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Peter Taplin & Sue Bunney's KOEMAN returns with a beaming Charlie Bishop after victory on Friday afternoon


A very pleasing victory for Peter Taplin & Sue Bunney's KOEMAN who showed the benefits of a very pleasing return at Kempton last month to follow up with victory in the Class 3, mile and a half handicap for four year olds and up at Lingfield on Friday afternoon.

The four year old son of Dutch Art showed plenty towards the end of 2017 to suggest that he'd truly come into his own this time around and he took this event in commanding fashion, overcoming a bump inside the distance to score by half a length over Island Brave, Amazing Red & Fearsome who finished in close order in behind.

This was KOEMAN's fourth career victory and the previous three all came in the second half of last season, seeing him rise in the weights from a rating of 71 to Friday's mark of 85. That obviously looks set to rise again and Mick is very much looking forward to the season proper with a very promising type.

"He's been a slow burner this lad and it's easy to see why because he's very rangey and always had the scope to improve with time and a step up in trip. He's certainly done that and he sees the mile and a half trip out really well.

"He was caught for a bit of toe as they quickened for home but Charlie (Bishop) didn't panic and although he recieved a bump in the closing stages, he'd already got into gear and saw it out nicely.

"Pete and Sue might have a lot of fun this season. They've been very patient but he's always shown promise and he might well get further and turn into a staying type.

"We all want to go to the big venues and Goodwood is a real favourite of Pete's so we'll see what we can do."

Posted By: Wilsley News

Tim Radford, Brian Hughes, MISTER WHITAKER & his Lass Lenka return in triumph yesterday afternoon


There's 'thrilling' and there's 'THRILLING' and yesterday on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival, the Radford Family's MISTER WHITAKER took the closer, winning the two and a half mile Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase (Listed) by a mere whisker.

It was enthralling, exciting, nail-bitingly dramatic and utterly brilliant as Brian Hughes danced with perfection to deliver a foot perfect ride on a very promising young horse to win by a head on the line to deny Rather Be.

These days seldom come along and seldom are they so exhillarating in their execution but yesterday was as close to perfect as you could get for all connections - having watched the replay countless times, it's difficult to see there being a ride this week that might rival the one given to MISTER WHITAKER.

I think everyone is still on cloud nine and will be for quite some time.

Brian and Mister Whitaker

For the Radford family, this was the culmination of almost twenty years of plotting, planning and praying for a winner at the Festival and the scenes in the winner's enclosure reflected that. They certainly don't have a vast fleet of horses in training but they are usually well selected and represent value. They've had plenty of winners along the way and a few near misses but for Mick, it was a great day that will be difficult to top. Not that he's not already looking to do so.

"That was a real thrill and the way he did it was quite something. We learnt from his victory on trials day that he can idle in front so we told Brian not to hit the front too soon - he certainly did that! A brilliant ride from a tremendous jockey.

"It's been a real team effort; from Hen buying him from the Costellos, to Tim having patience because we had a few irritating setbacks early on but this year MISTER WHITAKER has just flourished.

"We had to hold our nerve, he only just crept in and was bottom of the handicap but you can't help but look forward with him and you'd hope this isn't the last time he's successful at the festival.

"He's a real athlete, not overly big but he's got a touch of class about him. The ground was very hard work but he'll be better on a sounder surface. He'll probably get three miles and with his jumping you'd hope that he's better than a handicapper - I can't wait to see what he becomes - next year, if he goes on and stays sound, we could very well shake them up again.

"We've only got four jumpers so this makes it extra special and seeing Tim and the whole Radford team celebrate like they did meant everything to me. They lost a wife and a mother in Camilla, who loved her jumping, and she was in everyones' thoughts today. It was quite emotional to be honest. 


"Boy though, was there some celebration! Even the 'Windmill' came out!

It was a truly great day."

Posted By: Wilsley News

Lord Ilsley Racing's SAYESSE & Callum Shepherd return to the winner's enclosure at Lingfield yesterday


After a fruitless three year-old campaign that involved bemusement and plenty of head scratching, SAYESSE finally returned to the winner's enclosure after taking the Class 5 seven furlong handicap at Lingfield yesterday afternoon.

2017 was a season that initially started full of promise for SAYESSE who ran with great credit in decent company off of a mark of 86. From mid-summer onwards though the wheels fell off in quite remarkable fashion with very few of us able to put a finger on the issue.

In short, he just stopped being competitive and was unable to lay up in the early stages of his races. It was only after his final start at Bath in late July that a hamstring issue came to light and it was decided to give the son of Sayif an extended break. Nothing glaringly obvious seemed to be wrong but it's probably fair to say that both physically and mentally all was not well and we were left with the task of building him back up in the hope that his two year old sparkle returned.

And it just might have.

SAYESSE won four races as a juvenile and it's been a long road back to form but, having started back at the end of January, he's gradually began to show his old sparkle as a combination of a return to race fitness and a tumble down the ratings led him to line up in a 0-70 for the first time under Callum Shepherd yesterday.

He did it very nicely as well as he was always in touch with the pacesetter Mansfield and made his challenge as they straightened for home, going on to win like the class horse in the race and prevail by a convincing length. It was a great sight for all of his owners in Lord Ilsley Racing and a great relief to Mick who had set out a plan to prove that SAYESSE has plenty going for him as the turf season beckons.

"That was great to see but he had to win that. He ran very well last Friday finishing third in a 0-80 race at Wolverhampton when this race popped up out of nowhere in the fixtures. He came out of the Wolves run very well and it just looked like the perfect race for him and so it proved.

"He's a real tough cookie who gave everyone a lot of joy in 2016 and I honestly can't say what happened last year. He's probably such a tough bugger that he was carrying a niggle that just wasn't obvious and that in turn affected his confidence. Whatever it was, we were determined to turn things around and you wouldn't find a more willing accomplice.

"Yesterday should really boost his confidence. Callum gave him a smashing ride and he certainly gave him every chance to enjoy the experience. We'll probably give him a little break now to get ready for the turf season.

"SAYESSE took the Lord Ilsley mob to plenty of proper venues at two and we can only hope that he's well handicapped and on the up again after last year's nosedive. If he is, we'll be in for a bit of fun in 2018."

Posted By: Wilsley News


A thrilling victory for John Turner's BUILDMEUPBUTTERCUP saw the four year old daughter of Sixties Icon record her second career win in only three starts when taking the Class 4 two mile mares' bumper at Ascot yesterday afternoon.

A winner on debut at Warwick back in November, BUILDMEUPBUTTERCUP finished second next up at Lingfield, bumping in to the well regarded more experienced Crara Be. Yesterday however, BUILDMEUPBUTTERCUP was the one with experience and she travelled superbly throughout in very testing conditions.

With Brian Hughes up, there was very little panic and BUILDMEUPBUTTERCUP was the last off the bridle and the finish saw her in a protracted duel with Rosy World, the pair pulling a long way clear in the closing stages, with Brian and his willing filly prevailing by a head to the delight of the Boss who is looking forward to the weeks ahead.

"Obviously we'd love to have a go at the bumper at the Cheltenham Festival but I think it's time to be a wee bit realistic and focus on Aintree further down the line."

There's a mares only race that is the logical option so I imagine that will be our target. BUILDMEUPBUTTERCUP is a very genuine and willing filly who showed she can handle any gound - most of Sixties Icon's progeny are very adaptable in terms of the ground but she's got a very economical action and I think she'll be much better on a sounder surface.

"That's usually what you get at Aintree in April and she's shown us she has the professionalism and the attitude to put up a good show, so Liverpool seems like the right target to aim for." 

Posted By: Wilsley News

The Radford Family's MISTER WHITAKER - A winner at Cheltenham yesterday afternoon


The headline is a bit over the top but I liked the ring to it and a winner for the Radfords at Cheltenham is worth singing from the rooftops and I suspect Tim was doing just that.

It was MISTER WHITAKER who prevailed at Prestbury Park as the six year old son of Court Cave took the two mile five furlong Class 2 Novices Handicap Chase under Adrian Heskin.

MISTER WHITAKER has shown plenty this season to suggest that he's a horse to take us places and after victory at Carlisle in November, he followed up with a solid second behind Hell's Kitchen at Kempton on Boxing Day. He was possibly the victim of a tactically astute front runner that day but yesterday in heavy ground he showed that he's an emerging force to be taken seriously in the coming months.

A return to Cheltenhman looks very much on the cards as the Close Brothers Handicap looks ideal for him and Mick is very much relishing the prospect.

"There aren't too many issues in terms of where we hope to run in March! Tim sponsors the Gold Cup and it's obviously all about the festival with plenty in our favour. He'll go up to a rating that will put us in the race and he's proved that he's got a great heart and will handle any ground. 

"Drier conditions in the spring will very much suit him and I couldn't be happier with the horse. He took a bit of time to get in a groove but this season he's been faultless in his attitude and his work at home.

"He was unlucky at Kempton and did nothing wrong there and yesterday he cruised into the race despite an error or two but it's great to know that he can act round Cheltenham.

"To win any race at the Festival would be a dream, particularly for Tim and his family and we can look forward to March with a real sense of optimism."

Yesterday evening, Box 41's HELVETIAN underlined what an exciting prospect he's shaping up to be by taking the Class 4 six furlong handicap under both top weight and Charlie Bishop in convincing style.

The three year old Swiss Spirit colt was a late bloomer in his two year old campaign but has been kept busy enough since his maiden win in August and has certainly thrived over the winter.

He's surely better than his current mark of 88 and Mick is keen to see how good he can be in the coming months before the turf season beckons.

"We'll have to give him and easy time sooner rather than later but for know I'm chuffed that we have a horse who thrives on racing. We've not really asked him too much at home, just kept him ticking over and the rest he's done himself.

"He's suited by a strongly run six furlongs as we saw last night but he's got the scope to get further."

Posted By: Wilsley News

Mick's homebred PATTIE and Charlie Bishop romp home at Lingfield yesterday afternoon


Another West Ilsley filly and another filly by Sixties Icon took Wednesday's feature at Lingfield as PATTIE ran out a convincing winner of the Class 3 32Red/EBF Fillies' Handicap over seven furlongs under Charlie Bishop.

A full sister to the smart Harrison, PATTIE has taken some time to get to grips with in terms of her best trip but yesterday reaffirmed the fact that a strong pace over seven furlongs to a mile suits her down to the ground. Having won on her last start over a mile in 2017, yesterday's reappearance saw her pick off her three rivals and surge home strongly.

Off of a mark of 80, PATTIE was off of bottom weight with Make Music (90), Soul Silver (88) and Yeah Baby Yeah (82) in opposition and once the two highest rated set a very genuine pace up front, Charlie and PATTIE took their time in the early stages.

Coming down the hill though they closed the gap and entering the home straight there was some concern as they were hemmed in on the rail before a gap opened a furlong from home and PATTIE powered to the front to prevail by a convincing length leaving Mick both delighted with the ten grand prize money and the prospects for his home bred's 2018 campaign.

"That was great to see and there's plenty to look forward with her. We messed up a bit last year believing that she'd be best over middle distances but once we realised that she's best used over a shorter trip, it became clear that she's a very straigh forward individual.

"A genuine test isn't always assured with only four runners but it panned out perfectly, Charlie didn't panic and she's done it very nicely.

"Sixties Icon gets all types but she's a bit like him in that she's tough, sound and will only get better from here.

"We'll have to face the handicapper's assessment now because they were no mugs we were up against but I say 'Bring it on'.

"I'm looking forward to seeing how far she can go this year." 

Posted By: Wilsley News

Summer Icon & Charlie Bishop taking the Fast Track Qualifier at Wolverhampton on Thursday


A very pleasing start to 2018 as the Voute Partnership's SUMMER ICON booked a possible date on the All-Weather Champions Day with victory in the Class 2 Fillies' Condition Stakes on Thursday.

With Charlie Bishop up, SUMMER ICON was well placed throughout the seven furlong contest and had the measure of her three rivals throughout to record an impressive victory.

The 84 rated five year old daughter of Sixties Icon faced two 95 rated opponents in Raven's Lady and Diagnostics off of level weights but it didn't show and the Boss was delighted that such a resiliant mare retains all of her enthusiasm for the job in hand.

"She's ultra consistent and ran well in a Class 3 event at Lingfield just before Christmas. She's been on the go for quite a while but this race looked worth a try because she's got a bit of black type behind her and it's now all about picking up what we can while she's in such good heart.

"We'd be hopeful of taking in the seven furlong race on the All-Weather Champions day at Lingfield and we'll see how she is from here. We've done it before with Volunteer Point, so there's every hope that we can repeat the trick with a fine specimen who has bags of ability."

Posted By: Wilsley News

The Radford Family's MISTER WHITAKER & Adrian Heskin surge home at Carlisle yesterday afternoon (Photo Michael Ross @mrossi11 Twitter)


A more than welcome relief for the Radford Family's MISTER WHITAKER who shrugged of 12 months of frustration to stamp his authority on Sunday by taking the 0-135 novices chase under Adrian Heskin at Carlise.

The five year old son of Court Cave took the two and a half mile contest in convincing fashion off a mark of 118 and, to be honest, it's not before time. The early part of his career in bumpers and over hurdles showed that he had ability but it was a case of biding our time and his introduction to the bigger obstacles that would see him in his true light.

He travelled well throughout and jumped beautifully yesterday under a fine ride with the Boss now delighted that the real work is about to truly begin.

"He's always been alright but we've had a frustrating time - for both the Radfords and with the horse.

"He's always been a 'tomorrow horse' but there's often been times when I though tomorrow would never come. He found things tough in his bumpers and over hurdles and never really made me happy when he came out of his races.

"That said though, he always gave us glimpses that he had a future and we're on the right track now.

"His debut over fences last month was very encouraging and Hen's got him jumping beautifully. His work at home has been great and although he's only five, he's come a hell of a long way since we put him away back in the spring.

"He's a horse who I want to see thrive from here on in. He's a great looker and has a great attitude and you can draw your own conclusions from yesterday's performance.

"He'll get further and hopefully take Tim and the team to where they want to be in the season ahead."

Posted By: Wilsley News

Norman Court Stud's ICONIC CODE returns to the winner's enclosure at Pontefract on Monday afternoon - Photo courtesy of @JonathanDoidge (Twitter)


A pleasing win at Pontefract on Monday afternoon as Norman Court Stud's ICONIC CODE took the mile nursery under John Egan on her handicap debut.

Having shown glimpses of ability in her three previous starts, Mick was primed to let her run in selling company a month ago only for a minor setback which meant that the daughter of Sixties Icon was returning after a forty day break. That seems to have done her the world of good though as in very testing conditions she ground out a convincing first career win.

John Egan was in no hurry through the early phases and as the race developed as they straightened for home ICONIC CODE was already making her move. She clearly had  plenty of running in her as those at the head of the fray one by one fell away and inside the distance she accounted for Milan Reef and Normandy Blue in commanding fashion with the other nine in the field all at sea and far adrift.

This was a pleasing victory for the Boss who considers ICONIC CODE to be a real slow burner with plenty more to come.

"This was something I always saw coming although admittedly not at 16/1. I'm talking about her progression in that she was never a ready made two year old but she kept showing us bits and pieces at home that said that she wanted to get on with the job.

"If she was weak and not doing well in herself I'd have thrown her out until next year but the mini break she gave herself last month was a blessing in disguise really.

"The thrived for just a fortnight on the easy list and that was there for all to see on Monday. She's a good looking filly whose family I know all about and a typical Sixties Icon type.

"Again he's mirrored the mare he's covered and as a result we have a filly who will probably get a mile and a quarter next year, possibly further but she has an attitude that says there are plenty of races in her in 2018."

Posted By: Wilsley News

Jon & Julia Aisbitt's OCTOBER STORM - A winner at York on Saturday


An apt result on Saturday as October Storm showed that he retains all of his enthusiasm for the job as Autumn truly takes hold by taking the Class 3 Coral Stayers Handicap at York under John Egan in thrilling fashion.

The four year old gelded son of Shirrocco doubled his tally for the year having taken a similar event at Goodwood off a mark of 72, a pound less that his rating on Saturday over an extended two miles.

Jon & Julia Aisbitt's charge is hardy and likable but needs the handicapper onside - a point proven having spent the middle of the season in the high seventies. Having dropped down in the ratings though he proved how he likes a scrap, emerging from the rear to take it up a furlong from home and hold out for a short head victory upsides Arrowtown to the delight of his happy trainer.

"It's not always easy with these staying handicappers and you need to switch this lad off early. He's very similar to Jon & Julia's ELIDOR but he just lack his class which makes it even more of a challenge. But these stayers make the job very satisfying when things fall right. Unfortunately in this sort of division though, you have to bide your time.

"He'll keep trying and will keep winning though because he's got plenty of spirit and is as sound as a pound."

Elsewhere, two juveniles broke their maidens, one at a big price on debut, whilst the other justified favouritism to take the Kempton Park Nursery on Friday evening.

Ann Black's DARK BLUE broke her maiden tag at the seventh attempt in the Class 6 seven furlong event under a very cool ride from Raul Da Silva. She cost a few quid as a yearling but she'll have done her page no harm in taking a competitive contest in fine style, holding off Puramente by a head with the Boss hoping that there's a wee bit more to come from a filly who has a great attitude to the game.

"She's won off a mark of 59 so we haven't got a Please Sing which did Ann so proud a few years back but we've got to make the best of her and there are signs that she can go on from this.

"Raul almost nursed her over the line and he wasn't particularly hard on her even though winning by a head doesn't seem that cosy.

"I'm her trainer though so I've got to look at the positives. She didn't have a hard race and Raul certainly didn't throw the kitchen sink at her so I'm hoping she's a bit better that the bare form. She's got a bit of a pedigree and whilst she'll not be making the front pages I'm hopeful that we can better her race record because she's a fine specimen with a sensible head on her."

We've had a winner for Jaber which is always nice! Mr Abdullah's FAYROUZ ROSE won at the first time of asking at Nottingham last week under Charlie Bishop on debut. Her odds of 25/1 giving you a clue that her victory in the Class 4 Oh So Sharp Maiden Fillies' Stakes was something of a surprise, but the sort of upset that didn't cause shockwaves.

She just a backward, immature individual who was getting valuable experience in a career that has always suggested she'd benefit for a winter behind her. 

Charlie didn't rush her and was more than happy when the daughter of first season sire Epaulette made headway three furlong from home. She then kept finding and finding and relished the extended mile trip to run on strobly to account for the vastly more experienced favourite La Diva by half a length with Mick hoping that his patience might pay off.

"That was a terrific first run and something that we consider a bonus. She's just taken time and I thought Charlie gave her a great introduction. She didn't cost a fortune but we often take a gamble on first season sires and she's something to look forward to next year.

"She's out of a Daylami mare so she'll obviously need a trip but we'll take our time with her and look forward to next season now. I don't know how good she is and I thought she'd need the run so there could be an engine there. Time will tell but these sort of fillies make the winters more bearable thinking of what's to come.

Posted By: Wilsley News