penalty. With the Ayr Gold Cup being on regular rider Danny Tudhope was required to be there so Sam James deputised. Romantic Vision was one of two winners in the line up yet was seen as a 9-1 shot, showing the depth of the race.
Romantic Vision was quickly into stride leaving the stalls although he did just edge left. Although he bumped into rival Dick Datchery it didn’t knock him off stride which meant the colt could get to the front. Showing good early speed Sam let Romantic Vision use his pace and the pair held the lead after the first furlong. With daylight in front and an advantage of just over a length, Romantic Vision shifted over to the rail as they bared down on the left handed bend. Taking the shortest route Romantic Vision swept around it easily having covered the same ground last time.
The fancied trio were all giving Romantic Vision at least a few lengths lead and Sam was in no mood to give them any leeway. With his mount travelling well and and showing great pace he just allowed Romantic Vision to go on, our ing the contest into a real test. As they rounded the bend the track runs away from the horses which mean the pace continued to increase. Despite setting strong fractions Romantic Vision was travelling well and moved inside the second half of the race with a length advantage before straightening up for home.
Entering the home straight and Romantic Vision had the field on the stretch with the fancied runners coming under pressure to try and close on the leader. Sam was still sitting quietly and suddenly was the last one left on the bridle. Moving towards the 2f marker and it was her that Sam kicked and asked Romantic Vision to go and win the race. The colt put his head down and maintained his advantage. The favourites were beginning to find their stride and began to finish their races off but still had to overturn the deficit to Romantic Vision.
Sam had been driving his mount along but as they went past the final furlong marker he gave Romantic Vision a reminder. This sparked the colt and he quickened up, opening up his advantage once more. Suddenly he kicked 3 lengths clear and the work that the favourites had done was quickly dispelled. Romantic Vision was striding clear and nothing could match him. With the race in the bag Sam could cost in for the final 75 yards, winning by a cosy 2 lengths.
Despite having a win under his belt this was a step up as the form of this race looked a lot stronger. It was also impress Romantic Vision had to carry a penalty, giving 7lb away to the 2nd and 3rd, as they also had the benefit of a claim. The step up in trip really suited Romantic Vision and he saw out every yard. It was great to see him settle throughout the race and he then showed a nice turn of foot when asked to put the race to bed. He is obviously going the right way and there looks to be more to come as he was good for a wider margin. It will be interesting to see what mark he receives as now he is eligible and that will certainly decide where Kevin decides to go next.
Pattern success is great for trainers but it can be invaluable for breeders. Owners Terry and Margaret Holdcroft, of Bearstone Stud, have seen their colours carried to victory in many top class races as well as producing high level performers sold at there various sales. Their bloodlines have been built on a fantastic breeding programme and they have certainly produced a cracking filly who will be a future brood mare to continue their lines. Glass Slippers stormed home from last to first, taking the 5f Qatar Prix du Petiti Couvert (Group 3) at Longchamp.
The daughter of Dream Ahead had started the year over 7f but has quickly developed into a smart sprinter. Having not stayed the extra distance she was dropped immediately back to 6f. At Haydock it was a solid run, then it was a very unlucky one when Glass Slippers took to the minimum trip and finished a narrow second. Both runs were in listed company and she would step into Group 3 class at York. Again it was a very solid performance as Glass Slippers went to finish fourth back over 6f.
It was clear that she had the ability to pick up a pattern success, as she had already got the all important black type. Kevin sent the filly over to France on her next start for a 6f Listed race. With limited options over here it was the most logical step and proved to be a very worthwhile trip over the Channel. Glass Slippers jumped out and made all, bravely holding off the runner up late on and securing her first pattern success.
Glass Slippers already held another entry in France when she won. Again she travelled over but on the morning of the race was found to be lame, unfortunately having a bruised foot. thankfully it is a very minor niggle but it was frustrating to miss out on such an opportunity. Immediately following that Glass Slippers was entered up again for France and this time she would take up her engagement.
The Group 3 would mean a step back down to 5f and also the first time she would be taking on the opposite sex. There was a strong British challenge for the race and Glass Slippers was seen as needing another step up to be in the mix. Her conqueror at York, Shades Of Blue (finished 2nd and Glass Slippers 4th), was in the line up so it did seem as though a career best would be required. Tom Eaves has struck up a great partnership with the filly and he headed over to take the ride once again.
Having shown plenty of speed in her last couple of outings it was going to be a case of seeing how she jumped regarding tactics. Glass Slippers was well away but there were some very fast 5f horses in the line up and the race was immediately set to be run at break neck speed. The pace could be seen as Tom had to ride his filly to keep tabs with the field as Glass Slippers was shuffled back to sit at the back of the field. There was certainly no hiding place but Glass Slippers got into her stride after the first furlong.
They blitzed through the first half of the race. Tom had been riding his filly along but she made up some ground heading to the 3f pole and was right on the heels of the field. The 12 runners were well bunched together and Glass Slippers came good at the half way point and travelled on the bridle now she was in full swing. With the main body of the field racing towards the rail Tom just angled away towards the outside to ensure he would get a run when the time came.
The leader had been Buonasera from the get go but moving inside the 2f marker she was ready to give way. It was the British raider Shades Of Blue that began to move through. Tom switched Glass Slippers around runners and looked to make a charge towards the centre of the track. There wasn’t anything else really starting to make a big challenge as now Shades Of Blue took over with 1 1/2f to run. With that filly having won over 6f there would be no worries about her finishing off strongly so those chasing would be set a tall order. Glass Slippers was beginning to pick up down the outer but she had 4 lengths to make up on her York conqueror.
Entering the final furlong Shades Of Blue had kicked and looked to have the race at her mercy. There was little coming from off the pace but there was one who was very eye catching. Glass Slippers was now motoring down the outside passing rival after rival and had halved the deficit to the leader. Tom was getting a real tune from Glass Slippers and she was now hitting top gear although the line was also looming. As she passed rivals she began to edge over to her left spotting the leader in her eyeline. With 100 yards to run she had taken 2nd place and got to within a length of Shades Of Blue. The pair began to draw clear and it was between these British raiders for the win. They were both tough and very game but as Glass Slippers got to the leaders girths Tom asked for one more push. For a stride it looked as though maybe her run had just petered out but Glass Slippers wasn’t to be denied. In the last few strides she stuck her nose to the front and grabbed the win by a short neck.
Anybody who saw the race couldn’t help but be impressed by the manner in which Glass Slippers won. Having been outpaced early on she came good in the middle stages before quickening up very smartly. Her turn of foot was very impressive and then she battled at the death. This was a huge win for connections and there is a bigger prize that is in mind now. Having won a listed and group 3 race, Glass Slippers has already secured her breeding prospects for the future. This race has always been a trial for the Group 1 Prix De L’Abbaye on Arc day and this is likely to be the next step. It is obviously a big step up but the race is over C&D and will certainly be run at a similar break neck gallop. Glass Slippers is fast improving so there is no reason to think that she couldn’t improve once again and give a bold show in such a prestigious race.
When you get a horse who has won a brace of races in quick succession but then doesn’t gain the third it is very easy to draw conclusions. Alotabottle notched two wins from his first two runs since joining the team at Hambleton Lodge. He narrowly went down when bidding for the hat-trick and there were a few whispers after that run that maybe Alotabottle had been found out by the handicapper. He put paid to those opinions when taking a big step up in class and winning the 1m Sandra And Ted Roberts Memorial Handicap at Carlisle.
Alotabottle arrived at the yard just over a month ago and it was clear to see that he was a well handicapped horse. He won on stable debut and 5 days later backed it up with a second win under a 6lb penalty. Both wins were impressive and with the second being on a Tuesday, the handicapper would not have time to reassess him if Kevin went to enter him quickly. That’s exactly what he did, again running Alotabottle under a 6lb penalty and again looking like he would be well in. It seemed as thought the plan had worked when the chestnut came with a late run but this time he just ran out of steam, going down by the narrowest of margins.
Kevin had asked Alotabottle to runs 3 times in quick succession and he had earned a little bit of time before his next run. Alotabottle had raced over 7f and although he had won with a bit in hand there was a stage in each race that he hit a small flat spot before quickening up well and staying on powerfully. It looked clear to connections that he would get 1m so that was the plan going forward if the right race came along. The race at Carlisle ticked all the boxes although it would be a big step up in class for the 3yo and the first time he would be taking on his elders.
Kevin had utilised Sean Davis’s claim in the last couple of runs, offsetting the penalties. Due to Alotabottle taking a step up in class his weight was lowest of the 8 runners, with his rivals running off higher marks. This meant Sean kept the ride on Alotabottle as he was early able to do the weight as well as taking off 3lb. The punters knew about the older horses in the line up and what they could expect to see from them, so it was a pair of 3yo’s who headed the market. Harvey Dent would go off the 7-2 fav but he was closely followed by Alotabottle at 4-1, with the pair the most likely to improve to win this race.
There was a contrast in styles from the market leaders. As the stalls opened Harvey Dent was very quickly into stride and jumped straight into the lead. Alotabottle was away well too but on his inside there were a few rivals who were determined to get forward. This left Alotabottle to settle into midfield through the early stages as the favourite set a strong gallop. There was just 2f to race before the field would take the right handed turn and the strong gallop meant they were quickly on to it. Sean just had to niggle a couple of times as Alotabottle didn’t quite have the same natural speed that the leader was showing.
Sweeping around the bend Alotabottle suddenly took a tug and pulled himself a little closer on the outside. There was plenty of distance separating first to last and Harvey Dent continued to pour it on in front. If Alotabottle was going to see out this new trip then he would need to get every yard as the gallop being set was going to ensure it was a true test.
The leader had gained a couple of lengths break around the bend and entering the top of the home straight he had the field on the stretch. Sean was working away to get Alotabottle lengthening and as they swung off the bend he headed towards the centre of the track. Harvey Dent stuck more to the far side and held a couple of lengths lead but began to track over as he came under pressure. Alotabottle was starting to get going and had come through to give chase over 2f from home.
Moving into the final couple of furlongs and it was the market leaders who were set to do battle. Alotabottle had quickened up nicely to cut the deficit and now moved up to Harvey Dent’s girths. Very little had got into the contest and it seemed as though the race was between the front two. as they settled down to fight it out they took each other along and were putting more distance to the rest.
If there was any chink in the armour of either of the front two then the final furlong would certainly find it. The pair were now eyeball to eyeball but it was Alotabottle who seemed to be the stronger. Passing the 1f marker the track raises up and the stiff finish would sap the remaining stamina and energy. Harvey Dent had been in front from the off but was just starting to show the effects of the gallop he had set. Despite being the guaranteed stayer of the front two it was Alotabottle who was proving strongest. The chestnut edged his nose to the front and never looked back. He had ground it out to get the lead but once there he found another gear. With 100 yards to run, Alotabottle quickened up once more and moved into a length lead. He now had momentum on his side and was thriving over the extra distance. With every stride he went further clear and afforded Sean the opportunity to ease him down before the line. Alotabottle relished this new trip to win by 2 1/2 lengths.
Alotabottle is a fast improving 3yo and with just 9 runs under his belt there could be much more to come from him. It did look like the trip would be ideal but you never know until to try. The gallop was strong and the stiff finish really tested stamina but Alotabottle got the trip standing on his head. He beat some hardened handicappers and decent 3yo’s which means that the handicapper will almost certainly be impressed with this win. It is clear that Alotabottle is thriving at present and is a nice prospect moving forward. With the style of this win it wouldn’t be a surprise to him get a bit further next year and if he can continue to develop, Alotabottle could well develop into a smart handicapper.
There are some horses that just make life easy. Talent is obviously a massive plus but a likeable attitude with a horse who tries their hardest really gives them the best chance of fulfilling their potential. Rouslton Scar has all the traits to be a cracking sprinter, straight forward, gutsy and talented. This was all on show when he went to York and made all in the 6f Coopers Marquees Handicap.
Having learnt his first career win at the start of this season, Roulston Scar has matured and gone from strength to strength. His two defeats have still resulted in 3rd placed efforts and both came over 5f at York, known for being a very quick track. In between those runs Roulston Scar won easily at Pontefract. This level of form has seen the 3yo reach 90 in the handicap but Kevin knew there was an ideal race for him just around the corner.
Stepping back up to 6f looked the correct call for Roulston Scar and when the 6f 3yo only handicap at York came in the entry book it was the obvious race. These contests are always competitive but throughout the year Roulston Scar had either beaten these rivals or had form that worked out in his favour. With that in mind he spearheaded the 10 runner field and would be sent off as the 5-2 fav. Megan Nicholls, who is enjoying a stellar season, had been on board in an apprentice race last time out and kept the ride, looking to build on their fine 3rd place.
Recent weather had taken any firm out of the ground and all the jockeys were reporting it to be absolutely perfect. Megan had been positive last time out but over 5f the pair found a couple of bullets just too quick. It was different this time as Roulston Scar jumped smartly and was straight to the fore. There was only one other potential front runner in the line up but they had decided to hold on to him a little which left Roulston Scar with a free run in front. Megan let the gelding stride on but getting things easily in front, Roulston Scar did not have to over exert himself. It was a relatively sedate pace for a York sprint and Roulston Scar was dictating.
As the majority of the field were looking to take a lead they all converged into an arrow formation. Roulston Scar was at the point of this as his rivals shuffled over to the centre of the track to follow the gelding. Megan was only worried about getting the fractions right and the pair travelled smoothly on the front end. Despite the pace not being breakneck the field did start to get racing by the halfway point. Roulston Scar was enjoying his lead and as he strode on it caused those towards the rear to get the hurry up heading past halfway. They had almost 10 lengths to make up and if that wasn’t hard enough they had a leader who was travelling powerfully.
Roulston Scar was making it look easy as he headed towards the final couple of furlongs. He got all of his rivals on the stretch 2 1/2f from home and was cruising on the bridle for Megan. There was no panic in front and Megan oozed confidence, happily sitting motionless in the saddle. Nothing was getting into the contest and heading into the final 2f the race already looked at the mercy of Roulston Scar.
The 10 runners were well strung out and still Megan had yet to even ask Roulston Scar the smallest of questions. It was well inside the 2f marker that Megan loosened the reins and once she did Roulston Scar kicked on to a couple of lengths lead. Only Pendleton was close to matching the leader and seemed the only rival going forward as they put distance to the rest. That being said he wasn’t cutting into the lead of Roulston Scar and if the gelding mainlined his run then there would be no catching him.
Roulston Scar made the final furlong a precession. It was like a victory lap for the 3yo as he strode out. Megan kept him up to his work but it was all under hands and heels. The pair pulled clear and Pendleton just had no answer. There was daylight to the rest and with 100 yards to go, Megan really was just letting Roulston Scar cruise in. Easing down the gelding crossed the line 1 1/2 lengths in front of Pendleton, with a further 4 1/2 lengths to the rest.
You couldn’t help but be impressed with this performance and Roulston Scar does look like a really promising sprinter. His defeats this year have both come over the minimum trip and whilst he has plenty of speed, a very quick 5f on fast ground may just be a little sharp for him. The 6f is ideal for him and he has such a likeable attitude that you can put him anywhere in a race. Roulston Scar is on a big upward curve and he looks to be getting better with every run. This win was off 90 so he will be looking at a mid 90’s mark now and the top handicaps will be calling. He handles cut in the ground so there will be plenty of options for the rest of the season and it is very exciting to see just how far he can go.
It took British racing a while to appreciate their sprinting division and give the 3yr olds a programme that would strengthen the division. Since 2015 the 3yr olds have had their own races to compete in, with the Commonwealth Cup being the highlight Group 1 finale, before trading blows with their elders for the remainder of the season. This move has seen the younger generation become a dominant force, with four of the last five winners of the Haydock Sprint Cup being 3yr olds. Hello Youmzain continued the domination when making every yard of the running to secure his first Group 1 success and stamp his name onto the roll of honour.
Hello Youmzain was a beast from the moment he walked into the yard, not the typical Kodiac juvenile you will see. His large frame and powerful physique lent itself to a true speedster but it was clear that it would take a while to really get to the bottom of him. The talent was obvious from his first pieces of work and Hello Youmzain transferred all that to the track. After making a winning debut he went down on his second start by a nose, conceding weight to this seasons French 2000 Guineas third San Donato. When he headed to Maissons-Lafitte for the Group 2, Hello Youmzain took another stride forward by dominating the race and winning comfortably. He had shown himself to be a smart prospect but Kevin knew that everything he did was a bonus as Hello Youmzain was far from the finished article.
Given a nice winter break Hello Youmzain came back to training with the classic trail as his target. Kodiac suggested sprinting but his dam Spasha suggested he would get a bit further. There was a simple option to take and that was the 7f Greenham Stakes, using it as trial which would the make the plan for the rest of the season. Hello Youmzain ran great but the extra furlong proved to be too much and he unequivocally told connections that he was a sprinter.
Kevin immediately put the Sandy Lane stakes into the season plan as it was the obvious next step. The race has proved a quality Group 2 whose winners have gone on to top level success and this year there was real hype about the contest. Calyx was unbeaten going into the race and looked upon as the next sprinting superstar. Hello Youmzain proved to be too good and stepped out of the shadows to announce himself as a potential star when powering away to a 3 1/4 length victory, securing his second Group 2 win and setting up a first crack at the top level.
Hello Youmzain went down to Royal Ascot for the Commonwealth Cup, which was a very interesting contest on paper. Ten Sovereigns and Advertise were the Group 1 winners in the line up with Jash, Khaadem and Youmzain looking to build on promise and secure their first top level success. Unfortunately Hello Youmzain got a little fractious in the stalls and missed the beat slightly. Although he worked his way into the contest, the early mistake cost him at the business end but he went down by just 1 3/4 lengths. This run was made even more impressive when Ten Sovereigns and Advertise went on to finish 1st and 2nd in the July Cup before Advertise then won the Prix Maurice De Gheest.
Patience was the order of the day following Ascot and although Kevin gave Hello Youmzain an entry in the Nunthorpe, Haydock was always the plan. Thankfully it worked out ideal and Hello Youmzain would head there to take part in a mouth watering contest. The 3yr olds were all declared to take on the sprinting stalwarts but rain quickly changed the complexion of the race. Both Advertise and Ten Sovereigns were withdrawn due to the soft ground which many felt took the shine off the race. What it needed now was a star performance and Hello Youmzain took centre stage.
James Doyle had been on board for the Greenham and was reunited with the colt for Haydock. Conditions looked perfect for Hello Youmzain and the 3yo was vying for favouritism throughout the day of the race with Dream Of Dreams, 2nd in the Diamond Jubilee, and Khaadem, impressive winner of the Stewards Cup. By the off the trio could not be split and would share favouritism for the Group 1 contest.
James had let Hello Youmzain stride on when raced over 7f and would once again use the colt’s long, powerful stride. Drawn in the centre Hello Youmzain was away well and quickly got into his stride. James was never going to fight the colt and allowed him to get into a nice rhythm. Hello Youmzain did just that and took the lead alongside Invincible Army to cut out the early pace down the centre of the track. His main market rivals were all dropped out and Hello Youmzain just had daylight in front of him for the next 6f.
Stablemate Major Jumbo is a very quick horse and was given chase to Hello Youmzain. Through the first couple of furlongs Jumbo was not quite travelling with his usual vigour which showed the pace that Hello Youmzain was setting. Although James didn’t want his mount doing too much he also didn’t want to knock him off stride so he continued to let Hello Youmzain stride out. With Invincible Army sat on his girths, and being a Group 1, the pace was never going to cease and Hello Youmzain would be doing this the hard way.
Through the first half of the race his rivals were all shuffling and jostling for position, tracking Hello Youmzain. The jockeys seemed happy with the strong gallop and were looking to play their hand late, feeling they could allow the leader to do their work until they came with their challenge. Hello Youmzain didn’t blink an eye and was thriving in front, tracking the same blades of grass he had in the Sandy Lane. Although James was happy where he was he probably was a little wary of racing too soon with the attention of Invincible Army never ceasing. If this was going to be an all the way win then it would be a proper test.
Passing the halfway point the race began to take shape. Those positioned to the rear just began to get wound up, moving through the gears for their challenges. Khaadem edged out towards the stands side whilst Dream of Dreams did like wise on the opposite side. Both had clear runs for their attempt to track down their market rival. James just loosened his reins to get Hello Youmzain striding out and lengthening which the colt happily did on the rain softened ground. Invincible Army was the one who was looking like he was going strongest of all but had yet to take the lead off Hello Youmzain.
Baring down on the 2f marker and the race was truly on. There was an immediate sense that the two in front were still going well and any challenge couldn’t be left too late. Hello Youmzain had moved through the gears and now his pressure caused Invincible Army to come off the bridle to try and match the 3yo. Those in the rear were beginning to move up but the leading pair were taking each other along and opened up a slight break of 2 lengths. Inside the 2f James kicked and Hello Youmzain quickened up, going clear with the company of his long time pursuer. Suddenly the rest looked in a little bit of trouble and every other jockey was really asking for maximum effort. Hello Youmzain’s stable mate Brando was the one making eye-catching progress, weaving through the field, and alongside him was last years winner The Tin Man.
The field were fanned out across the entire track as they moved towards the final furlong. It was still Hello Youmzain and Invincible Army leading the way but it was the 3yo who was in front. The Tin Man was flying down the far side and Brando now got on to the heels of the leading pair but Hello Youmzain was not stopping. Inside the final furlong Hello Youmzain looked to have finally seen off Invincible Army, moving into a clear 3/4 length lead but he was going to get a late thrust from The Tin Man. Brando was trying to come between horses and then towards the stands rail, the German horse Waldpfad was staying on strongly. James had yet to really go for everything and sensing the danger he asked his mount to be brave. Hello Youmzain had no problem with that and quickened again with 100 yards to run. The stride stayed long, the head was down low and the line was in sight. The race was now just between the first two, old head vs young pretender, champion vs potential champion, The Tin Man vs Hello Youmzain. It was youth that was proving the strongest, powerfully galloping out. In the final strides Hello Youmzain just edged left, his usual trip that likes to give a bit more excitement to the finish but he was not stopping. Hitting the line he had secured top honours by 1/2 length, downing a warrior in the Tin Man and announcing himself as a future sprinting star.
Group 1 winners do not come around very often and every one is special. Hello Youmzain looked like he had the potential to reach the highest echelon but doing it is another matter. He was a monster of a 2yr old so was always going to get better with time and even now it looks as though he can only continue to improve. Hello Youmzain is still not the finished article, so the future shines bright. People may try and knock the race with the withdrawals of Advertise and Ten Sovereigns but this was far from a poor race. Hello Youmzain did it the hard way, he set a strong gallop and managed to quicken off that before staying on powerfully at the finish. He is still unexposed with just 7 runs to his name and there could be much more to come from him. Hello Youmzain will only grow and get stronger so he is a very exciting colt. The Champions Sprint looks to be his next run and it will be great to see him take on the best once again. Owner Jaber Abdullah has enjoyed great success throughout his racing career and it is an honour to have a Group 1 winner in these famous colours. It certainly is exciting to have a colt like Hello Youmzain.
The other runners in the race, Brando and Major Jumbo, both races respectable races. Brando is a star and will always give his running, he has been a stalwart of the division. having travelled smoothly it looked like he would come through to challenge his stable mate. He was found to have broken a blood vessel which explains why his run just petered out at the end. This has happened in the past and he should be back, with the Champions Sprint also a possible target. Major Jumbo had a lot to find on paper and he ran a massive race. having improved through the ranks he has proved to be a Group horse although this was a big test. He is ultra consistent and ran great but just couldn’t keep tabs on the winner. He is in the Ayr Gold Cup and also has some Group 3’s so will be heading for a target like that.
The form of the stable has been red hot in the past 6 weeks and it is all credit to the team at home. Days like this will put horse, jockey and trainer in the spotlight but the staff make sure it is possible. To have a horse prepped for a Group 1 having not run almost 3 months shows all the hard work put in at home.
Knocking on the door, running well but not really fulfilling the promise show. This about sums up Ayutthaya who has threatened but not really delivered on the huge potential he has. Varying from 1m to 1m2f Ayutthaya had 3 wins to his name but ultimately not won for over 16 months. This strike rate was improved when he took the 1m2f Watch Racing TV Now Handicap at Haydock.
Last season Ayutthaya won over 1m but then gradually stepped up in trip, culminating in a couple off very good efforts over 1m2f. Having shown he stayed and with a mark in the early 90’s, 2019 looked to be a big year for Ayutthaya. He seemed destine to compete in some top handicaps but unfortunately that isn’t come to fruition. It has been an inconsistent season with some very good efforts being marred by lesser ones.
Ayutthaya has always been a long striding horse so his style of racing was to use that and be positive. In a bid to get a bit more from Ayutthaya, a change in tactics was going to be implemented when the chestnut lined up at Haydock. He would take on 8 rivals in a competitive race and this time would look to just sit off the pace. Tom eaves was booked for the ride.
Jumping spritely Ayutthaya landed almost in front, which is his usual style of running. Tom didn’t move and allowed his rivals to move on. As they did this let Ayutthaya tuck in but the early pace was a bit steady and turned the race into a muddling affair. They were not really sure who wanted to go on and this saw Ayutthaya just take a tug as he tried to go forward. Tom wanted the opposite so he had to restrain his mount, trying hard to anchor the chestnut. After the first couple of furlongs Hot Team went on to set the pace which got the field organised and allowed Ayutthaya to drop into 4th place.
Down the back straight the field went through the first 1/2 mile and the gallop remained sedate. The leader was getting an easy time up front but the field were well bunched up. Ayutthaya travelled well in behind and had settled into a lovely rhythm. Ocala did make a move heading into the left handed bend to sweep down the outer and join the leader. This injected a little more pace into the contest but nothing too strenuous. Swinging around the bend the field were taken into the second half of the race and all 9 runners were within touching distance of the lead.
The pace steadily increased all the way around the bend and by the time the leader entered the straight he had edged into a couple of lengths lead. Ayutthaya had been shuffled back a little but swinging for home he was well positioned to begin his run toward the centre of the track. They were 4f from home but the back markers crept ever closer, which included Ayutthaya who was travelling sweetly in Tom’s hands.
Passing the 3f Hot Team tried to kick away from the front as his jockey began to wind it up. This hand a knock on effect as those in behind followed suit to maintain their positions. Ayutthaya was still cruising down the outer and moved closer whilst still on the bridle. He had the favourite directly next to him but Ayutthaya moved into 3rd spot with ease. Suddenly the raced begin to take shape heading into the final 1/4 mile as the first four begin to edge away.
Tom was cajoling his mount as the chestnut crept closer and closer. The favourite struggled to match Ayutthaya and it was the chestnut who moved into contention full of running. As they hit the 1f marker Ayutthaya had drawn alongside the longtime leader and Tom had yet to ask for everything. With the race within his grasp Tom now got lower in the saddle and asked Ayutthaya to go and put it to bed. He began to pull away and started to lengthen out with every stride. Having been caught flat footed it was the favourite Qarasu who now was coming through to give chase but Ayutthaya was looking strong. With a 3 length break and just 100 yards to run the race was in the bag. The margin did close but Ayutthaya had made the race winning move and held on to win by 1 1/4 lengths, snapping a long losing streak.
Ayutthaya has talent and it is nice to see him put in a performance like this. The change of tactics really suited and that could be the key to him now. He cruised into the race and quickened up nicely but he didn’t too much in front once he grabbed the lead. Ayutthaya is a powerful galloper and does have gears so a strong gallop and big field handicaps would suit. It has been a long time coming but Ayutthaya is still young and if he can go on from this win then he could be a fine prospect for the rest of this season and into next. There are plenty of options coming up for him, especially as he enjoys ease in the ground, and he could head to Ayr for the Gold Cup meeting. Hopefully next year we will be seeing him on a Saturday in the top handicaps.