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Off and running at last, via the Craven to Newbury and on to the Classics……

This week’s Craven meeting from Newmarket has finally seen the flat season get going, with some good performances, some reputations still intact, and in some cases, horses clearly stepping up a gear. On the Wednesday, I thought there were some really taking performances from the three year olds who deserve more than just a mention:
Firstly, the Henry Candy trained Music Master won the Alex Scott maiden in nice style and having had a nice introductory run as a juvenile, he was prominent early doors and quickened up nicely into the dip. Fergus Sweeney just pushed him out under a hand drive and he will be going for a Listed event next over course and distance, before a possible Royal Ascot tilt in the Jersey Stakes.

Whereas Music Master will take that route, Garswood and Hot Snap will be taking in the classics with the Richard Fahey trained colt possibly going for the 2000 Guineas, and the Sir Henry Cecil trained filly heading for the 1000 Guineas. Garswood has (according to Fahey), been knocking everything out of the way at home and he says he is the best he has, though his run over the same course and distance was slightly slower time than the filly’s, though he did have to carry two pounds more on the day.

In the other t race that may yet point toward a classic, French raider Intello won impressively enough and the son of Galileo’s trainer Andre Fabre earmarked the French Derby as a target for him so we are unlikely to see him at Epsom.

Talking of France, (loose connection here), it was great to see Kirsty ride Abilene to a debut win at Kempton for her boss Luca Cumani and the Wildensteins – I know she said she hoped she would run well in her blog, so were you responsible for the market support, I have heard that quite a few of you backed her!

On Thursday, Sir Henry was at it again, but this time with the four year old Tickled Pink in the Group Three Abernant Stakes. Sir Henry’s filly has pretty fast parents in the shape of Invincible Spirit and the Kings Stand winner Cassandra Go, but having taken until the fourth attempt to shed her maiden tag, she came here with an official mark of only 84 (the runner up Jimmy Styles has a mark of 109), and was indeed the lowest rated horse. Hawkeyethenoo was top rated with a mark of 112 so this performance shows just how much of an improved filly Tickled Pink is, and perhaps one to keep on the right side of?

Toronado went into the Craven with an unblemished record and that is how it stayed with an impressive win, leading from the gates opening until passing the jam stick. Hannon really does have a strong hand this year and he looks to have improved over the winter judged on this performance. Those of you lucky enough to go to Newbury on Saturday to see Hiddon Coin in the Greenham will be able to get a close up look at Hannon’s Olympic Glory as his handler tries to tighten his grip on the classic front, while thirty-five minutes earlier, his filly Maureen could give the unbeaten Rosdhu Queen something to think about – this really could be a season for the Hannon team to remember.

Black CaviarBefore looking ahead to the weekend, I can’t fail but mention the retirement of the Aussie Queen, Black Caviar. Yes, people may dismiss that in some of her races she only beat trees, but lets face facts, she can only beat the opposition that is put in front of her. After all, she did come to Royal Ascot, and while it didn’t look like the performance of a “wonder horse”, some of that can be put down to the jockey Luke Nolen easing up a little earlier than he should have – she was a superstar in Australia and deserves all the Worldwide acclaim she has had and a very happy and long retirement.

Newbury hosts a really nice card on Saturday with a mix of classic trials and some competitive handicaps. The ground is currently good to soft which I feel will be against my Lincoln fancy Captain Bertie (watch him hose up now!) in his bid to repeat last years win in the Spring Cup, and if I was having a bet I would be looking towards the consistent GLOBAL VILLAGE. The Brian Ellison trained eight year old son of Dubai Destination had a late start to his racing career, but has more than made up for lost time, particularly last season when he stepped up his game and ran in all the top Southern handicaps such as this and the Victoria Cup. His last run in the Lincoln was a great effort but the drop back to seven furlongs will suit, and he is sure to run his race and has a solid each way chance under Kieren Fallon.

Later in the day, Sir Henry Cecil sends out SQUIRE OSBALDESTON in the closing maiden. This bay son of Mr Greeley stayed on nicely over a mile in a Headquarters maiden last August, and having had time to mature, he will no doubt improve for the step up in trip.
At Thirsk, Bryan Smart sends RHAGORI AUR for the 4.35 race and this three year old filly won on her debut over course and distance last year. Satsuma has the form in the book without a doubt after her Super Sprint second to Body And Soul, but I hear Rhagori Aur has been moving well at home and will offer an each way alternative if as predicted, Satsuma goes off too short.

Not many from the Mick Easterby yard win on their debut, but AETNA did and in taking fashion too. She won a maiden at the Lincoln meeting and having had the 78 rated Yul Finegold (watch out for this one now it’s handicapped as it showed enough as a two year old to suggest it will be better this season) behind, and she may be well in off 77 in Nottingham’s 7.00pm race, and could be an each way option in a competitive heat.

Finally, in the closing race at Colwick Park, Ralph Beckett sends THWART up for her bow in handicap company. Jim Crowley rides and the step up in trip is likely to bring out further improvement having stayed on over seven furlongs on her last run as a two year old.

Looking ahead to Monday, our old warrior Almaty Express will be heading to Wolverhampton to try and increase his tally at Dunstall Park. He’s come out of his last race well and continues to be in good form so fingers crossed!

Well while Ron and Paul lap up the sun, I’m heading to the tropical temperature’s of Center Parcs with the family this weekend and having to miss the final home game of the season at York City which is a sickener, but as I strut my stuff around the woodlands in Cumbria paint balling, I’ll no doubt keep finding a quiet spot to take the phone out and check on the scores at Bootham Crescent and elsewhere – oh and I’ll hopefully listen to Hiddon Coin strut his stuff down in Berkshire as well.

All the best for the weekend!

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