The first career win is a big moment for any horse, getting off the mark and giving connections the winning feeling. Some do it early, for some it can take time. Dame Gladys only took two goes as she won the 5f Poppy & Pint Lady Bay Fillies’ Novice Median Auction Stakes at Nottingham. In doing so she gave her sire, Mukhadram, his first winner and Kevin earned his 1500 British winner.
Nurse Gladys had produced 2 colts previously and both went into training at Hambleton Lodge. Cyril, winner of 2 races, and Thorndyke were both full of potential but quite raw types who would do better for time. Both were sold before Kevin could see them reach their full potential but knowing the family he was excited when her third offspring arrived late in 2017. Dame Gladys may have had the same pedigree, looking likely to be stamina based, but her physique suggested she could be earlier than her family suggested.
Having shown good speed at home and remaining a strong, powerfully built filly, Dame Gladys told Kevin she was ready to rock and roll early on. This went against everything her pedigree was saying but Kevin sent her to Ripon for a debut run. Missing the break, Gladys raced towards the rear of the field. Having travelled well into the race she then showed a very willing attitude to move through the field and then quicken up. The winner was not for catching, with Gladys giving her a good 7-8 lengths head start, but she stayed on very well to finish a very promising second.
With experience in the bag, Kevin felt that Gladys would take some beating if she improved from her first run. When he declared her for the 5f event at Nottingham it looked like a very similar task at hand as she would take on 12 other fillies. This time there was a bit of form to go on but it looked as though Gladys brought the best of it to the table. Despite this she was vying for favouritism with a newcomer and there was little to separate the leading 5/6 in the market as everyone was saying up who’s form stacked up and which talking newcomers could make a winning start.
Andrew Mullen took the ride and confident his filly knew what to do now, he took a positive approach. Gladys was certainly a lot more professional from the stalls as she jumped on terms but did veer to her left. Midge had to straighten her up and drive her into the bridle which got the filly into her stride. As the field settled down she gained a nice lead and settled down to chase the leader along with a trio of her rivals racing together.
Through the first furlong and the field began to converge into one big group to race more towards the centre. There was plenty of pace from the leader who now held a length lead over Gladys who was hot on her heels. Blazing a trail though the first half of the race and the field were quickly moving past the 3f marker and towards the business end of the race. Although the leader was going great guns still, they were beginning to work in behind to close up and ready themselves for the challenge ahead. Midge was niggling away on Gladys, getting her to lengthen and keep tabs on the leader, sensing he was in the perfect spot to challenge.
As they moved into the final couple of furlongs the lights went out on the leader who quickly capitulated. This left Gladys out in front and now Midge had no choice but to go for home. Daylight was ahead so Dame Gladys would not be getting too much help and almost immediately shrugged off her closest rival. Fortunately there was a couple of fillies coming from out of the pack to press Gladys. Heading to the 1f marker and Capla Rock came through to join the leader whilst The Last Party was staying on strongly down the stands side.
Entering the final furlong and Gladys was fighting hard for the overall lead. She was headed by Capla Rock and now Midge had to try and conjure a second run form her. As he changed his hands she switched leads and this allowed Gladys to find another gear. With a slap of the whip she picked up to regain the advantage. There was only 1/2 furlong to run and Capla Rock was proving a very worthy adversary. Gladys was starting to get on top and Midge just gave her another flick to try and get the last bit extra. As the line loomed so too did The Last Party who was finishing with a real flurry. Dame Gladys was getting stronger with every stride but it looked like she might just be nabbed on the line. Head to the ground she drove for the line and despite a last flourish from The Last Party, Dame Gladys stuck out her neck at the line as the two passed together. It was close but it didn’t take the judge too long to announce Dame Gladys as the winner.
The bare result may not read as impressive as Dame Gladys’ performance was. Having shown plenty of early dash, she then was left out in front a long way from home and had to repel 2/3 different challenges. Midge said that she still showed greeness and will improve again for the experience. In an ideal world it would have been great to get a lead for longer but once the pace setter gave way Midge had no choice but to kick for home. This showed a very good attitude as it can be daunting for juveniles and if she had had help for further then the winning margin could well have been greater. Obviously this time of year always has people asking about one meeting and there is a possibility then Dame Gladys could be given a couple of entries for Royal Ascot. She is a very likeable filly and sees the trip out well so 6f could be ideal for her. There is still plenty of room for improvement and she will just get better with age. The 5f Queen Mary or Windsor Castle could be a target as well as the 6f Albany.
Not only was this a great win for connections but Kevin brought up his 1500 British winner. It is a huge achievement after starting with just 10 very moderate horses. it has been a great journey which has seen the size and quality of the string improve year on year. None of this could have been achieved without the support of all the owners past and present as well as a great team of staff whop work tirelessly to create a winning formula. There are plenty more things left to achieve and hopefully it won’t be too long before the 2000 is brought up.