14th April 2017

Friday 21st April 2017

I'm very much looking forward to the new season with my biggest team to date, a new facility in Yellowstone Park Stables to add to the main yard at Kremlin Cottage and some lovely horses to look forward to.

I've outlined my plans for some of those horses I expect to make their mark in pattern races but, as always, I hope to uncover lots more stakes-class horses through the year.  I don't like to set firm targets for the season and the aim is always simply to do better than the year before, so I'll be looking to improve on ninth in the trainers' table, with 75 or more winners, and at least eight Group wins.

4-y-o ch c (Al Shaqab Racing)

He started last year fantastically well and we hope he can do the same again this season. As he had more and more racing last year, mentally he began to lose his A-game. Physically he was still there, but he got more and more wound up and that was reflected in his performances. The thing I'm most excited about is how relaxed he's been all winter, looking a different horse, and I hope that he can translate that to the track. Provided he can apply his new-found calmness in race conditions then I think he'll be a force to be reckoned with again in the top Group 1 mile races.

There's absolutely no reason to change to his trip at the moment - he's a dual Group 1-winning miler and has never run a race which has made me think his chance of winning would have been greater over a longer or shorter trip.  However, should that change then we'll react.

Frankie might get off him after the Lockinge and say "he was so relaxed, he needs a mile-and-a-quarter now", and that would be something we'd have to discuss, but in truth that's not my expectation; I expect he'll either win the Lockinge or be beaten by a better horse on the day rather than be found out by the trip, but horses do change all the time so we have to keep that in mind.

4-y-o b c (Aziz Kheir)

I was delighted with his close second in the Further Flight Stakes at Nottingham on Wednesday as he showed huge tenacity to fight back when headed and, while it was very frustrating to see him beaten, the only thing he lost was the race and he showed a versatility he didn't have last season. Last year, he was ridden with a huge amount of cover, and needed to come through beaten horses, but at Nottingham he showed he's no longer reliant on those tactics and had to race with no cover and no pace which he coped well with. He was also first to commit for home, which wasn't ideal in retrospect.

We'll probably stick to 1m6f with him and the Yorkshire Cup next month is a possibility, but the main priority this year is to jump through the necessary hoops to get him qualified for the Melbourne Cup and it was especially galling to see him beaten the other day as we could have qualified him in one fell swoop. He's a strong stayer and showed that he was comfortable on quicker ground at Nottingham, so is also proving versatile in that regard.

5-y-o ch h (Godolphin)

Home of The Brave has matured again from four to five and is a much stronger horse. We will most likely start off at Leicester in the race he won last year (Richard III Stakes), and he may then head to the Lockinge or the John of Gaunt Stakes at Haydock depending how he shapes first time.

He's always quite fresh at this time of year, so it's good to get a run into him and, while he's shown fairly conclusively that seven furlongs is his trip, I'd love to try a mile again. The programme for pattern-class seven-furlong horses is rather constrictive, with obvious targets being the Minstrel Stakes at the Curragh, the Hungerford at Newbury and the Lennox at Goodwood. He was first past the post in the Minstrel Stakes in 2015 and runner-up in both the Hungerford and Lennox last year, so we have unfinished business there and it would be nice to win a Group 2, but the problem is that those races come very close together, so it's very unlikely that he'd be able to take in all three.

It might seem obvious to aim him at the Group 1 Prix de La Foret at Longchamp in October as his big target, but he's not a straightforward horse to train and never gives himself an easy time either at home or in a race. I'm therefore mindful that in each season he's raced his form in the first four months of the season has been better than he's shown in the final couple of months, and that may again be the case. That said, he's a very admirable horse who I hope will be winning graded races for years to come.

4-y-o b f (Lael Stable)

Despite an amazing year in which she finished second in the Oaks and Irish Oaks it's extraordinary to think that she's still only won a maiden. The main priority, therefore, is to win a stakes race with her and I think it's best to try to pick the lowest-hanging fruit that we can and start at listed level.

With that in mind, the race which looks the best initial option is the Daisy Warwick Stakes at Goodwood in early May. She's missed out narrowly in three Group 1 races and I'm hoping she will reap the benefit of running in lesser company. After that, races like the Lancashire Oaks will come within her compass and, if all goes to plan, she can return to Group 1 company with her confidence bolstered.

4-y-o b g (Dr Ali Ridha)

He may have been unplaced on both starts in Dubai, but actually ran a very good race each time. On the first occasion I didn't think he stayed a mile on turf, at least at that level, and I then worried that he wouldn't be fast enough on dirt in the Godolphin Mile. However, far from not being fast enough,  he showed blazing speed in blinkers before fading. I'm told he broke the track record for the first four furlongs of the race, and completed the first six furlongs faster than the Al Quoz Sprint on the same card before those exertions told. One thing that race showed us is that he definitely has the speed for sprinting.

He's already got a very good record over six furlongs, winning the Tattersalls Millions and the Group 3 Pavilion Stakes last spring before stepping up in distance. We'll leave the blinkers on - he's very genuine, but the headgear should keep him sharp - and he will start off in the Abernant at Newmarket's Guineas meeting and will be getting entries in races like the Diamond Jubilee and July Cup.

I'd very much like to think we can get the opportunity to make a proper sprinter of him this year.

4-y-o b c (Ibrahim Araci)

I was saying to friends last week that if I'm unlucky enough never to train a Derby winner then Crimean Tatar might be the one that went by the wayside. He had an injury at two which meant his debut was delayed until July last year, but if he'd won his maiden by seven lengths in April and then taken in a trial he could have been a short price for Epsom given how last year's Derby developed. As it was, he did indeed follow his maiden win with victory in a listed race and is the only horse in the yard still unbeaten after more than one run. He's by an outstanding stallion in Sea The Stars from an excellent female family, and he has it all - the pedigree, the looks and the race record to suggest that he might just be something very special. Racing is all about dreaming, and that's what we're going to do. 

He's very nearly ready and the plan is to run in the Group 3 John Porter Stakes at Newbury on Saturday week. We will take it one race at a time from there, but he's won both his starts at a mile-and-a-half and, if he keeps winning at that trip, then there's no obvious reason to alter that. As I said with Galileo Gold, if he gets beaten and his jockey gets off and says he wants to step back in trip, or go further, then we'll have to think about that. I'm mindful that his sire won the Guineas and put up his best performance at ten furlongs, so there's the option of coming back in trip, but then his dam is closely related to Gold Cup runner-up Mizzou, and that suggests we could go up in trip as well.

Essentially, he's an inexperienced horse and we're learning about him as much as he is about us, so we need to be fluid but the ultimate dream is to be running in those big mile-and-a-half races in high summer and autumn. The one thing we will avoid is very fast ground; he won his maiden on ground which was a bit too quick for him, and he was just better than them, but I'd not like to chance him on rattling quick ground.

4-br-c (Carmichael Jennings)

To Be Wild and Crimean Tatar fall into remarkably similar categories in that they have been hard to train with niggles and injuries, and they have always worked together. There's never been much between them in their work, and each has won both starts over a mile-and-a-half after a belated return in 2016, and neither would want very fast ground. To Be Wild is rated 5lbs lower than Crimean Tatar, which gives us the opportunity to start in handicaps, so he heads to Newcastle on Good Friday for a Class 2 contest which is somewhat bizarrely worth more money than the John Porter - not that I'm going to complain about someone putting on good prize money.

I'd like to keep the pair apart but, if things go to plan for both, then they may have to clash at some point, especially if they get to compete at the highest level where there just isn't a choice. To Be Wild is a very likeable colt with a high cruising speed.  I'm not sure how far he'll stay, but he has the potential to be a very exciting horse.

4-b-c (Ibrahim Araci)

Baydar is a half-brother to Aktabantay, who was our first group winner. Aktabantay was a tank of a horse and Baydar is not quite so robust or as masculine in looks, but I've no doubt that he's a black-type performer who has improved again from three to four and is pleasing in his work.

The only blots on his record last year came on his return and his final start, both excusable - the first on ground which was far too fast and the last coming after a series of hard races which were beginning to show on him. At this stage, it would take quite a leap of faith to enter him at the highest level and I plan to start him in the Group 3 Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown later this month.

He won over course and distance in a competitive three-year-old handicap last August despite not enjoying much luck in-running. The Wolferton Handicap at Royal Ascot appeals as being an ideal next step and I look forward to plenty more good days with him.


3-y-o b c (Carmichael Jennings)

Some horses give you the impetus to dream and this one has always fallen into that category. He's already won two races so with him the dream is of going to the next level, and he is going straight to the 2,000 Guineas next month. We are following very much in the footsteps of Galileo Gold with him and plan to take him for a racecourse gallop at the Craven meeting.

Given his ability, there isn't a three-year-old in the yard who could realistically lead him in that kind of gallop and it's important to find the right horse for the job, so I'm very grateful to the owners and to Jessica Harrington for supplying a good older sprinter called St Brelades Bay who arrives today to fulfil that role. Jessica owns a half-share in St Brelades Bay, so it's a very generous gesture on her part. Frankie will ride Escobar and I very much hope he gives Frankie the same feel Galileo Gold did a year ago.

At present his work excites me every bit as much as Galileo Gold at the same stage, but I'm aware they belong to different generations and he's going to be tackling a different group of colts, so comparison isn't easy.

Escobar deserves his place in the Guineas, but three and a half weeks is a long time in any walk of life, particularly in young, maturing horses who must keep changing and improving all the time, and he needs to keep going the right way to justify that opinion, something that's also true of the other prospective runners. We will digest what happens at Newmarket before making further plans.

3-y-o b c (Ibrahim Araci)

Via Serendipity promised a huge amount at home as a juvenile and travelled very well in his races, so it was a bit disappointing that he needed three kicks at goal to beat the keeper, although it turns out he ran into a good one at York on debut, so it doesn't look at all bad in retrospect. He's done incredibly well over the winter and the trip will be well within his range, so I hope he can make up into a high-class miler.

I'm thinking of starting him in the Greenham and, while the ground can get soft at Newbury, both his action and his attitude suggest that all but extremes of ground will be fine for him. His work has been very good and, while it's debatable whether the Guineas is a realistic option, that's why we run horses in trials, hoping they can come up with a golden ticket, and we'll find the answer after the Greenham.

As with most unexposed horses, we are looking to his races for guidance, and, if the Guineas is pitching too high, then it may be we campaign him towards the Britannia Stakes at Royal Ascot with a view to developing into a black-type performer by the end of the year.

3-y-o b c (Godolphin)

Best Of Days is another who is in the Guineas, but no doubt this is the horse who is fuelling our Derby dreams. It was just his class which saw him win over seven furlongs on debut and he got caught flat-footed (when beaten a nose) in the Acomb next time out before winning the Royal Lodge over a mile. He looks a proper stayer in the making and will be starting off over at least a mile and a quarter, bringing the Derby trials into play and the Derby itself is the ultimate aim.

He's by a King George winner in Azamour out of a mare by High Chaparral, who has a Derby, an Irish Derby and two Breeders' Cup Turf wins on his CV. Looking at his pedigree and his demeanour, it's clear what his trip will be. He has done very well over the winter and I'm very pleased with what he's showing me at home.

3-y-o b c (C Humber/D Davidson/Mrs T Brudenell)

Manchego was the runner-up on his only start and a maiden should be a formality, but I expect such races to be even more competitive than normal this spring. A lot of big yards, including ours, had health issues with their horses last autumn and as a result a lot of horses capable of winning maidens either didn't run or were limited in their opportunities and those horses are now in the pool of maidens this spring when many of them would normally be in better company.

Manchego has pleased in his work and if we don't think along ambitious lines then we'll never know.  With that in mind, we will start off over a mile with him and ideally he'd then step up to 10 furlongs for a Derby trial.

Three-year-old champions tend to get their act together quickly and they can develop beyond expectation in the spring. Racing is all about dreaming, and horses like Covert Love show that you never know when and where your star performers are going to appear, so while we can we will keep dreaming with these promising horses.

3-y-o b f (Dr Ali Ridha)

She's currently on course for the 1,000 Guineas and the aim is to go there via the Nell Gwyn, provided the ground is quick. She loves fast ground and was third in the Oh So Sharp Stakes at Newmarket in the autumn. That was over seven furlongs, but she shapes as if she will improve for a step up to a mile.

Provided she gives a good account in the Nell Gwyn, then we'll go for the Guineas and see where that takes us. Her work this spring has been very very pleasing.

3-y-o ch f (Saeed Manana)

We think she could be high class, but the question is whether she can get a trip. She does hold an entry in the 1,000 Guineas, but her work suggests she may not stay even seven furlongs. We will start her off over six next week and see how she goes.

She's a very fast filly, but also wants to be in a hurry a lot of the time and, if she wins first time, she might be good enough to go down the three-year-old sprinting route and she may even have the speed to drop back to five furlongs.

3-y-o b f (Saleh Al Homaizi & Imad Al Sagar)

The first thing to say is that, as a full-sister to Galileo Gold, she is potentially very valuable as a broodmare. She's already won her maiden and the aim is now getting black type. In that regard, we'd rather finish third in a listed race than win three handicaps.

She's a bit more relaxed in her work than her brother, so on paper she should stay beyond a mile, which would increase her options. My thinking is that a mile will be an absolute minimum for her this year, and while she's clearly not as good as Galileo Gold, I feel she will do well.

3-y-o b c (C I Racing/Newsells Park Stud)

He's been a long work in progress and, although he was a Breeze-Up purchase, his breeder is of the opinion that he was the wrong sort of horse to go that route and we've had to work hard to teach him to settle. He won on debut and I'm not discouraged, despite him being beaten at Chelmsford last week, as he got too far back and didn't quite have the gears to get on terms. It was great to see him relax though and that's a bigger positive.

He's maturing all the time, and the immediate plan is to take in a 10 furlong handicap at Sandown where I think the uphill home straight will suit. If he wins we might raise our sights, with the Dante a possibility - Jack Hobbs won the same Sandown race before taking that route a couple of years ago. He might need a bit more time than that affords, with the Tercentenary at Royal Ascot appealing as an alternative target for him in that scenario.

3-y-o ch c (Al Asayl Bloodstock)

Fibonacci is just about the biggest horse in the yard at this stage and, while he looks strong enough to carry his frame, that can be deceptive. He was only third on his reappearance at Chelmsford where Ryan reported that he still felt very weak. It can take a lot more work to bring a horse with his physique to the point where they can give their best, and you only really find out when the chips are down. He ought to win a maiden sooner rather than later, but might not hit his peak until he's five. As a result, we'll take things gradually and not ask him too much before he's ready.

3-y-o ch c (Chris Humber)

Omeros won his only start last year and has done well over the winter, but we didn't think it was appropriate to throw him into a classic trial. He is an intended runner at Kempton on Saturday, and we'll learn more about him there. He'll head down the handicap route all being well, but I'd be hopeful he could make up into a stakes horse by the end of the year.

3-y-o b c (Ibrahim Araci)

Koropick was second in the Sirenia Stakes and ran well when fifth in the Middle Park, both times behind The Last Lion. He's grown over the winter and I hope he can make up into a Commonwealth Cup contender. We won the Pavilion Stakes at Ascot last spring with Gifted Master and will campaign Koropick the same way, with the Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock being the next obvious stepping stone.


3-y-o b c (Hamad Rashed Bin Ghedayer)

He won four times over sprint trips as a juvenile and will be campaigned in Group2/3 races at the minimum trip of 5f where we hope he can pick up a nice prize.

Hugo Palmer Racing

Hugo Palmer Racing
Kremlin Cottage Stables

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