We went into last week with some good chances but it looked like luck wasn't with us after a frustrating start.
We set off for the long trip up to Redcar with Queen's Company on Monday when the ground was described as good to firm but when we got there it was easy to see that they had had plenty of rain that morning. The ground was still called good so we took our chance but after the first race the jockeys were saying it was definitely soft ground. You never know if a horse will like that ground until you run on it but we were pretty sure Queenie wouldn't handle it and so it proved. She's a filly we really like so hopefully she can get the right conditions to show herself soon.
Spanish Mane went to Yarmouth on Wednesday with a good chance too and she ran with plenty of credit to finish third, just tiring late on. A mile does stretch her stamina but she has come to hand now and will win another race or two this season.
Stintino Sunset may have finished second last this day too but it was a promising debut and she showed us enough to suggest that she could be winning a two-year old race. She broke well from the stalls but then was carried wide by an errant horse which cost her a lot of ground before she ran on late towards the line.
The last bullets to fire for the week came at Lingfield on Thursday and thankfully we hit the target after Smokey Malone won his second race of the year under a great ride from Dylan Hogan. Smokey was unlucky when hampered at the course last time and he got his favoured fast pace to chase this time. It looked like another hard-luck story again as he was once more hampered with a furlong to race but the pair switched right and just found enough to win by a short head.
Having been a nightmare to train as a two-year old, Smokey has matured into a very sensible horse now and a regular winner too!
Engrave ran a solid race in third place on the same day and her consistency is a credit to her although it does her no favours with the handicapper.
We just have a couple of entries this week starting with Arpina at Lingfield on Tuesday.
We've been waiting to run her over 7f at Lingfield for a long time but there hasn't been a chance until now. She's not fast enough for 6f and a flat 7f stretches her stamina so hopefully the downhill 7f at Lingfield will be what she needs to get her head in front.
Mrs Meader is the other entry for the week at Haydock on Friday.
She has needed her first couple runs this season and we've been waiting for some soft ground for her which they seem to have here. She is on a handy rating now so should run well granted luck in running.
I'm pleased to announce that we will be holding an owners' barbecue on Friday 1st July at the yard and welcome you all to attend. The idea is that anyone travelling down can enjoy the barbecue from 5.30pm and then join us on the gallops the following morning to see the horses in action. Make a note in your diaries and we will ask for attendance emails closer to the time.
The flat season is in full swing now and don't we know it with a very busy week ahead and plenty of motorway miles to be clocked up.
The longest trip of the week comes on Monday when we will be heading up the A1 to Redcar with Queen's Company. Although we don't go there very often, it has been a lucky track for me in the past after I rode my first winner as a jockey there and I trained a 100/1 winner there years ago.
Hopefully we can be lucky again as Queen's Company is a nice filly who needed her comeback run and dropped a couple of pounds in the ratings as a result. She's a lot fitter now and the conditions should suit her so hopefully she can come home with some prize money.
The following day we will be heading south with Arpina at Brighton.
She has been a bit disappointing since finishing second earlier in the year but I think the unique undulations of Brighton could be what she needs to keep her interested and to perk her up. She's running out of chances to show herself as she'll be off to the sales if she doesn't start producing some results soon.
Yarmouth is on on Wednesday and good old Spanish Mane is heading back there.
She was a bit fat for her comeback runlets time so she'll be a lot fitter now. The mile is about as far as she wants to go but on quick ground she should get away with it and hopefully she can start building some consistency now as she gears towards another successful season.
The same day we have Stintino Sunset at Kempton who will be our second two-year oldjunner of the year. She has been very easy to train but hasn't got the speed for five furlongs so we've waited until now for the six furlong races to start. She has a great attitude and I hope she can just get involved early on and learn plenty for the future.
The final entries for the week come on the turf at Lingfieldon Thursday.
Smokey Malone ran well there last week when a little unlucky in running.He will run another good race and can win if getting some more luck and a stronger pace to chase.
Engrave will make it two greys heading to the races as she has her first try on Lingfield's undulating turf track. I think she'll handle it and the small field will suit her. Her form on the all-weather has always been better than on the turf but I see no reason why she can't win a race on the grass.