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John & Zoe Webster's VEEJAY - A winner at Ripon yesterday afternoon


A two year old on an upward curve and a return to winning ways for an old campaigner yesterday as John & Zoe Webster's VEEJAY and Peter Taplin's FITZWILLY made the long trip north very much worth the effort.

Yesterday was VEEJAY's third victory in only five career starts and the son of Approve remains the most admirable of competitors. Off of top weight under Graham Lee, VEEJAY made all in the Class 4 mile nursery and was pressed all the way up the home straight but kept finding more and more to win by a neck from Poet's Dawn who was the last to throw down a challenge.

The 11/8 favourite has made grinding things out something of a trademark in his short career to date and always hints that there is plenty left to come - a fact not missed by the boss who couldn't be happier with a charge who makes his job a joy.

"There's not a weakness to this lad who just wants to get on with things and has a real desire to compete. He held them all off yesterday and he's shown in all of his runs how game he is. 

"Ripon's undulations can unbalance a two year old but not this one and he's improving all the time. You can forget his previous run at Goodwood, the only time he's been out of the frame because he got stuck, bumped and brushed aside on the rail and had no luck in running so it was good to see him put that right yesterday.

"He's on the up and will go up from his mark of 84 as a result but I can't see that stopping him in the short term because, like I say, there's bags more to come. I wish I had a yard full of horses like him."

On the other side of the coin, Peter Taplin's FITZWILLY has gone almost two years without getting his head in front and at long last the handicapper has relented and the seven year old son of Sixties Icon took the Class 6 stayers handicap under David Egan in fine style.


He produced a sustained run down the centre of the course in the final stages of the two mile contest to emerge a three length victor over Jan Smuts with the rest a long way in arrears to record a sixth career victory.

"We had to up the fuel bill to get his head in front again! Pete loves having runners at his local tracks down south but yesterday was too good an opportunity to pass up and I'm glad that he's come good again.

"It was only a matter of getting some help from the handicapper and it would be good to think he can go in again now because that will do his confidence no harm at all.

"He's a wonderful old boy who always gives his best. He just bumped in to a progressive Mark Prescott horse to finish second last time at Lingfield but although there were better fancied three year olds up against him yesterday, he did that in convincing fashion to confirm that he's in good nick once again so it was a good day all round."

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Jon & Sophie Mitchell's TRICKSY SPIRIT and John Egan return to the winner's enclosure after yesterday's success


A pleasing day yesterday saw an across the card juvenile double with TRICKSY SPIRIT impressing at Goodwood and MAKSAB showing immense tenacity to prevail at Newmarket.

First up was Jon & Sophie Mitchell's TRICKSY SPIRIT who had a frustrating introduction to the game. Both her previous starts came at Newmarket and whilst she could be forgiven for greenness getting the better of her on debut, Mick was seething with himself for running her on soft ground second time up.

At Goodwood yesterday though everything fell in place and the daughter of Lethal Force took the six furlong fillies' novice auction stakes under John Egan in fine style. Held up in last she was produced with a run two furlongs from home and extended away in the closing stages on the sounder surface to bring both delight and relief to her trainer.

"That was great and she did it like a filly with a future. I blame myself for last time because she's a lovely type with a great attitude. The ground was dreadful last time we ran her and I shouldn't have disappointed her like I did. That said though we've got something to look forward with her because she's far from the final product at this moment in time. 

"She's got size and scope and plenty of good days ahead."

Less than an hour later over at Newmarket, Mohammed Al-Qatami & Khalid Al-Mudhaf's MAKSAB made it two wins from four starts in his juvenile campaign under an inspired Silvestre de Sousa.

The son of Makfi lined up in the Group 2 Superlative at the July Course on his last outing and yesterday's seven furlong Class 3 nursery was a significant drop in grade that was fought out in thrilling fashion.

Always prominent, MAKSAB, Tadleel & Finsbury Park locked horns well over a furlong out and it went right down to the wire with MAKSAB just edging it by a nose on the line ahead of Makleel with Finsbury Park only a neck further back. It was a nervous wait for the result of the photo but it eventually went the way of a relieved trainer.


"That was a great race and Silvestre was at his very best to get him up because it didn't look like our race in real time. MAKSAB is a smashing individual with a great presence about him and although we over pitched him last time in group company, he's no mug.

"He's won that off top weight and he's probably a little better that his rating of 83. That's for the handicapper to decide but he'll keep improving and keep winning races. He's the type whose mentality will ensure he fulfils his potential and it'll be interesting to see how good he'll become."

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MRC's PATTIE (Nearside) - A winner at Chepstow yesterday afternoon


A frustratingly lean time of late and whilst they're not bang out of form in terms of being competitive, the winners are hardly storming in so it was good to see Mick's homebred PATTIE get her head in front yesterday at Chepstow under Champion elect Silvestre de Sousa.

A full sister to Harrison, PATTIE has proven to be more effective over a mile than her sibling who has thrived with a step up to middle distances. SDS was very much at the forefront of that decision and he gave her a superb ride in yesterday's Class 5 fillies' handicap.

Taking their time in behind, PATTIE was produced with a run two furlongs from home and extended away from them inside the distance to record a three parts of a length victory over Here's Two with Mia Cara a further half length in arrears.

This was a decent top weight performance against some elders and Mick is looking forward to embellishing her record in the weeks to come.

"This season has been something of a learning curve for us because we spent the first half thinking she'd be a middle distance horse. She'll certainly get further than a mile but for now, as long as there's a decent pace on, a mile fits the bill.

"She's mine and will make a lovely broodmare so I'm very much looking to add to her win tally. I'll probably keep her in training at four because, like HARRISON, she'll get better at four and we'll see where we go from here."

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Delight for Theresa Burns's SANTORINI SUN at Sandown this evening


We're having a decent time of things at present and the two year olds are really starting to thrive. After TRUMPS UP, JAZEEL and HELVETIAN in the past few days, Thursday saw SANTORI SUN make a winning debut on debut at Sandown in the hands of Charlie Bishop and in the colours of Theresa Burns.

SARTORINI SUN has always been a filly with real scope and a great attitude and it was with trepidation that Mick made her first entry one over Sandaown's sprint track. 

'She was ready to go, that's all I'll say and whilst there were races coming up over further, she's very much a filly who I knew would come on for the run. I hate to have them all fired up to have a sole day in the sun on debut and want them to progress but when the rain fell, I just thought she'd go well and not be too outpaced and learn a lot for it.

"Hey, I always want to win but these babies hopefully stand the test of time and whilst I'd be lying if I said I thought she'd win, we also know she's not uselass. They went a good gallop early on and although she was caught on heels for the first half of the race Charlie gave her time to feel her way in to things and we've just scraped home in a photo with David Evans's more experienced horse.

"That's decent enough form for one of ours on debut and we'll take it. She's alright this filly."

Yesterday, Peter Taplin' and Sue Bunney's WHITELEY stormed home at Brighton to record a thrilling win under the in form Silvestre de Sousa in the extended Class 6 six furlong handicap. 

This was just reward for an ever willing three year old who, whilst not quite having the same dash as her full sister Divine, has exactly the same attitude to both application and sheer effort - traits in evidence as SDS rousted her home to hold on in the closing stages ahead of De Vegas Kid and Limerick Lord.

Mick was delighted that WHITELEY and Pete & Sue are yet again enjoying success.

"That was great and Silvestre is flying at the minute. That said, so are Pete and Sue because I've hardly delivered what they've deserved until recent months. Jersey Breeze, Koeman and Whiteley have got me out the shit lately though and I couldn't be happier for them because, as I say, they've put in a lot to their racing and only now are they getting their rewards.

Posted By: Wilsley News

David Fitzgerald's TRUMPS UP - A winner at Leicester yesterday afternoon


A very pleasing debut from David Fitzgerald's TRUMPS UP who took the Class 5 seven furlong novice auction event under John Egan at Leicester yesterday afternoon.

The juvenile son of Cape Blanco seemed to relish the ease in the ground and yesterday's victory had all the hallmarks of a horse with plenty ahead of him. He was a little slowly away and had to be asked to get involved from some way out but once he got to grips with things, despite obvious greenness in the closing stages, he won in a very impressive fashion by almost a length ahead of the more expperienced Never Been To Paris.

Mick was delighted.

"He's done that well and this is a very willing lad who David bought himself. He didn't arrive until the spring but he's always had a great attitude and this was the right time to send him racing.

"I wasn't confident because I knew he'd be much better for yesterday's experience but I'm obviously chuffed that he one first time out. He'll only get better and will get further in time."

Other recent juvenile winners have included Abdullatif M Al-Abdulrazzaq's JAZEEL and Box 41's HELVETIAN.

JAZEEL ran a race full of promise at Ascot three weeks ago and ran on strongly to finish third, outlining him very much as a winner in waiting.


Indeed, he went of as a strong even money favourite on Saturday at Lingfield and duly obliged under Charlie Bishop over the extended seven furlongs. This is a very straight forward individual who Mick has an awful lot of time for and who, like TRUMP's UP will get better with time and a little further.

"There's not much I can say about this lad other than what you see is what you get. Greenness did for him at Ascot but he put that right at Lingfield. He made all and although it was by no means easy, he's a colt who I know will fulfil his potential because he's that sort of willing and honest competitor - very straightforward.

HELVETIAN disappointed on debut at Newbury a fortnight ago but put things right at Bath last week under David Egan in a Class five extended five furlong maiden auction.

The son of Swiss Spirit was never going on debut, much to the boss's pain as his friends in the Box 41 syndicate were all on hand to watch it in Box 41. As Mick says, there were no hiding places that day but it all went right at Bath.

"I was mortified at Newbury because he fell out the back of the telly and was never going. That had to be wrong and when the race at Bath came up it was just a matter of putting his first run out of my mind because he goes very nicely at home so it was just a case of a first time two year old running like it was his first time.

"Luckily the Box 41 team have seen it all before and HELVETIAN has some smart entries but we won't get ahead of ourselves and take it frome here."

Posted By: Wilsley News

John & Zoe Webster's VEEJAY - Now 2-2 after victory yesterday


A good few days for the yard as YA JAMEEL, INGLEBY MACKENZIE, MILTON ROAD and VEEJAY all returned truimphant over the past few days.

Probably the most notable was John & Zoe Webster's VEEJAY who followed up his debut success at Salisbury with victory at Haydock under both a three pound penalty and Rob Hornby last night.

Stepped up to seven furlong, the two year old son of Approve backed up his growing reputation as something of a dark horse by running out a half length winner against newcomer Al Barg with a previous winner Wasim a further head behind in a protracted tussle in the closing stages.

VEEJAY is a real pleasure to deal with and, as Mick saif after his debut, he's got bags of scope and a great attitude which leads you to wonder what's to come.

"He's a real smasher and he's crept up on us really because you couldn't say he dazzles at home. Not that he works badly either but it's clear that there's plenty to come from him because although there wasn't much separating them yesterday he gives the impression that he won comfortably enough once he hit the front.

"Seven is his trip for now but who knows what he'll get in time. Without tempting fate, he's a horse who I'm fairly laid back about because he's got the sort of attitude that will ensure that he'll fulfil his potential. Let's hope it's at a very high level."

There's was an across the card double on Thursday evening as first YA JAMEEL teamed up with Charlie Bishop to take the mile and a half handicap at Epsom, whilst Silvestre de Sousa was at his best to record a first career victory on board INGLEBY MACKENZIE at Doncaster.

On Friday MILTON ROAD recorded his third career win of his juvenile campaign and Mick's spirits were understandably high - the common denominator between the three winners being that they all carried the trainer's silks to victory.

"Obviously I'm chuffed although I'd honestly prefer other people to own them! They are all little project of mine so to speak but I own far too many!

"YA JAMEEL won off of a rating of 69 and will go up obviously because he bolted up by nearly four lengths under Charlie who is having a great time at the minute. The horse is only just starting to get to grips with what the game is all about and he will improve - it's just a question of when the handicapper finds his measure.

"INGLEBY MACKENZIE is a Sixties Icon homebred of mine who we named after the one and only Colin Ingleby Mackenzie who was a great friend of mine. Colin would have been thrilled to see the horse win and hat's off to Silvestre. He was at his very best and gave the horse an incredible ride.


"The horse has steadily improved for stepping him up in trip and, like YA JAMEEL, I'm hoping to see a bit more from him as the season goes on. He'll handle any ground and will be even better next year."

"MILTON ROAD has been a revelation and is also a horse who is improving all the time despite having had a busy time in his debut season.

George Downing brief's the press after Milton Road's Nottingham success

"He's won a nursery off of 69 now and George Downing gave him a terrific ride. Although I've aimed him at sellers before today I always knew he'd get better as the season progressed - he was only a June foal so he's a better two year old than he was as a yearling on the track!

"A fun horse who doesn't do anything at home. He just responds to racing."

Posted By: Wilsley News

Insignia Racing's AQUADABRA in the winner's enclosure at Bath this afternoon


You get two year olds like this now and then - those who unluckily bump into class acts.

That happened to Insignia Racing's AQUADABRA early on in the season but she finally won on her seventh start today in a brief but admirable career that has seen her do nothing but impress in defeat. Her worst run saw her finish fourth of ten at Carlisle whilst she's finished third on four occasions, was second the last time out at Bath and thankfully returned to the old track to finally get her head in front on her nursery debut under Andrea Atzeni.

She faced some very smart types as we went in search of a win that might put us on the path to Royal Ascot but when you bump in to the likes of Main Desire when fancied on previous form, you're left with a filly who has a high level of form but no real luck in terms of the random opposition juveniles can face early on in the year. Mick was in reflective mood.

"What a **** up I've made of that!

"We've always liked her and she's a smasher. Very tough, just like her mum who we trained but we got caught in a trap early on and every race I entered her in seemed to present us with a decent type or two who would leave us all disappointed.

Scotty & Roz collect the prize

"She really deserved that today. it was only a Class 5 nursery and I'm not saying she's a superstar but they can't hammer her for winning off of a mark of 68 and we're in the Super Sprint on Saturday.

"If we line up the dream goes on and you never know with two year olds."

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Sue Bunney & Peter Taplin's KOEMAN - A winner at Salisbury on Saturday night


A great relief on Saturday evening as a horse with no little talent finally got his head in front for his owners Sue Bunney & Peter Taplin by taking the Class 5 mile and a half handicap under John Egan.

KOEMAN had run ten times before Saturday and whilst he's been incredibly consistent, he has always been up against the handicapper since entering that sphere but as Mick explains, there has always been a dangling carrot where the three year old son of Dutch Art has been concerned.

"He won at last and I blame myself for him taking so long because I tried to get him going last year and he carried plenty of weight for a maiden who always tries but never had things his own way.

"We've got plenty of those about but he's such a good looker and always tries to please that you think the next day is the one. That happened on ten previous occasions prior to Saturday but I'm relieved more than pleased to have got his head in front.

"Sue & Pete are my best mates and I've been through the mill telling them to keep the faith - luckily for me they always do and I couldn't be happier for them to have a winner at Salisbury. That and Goodwood are their locals and we'll look to build from here."

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Mick's KIRUNA PEAK & Charlie Bishop on their way to Windsor success on Monday evening


It took a drop into claiming territory but Mick's own KIRUNA PEAK finally got back in to the winner's enclosure on Monday night after taking the mile and a quarter Class 5 claimer under Charlie Bishop on at Windsor.

It's been a while in coming - the three year old Arcano filly took a Newmarket maiden on only her second start last year and, if truth be told, she'd not fared well in her eight subsequent contests up until Monday.

That sometimes comes with the territory and a Newmarket maiden can often be overrated by the handicapper and, whilst KIRUNA PEAK's attitude cannot be faulted, she was saddled with an opening mark of 75 and has struggled ever since.

Therefore it's been a rebuilding exercise and Monday saw a very positive front running performance from a true galloping filly who more or less made all to record a length and three quarter victory under top weight. 

Mick was delighted and hopes that the rebuiding can continue.

"She's done that well and I just hope that she can come in again now. She found things very tough off of her opening handicap mark and having now come down to 61 from 75, I'm glad I own her!

"Racing can be demoralising for owners when they win at a top track in maiden company only to face a year of losing and I guess I got what I deserved by winning with a filly who was always going to feel her way into the game at three when middle distances came along.

"She's a really spirited character with plenty of heart and a sweet nature but losing can become a habit for young horses and that's what has happened to her.

"There's plenty to like about her though and I'm just hoping she can start going the right way again from here on in."

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Mick's MILTON ROAD (Blue Jacket) - A winner at Leicester on Saturday


A good day at Leicester on Saturday as John Egan rode a double for the yard with 'Old Campaigner' MILTON ROAD recording his second career victory and three year old AMELIA DREAM getting her head in front at the ninth time of asking for owner-breeder Mervyn Stewkesbury.

But we'll start with Mick's own MILTON ROAD - an absolute topper of a horse who represents everything his owner loves about racing; Winning at whatever level, regardless of the opposition.

If truth be known, MILTON ROAD is far better than a selling plater but as the late John Forsyth would always say, 'The little fish taste sweeter' and in taking yesterday's seller in convincing fashion by almost two lengths, Mick was cock-ahoop that the juvenile son of Mazameer recorded his second win in a hectic yet pleasing ninth course outing.

This is a smashing colt. He was a late foal but all he does is turn up and try. I'll be honest, I thought he'd get a bit sore and need time to strengthen because he's not had many days off but he's tough as teak.

"The Bishop boys bred him out of an old mare I know by Piccolo called Blakeshall Girl so I have a real soft spot for MILTON ROAD.

"The mare has just been scanned in foal to Sixties Icon down at Norman Court so there's another one on the way and if her next one is as game as this lad, there will be sport to be had there as well. The Bastian family have Blakeshall Girl's half sister Blakeshall Rose who is responsible for Effie B and therefore Neola - our oustanding juvenile filly so it's a good family.

"That's where the fun lies as far as I'm concerned whether they are selling platers or not."

Another owner-breeder, Mervyn Stewkesbury has also had a good weekend as AMELIA DREAM took the mile and a half Class 5 handicap for three year olds later on in the card with Egan yet again at his best to record a win that has been a long time in coming.

AMELIA DREAM, named after the owner's granddaughter has been consistent, willing and game from day one, although she has needed time to mature. 


She's always been sound though and that in itself can lead to problems because when results are everything, backing off of a fit and happy horse when your eyes tell you differently can often be the hardest thing to do.

That's exactly the position Mick found himself in at the back end of last year.

"I've seen fillies like her and she kept improving last year without really threatening. That puts you on a bit of a sticky wicket because from Mervyn's point of view, I wanted her to win as a two year old but she has always been about this year.

"That's common sense but you are always on a knife-edge because horses can go wrong at any time and then all the effort turns to dust if you get a problem.

"There's no way she should have taken this long to finally get a win under her belt - especially off of a rating of 68 but that's a boost for Mervyn's mare and we have AMELIA DREAM's half sister in training. She's alright as well - so I guess from a breeding perspective, yesterday was a positive all round."

Posted By: Wilsley News