We look ahead to another successful Flat season
Green Etoile, making a successful first attempt in handicap company at Salisbury on Thursday, ensured that Barbury’s brilliant run through April carried over into May, another timely winner in view of the fact that new windows have been installed in the office this week.
Not even the fact that the official handicapper hiked Talkischeap 12lb up the ratings after his brilliant win in last Saturday’s bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown could bring Alan down from the clouds, but as he observed when he shared a mild morning on the gallops this week “when you come home with an £84,000 first prize you have no right to complain”.
Alan does not plan to have too many summer jumpers – “I have never known a spring so dry, and we haven’t even been able to school our novice chasers as the ground has been too firm” – though he is contemplating running Dino Velvet in the valuable Swinton Handicap Hurdle at Haydock at the end of the month following his excellent second to Verdana Blue in the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr.
Turning his attention to his biggest-ever Flat team, Alan outlined a few plans for the coming months. He said:”Dunkerron, who is rated 104 after an excellent first season, during which he finished in the frame in a couple of Group 2’s, has done exceptionally well and I couldn’t be happier with him.
“He has not grown much, but he has thickened out and he has been working very well. We are thinking of starting him off in the King Charles 11 Stakes at Newmarket on May 18, and if he didn’t go there Plan B would be Newbury around the same time.
“We had a very successful Craven meeting at Newbury, winning with both Aweedram and Beringer. The latter, who had run so well to dead-heat for third place in the Lincoln, will go to York’s Dante meeting and then we’ll hopefully be able to start thinking about Royal Ascot, but I’ll take my time with Aweedram, who will stay at a mile for the time being but should stay further in time.
“Hummdinger is another of our three-year-olds who has started well, and we were delighted with his recent second at Nottingham. He might need stepping up to a mile and a half, but we’ve got him in an 11-furlong handicap at Windsor on Monday and I could well go there.”
Chatez, the Newbury Spring Cup winner, subsequently disappointed at Haydock, but Alan believes the race came too soon and he will now wait for the weather to break again for this veteran mudlark, while another ready to run when the rains return is Manor Park, who looked in good nick as he went up the all-weather this week.
Chicago Doll, who, like Aweedram and Hummdinger, showed promise at two, has been coming along nicely in the mornings and is a filly ready to return, while Group Stage and Trueshan are others who caught my eye.
Top Tug may not have won for two years, but he has been competing in some of the top handicaps and gets little respite from the official assessor, and, hopefully, one will drop his way again this summer.
It was sad to hear that Just in Time, whose rating rocketed from 60 to 97 in the space of 20 months, has gone back home, having got jarred up on the fast ground in the Cesarewitch at Newmarket last October, but Henry Ponsonby, his part-owner, still has plenty to look forward to with the likes of Who Dares Wins and Scarlet Dragon.
Alan added:”Who Dares Wins ran well at Newbury last month and provided the ground is not firm he’ll go back for another crack at the Chester cup next week.
“He ran a blinder in the race last year, finishing third from a horrible draw (15), so, hopefully, we get luckier this time around, while, though Coeur de Lion is also entered for that marathon he is unlikely to make the cut in which case he will be aimed at the consolation race.
“Scarlet Dragon, who has been running well over hurdles, is on a break, but the idea is to come back for the £150,000 John Smith’s Cup at York in July with a view to then stepping up in trip for a shot at the Ebor.”
Alan was delighted with the debut third for Port Winston, his first two-year-old runner of the season at Windsor last Monday, and he’ll now be looking at the six-furlong races, while more youngsters have been arriving at Barbury and the boss is also making his presence felt at the Breeze-Up Sales.