Insignia Racing's KNIGHT OF THE AIR - A winner at Chepstow yesterday afternoon
After a frustrating defeat at Bath nine days ago, it was very satisfying to see Insignia Racing's KNIGHT OF THE AIR make amends at Chepstow yesterday as he took division one of the Class 6 Oakgrove Stud Supports Noah's Ark Children's Hospital Handicap in the hands of Oisin Murphy.
It was an eyecatchig ride that saw KNIGHT OF THE AIR anchored at the back of the fourteen runner field for much of the seven furlong contest, only being asked for an effort three furlongs out. He made steady progress throughout before he hit the front inside the final furlong. He held on comfortably enough despite Satchville Flyer's late rally to please the Boss no end.
"Justly deserved for this fella who is very consistent if perhaps a little frustrating at times. He needs cover and to be produced at the right time and that was a smashing ride yesterday. Shane Kelly did very litytle wrong at Bath last time but blamed himself, saying he should have waited even longer than he did. You can see what he means because this lad has just one surge and then rather falters but not yesterday.
"I was very pleased because this lad, although he's no star, goes to work and is always willing. He's been invaluable to us this year at home and thankfully he's tranferred that onto the racecourse."
Qatar Racing & The Sweet Partnership's OPAL TIARA seen winning at Goodwood yesterday
A superb performance from a consistent and improving filly at Goodwood yesterday saw Qatar Racing and The Sweet Partnership's OPAL TIARA step up on her status as a Listed filly to Group 3 winner in tenacious style.
This was her third win in her last four outings and yesterday is undoubtedly a career highpoint as she defeated class older horses of undoubted talent in a thrilling finish to the Doom Bar Supreme Stakes over seven furlongs in the hands of Oisin Murphy.
Although not aided by a wide draw, as was the case in her last Goodwood appearance at the Glorious meeting, a raft of non runners allowed her to get some sort of a position yesterday and when push came to shove she knuckled down in the closing stages to prevail by a neck ahead of Convey and Jallota.
Mick was ecstatic and delighted for connections.
"That was terrific and this is one tough filly. Qatar Racing and their partners Keith & Clive Potter and Gill Hedley who also bred her can be rightly proud. She just kept on finding and Oisin was rightly impressed with her attitude because at one point it looked over only for her to go again and surge over the line.
"We'll have to sit down and assess her options now because she needs fast ground and if the rain comes in the autumn we'll perhaps look to Dubai or possibly Qatar. I don't know exactly what the future holds in terms of her racing but we'll have a chat this week.
"All I do know is that right now we're all chuffed - and rightly so."
The tara Moon Partnership's TARA MOON - A winner on debut yesterday
A pleasing day on the juvenile front yesterday as TARA CELEB won on debut under John Egan at Goodwood and Christophe Soumillon put in a proper shift to guide KING OF SPADES home in Deauville.
Whilst both entered the winners enclosure for the first time though, only one of them has returned to West Ilsley.
TARA CELEB only arrived at the end of May but has shown enough to suggest that she has a bright future ahead of her - the fact that she won on debut suggests as much. Although she was slowly away yesterday, she came effortlessly into contention in the second half of the Class 4 six furlong event and kept on well in the final furlong to hold off the more experienced Money in my Pocket by a neck.
Mick was delighted with a filly who has been straight-forward from day one.
"I knew she'd go well because she always has at home. She's an utter professional and has a pedigree that suggested she ought to have a bit of ability. She came to us through Mike and Gloria Tourle and their daughter Tracey and we look set for a lot of fun.
"She's mentally very strong and John Egan was impressed. We'll probably step her up in trip now but I'm in no hurry, we've got time on our side."
It's a different story for Chris Wright and Catherine Corbett's KING OF SPADES however who was claimed after taking the opener at Deauville yesterday. In taking the six furlong contest, the son of Foxwedge finally broke his maiden tag and, because he qualified for the prize money premiums for French bred horses, his second foray across the channel was a winning one.
KING OF SPADES travelled to Clarefontaine in July and finished second in a maiden and although we were sorry to see him claimed after his win yesterday, his price was €30,000 whilst the prize money was an additional €10,000.
All in all, Mick was satisfied with a profitable venture.
"It's sad to see him go but we're big boys and we know the score. KING OF SPADES will prove good value to his new connections though because he's a great big baby at present. Mentally he's not there yet but Christophe gave him a great ride and had to make him do it two furlongs out.
"Once he got there he won cosily but that just underlines what a slow burner he is. Fair play to Chris Wright, he was keen to capitalise on the horse's French qualifications and he drove this through."
Box 41's MASTERSON (Grey) - A winner at Lingfield yesterday afternoon
It feels like a long time in coming and it probably was but Box 41's MASTERSON finally returned to winning ways at Lingfield yesterday afternoon under Silvestre de Sousa.
Since his first career win as a juvenile in September of last year, MASTERSON was a horse that his syndicate had high hopes for. He'd won over ten furlongs that day and promised to be a platform from which he could build.
It didn't quite happen that way however and it's been more than a little frustrating. Yesterday he'd even dropped down to a mark of 55 and Silvestre produced him perfectly in the closing stages of extended eleven furlong Class 6 contest to record victory by three quarters of a length, fending off the late attentions of Whitstable Pearl.
It was a relief to Mick who has been disappointed up until this point.
"This season hasn't gone to plan and if I'm honest, I can't put my finger on why this horse has had to drop into 0-55 class to win. It might just be that he belongs at that level but he's got plenty going for him and for most of this year he's given us the impression that there's much more than we've actually seen from him.
"He's been over to Hen's and schooled - brilliantly in fact - he's got a great nature to him, he's sound and seems willing enough.
"Perhaps he's weak deep down but if I'm honest, I can't explain it because everyone who deals with him is so complimentary but the results certainly don't back up their praise.
"I've been disappointed and I'm very relieved that he won yesterday. Perhaps we'll see an upturn in fortunes now - it happened when another Box 41 horse Blacklister got his head in front and went on to record a hat-trick. I hope the same occurs with this lad."
Quatar Racing & The Sweet Partnership's OPAL TIARA - A winner at York yesterday afternoon
A super display from Qatar Racing and the Sweet Partnership's OPAL TIARA saw the three year old daughter of Thousand Words take the Class 2 Eventmasters.co.uk EBF Fillies' Stakes under Oisin Murphy at York yesterday afternoon.
It was a straightforward victory, typical of an uncomplicated filly who has always been tried in lofty company. Having dropped to a mark of 95, yesterday saw her back in a handicap and she romped home under top weight to prove that she's a class act, defeating Jaadayil by almost two lengths.
Mick was delighted for both OPAL TIARA and her connections.
"That was great and when I saw the race, I couldn't believe our luck. She's already won a listed race this year, defeating another class act in Red Box and despite two defeats before yesterday, she had her excuses but her form told me she'd be there abouts.
"It was also great for her owners who make up a real mix of personalities. Whilst she runs in the colours of Qatar Racing, the other side of the partnership is our Finance Secretary Gill Hedley who bred her and Keith and Clive Potter who were mates with Tim Corby.
"It's been a lot of fun and Sheikh Fahad, Gill, Keith and Clive have had some good days following her. I couldn't be happier.
"We'll step back up into black type company now - seven furlongs is probably her best trip but a mile isn't out of the question and she's going to go in again because she's only just starting to peak."
Lord Ilsley Racing's SAYESSE and Graham Lee return to the winner's enclosure last night
A super return to winning ways at Leicester last night as Lord Ilsley Racing's SAYESSE recorded his third win of his juvenile campaign in the hands of Graham Lee.
A previous winner at both Brighton and Newmarket at the start of the season, the son of Sayif has proved to be a joy to deal with - always willing, sound and with a constitution you dream of. He's been like that from day one and has provided his syndicate with some great sport already this year, proving that he's been a steal at just five thousand guineas at the Autumn sales.
Yesterday he was the outsider of seven in the Kirkby Mallory Nursery Handicap and slightly detached early on in the five furlong contest as he pursued a furious pace. That certainly played into his hands though as Graham pulled him to the wide outside at the one pole allowing SAYESSE to surge home by a length ahead of Prince of Cool.
Amidst all of this was the syndicate leader, Michael Junior who was convinced that SAYESSE stood little chance off of his handicap mark of 79 and has been moaning about it for quite some time.
Mick is delighted that his eldest was so abysmally wrong in his judgement.
"He's shrewd isn't he? Ha ha! I have to say though that SAYESSE's previous two runs in nurseries didn't promise too much. That was a 0-85 last night and he's done it very nicely and without doubt, the pace the race was run at certainly helped him.
"He's won twice over six so we knew he'd stay on over five, it was just the manner in which he did it that was so thrilling because we didn't know where we were going up until last night. "Dropping him back to five helped and the fast ground is vital to this lad who is a big lump of a horse - I mean that in the kindest possible way. He's all muscle and has a great head on him - he loves the job and you wouldn't rule out another win this year after that.
"Although he was less than optimistic when he emailed the members of Lord Ilsley Racing yesterday morning, Michael will be delighted. I'm not sure where he is, I think he might have fled the country with the shame of it all."
On another note, it was remiss of us to miss out on congratulating the Highlife Racing Syndicate on HIGHLIFE DANCER's sixteenth career victory on Friday afternoon.
It was a hectic weekend with runners all over the country but the eight year old is very much a part of the furniture at West Ilsley and we are very proud to be associated with such a competitor. He took the ten furlong amateur riders' handicap at Nottingham under Katy Lyons on Friday for the second year in succession in a gruelling and protracted battle that began fully four furlongs from home.
It was thrilling and typical of HIGHLIFE DANCER's career. He's simply amazing and a credit to his breed. We've run out of superlatives!
TIGERWOLF and his winning connections after victory at Salisbury yesterday
It wasn't exactly an enjoyable experience for connections but George Materna & Roger Badley's TIGERWOLF finally got his head in front at Salisbury yesterday afternoon but he was made to work hard for it in the closing stages of the seven furlong Class five maiden.
Sent off as the overwhelming 2/9 favourite, TIGERWOLF and Charlie Bishop didn't have the easiest of passages and was forced to barge his way through a tight gap on the rails as they quickened of a dawdling pace two furlongs from home. He led a furlong out but was then faced with a real scrap on the run in with Port Isaac and hung badly in the closing stages to prevail by a slightly uncomfortable head.
Mick is the first to admit that it was a painful ordeal.
"I don't want to endure too many of them! TIGERWOLF has smart form in the book and his run at Glorious Goodwood last time out confirmed that this is a horse with plenty of talent. Going into a maiden at Salisbury off a mark of 86 looked like an easy task but that's not always the way and he was made to work for it.
"I know that Port Isaac was well thought of by his connections but it was too close for comfort but we got the job done and that's the main thing. There was traffic problems and a stiff headwind to contend with but to be honest, I was stuck for words to explain the performance afterwards. I can only hope that Port Isaac is a decent horse and look forward with our lad.
"In hotter company, such as at Goodwood, I'm convinced he'll be far more convincing and I feel he's a horse who will give George and Roger some good days out because he's had his troubles in the past whilst always providing us with a glimpse of raw ability.
"It was Roger's first win as an owner and I was delighted for him and we can only look ahead now. He's a decent horse."
Box 41's BLACKLISTER - A winner at Leicester on Sunday
Another confirmation that Box 41's BLACKLISTER remains at the peak of his powers at present as the three year old son of Lawman recorded his third win on the bounce under Paul hanagan at Leicester on Sunday afternoon.
Having won off a mark of 66 at Haydock in mid-July to start his hat-trick run, BLACKLISTER then took in a Carlisle handicap off of 71 and stepped up impressively at Leicester to score by a length and a quarter off of 77.
Clearly he's an improving type and one who Mick has an awful lot of time for having been desperately unlucky on his first ever start at Leicester under Hanagan. Consequently, BLACKLISTER'S career didn't go as it might have and it's taken quite some time for the horse to show his true colours.
"That was great and it's good to see that Box 41's members have had patience with him. On his first ever run, Paul was going to win half a length only for the horse to see the cut strip of turf that represents the finish line. He spooked at it and jammed on, losing the race by a short head.
"Had that not happened we'd have been able to take our time but we ended up chasing a £10k bonus, the horse went a little weak on us and he lost his way. He wasn't well handicapped and it took us until the fourteenth run for him to break his maiden. He was second on five occasions until that day so he's always had the talent but I sense a horse with confidence now - you can't imagine how much that counts.
"He'll go up again now but I couldn't be happier for Box 41 and Blacklister himself. He's a proper racehorse."
Brighton provided the venue for SARMADEE's breakthrough success under Killian Hennessy yesterday afternoon
Relief all round after SAMARDEE finally got his head in front at the twelfth time of asking to take the Class 5 seven furlong handicap at Brighton under Killian Hennessy yesterday afternoon.
The four year old son of Fast Company hasn't had the easiest of times, only making his debut in 2016. A promising start to his career back in February didn't see him win and subsequently, an opening mark of 73 made life tough for a horse adjusting to the demands placed upon him in his first full season.
Perhaps we hit him a little hard early on because his losing run wouldn't have been predicted on the ability he shows at home, yet it's taken until now to get his head in front off a mark of 64.
Killian Hennessy's patient ride yesterday saw him deliver SAMARDEE at the perfect moment to win by a head to deny Baltic Prince on the line and Mick was happy with both horse and rider.
"This horse has got tons of ability and because he had setbacks at the start of his career, I suspect that he went a little weak on us after such a promising start.
"He had an infected foot that took a long time to get over last year but he's absolutely perfect now and a very sound horse who shows plenty on the gallops.
"I've blamed the trip, the handicapper and myself during the wait for his first win but I genuinely believe that he just lacked core strength as a result of the time he missed and he's only really coming to himself now.
"I do like him and Killian showed that he too has plenty of talent. He'll be playing a more prominent role in the weeks to come now because we've got plenty of horses that have been murdered by the handicapper, particularly in the two year old department.
"Some of them just cannot win at the moment and Killian's seven pounds will be crucial if we're to get anything out of them."
Norman Court Stud's TEXAS KATIE - A winner at Wolverhampton last night
A spirited performance by the effervescent TEXAS KATIE at Wolverhampton last night saw Norman Court Stud's homebred take the Class 6 seven furlong median auction maiden in the hands of Charlie Bishop in convincing fashion.
She has been kept busy of late and with good reason, for the daughter of Clodivil never seems to tire and is spirited to say the least, although she's a filly who Mick has a lot of time for having had success with several others not dissimilar.
"A few people have commented on how many races she's had in the last five weeks - six in total - but you ought to try and train her! She's full of herself and she's difficult to keep a lid on.
"She's very talented though and a proper athlete - she must be to take her racing as she has done and come out after her races like a lion. She's tough and spirited, we've had a few Clodovils like that in the past and tomorrow morning will be interesting because she's had an easy day today!
"I don't mind a filly being a handful when they're talented and she's one of them."