With a load of runners and a couple of winners last week, it was always going to be a quieter timer for us this week with just the one runner in Smokey Malone at Leicester who found the 6f trip a bit too sharp.
This coming week sees us with a few entries but it remains to be seen what will run with most of the races oversubscribed. Engrave is in at Yarmouth on Wednesday but I think I'll save her for the following week as this race looks very competitive whilst Valletta Sunset and Divine Queen are both in at Leicester on Friday. I hope they can both get into their races as I'm looking forward to seeing them in action again. Valletta Sunset ran with promise on his first outing of the year at Windsor last time and hopefully he can build on that whilst Divine Queen goes into handicap races for the first time and I think she is on a rating which she can be very competitive off. She is very well bred and will be a valuable broodmare prospect later in her career so getting a win into her is important to boost her future value.
The final entry of the week will be Oud Metha Bridge at Newbury on Saturday. He has come back to form now and ran a blinder when finishing second last time. He loves a straight track and hopefully the ground doesn't dry out too much before then as he should have a great chance. Unfortunately his regular rider Sean Kirrane dislocated his shoulder last week and will be on the sidelines for a while so we'll have to find another jockey who can get a tune out of him.
With lockdown restrictions easing across the country, we are now allowing owners to come and visit the yard on a day of their choosing but would kindly ask if you could let us know beforehand so we have an idea about numbers. The yard is a very safe environment with plenty of room to social distance and the fresh air is the best remedy anyone could wish for so we hope to see you soon!
When you run six horses on the same day, you hope to come away with at least one winner and I would have settled for that last Monday as the ground looked to have gone a bit too firm for my runners and I can't say I was wildly confident about any of them winning.
Luckily horses rarely read the script and I was delighted to have a double on the day, across the cards at Yarmouth and Windsor. Alibaba was an impressive winner the time before on rain-softened ground so the firmer conditions and the 5lb hike in the weights were against him but he shrugged them off no problem to win at Windsor impressively once more after making all the running. I thought he would win a race as a two-year old last year but he just got chinned on the line at Beverley one day and then lost his way a bit after then. The winter and corona break seem to have done him no harm as he is now unbeaten in his three-year old year and who knows how much further he could go as he isn't the flashiest workhorse at home and, thankfully, he saves his best for the track.
Just before the Windsor success, Spanish Mane got some glory herself at Yarmouth as she bounced back from a disappointing run last time to come through and win cosily under Sophie Ralston. We tried holding her up on this occasion and using a different bridle on her and both seem to have helped her relax and save some energy for the finish. This was the mare's second win at Yarmouth so she clearly loves the sea air and I think she will be winning again before the year is out as she has dropped to a competitive rating.
To be honest, most of the squad ran well that day with Oud Metha Bridge just finding one too good in his race, Valletta Sunset running a very eye-catching race on his second career start and Approve The Dream seemed to fare a bit better with blinkers on for the first time. Add to this Engrave's decent third at Yarmouth the following Saturday and the team appears to be in flying form.
This Saturday was the first day since the lockdown when owners could attend and Carol Bushnell went along to Yarmouth to cheer on her Engrave. She described the experience as a 'lonely' one because only seven owners went for the whole card and the restrictions in place mean that owners cannot mingle with the jockeys or trainers and you are only allowed access on to the racecourse for your horse's race. This doesn't provide a great raceday experience for owners who have been brilliantly patient during the pandemic but hopefully it won't be long before restrictions are eased and owners can get back to enjoying a day at the races.
With so many runners last week, we understandably don't have too many for the coming days with just two looking likely to race.
Leicester got the go-ahead to race this Tuesday despite being the only city in the country still under lockdown and we'll be heading there with two-year old Smokey Malone. We had to go there with a runner last week and it was up in the air whether the meeting would take place even on the morning of racing but the BHA and local authorities gave it the green light. Not everyone agreed however as most of the stalls team refused to come so all the races where started by a flag which turned out to be a farce. Luckily a stalls team has already been organised for this week so the same thing shouldn't happen again.
I don't think going racing in Leicester poses any health risk to the participants as the checks going into the racecourse are so strict that anyone who is unwell would soon get found out. Also, at the track, there are loads of cleaning stations and even a team going around cleaning every tap after you have used them! It just doesn't look great to the outside world that there is racing on in a lockdown area and people would see that as taking a risk.
Anyway, we'll be going there with Smokey Malone and hopefully he has learnt plenty from his debut last month when I was a bit disappointed with how he ran. Fingers crossed the experience has straightened him out a bit and he can run more professionally today and show some promise for the future.
The only other entry for the week will be Winter Snowdrop at Lingfield on Saturday. She needed the run last time after her winter break and the ground was probably a bit too firm as well. She has some good course form so hopefully she can be more competitive this time.
The latest issue of our newsletter the Harraton Herald came out last week and all subscribers will have received it through their email. If you missed it, you can read it HERE.