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25
MAY

ETTIE HART - A winner at Chelmsford last night

ETTIE HART HOLDS THEM AT BAY IN CHELMSFORD SUCCESS

A satisfying victory for the Boss whose very own ETTIE HART recorded her second career success at Chelmsford last night under a very proactive ride from Franny Norton.

Although she's unlikely to make the front pages, ETTIE HART has always been a trier and after a string of performances that hinted she was on the right path, a dogged Boss and an equally fired up Franny brought her home by a length having been prominent throughout.

The Class 6 Kier Construction Handicap may not live long in the memory but the seven furlong event was the five year old ETTIE HART's first win since her three year old career. It was her first on the all-weather and with a string of placed efforts throughout, Mick was pleased that she has finally got her head in front again.

"Top stuff that and a great ride from Franny. She's only rated 46 and there's not exactly a train load of improvement to come but she has always tried and always does her best.

"She's moderate but these horses are a real challenge and to get a win with them takes time, patience and plenty of graft. Luckily she's got that going for her." 

Posted By: Wilsley News
22
MAY

Chris Hirst's CERTAIN LAD is greeted by his delighted connections after victory yesterday afternoon (Photo courtesy of Redcar Racecourse)

TWO MORE JUVENILE WINNERS AS CERTAIN LAD AND SWINGING JEAN WIN ON DEBUT

A two year old colt of some promise at Redcar on Monday and another homebred at Chepstow this afternoon sent our tally of individual two year old winners to nine for the season and they have left Mick with a rather rare headache as Royal Ascot looms.

Yesterday saw Chris Hirst's CERTAIN LAD romp home at Redcar in great style to take the Class 5 six furlong novice auction stakes under Ben Curtis. The son of Clodivil, although a little green, did everything right on debut, travelling in behind before making his move two furlongs from home. 

He did it very impressively as well, hitting the front before the furlong marker and extending away to win by almost four lengths with the experienced favourite Big Ace behind him providing a solid benchmark.

Visually, it was a performance of note, to such an extent that Mick was cornered by the press as to whether Royal Ascot is the next stop.

"I was asked and I'm never going to say 'No' am I? Everyone who gets involved in racing wants to go to the big meetings and I'm sure Chris is no different. He flew in from Thailand just to be there yesterday so we're on the same level when it comes to enthusiasm!

"We have two choices; Pitch him into the Coventry, or wait and run him in lesser company and look to build towards the July meeting at Newmarket. I'd love to have a go at Ascot but I need to speak with Chris and see what he wants.

"I'll always have a go if that's what Chris wants because he's clearly above average."

At Chepstow this afternoon, yet another Sixties Icon juvenile made a telling debut as Mick's own SWINGING JEAN took the Class 5 fillies' novice stakes under Charlie Bishop, just getting up in the final strides - She handled the undulating track and the fast ground admirably in the process.

SWINGING JEAN travelled into the race very impressively despite jumping awkwardly from Stall 11 and after tracking over to get cover, she eventually accounted for the well backed Welcoming and Summer Blossom (Stall 2 and 4) by no more than a neck but Mick is convinced she'll come on a bundle for that and she too, might feature at the Royal Meeting.

"I might be getting a bit giddy but I have to consider it and she may well go for something like the Albany after that. Yes, I sometimes look a prat for having a go at the big ones but this is a gorgeous filly who is more of a sprinting type like her mother who I trained. That said, being by Sixties Icon, she has the option of the Chesham over seven next month as well although I also have AZOR AHAI for that!

"I'll sit down and have a think because it's getting close now and we have a right few options for Ascot.

"KINKS runs in the National at Sandown this week and if we have a Norfolk horse, right now he'll be the one, with BARBILL and possibly CERTAIN LAD for the Coventry.

"SWINGING JEAN for the Albany, with Cotubanama our Queen Mary runner. BIG BOOTS has improved no end for his win at Bath so he's another in my mind for Ascot and now I realise I'm getting very excited and ought to shut up and think about things a bit more.

"Still, it's why we do this isn't it?"

Posted By: Wilsley News
21
MAY

AZOR AHAI & Graham Lee return to the winner's enclosure (Photo courtesy of @RacingBlade Twitter)

AZOR AHAI PUTS EXPERIENCE TO GOOD USE FOR JUVENILE VICTORY AT RIPON

On Sunday afternoon AZOR AHAI's put his two previous career starts to good use as the two year old son of Sixties Icon took the Class 5, six furlong novice stakes under Graham Lee in a remarkable race that saw only two horses feature in a six runner contest.

AZOR AHAI ran well on debut at Newbury a month ago, finishing a running on fourth before confirming that performance with a second placed finish at Pontefract ten days later. On Sunday, again partnered by Graham Lee, AZOR AHAI was always prominent on his first start over six furlongs and only the debutant Desert Lantern could go with him as they drew well clear of the field in a protracted battle in the last quarter mile.

Indeed, it looked at though Desert Lantern had got the better of AZOR AHAIN inside the distance before he and Graham found plenty in the closing strides to prevail by a neck to the delight of owner, breeder and trainer Mick.

"This a lovely willing colt who is very straight forward. He was sort of ready made and although he was always going to be better for the step up to six furlongs, I was more than happy for him to learn on the job as he's that sort of competitor.

"He's show that today and put his solid initial efforts to good use by really knuckling down and get off the mark."

So a good start to the resident mare GOOD MORNING LADY's career at Norman Court Stud.

She's in foal to Sixties again and is due any day now - not that she has any idea what her first foal achieved in Yorkshire this weekend!

Posted By: Wilsley News
17
MAY

The Sweet Partnership's ICONIC BELLE and Nicola Currie come home in splendid isolation yesterday

ICONIC BELLE WINS IN EMPHATIC FASHION AT YARMOUTH

The long trip to Yarmouth paid off yesterday as The Sweet Partnership's ICONIC BELLE finally got off the mark after a mainly consistent but frustratingly long wait.

The daughter of Sixties Icon is another homebred from Norman Court Stud and having given plenty of early signs of ability as a two year old, her three year old campaign was plagued by niggling setbacks. Therefore, it was as a four year old that she's finally come in to her own and yesterday she couldn't have repaid her owners' faith in her any more handsomely.

She took the Class 5 mile and a quarter handicap in the hands of Nicola Currie by four lengths on very firm ground in convincing fashion. Always prominent, she was the only one travelling at the three furlong marker and extended away with ease to the relief of Mick who will most probably have to make use of an entry she holds at Chepstow next week.

"That was great to see and I'm delighted for Gill The Till, and Keith and Clive Potter who have had to wait long enough to see her come good.

"She's been placed on six occasions, runner up on three and she was always likely to come good for us after a very frustrating season last year.

"We could never get a run at her and we decided to down tools on her with the intention of starting back at the start of the year and she's proved that she's capable of winning races. That's her eleventh run since the start of the year, so she's certainly turned the corner in terms of her previous issues and now we'll look ahead.

"She's in at Chepstow under a penalty on Tuesday and after winning by that margin we may have to head there before the handicapper has his say." 

Posted By: Wilsley News
08
MAY

Sue Bunney's BARBILL completes a debut of some note under Charlie Bishop yesterday afternoon

A GOOD DAY AT BATH AS BARBILL & TRICKSY SPIRIT BRING UP BANK HOLIDAY DOUBLE

A smashing Bank Holiday Monday at Bath saw two winners in the form of Sue Bunney's BARBILL and Jon & Sophie Mitchell's TRICKSY SPIRIT, both winners under Charlie Bishop who would go on to make it a hat-trick on the day aboard former West Ilsley inmate King Crimson.

I suppose the most impressive of the two was BARBILL who took the novice median auction for juveniles on his racecourse debut by an impressive five lengths to immediately ignite dreams of Royal Ascot next month.

That's obviously very ambitious but having seen the manner of his victory against two year olds with previous racecourse experience, you cannot say that's an entirely daft notion. 

Charlie had plenty of patience in the early stages after not getting the best of breaks from the gate and when he asked BARBILL to quicken from halfway he cruised into contention before powering home in the final furlong. Mick was delighted and very excited about the future.

"That was very impressive and I couldn't be happier for Sue who named this lad after her two grandchildren Barney & Billy who were there to greet Charlie and BARBILL when they came in. He's a smashing colt, full of talent and with a real ready-made professional attitude.

"We have to be thinking about Ascot and although it's nice to get a bit more experience into them before making that sort of step up, I'd be tempted to throw him straight in after that. He's the type of two year old who I think would be able to handle the big day."

It was then the turn of Jon & Sophie Mitchell's TRICKSY SPIRIT who won in contrasting fashion as the daughter of Lethal Force prevailed by a short head in a three way battle to the line, beating Kimifive (76) and Wafeer (77) in a very exciting finish.

TRICKSY SPIRIT was slow to get going as a two year old last year, disappointing in two Newmarket maidens before really coming good with victory at Goodwood on her third start. The Dick Poole at Salisbury saw her all at sea on her final juvenile start but her seasonal reappearance, finishing fourth at Kempton in April, showed that she'd clearly wintered well - a fact backed up by yesterday's success.

"That was close but well deserved because she was giving weight to the two she beat and will step in to eighty rated company now. She'll handle it because she's got plenty of scope and is a filly who took a bit of time to get started last year but always looked like she'd come in to her own at three.

"She's got a lot to like about her and will be better over six, possibly a little further later on."

Posted By: Wilsley News
03
MAY

MRC's BIG BOOTS and Callum Shepherd return after Tuesday night's success

TWO MORE JUVENILES GET IN THE WINNING SPIRIT AS BIG BOOTS AND TARRZAN SCORE

A good couple of days for the two year olds as Mick's own BIG BOOTS scored at Bath last night and Theresa Burns's TARRZAN took the seller at Ripon this afternoon.

We'll start with BIG BOOTS in what is a rather modest report because, in truth we can't take all of the credit for these two winners.

BIG BOOTS took the five furlong maiden at Bath after arriving less than a month ago as an aquisition from the Ascot Breeze up sales. The son of Society Rock did it in fine style as well, accounting for the well backed High Horse on his racecourse debut in the hands of Callum Shepherd by two lengths.

It was a performance that wasn't entirely surprising although it wasn't expected either as Mick explains.

"This is a smasher and he did it very nicely. To be honest, all we've done is settle him in and make sure he was pointing in the right direction. Sometimes, horses from any breeze up can be a little buzzy but this lad has clearly been well handled and has a great attitude -  that was great to see last night.

"We've put him in the Lily Agnes at Chester next week and because he's taken everything in his stride I don't see why he shouldn't head there. He's only been here a short while but he's slotted right in and we'll assess him in the next few days and I don't see a quick return to the track being a problem. Mentally, he's clearly got the tools to go with his ability."

Today, it was yet again all about Bungle Inthejungle who recorded his sixth individual winner as a freshman sire as TARRZAN cruised to victory in the five furlong seller under Silvestre de Sousa at Redcar.

Again, in a sense it feels like we have hijacked the efforts of others as TARRZAN was with Willie McCreery in Ireland until just over a week ago but with more opportunities this side of the sea at this stage of the season, we were very fortunate to take on a very willing and enthusiastic competitor who might well have enjoyed the shortest but quite possibly the most perfect career of any horse ever seen at West Ilsley.

He was sold on to John Gallagher in the auction after the race with Mick confident that he'll go on to better things.

"I suppose Tarrzan was a bit like his sire - blink and you'll miss him, albeit in slightly different circumstances! He travelled over, settled in for a few days, joined an older horse in a breeze on the all weather the day before the race, then left for Redcar.

"He shaped up like a decent horse on his debut for Willie at Dundalk at the start of April and is clearly better that the grade he ran in today. Another winner for Bungle, John has a good prospect on his hands for twelve and a half grand and Willie had more than a little to do with it!

"Bungle Inthejungle was uncomplicated and TARRZAN even more so in this case.

"I'll just say that this my greatest training performance ever!"

Posted By: Wilsley News
01
MAY

CAN CAN SIXTY TWO and Callum Shepherd winning at Salisbury yesterday afternoon - Photo courtesy of Sue Ford

CAN CAN PUTS HER BEST FOOT FORWARD FOR SALISBURY SUCCESS

This is starting to get silly now. Something like a 122% strike rate for the past week. Whatever the stats are, I'm gutted that I'm not being paid on a wordcount basis.

Therefore, I'll keep this short and sweet.

Another West Ilsley winner, another homebred and another chance to bore everyone with the fact that Sixties Icon was again responsible as Norman Court Stud and the yard remain in red hot form.

Yesterday wasn't as prolific as Sunday but none the less we sent out three runners and whilst Arcadian Rocks shaped nicely to finish third on debut and I'm A Believer was arguably unlucky to finish runner up in their respective heats, CAN CAN SIXTY TWO took the Class 6 mile and a quarter handicap under Callum Shepherd.

It was an admirable effort in the heavy ground as CAN CAN SIXTY TWO was in front a long way from home on her first venture beyond a mile and she saw the trip out very nicely. Her Owner, Breeder and Trainer was more than happy.

"She's not a star but she's out of an old mare of mine who has always given me a lot of joy and CAN CAN SIXTY TWO is a typical example. She's a half sister to the likes of Fork Handles and Ingleby Mackenzie and I like her half sister CHYNNA who is by Gregorian and makes her second start tonight at Kempton.

"CAN CAN SIXTY TWO tries her heart out and that's all you can ask. She'll definitely stay further and will hopefully still be competitive when she steps out of 0-60 company which she inevitably will after that."

Posted By: Wilsley News
30
APR

David Hudd, Chris Wright & Ann Black's KINKS returns to the winner's enclosure with Charlie & Zolly on Saturday afternoon

A SUNNY AFTERNOON FOR KINKS AT RIPON AND A TREBLE AT SODDEN SALISBURY

A winner in the north on Saturday and a treble at Salisbury on Sunday as Sixties Icon proves yet again that he's a sire of true value and first season sire Heerat produced his first two year old winner.

On Saturday it was David Hudd, Chris Wright & Ann Black's KINKS who was most definitely not like everybody else as he and Charlie Bishop powered home in the five furlong novice auction stakes by over two lengths ahead of Brocklesby second Broken Spear with the rest a long way in arrears.

The son of Sixties Icon & resident Norman Court Stud mare Crazee Diamond was shouldering a six pound penalty for his previous victory at Bath only a week ago but he showed that he's above average and Mick couldn't be happier as he plans his next steps and a tilt at black type.

"An absolute smasher whose dam had a Swiss Spirit filly on the same day funnily enough. He is a star and has the looks and attitude that has got us all a bit excited with Royal Ascot creeping into everyone's mind.

"There's a Listed race at Naas that we'll have a look at now because he deserves his chance at that level. After that we'll know where we stand in terms of the two year old picture. Chuffed with him - he trains himself, a real pleasure to deal with."

On Sunday the Boss headed to a rain sodden Salisbury and it led to a treble at what, for Mick, is very much home territory.

First up it was his very own COTUBANAMA who won the juvenile fillies' conditions stakes in partnership with Charlie Bishop as they took their time in the very heavy conditions to score by a length and three quarters, making the most of the experience the daughter of Heerat gained on debut at Newmarket a fortnight ago.

She was third that day and the penny only dropped late on, finishing in eye-catching fashion. As owner, breeder and trainer, Mick was obviously delighted that she's improved for the run.

"This is one tough cookie and I'm delighted for Mickley Stud that Heerat is off the mark. We've got a few Heerats, one is a smashing yearling out of a mare called Paaches who had plenty of boot but never fulfilled her potential because of injury. The dam of this one, Saona Island was very similar. She never even made it to the track but she didn't half go well at home - luckily her daughter has boot too and she could be decent.

"Again, I'm not going to get carried away but we've got a half sister by Sixties Icon as a yearling and Saona Island is due anytime now with another Sixties. It goes without saying that I'd love COTUBANAMA to be a black type filly."

We don't have a photo of COTUBANAMA from Sunday although Janet Evans at the stud has found a selfie of her from 2016.....

The second winner of the day was The Further Folly Partnership's WESTBROOK BERTIE who broke his maiden at the fifth time of asking under Silvestre de Sousa in the Class 4 three year old handicap over a mile and a quarter.

WESTBROOK BERTIE showed plenty of ability at two and was unlucky on occasions, not least at Brighton last October when he was brought down and splattered David Egan all across the downs, but that is now a distant memory as the son of Sixties Icon virtually made all in a trappy four runner contest, accounting for the warm favourite First Eleven into the bargain.

"Very pleased for the Parnership who enjoyed a lot of success with Opal Tiara and whilst WESTBROOK BERTIE may not reach her levels of success, he's shown he can mix it with horses rated around the 80 mark so he's no duffer. Silvestre gave him a very uncomplicated ride and he handled the ground.

"Again he's a product of our breeding base at Norman Court Stud just down the road and his dam Evanesce only produces winners. Gill the Till is the mastermind behind BERTIE so well done to her in particular!"

Lastly and by no means least it was Patrick Trant's BILLY RAY who took the third leg of the hat-trick in the Class 4 mile and a half maiden for three year olds. With Charlie Bishop up, the tactics were key in the heavy ground and whilst the field understandably tired in the closing stages, Charlie always looked confident in behind the leaders. 

Indeed, BILLY RAY was the last to come off the bridle and stayed on best of all inside the distance to account for the immaculately bred debutant Almoghared by almost four lengths with the weary rest a long way in arrears.

Another Sixties Icon colt, although BILLY RAY is in stark contrast to the precoscity of KINKS. 

"He was never going to be sharp but this is a real stunner of a horse. A proper horse with size, scope and a real presence about him. I gave him a couple of runs at two because mentally he was such a backward slob that I wanted to switch him on.

"That did him no harm and he hit the ground running this year, finishing second at Wolves when I really didn't know what to expect before proving that he could have a bright future after yesterday's win.

"He's only rated 77 but I expect him to be far better than that in time. I'll eat my hat is he doesn't improve all year. He's gorgeous and a real slow burner who could be anything."  

Posted By: Wilsley News
23
APR

The Hunscote, Watt, Peckham, Botham & Edwards owned DAN'S DREAM & SDS (Near) take Saturday's Fred Darling at Newbury

A DREAM BEGINS AS A FLYING FILLY TAKES THE FRED DARLING

For many reasons, there's much to contemplate after DAN'S DREAM took one of the major 1,000 Guineas trial races on Saturday in the Group 3 Dubai Duty Free (Fred Darling) Stakes under Silvestre de Sousa at Newbury.

Racing aside, DAN'S DREAM is a somewhat special case (see link below) and although she's not in the Newmarket Classic at present, there is a lot for her owners led by Hunscote Stud's Steve Smith, along with Fred Watt, Simon Peckham, Sir Ian Botham and Gareth Edwards to ponder.

A winner at Bath on her seasonal reappearance at the end of last month, Saturday represented a massive step up in class but it was one that Mick was typically not afraid of making.

She travelled superbly in behind and once SDS pulled her to the near side as the race unravelled, there was very little doubt as to the outcome. The Cityscape filly came home very strongly in the good to soft conditions to win by a length and a quarter with the 102 rated Tajaanus, Dance Diva (98) and Hikmaa (101) in arrears.

Even though she had race fitness on her side, that is undeniably smart form and Mick is now looking ahead with a filly he has always rated highly.

"That's given Steve and his team something to ponder! I've left everyone well aware of my feelings, I want to supplement for the Guineas. She's got an entry in the Irish equivalent but from a racing point of view I'd like to go to HQ.

"She is earning money for the Nicholl's Spinal Injury Foundation however so obviously that needs to be taken into account. It's a tough call and I've had my say so it's down to Steve and his team to mull over - it's thirty grand so I don't envy them.

"She won a five and a half furlong race in modest company at Bath and this was a big leap forward but she saw that out well enough for me to believe that she'd get a mile at Newmarket, particularly with the ground drying up but I also understand the temptation to take her back to six furlongs for the Commonwealth Cup at Ascot.

"Winning over seven on Saturday has us stuck in the middle of the two options but I'm all for Newmarket - Ascot comes late enough to go back to six if I'm wrong about the Classic trip.

"We'll see though - she's a very good filly so it's a great problem to have!"

https://www.racinguk.com/news/dan-s-dream-fuels-hope-of-1000-guineas-glory-and-charity-windfall

http://www.thoroughbreddailynews.com/from-a-nightmare-springs-a-dream/

Posted By: Wilsley News
21
APR

Khalid Al-Mudhaf & Mohammad Al-Qatami's ADORABLE with her Lad Michael after yesterday's debut victory

A FRIDAY FIVE TIMER ACROSS NEWBURY & BATH - PATHOS ALERT

There will be no smug one-upness in this news article. Zero, zilch, nada, nowt, nothing.

A five timer is clearly something very rare and everyone involved deserves huge credit for all of their efforts in getting our horses ready at the very start of the turf campaign after a truly torrential winter.

Spare a thought however for those of us who predicted yesterday's outcome to a couple of friends, yet declined to act upon their own convictions.

There was a time when a five timer would have sent my mum to Mauritius.

She's not even going to Margate this time around.

Anyway, congratulations to yesterday's winners in chronological order:

Insignia Racing's DIAMOND DOUGAL, Khalid Al-Mudhaf & Mohammad Al-Qatami's ADORABLE, David Hudd, Chris Wright & Ann Black's KINKS, MRC's MARIETTA ROBUSTI and The Guest Family's CHARMING GUEST.

On a glorious spring afternoon, the first three struck in a frantic half hour period at both Bath and Newbury, during which I was chain harrowing the lower field at Norman Court Stud.

Insignia's DIAMOND DOUGAL made his racecourse debut at Bath's very same meeting as a juvenile twelve months ago and whilst he finished third in his maiden that day, the jarring conditions saw him away from the track until August. That setback however saw him truly flourish in the autumn, winning two races and being placed on three other occasions.

Whilst he clearly benefitted from that enforced absence, he's certainly done well over the winter and took the Class 4 five and a half furlong three year old handicap in fine style under Charlie Bishop. Always in touch behind the leaders, he was asked for an effort at the two pole and extended away to win by over two lengths ahead of Bungee Jump with Big Brave Bob a further three lengths in arrears.

Mick was delighted for all concerned.

"That was brilliant for Tina Dawson and all of her members in Insignia. This is a very brave competitor who came right at the back end of the season and it was great to hit the ground running this time around.

"The ground was perfect and he didn't half go well. He'll obviously go up from his current mark of 77 for that but as long as it's not firm ground I expect him to still be competitive in a higher grade because he's a very geniuine horse who goes to work every day with a great attitude."

Next up was probably the yard's most eye-cathcing performance of the day as Khalid Al-Mudhaf & Mohammad Al-Qatami's ADORABLE hosed up under James Doyle to take an intriguing three year old fillies maiden at Newbury.

The well-bred daughter of Kodiac didn't mess around as the stalls opened in the seven furlong contest and set the pace throughout much of the contest in good to soft ground. It was only at the two furlong pole that she came under pressure and although for a brief moment it looked as though the looming Solar Gold might test her, ADORABLE stretched again and went clear in convincing style to win going away by three lengths. 

She's the type of filly that Mick has always had a lot of time for.

"This filly might just be a bit special. It's obviously very early days but the good ones you don't mind waiting for and that's why we gave her all the time in the world last year and didn't race her at two.

"She always showed us that she was a good goer but at no point was I tempted to throw her in. I can't explain why, I just felt as though she'd benefit for the winter behind her. Anyway, without getting too excited, I really like her and that was a very impressive performance. She'll get a mile this year and we'll obviously be looking to pick up some black type. Her pedigree says she's decent and that's certainly what she looked yesterday."

At around about the time of KINKS's victory in the juvenile novice median auction stakes at Bath, I was trying to extracate the harrow from under the water trough in the lower field, ironic when you think about it because that was the very same paddock that he spent his formative months at Norman Court Stud.

Chris Wright & Ann Black's son of Sixties Icon did nothing wrong on his debut at Kempton two weeks ago, finishing second to a nice David Evans trained two year old but yesterday KINKS put his experience to good use as Charlie went forward from the gate and asked his charge to extend in the closing stages as the newcomer Tin Hat pushed him all the way to the line.

KINKS battled on and always held sway although it wasn't easy as the official distance of a head indicates - we've had plenty of Sixties Icons through our hands at West Ilsley and KINKS looks fairly typical; good looking, tough and able to win at the minimum trip, with the predictable promise that he'll get further in time.

Mick was delighted for all connections.

"Chuffed for David, Chris & Ann who have this lad as their second to year old winner of the year, having taken the Brocklesby and a similar event at Bath with IZZER.

The KEMPTON race was very pleasing but I couldn't help feeling that KINKS was caught out that day as he was headed without having chance to respond. Yesterday though Charlie always had the revs up because by no means is he a sprinting type. He's an individual who will be a miler by the end of the season I'd imagine but he's got a great action and wants to get on with the job.

"As long as they improve with racing, that's all I'm interested in but obviously we want to win along the way and this lad was always a smasher from the start. Well done to everyone at Norman Court Stud, they've done well - although the paddocks down the bottom do need rolling."

The next winner at Bath was MARIETTA ROBUSTI who backed up her win at Windsor on Monday to take the extended five furlong Class 6 handicap under both a six pound penalty and Silvestre de Sousa. 

In the knowledge that she's soon to go up in the weights, it was a question as to how well she'd come out of her Windsor win in bottomless ground but she soon showed that she's as tough as they come - in behind the leaders until push came to shove she took the race by the scruff of the neck up the rail to win by three parts of a length ahead of Ellen Gates. Mick was full of praise for the daughter of Equiano.

"There's not much you can do but just say that she's an absolute cracker. She's no star but she loves her job and has come a hell of a long way since her debut in January. She'll go up next week and may find things get harder in loftier company but she's won three now and is all heart."

The final winner came in the form of the Guest Family's CHARMING GUEST who took the five furlong Class 5 novice stakes under SDS on only her second career start. She made her debut at Ascot as a juvenile in May last year but returned with a fracture and was forced to take the rest of 2017 off.

At that time she was one of the yard's shining stars on the gallops back home and it was a bitter blow to lose her for the season but Mick is convinced that there's more to come.

"These things sometimes happen with babies and we were all gutted because she'd cost over a hundred grand and has a decent pedigree. There was little we could do except bide our time but she'd been great through the winter and that was the perfect reintroduction and she's battled home to win by a neck and fend off a favourite (Cowboy Soldier) with a bit of form behind him so that was a great performance in my eyes.

"She's an interesting filly who will improve."

So, whilst the water trough in the lower field has a sizable dent in it and some of us had only a mirror in the bathroom to reflect on with self loathing, for Mick and the team, yesterday was a very good one.

"All I can say is well done to all of our winning owners and the team in the yard. These periods come in waves and just when you think it'll last forever, the wheels can quickly fall off so we just have to try and keep it going for as long as possible.

"I can't say why we've started so well - we've always been behind since I've been at West Ilsley but we're in great form at present and I'm not going to pretend I know why, just keep things the same and try and enjoy them when they're going well. That's the key."

From a personal point of view, Yours Truly lines up in the Southampton half marathon tomorrow. I'll not be having a bet on that either although I'll definitely come on for the run.

The paddocks look well though.......

Posted By: Wilsley News