Desert Encounter and Spanish Mission’s achievements share joint billing at the top of the tree. Seven-year-old Desert Encounter proved age is but a number when winning the Grade 1 Canadian International Stakes at Woodbine for the second successive year. Also in North America, Spanish Mission landed a blow for the young bucks when victorious in a new $1million turf race at Belmont Park. Both horses also recorded Group-race triumphs in Britain.
David said: “We were very fortunate to have Desert Encounter holding an end up. He is always a highlight and doesn’t let you down. Spanish Mission gave us a boost as he is that potential Group-horse of the future. In a realistic world is he a Group 1 mile-and-a-half horse in Europe? No he’s not. For me he’ll have to take the next step up in trip or be campaigned abroad to become a Group 1 horse. We’ve got to work that out for ourselves. The likelihood, with the programme as it is, is that he will start off in the Middle East in the spring.”Another nice prospect from the three-year-old generation is Raakib Alhawa. On the August day that Desert Encounter won a Group 3 at Windsor, the Kingman colt chipped in with a Listed success on the same card. “I’ve got a lot of trust in Raakib Alhawa turning into a nice horse,” added David.
There were some eye-catching performances from among the stable’s two-year-old ranks, which bodes well for 2020. Oriental Mystique shaped like a filly with class when scoring in a mile novices’ race last month at Kempton. “There’s some nice horses out there and Oriental Mystique is one of them,” outlined David.
Similar to last year, there are a few old faces who have been retired – notably Breton Rock. The nine-year-old amassed no less than £661,000 in prize money, winning 10 races, including three Group 2s. “Breton Rock has been a very special horse. His stats are quite impressive in my opinion and he has been a lovely horse to train.”Also joining Breton Rock in leaving the yard are fellow stable stalwarts Glory Awaits and Polybius. “They’ve all been fun,” said David.
“At the beginning of the season our exact words were 50 winners and £500,000. That was what we realistically thought for what was obviously going to be a transitional year. And, as it happens, we’ve had 50 winners and £1.8million worldwide. Numerically it wasn’t a good year in my opinion, but prize-money wise, it was an excellent year.”