September ReviewPosted : October 17th, 2020
A memorable month, with top-level success in the Cheveley Park, three further Group victories and 18 winners in total during September, leaving us challenging for third position in the Trainers’ Championship.
The Group 1 Cheveley Park was last won by a Kingsclere-trained representative back in 1979, with subsequent Prix de Diane winner Mrs Penny, and it gave everyone associated with the yard such pleasure to see Alcohol Free add her name to the illustrious roll of honour, particularly given it came for owner Jeff Smith, who has been a wonderful supporter of ours for so many years.
A winner on debut at Newbury and runner-up in the Group 3 Dick Poole at Salisbury on her next outing, Alcohol Free has done nothing but improve all season and she took another significant step forward at Newmarket. She took up the running at an early stage, quickened clear two furlongs out and kept on very gamely to hold off the Lowther winner in second. The 1000 Guineas is very much her target and it is tremendously exciting to head into another winter dreaming of the spring beyond.
A day earlier, 2000 Guineas hero Kameko gained a richly-deserved success in the Group 2 Joel Stakes, producing a fine performance in shouldering a penalty and giving weight to his elders. He never looked like being beaten after hitting the front a furlong from home and this confidence-boosting success, after a summer that hasn’t gone to plan, will set him up perfectly for a tilt at the Breeders Cup Turf Mile (the soft ground at Ascot having ruled out a QEII bid).
Spanish Mission was a smart performer for David Simcock last year, winning at Group 3 level and in the Jockey Club Derby at Belmont. He joined us at the beginning of August and made an instant impression with Listed success at Chester. A highly-talented stayer, he went on to add a Group 2 success to his CV this month in the Doncaster Cup, William Buick giving him a very patient ride off a strong gallop, hitting the front over a furlong out and coming home to win very comfortably. The Long Distance Cup at Champions Day is on his agenda.
Foxtrot Lady was another high-profile winner at Doncaster, springing a surprise in the Group 3 Sceptre Stakes under a lovely ride from Frankie Dettori, who was having his first ride for us for some time…though he obviously has plenty of history in the same colours! It was fantastic to see her record a first win at Group level – a just reward for her owner for keeping her in training as a five year old.
Another to take a step forward was Ranch Hand, who landed a first success at Listed level with a very game win in the Rose Bowl Stakes at Newmarket under a fine ride from Oisin Murphy, just getting the better of a prolonged battle through the final quarter-mile. The step up to two miles clearly helped and he may well be running over further still this winter, as the plan now is to start schooling in preparation for a campaign over hurdles this season – he has all the attributes to make up into a high-class performer in that sphere.
Our third winner of the week at the Leger meeting came courtesy of Stone Of Destiny, who landed one of the big sprint handicaps of the season, the Portland, in great style under Silvestre De Sousa. The ground may have been a little softer than ideal in the Ayr Gold Cup next time, but he is a very talented sprinter on his day and remains on a workable mark for the big handicaps.
All the team were delighted to see Natural History return from two years on the sidelines to score at Chester, keeping on really well for pressure, having raced prominently throughout. He is a talented sort and can go on to further success. Fox Shinji is another lightly-raced individual for his age, having been limited to just one start last term, so it was great to see him get off the mark at Windsor last time under a well-judged ride from Silvestre De Sousa. A 5lbs rise looks far from insurmountable.
Opera Gift made it second time lucky with a comfortable success in a 1m4f maiden at Pontefract and he looks to be going handicapping off a very fair mark, while that will also be the plan for Rick Blaine, who took a four-runner maiden on soft ground at Haydock Park under David Probert, after which things didn’t quite go to plan under a penalty. However, he is capable of making his mark off his rating of 80.
Fivethousandtoone has always looked a smart horse in the making at home and went very close to making a winning debut at Windsor in August, finishing runner-up to one that won at Listed level next time. He was very impressive when going one better at Newcastle on his next outing and then ran a very big race in defeat in the Group 2 Mill Reef, finishing runner-up in what looked a very strong renewal. A son of Frankel, he is a hugely exciting prospect.
I can’t remember having a longer-priced winner than Oo De Lally, who took a giant step forward on what he had shown on debut at Ascot a fortnight earlier when making much of the running to score under David Probert in what looked a strong Newbury maiden. He has always shown us ability at home and looks a very bright prospect, as does Star Caliber, who made the perfect start to his career when winning by the narrowest of margins under Silvestre De Sousa in a mile maiden at Goodwood, the pair drawing well clear of a solid yardstick in third. A son of Golden Horn, I am confident that Star Caliber can prove capable of handling a step up in grade next time.
Recovery Run has already developed an admirable record, finishing in the first two in each of his five starts to date, the latest of them a game success in a highly competitive nursery at Ayr under Oisin Murphy. He continues to progress with every run and looks a lovely middle-distance prospect for next year, as does Classic Lord. Sixth on his debut in August, he got off the mark at Goodwood on his second outing three weeks later and recorded a facile success in a soft-ground novice under a penalty at Pontefract this month in the hands of Will Carver.
The Kodi Kid made it third time lucky with a fast-ground success at Bath, having finished runner-up on his previous two starts. A good sort with plenty of scope to progress, he looks an exciting sort for next year, as does Night On Earth, who gained the second success of his short career to date with a narrow victory at Lingfield Park under Will Carver, before a midfield effort in the big sales race in Ireland where his stamina was stretched over an extended six furlongs.
May Night has taken time to find his feet, but was off the mark on his nursery debut/first try over 7f at Kempton Park in mid-month, winning with a bit to spare. Things didn’t quite fall his way when third on his next outing over a mile, but he remains on a competitive mark and there are more races to be won with him.