2019 Season Preview


Flat racing fans are counting down the days until Doncaster kicks off the 2019 turf season and here at Hambleton Lodge there is a buzz around the yard. We already have our first entries in the book for the opening weekend and once it kicks off the new season will quickly kick into gear. It looks as though the team is one of the strongest ever with some big targets muted and the excitement is palpable. Here’s a quick look at what could lie ahead for some of the team in 2019. 


BRANDO

If one horse deserves top billing it is the stable star Brando. Group 1 winner and placed on multiple occasions, he has been a stalwart of the best sprints for the past few seasons. Last year he showed himself to be as good as ever, winning his second Abernant stakes before going on to finish runner up in the Gr2 Duke Of York, Gr1 July Cup and Gr1 Haycock Sprint. This was also accompanied by a fourth in the Champions sprint as well as a very good run in the Gr1 Prix Maurice De Gheest, where the draw played a huge part. Although he didn’t add to his Gr1 win the previous season, he was arguably the most consistent performer in the sprint division. 

His pre season preparations have gone well and he looks as good as ever. He is 7 now but the gelding is still lightly raced for a sprinter with just 30 runs to his name. Brando pretty much maps out his own season and it should follow very closely to last season, barring any hiccups. He will attempt to complete a historic hat-trick in the Gr3 Abernant, a race he has taken for the past 2 years. This sets him up perfectly for a tilt at the Duke of York in May. Brando has been placed in the last 2 runnings of the July Cup and that will be the main target of the summer again which may mean skipping the Royal meeting like last year. His Gr1 win came at Deauville and so following the July cup it’ll be all Gr1 challenges with Prix Maurice Gheest, Haydock Sprint and Champions Sprint all on the radar. 

Brando has proved to be a perennial threat in these highly competitive races and should once again be one of the top contenders. Few of his rivals have moved on to stallion careers so there will be some young pretenders to tackle this year but he has seen them all and continues to thrive. Everyone is looking forward to the big chestnut kickstarting his season down at Newmarket, hopefully making a little bit of history before embarking on another big season. 


CLASSICS

They are the races that are the peak of racing’s summit, the very highest echelon that everyone strives for. Classics are once in a lifetime chance, you only get one crack. The Grey Gatsby will always live long in the memory after his amazing performance in the Prix Du Jockey Club. Where as he went into his classic season under the radar and the only possible contender from Hambleton Lodge, Kevin has a handful of 3yr olds who are aiming for glory. This time though they are not under the radar and many racing fans and pundits have been quick to show their intrigue. 

The Gimcrack has always held a big draw for Kevin and EMARAATY ANA took the race last year to put himself on the map. He always shaped like a smart performer so when he toppled a decent rival on debut the York contest immediately came to mind. Before then he would head to Newbury for a listed contest. Although he settled nicely through the race, he succumbed to his inexperience and just showed signs of greeness. That experience though certainly helped next time out when he controlled the Gimcrack from start to finish. Making all he gave Kevin a fourth win in the race and firmly put himself in the picture for the 2019 Classics. Unfortunately he couldn’t quite repeat that in the Middle Park but it looked clear like 2019 would be his major target. He holds entries in the English and Irish 2000 Guineas as well as the Derby. It was felt that he would be better with time and further so it’s exciting times as the season approaches. Nothing has been decided yet but there are plenty of options for the colt. He is very straight forward so Kevin will be in no rush to make a decision but Ana could have races like the Gr3 Craven, the Guineas or the Dante on his radar. Whatever route is taken, everyone is itching to see him back in action. 

Breaking new ground is nothing new to EAST who went from unknown to potential star in just 6 weeks. She broke the record at Goresbridge Breeze Ups by getting knocked down E315,000. That figure quickly looked like a very fair price once she hit the track. Making a perfect debut at Hamilton, nobody could have predicted just where the filly would go to, especially in a short space of time. Just 11 days later she would be on her travels over the English Channel and stepping into group company when tackling the Gr3 Prix Thomas Byron at Saint-Cloud. She ran away with the contest and in the process booked her ticket to the Breeders Cup. Taking her form to another level again, just 6 weeks after her debut, East went on to finish 2nd in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. With some top European fillies in behind her it was clear that Classics were now a big option in 2019. Obviously the 1000 Guineas is the target although it is yet to be decided just which one. East holds entries in the English and French versions of the race and connections will have to sit down to decide which route to go. Newmarket is a huge lure but East has proved to be very smart when going around a bend, which the French race offers. Whatever route is taken she is a filly of huge potential and everyone is itching to see her back on the racecourse. 

Just like his stablemate, HELLO YOUMZAIN rapidly developed into a very smart performer in a short space of time. After making an impressive, winning debut he went to Haydock attempting to shoulder a 6lb penalty. He ran a big race to narrowly go down to a future Listed winner by just a short head. It proved just how much potential he had and tempted Kevin to go straight for Group company despite the defeat. Hello Youmzain took the step up in grade in his stride and ran away with the Gr2 Criterium de Maissons-Laffitte. Everything he did in his juvenile season was always going to be a bonus so he is a very exciting prospect this season. Although he is by Kodiac, there is plenty of stamina in the Dam’s side. Having shaped as though he would get further, Hello Youmzain will be taking in a Guineas trial in April to see whether or not he can take on the Classic. He is full of potential and if the Guineas looks to be out of his reach due to stamina then a drop back to sprinting would be good back up plan with the Commonwealth Cup on offer. 

QUEEN JOJO will be another who will be trying further than 6f for the first time this year in a bid to head on to the classic trail. Having got off the mark at the second attempt, she was thrown into group company on her third start, tackling the Gr2 Lowther at York. Running with great credit she finished 3rd, showing signs of inexperience towards the end of the race. Unfortunately tacky, testing ground scuppered her on her final start, although she bravely managed to finish 4th in the Gr3 Firth Of Clyde. Having always shaped as though she would get further in time, Jojo is being lined up for a trial. The 7f Gr3 Fred Darling at Newbury looks likely to be the target but Queen Jojo does not hold an entry in any Classics but her performance in the trial could well have connections sitting down for a little discussion.  

GLASS SLIPPERS holds an entry in the Irish 1000 Guineas and will be testing new ground this year when being extended further than the 6f she has mainly run over. She very well could have been off the mark at Goodwood if not for terrible traffic in running, but she made amends on her third run. That was followed up with an impressive performance at Chester, where Slippers took a Conditions event rather cosily. She lined up with her stable mate at Ayr for the Gr3 Firth Of Clyde but her luck again turned bad, getting bumped heavily at the start which left her towards the rear of the field. On tacky ground she did well to finish mid-division. Being by Dream Ahead she looked likely to be better at 3yrs old and could well get further. She will be trying the trip out before any is decided and can hopefully maintain the classic dream. 


SPRINTERS

It is a division that Kevin has always had a strong hand in and Brando won’t be the only stable occupant to be trying to take top honours. There is a nice mixture of top quality handicappers, potential dark horses and a couple of horses bordering on breaking into Group company. 

This time last year HEY JONESY was gearing up for his classic trial. Unfortunately a classic bid was quickly dispelled when he proved that sprinting was certainly going to be his speciality. After his run over 7f in the European Free Handicap, Jonesy was geared towards the Commonwealth Cup. He returned to sprinting at York when trying a new trip of 5f. Showing great speed he went down by just a neck in the Listed Westow Stakes. That kept him on target for the Royal meeting and Jonesy went to run a blinder in the Gr1 contest. Beaten just 2 lengths in to 5th place, after racing on the wing throughout, he proved that he was one of the best in his age group. Unfortunately following that great performance his form dipped a little in his following couple of runs, although one was a big task in the Haydock sprint. There was a small field at Ascot for the Gr3 Bengough stakes which Jonesy hinted at gaining a spark once again but it was his final run in the Listed Wentworth Stakes at Doncaster that got connections excited. Collared right on the line he bounced back to form with a very narrow defeat. Gelded over the winter he will be looking at Pattern company this season and looks a more finished article with another winter on his back. He will get an entry in the Gr2 Duke of York but may well try to find an option before then to start his season. Hopefully he can mix it with the best sprinters around this season and gain a much deserved pattern success. 

MAJOR JUMBO has progressed year on year and gone through the handicap ranks to now border on pattern level. He has been a very consistent performer over the last couple of seasons, slowly moving up through the grades. After making a winning return at the Craven meeting he went from strength to strength throughout 2018. Jumbo moved past the 100 mark and performed admirably in the top handicaps. The big win eluded him despite 6 placed efforts from 7 runs. Finally he gained the compensation for narrow misses through 2018 when signing off with the 6f Coral Sprint Handicap at York, taking his mark to a career high 107. That now has him bordering on pattern company and the grey already has his first target in sight. The 6f Listed Cammidge Stakes on the opening day of the season will be his return. He looks to be a potential group horse and hopefully this can be the ideal stepping stone into the season but with his mark it still leaves the heritage handicaps available too. Jumbo has proved equally adept over 5f/6f so there are plenty of options for the 5 yr old throughout the season. 

At the end of last season STORMBRINGER had his first taste of Listed company and may well be another sprinter who can take the step up from handicaps. He proved to be very unlucky not to gain a win last year after showing good form in the 3yr old division. Starting over 7f, Stormbringer got stronger and better with racing. Despite 3 placed efforts it was when he was dropped to 6f that his form took another step forward. He went agonisingly close in a 3yr old handicap at Newmarket. Returning there he struggled in a muddling race on tacky ground before challenging one of the very best sprinters at York. Limato has been at the top table of the sprinting division for the past few seasons and lined up in the Garrowby Stakes alongside Stormbringer. The pair battled it out, neck and neck until the final 50 yards when Limato finally began to take control and use his experience. Gelded over the winter, Stormbringer looks a stronger physical proposition and could well utilise his mark of 103. The very top handicaps will be in line for him but a foray into pattern company would not be far from the thought process too. 

There is a nice bunch of handicappers that look set to try and emulate their stable mates and hopefully reach he same kind of heights. SAVALAS flew out of the blocks early last year, winning 3 on the bounce and going from 77 to 98. He proved well capable of this mark when finishing 2nd in the top York 3yo handicap, again earning a hike in his mark to 103. Mid season he tailed off but then bounced back to form when finishing 3rd in a conditions event at Beverley. It was a long year for him and the winter has done him well. Having proved himself adept over 5f and 6f the top handicaps will be in line for him with Savalas possibly starting out at Musselburgh in the 5f Borderlescott Conditions Stakes. TOMMY TAYLOR looked set for a big year in 2018 but it didn’t work out like that. He didn’t quite get conditions in his favour much but a change in tactics towards the end of the season then saw him bounce back to a bit of form. Having dropped to 95 he will be starting at Doncaster on the opening day and can hopefully go on to be competitive in the big handicaps, as he has the ability to win one this year. NAADIRR will have the opening day on his radar too as he looks to back up last years win in the 6f Handicap. Having won nicely he went over to Italy for a Gr3 where he finished a good 3rd. Unfortunately he is a bit of a law to himself and the subsequent 3 runs were well below his best. When things fall right he is talented and the big fields suit him so hopefully there’s one or two that can fall his way this year. TERUNTUM STAR has enjoyed a big win when taking the 2017 Coral Sprint but couldn’t emulate that last year. There were some good performances towards the back end of the season which showed he could be competitive off his mark. Now off 93, 5lb lower than when he last won shows that he could be dangerous if he recaptures his best form. Ground is the biggest thing for him so his season will be planned around the weather. 


3 YEAR OLDS

The 3 year old team this year looks like a nice bunch, there were some top juvenile performers who will be looking to continue that upward trajectory. It is a nice mix or ability and distances with some aiming to continue their high class form whilst others are looking to build own promise and ride through the ranks. 

Outside of Group races prizes don’t get much bigger than the sales races and THE GREAT HEIR pocketed £147,540 for his win in the Wetherby’s Racing Bank 2yo Stakes. Progressing run by run he took a huge leap forward when cutting through the field at Doncaster. The extended 6f trip looked like he relished and there was a feeling that he could be just as good over 7f  which he may well be trying this year. He is still on a nice mark considering his form and he could well be starting at Beverley, which will guide where to go throughout the rest of 2019. YOUSINI made an immediate impression when winning his first two starts in good fashion. That was followed by a solid second at Ripon but his final run at the St Leger meeting was one to put a line through, with the ground being too soft for his liking. He has done great over the winter and the 3yo sprint handicaps look likely for him. Patience was the approach taken with SECRET VENTURE following a nice debut win. The ground was never quite right for him through a very hot summer but eventually he had to run and the GoffsUK sales race at York was where he headed. It was a very rough race and he did extremely well to finish as well as he did on just his second run. Following that he went to Ayr and really showed his class. Travelling well in behind, Danny (Tudhope) angled him out ready for a challenge. The colt took off and in a few strides went clear. Unfortunately the ground was far too testing for him to maintain that run but he finished a very good 3rd in the listed race. The turn of foot was very impressive and if he can build on that this season then he could be a smart sprinter to look forward to. PRINCES DES SABLES  just didn’t know how to run a bad race, never finishing outside the places and in the process picking up 4 wins. She went from strength to strength, improving with every run and continued to creep through the ranks. Finishing the season on a mark of 89 still leaves her with plenty of options and there will be races coming thick and fast for the filly. Although she did her winning over 6f there would no issue trying a different trip with her. Early success for CELEBRITY DANCER was maintained through the season. After a smart debut win he picked another success in Novice company making it 2 from 3. The GoffsUK sales race was next and he ran a massive race, finishing fourth. Dancer had helped to force the race and did well to finish as close as he did on unfavourable ground. He is another that looks to have a workable mark being off 90 which opens up plenty of options going forward. He shaped last year as though he could be versatile regarding trip so it will be interesting to see where he starts out but he could be another for top 3yo handicaps. THREE CARD TRICK improved with each run before breaking his maiden at York on his fourth start. Unfortunately dead, tacky ground meant he didn’t round the year off as expected but he looks a different prospect this year. Stronger now he will kick off on 84 and will have lots of races to aim for hopefully progressing into bigger contests throughout the year. MAGICAL SPIRIT made big strides forward in each of his 3 runs, all at Beverley over 5f, signing off with a nice win. Thos performances earned him a mark of 71 and he looks likely to be ready to go early on, holding an entry at Newcastle. He should be a likely improver and will be trying 6f which could help him thrive.  ALOYSIOUS LILIUS has only one win to his name but there is some good form mixed in too. Off a mark of 71 hopefully he can improve this year and build on that sole victory. 

There are some maidens too that we have already seen in action. How RATHBONE is still a maiden is a bit of a head scratcher. He has always shown plenty at home and made a good start to his career, hitting the crossbar on his first 4 starts. He performed well in the sales race and Listed Redcar trophy so his mark of 87 doesn’t look out of his reach. If he builds on last year then he may well develop and tackle the top 3yo sprint handicaps. SENSE OF BELONGING showed promise and tried a couple of trips. The winter break has done him well and it won’t be long before he earns the first win of his career, tackling a mark of 78. AROGO was another who impressed at home but couldn’t quite transfer it to the track. He looked like a big baby and now allowed the time to grow and strengthen he should make his mark, starting off 66. A win for BALDWIN seemed a forgone conclusion after the promise shown but his season petered out. Has shown ability beyond his mark of 70 so hopefully he can progress off that in the sprinting division. WILD HOPE & GEORGE MALLORY are both by the exciting young stallion Kingman and look likely to progress this season. Although they slightly different profiles from the track they bring similar traits and both should improve this year with the likelihood off starting over 7f/1mile and appreciating a bit of a stamina test. SWINGING EDDIE looked like a 3yr old last year so time to strengthen will have helped him. Showed great speed last season and should be getting off the mark starting off just 66. 


OLDER HORSES

You know what you get from your older horses but that doesn’t mean that the improvement is over. Although they have a little more mileage on the clock there are plenty of reasons to think that they can go on from their current form. 

KNIGHTED was in fine fettle last year, improving throughout the season and giving connections plenty to cheer about. He started the season as a maiden but it was obvious that wouldn’t be the case for long. After winning on his second run of the year he unfortunately had a pair of hard and rough races. Thankfully he showed no ill affects of those runs and was back into the winners circle on his next 3 runs, nothing a hat-trick. His final run was a write off as he took on a massive draw bias but he has done well again since last year. Now off 90 he will be starting early and aiming to continue an upward trend. If he can gain early success the some top handicaps over 1 Mile  will be the aim. ARMANDIHAN really looked to enjoy his new trip last year, racing over the middle distances. Although he only gained the 1 success it was a bit of learning curve and he can go on this year again racing over 1m2f and 1m4f, he heads to Doncaster on the opening weekend. Another who enjoyed further was EVERYTHING FOR YOU he improved with every run and was unlucky to only have 1 win to his name, just bumping into some well handicapped horses on more than one occasion. Now 5 yrs old he can make his presence felt in the middle distance division and off 93 he isn’t far from some big races with any further improvement. AYUTTHAYA might not  have finished off the season on a high but he was set a couple of big tasks when stepped up to 1m2f. With a win over 1mile he had a couple of narrow loses before stepping into Listed company. Although he wasn’t quite ready for that he did himself proud and can go on again this year. Trip wise he looks like 1m2f might be his preferred trip but he is a versatile horse. COMMANDER HAN made a huge impression when shedding his maiden tag at Chelmsford before backing that up with a good 2nd off his opening mark of 90. Experimenting with trips he didn’t convert that to the turf but finished the year off with two solid placed efforts back on the AW. His best form is on the artificial surface but it’s too soon to right him off on the turf. MORNING WONDER is now 4 yrs old and has been lightly raced to this point. He secured a good win over 1m4f at the end of last season and he looks likely to be contesting races over this trip. He is still open to improvement and may well go on from his current mark of 92. QUEEN’S SARGENT spent much of last year frustrated due to the blistering summer we enjoyed. He is a horse who loves to get his toe in and whilst he always tries and runs his race, the ground has to feel like a sponge to him. Running off 82 he could be dangerous when returning and getting his conditions. Although 7f looks like the perfect trip, he is another year older so it will interesting to see if he can possibly get a little further now too. He will be out early on and has an entry at Doncaster on the opening weekend of the season. 


JUVENILES

This is the unknown, you are starting with a blank slate and dreaming of the next star. Whilst it is too early to give predictions there are a few 2 yr olds who could well be out early on. We have enjoyed a good, dry winter this year and the juveniles have really progressed well, developing over the last few months physically and mentally. Those that have shown themselves to be earlier types have done their faster pieces of work and it looks as though Kevin will be sending out some runners in the very first 2 yr old races. 

The Brocklesby is the very first juvenile contest but it is not a race that Kevin has ever had much to do with. His last runner would have been around 10 years ago so it was nice to see that he has an entry in this year’s edition. COAST OF DUBAI is a strong, sharp looking son of Elzaam. He has taken all his work in his stride and was bouncing at home showing that he needed another challenge. The natural step was to get him on the track so the Brocklesby was an obvious choice. It will be great to see him begin his career and hopefully he can have a nice introduction to racing. COAST OF ALFUJAIRAH looks to be another who will be out in the opening days of the season holding an entry at Musselburgh. He is by star sprinter Brazen Beau and just like his stablemate he has thrived over the last few weeks. Again he has done everything asked of him so it was just looking for a race for him. The first fillies Novice race in the north comes just over a week into the season at Redcar. There is a possibility that Kevin has 2 fillies who may well be aimed for this race, having shown they are ready for the track. LADY ERIMUS & FLIGHT OF THUNDER are both precocious looking juveniles who are by first season sires. There is still a bit of time until the entries which is a long time for horses but both fillies should be ready to rock and roll early on. 

Whilst it is too soon to be making plans for all of the 2yr olds, with their rates of progression differing to one another, there are some very interesting pedigrees in the ranks. Obviously when you are buying yearlings you have the page and the physical to go on. The family tree does not guarantee anything but it certainly gives you some nice pointers and here are a few that many people will know. There are also a nice few 2yr olds who’s family Kevin knows well.  

Hot Streak was a crack sprinter for the yard, taking the Gr3 Cornwallis at 2yo before winning the Gr2 Temple Stakes at 3yo. He was one of the most exciting sprinters and was regularly seen in the top sprints, taking on the very best. This year is his first crop and he really has stamped his progeny. They have so many of his traits and we are excited to see how our former star gets on in his new career. There are 3 juveniles in our ranks by Hot Streak, BARBARELLA (Hot Streak x Acid) COCK ROBBIN (Hot Streak x Rohesia) HOT STREAK X BLUE MOON. Another family that Kevin knows extremely well is that of Bogart and Blaine. The 1/2 brothers were the first 2 from the dam Lauren Louise and both proved to be classy individuals. When Kevin saw her son this season at Tattersalls there was plenty to remind you of his brothers. BYLINE (Muhaarar x Lauren Louise) is a lovely individual and can hopefully match the achievements of Bogart and Blaine. ZABEEL KING (Frankel x Vital Statistics) went through the sales ring at Goffs. It proved to be perfect timing at the colt was due a huge update just 48 hours later. Being a full brother to East, Kevin had a little bit of inside knowledge when he and Steve Hillen went to buy the colt. Having secured the yearling the pedigree certainly looked a lot better when East went to take the Gr3 Prix Thomas Byron a couple of days later before going on to the Breeders Cup. Hopefully that class has been instilled in her brother. If he slipped under the radar then ARABIAN MAIDEN (New Approach x Spirit Of Dubai) was the sibling who had already proved himself. Emaraaty Ana had secured the Gr2 Gimcrack and Kevin loved his 1/2 sister who looked very similar and had the same fluent, athletic walk. There are a couple of colts who’s pedigree most racing fans will know straight away. OAKENSHIELD (Invincible Spirit x War Effort) is the 1/2 brother to Yousini. Being the first out of the mare, Yousini has proven to a good horse already and there was so much to like about the dam’s second colt. STARS IN THE NIGHT (Starspangledbanner x On The Dark Side) dam looked a smart filly and was tried in pattern company for most of her career. She had plenty of talent but unfortunately wasn’t the easiest to handle. Her progeny doesn’t have that trait but hopefully she has received some of the ability her mother had. ARROW OF GOLD (Galileo x Flèche D’or) is a 1/2 brother to the champion Golden Horn whilst SWITCHMAN (Lawman x Faraday Light) is a full brother to the Classic heroine Just The Judge. 

We are very fortunate to have a lovely bunch of 2 year olds and hopefully they can provide connections with some big days out. They offer a broad array of different types which keeps you excited throughout the year, knowing each month there will be new juveniles hitting the track to start their career. If they can match last year’s group then we will be in for a nice season all round. 


Everyone is excited for the season ahead and hopefully it provides plenty of excitement for all involved. The horses look healthy and happy, ready to kick off their seasons which is always something you like to see. We have some good jockeys to call upon and the team have been working so hard throughout the winter. Without them giving their best we would nowhere near ready and they really are credit to the yard. Enjoy the season ahead and hopefully it’ll be another year to remember for Hambleton Lodge.