Shaladar Continues His Progression

Horses progress at different rates, some are precocious 2 year olds whilst some are slow burners who will take time. The most important factor is to ensure that they fulfil their potential and gain as much success as possible. Shaladar took his time to get off the mark but he has thrived since and earned his third victory when taking the 1m Virgin Bet Apprentice Handicap at Ayr.

The 3yo began the year on a fair mark but early on he was a little frustrating. In hindsight it seems as though It wasn’t the gelding’s fault and a change in trip proved to be the key to success. Alongside cheek-pieces, stepping up to an extended mile Shaladar got off the mark with a late surge at Hamilton. He then finished runner up on three occasions with another win sandwiched in between, flitting between running at Hamilton and Leicester.

It was a fine run of form and suggested that he may even get a touch further. Stepping up to 10f at York, Shaladar failed to stay but it was an experiment that was well worth the effort. Clearly connections would have to drop back to a mile and so Ayr was selected for his next run. Being an apprentice race, the yard’s star apprentice Oisin McSweeney was booked for the ride.

Shaladar had only done his winning by minimal margins do therefore he was still running off a mark in the 70’s, officially 79. His winning tactics were employed again and Oisin settled Shaladar in behind the leaders, sitting in midfield with cover. With a fair gallop being set in front it would give all the field an even crack.

Shaladar travelled very well throughout the contest and the field were well bunched up as they charged around the bend. Oisin had his mount towards the outside so he should have a nice clear run when the time came. Swinging into the home straight the field moved into the final 3f.

With the pace quickening in front, Oisin stalked his rivals and edged closer with every stride. Shaladar moved with purpose as they passed the 2f marker and was looking a big danger. As the the leaders began to come under pressure they were toiling and looking like they were sitting ducks. This was clear when Oisin shook the reins and asked Shaladar to go through with his efforts.

Grabbing the lead moving into the final furlong, Shaladar still looked full of running as he scooted clear. Although he had moved into a dominant position, Shaladar doesn’t win by clear margins and he did give a fellow finisher the chance to close the gap. Always doing enough, Shaladar kept finding for Oisin and strode out to an easy 1/2 length victory.

The 3yo gelding has thrived since racing at a mile and still looks open to further improvement. Shaladar travels well in his races and has a nice finishing turn of foot. It will be interesting to see what the handicapper does to him but a step up in grade looks sure to be next. Shaladar should continue to improve with another year on his back and could be an interesting proposition for next year. Being able to travel strongly could well see him be better when tackling tougher company but he has certainly turned his career around and firmly put it on a steep trajectory.

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Marhaba Proves To Be The Champ

Galileo will go down as one of he greatest, if not the greatest, sire there has ever been. Kevin was lucky enough to train a few of his progeny and Marhaba The Champ is one last chance of the champion. He has been a slow burner but got off the mark in impressive style winning the 1m2f Bardykes Farm Nursery School Handicap at Hamilton.

By a champion and out of a Group winning dam, Marhaba The Champ had the pedigree to suggest class. He wouldn’t be the typical physical you would expect from Galileo but he showed early on that a little stamina test would be suitable. It was clear that time would be beneficial to the colt and he would only make the one appearance as a juvenile.

The winter break did him well and Marhaba The Champ returned with a fair effort over 1m. Although he ran well, it seemed as though something was holding him back and so it proved, with the colt receiving a wind op to help him in the future. The procedure looked to have done the trick as he then went on to finish second when stepping up 1m2f at Ripon. After being carried across the track he did very well to only get beaten by 1 length.

Marhaba The Champ was clearly a decent horse and an opening mark of 84 was probably spot on for the 3yo had shown. Stepping into handicap company for the first time, Marhaba The Champ would tackle 9 rivals at Hamilton. It was an open looking contest but a very competitive one with the unexposed 3yo’s taking on their elders. Kevin Stott headed to Scotland to ride and would give him a perfectly judged ride.

Jumping well, the chestnut was quickly into stride allowing Kevin to move up and be positive. Sat on the leader’s girths, Marhaba The Champ tracked over from his wider draw to race closer to the rail. They almost immediately began racing right handed around the loop and Kevin had his mount perfectly positioned to take the long, swinging bend.

The weather has changed as we head into Autumn and the rain softened ground would dictate where the field would race. As they straightened up and raced downhill, the leader edged off the rail to take the field towards the centre of the track. Following his rival, Kevin maintained his position and continued to take a lead.

Moving into the final 3f the entire field looked to have a chance with the field bunching up as the leader tried to kick on. As the jockeys looked to make a challenge they fanned out across the track and began to look like a cavalry charge. Kevin continued to stalk and was number one in line to challenge the leader.

Weakening in front, the leader succumbed and it was Marhaba The Champ who moved through passing the 2f marker. Kevin was beginning to work and get his mount lengthening. There were plenty of dangers with 1/2 mile to run but Marhaba The Champ had yet to hit top gear.

Holding a length lead heading into the final furlong, he would have the uphill finish to contend with. It was this point where Marhaba The Champ would really switch on the after burners. Stamina kicked in, class kicked in and the 3yo quickened clear. The race was put to bed within a few strides as the chestnut kicked into a couple of lengths lead. He was not for catching and Marhaba The Champ secured his first career win by 2 3/4 lengths.

The colt had shown potential on previous runs but this is where he really came of age. Alway in a great position, once Kevin asked the question the 3yo put the race to bed and showed a nice turn of foot. It looked as though he did so quite easily which shows that there could be plenty more still to come from Marhaba The Champ. The handicapper will assess him again so it will be interesting to see how he sees this performance. Marhaba The Champ is a lovely prospect and could be one for the bigger 1m2f handicaps in the future.

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Double To Start The Gold Cup Meeting

It is one of the racing’s most popular meetings and certainly one that the team at Hambleton Lodge not only enjoy but have had great success at. Competitive racing with historic races and a relaxed atmosphere, the Ayr Gold Cup meeting is a fantastic 3 days. Kevin started it in perfect fashion with two lovely prospects, Chuzzlewit and Hi Royal, winning in good fashion.

Being a full brother to Group 1 winning sire, the bar is set high and before you even step out on to the track there are certain expectations. It was third times the charm as Cuzzlewit broke his maiden when stepping up top 7f and taking the British Stallion Studs EBF Novice Stakes.

The son of Showcasing took a little time to come to hand which was expected with the size of his frame. He had always shown massive amounts of natural ability at home. When he made his debut there was expectation from the punters with him being back into favouritism. Inexperience cost him the win but it was a promising debut showing that a win was waiting.

Despite being a maiden, Kevin decided to run him in the Gimcrack next, which stated how highly regarded the colt was. It was another fine effort and the way he hit the line suggested a step up 7f could suit. So he would line up in the opening race at Ayr and was sent off a short priced favourite. Kevin Stott was on board the colt and would ooze confidence throughout the contest.

The early pace was steady and Cuzzlewit settled just behind the leaders, racing along the rail. He is such a laid back character that he settled fine despite the slow pace. Chasing the leaders, Kevin just allowed his mount to use his stride and find his own rhythm.

Cuzzlewit was always travelling powerfully and turning into the home straight he reminded in the wake of the leaders. The first increase of pace came around 3f out. Kevin remained confident but he was a little stuck with the horses on his outer rallying and keeping the pair locked up.

As they headed to the 2f marker Kevin just began to work a little in an attempt to find a clear run. The race now developed and for a few strides Cuzzlewit was a little outpaced. Kevin angled him out and found daylight, although the new leaders had now kicked away.

There was a decent size margin to overcome but Kevin continued to show confidence and worked away just hands and heels. Heading into the final furlong Cuzzlewit had made up ground but still needed to overcome the leader who had now taken over sole ownership. With every stride Cuzzlewit ate into the deficit and still Kevin just changed his hands and drove him along. Slowly but surely the pair were getting there but up against a tough rival the result still hung in the balance. Cuzzlewit loomed up on the outer in the dying strides but with the momentum he snatched the lead with metres left ti run. Crossing the line he took the win by a head.

It was great to get the win under his belt and Cuzzlewit will now be finished for the season. He is still quite a raw horse and will get better with time and racing. Where his trip lies only time will tell but he did take time to get going here and hit the line strong. He may be a horse to attempt a Guineas trial next year to find out just where his future lies.

The quick fire double was completed a mere 30 minutes later in the following novice race. Another fine prospect was shedding his maiden tag as Hi Royal bolted up in the 1m Phoenix Wealth Solutions EBF Novice Stakes.

Kodiac is the sire to go to for speed and precocious juveniles. You may not expect him to produce an athletic, lean, potential 10f horse but Hi Royal has always looked likely to be that sort. Being out of a Group 1 winning miler, the pedigree is there for Hi Royal and he has certainly show plenty of potential.

The Convivial Maiden at York is one of the top maidens, as you would expect with a big prize pot. It means that it is usually a very good race and produces many good horses. Making his debut in that contest, Hi Royal flew home to finish third showing great promise. Almost immediately Kevin nominated the 1m Novice at Ayr, feeling it would suit the colt.

Hi Royal was a short priced favourite but wouldn’t quite be sent off odds on, starting the contest as the even money fav. The race looked to be between the first three in the market with nothing else in single figure prices. Kevin Stott looked to be positive from stall seven, looking to hopefully get a nice position with a quick start. Hi Royal was away well and this allowed him to track over towards that rail, latching on to the leader’s girths. Able to use his long stride, Hi Royal sat second and got into a nice rhythm form the off.

There was very little danger throughout the whole contest as Hi Royal galloped powerfully. He handled the left handed bend which maintained his position chasing the leader. Once they straightened up for home the leader looked to stretch the field and increased the pace. As the leader did this, Hi Royal covered his move with ease, moving upsides with Kevin motionless. The writing  was on the wall for the leader a long way from home and heading towards the 2f marker, Hi Royal took the lead and this was the last rival he would see.

As Hi Royal took control of the race he pulled through his two market rivals. They were hot on his heels but as they came under pressure, Hi Royal remained hard on the bridle. Holding around a length advantage, Kevin decided to ask his mount to go and win the race. Kicking away over 1 1/2f from home, the race was done and Hi Royal lengthened. Nobody could match the colt’s power and it was game over. Kevin was educating his mount all the time, asking him to continue stretching. Hi Royal utilised his stride to move further and further clear, breaking his rivals spirits. The winning margin could have been anything but it would officially be 2 1/2 lengths once he galloped past the line.

This race did seem a very good opportunity and Hi Royal capitalised in great fashion. Travelling well throughout he managed to quicken up with ease and Kevin Stott felt that he didn’t even get out of third gear. He looks like a colt with a massive future and could well get further next year. This will be his final start of the year and will have a break now to give him time to mature. Hi Royal does look like a really bright prospect and he could be another to take on a classic trial in 2023 to see just where he could get to.

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Belsito Makes Up For Mishap

Improvement from debut run to second run is fairly common with runners coming from Hambleton Lodge. This was expected of Belsito when he lined up at Southwell following a good debut run. An unfortunate saddle slip scuppered any chance he would have in that contest but he made no make mistake at the third try when winning the 5f Redcar Racecourse Celebrates National Racehorse Week Restricted Novice Stakes.

Belsito is the first progeny of Areion to be trained by Kevin. The sire is a prolific sire of winners in his native Germany, where he was a top sprinter himself. The colt looked every inch a speedster himself when he arrived at the yard and it would prove that once he hit the track. Making his debut at Ayr, Belsito showed good speed early before tiring late on to finish mid division, but show plenty of promise.

The race at Southwell looked a good opportunity for Belsito as he would be sent off the 2-1 fav for his second run. The race was over when they swung around the bend and a saddle slippers saw Kevin Stott unable to ride and having to look after himself and the horse. Thankfully no harm was done so the colt could be out quickly, aiming to make up for the unfortunate events.

Having shown natural speed, Belsito was dropping to the minimum trip for the first time. Lining up against 6 rivals, the race was revolving around the two winners in the line up. Belsito was the third pick of the market but would be the recipient of weight due to his rivals winning penalties.

Despite trying the trip for the first time, Belsito showed electric speed to lead from the off. Whilst he spearheaded the field down the centre of the track, one rival took a left hand turn to race along the far side rail. Recent weather has seen the fast ground soften up due to down pours of racing and the going was good to soft.

Up front Belsito was forcing a strong pace alongside his rival and there was no hiding place. The furious gallop would have much of the field under a pressure a long way out. By halfway the race divided up and half of the runners were taken out of contention. Whilst his nearest pursuer came under pressure and weakened, Belsito continued to drive on from the front but would come under a strong challenge from the favourite.

The favourite swept through the lay down a challenge inside the final 2f and Belsito lost his position at the head of affairs. Although they had raced away from each other, the runners now converged towards the far rail. Belsito came under a strong drive and responded by quickening up to throw down a revitalised challenge. The race was between three as they headed into the final furlong but that number would be trimmed again. Belsito and the fav dropped their other rival as they battled it out, eyeball to eyeball. The final 100 yards was a real ding dong, but as the line loomed up, Belsito proved to be the stronger, finding that little bit more to secure the win by a neck.

It was nice to see the colt capture his first win, especially after last time. He showed electric speed from the off but managed to quicken off that and move through the gears. The lead was lost but he didn’t curl up, rather he dug deep to fight back and was powerful at the line. It will be interesting to see what happens next as Belsito showed a lot of natural speed but he did hit the line strong. Possibly a stiff 5f could be his ideal trip but he also looked like the ground was no issue. Belsito will receive a handicap mark now and that should dictate where he turns out next.

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Catch Cunningham Back To Form

York is a special racecourse to the the yard and this season has been another successful one on the Knavesmire so far. Sat second in the race for top trainer award, Catch Cunningham added one more to the tally when he took the 5f Firmament Apprentice Handicap.

Starting this season off a mark of 80, Catch Cunningham looked like the type of sprinter who could improve through the ranks. Now a stronger physical, the gelding began with a good runner up spot on his return. Unfortunately that was as good as it got throughout the summer months, although he only had three runs. With the feeling that ground may be the cause of a small slump, Catch Cunningham waited and then bounced back to some form around Chester.

The Ebor meeting always used to round off with a top 3yo apprentice handicap but sadly it changed to allow all jockeys to ride. It mean that this race was used instead, to give apprentices their chance to shine. It was the obvious race to aim for, especially when the team’s talented apprentice, Oisin McSweeney, could take the ride. The pair had experienced the Knavesmire early in the season and lined up against a similar field of 15 this time around.

Cheek pieces were retained and Catch Cunningham was well away, racing towards the near side. Although showing good speed, he would actually be chasing a fast pace and settle into second place through the early stages. York does lend itself to fast horses but this was a especially strong pace even by the track’s standards.

Many of the field could be seen struggling a long way out and heading past halfway saw a few drop away out of the race. Catch Cunningham travelled sweetly throughout and gave Oisin the time to sit and wait for his challenge. The leader was not letting up in front and was continuing to pour it on despite the break neck speed. Although they had raced near side, the leader and Catch began to edge over to the centre of the track with those on the far side coming into the contest.

Catch Cunningham probably lost at least one position when moved into the final 2f and this is when Oisin began to get to work. He had definitely been shuffled back and was not immediately responding to the urges of his jockey. Still the leader strode on and Catch Cunningham was running out of time as they approached the final furlong. It was here that the 3yo began to find and move through the gears. At the time it may have been a little worrying but Oisin dropped his whip at this stage and was left to a hands and heels approach. Thankfully for connections both horse and jockey were working in unison and really motoring. Catch Cunningham picked up and with 50 yards to run he had moved up to join the long time leader. There was no chance of a response and Catch Cunningham had all the momentum. Snatching the lead he flew past the line to secure a neck victory.

Catch Cunningham has taken a little time to come back to himself this year but it seems as though staying away from quick ground might just be the key to this gelding. He showed a great attitude to pick the winner up late on and a stiffer 5f may be even more suitable. With ground likely to suit he can have a nice Autumn campaign and Catch Cunningham could be still open to more improvement.

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Triple Time Back With A Bang

364 days. That is the time frame waited by connections to see Triple Time back in action. Disappointment at the start of the season turned into anticipation as the months passed and it was worth the wait. Returning in the Group 3 1m Superior Mile at Haydock, Triple Time showed his class to win comfortably at Haydock.

Triple Time slowly improved last year as a juvenile before announcing himself at the same meeting. The son of Frankel began over 6f, before stepping up in to 7f and then finally 1m. It was the latter when he got off the mark, bolting up in a novice and thriving for the stronger stamina test.

Form of his previous races had worked out and the manner in which he won pointed to Triple Time steeping up in grade. Pattern company was next in line and the colt would line up, for the third time in a row, at Haydock for the listed Ascendant Stakes. By taking down a well thought of favourite, in good fashion, Triple Time announced himself as a potential classic contender.

Connections decided against running the colt again and instead gave him the winter break to mature. All roads were to lead to the 2000 Guineas and that plan never changed as the 2022 season came around. Unfortunately fate decided against that and Triple Time suffered a setback in his preparations, following a piece of work at Newmarket. Time was needed and time was given all plans were shelved until the colt made his recovery.

Thankfully he came back into work looking as good as ever and the break had allowed to mature again physically. When plotting his next move the obvious target popped up. Course and distance winner, Group 3 grade the Superior Mile seemed the most logical place to return. Triple Time would be due to line up against 7 rivals for the contest.

Unusually dry weather, for this time of year, saw the ground remain very quick. This had a huge effect on the field as half the runners were withdrawn due to ground. With the 3 most fancied runners coming out of the contest, Triple Time would now be sent off the favourite. Not that it mattered to connections who were eager to see the colt back on course. Regular retained rider, Andrea Atzeni was in the saddle.

Triple Time immediately showed the race rust that was there to be expected. Slowly away, the colt then took a keen hold to attach on to the back of his 3 rivals. Andrea was having a tough time trying to settle his mount as jockey and horse were fighting one another. All of the pent up freshness was coming out as Triple Time enthusiastically wanted to get on with things.

Andrea did a great job through the early stages and the track would soon help him out. There was a good pace from the leader who took them into the long left handed bend. This gave Triple Time something else to think about and he began to drop his head a little rather than fight.

Swinging off the bend and into the home straight, half of the race was run. Triple Time now travelled a little sweeter for Andrea and the pair edged wide the field, coming towards the centre. There was still a long way to run but Triple Time laid down a marker a long way from home. Making smooth headway he swept through to press the leader causing his rivals to come under pressure and match the fav. Andrea was happy to let hime do that as the colt was not over racing, despite there still being 3f to go.

Race fitness counts for so much and you could sense that Andrea was waiting to press the button due to this. Now alongside the leader moving into the final 2f, Triple Time seemed like he just need the litmus paper lighting. Around about 1 1/2 furlongs out it was time to go and Andrea got lower into his drive. Triple Time responded by taking the lead but he would have to work a little harder to put the race to bed. He was chased through as they passed the 1f pole and Triple Time’s advantage did dwindle. It looked as though he got a second wind around 150 yards from home and it was here that he really began to stretch out. Galloping through the line, Triple Time made a successful return to action to win the Group 3 by 1 1/2 lengths.

When the declarations came out there was very little pressure on Triple Time and it was just great to get him back. Once the fancied runners came out, the pressure did increase a little on him and thankfully he delivered. Triple Time did everything wrong in this contest but still won decisively. Having been too fresh early on he did well to quicken up like he did and that is a sign of his ability. Whatever there result was on this race he was always going to come on for the run so there could be so much more to come. Triple Time obviously has hug potential and will be looking for another step up in grade next time. The Prix Daniel Wilderstein could be his next race at the Arc meeting.

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Eeh Bah Gum Enjoying A Revival

There are certain stories that can give you a really nice feeling to be part of. One of those is when you see a horse thrive and get back to their best showing that they are enjoying their racing. Eeh Bah Gum had tumbled down the weights in recent years but is back, getting ever closer to his best. The 7yo secured his third win of the season when showing blistering speed in the 5f Oakmere Homes Handicap at Haydock.

Arriving at Hambleton Lodge at the start of 2022, Eeh Bah Gum was on a 3 1/2 year losing streak, dropping to a mark of 57. Obviously there had been issues and a lack of confidence from the gelding, so Kevin was tasked with trying to start a revival. Slowly but surely, Eeh Bah Gum began to find this confidence and his form reflected that. Once he gained his long overdue win in June, Eeh Bah Gum has really found a purple patch.

Oisin McSweeney has struck up a great relationship with the 7yo, partnering him for both his wins and maintained the partnership for Haydock. Despite winning last time out, the 7lb rise seemed to put off the punters for this competitive handicap and Eeh Bah Gum was around the 9/1 mark.

It is never easy to judge exactly where the pace will develop in these races as it is a calvary charge over this distance. Eeh Bah Gum was well away and as always Oisin just dropped his hands, allowing the gelding to find his own rhythm. It was the near side where the early pace came from and they quickly opened up a lead, stretching out the field. Eeh Bah Gum was stuck out on the wing down the far side, sitting in mid division through the first half of the race.

Something that has always been important to Eeh Bah Gum is ground and the very quick going was ideal for him. Travelling well throughout the first half of the race, he pulled himself to the fore with ease. There was no let up but as Eeh Bah Gum began to get involved, some of his rivals were more inclined to try and race nearer to him. They were spread across the track passing the 2f marker but it was Gum who looked to be going best of all.

Oisin offered himself the chance to look across to check his progress and he would have liked what he saw. Now he loosened the reins and his mount responded by quickening up. Eeh Bah Gum kicked clear on his side and it was the favourite who would give chase down the near side.

Holding around a length lead, Eeh Bah Gum entered the final furlong with eyes for the winning post. The leading pair pulled away from the rest and it looked as though the finish would be decided by these two. Eeh Bah Gum was skipping across the ground and was always holding the favourite. His rival would have one last go but would need a huge effort to quicken past. That never happened and Eeh Bah Gum matched his rival to stride out and gain a third success of the season by 1/2 length.

Eeh Bah Gum has really thrived in recent months and it is fantastic for him to repay the patience shown by owners Nick and Lena Rhodes. Ground is very important for the gelding and he will continue to run until the rain kicks in. Having won off 71, Eeh Bah Gum will be reassessed once more and it will be interesting to see how the handicapper sees this patch of form. Having shown a liking for Musselburgh, the 7yo may make a quick reappearance with the Scottish track offering a £25,000 handicap.

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Invisible Friend Takes Advantage

This season has seen quite a few, very short priced favourites, getting turned over. Proof that there is not such thing as a certainty, a 1-16 shot became one of the shortest priced favs to be beaten. Invisible Friend was only seeing the race track for the second time and she ensured that there were no blushes from connections as she bolted up in the 1m1f Welton Novice Stakes at Carlisle.

Having made a belated debut at Haydock, the daughter of Sea The Stars made a big impression finishing third. The form of that novice looked strong and has been boosted since. Invisible Friend had loomed up dangerously in that contest before getting a little tired and showing inexperience in the latter stages. She had run a race full of promise but also shaped as though a longer trip may be more beneficial.

Although the options were far from plentiful, Kevin managed to find a very good opportunity for the 3yo filly. With just three lining up for the contest, Invisible Friend would be sent off the 2-9 favourite. Kevin Stott took the ride and would keep things as simple as possible.

With just a trio of runners there was very little drama in the race. Having jumped well, Invisible Friend was sent to the front and barely saw her rivals. Confident the trip would be no issue, Kevin allowed his mount stride on and set an even gallop. Her two rivals would take a lead and let the favourite dictate.

The race would go pretty much as expected but there were areas of improvement for the filly. She ran very green still and would become unbalanced racing around the bend. Carlisle is not the most straight forward track and this can happen with inexperienced horses.

Kevin was trying to educate his filly throughout and gave her a shake up form the 3f pole. Again, Invisible Friend was unsure of what to do and Stott had to work to keep her moving forward. Everything was in hand and there was never any danger. Both Invisible Friend and her rival would wander around in the latter stages but it was the favourite who had plenty of running left. Despite not being 100% sure, Invisible Friend would stride out in the final furlong when the penny began to drop. Going clear, she would put 5 lengths between herself and the runner up.

Invisible Friend has a lovely pedigree and with her future breeding career, it was important to get the first win under her belt. Obviously she is a work in progress and will learn again for this experience. The best of Invisible Friend will be next year again when she has more time to fill out and mature. Going forward connections will have to check what options there are but the filly looks like she has plenty of talent. It may be a quiet enough campaign this season with next year being Invisible Friend’s main plan.

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The Ebor Kicks Off In Winning Style Thanks To Beregrac

York is important to all northern trainers and the Ebor Festival brings top class racing to Yorkshire. Four days of superb action where a winner is hard to come by but is welcomed in with celebrations. Owners Peter Tingey and Angie Bailey have always looked to enjoy winners at York and 9 years on from Bogart winning the 5 1/2f Sky Bet and Symphony Group Handicap, Bergerac took the opener with a brave performance.

The 4yr old son of Kodi Bear had already shown a liking for the Knavesmire when he won a competitive 3yo handicap there last year. Having started this year in good form, where he finished placed on his opening 3 runs, Bergerac looked set for a big season. Unfortunately some poor draws, as well as underwhelming performances, saw some disappointing runs in the mid season. It was once the blinkers were fitted that Bergerac hit back and regained his form, gaining his first win of the year last time out. He is not an un-genuine horse but the headgear really helped him concentrate throughout the race.

Clearly the sprinter was going to be heading to York but the choice of race may have been a surprise. Connections opted for the 5 1/2f race rather than the 6f he has been running over for the majority of his career. Lining up against 21 rivals, some of whom are real speedball sprinters, it would be interesting to see how Bergerac would race. Tom Eaves has enjoyed great success in the yellow and purple silks, donning them once again at York as he took the leg up. Drawn on the far side, Bergerac shot out of the stalls, jumping that quickly he landed in front and held a length advantage from the off. Tom planned to keep it simple and it seemed as though he had a partner willing to do just that.

Although he has always been a quick horse, it was surprising to see him leading the 22 runners over  this trip. Racing toward the far rail, the gelding was showing good speed and travelled full of enthusiasm. They were down past halfway in a flash and Tom was always happy letting his mount run nicely in his hands. Stamina was always going to be a positive for Bergerac so now he needed to show that he could quicken up from this pace. Baring down on the 2f marker, Bergerac was the last one to come off the bridle and

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Captain Winters Follows In His Brother’s Footsteps

Reem Three has been a wonderful mare for owner Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum. Not only has she produced winners but the majority of her offspring have been mainstays in pattern company. Captain Winters followed his siblings by maintaining his dam’s winning stats when he got off the mark in the 7f Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Stakes at Thirsk.

Triple Time was one of last season’s stand out juveniles and 1/2 brother followed a very similar path to his first win. Captain Winters began his career over 6f, running respectably before then going on to be runner up when stepping up to 7f on his second start. Just like his brother, Captain Winters proved it was third time the charm but his win came over a furlong shorter.

Having run to a fair standard in his first two starts, Captain Winters would go off the 2/1 fav. Kevin Stott was in the saddle as the pair would take on 10 rivals at their local track. Chasing the leaders from the off, Captain Winters was settled around mid division as they quickly headed through the first furlong, taking the field into the bend. The sweeping bend saw the field through the first half of the race with the pace being a fair one. Captain Winters travelled smoothly just on the outer as they headed into the straight. Thirsk offers plenty of time to challenge so turning for home there was still over half the race left to run.

Angled out, Kevin had his mount in clear daylight passing the 3f marker as his colt moved up travelling well. The race heated up with the leaders trying to quicken and this saw Stott nudge his mount to get him lengthening. Just over 2f from home Captain Winters jinked to his left, subsequently bumping his rival but Kevin quickly adjusted the colt. Now he got into his drive to try and regain the momentum lost and the pair moved through to challenge for the lead.

Captain Winters shifted through the gears and was making good headway down the outer as he came through to vie for the lead.  Sticking his nose to the fore, Captain Winters took the advantage but whilst doing so he began to edge left. He lugged into his rival which again gave Stott some readjustment work to do and the pair had the lead heading inside the final furlong. Despite his experience, Captain Winters was rolling around under pressure, which Kevin continually had to counter. His market rival was proving very tough and wasn’t being helped by Captain Winters. The final m1/2 furlong was a battle to the line but the closer they got, the stronger Captain Winters was proving to be. Edging the lead in the final strides he dived for the line, taking the win by a hard earned head victory.

Having improved with each run, it was great to see Captain Winters get his head in front. There was a lengthy stewards enquiry and it was a 50/50 call. Despite this being his third run, it was clear that Captain Winters still has a little bit to learn and there could be more to come from the colt. He is bred to get better with time and racing so a step up in grade could now be on the agenda. His brother, Triple Time, won the listed Ascendant stakes at Haydock and Captain Winters could follow the same path moving forward.

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