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Bring Me Sunshine

Sunshineandbubbles made her seasonal reappearance at Chester on 6th May and showed her inexperience in being slowly away from the stalls. Her outside draw was already a huge disadvantage so this run just continued her racecourse education. Jockey Louis Steward could hardly pull her up at the finish and believes she needs a longer trip and a galloping track, so Chester didn’t really fit the bill, and he thought a mile and a quarter would suit her better, so it was decided that would be the next target for her.

A fortnight later on 19th May we took her to Ripon for a 1m 2f fillies maiden where we came up against an odds-on favourite from the Mark Tompkins stable. In a tactically run race the “jolly” was narrowly beaten, but Sunshineandbubbles managed to claim third place under Dale Swift, and will come on leaps and bounds for the experience. Mark is very happy with how she is progressing so we look forward to seeing her getting her nose in front in the not too distant future.

Oh So Close at Haydock!

On Saturday 23rd April we saw the Firm run a cracking race at Haydock. It looked a competitive race on paper and Dale Swift rode a great race on him to come third in a blanket finish, beaten only a short head and a nose. In truth we would probably have won the race but for some interference in the early stages from the eventual winner, who cut us up and got our position on the rail. Dale had to snatch him up and drop him in, then come wide in the straight, which was probably fortunate as the winner was involved in some more barging in the closing stages going for a gap that was closing, but the stewards looked into both incidents and decided that none of it had affected the placings. OK, if you say so. A great performance from The Firm and Dale Swift, but very frustrating to come so close to earning a decent win at a top track. The photo finish picture below shows just how close it was! Despite not winning, the racecourse management still invited placed connections into the winners room for some celebratory champagne, so we were all able to watch the replay with a consolation glass of bubbly.

The Firm at Haydock

Only two days later we took the Firm back to Southwell. There were going to be no more opportunities for him at the track for several months, and it was a last minute decision yesterday morning to let him take his chance in the race, but it really came too soon for him after his great run at Haydock. Rob Hornby got him away smartly and was in a good position throughout. He led coming off the final bend with 3f to go and looked like winning, but he tired and just ran a bit flat in the final couple of furlongs, just feeling the effects of a quick turnaround from his run at Haydock, and ended up finishing a very game fourth. He’ll have a few weeks off now and run again towards the end of May.

Khajaaly ran at Brighton today (26th April) but hated the undulating track and will now have a summer break.

Khajaaly Tries the Extended Mile

Back to Wolverhampton today, with champion jockey Silvestre De Sousa in the saddle, as we tried Khajaaly over the longer trip of 1 mile 141 yards. The trip proved to be no problem but the visor was left off as an experiment. We wanted him to be up with the pace, but he got dropped in behind, so the eventual winner got an easy early lead. We knew we had Mr Red Clubs to beat and that one got away from the pack to win comfortably, with Khajaaly being given too much to do in the closing stages. Nevertheless, it was encouraging to see him finish well from a poor position, and he only narrowly missed out on 3rd place by a neck. That was a better run, but he’s not back to his best just yet. The headgear will be back on in future, and the longer trip will give us more options.

A Look Back At March

The Firm returned to something like his form at Southwell on 16th March, where we unfortunately ran into the seemingly well-handicapped Red Touch, which was having its first run for the Mick Appleby yard. As expected, Red Touch duly won the race with something in hand, but it was a good run from The Firm, who finished third, only a short head behind the second horse. Another stride and we would have had the forecast up!

We had yet another trip to Southwell on 23rd March, with Khajaaly this time, in a race which was run at a decent pace, so it paid to be handy. Unfortunately he couldn’t get into a decent position and had to come wide round the bend, which totally blew his chances.

The opening meeting of the Flat Turf season at Redcar for the Easter Monday Bank Holiday on 28th March seemed to offer a chance for Khajaaly to show what he can do on grass, and with the ground on the soft side, we expected conditions would be fine for him. However, it was truly desperate ground, far heavier than he could handle. Joe Fanning said that he had run gamely enough, and will be winning again, but the state of the surface in the last couple of furlongs had stopped him in his tracks this time.

We finished the month on a rather tame note when The Firm ran no sort of race at Southwell on 30th March. Mick Appleby’s stable jockey Andrew Mullen was in the saddle, as our regular pilot Rob Hornby was riding at another meeting for his boss Andrew Balding. We were up against Mick Appleby’s Red Touch once again, and on slightly better terms than last time, so we expected to finish rather closer to that one than we actually did. In the end, Red Touch finished 2nd and The Firm was some lengths adrift in 7th. Not his usual sort of race so we can consign that one to the history books.

February Round Up

After a blistering start to the year, with two wins from The Firm, we were looking forward to the return of Khajaaly. He had been off for longer than we expected with a leg infection – at the very time of the year when we expected him to be winning some races. We knew he would need the run when he returned to action on 10th Feb at Southwell, but his performance was a bit below expectations, which we put down to the absence of headgear. Leaving the visor off when he ran on turf seemed to liven him up, but it was a mistake to run without it at Southwell, where he hated the kickback and never threatened.

A week later we took The Firm to Southwell, and the result would suggest that he ran badly, but when we saw the replay it was clear that he had barged the gate when the horse in the next stall was led in, so Rob Hornby actually had him under restraint when the gates were opened so he gave the others a start. Missing the break, particularly over a shorter trip, gave him no chance.

The following week, on 22nd Feb, Khajaaly returned to Wolverhampton with Rob Hornby in the saddle and the visor back on. Unfortunately he was hampered when he tried to make his challenge a furlong out, so with his chance gone Rob just brought him home safe and sound, so we can put a line through that performance.

Jockey Injury Forces Withdrawal

Yesterday at Chester we were disappointed that SunshineAndBubbles was unable to make her long-awaited debut as jockey Martin Lane was unshipped on the way to the start and suffered an injury which required medical attention. As a result there was no alternative but to withdraw the filly. With the next entries being due on Monday, we are hoping to get her entered in a race as soon as possible. Next Saturday offers possible opportunities at either Catterick or Wolverhampton, so watch this space. Khajaaly is likely to be engaged at Catterick next Saturday, depending on the ground.

Sunshineandbubbles at Chester this saturday

SunshineAndBubbles has been entered for the BETFAIR EBF Maiden Stakes at Chester on Saturday 12th September. There have been 22 entries with a maximum field size of 12, but we have not been allocated a ballot number so this time we are guaranteed a run. This should be a nice introduction for the filly in a good quality Plus10 race, at a venue close to home for her so she won’t have to spend hours in the horsebox. Shares still available.

SunshineAndBubbles Ready for her debut

Our two year old Multiplex filly – now named SunshineAndBubbles – has been entered for her debut race at Leicester on Tuesday 8th September. There are 65 entries, and we are number 33 for the ballot, so would need 20 to drop out above us in order to get a run, which seems unlikely. We are now looking at a maiden race at Chester on Saturday 12th September, which in the last couple of years has attracted a smaller field.

Great run from Khajaaly at Ffos Las

Soft ground seems to be the key to Khajaaly as far as the turf goes, because he has yet to win on grass despite having racked up 7 wins on the all weather. After his recent third at Catterick, Joe Fanning was positive that he can win on the surface on soft ground and that a mile wouldn’t be beyond him. So off we went on a very long journey to Ffos Las – which is a lovely track with excellent facilities for owners – to contest a one mile race on heavy ground. The favourite, Blue Astral, carried a 6lb penalty after his win over C&D the previous week and was due to go further up in the weights, so Khajaaly did well to chase him home in 2nd spot, with Luke Morris in the plate, about 6 lengths clear of the rest. Luke was very positive about the ride and we were very pleased with another improved run, so we will be looking for more opportunities – nationwide – for him to get a win under his belt before the end of the turf season. We know we will have fun with him on the all-weather over the winter but he has now shown what he can do on grass so we need to give him his chance.