There were more solid efforts from the team this week with three runners and all three finishing in the first four. Limerick Lord bounced back from a disappointing run last time to finish third, looking like he could stay further than the one mile distance at Southwell. The annoying thing is that there is no distance between that and 1m3f at the course because they can't start races on the bend but I might try him over that extra trip before the winter is out just to see if he does have the stamina.
I did just that with Winter Snowdrop at Chelmsford on Thursday as she tried 1m5f for the first time but, despite finishing fourth, I don't think she lasted home after travelling well through the race.
One horse who seems to stay all day is War Empress and she claimed an unlikely-looking second place on Sunday when rattling home at Southwell after being detached and off the bride for most of the way. Fair play to jockey Ben Curtis who never gave up on her and almost got the best possible reward.
I have to give the staff plenty of praise for their work this week as it was an utterly grim one weather-wise but they managed to still get the horses exercised and cared for despite the conditions. We are lucky not to have to deal with any flooding here but it is still very wet out on the Heath and in the paddocks. Hopefully we can have a bit of a dry spell and will probably be wishing for rain in the not too distant future!
The majority of the horses are starting to get back to full fitness now and I expect that lots of them will be ready to run by the end of the month. We had all three lots galloping on Saturday morning and the grass gallops in Newmarket were decent enough to let the horses stride out on although they were on the soft side. As always, I expect them to improve for their initial runs but they have a long season ahead of them so there's no point in being razor sharp so early in the year.
We have an easy enough start to the week before a few entries end it starting with Southwell on Thursday. Noble Account is entered there and can hopefully continue his good run of form. I'm not sure it is the perfect course for him but he ran well there before and jockey Charlie Bennett is learning about him all the time as he isn't the easiest horse to ride. A small field should suit him and I hope he can have a chance.
Also entered there is Oud Metha Bridge but he will be entered at the same track on Sunday too and I'll probably favour the latter option. That day is also Southwell's first ever "Ladies Only" Day where all the jockeys and racecourse officials will be women so naturally I'm keen to support it.
We'll be at Chelmsford on Saturday evening with Spanish Mane and Engrave who both have decent course form. Spanish Mane is hitting top form now and is ready to win when things go her way. She is well-handicapped and flying at home so let's hope she can get her head in front again.
Engrave was a bit disappointing on her first run for us but I don't think she stayed the 1m4f and had to go quite hard early on to get to the front. Her initial rating of 65 is a bit high but we will know more about that after this first handicap run.