01 May 2019
“It’s the start of May and the horses are in good shape and we’re ready to run a lot of them. It was never the intention to get moving early on with the string at Doncaster or through April. But we’re now in a position to really get going with the 2019 Turf season.
I’ve said for quite a while that I expect this to be a transitional season. I hope there will be plenty of winners and I’m sure there will be some very solid horses – it would be nice if we could find a star or two among them as we’ve had here in recent seasons. The reality is we sold a lot of talent in 2018, plus long-term stable stars Lightning Spear and Sheikhzayedroad were retired. Our challenge now is to find fresh stars.
One flag-bearer who remains with us is Desert Encounter. He’s back from Dubai and will return to the track at Royal Ascot before the second half of his season revolves around North America. Life is not going to be easy for him as he has got a Group 1 penalty. Is he a Group 1 horse in Europe...perhaps not. But he will be very competitive at the level in North America.
Then there is Mrs Sippy. A Listed winner last year and also a narrowly-beaten second in a Group 3 at Newmarket late on in the season, I like to think she’ll be progressive this year. She did well in her three-year-old campaign and never really let us down. I probably felt a little disappointed after her last start when she went through the race so well and emptied going up the hill at Newmarket – but she almost blew her race in the preliminaries that day, getting a little upset. The plan is to head to the Middleton Stakes at York with her on Thursday, May 16.
Looking at the three-year-olds Raakib Alhawa is a nice horse. It’s still early days with him and hard to gauge his full ability. There are plenty of others I’m looking forward to through the season as well. As for the two-year-olds, there’s a lot of promise. They’ve done more than usual for the time of year, so we’re well forward with them. Some of them are smaller, neater than in previous years perhaps, so we’ll probably get two or three away in May and find out what their level is.
Like, I said, May is a month in which we’ve got plenty of horses to run. By the end of the month we’ll know a lot more about which way we’re going with their respective programmes for the season.”