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."
Silvestre de Sousa, Janet Evans & ELIDOR return to the winners enclosure yesterday afternoon
After a couple of disappointing performances, Jon & Julia Aisbitt's ELIDOR returned to the sort of form that saw him finish a close up third in the Ormonde at the start of the season as he took the Summer Stakes handicap under both top weight and Silvestre de Sousa yesterday afternoon.
It was a superb performance and one that we were hopeful of rather than expecting after efforts in Listed company at both York and Pontefract left us scratching our heads.
Yesterday, ELIDOR was a horse transformed and back to his classy best as he travelled strongly throughout the mile and six furlong contest despite slipping on the far bend in an incident that might have been far worse that it actually was, although connections of Arch Villain suffered more than most.
That aside, ELIDOR cruised into contention down the hill and Silvestre later said that he pulled him to the front earlier than he'd have wished but despite the late attentions of Quewy, ELIDOR held on by a neck to thrill the Boss and Jon & Julia who recorded a Royal Ascot/Goodwood double with a brave and courageous ally.
"What a smashing horse to train! He got struck into in this very race last year and it was touch and go if he'd make a comeback because his leg was a right state.
"He's always been a character and always been talented and although I couldn't set my watch by him I wouldn't change him for the world. He's given us some great days and I'll forgive him his previous two flops because of it.
Perhaps we ran him too quickly after Chester when he was beaten less than a length by Dartmouth and Whicklow Brave because York and Pontefract baffled us. We had a full MOT done as a result and nothing came to light. That's horses I suppose and we'll head to the Ebor at York now.
"He's run well in it before and we were originally going to go straight there but he was in such good form at home it seemed silly to leave him in his box and let the world go by.
"That was the right move as things turned out and I'm so happy for Jon & Julia who love this horse. They bought him as a foal with Gill Richardson before his half brother Treasure Beach became a star, so they were ahead of the game at the time and incredibly excited about him. It took a while to get him organised but he's paid his way both financially and in terms of enjoyment. That's something you can't put a price on in this game."
Box 41's BLACKLISTER - A winner at Carlisle yesterday afternoon
Eight days after victory at Haydock, Box 41's BLACKISTER surged home at Carlisle under Paul Mulrennan to underline what an incredibly game and willing racehorse he is.
Up four pounds for his Haydock success, the pair went forward from the gates in yesterday's Class 5 contest over nine furlongs and never saw another rival as they made all and prevailed by two and a quater lengths ahead of Bit of a Quirke.
Things are starting to happen for BLACKLISTER who has always relished his job and has never had an issue. Mick was delighted yesterday afternoon, particularly with the manner of the success.
"That was great and it looks like he'll get further now - that'll open up all sorts of opportunities for him. He's such a fun horse because he's always sound and always willing. The fact that he relishes racing makes him perfect for Box 41 because we're just trying to give them some fun and BLACKLISTER has never disappointed them.
"He's not top class but he is a horse you can't help admiring."
RACEMAKER - a winner of the Catterick seller yesterday afternoon
After taking the juvenile Ripon seller on Saturday, RACEMAKER returned to Yorkshire on Wednesday afternoon to take another seller, this time at Catterick.
Charlie Bishop was again aboard as the son of Stimulation produced a warm favourite's performance by prevailing by a length ahead of London Grammar with the rest a long way in the distance.
Yorkshire is clearly to RACEMAKER's liking and indeed he will remain there having subsequently been bought in the ensuing auction by Middleham trainer Andy Crook. Mick was pleased with the £10,000 and hopefull that RACEMAKER will give his new connections plenty of fun.
"That was good to see as he's a very determined horse who puts everything in to his races. Ten grand was a good price for him but he's far from the finished article and as with any horse I lose in a seller or a claimer, I wish Andy and his backers all the best."
Racemaker, who started yesterday's four-timer off with victory at Ripon
Saturday saw West Ilsley horses strike at four different venues whilst HARLEQUEEN underlined her class with yet another classic placing at the Curragh. It was a good day.
It all began with a bang as RACEMAKER teamed up with Charlie Bishop at Ripon to take the juvenile seller. The son of Stimulation was always up with the pace and stuck on gamely to hold Coco Le Belle by a length to record his first career victory in determined fashion. Mick was pleased with a colt who is far from the finished article.
"He's done that very nicely because he's still very raw and babyish. We need winners though and I though it was worth the trip up there because he's better than a plater. Charlie was very positive on him and that made the horse's mind up and his attitude saw him through."
Five minutes later at Newmarket, it was Oisin Murphy's turn to do the honours aboard KIRUNA PEAK, a filly that Mick has an awful lot of time for. The seven furlong maiden auction fillies' stakes was hard going for the daughter of Arcano who was one of the first off the bridle but she galloped on relentlessly throughout to prevail by a short head in front of Conqueress.
It was a victory that was hard earned but convincing enough for Mick to predict a bright future for a scopey type who has always impressed at home.
"I've always liked this filly. She's got a fabulous temperament and plenty of promise looking ahead to next year. She'll need a mile plus and she won in spite of conditions yesterday as the ground was plenty fast enough. She's very similar to Epsom Icon - we were saying similar things about her last year after she won her maiden. I just hope KIRUNA PEAK is as good!"
Then it was HARLEQUEEN's turn in the irish Oaks at the Curragh and yet again, she proved a point without grabbing the glory. Her time will surely come.
She was third yesterday and ran a blinder behind Seventh Heaven and Architecture. At Epsom, Architecture was eight lengths superior to HARLEQUEEN who was only two and a quarter lengths in arrears yesterday, so she is certainly improving. It's now down to Mick to plot a path to pattern race success.
"She's proved she's a class act and I've no complaints about the result. There's a bit of pressure now because she getting plenty of praise but few accolades. She's yet to win a Listed or Group race so will carry no penalties and we need to get her winning again. It'll happen, it's just a case of taking stock before we decide on our next move.
On the evening card at Lingfield it was the turn of Peter Taplin and Sue Bunney's WHITELY who took the six furlong nursery thanks in part to an enterprising ride from John Egan. WHITELEY's talent isn't in doubt, indeed, her value is already assured as her full sister DIVINE, already a Group 3 winner herself, finished second in the Hackwood Stakes at Newbury earlier in the day.
Whilst a Lingfield nursery doesn't represent that level of forn, WHITELEY's victory last night off a rating of 67, showed that there's plenty to work with and the fact that her sister has just got better with age is another factor that has Mick looking forward to seeing how she improves.
"She's a smasher. She's not the biggest but neither is DIVINE who underlined what a talent she is against the colts yesterday. We'll probably look at a Group 1 with her now and although that sort of level is a fair way off with WHITELEY she's certainly got the attributes to give Pete and Sue plenty of fun.
"We fell in to the trap of trying to make her an Ascot two year old and probably hit her a little hard early on but she's benefitted from a break and I expect her to improve as the season goes on now."
The last race of the day at Haydock saw Box 41's BLACKLISTER triumph in the Class 5 handicap over a mile with Charlie Bishop aboard and encountering vastly different conditions to those he'd enjoyed when steering RACEMAKER to success earlier on in the day at Ripon.
The official going was described as soft although Charlie reported it to be 'horrible' - luckily, BLACKLISTER just got on with the job. There was a difference of opinion as they entered the straight with Charlie, who had the Box 41 charge prominent throughout, choosing to head up the stand side rail. Richard Kingscote aboard La Celebs Ville however chose to race alone on the far rail and it was an agonising sight as the pair battled on in solitude twenty yards apart.
BLACKLISTER is as game as they come though and as they passed the line he recorded his first career victory on turf, prevailing by a short head to the delight of Mick who was watching on from his hotel room in Ireland.
"That was great and it's rounded off a good day for the yard. There's little I can say about BLACKLISTER that I haven't said before. He's not a prolific winner but he's incredibly consistent. He's finished second seven times which tells it's own tale in terms of where he is with the handicapper because he's always thereabouts and has a wonderful attitude.
"We'll keep going with him because he has plenty of days off and takes very little training. We just stick him on the box and send him to the races. He's a racehorse after all isn't he?"