An interview I did with Mark Howard for his book "Ahead on the Flat 2011" which is due to be published shortly.
BATED BREATH 4 b c Dansili – Tantina (USA)
A half-brother to Cityscape, he is a lightly raced horse who won his first three races last season. His final two runs were at Newmarket and I felt he was unlucky on the first occasion and then he had an issue with a bruised foot before finishing fourth in a Listed race last time. He possesses the physical scope and strength to improve again and will be aimed at a conditions or Listed race to begin with. Six furlongs is his trip but he wouldn’t want extremes of ground. A big imposing horse, he has done well during the winter.
BORDER PATROL 5 b g Selkirk (USA) – Ffestiniog (IRE)
Having done very well during his three year old career, he had something of a blank year last season only running twice. The lack of rainfall during the first half of the year didn’t help and his temperament was issue, too. It became increasingly difficult to get him from the paddock to the start so we have gelded him since his last run. He will start off in a conditions race somewhere without any penalties and, provided he stays sound and there is some cut in the ground, I hope he will progress to Group 3 races over seven furlongs and a mile.
CITYSCAPE 5 ch h Selkirk (USA) – Tantina (USA)
He is a horse with a lot of ability but has been prone to injury throughout his career. His three year old career was curtailed due to injury but If we can keep him sound, then he proved last season he isn’t far off the top league as far as the milers are concerned. A seven lengths winner of a Group 3 at Newmarket in October, he does want some ease in the ground and that will dictate his programme. We will give him an entry in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury and we will consider something like the Sandown Mile beforehand.
CLOWANCE 6 b m Montjeu (IRE) – Freni (GER)
She is due to be covered by Oasis Dream but stays in training as a six year old. It is a case of softer the better and unfortunately she didn’t get her ground until the Autumn last year. Having won the St Simon Stakes at Newbury we took her to Italy for a Group 1 but the ground was much too quick even though it was officially stated as soft. She is lightly raced and hasn’t had the opportunity to show what she is capable of very often. I suppose the John Porter Stakes at Newbury in the spring is a possible starting point but we will look to see if there are options abroad.
DEFINIGHTLY 5 b g Diktat – Perfect Night
He was a revelation last season winning four times including a Listed race at Goodwood and a Group 3 at Maisons-Laffitte. The blinkers undoubtedly helped but soft ground is imperative for him. His run in the Ayr Silver Cup proved he can’t handle faster ground. It won’t be easy for him this year simply because are so few opportunities for sprinters during the first half of the season. We may have to wait until the Autumn once again but we will see what is available in France and Ireland. I think there is every chance will try him over five furlongs for the first time because he showed a lot of speed last year.
FOLLYBRIDGE 4 b f Avonbridge – Jalissa
She had a good season winning a couple of decent handicaps and earning plenty of prize-money. Her official rating of 93 means she needs to improve again but we may try her over a mile at some stage and we are keen to gain some black type. She doesn’t want the ground too soft though.
GENKI (IRE) 7 ch g ShinkoForest (IRE) – Emma’s Star (ITY)
A winner at Haydock in a conditions race, he ran some very good races in defeat including when placed in the Group 1 Haydock Sprint Cup and the Ayr Gold Cup. If we can keep him sound, he is a very capable horse. He is rated 111 which rules handicaps out so we will be looking towards Listed and Group races. He has been running in blinkers and visor and we will continue to play around with headgear. We may even try cheekpieces. It is not a case of him being ungenuine, it is the fact he can be lazy. He appears to handle most types of ground.
GOLDTREK (USA) 4 b f Medallist (USA) – Traipse (USA)
A big filly who I must admit I was a little suspicious about early on but she developed into a nice middle distance three year old. A three times winner, she enjoys fast ground and stays well. Even though she has been racing over a mile and a half, I think she will get further and I don’t feel the handicapper has overburdened her. She is one for those staying fillies’ handicaps during the summer.
HIGH CONSTABLE 4 b g Shamardal (USA) – Abbey Strand (USA)
He is due back having suffered a major injury prior to the Britannia Stakes at Royal Ascot, in which I felt he had a reasonable chance. He had finished second in a strong Newbury handicap in April and had some useful horses behind him. Provided the injury hasn’t left its mark psychologically I would like to think he is fairly treated for his four year old career. He is by a very good sire and is unexposed. I suppose in an ideal world, the race for him is the Royal Hunt Cup but it is early days.
KEYS (IRE) 4 b g Doyen (IRE) – Freni (GER)
A half-brother to Clowance, he has been doing very well in bumpers winning his first three starts including a Listed event at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day. The plan is to send him Flat racing though and he could start off at somewhere like Lingfield in a three year old plus medium auction over ten or twelve furlongs and end up in middle distance handicaps. The first couple of bumpers he won at Ffos Las and Lingfield were weak races but it was a good effort at Cheltenham and the feeling was that it was a decent race.
PROPONENT (IRE) 7 b g Peintre Celebre (USA) – Pont Audemer (USA)
Without a win last season, he has unfortunately become a victim of his own consistency. He ran some very good races last year including at Royal Ascot in the Hunt Cup and at Goodwood and York but the handicapper needs to drop him. Trips around a mile or nine furlongs are ideal and, while he travels well in his races, he just lacks a finishing kick.
SEA OF HEARTBREAK (IRE) 4 b f Rock of Gibraltar (IRE) – Top Forty
She had a great start to last season winning her first three races and ended it by finishing fourth in a Listed race at Newmarket. Indeed, she was consistent throughout with her only disappointing performance coming at Goodwood when she possibly hurt herself coming down the hill. She is a real trier and progressed from a mark of 70 to 103 last year. Ten furlongs is her trip and we are hoping to gain some black type.
ZERO MONEY (IRE) 5 b g Bachelor Duke (USA) – Dawn Chorus (IRE)
He belongs to the same owners of Genki and is a useful horse to work with him at home. A decent horse in his own right when things go his way, he won twice last season at Goodwood and Leicester. Fast ground brings out the best in him and he will continue to run in seven furlongs and one mile handicaps.
THREE YEAR OLDS
AL KAZEEM b c Dubawi (IRE) – Kazeem
A well grown scopey colt, I think he is promising. His pedigree suggests he will improve from two to three and we have always thought he was a nice horse. He had two runs last year at Newbury winning on the second occasions. First time out, he ran well for a long way until getting tired late on and then he produced a good performance to beat some well touted opponents. I have been pleased with him during the winter and he looks well. The intention is to start him off in a conditions race over ten furlongs and go from there.
CORSICAN BOY gr g Tobougg (IRE) – Madiyla
Even though he won last season, he is not really bred to be a juvenile so ought to improve this year. I am not sure how far he will stay but I think he will get further than a mile. Officially rated 77, I am hopeful he will develop into a mid-80s horse.
CRY FURY b c Beat Hollow – Cantanta
Once raced, he is a nice horse with a good staying pedigree being a half-brother to the former Triumph Hurdle winner Upgrade and some useful Flat horses. He is a good mover and I thought he showed a bit at Newmarket at the backend on sole outing. He is one for twelve furlongs maidens to start with.
A huge unraced filly who comes from the same family as Bated Breath and Cityscape. She was backward last year and is an unknown quantity. However, she has the pedigree to be a nice filly.
DISCOVERYBAY b c Dansili – Rainbow’s Edge
A big imposing colt whose dam stayed a mile and a half and I think he will improve as a three year old. Fifth on his debut at Newbury, I was a bit disappointed with his next run at Nottingham hanging to his left. Hopefully he will grow out of that and develop into an 85 + rated type.
FEDERATION b f Motivator – Flirtation
She is beautifully bred being a half-sister to Attraction and is a nice big scopey filly. She arrived quite late last season and then incurred a minor setback which prevented her from running. However, she showed promise beforehand and I like her.
HUNDRED SEN b c Rainbow Quest (USA) – Silver Yen (USA)
Unraced, he is from the last crop of Rainbow Quest and related to Quest For Fame. He was immature last year and an unknown quantity but he is a nice looking colt.
She is also unraced and is an attractively bred and looking filly who belongs to Juddmonte Farms. Although she is an unknown quantity I will be disappointed if she doesn’t do well and win races.
LUCY LIMELITES b f Medicean – In The Limelight (IRE)
A winner on her debut at Newmarket, it wasn’t the strongest of races and then she missed the break next time at Warwick in a nursery. She ran well on her final run at Pontefract finishing a close second and she is bred to get better as a three year old. Reasonably treated off 73, she should stay a mile and a quarter.
MARZANTE (USA) gr or ro g Maria’s Mon (USA) – Danzante (USA)
He won his maiden at the second attempt at Ffos Las before finishing third in a nursery at Sandown. I was a bit disappointed with that but considering he has won at Ffos Las and been placed at Sandown, he is on a reasonable mark of 78. It is possible we will try him on the all-weather being by a dirt sire. I am hoping he will stay further than a mile.
PONTENUOVO (FR) ch f Green Tune (USA) – Porlezza (FR)
An exciting new addition to the yard, she has settled in well and clearly had a high level of form in France last season winning a Group 3 and placed in the Group 1 Prix Morny. She is rated 111 and one of the leading juvenile fillies from last season. However, much depends on how she trains on and how far she stays. Her dam was a sprinter but she doesn’t look like a sprinter so we have slightly mixed messages as regards her future. There is every chance we will try her in a Guineas Trial, possibly the Fred Darling and that will determine which route we take. We also have the option of going back to France because she is French bred and open to the premiums over there. I am very open minded as to where he future lies at this stage but she clearly has a lot of ability.
PRIMEVERE (IRE) ch f Singspiel (IRE) – Tree Peony
She is a nice big filly who overcame difficulties in the race to win on her debut at Kempton. The time was good and not many of mine win first time out so there are plenty of encouraging signs. She is by Singspiel and therefore should stay well and she has plenty of size. Her victory didn’t surprise me because she had been working nicely and I told her owner earlier in the year that I thought she would win a maiden as a juvenile. She has been given a mark of 83 and we have the option of going for a 0-85 fillies’ handicap over ten furlongs or going for a Listed race. The former probably makes more sense but we haven’t decided yet. She is a filly with a lot of potential.
STARLIGHT WALK b f Galileo (IRE) – Tempting Prospect
Weak last year, she had one run at the backend at Newmarket and I hope she will improve. She is nicely bred being a half-sister to the likes of Promotion and Border Castle.
THISTLE BIRD b f Selkirk (USA) – Dolma (FR)
She is unraced and is out of a mare who won three Listed races in France over six and seven furlongs. Being by Selkirk, I hope she will stay a mile and has shown enough to suggest she can win races.
TRAINER’S HORSE TO FOLLOW: AL KAZEEM