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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."

Posted By: Wilsley News

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." 

Posted By: Wilsley News

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."

Posted By: Wilsley News

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."

Posted By: Wilsley News

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

The Bastian Family's NEOLA returns to the Goodwood winner's enclosure after victory this afternoon


A good run of form from the babies of late after TRUMPS UP, DIAMOND DOUGAL & NEOLA have all scored in the past few days.

NEOLA stole the headlines this afternoon at Goodwood for her owner-breeders the Bastian family in the valuable six furlong nursery in the hands of John Egan.

She's always been one of our smartest fillies and it's been a frustrating time trying to get her back in the winner's enclosure since she broke her maiden in impressive style at Nottingham in May.

She followed that up with a fine effort at York, finishing runner up to Main Desire in the Listed Marygate Fillies' Stakes before an admirable 5th in the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot.

She's run consistently ever since, often in lofty company but, as a result, it's been tricky trying to get her back on a winning track. She did that convincingly off of top weight this afternoon though, taking the Class 2 six furlong Goodwood nursery in fine style to the delight of the Bastian clan and their trainer.

"That was great to see and this filly has been on the go for an awful long time for a two year old but she's showing no signs of stopping. She's picked up twelve grand today and won in convincing fashion when you consider that she's lined up at Ascot, the July Course and the Lowther this year against the very best.

"We had her mother though and she was not only talented but as tough as they come, so she's certainly inherited that trait. You'd like to think there's more black type to come but we'll let NEOLA tell us when and where we go next."

Yesterday at Brighton it was the turn of Insignia Racing's DIAMOND DOUGAL to break his maiden in the Class 5 six furlong contest under Charlie Bishop.

The son of Zebedee hasn't enjoyed the best of luck in his first year on the track following a rather disappointing debut for a colt who showed us plenty later on in the year. Indeed, he was one of our shining lights early on but a third placed effort at Bath back in April saw him return very jarred up - so much so that he didn't see the track again until August.

And that was after seeing Charlie the vet who transformed him from colt to gelding.

So DIAMOND DOUGAL's career definitely lies in racing rather than breeding but Mick is very optimistic that there is far more to come having had to resort to Plan B after losing momentum in the spring.


"Nothing went right for this lad the moment we ran him at Bath and we've had a rebuilding job on our hands ever since. That was a real shame because he always went very well at home and he was ready to go.

"That said, we had to take our medicine and wait for him and since he's come good, he's one of those types you know is ahead of the handicapper.

"We got him back on track in quick succession in August with three runs and he's come on in leaps and bounds both physically and mentally. His form doesn't look that sparkling I know but when a baby has an early setback it can often be a long road to instil a bit of confidence in them and this lad is a case in point.

"He won cosily off of a mark of 64 today and I'd like to think he's a bit better than that."

The final word though must go to David Fitzgerald's TRUMPS UP who made it two wins from two outings under John Egan when he took the novice auction race at Thirsk last Friday.


There was no messing around on considerably quicker ground than TRUMPS UP won on first time out at Leicester as Egan always had him handy, safe in the knowledge that he had a partner who would keep on finding for him. That certainly proved to be the case for the son of Cape Blanco who held off the 75 rated French Flyer with a little bit in hand.

All of that bodes well for the future - Mick's a fan of TRUMPS UP.

"Fair play to the horse and fair play to David who bought him and sent him to us. He only paid three grand and that looks like a shrewd investment because he's a topper of a horse. He came to us fairly late but we took our time with him and when he settled in he just got better and better.

"I don't know how good he can be but he's won on soft ground and good to firm ground now and taken the step up from seven to a mile in his stride.

"I'm not saying we've had a stellar year with our two year olds but they seem to have a bit more about them compared to last time around. We're very short on quality in the three year old ranks as a result and it'd be good if this years babies keep on coming through because there's some good days ahead."

Posted By: Wilsley News

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."

Posted By: Wilsley News

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."

Posted By: Wilsley News