A week has made a big difference in the weather having been wrapped up to the max last Sunday as an icy arctic wind hit the country, this Sunday we could turn some of the horses out in the paddocks without a rug on as we enjoyed some spring-like sunshine. It's probably too early to say that winter has gone but hopefully that is the last of the really icy conditions of the season and the ground can finally get some recovery after a battering from frosts and rain recently.
The better conditions meant that we could get plenty of the team out on the grass gallops this weekend including the horses who all had a winter holiday. They have been gradually working their way back to fitness since the new year and the plan is to have them all ready for the start of the turf season in April. Everything looks rosy at the moment so hopefully they can all stay in one piece and stick to the plan.
We have a quiet start to this week before a few days of consecutive runners to end it.
The best chance looks to be on Wednesday as Smokey Malone bids to make it back to back wins. Everything was in place for him to win last time and thankfully he did just that. He is running under a penalty here and, although we won't know his new rating until Tuesday, I think he's due to go up six or seven pounds so it makes sense to run. He has been fresh and well at home since last time so I don't see a reason why he shouldn't run well again.
We're back at Southwell the following day with Raha. She has been a bit disappointing the last twice at Kempton where she lacked an extra gear in the finish. It may just be that she doesn't have the turn of foot for that surface so hopefully the more galloping nature of Southwell will see her fare better. It's always an unknown when you run there for the first time as horses either love it or hate it but she has the attributes of a horse who should handle the surface.
Valletta Sunset has had a bit of a break to freshen up and he's back on track at Lingfield on Friday. He hasn't been showing the ability we know he has on the racecourse but we'll try a few different things and hope it sees him fare better.
Rounding off the week will be Engrave at Chelmsford on Saturday night. She has been running ok at Southwell but is probably a better horse at Chelmsford so the return there is a bonus. A low draw is crucial over the 1m2f distance there so fingers crossed she can get that and be competitive.