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The Radford Family's MISTER WHITAKER - A winner at Cheltenham yesterday afternoon


The headline is a bit over the top but I liked the ring to it and a winner for the Radfords at Cheltenham is worth singing from the rooftops and I suspect Tim was doing just that.

It was MISTER WHITAKER who prevailed at Prestbury Park as the six year old son of Court Cave took the two mile five furlong Class 2 Novices Handicap Chase under Adrian Heskin.

MISTER WHITAKER has shown plenty this season to suggest that he's a horse to take us places and after victory at Carlisle in November, he followed up with a solid second behind Hell's Kitchen at Kempton on Boxing Day. He was possibly the victim of a tactically astute front runner that day but yesterday in heavy ground he showed that he's an emerging force to be taken seriously in the coming months.

A return to Cheltenhman looks very much on the cards as the Close Brothers Handicap looks ideal for him and Mick is very much relishing the prospect.

"There aren't too many issues in terms of where we hope to run in March! Tim sponsors the Gold Cup and it's obviously all about the festival with plenty in our favour. He'll go up to a rating that will put us in the race and he's proved that he's got a great heart and will handle any ground. 

"Drier conditions in the spring will very much suit him and I couldn't be happier with the horse. He took a bit of time to get in a groove but this season he's been faultless in his attitude and his work at home.

"He was unlucky at Kempton and did nothing wrong there and yesterday he cruised into the race despite an error or two but it's great to know that he can act round Cheltenham.

"To win any race at the Festival would be a dream, particularly for Tim and his family and we can look forward to March with a real sense of optimism."

Yesterday evening, Box 41's HELVETIAN underlined what an exciting prospect he's shaping up to be by taking the Class 4 six furlong handicap under both top weight and Charlie Bishop in convincing style.

The three year old Swiss Spirit colt was a late bloomer in his two year old campaign but has been kept busy enough since his maiden win in August and has certainly thrived over the winter.

He's surely better than his current mark of 88 and Mick is keen to see how good he can be in the coming months before the turf season beckons.

"We'll have to give him and easy time sooner rather than later but for know I'm chuffed that we have a horse who thrives on racing. We've not really asked him too much at home, just kept him ticking over and the rest he's done himself.

"He's suited by a strongly run six furlongs as we saw last night but he's got the scope to get further."

Posted By: Wilsley News

Mick's homebred PATTIE and Charlie Bishop romp home at Lingfield yesterday afternoon


Another West Ilsley filly and another filly by Sixties Icon took Wednesday's feature at Lingfield as PATTIE ran out a convincing winner of the Class 3 32Red/EBF Fillies' Handicap over seven furlongs under Charlie Bishop.

A full sister to the smart Harrison, PATTIE has taken some time to get to grips with in terms of her best trip but yesterday reaffirmed the fact that a strong pace over seven furlongs to a mile suits her down to the ground. Having won on her last start over a mile in 2017, yesterday's reappearance saw her pick off her three rivals and surge home strongly.

Off of a mark of 80, PATTIE was off of bottom weight with Make Music (90), Soul Silver (88) and Yeah Baby Yeah (82) in opposition and once the two highest rated set a very genuine pace up front, Charlie and PATTIE took their time in the early stages.

Coming down the hill though they closed the gap and entering the home straight there was some concern as they were hemmed in on the rail before a gap opened a furlong from home and PATTIE powered to the front to prevail by a convincing length leaving Mick both delighted with the ten grand prize money and the prospects for his home bred's 2018 campaign.

"That was great to see and there's plenty to look forward with her. We messed up a bit last year believing that she'd be best over middle distances but once we realised that she's best used over a shorter trip, it became clear that she's a very straigh forward individual.

"A genuine test isn't always assured with only four runners but it panned out perfectly, Charlie didn't panic and she's done it very nicely.

"Sixties Icon gets all types but she's a bit like him in that she's tough, sound and will only get better from here.

"We'll have to face the handicapper's assessment now because they were no mugs we were up against but I say 'Bring it on'.

"I'm looking forward to seeing how far she can go this year." 

Posted By: Wilsley News

Summer Icon & Charlie Bishop taking the Fast Track Qualifier at Wolverhampton on Thursday


A very pleasing start to 2018 as the Voute Partnership's SUMMER ICON booked a possible date on the All-Weather Champions Day with victory in the Class 2 Fillies' Condition Stakes on Thursday.

With Charlie Bishop up, SUMMER ICON was well placed throughout the seven furlong contest and had the measure of her three rivals throughout to record an impressive victory.

The 84 rated five year old daughter of Sixties Icon faced two 95 rated opponents in Raven's Lady and Diagnostics off of level weights but it didn't show and the Boss was delighted that such a resiliant mare retains all of her enthusiasm for the job in hand.

"She's ultra consistent and ran well in a Class 3 event at Lingfield just before Christmas. She's been on the go for quite a while but this race looked worth a try because she's got a bit of black type behind her and it's now all about picking up what we can while she's in such good heart.

"We'd be hopeful of taking in the seven furlong race on the All-Weather Champions day at Lingfield and we'll see how she is from here. We've done it before with Volunteer Point, so there's every hope that we can repeat the trick with a fine specimen who has bags of ability."

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The Radford Family's MISTER WHITAKER & Adrian Heskin surge home at Carlisle yesterday afternoon (Photo Michael Ross @mrossi11 Twitter)


A more than welcome relief for the Radford Family's MISTER WHITAKER who shrugged of 12 months of frustration to stamp his authority on Sunday by taking the 0-135 novices chase under Adrian Heskin at Carlise.

The five year old son of Court Cave took the two and a half mile contest in convincing fashion off a mark of 118 and, to be honest, it's not before time. The early part of his career in bumpers and over hurdles showed that he had ability but it was a case of biding our time and his introduction to the bigger obstacles that would see him in his true light.

He travelled well throughout and jumped beautifully yesterday under a fine ride with the Boss now delighted that the real work is about to truly begin.

"He's always been alright but we've had a frustrating time - for both the Radfords and with the horse.

"He's always been a 'tomorrow horse' but there's often been times when I though tomorrow would never come. He found things tough in his bumpers and over hurdles and never really made me happy when he came out of his races.

"That said though, he always gave us glimpses that he had a future and we're on the right track now.

"His debut over fences last month was very encouraging and Hen's got him jumping beautifully. His work at home has been great and although he's only five, he's come a hell of a long way since we put him away back in the spring.

"He's a horse who I want to see thrive from here on in. He's a great looker and has a great attitude and you can draw your own conclusions from yesterday's performance.

"He'll get further and hopefully take Tim and the team to where they want to be in the season ahead."

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Norman Court Stud's ICONIC CODE returns to the winner's enclosure at Pontefract on Monday afternoon - Photo courtesy of @JonathanDoidge (Twitter)


A pleasing win at Pontefract on Monday afternoon as Norman Court Stud's ICONIC CODE took the mile nursery under John Egan on her handicap debut.

Having shown glimpses of ability in her three previous starts, Mick was primed to let her run in selling company a month ago only for a minor setback which meant that the daughter of Sixties Icon was returning after a forty day break. That seems to have done her the world of good though as in very testing conditions she ground out a convincing first career win.

John Egan was in no hurry through the early phases and as the race developed as they straightened for home ICONIC CODE was already making her move. She clearly had  plenty of running in her as those at the head of the fray one by one fell away and inside the distance she accounted for Milan Reef and Normandy Blue in commanding fashion with the other nine in the field all at sea and far adrift.

This was a pleasing victory for the Boss who considers ICONIC CODE to be a real slow burner with plenty more to come.

"This was something I always saw coming although admittedly not at 16/1. I'm talking about her progression in that she was never a ready made two year old but she kept showing us bits and pieces at home that said that she wanted to get on with the job.

"If she was weak and not doing well in herself I'd have thrown her out until next year but the mini break she gave herself last month was a blessing in disguise really.

"The thrived for just a fortnight on the easy list and that was there for all to see on Monday. She's a good looking filly whose family I know all about and a typical Sixties Icon type.

"Again he's mirrored the mare he's covered and as a result we have a filly who will probably get a mile and a quarter next year, possibly further but she has an attitude that says there are plenty of races in her in 2018."

Posted By: Wilsley News

Jon & Julia Aisbitt's OCTOBER STORM - A winner at York on Saturday


An apt result on Saturday as October Storm showed that he retains all of his enthusiasm for the job as Autumn truly takes hold by taking the Class 3 Coral Stayers Handicap at York under John Egan in thrilling fashion.

The four year old gelded son of Shirrocco doubled his tally for the year having taken a similar event at Goodwood off a mark of 72, a pound less that his rating on Saturday over an extended two miles.

Jon & Julia Aisbitt's charge is hardy and likable but needs the handicapper onside - a point proven having spent the middle of the season in the high seventies. Having dropped down in the ratings though he proved how he likes a scrap, emerging from the rear to take it up a furlong from home and hold out for a short head victory upsides Arrowtown to the delight of his happy trainer.

"It's not always easy with these staying handicappers and you need to switch this lad off early. He's very similar to Jon & Julia's ELIDOR but he just lack his class which makes it even more of a challenge. But these stayers make the job very satisfying when things fall right. Unfortunately in this sort of division though, you have to bide your time.

"He'll keep trying and will keep winning though because he's got plenty of spirit and is as sound as a pound."

Elsewhere, two juveniles broke their maidens, one at a big price on debut, whilst the other justified favouritism to take the Kempton Park Nursery on Friday evening.

Ann Black's DARK BLUE broke her maiden tag at the seventh attempt in the Class 6 seven furlong event under a very cool ride from Raul Da Silva. She cost a few quid as a yearling but she'll have done her page no harm in taking a competitive contest in fine style, holding off Puramente by a head with the Boss hoping that there's a wee bit more to come from a filly who has a great attitude to the game.

"She's won off a mark of 59 so we haven't got a Please Sing which did Ann so proud a few years back but we've got to make the best of her and there are signs that she can go on from this.

"Raul almost nursed her over the line and he wasn't particularly hard on her even though winning by a head doesn't seem that cosy.

"I'm her trainer though so I've got to look at the positives. She didn't have a hard race and Raul certainly didn't throw the kitchen sink at her so I'm hoping she's a bit better that the bare form. She's got a bit of a pedigree and whilst she'll not be making the front pages I'm hopeful that we can better her race record because she's a fine specimen with a sensible head on her."

We've had a winner for Jaber which is always nice! Mr Abdullah's FAYROUZ ROSE won at the first time of asking at Nottingham last week under Charlie Bishop on debut. Her odds of 25/1 giving you a clue that her victory in the Class 4 Oh So Sharp Maiden Fillies' Stakes was something of a surprise, but the sort of upset that didn't cause shockwaves.

She just a backward, immature individual who was getting valuable experience in a career that has always suggested she'd benefit for a winter behind her. 

Charlie didn't rush her and was more than happy when the daughter of first season sire Epaulette made headway three furlong from home. She then kept finding and finding and relished the extended mile trip to run on strobly to account for the vastly more experienced favourite La Diva by half a length with Mick hoping that his patience might pay off.

"That was a terrific first run and something that we consider a bonus. She's just taken time and I thought Charlie gave her a great introduction. She didn't cost a fortune but we often take a gamble on first season sires and she's something to look forward to next year.

"She's out of a Daylami mare so she'll obviously need a trip but we'll take our time with her and look forward to next season now. I don't know how good she is and I thought she'd need the run so there could be an engine there. Time will tell but these sort of fillies make the winters more bearable thinking of what's to come.

Posted By: Wilsley News

All smiles for Insignia's Tina Dawson as DIAMOND DOUGAL takes the plaudits on Friday at Haydock


A very pleasing performance in a valuable juvenile contest from Insignia Racing's DIAMOND DOUGAL who recorded his second victory of September with success at Haydock on Friday afternoon.

As was written on his first career victory at Brighton at the start of the month, DIAMOND DOUGAL's debut season was rather stunted after his first racecourse outing on firm ground at Bath but since returning to fitness in August he's been kept very busy and has gone from strength to strength.

He's been placed three times alongside his two wins in that time and under David Egan on Friday he bolted up to take the Class 2, five furlong event in resounding fashion off of a mark of 70 in very testing conditions.

The £9,000 winners pot just rewards for a very competitive individual whose trainer has the utmost respect for.

"As I said before you've got to admire this lad's appetite. He was horribly jarred up on the firm ground at Bath in April but to come back like he has and to keep showing his hunger like he has, it's all credit to him.

"Insignia are having plenty of fun and although he'll go up for that performance having gone well clear of the rest and he's now shown that he'll handle heavy ground.

"That might mean that we remain ahead of the handicapper although it's difficult to assess what that might have taken out of such a young horse but he seems to have come out of it full of himself so we'll see what's next.

"He's in on Wednesday, obviously with a penalty, but I'll have to see how he is tomorrow and assess whether that's an option worth taking." 

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Peter Taplin & Sue Bunney's KOEMAN - A winner at Kempton last night


A third win of the campaign for Peter Taplin & Sue Bunney's KOEMAN who registered his third win of the campaign with victory in the Class 3 London Middle Distance Series Qualifier under David Egan last night.

KOEMAN has always been a good looking individual with plenty of scope and he's been very much on an upward curve since his first victory at Salisbury back in July. He's certainly been kept busy and is very consistent with five placed efforts to his credit as well and he's just got better as he's been stepped up in trip.

He was third at Kempton only a fortnight ago in 0-80 that hinted at even more to come and Mick couldn't be happier for the horse or his owners as he plots for bigger and better things to come.

"Chuffed for Pete and Sue who follow this lad everywhere. He took a while to get his head in front and since then he's thrived. He's always shown plenty of ability but he's a big framed unit who I feel is only now coming in to his own.

"We've got him in the Old Rowley Cup in October and although that's a big ask I can't see him getting hammered in the ratings for last night and whilst that's a quality field, off of a lowish weight I'd be looking forward to taking them on.

"That said he's now qualified for the London series and he does like it round Kempton so that'll come in to the equation as well."

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Theresa Burn's APPLE ANNI leaves the winners enclosure at Beverley yesterday afternoon.


A very pleasing performance from Theresa Burns's APPLE ANNI saw the two year old daughter of Fast Company streak clear in the closing stages under John Egan to take the Novice Auction Stakes over the extended seven furlongs yesterday afternoon.

Having finished third on her racecourse debut less than three weeks to go it was interesting to see how much she'd improved for her introduction and she had a convenient yardstick in Vera Drake, who finished a neck on front of her that afternoon.

Mick was convinced that APPLE ANNI had benefitted considerably for her first outing and that proved to be very much the case as, in the soft ground and in behind a furious early pace, John bided his time to produce an eyecatching flourish from a diminutive but very athletic two year old who went clear of the field with Vera Drake following her home nearly three lengths in arrears.

Mick was delighted that the long trip north was justified and has a plan for APPLE ANNI.

"She's always been willing to please this filly and she qualifies for some valuable sales races in Ireland which we'll have to have a look at now. Fair play to Rathasker Stud who bred her and she's typical of their produce in terms of her attitude and we know the family very well.

"Most notably her half brother Wovoka who was a grand servant and like him APPLE ANNI clearly relishes soft ground. That won't be a drawback as Autumn sets in, especially in Ireland, so we'll look at her obvious option at Naas."

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Jon & Julia Aisbitt's CARAVELA (Near) - A winner at Thirsk on Saturday


A very pleasing moment for owner breeders Jon & Julia Aisbitt who celebrated their 50th winner sent out from West Ilsley.

One of those 50 winners includes Stella Point, the dam of CARAVELA who recorded her first career victory at the third attempt under Joe Fanning at Thirsk on Saturday.

The three year old daughter of Henrythenavigator has needed plenty of time to come to the fore and only made her debut in June but she's a progressive filly with plenty of ability and very much a work in progress.

That's been very much in evidence on all three starts where she has been a little slow away on each occasion but doing her best work at the finish. She was third at Goodwood on debut and second at Pontefract last month. In Saturday's Class 4 fillies' maiden she was again in behind before finishing off the mile contest full of running and accounting for the 73 rated Ambrosia inside the distance to record a length success.

Mick was delighted for all concerned.

"That's John & Julia's 50th winner we've sent out and now CARAVELA has followed her mum by winning for us. They have been great supporters for a good ten years now.

"To do it with a homebred is particularly satisfying and it was only a matter of time before CARAVELA got her head in front because she's got plenty of ability and has just improved and improved since her first run at Goodwood.

"She's similar to her dam in that she's a very light framed individual who we couldn't get going as a two year old but that's no crime and we gave her plenty of time.

"Ambrosia is a decent yardstick with a rating of 73 and we'll see what the handicapper gives us but, being owner breeders, I'm sure Jon & Julia will want to see how good CARAVELA can be. It's all down to how much she can improve because obviously we'd like a bit of black type to improve the pedigree."

Posted By: Wilsley News