March UpdatePosted : April 17th, 2014
We have made a very strong start to the year, with a further 11 winners in March at a strike-rate of 34%, highlighting the wellbeing of the horses as the 2014 turf season gets underway.
Though we have enjoyed plenty of success on the All-Weather over the winter, Alumina certainly deserves top billing, having recorded a further two wins in March to make it five consecutive wins. The second of those came by a wide margin under Jack Garritty, who is enjoying an excellent start to the season, and the pair followed up at the beginning of April to make it six on the bounce. That is a fantastic achievement and, having risen fully 35lbs in the ratings since the turn of the year, it would be lovely to find her some black-type later this term.
Purcell has made a bright start to the new campaign, getting off the mark for the year with a narrow success over 7f at Lingfield under Oisin Murphy. Gifted an easy lead on his return to the same course a fortnight later, he won decisively, resulting in a further 7lbs rise. He is progressive and there could be a good handicap in him.
That comment applies also to Van Percy, who was given an excellent ride by Oisin to get up in the shadows of the post on his seasonal reappearance at Lingfield. He ran very well in defeat in some hot handicaps last season and remains on a mark off which I hope he can be very competitive in similar contests this summer.
David Brownlow enjoyed an across-the-card double at the beginning of March, with Bishop Of Ruscombe and Pool House successful at Lingfield and Kempton respectively, both under David Probert.
The former was having just his third start and, stepping up to 1m2f for the first time, he came clear to win easily, with an opening mark of 78 looking very fair. The latter, meanwhile, is very much on an upward curve and has proved a hard horse for the handicapper to pin down, having recorded his hat-trick with wins by a nose, a neck and a head! Sixth in the Listed Spring Cup on his latest outing, there could be more to come on grass in the coming months.
There were some promising maiden winners too, none more so than From Frost, who made a winning debut at Southwell by seven lengths under David Probert. From an excellent family of George Strawbridge’s (his dam is a half-sister to Group 1 winner Montare), he looks a promising young stayer.
Wonder Weapon was another to get off the mark at the first time of asking, staying on really well once the penny dropped entering the final furlong to get up close home over 1m2f at Kempton Park. A close second on his handicap debut since, he looks a nice handicapper for the grass this summer.
Belfilo had narrowly been denied on his racecourse bow, but showed the benefit of that experience back at Lingfield on his next start, finding plenty when faced with a strong challenge from the eventual runner-up. A scopey individual, he can progress further.
The month was rounded off with an across-the-card double, courtesy of Collaboration at Wolverhampton and Willy Brennan at Southwell.
Collaboration had got off the mark in soft ground at Brighton last year, but he has clearly improved over the winter, always travelling strongly on his reappearance under Jim Crowley and winning comfortably. He is a stronger horse this time around and I am confident he can be very competitive off his new mark.
We have enjoyed plenty of success at Southwell so far this year with a strike-rate of over 40% and and Willy Brennan became our latest winner there, improving on the form of his seasonal reappearance at Lingfield earlier in the month with an authoritative display under David Probert, the pair winning by seven lengths. The handicapper has taken no chances with an opening mark of 85, but he is a well-related individual and I am looking forward to seeing him on turf in the coming weeks.
While a double is no bad way to finish the month, we came close to improving on it with a Lincoln winner, with Tullius finding only one too good on his reappearance under Oisin Murphy. The traditional curtain-raiser for the flat turf season and always a hotly-contested handicap, the form of the race is already working out particularly well and it was a fantastic effort off a mark of 109. A dual Listed winner in 2012, he had an interrupted campaign last year but appears back to his best and he thoroughly deserves to get his head in front in pattern company this year.
Globretrotting stable star Side Glance produced yet another wonderful performance, staying on strongly to finish fourth in the Dubai World Cup for the second year running under Jamie Spencer. It was another fine effort and, having returned to Kingsclere the next day, he is now being prepared to go to Hong Kong later this month. The winner of over £1,500,000 in prize-money in his career to date, he remains as good as ever at the age of seven and thoroughly deserves further success at the top level.