We're in full swing now and had a mixed bag of results with last week's runners but they all had their excuses.
Macho Son put in the best performances when getting run down late to finish second at Nottingham on Wednesday. It was his first run of the year and his first one in a handicap race so we couldn't have asked for better and hopefully he can build on this effort this season.
The Mouse King was another to run beyond our expectations on his first run of the year when finishing a close fourth at Southwell the following day. He is a big and stuffy horse who we thought would be a bit unfit but he fared better than we thought and didn't blow as hard afterwards as we feared would be the case.
Star apprentice Billy Lougnane ended up riding Mouse as, the day before, his intended jockey Sam Feilden unfortunately broke his arm at his boss Karl Burke's yard. He's got to see a specialist this week to see how bad it is but we wish him speedy recovery and hope he'll be back soon.
The disappointing runs came from the pair who we thought could win with Fen Tiger running a stinker up at Thirsk when he got bumped and crowded and down tooled after. He has won making the running before so we might do that next time.
Corporate Raider didn't seem to have many excuses at Chelmsford when fading into fifth on Thursday and I'll try him on the turf next time as it might just have been the track which didn't suit him.
We've another busy week coming up starting with Queen's Company at Nottingham on Wednesday. We finally figured out how to get the best out of her at the end of last year when she won at Yarmouth and I'm sure she will enjoy more success this year. Soft ground and hold-up tactics seem to be the key so we will try these again and hope for the best. She is pretty fit but just needs plenty of luck in running.
On Friday we have two entries.
Smokey Malone is in at Southwell and can hopefully follow up his second place last time with another good run. He's another horse who likes to be held up so needs plenty of luck to win.
Alibaba is the other entry that day at Leicester. The ground is too soft at the moment so it'll need to dry up for him to run and he'll probably need the run again after coming back from almost two years off last month.
Saturday will be a very busy one for us with the first meeting of the year at Yarmouth so we are out in force with six horses pencilled in to run.
Corporate Raider could get a quick turnaround and run again and it'll be interesting to see how he fares on turf having not had many runs on it.
Lady Clemmie will have her first go in a handicap and I hope she can start to be competitive. She has some stalls issues to overcome but we're working hard at home to help her with these and hopefully she will behave on the big day.
Scotch Mist will hopefully be back on track after over 18 months off due to injury. She has been ok since returning this year and it'll be great to get her back on the course after such a promising debut so long ago.
Savannah Song has taken a while to get to the races but will make her debut at the weekend too. She's still a bit of a baby at home so the run will be a good experience for her.
Spanish Mane needs no introduction having won seven races for us down the years and she retains all her enthusiasm as she comes back for more this year. As always, she enjoyed her winter holiday a lot and got a bit fat so I expect her to need the run fitness-wise.
Completing the Yarmouth entries will be new recruit Rose Fandango. She came to us before Christmas and has taken a while to settle into things and we will learn plenty about her after this run.