As another flat turf season comes to a close, it’s time to look back and reflect on what happened during 2017. Every year has it’s ups and downs and although the yard has reached the heights of Group 1 success before, nobody had experience of the very lows that occurred this season. Fortunately through hard work, determination and a great team performance the horses fired back and again topped £1 million in prize money with a Group 1 winner and plenty more success stories. What may have been missed this year could stand the yard in good stead next, as there looks to be a good, young team building for 2018.
Before any talk of success the focus of much of the season was the 5 weeks period through June that saw the yard closed for racing. Unfortunately after a horse passed away due to Equine Herpes, the BHA had no option but to stop any movement of horses from Hambleton Lodge. Obviously this meant that no racing could take place and restricted the yard until the necessary tests had been done. June is one of, if not the busiest month of the flat season and has the highlight of the season in Royal Ascot. It was massive blow to be unable to partake in any race meetings but the health and welfare of our, and other racehorses was number one priority. Our vet Peter Hynes and the BHA were fantastic in quickly identifying the problem and then explaining the processes required to eradicate any other issues from that point. Our owners were unbelievably understanding and supported Kevin from the moment the issue arose. Above all the staff were amazing throughout and everyone played a huge role in ensuring the problem did not spread by taking all the particular and necessary precautions whilst working. It was a stressful time for all but they worked tirelessly and with enthusiasm to make sure we were back up and running as quickly as possible. Thankfully all the hard work paid off and the problem did not spread which meant the yard were back racing in the quickest time possible.
As in 2016 the star of the year was BRANDO who progressed to another level this season to become a Group 1 staple in the sprinting division. The starting point of his season was a race that Kevin has made his own, winning it 3 times out of the last 4 seasons, with the only 2016 not going his way as he didn’t have a runner. The Group 3 Abernant stakes at Newmarket’s Craven meeting is an ideal starting point for the sprinters and Brando headed into the event as the hot even money favourite. His rivals couldn’t match him on handicap ratings and Brando proved why. With Ornate setting a blistering pace, Tom (Eaves) settled Brando well off the pace. With the rest of the field beaten by the 2f marker, Ornate poured it on in front leaving Brando with 3 lengths deficit to make up in the final furlong. Tom was extremely confident and he was right to be as the pair quickened up, swept past the leader and moved clear. This was Brando’s second group win and the length victory had everyone excited for the season ahead. The performance in the Abernant meant Brando went in to the Duke Of York Stakes as the 5-2f and connections were confident. Unfortunately a problem that has arisen before once again scuppered the gelding. Never travelling he was beaten way out and quickly dismounted after the line. Brando was found to have broken a blood vessel which gave him no chance of performing. Fortunately it isn’t a serious problem so it was back to the season’s plan.
Royal Ascot was meant to be the next start but with the yard closure, Pete and Angie would have to wait for the July Cup before tackling a Group 1 with Brando. The 6f event is usually the highlight of the sprint programme as 3yr old 6f horses take on their elders for the first time. It was a top class race and Brando ran a huge race. Being settled towards the rear, Brando made up a lot of ground to cut through the field and finish a close third. He showed he was back to his best and so it was on to France next.
The 6 1/2f Prix Maurice De Gheest at Deauville always attracts a big British & Irish contingent and it was Caravaggio who was making the headlines. After losing his unbeaten record he was 8-13f to set the record straight. Brando had passed his rival towards the line in the July Cup so there was little separating the pair, although the punters disagreed with Brando being as big as 9-1. From a long way out it was clear that the chestnut was to be the leading star.
With Signs Of Blessing setting a strong pace from the start, Tom rode was supreme confidence settling Brando towards mid division. He was enjoying the strong gallop and travelled well throughout the first half of the race. It was clear from halfway that the favourite was struggling and it was by this point that Brando began to move up closer to the front. As his rivals came off the bridle to throw down their challenge, Tom was sat with plenty of horse beneath him and was even taking a pull to ensure he didn’t get to the front too soon. Still hard on the bridle 2f from home, Brando moved through between horses to tag on to the leader waiting to throw down his challenge. Angling out into the clear and still cantering, Tom couldn’t wait any longer and he went for home with just over 1f to run. Brando quickened up well to burst clear and although Acclaim (future Gr 1 winner) laid down a big challenge, Brando was always holding him with plenty left in the tank. It was a very impressive performance and a first Group 1 success for the 5 year old.
Although Brando didn’t match that performance again in three subsequent starts there were excuses. The Haydock Sprint Cup followed where he was seen as the main danger to Harry Angel. Unfortunately he wasn’t himself that day and it could be that a previous bad experience played on his mind. Kevin then experimented with a run in the 7f Prix Foret. Although shaping as though he would stay, the trip and ground just didn’t suit and proved that Brando just didn’t stay. Finally a run in the 6f Champions Sprint, which he finished third in in 2016, provided a better run than the bare result. Having been settled in his usual hold up position, he couldn’t quite show the acceleration needed which was attributed to the very soft ground and long season. It was really a stellar year from the yard’s flag bearer and he will be back next season to have another crack at the sprinting division. We have learnt so much more about the chestnut and now he has earned the right to search for the best races around. There are some top sprints on foreign soil that could well be in the plan as well as the Group 1 events here.
There were a couple of real comebacks this season as a couple of older performers returned to their best. FLAMING SPEAR has always been held in the highest regard and he started to show why very early on in the year. Having bounced back to winning ways in December, Spear then produced one of the runs of the year when scything through the field at Newcastle in January. Racing throughout the contest at the rear of the field, Robert Winston couldn’t not find a passage as the race developed and was made to sit and suffer whilst seeing a wall of horses in front of him. The gap finally came with just under a furlong to run but it looked too late. With horse and jockey showing great determination, Spear quickened up flying down the outside to nab the spoils on the line.
Following that smart performance Kevin felt a small break would be ideal and train the chestnut for the Royal Meeting at Ascot. Again this plan was mooted by circumstances so it wasn’t until July when we saw Spear back on the track in the International Handicap at Ascot. He showed his usual high cruising speed and travelled into the contest with ease. looking like a big danger he just could pick up but stayed on to finish ninth. It was down to his enforced break that he just didn’t quite have the race sharpness come the business end of the race. He had shown that he could not only act in a top race but also he was as effective on the turf.
The Ebor meeting at York was next for Spear and he really showed his class in the Clipper Logistics Handicap. Settled closer to the pace than normal, Spear tracked the leaders with supreme confidence and ease throughout the contest. Robert Winston was always keen to be positive due the track’s nature and it was the ideal tactic. Turning for home Spear had the leaders lined up i his sights and was the one who travelled powerfully towards the final couple of furlongs. With daylight in front, Robert asked his mount passing the 2f marker and Spear quickened up well down the outside. Kicking clear there was nothing to stop the chestnut and he powered away to secure the win and a career best.
With a mark of 107 he subsequently went on to try Group 3 class. Unfortunately the ground at Haydock turned very heavy and a tactical affair just didn’t allow Spear to perform to his best. Another handicap run at Ascot followed but it was a below par performance so Kevin decided that that would be it for the year. It was great to get the chestnut back on track this year and he is still lightly raced so there could be further improvement from him next season. Rated 105 he would certainly get an invite to race in Dubai and this may be an option for connections, with the racing suited to Flaming Spear. If not he will be one for the big handicaps next year and hopefully he may take the next step up in to pattern company.
TERUNTUM STAR is another classy individual who’s form does not truly match his ability. With niggling little problems for the last couple of seasons he really has been limited with the number of runs. Having made a winning return last season, taking a Newmarket handicap, he never had a clear run in his training and this quality sprinter could never get to the peak of his powers, ready for the top sprints. Thankfully a combination of hard work by the farrier and patience from connections has allowed Teruntum to finally show his true quality.
It did take until July to see Teruntum out on the track, but this was due to the fact Kevin took his time with him, getting a clear run for the first time in 3 years. Running at Newcastle, Teruntum showed plenty of speed up to the 2f marker. At this point the affects of not racing took it’s toll and he weakened out of it. He showed plenty of speed and enthusiasm so it was a pleasing return to action. With some of the race rust removed Kevin turned him out quite quickly, having had an invigorated Teruntum bouncing since his run. He headed to York and again showed a similar racing style, forcing the pace. This time he maintained his run for a lot longer before weakening in the last 150 yards. Again he showed signs of race rust but had taken a massive step forward and Kevin was sensing he was almost back to the peak of his powers.
With Teruntum’s form only just starting to take an upward turn, he had dropped to a mark of 91. Kevin was aiming him at the top sprints but his mark would determine whether or not he could run. The Great St Wilfred is Ripon’s biggest race of the season and it was here that Teruntum was aimed at. The Silver Trophy, consolation race, was what he would have to settle for after missing out by just 2lbs. Obviously it would have been nice to run in the main event, as Teruntum was in amazing form going into the race, but even though he would run in the consolation it was by no means a much easier race. After jumping well, once again, he was quickly to the forefront and helped to cut out the running in the stands side group. With a 50/50 split in the field there was little to separate the groups through the early stages and it was the chestnut who was pushing the pace throughout. Moving down into the final couple of furlongs Teruntum took the overall lead and began to move clear of his nearest rivals. This also coincided with the stands side group starting to dominate and it was Teruntum who had kicked into a good lead. The 5 yr old held a couple of lengths advantage and he was looking stronger than ever as he continued to power towards the line. Only Red Pike could come out of the pack to lay down a challenge and it was a strong one. Eating into the lead with every stride he moved alongside Teruntum in the dying strides. Teruntum still had enough in the tank and responded well finding a little bit more in reserve and battling away to win by a neck.
Following his win the handicapper reassessed Teruntum’s handicap mark, raising it to 98. This was perfect as it now meant he would be high enough to get into the Ayr Gold Cup. Teruntum made the cut and received a draw that Kevin was delighted with but mother nature stepped in and rain meant that the entire Ayr meeting was called off. Disappointed Kevin would have to look elsewhere. York was the obvious call with the Coral Sprint providing a top class race and excellent prize money. As in all his races this season, Teruntum jumped well and was prominent from the outset. Never far away he was helping push the pace which was a strong one. Travelling strongly through the contest they were soon past halfway. With his mount going well Kevin (Stott) found himself edging towards the lead. The race was heating up and they began to race just after the halfway mark. Kevin decided he had to take advantage of his rivals starting to crack and sent Teruntum into the lead. As he quickened up he moved to the lead and made his way home. There were still plenty of chances and there were challenges coming from all round. At the 1f marker Growl came through looking like he was going to have a big say. At this instance Teruntum and Growl moved closer together, to the point that they collided. The bump could have had a big say but it seemed to spur Teruntum on. Kevin gathered up his mount, the chestnut changed legs and the pair accelerated clear. The burst of pace gave Teruntum clear daylight to the rest as he powered away. There was a late run from the rear of the field by Spring Loaded but this was only going to be for consolation as Teruntum Star had put the race to bed. He won by 1 3/4 lengths, a decisive win in a top sprint handicap. Following that performance he went up a further 6lb to 104 which means that he is closing in on pattern company. He did tackle the Wentworth stakes on the season’s final day and finnished a very good fourth. Having tracked the pace and travelled well, Teruntum just couldn’t quicken to match the winner. The ground was very soft and this just stunted his ability to quicken. This season has been perfect for him in regards of training and allowed the 5 yr old to really show his true quality. He is still very lightly raced and could find more improvement. With all his little problems behind him it has allowed him to race freely and confidently which means he has performed on better ground. Group races could well be the way to go next year and there is no reason to think that he couldn’t cut it at that level. He certainly is a promising sprinter at that age and Kevin will be looking forward to getting him back in from winter break.
One big improver this year was BRILLIANT VANGUARD who really showed a much more professional attitude throughout the season. Success wasn’t immediate despite him showing very promising signs at home. He started his season early, heading to Doncaster at the beginning of April. It was an ok run over 7f, finishing in midfield but never really being able to land a blow. Following this there were 3 runs that failed to really please, as Vanguard didn’t really look like he was building on each run. Kevin knew the ability was there but the 4yr old was failing to prove it on the track. Various ground had been tried but it was his concentration that was being called into question so cheek-pieces were fitted for the first time at Ascot, in an apprentice handicap. Travelling well and close to the lead throughout, he took up the lead 2f out and went for home. Leading everywhere bar the line, he went down by 1/2 length after succumbing to the eventual winner just yards from the winning post. It was a step in the right direction and on that he built on, finishing fourth next time out at Newmarket in a small fielded, tactical affair.
Ripon, in August, was where Vanguard really started his improvement. Off a mark of 78 and in a 0-90 contest, Vanguard got the strong gallop that he wanted. Sat in touch, just off the pace he travelled supremely well through the race. He was the last off the bridle when they headed down towards the business end of the race. Moving past the 2f he led, still going well when Kevin decided to go for home. The response was immediate as Vanguard quickened up and skipped clear, not to be caught and going on to win by a comfortable 2 lengths.
It was only 9 days later and with a 6lb rise that Vanguard returned to the Yorkshire track for a step up in grade in the 0-100 Ripon Rowells handicap. The result was the same as Vanguard gave a carbon copy performance of his recent win. Again a strong pace allowed him to track the leaders before angling out whilst being the last to come off the bridle. The turn of foot was just as powerful and the winning margin was again 2 lengths, another strong performance. He was evidently in fine form but the handicapper tried to stop him with a further 5lb to a career high 89. The London Mile Final at Kempton was next in store and this would again be a step up in grade as Vanguard aimed to complete his hat-trick. The leaders once again set a strong, end to end gallop and although Vanguard enjoyed it and travelled well, he was further back than he had race previously finding himself sat in midfield. Having run at the track before he handled the AW no problem and moved smoothly throughout. Once round the bend and in the home straight he began to make headway. This time the leaders were proving stronger and Vanguard’s initial burst didn’t quite have the same affect as previously shown in his wins. Brilliant Vanguard was still making ground and as the leaders efforts were just starting to peter out, Vanguard was maintaining his run and scything down the outside of the field. He hit the front inside the final furlong and just continued to power home. Despite some late challenges and edging right handed, Vanguard was not stopping and won by a comfortable 1/2 length.
Further pounds were added to his mark and he again reached a new career high of 93. Kevin kept Vanguard to the AW for his next two starts, both down south at Kempton. Despite the two races being slightly easier in grade and similar, Vanguard couldn’t quite keep his winning streak going. He proved that his current mark was no issue, finishing fourth and third but it was his difficult draws that had the better of him. Being berthed 14/14 and 13/13 was always going to prove difficult to overcome. Although both races were run to suit and Vanguard running extremely well, the disadvantage of giving that much ground away was just too much. Connections were still delighted and he proved he was still on an upward curve. Vanguard’s final run at Newmarket was one that just told Kevin that he had had enough. Running keen he faded quite tamely which immediately made Kevin decide that a well deserved break would follow. He has been in fantastic form this year and proved effective on both turf and AW. This gives Kevin plenty of options for Vanguard but he does look like one who could progress into a top handicapper. He loves a strong pace and has a good turn of foot so the big handicaps could play to his strengths.
COMPANY ASSET found plenty of improvement this season once she got to her optimum trip. A filly who has always run well but her career record did not match her ability, with only one win in two seasons. The start of this season played out to a similar script, finishing third on her first couple of runs over 7f. Staying on well she couldn’t show the same speed as her rivals but was closing the closer they got to the line. Kevin had always had a suspicion she would be better over further and these performances proved so. Stepping up to an extended mile (1m1/2f) next time out at Hamilton, Asset really put her best foot forward. Settled in the rear she cruised through the race, making smooth headway to the 1f marker. Cantering along, Kevin (Stott) asked her to quicken up and the result was devastating as the chestnut easily put the race to bed, going on to win by 3 1/2 lengths. After such a dominating performance, Kevin decided to turn her out again quickly, running under a penalty. An extra 1/2 furlong was added to the trip and it was back at Hamilton, and the result was the same. Again settled in the rear of the field she produced just as impressive performance. Moving through the field with ease, Asset quickened up smartly over 1f out, striding clear to win by 2 1/2 lengths.
It is always nice to strike while the iron is hot so Kevin sent Asset to York just 3 weeks later to face her stiffest task to date. Another step up in trip saw her race over 1m2f for the first time. Unfortunately a passage that took her wide throughout saw the filly never able to get competitive and she ran below par. Putting it down to 3 quick runs on the bounce, Kevin then waited before sending Asset back to Scotland, again at Hamilton back over 1m1f. The race was a very tactical affair and when the leaders turned it into a sprint, it gave Asset no chance of picking them up from off the pace. Finishing 3rd proved that she was still in good order and the career high mark of 89 wouldn’t be a hindrance.
Having never raced on heavy going their were question marks hanging above her when she went to Haydock, to race over 1m2f in the biggest task of her career. Tom Eaves was in the saddle and he will be the first to admit that he hasn’t earned many easier riding fees. It was clear early on that Asset was enjoying herself on the ground as she travelled smoothly. When the field straightened up, a long run in at Haydock, Asset made eye catching headway. Tom seemed keen to wait but as his rivals came under pressure, Asset was full of running and moved through the field on the bridle. Hitting the front over 2f from home she gave Tom no option but to go for home. The thing was he didn’t have to do much asking, as Company Asset just strode clear in a canter. The margin of victory was a dominating 6 lengths which set up bigger targets. Naturally the next step was pattern company and Asset made the move up with a fine second placed effort at Saint Cloud, just bumping into one too good on the day. Her final start was back at the same French track in a Group 3 but unfortunately she could not land a blow, possibly suggesting long season had taken it’s toll. Now on her winter break, Asset will be back next year attempting to add to her progressive year.
There were some other good performers this season. KAJAKI proved again he is Mr Consistent. Winning on his return at Catterick, over 1m6f he then didn’t stay the 2m at York next time out. He then racked up four second placed finishes, bumping into a couple of really smart performers along the way. A well deserved win came next at Chester, which he travelled well and then powered clear to win by 4 1/4 lengths. Kajaki proved again this year that he very genuine and he could progress into a good handicapper next year, hopefully improving to the top middle distance handicaps. ERIK THE RED and WEEKEND OFFENDER were two who competed against each other on a couple of occasions this year and although they didn’t quite win the races they could have done, both did the yard proud. Erik secured a victory at Doncaster and ran credibly in a good race at York. Offender had a good second at Ayr before going one better. Progression was expected but a couple of stalls incidents seemed to have knocked his confidence and he failed to build on a very promising start to the year. He was subsequently sold at the Tattersalls HIT sale in October. ASHADIHAN was again in action early in the year and after winning a good conditions event at Chelmsford she had the big target of the AW championships. Running another top race she took on some top class fillies and narrowly went down by a head and a neck to finish third. She then put up a brave fight in a bid to retain her Chartwell Stakes crown but ultimately finished fifth. Now she will head to the breeding sheds and there is no doubt that the beautiful and classy filly will produce some lovely offspring. CAPTAIN DION started and finished the year well, putting in a couple of strong wins (he was sold at teh HIT sales). MONT KIARA bounced back to form in his final 3 runs, winning and then putting in a couple of placed efforts, hopefully he can progress again next year for the sprint handicaps. MOHAB was again frustrating but did give a glimpse of his ability when running away with a handicap win. CANNY STYLE provided another consistent and fun year for her owners, winning twice and being paced six times from her nine runs. Rising to 73 she will now embark on a hurdling career during the winter. Although she didn’t manage a win, FUTOON took her form to another level with three placed efforts in listed company, a breeding future lies in store for her. RURAL CELEBRATION is another who gained the important black type place but then went one better when winning at Musselburgh and will now spend her time as a broodmare.
3 Year Olds
There were a few big expectations of the 3 year old team this year and although they didn’t quite reach the heights, their performances have left connections excited for 2018. Obviously it is easy to start making plans following a juvenile season but you must always wait and see how they progress over the winter, developing and maturing.
TOMMY TAYLOR had some classic ambitions at the start of the year but this was soon dispelled as he started pre-season. Having performed well over 7f as a juvenile, Tommy had shown that he was a type who would improve as a 3 yr old and looked as though 7f/1mile would be his trip. As soon as Kevin got his first piece of work into him that soon changed and it was evident that Tommy’s future lay in the sprinting division. So with the trip sorted out Kevin started to look for the top 3 yr old 6f handicaps, one of which was scheduled for the Craven meeting at Newmarket.
Making is return at the Suffolk track, Tommy immediately showed he was comfortable at the speeds needed for sprinting. Travelling strongly he was the last one off the bridle as they came to the final couple of furlongs. Unfortunately he just became unbalanced in the dip and as his rivals quickened up, Tommy just took his time to get himself in order. It was a strong performance as he went on to finish third and Kevin had learnt plenty about the colt, who was having his first try at the trip. Like many others Tommy had to wait for his next start which would also come at Newmarket but this time at the July course. It was a similar race but Tommy knew a lot more this time around. Again steadied at the start to travel in midfield, he move smoothly through the contest. Tom (Eaves) made his move coming up the hill and the pair took the lead going into the final furlong. Tommy continued to find more under pressure and had everything beaten bar one last challenger. In the dying strides he was collared on the line to go down by a head. Obviously it was disappointing to lose the race so late on but Tommy had backed up his run and shown improvement, which promised plenty for the rest of the season.
Two runs at 6f and two very good placed efforts. Tommy had certainly confirmed that he was a sprinter and one on the upgrade. Kevin had missed a good chunk of time with his 3 yr old already so he turned him around to return to the July course just 13 days later. This time he was not unknown and was the favourite for another competitive 3yr old handicap. Again Tommy was steadied at the start, again he travelled strongly and again he moved up with ease. Just as Tom was about to kick for home disaster struck as the pair were squeezed and hampered badly. The race was immediately over as there was no time to recover. Unfortunately his next start would prove to be just as unfortunate, this time due to the weather. Again it was Newmarket and the ground had turned very soft. From very early on it was obvious that he was racing on the wrong part of the track and Tommy just never got into the race.
Although still searching for a victory, Kevin was far from disheartened. It would have been easy to look for a drop in grade, giving Tommy a more obvious chance of victory but Kevin regards the 3 yr old too much. This meant he sent the colt to York for a 6f Listed event, the first time he would take on his elders. Although connections put a line through the last couple of runs punters didn’t and he was seen as an outsider. Only 7 runners lined up and York does pay to be more prominent so Tom changed his tactics this time. Sat on the outer of the group Tommy was prominent throughout. Again he showed his high cruising speed as he travelled comfortably. As the field moved towards the rail Tommy had clear daylight in front of him so as the race developed he moved through easily to challenge for the lead. As those in front of him came under pressure Tom started to wind up his mount. Once asked, just over 1f to run, Tommy quickened up and kicked clear. This burst of speed had most of his rivals beaten as they couldn’t reply. The favourite, Downforce, was the only one who could come from the pack and give chase. Tommy was brave in front but the favourite was closing the gap all the time. With just 100 yards to run, Downforce had almost overhauled Tommy. Attitude now played a big part and Tommy was not to be denied. They were eye to eye and crossed the line as one, with nobody able to separate the pair. Tommy was called the winner and it was certainly well earned for the season he had.
The Ayr Gold Cup was talked about following his win but being a 3 yr old Kevin just felt that it was a bit too soon for him. The Group 3 Bengough Stakes was where Tommy would finish his season. He ran ok in the race but not quite his usual self so he may have had enough by that point. Now rated 107 he will be aimed at the top sprints next season. Another winter on his back will do him the world of good and he should be a bigger and stronger horse once again. The very top sprint handicaps and possibly group company will be his agenda for 2018.
A big improver and genuine performer was LUALIWA this season who got off the mark on his return and went from strength to strength. Having had his mind on other things last year, Lualiwa was gelded over the winter and it immediately paid off as he shed his maiden tag at Chelmsford, showing a tough, front running style that would suit him well all season. After winning his maiden by 2 1/2 lengths the handicapper was quite lenient by only giving him a 1lb rise in the weights. his next start at Beverley wasn’t ideal as Lualiwa set very strong fractions which cost him in the final furlong as the exertions took their toll, seeing him weaken into third. It was his run at York that kicked off an upward curve of improvement. Finishing second to Battered, who went on to improve 16lb, Lualiwa had beaten some very good 3 yr olds and done it the hard way. Following this performance he was now a horse that caught people’s attention and he would add to his wins with 2 strong victories. First stop was Chester, running in a competitive class 2 handicap. The track was tailor made for Lualiwa and he made sure he took advantage. Breaking well, setting a strong gallop and then quickening up, bravely repelling his rival’s late push. Lualiwa gained a further 5lb but was still able to get into a class 3 apprentice handicap for his next start York. This win was even more impressive as again he took the race by the horns and never saw a rival. Always travelling well he moved clear with ease and whilst his rivals worked hard Lewis (Edmunds) was able to wait. Already in control by the 1f marker, when asked Lualiwa just put the race to bed and went clear to win by 1 3/4 lengths, earning another 6lb rise.
Having shown plenty of pace over 7f, Kevin decided to take an educated gamble by dropping Lualiwa to 6f for the Shergar Cup. Being at Ascot meant that the trip would be a stiff 6f which should help and there was plenty of prize money on offer if he could run to his best form. Although he couldn’t lead this time, Lualiwa showed that he had enough speed to match the leaders. Taking up the running at the 2f marker he went for home and burnt our his rivals. Going clear it looked like he had taken the race but the last one to challenge, Golden Apollo, was the coming home with a strong run and just in the final 50 yards snatched the win away from Lualiwa. It was another brave and good performance, continuing his very consistent season. Now with a mark of 95 he would have to take a step up in class and it would be back at Ascot and back over 7f. The Cunard handicap was the best race he had run in and he acquitted himself well. Forcing the pace he was only beaten 2 lengths in a blanket finish and by far fared the best of the 3yr olds. It was arguably close to his career best performance and he proved he belonged in that company. After a long and hard season it was no surprise to see him put in a lack lustre effort on his final start. Now he isn’t the biggest but has a huge heart which has seen him rise through the ranks. Next year he will have to mix it in good company and he fully deserves his place. The Victoria Cup and Bunbury Cup could be the races that he is aimed at.
In a 9 month season MAJOR JUMBO put up form figures of 212123291, showing great consistency and also big improvement of 26lbs. He was a big bull of a juvenile but still had some strengthening up to do, mainly due to his physique. He had finished his season early for a break so Kevin managed to get him back into training early. Starting off his season at Southwell all the way back in January, Major Jumbo was sent off as an 8-1 outsider when returning in a 5f 3yr old handicap. He almost made a mockery of that price when just getting caught late on to go down by 1/2 length, showing that he just needed that first run back. It was a promising start and one that the grey would build on.
Just a couple of weeks later he would show how much he had come on for that return. Heading to Newcastle Jumbo would take a step down in grade. Utilising his natural speed the grey made all and when challenged, quickened up from his rivals to win by a comfortable 2 1/2 lengths. The same tactics would be adopted when he returned to Newcastle aiming to build on his win. After being headed by the 1f pole he battled hard to overturn the deficit only to fail by just a short head. That narrow defeat was well truly avenged on his next run. Again on the Tapeta surface, but this time at Wolverhampton, Jumbo tracked the leader before striking 1f from home. Quickening up well he strode away to win by 1 1/4 lengths, with his conqueror from last time only managing fourth, 4 lengths back.
The AW had seen Major Jumbo improve 21lb to a new mark of 89 as he waited 6 weeks before turning his attention to the turf. His first assignment was Nottingham in a 3yr old Conditions event. Tracking the leader throughout, Jumbo travelled smoothly in the strong pace set. When it came to laying down his challenge, Lewis (Edmunds) had to choose which way to go around the leader, who he readying to overtake. Unfortunately once he made his move the gap closed and so taking evasive action Lewis had to then switch Jumbo the other way. This gave the winner first run and despite a big effort from Jumbo to reel him in, the line just came too soon, forcing him to settle for 2nd. Another solid run and it was followed by two more, with placed efforts, first was a 3rd at York before a close 2nd at Windsor. He inched up the handicap again to a new career high of 91 but was maintaining his improvement.
It is hard to be dissapointed with the grey but the only blip this season came at the Ebor meeting. Running in the meeting’s final race, the 5f apprentice handicap, he could never really land a blow. It was run at break neck speed but being out in the centre towards stands side was a disadvantage. With all the action coming more towards the far side, Jumbo tried hard but ultimately couldn’t get involved, still running well considering. Having had a long year Kevin was close to finishing the grey for the year but after seeing 3yr old bouncing out of his stable he decided on more run would do him. It was back to York for their Sunday meeting and it was the first time this year that he would try 6f. He had run over the trip as a juvenile but always proved a little too free and possibly weak at the time to do himself justice. Kevin was sure that the trip would suit but he would face his stiffest task to find out. Kevin Stott was on board and knowing he would be on the quickest horse he kept things simple. Making all Jumbo travelled strongly in front throughout the race. After burning off his rivals by 1 1/2f from home there was only one challenge to come. Flying from the rear of the field, Dakota Gold (5-2 Fav) was a big presence as they met inside the final furlong. With the race between them they battled tooth and nail. Jumbo proved that the trip was no problem as he managed to over power his foe, despite edging left, bravely defying the challenge and running out the winner by a neck. It was a very strong performance and confirmed that Jumbo is an exciting sprinter. Another winter will be perfect for him and there is no doubt that he will mature again. Finishing the season on 94 means that Jumbo will be looking at the top sprints next year and it seems as though he will be versatile regarding trip. The “Dash” on Derby day at Epsom could well be the first big target for Major Jumbo and he certainly is one to keep an eye on.
There were plenty of the 3 year olds who chipped in throughout the year and added to the winners tally. RUTHERFORD proved a real tough and durable filly. After shedding her maiden tag in March, the chestnut then finished 4th and 3rd in a pair of competitive handicaps. Her crowning moment was an all the way win at Chester where she never saw a rival. She now heads to the Decmber Sale at Tattersalls and her future may well lie in the breeding sheds. Tough and consistent is the only way of describing HEIR OF EXCITEMENT. After an AW return he went on to compete in an ultra competitive area of racing, 0-80 rated 3 yr olds over 7f/1 mile. Many times he faced the same rivals but he always proved to be one of the leading players. After a couple of 2nd placed efforts over 1 mile a drop to 7f saw him pick up his second career win when taking the 7f 0-70 handicap at Carlisle. The following five runs saw him always in the shake up and those placed efforts could have easily resulted in a couple more wins. Very genuine, Excitement will be back next year and hopefully he can earn a few more wins which he deserves. Mr Rahman has a couple of horses to look forward to next year in the form of ARMANDIHAN and EVERYTHING FOR YOU. They have one win each to their name, both a maiden, but they looks like another year of maturity will really see them reach their potential. Now gelded it seems that with the experience of racing could see them develop into a pair of nice handicappers, hopefully something like a Magnet Cup type horse. CARIDADE hadn’t run before arriving at Hambleton Lodge from the sales in February but she quickly developed into a nice filly. After a pair of 4th placed efforts in maidens, it was third time lucky as she bolted up in a 7f Redcar maiden. Following that win she was asked some tough questions and acquitted herself well, especially with it being her first season racing. With a mark of 80, Caridade should find plenty of opportunities next year. KODICAT, TAGUR, SAVANNAH MOON, DORIA ROAD, EYES ON ASHA, ANGEL’S ACCLAIM, FIKHAAR & HITCHCOCK (sold at GoffsUK) were all winners who did well and will be back next year to try and improve on their records.
2 Year Olds
The juvenile division is always a vital one, it is the beginning of the future stars careers and without new recruits coming through a yard or trainer can stand still, unable to find their next flag bearer. Kevin has built a reputation as one of the leading trainers of 2 year olds and he again enjoyed a good season, setting up bright futures for his prospects. Sending out 42 individual runners they produced 20 winners, at a strike rate of 48% and an overall statistic of 25 winners from 113 runners, equating to a 22% strike rate. After missing the entire month of June, generally when the yard’s 2 year olds start to really fire, with many making their debuts and others building on promising starts. Despite this setback there were plenty of winners, with some real promise shown, setting up an exciting 3 year old season.
Leading the way for the juveniles was HEY JONESY who competed at the highest level and proved that is where he belongs. His record only has one win on it but he is seen as quite unlucky to no at least have another and on other days he could quite easily have had even more. The son of Excelebration came from the GoffsUK Premier sale and flew under the radar for a little bit. Always a nice horse, Jonesy initially shaped as though he may appreciate 7f or further. He had been doing everything well but then he suddenly found a new level. His work was fantastic and he was getting quicker as he matured and strengthened. It was at this point that Kevin wanted to get him out on the track, excited at the colt’s promise shown. He made his debut at Carlisle and throughout showed a really good, professional attitude taking the race in his stride. After tracking the pace he took the lead at the 1f marker. It was at this point he showed the only sign of immaturity and it took him by surprise. This allowed his rival to rally and nab him on the line, snatching the win by a nose. It was a debut full of promise and connections were delighted with Jonesy, especially as he was entitled to improve for the experience.
Everybody knows Kevin enjoys sending a nice 2 year old to York and so that was Hey Jonesy’s next stop. Although he was coming up against a previous winner Jonesy went off the well backed favourite, receiving 5lb from his rival. The punters got it right as Jonesy made all. Travelling powerfully to the 2f marker he was then pressed by Staxton, his market rival. As soon as the hooves got close Kevin (Stott) let out a bit of rein and Jonesy did the rest. Quickening up he immediately put distance between himself and the rest, powering away to win by 2 3/4 lengths. It was a very striking performance and one that got everyone extremely excited. Unfortunately he wasn’t entered in the Gimcrack because at the time of entries he wasn’t quite looking the sprinter that he was developing into now. Kevin had another idea though and it would be back at York for the huge pot of the GoffsUK sales race.
Following his smart performance he was sent off favourite for the ultra competitive race. During the other sprints at the Ebor meeting it did seem as though a low to mid draw was best, so when Hey Jonesy received 18/19 connection knew he faced an uphill battle. The field split and it immediately became evident that Jonesy was going to have to do a lot more work if he was to be involved in the finish. Leading his group from the off, by halfway Jonesy had a couple of lengths lead with the others struggling to match him. The far side group had a distinct advantage and Jonesy was now alone to tr and challenge. Kevin (Stott) had to ask his mount questions just after halfway to try and bridge to gap to the leaders on the far side. He was proving brave and despite his disadvantage he was in with a shout going into the final furlong. Jonesy was well clear in his group but he just couldn’t overhaul the far side leaders. It was testament to his class that he had managed to get as close as he had done, going down by just 1/2 length to finish third. Everybody felt he was unlucky and a better draw may well have seen him win, if not win comfortably. Although there was a slight feeling of disappointment, due to the draw, there was a bigger sense of excitement as it looked as though Jonesy was the real deal and now it was which group race he would go for now.
Kevin made the decision to go straight for the top level, setting the Group 1 Middle Park as his next assignment. Obviously it was a big ask as he was coming up against group winning juveniles but Hey Jonesy looked to have all the credentials. After leaving the stalls Kevin (Stott) was keen to be positive. He was with the leaders from the off and by halfway had taken the lead himself. Going into the dip he held the lead and was travelling strongly in front with some of the fancied runners struggling to get on terms. As the race unfolded the O’Brien pair of US Navy Flag (Winner) and Fleet Review (2nd) began to take control down the centre of the track. Joney battled away towards the rail and did well but had no answer to the winner. On the line he was just nabbed for 3rd but it was a brilliant effort from the juvenile.
Excuses are pointless as the races are done and nothing can change the results but it is felt that Jonesy has been a shade unfortunate. It would be nice to see his performance when he is able to get a lead in a race and make others do the hard work in front. One thing is certain is that he is a very promising horse and will get better next year. He holds a classic entry in the Irish 2000 Guineas and that will be the initial plan. Kevin will train him with that in mind and a guineas trial will be the plan, over 7f. Obviously it is not guaranteed that he will stay but he will have the option of sprinting which would mean the Commonwealth Cup would be the target. Kevin will get an idea when he starts back but at the moment it is a case of letting him rest and enjoying the prospect of what he could do next year.
They don’t have the record of Hey Jonesy but NEW SHOW and MORNING WONDER are two big prospects who will have classic ambitions themselves and should be starting off in trials. New Show is by a classic winner and out of a group 1 winner so his pedigree always suggested quality. He showed plenty at home but it was clear that time was key to him. The lovely chestnut colt has a natural and athletic action which made him strong galloper but he just needed the time to mature and strengthen. It was a good call and New Show made a winning debut at Ayr in July. Showing signs of inexperience immediately, New Show was slowly away so Tom (Eaves) allowed him time, settling him at the rear of the field and getting him into a rhythm. After chasing a decent gallop, New Show moved through dangerously, travelling well before quickening up well. All the way to the line he was showing his immaturity and although he had to work hard he was always going to hold his rivals and won by 1 1/2 lengths, stronger the further they went. Kevin resisted the urge to race him again, possibly stepping him up in grade. New Show was still showing he was developing and his 3 year old career was worth waiting for. With an entry in the Irish 2000 Guineas he is another that will be aimed for a trial before hopefully having a tilt at the big one.
Morning Wonder was a very similar type and much like his stable mate needed the time to develop. Making his debut just 3 days later at Beverley, Wonder ran well, a race full of promise but inexperience proving the decisive factor. Coming down to the 2f marker travelling well, he was then green and ran around once under pressure. Tom (Eaves) balanced him up and educated him the best he could. Once he got him straightened up the chestnut powered home, just failing to gain the win by a neck. His next start was his chance to make amends and he did just that at Leicester. Sitting close to the pace he travelled very well. Ryan (Moore) began to wind him up turning for home, around 3f out. Opening up his stride and lengthening the chestnut was moving up through the gears. When asked he kicked clear, leaving his nearest rivals toiling. It was a late finish that pressed him for the win but under a hands and heels ride he was always holding the runner up and had plenty left in the tank when crossing the line with a 3/4 length advantage. In both starts he has shown a lot of potential but also that he seems likely to want further than the mile he won over. Obviously this could change with a few months on his back but Kevin will be aiming him at a Derby trial with the big ambition being the main event itself.
There were a few juveniles who managed multiple wins this year. LUIS FERNANDEZ (3), FYRE CAY (2), MAGIC JAZZ (2) all added to the winners column but will unfortunately not be back at the yard next year having all been subsequently sold. ELNADIM STAR a strong start to her career winning twice out of her three starts, all of which came at Beverley. Having made a pleasing debut, where a wide draw scuppered her chances, she went on to break her maiden next time out. She followed that win up with a carbon copy run but up against harder conditions. Conceding 5lb to the field may have seemed a test but she won comfortably again, running out 1/2 length winner but going away at the line. With a mark of 79 she will come back next year starting with handicaps and hopefully progress from there, she certainly looks likely to get 6f and so the 3yr old fillies handicaps could be in her target line. AYUTTHAYA almost made a winning debut but got caught late on when bumping into a smart horse. Next time out at York he went on to finish runner up once more, again finding a very smart horse being the only one too good. He got off the mark at the third time of asking impressively at Chester. He looks one with a bright future and will develop into a better 3 year old. STORMBRINGER was set a big task after winning his novice race on his second start. Following that he went to contest the Gimcrack at York. Tom(Eaves) felt the horse ran well but a step up in trip would suit the colt. Kevin will keep an eye on the colt and see what he does at home before deciding which route to go down. ALKHAWANEEJ BOY ran away with a Leicester novice race on his second start and showed he was a promising colt. After only having the horse for a couple of months Kevin was still learning about the horse so next year should be exciting once the colt gets back into a full pre-season at Hambleton Lodge. MONT KINABALU, HAVANA STAR, SAVALAS, BUNGEE JUMP, DANDY’S BEANO, SALAZAR, REAL GENT (sold to race in Australia) & GOLD STONE all got on the score sheet this year. They will be returning next year and hopefully they can progress after time to grow, building on a promising start to their racing careers.
There were also some very nice types who did not win this year but certainly caught the eye. Most of the ones mentioned were seen as 3 year old types so by getting them out on the track and gaining experience it has given Kevin plenty to work with before next season. Aquis farm sent 3 colts who had beautiful pedigrees and will certainly be winning races before long. VJ DAY, FINISHER & KINGS FULL have been gelded and will be interesting when returning. JUNGLE ROOM showed class in his breeze up which is why Kevin gave £210,000 for the colt. Showing weakness, despite his seemingly size and strength, it was decided to geld him and allow him to fill his frame which has everyone excited about seeing him back next year. COMMANDER HAN was another big priced purchase who has shown promise on his two starts. Evidently far from the completed article, he will be an exciting prospect when allowed to strengthen and mature. QUEEN’S SARGENT produced better form than most winners do but is still a maiden. Unfortunate not to get his head in front he finished second in a top nursery at York before running very well in the big £300,000 sales race at Doncaster. By Kendargent he will certainly be winning and hopefully can continue his good looking form. KNIGHTED produced two good second placed efforts with his final run coming over 7f. He looks sure to be a better 3yr old and one who could progress to be a danger over 7f/1mile. SANDYTOWN will look to emulate his brother Mukaynis who got better with age and time. Two runs in he will be coming back early to try and shed his maiden tag before embarking on his turf season. SENTIMENTAL GENT, ROYAL PURSUIT, PREDICTION, DALAWYNA, BAKHT KHAN & HOW BIZARRE have all seen the track and will be aiming to get their first wins next year.
In this game you have to keep moving forward and looking towards the next winner or next star. Now the season has finished the yearlings become the priority as we begin to break them in and prepare them for their racing careers. It is a very exciting time watching these babies develop and learn the basics.
The season has been good but Kevin being the ultimate perfectionist is looking to build on that again next year. We don’t know what or where the horses will start and that’s what makes the new year interesting as you see how the horses have developed over the winter. There will be surprises along the way, those horses who looked to be real speed merchants suddenly find extra stamina and vice versa. The team is already eyeing the 2018 turf season but there will be a small team for the all-weather. We are excited at what the horses could be next year and it does seem like a really good balance with some proven quality and unexposed potential. Thank you to everyone for their support from our owners and staff to all the stalls handlers and racecourse staff who make it possible. Also thank you to all the racing fans who send messages of support and congratulations for the yard. Enjoy the winter and we will be seeing you all on the track in March!!!