Brighton provided the venue for SARMADEE's breakthrough success under Killian Hennessy yesterday afternoon
Relief all round after SAMARDEE finally got his head in front at the twelfth time of asking to take the Class 5 seven furlong handicap at Brighton under Killian Hennessy yesterday afternoon.
The four year old son of Fast Company hasn't had the easiest of times, only making his debut in 2016. A promising start to his career back in February didn't see him win and subsequently, an opening mark of 73 made life tough for a horse adjusting to the demands placed upon him in his first full season.
Perhaps we hit him a little hard early on because his losing run wouldn't have been predicted on the ability he shows at home, yet it's taken until now to get his head in front off a mark of 64.
Killian Hennessy's patient ride yesterday saw him deliver SAMARDEE at the perfect moment to win by a head to deny Baltic Prince on the line and Mick was happy with both horse and rider.
"This horse has got tons of ability and because he had setbacks at the start of his career, I suspect that he went a little weak on us after such a promising start.
"He had an infected foot that took a long time to get over last year but he's absolutely perfect now and a very sound horse who shows plenty on the gallops.
"I've blamed the trip, the handicapper and myself during the wait for his first win but I genuinely believe that he just lacked core strength as a result of the time he missed and he's only really coming to himself now.
"I do like him and Killian showed that he too has plenty of talent. He'll be playing a more prominent role in the weeks to come now because we've got plenty of horses that have been murdered by the handicapper, particularly in the two year old department.
"Some of them just cannot win at the moment and Killian's seven pounds will be crucial if we're to get anything out of them."
Norman Court Stud's TEXAS KATIE - A winner at Wolverhampton last night
A spirited performance by the effervescent TEXAS KATIE at Wolverhampton last night saw Norman Court Stud's homebred take the Class 6 seven furlong median auction maiden in the hands of Charlie Bishop in convincing fashion.
She has been kept busy of late and with good reason, for the daughter of Clodivil never seems to tire and is spirited to say the least, although she's a filly who Mick has a lot of time for having had success with several others not dissimilar.
"A few people have commented on how many races she's had in the last five weeks - six in total - but you ought to try and train her! She's full of herself and she's difficult to keep a lid on.
"She's very talented though and a proper athlete - she must be to take her racing as she has done and come out after her races like a lion. She's tough and spirited, we've had a few Clodovils like that in the past and tomorrow morning will be interesting because she's had an easy day today!
"I don't mind a filly being a handful when they're talented and she's one of them."
Silvestre de Sousa, Janet Evans & ELIDOR return to the winners enclosure yesterday afternoon
After a couple of disappointing performances, Jon & Julia Aisbitt's ELIDOR returned to the sort of form that saw him finish a close up third in the Ormonde at the start of the season as he took the Summer Stakes handicap under both top weight and Silvestre de Sousa yesterday afternoon.
It was a superb performance and one that we were hopeful of rather than expecting after efforts in Listed company at both York and Pontefract left us scratching our heads.
Yesterday, ELIDOR was a horse transformed and back to his classy best as he travelled strongly throughout the mile and six furlong contest despite slipping on the far bend in an incident that might have been far worse that it actually was, although connections of Arch Villain suffered more than most.
That aside, ELIDOR cruised into contention down the hill and Silvestre later said that he pulled him to the front earlier than he'd have wished but despite the late attentions of Quewy, ELIDOR held on by a neck to thrill the Boss and Jon & Julia who recorded a Royal Ascot/Goodwood double with a brave and courageous ally.
"What a smashing horse to train! He got struck into in this very race last year and it was touch and go if he'd make a comeback because his leg was a right state.
"He's always been a character and always been talented and although I couldn't set my watch by him I wouldn't change him for the world. He's given us some great days and I'll forgive him his previous two flops because of it.
Perhaps we ran him too quickly after Chester when he was beaten less than a length by Dartmouth and Whicklow Brave because York and Pontefract baffled us. We had a full MOT done as a result and nothing came to light. That's horses I suppose and we'll head to the Ebor at York now.
"He's run well in it before and we were originally going to go straight there but he was in such good form at home it seemed silly to leave him in his box and let the world go by.
"That was the right move as things turned out and I'm so happy for Jon & Julia who love this horse. They bought him as a foal with Gill Richardson before his half brother Treasure Beach became a star, so they were ahead of the game at the time and incredibly excited about him. It took a while to get him organised but he's paid his way both financially and in terms of enjoyment. That's something you can't put a price on in this game."
Box 41's BLACKLISTER - A winner at Carlisle yesterday afternoon
Eight days after victory at Haydock, Box 41's BLACKISTER surged home at Carlisle under Paul Mulrennan to underline what an incredibly game and willing racehorse he is.
Up four pounds for his Haydock success, the pair went forward from the gates in yesterday's Class 5 contest over nine furlongs and never saw another rival as they made all and prevailed by two and a quater lengths ahead of Bit of a Quirke.
Things are starting to happen for BLACKLISTER who has always relished his job and has never had an issue. Mick was delighted yesterday afternoon, particularly with the manner of the success.
"That was great and it looks like he'll get further now - that'll open up all sorts of opportunities for him. He's such a fun horse because he's always sound and always willing. The fact that he relishes racing makes him perfect for Box 41 because we're just trying to give them some fun and BLACKLISTER has never disappointed them.
"He's not top class but he is a horse you can't help admiring."
RACEMAKER - a winner of the Catterick seller yesterday afternoon
After taking the juvenile Ripon seller on Saturday, RACEMAKER returned to Yorkshire on Wednesday afternoon to take another seller, this time at Catterick.
Charlie Bishop was again aboard as the son of Stimulation produced a warm favourite's performance by prevailing by a length ahead of London Grammar with the rest a long way in the distance.
Yorkshire is clearly to RACEMAKER's liking and indeed he will remain there having subsequently been bought in the ensuing auction by Middleham trainer Andy Crook. Mick was pleased with the £10,000 and hopefull that RACEMAKER will give his new connections plenty of fun.
"That was good to see as he's a very determined horse who puts everything in to his races. Ten grand was a good price for him but he's far from the finished article and as with any horse I lose in a seller or a claimer, I wish Andy and his backers all the best."
Racemaker, who started yesterday's four-timer off with victory at Ripon
Saturday saw West Ilsley horses strike at four different venues whilst HARLEQUEEN underlined her class with yet another classic placing at the Curragh. It was a good day.
It all began with a bang as RACEMAKER teamed up with Charlie Bishop at Ripon to take the juvenile seller. The son of Stimulation was always up with the pace and stuck on gamely to hold Coco Le Belle by a length to record his first career victory in determined fashion. Mick was pleased with a colt who is far from the finished article.
"He's done that very nicely because he's still very raw and babyish. We need winners though and I though it was worth the trip up there because he's better than a plater. Charlie was very positive on him and that made the horse's mind up and his attitude saw him through."
Five minutes later at Newmarket, it was Oisin Murphy's turn to do the honours aboard KIRUNA PEAK, a filly that Mick has an awful lot of time for. The seven furlong maiden auction fillies' stakes was hard going for the daughter of Arcano who was one of the first off the bridle but she galloped on relentlessly throughout to prevail by a short head in front of Conqueress.
It was a victory that was hard earned but convincing enough for Mick to predict a bright future for a scopey type who has always impressed at home.
"I've always liked this filly. She's got a fabulous temperament and plenty of promise looking ahead to next year. She'll need a mile plus and she won in spite of conditions yesterday as the ground was plenty fast enough. She's very similar to Epsom Icon - we were saying similar things about her last year after she won her maiden. I just hope KIRUNA PEAK is as good!"
Then it was HARLEQUEEN's turn in the irish Oaks at the Curragh and yet again, she proved a point without grabbing the glory. Her time will surely come.
She was third yesterday and ran a blinder behind Seventh Heaven and Architecture. At Epsom, Architecture was eight lengths superior to HARLEQUEEN who was only two and a quarter lengths in arrears yesterday, so she is certainly improving. It's now down to Mick to plot a path to pattern race success.
"She's proved she's a class act and I've no complaints about the result. There's a bit of pressure now because she getting plenty of praise but few accolades. She's yet to win a Listed or Group race so will carry no penalties and we need to get her winning again. It'll happen, it's just a case of taking stock before we decide on our next move.
On the evening card at Lingfield it was the turn of Peter Taplin and Sue Bunney's WHITELY who took the six furlong nursery thanks in part to an enterprising ride from John Egan. WHITELEY's talent isn't in doubt, indeed, her value is already assured as her full sister DIVINE, already a Group 3 winner herself, finished second in the Hackwood Stakes at Newbury earlier in the day.
Whilst a Lingfield nursery doesn't represent that level of forn, WHITELEY's victory last night off a rating of 67, showed that there's plenty to work with and the fact that her sister has just got better with age is another factor that has Mick looking forward to seeing how she improves.
"She's a smasher. She's not the biggest but neither is DIVINE who underlined what a talent she is against the colts yesterday. We'll probably look at a Group 1 with her now and although that sort of level is a fair way off with WHITELEY she's certainly got the attributes to give Pete and Sue plenty of fun.
"We fell in to the trap of trying to make her an Ascot two year old and probably hit her a little hard early on but she's benefitted from a break and I expect her to improve as the season goes on now."
The last race of the day at Haydock saw Box 41's BLACKLISTER triumph in the Class 5 handicap over a mile with Charlie Bishop aboard and encountering vastly different conditions to those he'd enjoyed when steering RACEMAKER to success earlier on in the day at Ripon.
The official going was described as soft although Charlie reported it to be 'horrible' - luckily, BLACKLISTER just got on with the job. There was a difference of opinion as they entered the straight with Charlie, who had the Box 41 charge prominent throughout, choosing to head up the stand side rail. Richard Kingscote aboard La Celebs Ville however chose to race alone on the far rail and it was an agonising sight as the pair battled on in solitude twenty yards apart.
BLACKLISTER is as game as they come though and as they passed the line he recorded his first career victory on turf, prevailing by a short head to the delight of Mick who was watching on from his hotel room in Ireland.
"That was great and it's rounded off a good day for the yard. There's little I can say about BLACKLISTER that I haven't said before. He's not a prolific winner but he's incredibly consistent. He's finished second seven times which tells it's own tale in terms of where he is with the handicapper because he's always thereabouts and has a wonderful attitude.
"We'll keep going with him because he has plenty of days off and takes very little training. We just stick him on the box and send him to the races. He's a racehorse after all isn't he?"
Jon & Julia Aisbitt's KASSIA (Right) - A winner at Bath under George Baker yesterday afternoon
Jon and Julia Aisbitt's KASSIA recorded her second victory at Bath inside three weeks by taking the Class 3 five and a half furlong handicap under George Baker yesterday afternoon.
It was a consummate display from the three year old daughter of Acclamation who has always possessed plenty of talent and although she has a few quirks about her during the stalls loading process, Mick is convinced that she's a filly to look out for.
"That was great yesterday. George settled her in behind the pace and she travelled brilliantly. He took his time on her and beating the likes of Papa Luigi, Southern Belle and Dark Shot in no small feat because they are a decent bunch. She's got bags of speed and is a pleasure to train at home.
"She's easy to deal with apart from a slight problem with the stalls. I can't tell you how much time we've spent on her at home getting her relaxed about that. The trouble is that it's a totally different scenario at the track.
"Stalls handlers are under pressure to get all the runners loaded and understandably we can't expect special favours every time. Jon Dennis has done a great job and is always down at the post with her. The whole team have done well to get her as settled as she is and I'm hopeful we can get her more and more relaxed as time goes by.
"It's never helpful but you don't mind spending time on such a talent who I'm convinced is a black type performer. The strange thing about her is, apart from the stalls on racedays, she's an absolute sweetheart to train."
Derek & Jean Clee's homebred filly MOTDAW - A winner at Leicester yesterday afternoon
An eyecatching performance from Derek & Jean Clee's MOTDAW saw the three year old daughter of Motivator take the Class 4 fillies' handicap at Leicester yesterday afternoon.
With John Egan aboard, MOTDAW was settled just off the pace in the mile and a quarter contest before being asked for an effort as they straightened up for home.
The response was swift and decisive as she hit the front more than two furlongs from home before going clear of the field inside the final furlong to prevail by an astonishing ten lengths.
This was her second career victory after she won a Nottingham handicap in similarly decisive fashion back in April. She was hit hard by the handicapper on that occasion and Mick is steeling himself for another hefty rise after yesterday's performance.
"She's certainly improving isn't she? I don't know what's going to happen to her now but we've got her in at Ascot on Friday and we'll probably have to take her there under a penalty now.
"She's a smasher. She isn't the biggest but she'd got tons of heart and no little talent. She's effective up to a mile and a half and very straight forward when it comes to training.
"She's faultless and I'm chuffed for Derek & Jean who have supported us for a long time now."
The Motley Cru's FINGAL'S CAVE - A winner at Epsom last night
A bitter sweet victory at Epsom last night as the Motley Cru's FINGAL'S CAVE recorded his third victory of the year against old favourite in Harlequin Striker in the Class 4 Totepool Chip and Pin Betting Handicap.
With Epsom specialist Charlie Bishop aboard the four year old son of Fast Company FINGAL'S CAVE eased his way to the front having taken his time in the early stages of the seven furlong contest to lead well over a furlong from home.
Having stolen three lengths inside the distance however, Harlequin Striker began to claw back the deficit only to fall just short as FINGAL'S CAVE prevailed by a neck.
Mick was delighted.
"We've been running this lad over six furlongs of late because he's proved very difficult to settle and that seems to have done the trick. Charlie has a great record around Epsom and it was a good ride because this fella can often do things far too soon.
"He still hit the front soon enough but he held on from an old favourite. Garry Brandt Harlequin to Dean Ivory's because he wanted to have a horse in training closer to home. I've no problem with that because he still has plenty of horses with us but it certainly made for a tricky phone call this morning!
"I'm chuffed for FINGAL'S CAVE though. He's a real slow burner and is still improving. That's three for the year now and he'll win again."
Two winners courtesy of two talented fillies yesterday as Qatar Racing & The Sweet Partnership's OPAL TIARA took the race of the day at Carlisle and Jon & Julia Aisbitt's KASSIA returned to winning ways at Bath.
OPAL TIARA's long journey north was fully justified as the daughter of Thousand Words reaffirmed her class in taking the Listed EBF Stallions Eternal Fillies' Stakes under a confident ride from Graham Gibbons.
There were plenty of fancied contenders in the seven furlong contest but as the race developed, and having tracked Alyaa throughout, OPAL TIARA hit the front and extended away in smart style to prevail by two and a quarter lengths from Red Box and Eternity. That confirmed Mick's assessment that there was plenty to come in 2016 despite a slow start to the year for an ever willing filly.
"We didn't have her early on because she had a couple of chips taken out of a hock in the winter, so she only started cantering in March. Her reappearance at Leicester was very encouraging when she finished second and although the bare form doesn't look great in the Sandrigham at Ascot last week, she did have excuses.
"Heading up to Carlisle for that race yesterday offered her a chance to show herself to best effect. A sound surface and a true run race allowed her to do that and the performance was very impressive.
"She's not been a prolific winner but we've been aiming high with her since she won her maiden last year at Wolverhampton. She's got black type to her name again this year year after being placed in the May Hill at two and we'll look at something like the Oak Tree at Goodwood now."
Last night at Bath, Jon & Julia Aisbitt's KASSIA took the Class 4 sprint carrying top weight under Silvestre de Sousa. She's a spirited filly who takes plenty of patience but that's always worthwhile when there's talent in abundance.
She made all last night against two talented types in Emerald Loch and Pine Ridge. Mick was pleased but insistent that last night was just the starting point after a horror show at Goodwood on her seasonal reappearance at the start of the month.
"That's more like it. She had no run at Goodwood and was stopped about three times and we kept it simple last night. She can be a handful but Silvestre did the right thing because we didn't want to mess about and come back with any excuses.
"She's a pussycat at home but can get very het up at the races and Keith and the team have spent plenty of time on her. Jon Dennis in particular has done a great job down at the stalls and we need to get the best out of her now.
"She's got so much ability and plenty of speed - it's just a case of organising her now. Black type is obviously our aim and if we can all work together she's certainly capable of picking up a Listed prize at the very least."