July and August have historically always been the best months for Kevin in regards of winners. It is the time of year that has yielded the biggest numbers and this season has proved the same. With the season continually building up the number of winners have increased each month but August produced 17 and it was a big treble at Thirsk that rounded the month off in style.
It was around this time last year that Kevin received the call from Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum asking him to train some horses for him. Stock was bought at the yearling sales at Goffs Orby and Tattersalls, with well bred yearlings heading to Hambleton Lodge for the 2019 season. Thankfully they have transferred their talents to the track and Kevin unleashed another smart juvenile when Divina Gloria made a winning debut in the 1m British EBF Fillies’ Novice Stakes at Thirsk.
The daughter of Dabirism caught the eye the moment she walked out of her box to show at the sales. It was clear that Kevin loved the filly so when she was knocked down for £230,000, Divina Gloria would be heading to Hambleton Lodge for her racing career. The pedigree was all German which was quite tricky to figure out although there was some quality throughout. It looked to be loaded with stamina and when Divina Gloria began her work it was clear that time and a test would suit the filly. As the weeks went on she got stronger and with a nice piece of work on the grass she showed that she was ready in the early weeks of August. Thirsk was chosen for Divina Gloria’s debut, a local track that is a fair and galloping test over a mile.
Kevin Stott has enjoyed a few winners in the yellow silks of Sheikh Obaid and was in the saddle with Andrea Atzeni being required elsewhere. The contest attracted 8 runners and surprisingly Divina Gloria wasn’t the only smartly bred filly. There were 3 southern raiders heading north for the race, favourite Fast and Free who had the best form, along with the newcomer Eventful. Divina Gloria would attract some late money to go off second favourite but it did look an above average maiden on paper.
Leaving the stalls Divina Gloria showed her inexperience from the off. Having left on terms she failed to get into her stride and as the rivals kicked on Divina Gloria beat a retreat. Kevin had to get low into the saddle to squeeze her into the bridle and she made up the lost lengths to tag on to the rear of the group, with only Eventual behind. Having raced hard to get their positions the leaders settled it down after the first furlong with the experienced runners heading the field and putting their runs to good use.
Although attached to the main body of the field, you could always sense that Divina Gloria wasn’t quite sure what to make of the situation. Heading down the back straight she was just rolling around a little, maintaining her position but just sussing everything out. Kevin was very wary to keep her balanced as they would be heading into the bend soon enough and allowed her to just take her time. Through the first half of the race it was all about education and Kevin was just allowing his filly to learn, hoping the experience would help her come the second half of the race.
The pace had been fair throughout but around the bend the leaders tried to increasing the tempo and get the field on the stretch. This move did work bu Divina Gloria managed to maintain her stride as Kevin just ask her to lengthen a little and go with them. As they entered the home straight, with over 3f to run the filly had a good 4/5 lengths to make up but she had swung wider off the bend which meant she had clear daylight to race in. They got racing a long way from home and the leaders were trying to kick away passing the 3f marker.
Kevin was cajoling and niggling away in the saddle getting his filly to lengthen and educating all the while. She was widest of all but suddenly Divina Gloria came good in Kevin’s hands and made a big move down the outside. Having raced green throughout she moved up menacingly to quickly state a claim in the race. Moving into the final couple of furlongs she had more than halved the deficit and it was here that Kevin just gave her one reminder to straighten up and try to reel in the new leader which was Golden Lips. There were a few in with a chance of winning but those who had forced the issue early on looked to be targets for those finishing that bit stronger.
Having come through relatively easily Divina Gloria just had another moment of greens pulling alongside the leader 1f from home. The pair were over a length clear now and Kevin could sense his filly making a winning debut so he asked her to do just that. Golden Lips had the experience edge over Divina Gloria but it was the latter who had come through looking the stronger. She edged her nose into the lead but in doing so she also rolled around again. Kevin quickly changed his hands, got the bit higher in her mouth and made sure she was back on an even keel. As soon as he had done that Divina Gloria found again, quickening up to a length lead. With 100 yards to run she once again had a little look around but Kevin made sure she was kept up to her work. Divina Gloria strode out all the way to the line to open her account by a comfortable 1 lengths.
This was a very eye catching performance from Divina Gloria and shows what an exciting prospect she could well be. She showed greeness throughout the contest and gave her rivals a good start early on. The way in which she made up ground down the straight and then quickened clear shows that she has plenty of gears. To win against more experienced rivals and give them the advantage points to a classy filly. She will certainly improve for this run and the future is bright. She has shown a lot at home and whatever the next step is it does seem that pattern company will be soon in the reckoning.
The perfect start to a career was soon followed by a continuation of a perfect career record. Having gone 2 from 2 in Novice company, Bielsa made a seamless transition into handicap company when he took the 6f Theakston Legendary Ales Best Bitter Handicap, notching a quick fire double and stretching his unblemished record to 3 out of 3.
Highbank Stud have made a name for themselves in their relative infancy, producing quality racehorses. With their sales figures regularly topping 6 figures they have a solid foundation with their sales produce but occasionally they will also send them into training. The Wainwright family have had horses for years with Kevin and that has continued since their transition into the bloodstock world. Their mare Bourbon Ball has shown herself to be a producer of winners, and some good ones at that so Kevin was delighted when he received the powerful Invincible Spirit Colt from her.
Having taken time Bielsa headed to the track in October last year, not only carrying the burden of expectation of connections but also many Leeds mad fans. He has certainly paid his namesake a good tribute having made a winning debut, he then returned to action in May with an even more impressive display. Thanks to being another year older he lumped 10st to victory, conceding over a stone to the runner up, when winning at Doncaster.
Two wins from two meant that the handicapper could now allot him a mark, which was decided to be 87. That seemed fair but there was only one problem. Bielsa had shown enough to come under consideration for the top handicaps but conditions of those races meant that you had to have three runs in order to qualify. Unfortunately a planned trip to Hamilton was cancelled due to the rain so it was a bit of a longer wait. Thirsk provided the perfect option but Bielsa would face a stiff task, taking on handicap company for the first time in a competitive 0-95 contest.
Kevin Stott has struck up quite the rapport with Bielsa and was in the saddle looking for his third win on him, as well as a double on the day. Biesla was the least experienced runner of the 16 but it also meant he was the most likely improver and that was what people attached to, sending him off the 9-2 favourite.
With the stalls positioned in the centre the main body of the field jumped out and headed down the middle of the track. Bielsa was well away and immediately went forward to chase the early pace setters. Having been drawn in stall 6 Kevin allowed his mount to track over and join the main group. Tracking the pace he was sat just in behind the leaders as two groups formed.
It was clear quite early on that the middle was the place to be with the pace over there. Bielsa travelled smoothly through the early stages and the better quality of race was fine so far. The leaders drifted over from the centre of the track after the first 2f and edged closer to the stands side rail. This saw the groups close up and the two started to become one. Bielsa remained out towards the centre and was still only a length off the lead.
The gallop had been even throughout and this saw the leaders beginning to wind it up moving past halfway. Again the gap between the groups opened up as those in the centre definitely held sway. Bielsa was hard on the bridle and even this far out Kevin was stating to make a plan for his run as he had plenty of horse underneath him. Heading to the 2f marker and the leaders couldn’t maintain their runs and were not really responding to pressure. This saw Bielsa move through comfortably but unfortunately gave Kevin the headache of not having much to go with him.
Bielsa was cantering 1 1/2f from how and stuck his nose into the lead for the first time. The Armed Man was alongside him and sticking to his guns and this was the only rival that Bielsa had going with him. Having cruised to the front Kevin had now choice but to kick on and try and make the best of his way home. Getting into his drive the response wasn’t immediate from Bielsa but he did start to move on. The Armed Man went with Bielsa but bursting between the 2 was Lahore who had about a furlong to challenge.
Now inside the final furlong Bielsa had a 1/2 length lead to Lahore as the pair began to stretch the field out. Nothing else was going to get into the race now and it was a two way tussle. Bielsa was responding to pressure and it was strong from Lahore. The pair were now neck and neck and as they battled between them they pulled each other along. the gap grew to the rest but the leading duo ha juts 100 yards to settle the race. Bielsa was brave in front and repelled his rival. As they pair stared each other down Bielsa dug a little deeper, finding one more thrust for the line. Head to the floor he pushed his rival aside and crossed the line with a neck margin.
Bielsa took this step up in grade well and showed plenty of admirable traits. He cruised into the race showing great speed and whilst his rivals were at it Bielsa was cantering. When challenged his showed a really gutsy attitude to repel Lahore who is a good sprint handicapper in his own right. Bielsa looks the ideal type for the bigger handicaps and that is where he will be going next, especially having qualified through his third run. It’s a great shame he couldn’t be entered in the Ayr Gold Cup but there are some other nice targets in and around the same time.
The good day got even better just half an hour later. Placed efforts sometimes are not given the credit they deserve. Queen’s Sargent had finished runner up on five occasions but because he had only one win to his name it was easy for people to question him. Win number two was worth waiting for as a thrilling burst of speed saw Queen’s sergeant compete the treble by taking the 7f Anderson Barrowcliff Chartered Accountants Handicap.
The Kendargent gelding hasn’t really hit the heights that he has threatened to do. Starting this season with a very eye catching third at Doncaster it seemed as though he was set for a big year. Unfortunately some bad luck and maybe some underwhelming performances saw his form drop off mid season. Thankfully Queen’s Sargent bounced back at Thirsk on his penultimate run, finishing 2nd and showing more of his spark.
Kevin wanted to utilise this return to form but Queen’s Sargent does enjoy quick ground, which the upturn in weather decided to give. Once a bit of juice began to get into the turf Queen’s Sargent was ready and returned to Thirsk to attempt to go one better. Josephine Gordon made the journey up to ride the grey and she definitely earned her riding fee with a perfectly timed late flourish.
Drawn 9 of 14 at Thirsk is not ideal, especially when there was a lot of pace in the race which was drawn towards the inner. There was a mad dash for the lead straight from the off with around half the field jumping well and going forward. Josephine had no choice bu take her medicine and tuck in from the wider draw. This saw Queen’s Sargent drop to the rear of the field, a position he isn’t used to. The pace never ceased through the first couple of furlongs and they were soon galloping into the bend, setting strong fractions.
Heading into the bend the fighting for the lead didn’t relent and it changed hands once again. This saw Queen’s Sargent sitting last and well over 12 lengths from the leader. The field were well strung out and it would be some test come the latter stages of the race. Josephine had no choice but to nudge along her mount halfway around the bend, just to ensure he maintained a connection with the field. Moving past the halfway point the leader took them into the home straight and continued to pour it on, stretching his rivals at every chance.
They got racing a long way out and 3f for home the race was already on for the finish line. Being sat in last gave Josephine the perfect opportunity to come wide down the straight, guaranteeing a clear run. Having bustled Queen’s Sargent along she now could settle down a bit as the grey started to come good and was making up ground easier. It was clear that half the runners wouldn’t be lasting out the trip and the frantic gallop was going to tell. Baring down on the 2f Queen’s Sargent made some nice headway and began to get involved, halving his original deficit to the leaders.
The race was truly on and surprisingly the pace setters were proving very hard to pass. The first three were still the first three and began to pull away. Queen’s Sargent was now being asked for his challenge and he was finishing off well. Just on his inside was Global Spirit, who also was the only other looking likely to get involved. Josephine was now in full drive and with 1 1/2f to run she could feel a big flourish coming from her mount. The trio in front were battling away, probably oblivious to the two finishers wide on the outside.
Passing there 1f and Queen’s Sargent had almost diminished the advantage the leaders had over him. Although finishing well, Global Spirit couldn’t match his nearest rival but had come to challenge the leaders. Queen’s Sargent was really in full flight now and swept through to the lead with 150 yards to run. Unfortunately he now saw his rivals and lent in towards them. Josephine immediately grabbed her right rein to prevent this and get him straightened up. Queen’s Sargent adjusted his footing and continued his finish. The grey quickly went into a length lead and this allowed Josephine to ease up in the last 50 yards. Queen’s Sargent secured his second career win by and eased down 1/2 length.
This win was pleasing for a few reasons. It was long overdue from Queen’s Sargent and could be the spark to see him go on in the latter weeks of the season. He won from a position we haven’t seen before and showed a great turn of foot. Queen’s Sargent does appreciate ease in the ground so an Autumn campaign now will be ideal and he could really reach new heights if this performance is anything to go by. The handicapper will reassess but there should be plenty of options moving forward and a step up to 1 mile wouldn’t look to be out of reach for him.