Billy Parish's MOBSTA (Yellow & Black) winning the Greenlands Stakes under Pat Smullen
A thrilling performance from MOBSTA saw the four year old son of Bushranger take the honours and become a Group 2 winner under Pat Smullen at The Curragh on Saturday afternoon.
The six furlong Weatherbys Ireland Greenlands Stakes had a strong look to it with Gordon Lord Byron and Don't Touch both in opposition but it was Billy Parish's MOBSTA and Flight Risk who were in the firing line for the final two furlongs with MOBSTA refusing to give in, eventually prevailing by a head with Dick Wittington a length back in third.
Only a four year old, MOBSTA has long been an individual of great promise and his seasonal reappearance in the Listed Cammidge Stakes at Doncaster made the Boss convinced that he might have an emerging star at West Ilsley.
That certainly seems to be the case now and it's left to the trainer to map a path towards cementing MOBSTA's reputation as a sprinter of note in 2016.
"We've always thought a lot of this lad and although we've had to wait for him at certain stages, Saturday has proved that he's now making giant strides.
"He loves soft ground and he certainly got that on Saturday and most important of all, he loves racing and never gives in. Mentally he's bombproof and one of the most relaxed colts to deal with I can remember.
"We'll wait and see now but he'll have to be in all the big six furlong races from now on. We've got him in the July Cup with the Prix Maurice de Gheest another option. We know what ground he wants so we won't waste runs on rattling ground but an autumn campaign is the way forward with the sprint on Champions Day and the Abbaye being the ultimate goals."
Margaret Forsyth's ROCKLIFFE - A winner under Silvestre De Sousa at Bath on Wednesday
It's been a busy time but it's worth reflecting on ROCKLIFFE's victory under Silvestre De Sousa on Wednesday afternoon. To say his route towards the winners enclosure has been a circuitous one is something of an understatement but he finally broke his maiden tag at the twelfth time of asking.
ROCKLIFFE has been a strange horse to get to grips with - talented at home and often showing glimpses of real quality against proven opposition at the track, yet never coming through in the grand scheme of things.
That was all put to bed on Wednesday however as he took the Class 6 mile and a quarter handicap for three year olds. Granted, against our expectations he was slow away but SDS scraped the paint throughout to produce ROCKLIFFE with a withering run up the hill to eventually prevail by a length and a quarter from Bigger And Better whilst his trainer looked on bemused and baffled that things had taken so long to come to fruition.
"I was determined not to give up with this horse because I'd have been gutted if he'd left us and won for someone else! He's baffled me at times because he does have ability. The problem has been that you never know when he'll produce it.
"He led Bossy Guest round the seven furlong gallop before his last run at Bath at the end of last month and Bossy couldn't get to him. I though he was a good thing that day and then he ran a stinker. I just couldn't believe it.
"He likes soft ground and he'll stay all day. This is not a forlorn hope as a racehorse, he's just a slow burner. I even sent him over to Hen's last week to school him so we probably have to give a bit of credit to her for that!
"He's come down to a mark of 55 and from what we've seen at home, that was more than workable on Wednesday, it's just a case of ROCKLIFFE helping us to help him.
"We're all hoping that the corner has finally been turned."
We visited the Summer Ground first thing with a mixture of older horses and some two year old colts. There are also some more backward juveniles who were filmed later this morning on the Winter Ground.
It's all on the Gallops Page
Mervyn Stewkesbury's JULE IN THE CROWN (Maroon cap, Centre) - A winner at Windsor last night
A fine display from Mervyn Stewkesbury's JULE IN THE CROWN saw the daughter of Harbour Watch become her sire's first winner from his first crop by taking the five furlong novice fillies' stakes under Silvestre De Sousa at Windsor last night.
Always a natural at home, JULE IN THE CROWN was a convincing two length winner over newcomer Barroche last night with a decent yardstick in Tiggaliscious a further length and a quarter back in third. The time was better than the juvenile conditions race immediately afterwards and Mick is relieved that a talented filly built on her debut at Ascot ten days ago.
"That was good to see because she's been a standout at home from day one. We are starting to know where we are going with our two year old fillies now after last night and Zig Zag Girl at Ripon on Sunday.
"It's always a guess to know how good they are as a bunch until you've lined up against other peoples' and that has instilled a bit of confidence. She was backed off the boards on her debut which I'd always preach against with our first time out two year olds and there was plenty of interest in her again last night.
"All I care about is how they improve in their first three runs and she needs to step up again now. She got very wound up going to post last night which is a concern because she needs to cut that out if we are to be ambitious in the near future with Ascot on the horizon.
"The National Stakes is next week at Sandown and we'll look at that before turning our attentions to the Royal meeting but, most importantly, we'll see how the filly responds to last night first.
"She's clearly got a quirk that so many good fillies have, but we can do without the scenes going to post last night. The fact that she did it so well underlines her potential but she needs to conserve her energy if she is to show her best against stiffer opposition."
Jon & Julia Aisbitt's STAR BLAZE & Silvestre De Sousa take the mile maiden at Newmarket on Saturday
A winner at HQ on Saturday and a romp at Ripon saw Jon & Julia Aisbitt's homebred STAR BLAZE and the Boss's ZIG ZAG GIRST return to the winner's enclosure for the first time, both under Silvestre De Sousa.
The three year old colt STAR BLAZE has taken plenty of time to come to hand, unsurprisingly really because he's a big, raw imposing type who has always shown us enough to suggest that he's set for a successful career.
The son of Shamardal made his debut at Windsor last month - an occasion that seemed to completely pass him by. In fairness, his debut was supposed to take place at Newbury's abandoned Greenham meeting but our hand was forced and Windsor's turning track was far from ideal for him, although with hindsight it probably taught him plenty.
On a more galloping track on Saturday, STAR BLAZE looked far more at ease when taking the mile maiden contest and although outpaced in the middle of the contest, he finally came good as he hit the rising ground to wear down Torch and Ethiraas in fine style to confirm to Mick that a step up in trip will lead to even more improvement.
"That was great and although he looked to be going nowhere at halfway, we know that he'd get further than a mile and he showed that to be very much the case. In many ways that worked out perfectly because he's a very willing ally and would have enjoyed that on Saturday.
"We've made a start and he's got bags of potential. Silvestre is convinced he'll get a mile and a half and you couldn't argue with him at this moment in time. It's also brilliant for Jon and Julia to have bred their first winner. He's out of Gallic Star who we trained and she got a mile and a half and he's inherited plenty of her talent."
At Ripon yesterday, ZIG ZAG GIRL continued our fine record in the six furlong juvenile seller event by flying home f ully ten lengths ahead of her nearest rival. It was an impressive performance from the daughter of Sixties Icon and, although Mick didn't want to lose her, she eventually left our care in the subsequent auction to go to Scott Dixon's yard for £16,000.
"I didn't want to let her go but that price represents good value and we have the mare, so it's certainly not the end of the line in that sense. She'll win again as she's got a great attitude and is clearly a slow burner. It took her a few runs to get to grips with the job in hand but, typical of Sixties Icon she'll get better with time and the Dixons should have a lot of fun with her. I wish them well."
Norman Court Stud's VISAGE BLANC en route to victory at Salisbury yesterday afternoon
A super day saw two fillies break their maiden tags and an improving two year old colt further his claims to raise his sights as the season develops - all round it was a satisfying day at the races.
We've had plenty of grumbles and bad luck in the last week, with Fingal's Cave, Divine and Volunteer Point all missing out on races that looked there for the taking but things always level themselves out and it started yesterday at Salisbury as Norman Court Stud's VISAGE BLANC took the ten furlong three year old fillies handicap in convincing fashion.
The daughter of Champs Elysees has always had a superb attitude and after a slow start she recorded her first career win at the fifth attempt under John Egan. She was prominent throught yesterday's contest and in a race where it paid to be prominent she stayed on all the way to the line to prevail over a solid yardstick in Zeehan by two lengths.
It was as eyecathcing a performance as the filly herself who is nattily named by Norman Court Stud. To say she was a standout foal is something of an understatement. Mick was delighted.
"This filly is a sweetheart. She tries all day for you and is incredibly genuine. She does everything at home; she's done a lot of work with the babies and has led them all the way through their preparation this winter. She did that because she has a great temperament and easy work like that has certainly paid dividends.
"She's thrived as the weather has improved of late and after just needing the run on her reappearance at Nottingham last month she did that very nicely yesterday.
"She'll get a trip in time and could be an improver as the season goes on. I think she's a smasher."
On the evening card at Newmarket, Lord Ilsley Racing's SAYESSE stepped up on his win at Brighton to take the novice auction stakes under George Baker. It's difficult to say what we have with SAYESSE because he remains a burly sort who is yet to look anything like the finished article but he certainly travels in his races and showed last night how he relishes a scrap.
He held off newcomer Mutoondresdashorse inside the final furlong last night to win by a short head but George was always confident, stating that SAYESSE knew his job and was always doing enough. Mick was pleased enough to start planning for even bigger and better things.
"Right, he's clearly very useful although the form of the race will underline how good in the coming weeks. He's raw and he's quite slobby still but he's sound, tough and hungry in every sense of the word.
"George was impressed and said that he's one of those horses that you'll never get to the bottom of becauise he's able to travel and then grind it out. He certainly has a very impressive attitude to the job.
"The new juvenile race system gives us plenty of options but I would be tempted to look at something like the Woodcote on Derby Day. He's exactly the type of horse who could handle that sort of occasion."
Last, but by no means least was SUMMER ICON who finally got her head in front at the tenth time of asking in the seven furlong fillies maiden. It's become something of a saga with SUMMER ICON who is clearly very talented, although at times quirky, but Silvestre De Sousa didn't mess about last night and the daughter of Sixties Icon pulled a long way clear in the company of Ryan Moore's Delve before emerging the winner by a head.
As Mick concedes, it was a victory that was long overdue.
"Job done in one sense and the ten grand bonus was most welcome. Training a 90 rated maiden is a frustrating experience but now we can look ahead and possibly take our time. She has always shown us plenty at home but she often did too much too soon in her races and never did herself justice.
"I want her to get a mile plus and she will in time but at the moment, over seven, she's got the chance to settle a little more. She has bags of ability as I've said and we'll be looking for a bit of black type now. I certainly think she's good enough."
Turning to our York runners, Mick was happy enough with both Harlequeen's fourth in the Musidora on Wednesday and Harrison's midfield finish in yesterday's Dante.
"HARLEQUEEN ran well enough but she doesn't help herself. The winner looks exceptional but I feel that the further our filly goes the better. They went hard and then slowed it up in the middle before sprinting for home on Wednesday and Harlequeen was all over the shop, keen and throwing her head about. She stayed on to just miss out on a place but she does need to learn her trade.
"She just needs experience and we'll take her to the 'Breakfast with the Stars' morning at Epsom and send her round the track. That doesn't mean she'll definitely line up in the Oaks but any experience will do her no harm.
"She'll most probably be one for the Ribblesdale at Ascot but we'll have a chat about that in a week or so.
"As for HARRISON in the Dante, I think it's fair to say that the Derby is now off the list of options but I was very pleased with him yesterday. He put himself right in the firing line with two furlongs to go and just plugged on. Silvestre said that he took a massive blow with him which surprised me but he is a big horse who is also still learning.
"It sounds silly to be happy when he's beaten eight lengths but he's come a hell of a long way. We'll go handicapping and look at Royal Ascot before stepping him up in trip later in the year."
It's all on the Gallops Page.