Time can be a positive in racing but the occasions when it isn’t is when you are awaiting another win. Soaring Star had quite a consistent season last year and it looked as though he could continue on that upwards trajectory. Unfortunately that hasn’t been the case this season but he finally got his head back in front after 13 months when winning the 1m Cazoo Handicap at Newcastle.
Having started this season off with a promising return to action Soaring Star fails to build on that and had largely cut a frustrating figure. Differing trips and tactics were installed but still the key to victory eluded the gelding. On his penultimate start at Thirsk, Soaring Star had gotten a little too far back but ran better than the bare result. This run certainly made a decision moving forward that next time out a more positive ride would be in order.
Soaring Star had tried the Tapeta surface before but it would be his first trip to Newcastle. There were 11 runners declared for the 1 mile contest and Shane Gray was booked for the ride. Instilling the positive approach Soaring Star was well away and tracked the early leader with the field racing just the far side of centre. The field were quickly strung out with a brisk pace being set but Soaring Star was in the slipstream of the leader from the off.
Through the first half of the race the filed elected to race more towards the far side of the track. With the 11 runners running in pairs there was a long train chasing the leader and well over 7-8 lengths would have separated first to last. Although a good gallop it was a fair one and the entire field seemed to have settled into a good rhythm through the first half of there contest. Newcastle has no bias to running styles so usually there is very few hard luck stories and this looks no different.
Coming down to the 3f marker was the first injection of pace. The leader tried to stretch the field and just lengthened from the front. Although it didn’t get anybody in real trouble, this increase ensured that everyone was on their toes for when the challenges began to unwind. Shane edged his mount out to get a clear run and allowed Soaring Star just to move up as he inched closer to the leader galloping down towards the final 2f.
Passing the 2f marker the race began to unfold. Soaring Star was travelling strongest of all and Shane had the gelding alongside the leader who now cam under a ride. Pressing the button he asked Soaring Star to go and quicken which saw the pair hit the front. Little by little he began to pull away from the long time leader and held a 1 1/2 length advantage coming into the final furlong. Apart from Soaring Star, those who had raced toward the rear pf the field were the ones doing best. The favourite was picking up and proved to be the biggest danger with just 150 yards to run. Having broken through the ranks he was hunting down Soaring Star who had set sail. Shane was in full drive and had a willing partner underneath him. With every stride the gap was diminishing and although he was trying hard, Soaring Star was just starting to shorten his stride. The favourite, along with a fast finisher, gave it one last dive at the line as the trio dashed past the line as one. Initial reactions were that Soaring Star may just have held on and it didn’t take long before the announcer could confirm the result. Soaring Star had gained his win by just a nose but had done it the hard way.
This result was a long time coming but the nature in which Soaring Star won shows that he still has the fight in him. He travelled well throughout the contest and dug deep when he had to. Although the winning margin was narrow it could prove to be a big victory in the long run. Horses like this sometimes just need that feeling of getting past the post first again to really boost their confidence. Hambleton Racing have enjoyed another fine season and it is always nice to add to the tally for their many loyal owners. If this win does just give Soaring Star a little more zest and enjoyment in his races then there is no reason why he cannot go on from this and put up some more wins next to his name.
Marcelo Bielsa is well know for being an astute tactician on the football pitch. Well his equine namesake delivered a masterstroke himself with the help of Kevin Stott to bring home a fifth Ayr Gold Cup for the team at Hambleton Lodge.
The Ayr Gold Cup is race that is very special for Kevin and planning for it starts months beforehand. Having such a record in the race, there are a few traits that seem to tick the correct boxes for finding the winner. As the standard has increased over the years, class could be the number one factor and Bielsa was never short on that. Very lightly raced, for his age, Bielsa had made up into a smart sprinter in a very short space of time. Quickly developing into a handicapper rated over 100, the very best sprint handicaps were in order. Bielsa has been tackling the best races on offer over the past two seasons and had always threatened to win a big one.
Excuses are not something that Kevin likes to use too often but Bielsa certainly hadn’t had the rub of the green when it came to draws. When he did get a favourable draw the draw wasn’t right and vice versa. It is easy to say but Bielsa had never had everything land right for him and this is difficult to compete with in such competitive handicaps.
Ayr had been the target form the beginning of the year, especially after Bielsa ran a good race in the same contest last season. With the race developing away from him, Bielsa stuck on well to finish 9th but only beaten 3 lengths. All roads would lead back to Scotland and all in all he had had a consistent year without gaining a win. Runner up twice, he had most recently run a huge race in the Stewards Cup prior to Ayr. With there being a big draw bias, meaning you had to up the stands side, Bielsa went solo down the centre of the track finishing 6th only beaten 2 1/2 lengths. Following that fine effort it was straight on to Ayr.
With 6 weeks between the contests, Bielsa was nicely freshened up and arrived in great order. Drawn in stall 25 there was no telling how the draw would pan out. That all changed just an hour before the off when the Silver Cup winner charged straight up the far side rail which caught the attention of all connections. Suddenly it seemed that Bielsa could be the one out of luck again with him on the opposite side of the track. Kevin Stott has been the only jockey to win on Bielsa and was back on board the 6yr old. The draw didn’t look to bother the two Kevin’s as they devised a plan to just keep it simple, stick to his side where the ground had been untouched and possibly fresher.
Pre-race had revolved around one horse, despite the talented 25 runners field, as recent listed winner Great Ambassador was a strong 3-1f. The nerves of draw bias seemed to subside just before the off as there was late support for Bielsa, although only a handful of people knew what the two Kevin’s had in mind. The cavalry charge was released from the stalls and immediately there was a distinct move towards the far side rail. Those drawn low edged across whilst those higher would form a second group towards the centre of the track. One lonesome runner had darted across to the stands side rail and the plan became clear as Kevin kept Bielsa alone.
Unsurprisingly a good gallop was set as the pace seemed to be with the centre group. Holding the overall advantage it was quite difficult to judge where Bielsa was through the early stages. It did feel as though he was around midfield but it wouldn’t be until the business end of the race where things would become far clearer. The favourite couldn’t have been drawn further away so it trying to keep an eye on him would not be possible, Kevin would really have to set his own fractions and use all his experience.
Charging through the first half of the race the centre group had held sway but the strong pace would have them get racing from halfway. As horses tried to get into the contest the field fanned out and would see the two groups begin to converge. Kevin was happy to be a loner down the near side and Bielsa had travelled nicely to this point. It was here, for the first time, you got to see that Bielsa was in a good position and headed towards the 2f marker not too far away. Whilst his rival were well grouped, Bielsa wouldn’t have anyone to race with so both he and Kevin were relying on each other.
Passing the 2f the race had really started to unfold. The fav burst through on the far side looking full of running and would quicken up to take the lead. Bielsa had travelled just as well and looked to be alongside or possibly in front but with nothing to run with it was hard to get a visual marker. The field were now really stretched across the track and the race had now split with maybe a third of the runners in with a real chance of winning. All eyes were attracted to the favourite who had kicked clear of those around him. That move did look impressive but Bielsa looked to be on terms and quickening just as well as Stott got serious. Neither himself or the horse could see their rivals so it was now all guns blazing for the line. His nearest visual would have been Mr Wagyu who was pulling away in the centre but was definitely down on Bielsa.
As they entered the final furlong the complexion of the race finally became clear. This ultra competitive 25 runner handicap was down to 2, possibly 3 barring any disasters. Far side, Great Ambassador, centre Mr Wagyu, near side Bielsa. It was either rail where the momentum lay and it was Bielsa who had the lead. The gelding had travelled well throughout and was quickening up all the time. As the camera angle changed and it panned round to more of a side on view Bielsa’s advantage grew. He was in top gear, motoring along the rail and was proving strongest of all. The final 100 yards was the best of his race as he continued to pull clear and it was only now that Kevin got a visual guide of where he was. Looking over his left shoulder, the Danish rider saw daylight. He knew he was in front, he knew he was clear, he knew he was the winner. Bielsa had opened up enough of an advantage that it allowed Kevin the time to celebrate, pumping the air and letting out a roar that was matched by those who had backed Bielsa. For a race that had been so difficult to watch and weigh up throughout, the finish was the easiest as Bielsa secured Scotland’s top race by a convincing 2 1/4 lengths.
Kevin Stott’s celebrations tell you everything you need to know about the Ayr Gold Cup. It is one of British racing’s most historic handicaps and is always a privilege to win. The quality has increased so much over the years that now you are looking at a mark of around 96/97 just to get a run. Bielsa had been threatening to do this in a big handicap so it was very pleasing for the horse to finally get his head in front. Both he and Kevin stuck to their guns and it does take bravery to plough a lone furrow. Kevin got he fractions spot on and had a very willing partner underneath him. Bielsa is owned by King Power Racing, who have become a huge supporter of racing in recent years. They have shown great patience with the horse so it is extra special to deliver a winner of this nature. Bielsa has always been a horse which Kevin has had great faith in and he will now be tasked with tackling pattern company. Win number 5 was just as sweet as the first one and hopefully Bielsa can go on to bigger and better things like those who preceded him.
Always known for having a Midas touch with the 2 yr olds, Kevin has enjoyed one of his best seasons with the juveniles this year. This year saw a large team of youngsters and they have done the yard proud. With the third highest number of individual winners in British racing, Green Team made it 30 wins for the juvenile team when taking the 7f British Stallion Studs EBF Novice Stakes at Ayr.
Wootton Bassett was breaking news last year when he was purchased to join the Coolmore ranks after a blistering start to his stallion career. With this big transfer it looked as though Kevin could have made an astute purchase when he signed for a colt at GoffsUK for £55,000. Potentially he could be a cheap horse, especially when the sire’s new stud fee was released.
Owner Ahmad Al Shaikh has enjoyed success with Kevin over the past 10 years and rekindled the partnership with this colt. Carrying the name Green Team, which is the banner his horses run under, the colt was an exciting prospect for the year ahead. Despite being bred to get further in time, Green Team made his debut over 6f. Showing good speed he just weakened late on, showing signs of inexperience and immaturity.
Kevin took his time with Green Team and aimed the colt at Ayr with a step up in trip. It is a race that always attracts some nice types and is usually very competitive. This year was no different and there was a field of 13 set to line up. Shane Gray was booked for the ride and set out to be positive form the off.
The break between races had freshened Green Team up nicely and it showed through the early stages with him just taking a keen hold after leaving the gates. There was plenty of pace on so Shane was offered the opportunity to take a lead. As the field settled down to find their positions, Green Team was able to tuck in from his wider draw and sat just on the girths of the leader. He was still racing enthusiastically as they headed towards the bend.
Although Green Team was quite on the correct lead he handled the bend ok and with the leader looking to edge away from the rail he looked to be in the ideal position. There was well over 3f to run as they moved over to race down the centre of the track and they did get racing a long way out. The 7f would prove to be a stern enough test with the strong pace already shown and Shane had to begin working on his mount to get the colt lengthening.
Those who had raced towards the front were proving hard to peg back and as they entered the final couple of furlongs they still held sway. Shane had been cajoling Green Team and he was responding but couldn’t quite get on terms with the leader. It was the two market leaders who were vying for the lead as Green Team looked to just be falling backwards a little. It was at this point that Shane now got a bit more serious and with that the colt understood what was required. The half length deficit was maintained and Green Team looked to be finding once again.
Moving into the final furlong Green Team finally got past the long time leader who he had been looking at all race. Unfortunately that still meant he had yet to hit the front as the favourite had come through on the other side. Green Team was really understanding what was being asked of him and he had all the momentum moving forward. He quickly pulled up alongside the favourite and stuck his nose to the front with 100 yards to run. The race was done from that point as he strode out from there to win by a comfortable 1 length advantage.
It was a very pleasing win with Green Team who looks like a colt that should improve with time and develop into a nice 3yr old. He saw this trip out really well and certainly looks to matching his pedigree which has stamina through it. Stepping up to 1 mile looks like it should be no problems and he could be horse to get a little further again next year. Discussions will be had with connections regarding the rest of the season but whatever happens Green Team looks like he has a nice future ahead of him.
It is a week that many northern trainers look forward to, the Ayr Gold Cup meeting. Attracting plenty of owners and trainers the whole week has a feel good atmosphere. Winners are always well received so with Ventura Rascal at Ayr and Esken Rose at Pontefract the meeting kicked off in the best way possible.
Hootenanny will always be remembered as a very fast juvenile that Wesley Ward sent over to win at Royal Ascot. His first crop are now racing and Esken Rose took the honour of becoming her sire’s first winner when making all in the 6f Northern Commercials – Service, Sales & Parts Novice Stakes at Pontefract.
Having come through the breeze ups circuit it was clear that the American bred filly was able to gallop. The Goresbridge sale had to move location so it didn’t take place until June 3rd. Although the filly looked the part during her breeze, Esken Rose would have to wait a while for her debut run.
Progressing at home and getting the sales prep out of her system Esken Rose began to show the right signs during her work. Coming to hand and looking ready to run, the filly had the unusual disadvantage of not being EBF qualified. This meant that many races were not open to Esken Rose and Pontefract proved to be the earliest opportunity.
The stiff track was a question mark for Esken Rose but she headed to Pontefract taking on 8 rivals. Tom Eaves was in the saddle and when his filly was quickly away the jockey aimed to get over to the rail from his middle draw. Despite her inexperience Esken Rose showed a very professional attitude early and led the field along. Immediately it was clear that the filly was relaxed as she settled lovely in front and showed good speed whilst not doing too much.
The first half of the race took the field along the back straight. Esken Rose was pricking her ears in front, enjoying the freedom. It was a good pace being set which became clear as they headed towards the left handed bend. Esken Rose edged a little further clear as they entered the bend and applied the pressure to her rivals. Whilst Tom remained quiet on board his colleagues were getting to work. There was only two left travelling on the bridle, Esken Rose and the favourite.
Entering the home straight took the field past the 2f marker and Esken Rose held a couple of lengths advantage. Off the bend Tom asked his filly to quicken and she did just that, although the favourite matched her. Although the finish stiffens up the race did seem as though it was between the front two. Esken Rose was going the better but her main rival was not going away.
Moving inside the final furlong the lead had been eaten in to with the fav gaining ground. It was now just a length between the pair but Tom was yet to really ask for everything. She began to dig deep and a length was as close as it would get. Responding to pressure Esken Rose continued gallop out powerfully and repelled her rival. Showing a great attitude, Esken Rose earned a debut win by 1 length.
Hambleton Racing have enjoyed another good season and the 2 yr olds have really been the highlight. Esken Rose settled lovely through the race and showed plenty of natural speed. Despite going a good gallop she was able to quicken off that pace but also seeing out the trip well up the stiff finish. Connections will sit down and decide what comes next but Esken Rose has already made a big impression.
The Ayr western meeting is 3 days which build up to the main event of the Ayr Gold Cup. It is always nice to get on the scoreboard early as it can just take some of the pressure off. Ventura Rascal stepped up and delivered when winning on the opening day in the 1m Luxury Breaks At Western House Hotel Handicap.
Consistency is a great trait to have and Ventura Rascal certainly has that. Tough and consistent make him a tough cookie which is shown in his record. This season has seen the 4yr old continue to improve and he had only finished out of the places on one occasion. Having run a career best when finishing fourth in an optional claiming handicap, Ventura Rascal was aimed at Ayr immediately after that run.
Dropping in grade was a big plus for Ventura Rascal but he had not won a handicap off a mark as high as his current one of 75. Although the gelding has done the majority of his racing utilising front running tactics. Despite that being his preferred method it is no the be all and with plenty of pace in the race there was a chance he could take a lead. Kevin Stott would be making his mind up once the race started.
Jumping well, like always, Ventura Rascal was immediately at the front and led the 10 runners. There was pressure from the outside and with the early fractions being strong there was a decision to be made. Kevin felt that he was happy with his pace so took a little pull, allowing Irreverant to go on. With one other rival wanting to go on, Ventura Rascal settled in third spot.
The leader kicked on once they were allowed to go and opened up a huge lead alongside his sole rival. Third was daylight as there was well over 5 lengths back to Ventura Rascal. Kevin was full of confidence and decided that he was riding his own race. An early move like this really opened up the race and it was very difficult to read as they swung around the bend.
Coming into the home straight the leader continued to stride on moving into the second half of the race. The gap back to Ventura Rascal was still lengths back but Kevin remained motionless in the saddle. Passing the 3f marker and it was still unclear who was going best but with Stott unwilling to commit it seemed as though his confidence was still strong.
Moments later the entire complexion of the race changed. Passing the 2f pole Ventura Rascal was shaken up and responded in style. The leader was beginning to toil and suddenly Rascal shot into contention. The deficit was cut within strides and as Ventura Rascal took the lead Stott went for everything. Now into full drive, Kevin went to put the race to bed. The long time leader was backtracking now and it was another closer who was set to chase down Ventura Rascal.
Moving into the final furlong with a couple of lengths lead, Ventura Rascal was seeing the trip out well and had all but one of his rivals beaten. The fav was finishing well and was closing in. The lengths shortened to three quarters and then a half. There was only a matter of strides left but Ventura Rascal had to pull out all the stops and the brave 4yr old did just that. A strange race came to a conclusion with a thrilling finish as Ventura Rascal clung on to a head victory.
Ventura Rascal has been a really fun horse this year and deserved another win on his record. Travelling well through, he quickened up smartly before having to battle it out late on. This was a very good performance from both horse and jockey, being able to judge it so well with the race being torn apart. Ventura Rascal is a very tough and genuine horse so although he will get a new career high mark, it would be no surprise to see him in the winners’ enclosure again.
Mehmas is a young stallion making giant strides and has certainly passed on his speed genes. After a sparkling start to his second career Mehmas has now found many of his progeny being brought to Hambleton Lodge as Kevin has quickly become a fan. Lady Raeburn was another to deliver for the team as she earned a first career win in the 5f IRE Incentive Scheme At Irish Sales EBF Restricted Maiden Stakes at Beverley.
The 2yr old filly was a late addition to the team due to going through the sales ring in June, with the Goresbridge Breeze Up sales moving to Newmarket. It was clear that the filly could gallop and having come through the breeze up system there wasn’t a long wait to see here in action. Only a month later and she made her racecourse debut at Hamilton. Running a 94 rated filly close on her first run, Lady Raeburn looked like a winner waiting to happen but unfortunately it took a little longer than was first expected. With two lesser efforts to follow up, Lady Raeburn had failed to build on her cracking start. Having received a handicap mark of 77, the filly was open eligible for nurseries now but connections opted to stay with the maiden/novice route.
Looking as though a step up to 6f may be suitable going forward, the stiff 5f looked as though it should be ideal. With Kevin Stott in the saddle the filly would line up against 8 rivals. Backed into favouritism Lady Raeburn jumped ok but Kevin was in no rush with the filly as she had possibly gone too quick last time out. Nestled in behind runners, Lady Raeburn raced in midfield through the early stages. Racing downhill and left handed the field were going a good clip.
Quickly through the first couple of furlongs they raced past the round course to bare down on the home straight. As the pace quickened entering the second half of the race, Kevin just had to niggle his filly to get her quickening with the others. Although there was no panic from Kevin, Lady Raeburn did just get a little bit outpaced and shuffled back slightly in the pack.
As the field galloped past the 2f and on towards the final furlong the ground rises up. Kevin was quietly working away and began to manoeuvre his filly out towards the centre of the track. The speed was holding up and still Lady Raeburn had ground to make up but she was beginning to shift through the gears. Edging all the way out Lady Raeburn found a clear run as they passed the 1f marker and began to make some headway.
Stamina began to play a part as the race unfolded and it was Lady Raeburn who started to look strongest. Quickening up the hill she was closing in on the leader who was stable mate Cotai West. Powering up the hill Lady Raeburn took the lead with 100 yards to run and had all the momentum. Although she chased along by her market rival it was Lady Raeburn who was strongest and earned a first career win with a comfortable 1/2 length margin.
Lady Raeburn was due a win and she duly delivered for her owners, Nick Bradley Racing. The filly looked as though a step up in trip could be the key to a success and she did need every yard of the stiff finish to get on top. Once Lady Raeburn got going she was well in charge and won with a bit of ease in the end. Her opening mark looked fair and Lady Raeburn can build on this success. It is likely that she will step up in trip next time out and she is a filly with a future.
Owner Mr Jaber Abdullah has enjoyed some great success throughout the years and this has led to some beautiful broodmares. Hello Zabeel is by a champion and out of a champion so he had quite a bit to live up to and it has taken time for him to really come to the fore. He was given a fantastic opportunity at Carlisle and Hello Zabeel duly grasped it with two hands when comfortably winning the 7f Watch Racing TV Maiden Stakes.
The Son of Frankel comes from a very quick family but Hello Zabeel shaped as though pure speed may not be his forte. He had to wait until this year to make his debut but it seemed as though it was worth the time. Starting over 7f, Hello Zabeel made a lovely debut to finish 2nd. Unfortunately his next start did not go to plan but two further runner up spots showed plenty of promise. With a mark of 77 Kevin could have easily stuck with the handicap route but when the Maiden came up in the entry book it did feel like a race that offered a good opportunity to get off the mark.
With all respect, once the declarations were made it looks as though the race was between two, possibly three horses. Obviously form can be thrown out of the window but it was clear that if the market leaders ran anywhere near their best then they would be hard to beat. Hello Zabeel was to be sent off the odds on favourite but he was actually rated 1lb lower than market rival Red Gensis.
Although Hello Zabeel was stepping back up to 7f Kevin Stott, who was in the saddle, took a positive approach. Jumping from a wide draw Hello Zabeel was well away and immediately to the fore. Tracking over he sat on the leader’s girth and had the perfect position as they raced down towards the bend. His market rival was situated on the outside and couldn’t find a way to tuck in, although he was just on Zabeel’s tail.
It was a fair gallop that was set as the field raced around the bend and down towards halfway. Passing the 3f marker if seemed as though Hello Zabeel’s job was made easier with Red Genesis coming under pressure. The majority of the field were being pushed along as they straightened up for home and were left with 2 1/2f to run. Kevin was sat confidently on board the fav and breezed his way into the lead.
Winning the race looked a formality as Hello Zabeel was cantering on the front end whilst his rivals were not really making any headway. Kevin loosened his grip as they passed the 2f marker and the pair skipped a length clear. With Hello Zabeel quickening up the race was put to bed but Kevin wanted to keep his colt up work. The final 1 1/2f was all hands and heels from Stott as Hello Zabeel put distance between himself and the rest. Never in danger the 3yo won by 5 1/2 lengths, gaining a first career win.
There is no such thing as a easy opportunity but it did feel as though Hello Zabeel should be winning if he ran to form. The task was made easier as his main rival was under pressure a long way from home but it could be due to trying to hang on to Hello Zabeel. Kevin was positive from the off and Hello Zabeel saw the trip out very well. He does look a nice handicapping prospect moving forward and may well get a little further in time.
How do you celebrate a Group 1 winner?? Keep the good times going with another big day out. York racecourse is just on the doorstep and is Kevin’s favourite track. Not only do you top class racing but a fantastic Yorkshire welcome and the owners love having runners there. Angie Bailey and Peter Tingey have had some amazing days on the Knavesmire but the past few years have been a bit lean. Bergerac made up for lost time with a career best win taking the 6f John And Judith Marshall Memorial Handicap at York.
Careers stats for Bergerac make for very positive reading, with just one run failing to produce a placed effort. Despite that fact, it took the now 3yo quite a while to get off the mark. Having made a very positive start to his racing career, Bergerac failed to score at 2. Maturing over the winter, he looked the type who would improve for his 3yo season and that seemed the case when he returned with another fine second placed effort. He finally got off the mark when running away with a handicap off a mark of 77. Thanks to a 6 length victory, the handicapper took no chances with the 3yo and lumped 10lbs on to his handicap mark.
Bergerac proved that he was well up to his new assessment and put up two very good efforts when runner up off a career high 87. With one further pound added, there was one clear race to aim for. The 6f contest at York attracted a competitive 11 runner field with some fast improving 3yr olds. Bergerac fit the profile for this type of race but it would require another career best run. Kevin Stott was booked for the ride and looked to be positive with his tactics.
There was a little scare as the stalls opened with Bergerac just stumbling coming out and pitching slightly. Kevin remained balanced and quickly adjusted everything to get his mount finding his feet. Despite this small scare, Bergerac showed good speed to be prominent through the first furlong. As to be expected there was a good gallop set, which is usual on a fast track like York.
They scorched through the first half of the race and had all converged to race down the centre of the track. Bergerac had been to the fore throughout but at the 3f marker he just got shuffled back a little. It was only for a couple of strides but it meant that Kevin just had to nudge him along to get back into his rhythm. As they bared down on the final 2f Bergerac then did the opposite and was travelling hard on the bridle, pulling his way to the front and vying for the lead.
Bergerac had won on a stiff track at Pontefract so once to the fore it was obvious he would see the trip out well. Kevin got lower in the saddle but the response was not quite as sudden as his rival to the far side. Having hit the front, Bergerac was now headed but only just and there was still 1 1/2f to run. That being said the other rivals were not going anywhere and more were actually getting involved. It was a vision that the handicapper would have love, with 8 runners almost in a line coming to the final furlong in with a chance of winning.
Having been headed, Bergerac seemed to get the kick up the backside and he began to find more for pressure. It was hard to find a leader, so the race was there to be won, it was just who wanted it. That answer was Bergerac who was digging deep and finding more. Kevin was in full drive and everything he asked he got answered. It took until the final 100 yards but Bergerac got his nose back to the lead and now he hit full flight. The extra resolve, stamina and class started to pay off and the gelding began to edge away. Although his rivals were brave in behind, they just couldn’t match the leader. Staying on through the line, Bergerac recorded a very game 1/2 length win.
This was not only a career best performance but one that really shows Bergerac has got a nice future ahead of him. Showing up for most of the race he did seem to get a little outpaced by halfway but once he found top gear he had the race sewn up. The really sharp 6f of York may not be ideal and a stiffer test could see him to his most effective. He is in the Ayr Gold Cup but it would be doubtful that Bergerac would get in so the Silver is an option. One thing is for sure, next season with another winter on his back, Bergerac will be targeting those big Saturday handicaps.
Group 1’s are the hardest races to win but it is why everyone is involved in the sport. Kevin has produced some high class winners of the highest echelonsince breaking his duck with Amadeus Wolf back in 2005. Emaraaty Ana provided the team with their 13th winner at the highest level whilst a potential star had already made a statement earlier in the day as Triple time earned listed honours. The day was certainly one of the most successful few hours in the career of Kevin as he secured listed and Group 1 Honours at Haydock, taking the spotlight on their most prestigious day, The Sprint Cup.
When looking into breeding there is only one constant every year and that is the dam. If they produce class they will tend to continue that and it is why some of the most famous Dam’s have a list of champions alongside their progeny. Triple Time comes from a very prolific family and he followed in their footsteps when making all in the 1m Betfair Exchange Ascendant Stakes.
Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum has a fine breeding line and sent some of his homebred progeny to Kevin this year. All come with wonderful pedigrees but one that really stood out was a colt by Frankel out of Reem Three. Littered with Group 1, Group and listed winners the page jumped out. It was even more so when Triple Time’s 1/2 brother won a derby trial and then subsequently finished fifth in the blue ribbon event.
Triple Time showed all the right signs from day one and his work was impressive. Despite being bred to appreciate a little stamina test, Triple Time was also a very quick horse, a trait that all good horses have no matter what trip they require. Having come to hand he needed to get out and gain some experience. Starting over 6f he ran a great race to finish 3rd on debut before stepping up to 7f next time out and going one spot better. Third run would see him step up another furlong once again and this time he made no mistake by destroying the field to win by 9 1/2 lengths at Haydock.
It was clear from his runs and his homework that Triple Time was well above average. The one thing that Kevin felt his colt would need was experience to mature mentally. Despite being a physically powerful juvenile, with a beautiful stride, Triple Time had shown time to understand the task at hand. Winning on his third start was ideal but with only 3 rivals it wasn’t really too testing and he would not have learnt much from that. He had shown the ability to take a step up in grade and so Kevin opted for the listed Ascendant Stakes.
Only 4 runners would line up for the race but what it was lacking in numbers it wasn’t in class and potential quality. Andrea Atzeni was in the saddle for his retained ride and immediately set out to utilise his colt’s long stride. Slowly away the Italian allowed Triple Time to stride out and with a sedate pace early the colt galloped his way to the front of the quartet. Coming around the field he tracked over to race along the rail. Quickly on down towards the long sweeping bend that would take them almost 2f to cover, Triple Time was just over a length in front and setting good fractions as he strode out.
Haydock has a long straight and as the field came around the bend they still had well over half a mile to run as they straightened up. Triple Time was a C&D winner so Andrea had no worries with the trip and seemed happy to allow his colt to do as he pleased in front. Stalked all the way by the favourite, Triple Time had a target on his back from the get go but that didn’t stop the positivity of Andrea.
Sticking to the rail, Andrea got the field on the stretch a long way from home as he wound it up over 3f from home. The increase in the tempo saw the other got a little lower to match that stride of the leader. This was going to be a real test if they were to start racing here and Andrea had made a committed move to increase the tempo. Between the 3f and 2f markers the favourite and Triple Time got a little break on the other pair as the jockeys matched each other stride for stride.
Having pulled upsides, the favourite was unable to ever get close to passing Triple Time so when Andrea asked his mount for more, the colt obliged. Baring down on the final furlong he opened up a decisive length advantage and really set sail for home. The other two had never been in the race really and Triple Time set about turning his advantage into victory. Powering through the final furlong, Andrea only had to nudge his colt along as Triple Time opened up and kicked away from his rival. The further they went the better he was and by the the time they crossed the line Triple Time had earned a 1 1/2 length victory.
This was an impressive display from Triple Time who was not only encountering a step up in grade but also different ground conditions. He set some strong fractions and manage to maintain that gallop all the way to the line. They got racing a long way out and Triple Time showed a great attitude to make all before repelling the challenge of the favourite. He saw the trip out very well and was strongest at the line, suggesting he will get further in time. Triple Time looks like a very promising prospect and his pedigree suggest that he could be a smart horse next year. He is now a listed winner so another step up in grade looks the next step which could include the Group 2 Royal Lodge or even the Group 1 Vertem Futurity Stakes. Obviously it is a long way off but connections will certainly be dreaming that Triple Time could develop into a leading classic contender next year.
If the start of the day was perfect then it was like the introduction to the main event. Haydock’s biggest flat race of the year was around the corner as 11 of the best sprinters would line up for the Group 1 Sprint Cup. Just 2 weeks on form a career best in the Nunthorpe, Emaraaty Ana went one better to prove any doubters wrong to win in thrilling fashion.
Winning the Gimcrack at 2, Emaraaty Ana looked destine to bigger and better things. Always a horse who Kevin had huge faith in the son of Shamardal has been some stiff tasks throughout his career. Having been trained for the Guineas at 3yo, which he obviously didn’t stay the trip in, Emaraaty Ana rounded that season off with a win in a 6f Conditions race.
2020 was the year that Kevin felt his charge could make waves in the sprinting division. Unfortunately he was limited to 3 runs, which were good but not quite what had been expected. Despite this connections kept the faith and made a few tweaks, including a gelding and also a wind op.
This was it now, 2021 was the year to shine and breakthrough for Emaraaty Ana. This was especially true as his home work was special early on in the year. Kevin was bullish that he had Ana in the best shape ever and it was almost the perfect start. Emaraaty Ana went to Doncaster on the opening weekend, finishing 2nd in the Listed Cammidge Trophy. This was backed up by two more placed efforts in Group 3 company. Unfortunately he couldn’t continue this form when down the field in the Gr 2 Duke Of York and Gr 1 July Cup.
Kevin needed to get some confidence into Emaraaty Ana and he headed up to Hamilton for the 5f Conditions race. With some rapid horses lining up, there was a change of tactics which would see Emaraaty Ana take a lead for one of the first times. He cruised through the race before sweeping past his rivals with ease, winning by a comfortable 2 1/4 lengths. This run was followed up by a career best result, utilising the same tactics in the Group 1 Nunthorpe. Last one off the bridle, Emaraaty Ana just couldn’t quite reel in the winner but put up a massive display and confirmed what Kevin had believed all along.
Its as obvious where he would be aimed at next but it would all depend on how Mother Nature acted. Trip wise 6f is his ideal distance but ground wise he needs good or quick going. Despite being in September, the weather was unusually warm and so Emaraaty Ana would line up for the Group Haydock sprint. The race revolved around Starman, the 5/6 favourite but connections were confident of another big run.
Andrea adapted the same tactics once again and found himself pitched just behind the leaders. There was a very strong gallop set out in front form Art Power and for a few strides Emaraaty Ana wanted to try and match his counterpart. Andrea did his very best to settle the gelding and it took a couple of furlongs, plus some cover to settle him.
The field charged down the first half of the race as the main body of he field were well bunched up. With the leader scorching along in front, they were quickly heading down to halfway. Emaraaty Ana was travelling well, especially after feeling the pace last time out over a furlong shorter. Even this far out there were one or two under pressure due to the strong pace. The favourite had sat on the outer of Andrea throughout but threw some distress signals up early as he came under pressure just inside the 3f marker.
Emaraaty Ana had travelled like a dream on his last two starts and once again the sprinter came there swinging. With a couple of furlongs to run his rivals were all hard at work whilst Andrea sat motionless. Suddenly he looked to be a huge player and began to inch closer with relative ease. The race in front was just starting to fold and this saw Emaraaty Ana move up to almost join the leaders. The favourite looked in a little trouble but began to respond to pressure, although Ana had begun to move away from him. As Andrea reached the leader he decided it was time to go and he got lower in the saddle. Asking Emaraaty Ana to go and win the race he picked up the lead and set sail.
Having hit the front the target was now on Ana’s back. Starman was now starting to find his feet and beginning to pass rivals. Entering the final furlong Emaraaty Ana held a narrow advantage but it was the fav who was now looking very threatening. Showing his great attitude, something that has never wained, Emaraaty Ana stuck his head down and aimed for there line. Starman was a length down but finding with every stride. Only 100 yards separated the pair from group 1 glory or commiserations. Emaraaty Ana was brave in front but his lead was being eaten away. The length had been closed to half that and with just strides to go Starman had got to the shoulder of Ana. It was going to be a head bobber and both horses dove for the line, heads stretched out as far as they could, squeezing every sinew to gain the advantage. Photograph was called and with modern technology it is usually a formality. The longer the delay of the result went the closer the finish seemed. After what seemed like forever, Emaraaty Ana was called the winner, a first Group 1 for the 5yr old.
It was a huge result for everyone involved with the horse and one that is richly deserved. Emaraaty Ana has always been held in the very highest regard and this win justifies the faith shown in the horse. Dropping him in and taking a lead has really brought out the best in Emaraaty Ana and he is rejuvenated animal. Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum has been very patient with the horse and it is great to deliver a Group 1 to repay the faith he has shown. It was also a fantastic ride form Andrea who had been waiting for a top level success again after a few quiet years. He has helped find the key to Emaraaty Ana and deserves all the plaudits. Finally it is great credit to the team at Hambleton Lodge who have put in so much time, effort and hard work. Without them these results are simply not possible. As far Emaraaty Ana he has next year planned out but what next? The Champions Sprint would be the obvious but unfortunately the ground at that time of year will simply be too soft. Trips abroad could be on the card for him going forward and Emaraaty Ana may head to Del Mar for this years Breeders’ Cup with the Turf Sprint an ideal option.
It was an evening which saw two maiden’s off the mark for the first time in their careers. Although they were both breaking their ducks, the two individuals couldn’t be more different. The 2yo filly Peggy Sioux was making a winning debut whilst the promising Forza Orta was due a win after some near misses on a beautiful evening at Hamilton.
Mr Guy Reed not only owned some top class horses but also had one of the most recognisable set of colours within the sport. Kevin has been fortunate to train plenty of winners in these and throughout the years has got to know the families of the progeny he has trained. Peggy Sioux was the third offspring of La Napoule and the filly made the perfect start to her career with a comfortable win in the 5f EBF Novice Stakes.
Sporting a distinctive white blaze, Peggy Sioux arrived early in the year but would take time before making her first appearance. Like her sister Aunt Agatha, Peggy Sioux went through a growth spurt during the late spring months which led Kevin to turning her out to grow a strengthen. It was the correct decision and the filly thrived for a short break, coming back as a much more defined physical. This was proven with her home work and Peggy Sioux came back to hand quite quickly, leaving Kevin searching the entry book for possible starting points.
Hamilton has been a happy hunting ground for Kevin and even this year he has sent out a good few juvenile winners. Only 5 runners would line up for the contest but Peggy Sioux was the only debutante. With handicap marks of 86, 79 and 77 there was a fair standard set and Peggy Sioux would really need to put in a smart performance on her first appearance if she was to be a winner on debut. Kevin Stott was in the saddle.
Although jumping reasonably well, Peggy Sioux found herself playing catch up as her experienced rivals were quickly into stride. Kevin just had nudge his filly along through the early stages as he tried to keep tabs with the trio in front. Racing downhill, the pace was strong but the filly was understanding what was being asked of her. Not losing any distance to the leaders, Peggy Sioux was finding her feet as they charged through the first couple of furlongs.
There was no let up with the pace and the race began to develop a long way form home. Passing the 3f marker the jockeys were starting to become animated in the saddle. Starting to get racing that far from home would make the finish a real test despite this being over the minimum distance. It was at this point where Peggy Sioux was again in contrast to her rivals, suddenly coming really sweet for Kevin. After taking her time to find her feet, she now came back on the bridle. Incredibly she now left Kevin motionless as the pair pulled up to join the leaders passing the 2f marker.
The finish stiffens so Kevin just let out a little bit of rein to get Peggy Sioux to lengthen. The filly did as was asked and came to the fore with ease. with 1 1/2f to run she was just about in front and Kevin now asked her to go and finish her race. Once again there were distinct signs of greeness but the filly was showing a great attitude. She was trying for her jockey and although the favourite had come through to join her, it was the big, white blaze out in front. Kevin was educating his mount and with a couple of flicks managed to get changing her lead and quickening up. Inside the final furlong she held sway by just around a length but under the tutelage of Stott the penny was dropping. With just over 100 yards to run, Peggy Sioux found another gear and kicked clear. Opening up with ease she afforded Kevin the luxury of easing down as the pair won by 3 1/4 lengths.
This was very taking performance from Peggy Sioux who was learning all the while but answering everything being asked of her. Once she found her feet, Peggy Sioux travelled powerfully and managed to quicken off a strong pace. She won with plenty in hand and the margin of victory could easily have been greater. There was a fair benchmark back in second so this was a very taking debut. Peggy Sioux will obviously improve for the experience and looks to have a bright future ahead.
Later on in the card there was a far more expected winner for the team. When you get a string of second laces it can be disheartening but Forza Orta put all this behind him when he stylishly won the 1m3f Weatherbys Personalised Gifts Novice Stakes. It was a win which gave the team and Kevin Stott a double on the night.
The son of Fastnet Rock is owned and bred by Highbank Stud, who sent the 3yo into training this year. It was easy to see why the rangy 3yo took time as he was a big, long striding individual. Clearly he could gallop but Forza Orta would need a trip in time which confirmed on his debut run over 1m1f. Having fallen out of the stalls and being very inexperienced throughout the race, Forza Orta stormed home to finish runner up and enter many notebooks. Unfortunately he would fill the same spot on the next 3 occasions as Forza Orta bumped into some nice horses.
Promising whilst also being slightly frustrated, the handicap route was now open to Forza Orta as he started with a marl of 76. That seemed like a fair mark but Kevin decided to not utilise it and went back to novice company. Not only that but he would trying a new trip, stepping up to 1m3f for the first time have, just a furlong further than his previous few runs. The race revolved around the two individuals who held handicap marks, Forza Orta and Doctor Parnassus who had a matching 76.
With race seemingly revolving around the market leaders it was quite good that the pair were drawn alongside each other. Jumping on terms, Kevin took Forza Orta just in behind the leading pair, stalking his main rival. Although initially on the heels of the leading pair, Forza Orta was left a couple of lengths off them after a furlong, with a distinct split in the field. It was clear that the pace was strong as the field galloped around the loop.
Forza Orta ran in snatches for the first few furlongs of the race and lost his pitch, sitting second last as they ran uphill. Kevin just had to roust him along for a few strides, trying to get his mount into a rhythm which he had yet to find. The two fancied runners had raced through the early stages distinctly differently. Forza Orta was giving his rival a good head start which he would need to claw back in the latter stages.
As they swung off the loop and headed into the home straight the ground goes away from them, letting the field free wheel downhill. Forza Orta was still not travelling great and was needing Kevin to keep him up to his work. Despite this he was closer to the lead then any time before in the race. With 4f left to run the leader began to slow it up, getting a breather to then kick once again. This stacked the field up behind him and Forza Orta was now inching his way to the front. Unfortunately Kevin now had to change tact and just ease his mount as he was all over the back of those in front, which could have led to clipped heels.
As they raced past the cutaway, Kevin just quickly edged his mount out wide and the 3yo now moved forward with ease. Looming up down the near side Forza Orta pulled his way to the join the lead with his jockey seemingly more confident. One was started to drive away whilst one was motionless.
Between the 2f and 1f marker Forza Orta was lolloping along with his market rival. Kevin was sitting pretty on top and just waiting to press the button. Passing the 1f mark was the point at which Kevin decided to put the race to bed and Forza Orta quickly moved into the lead. Within strides the gelding had kicked clear and was pushed out with hands and heels. The winning margin was whatever it wanted to be and Forza Orta stretched out to win by a very comfortable 4 lengths.
This seemed like the perfect opportunity for Forza Orta and he duly obliged. It did take a while for the gelding to get going early on but then the race was over a long way from home. It looked as though the extra distance was no issue at all and he may even get further with time. It will be interesting to see if the handicapper takes any notice of this race but handicapping will now be the order and Forza Orta could develop into a nice middle distance prospect.
Early 3yr old handicaps can be some of the most competitive races throughout the entire season. You have horses who are going to improve off their mark or some high class performers who are stepping down from pattern company they competed in during their juvenile season. Cairn Island had only two runs to his name in 2021 but both races were contested but the very best 3yr olds handicappers. It was third time lucky for him as he got back to winning ways at Newmarket in the 6f MansionBet At Newmarket Handicap.
The son of Kodiac had two wins last year, taking the valuable nursery at York’s Ebor meeting. This performance, along with a mid division run in the Doncaster sales race, would see Cairn Island begin 2021 on a mark of 91. It was a nice starting point as a win would promote you into the best 3yo handicaps.
Cairn Island had come to hand early on and the 6f race at Newmarket’s Craven meeting was the obvious starting point for the season ahead. Looking back now, Cairn Island not only bumped into some seriously talented individuals but they were also well handicapped at that stage. Winner Creative Force won the Group3 Jersey at Royal Ascot. Runner up was Significantly who was also a Royal winner and now rated 101. Third place went to Jumbo who would rise to 104. Finishing one place behind Cairn Island was Rohaan, a Group 2 winner and then carrying a huge weight in the Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot. So the form was very, very strong.
Unfortunately Cairn Island didn’t really handle the track on his second run of the year, the tight nature of Chester proving unfavourable. When he headed back to Newmarket, although the July course this time, and dropping back to 6f there was confidence that he could revert back to the form shown early on. The race was a slight drop in grade but it was another competitive race with 5 lining up for the 6f contest. Andrea Atzeni was reunited with the gelding, taking the ride for his boss Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum.
Small fields can get a little muddling with tactics coming into play. Thankfully Andrea wanted to be positive as too did Adam Kirby on Boogie Time. This led a fair gallop being set which would lead to a true run race. Settled into second place, Cairn Island travelled smoothly throughout the early stages.
With a good gallop and wide open July course, there would be no hiding place. The field charged downhill with very little change in the order. By the time they hit the halfway stage of the race all 5 runners were separated by just over 3 lengths, promising a good finish to the 3yo sprint.
It was actually Cairn Island who came under pressure first as Andrea started to work away passing the 3f pole. There had been no let up in the pace throughout so although was first to get lower in the saddle, it did produce a little domino effect. One by one his rival did likewise and they got racing a long way out. With the uphill finish it was set to be a test of stamina and will.
In to the dip the handicapper will have been a happy man with all five in a line. Quickly hitting the bottom they would rise up again to tackle the final 1 1/2 furlong. Cairn Island was still to the fore and took the lead with his rival Operatic in close contention. The pair race a little away form the rest of them and developed a battle towards the far side of the track.
Entering the final furlong Cairn Island actually had a 1/2 length deficit to make up. He was responding to pressure and as he went to hunt down the leader, they started to draw away from the third. The stiff finish looked to be favouring Cairn Island who was coming on strong and with 100 yards to go, drew alongside his rival. As soon as he joined, Cairn Island swept past, chasing legs and going away from the leader. Within a heartbeat he put the race to bed and stood out up the hill to win by 1 1/4 lengths.
Lightly race, Cairn Island had the potential before this race and he enhanced that with this win. The 3yo has been a little bit tricky to work out due to which trip may suit him best as he has tried both 6f and 7f. With all his wins coming over 6f it would be likely that this could be his future but Cairn Island did stay on well up the stiff finish and was doing his best work late on. It could be that he is a versatile horse moving forward which would be great position for him for future options. Winning off a mark he will probably be stepping up in grade once again and there may be more to come from the three time winner.