The 2018 flat season is underway but anyone would be forgiven for forgetting that as Mother Nature has prevented many tracks from hosting their opening fixtures. Rain and more rain seems to be on the menu throughout the country which left many tracks under water. Frustration is felt by all trainers as their teams are ready to roll but unable to take the wraps of their charges it has been a case of reverting back to the trusted all-weather. Kevin has enjoyed a great start to the season and has been having quite a few runners on the artificial surface to ensure he can get a run into them. Jungle Room continued his progression and the good form of the yard when he scythed through the field to win on handicap debut in the 7f Contact Us At fclgf.com Handicap at Wolverhampton.
Breeze up season is upon us now and with Ascot and GoffsUK having held their sale, many of racing top figures have been sourcing juvenile stars. It was this time last year that Kevin first saw Jungle Room, who was being sold at the Tattersalls Craven Breeze Up. The son of violence produced a great breeze, impressing on the clock and in the way he moved down the Newmarket straight. Once Kevin viewed him he was taken, the big, powerful son of Violence was just the type of horse that ticked all the boxes. He obviously took the eye of a few at Newmarket with Steve Hillen and Kevin forking out £220,000 for the colt.
Jungle Room proved that his breeze was no fluke and continued to impress once back at Hambleton Lodge. His home work was impressive and really took the eye. With this and his powerful physique it seemed as though Jungle Room may just be ahead of the curve and so he made his debut on the track in early July. Doncaster was first port of call where he lined up in a typically competitive novice race. Having dwelt from the stalls he then travelled well through the contest. Unfortunately he couldn’t really get into the contest due to inexperience but did make up ground that he lost at the start to finish mid division, showing promise. Connections could see the ability and it was hoped that the experience gained would really help him moving forward. It was only 17 days later when he returned to the track at Ayr and this time raced the opposite way. Jumping well he was prominent from the start, showing good speed. Looking like he was going to have a big say, Jungle Room then weakened in the final furlong to finish in fourth place. It was another decent run but Kevin learnt a lot about the horse in that race and the following week. Despite his huge frame, it became clear that Jungle Room had plenty of filling out to do and with Kevin feeling he was still a weak, raw horse it was decided to put him away for the year.
Owners Matt and Lauren Morgan have been big supporters of the yard in recent years and were happy to play the waiting game despite the price tag Jungle Room had commanded. Whilst his owners enjoyed the National Hunt season, which proved successful for them, Jungle Room continued his growth and matured with each passing week. Once he was back into full training it was clear that he had not lost his ability. Gelded over the winter, Jungle Room now carried himself better and really looked more refined, although still packed full of muscle. With him impressing at home but only two runs to his name, Kevin was keen to get Jungle Room out on the track as early as possible. With limited races on turf early on and poor ground, Chelmsford was the track selected for him to return. Slowly away, Jungle gave away a good chunk of ground which he could not reel back. He travelled well but when the leaders quickened up he just couldn’t match it but did stay on in the final furlong to finish strongest and show huge promise.
Kevin learnt plenty about Jungle on his return and it was felt that a step up to 7f was required. Now eligible for handicaps with a mark of 68, race selection was rather limited due to weather conditions so Wolverhampton was chosen. With form on the artificial surface it seemed like the best option rather than risk missing a few engagements which many trainers are being faced with currently. With 11 declared for the race it looked as though Jungle Room would have a leading chance, looking the most unexposed out of the field. Kevin Stott was booked for the ride and with only Faadhel having a similar profile, Jungle Room was fancied by many following his pleasing return. As he looked open to the most improvement, Jungle was well backed and sent of the 7/4 fav.
Experience told immediately as Jungle Room jumped well and was on level terms from the off. From stall 7 he was pitched towards the centre of the field and Kevin would need to make his mind up where he wanted to position Jungle Room. There was plenty of pace on early and with most of this coming from the inside draws, Kevin tucked in around mid-division, tracking his market rival Faadhel. This strong pace stretched the 11 runners which allowed Jungle to only race a couple horse widths wide and settle in a nice rhythm. With the field settling into their positions there was a move from around the outside by Cloud Eight who went to tackle the leader. This ensured the pace picked up a little more as Our Man In Havana was also forcing the issue.
Through the first couple of furlongs the field moved into the first bend with the leading trio tackling one another 3 wide. As they straightened up down the back straight, Danny Tudhope took a pull allowing Cloud Eight and Our Man In Havana to kick on and continue their tussle. The pair opened up a few lengths advantage to the rest of the field which left Jungle Room a good 8-9 lengths off the pair. Kevin was happy with his position and jungle travelled well as they galloped along the back straight. It did seem as though the pace would cost the leaders who looked as though they were going too hard in front and this is what Kevin was relying on. Despite the advantage growing in front, the rest of the field didn’t panic and the market leaders still travelled together.
Hitting the home bend and now the leaders kicked on trying to make the best of their way home. With this injection of more pace, Kevin just niggled away to try and get Jungle to lengthen. It was far from full work and it was to ensure that Jungle was shifting through the gears ready for his final onslaught. Rounding the bend and the field now began to hunt down the leading pair. Although still holding a strong advantage in front, the leaders were already laying down their challenge and for the first time began to look vulnerable with well over 2f still to run.
Straightening up for home Kevin had got Jungle towards top gear and as the field swung off the bend they spread out in pursuit of the leaders. Kevin angled more towards the inside hoping for a gap and now started to ask for a challenging run from Jungle. Now the leaders looked like sitting ducks with the field closing in on them with every stride. It was an ominous sight with 1 1/2f to run and especially as Jungle Room was starting to eat into the ground. He has the leaders in his sights and Kevin picked the line he wanted. Unfortunately Jungle Room wasn’t too sure about whether he wanted to through the gap that was offered and it did look a little tight. Kevin knew he had plenty of horse underneath him but if he were to get stopped it would knock all of his momentum. Kevin did try to win over his mount but Jungle wasn’t having any of it so a change of direction was needed. There was a wide open space down the inside but this would require a longer detour. Kevin chose a gap just to his left, which was almost as tight but to Jungle Room it was more enticing. Sticking his head between the long time leaders he know quickened through and in a couple of strides grabbed the lead.
Other rivals were staying on well but nobody could match the speed that Jungle Room burst through with. He put the race to bed immediately and with nobody closing in at the same pace he went clear. The lead suddenly stretched to 3-4 lengths and Kevin knew he had no dangers around. Faadhel was staying on well but he was only going to gain 2nd. Kevin could see the line and started to ease down, allowing Faadhel the opportunity to close the gap. By the line the margin of victory had been halved to 2 lengths but Jungle Room crossed almost at a canter, showing the dominance he had over his rivals.
Win number one is always satisfying and it can be even more so when owners have had to be patient. Matt and Lauren Morgan have enjoyed some big successes but they are big investors in both codes of racing and deserve as much as they get. Last year at the Breeze ups it would have been easy to dream of Royal Ascot but as every racing person knows, there are no rules when buying horses. Thankfully Jungle Room has thrived with time and looks like a 3yr old who could really progress from his current mark. Obviously the handicapper will adjust him for this impressive win but there does seem to be plenty of improvement still to come. It will be interesting to see what he can do once back on turf and which trip really suits him. Impressive hear he saw the trip out well but the turf tracks do require different demands. Whatever path is chosen, Jungle Room is certainly a horse to follow.