Valentine's Day at Southwell races seems to be the new normal now as I think this was the third consecutive one I've been there but I don't mind whatsoever if it means coming home with a winner like we did today.
Smokey Malone has been much improved since we put blinkers on him and he backed up his second place at the course last time buy going one better on this occasion. Jockey Dylan Hogan just tracked the leaders before taking his time and pouncing inside the last furlong. Even though the pair hit the front, it wasn't home and hosed as Smokey started to edge left and let the runner-up get closer but he was always doing enough to win.
It was great to get the horse's head in front for his syndicate of owners who have been patient with him and allowed him time to mature. It was also a much deserved success for the team at home as Smokey has been tricky to deal with on the gallops and someone was falling off him most days when he was younger! Luckily he has settled down a bit now and we know how to keep him on the straight and narrow and it is great that this is resulting in success on the track.
The team also deserve extra credit for getting through the weather this week as we received an arctic blast and the temperature hardly got above zero for many days on end. Luckily the gallops and road surfaces were dry so didn't freeze and all the horses could get out but the team had to keep well wrapped up to keep the chilly wind out and I thank them all for their hard work which deserved to be rewarded with a winner.
The bad weather meant that we couldn't go to Chelmsford on Friday with Engrave due to snow still lying on the course but thankfully none of our other runners were affected and the coming weeks look a bit warmer.
Wednesday looks to be our only day of racing this week with a couple of entries at Kempton.
Saray Prince needs a third run to qualify for handicap races so he will use it to gain a bit more experience and hopefully he can learn plenty from the day.
Raha should have a good chance as I think the step up to one mile is what she needs. Seven furlongs is perfect for her on soft turf but on the quicker all-weather surface she probably needs a bit further as she takes a while to get into top gear. Hopefully she can get into full flight inside the final furlong and go close to winning.
Valentine's Day is not just a romantic one for humans but for racehorses too as it signals the start of the breeding season. Our mare Bavarica was one of the first on the list for her date with Cityscape this weekend and hopefully it can be as successful as the two previous visits which produced Gas Monkey and Mrs Meader. Owner Chris Cleevely has also started to grow an interest in the breeding side of things and we have his Royal Dollar staying with us who visited Mayson so in a year's time there will hopefully be two little foals running around the place!