Richard Fahey: Busy start to turf action
Top trainer Richard Fahey is back with us for the new season, looking at his runners on Friday and Saturday.
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Looking at the weather here at the yard, you couldn't imagine that there would be any problems at Doncaster on Friday and Saturday, but we'll have to see what arrives in the next 24 hours. It would be an awful shame to lose either day of the meeting, as we have plenty of runners ready to roll and we've been looking forward to getting going with some of them for a while now.
Paul Hanagan is riding some of them and it's good to be able to have him on board, although I suspect that such chances might be fewer and further between this season as he's going to be busy. He's been in great form in Dubai, which has been great to see.
Fortunately, we still have a great team of riders at Musley Bank. Tony Hamilton, Freddy Tylicki and Barry McHugh are all riding out here every day and we have a half-a-dozen good apprentices we can use too. Hopefully they will all get their chances this season.
"If there is a change to report it's with the type of two-year-old we have got this year - a lot of them are longer-term prospects who won't be out until later in the season. We've just been buying differently."
Numberswise, the team is about the same size - around 150 in all, including 82 two-year-olds. If there is a change to report it's with the type of two-year-old we have got this year - a lot of them are longer-term prospects who won't be out until later in the season. We've just been buying differently.
That said, the first race of the turf season - the Brocklesby Stakes - is a race in which we have done well before, winning it twice in the last six years, and we've got a runner again in Lord Clyde.
We bought him as a yearling and all he's wanted to do from day one is run. We haven't had to teach him a thing. He's got a nice-looking draw against the rail and he'll get the best of the ground before it starts to cut up later in the meeting. I am a little bit concerned as to whether he will get home in the ground but I wouldn't be surprised to see him run well.
Allnecessaryforce runs in the following mile-and-a-quarter handicap and he should do well this season. He's been gelded since last year and although he isn't bred to stay the trip, everything he does suggests he will. He could be quite a nice horse, although this is a competitive race to start off in.
Cracking Lass has been a star for us, but the Doncaster Shield could end up being her last race as the plan is to try and get her in foal - she is due to be covered in three weeks' time. I will talk to the owners but she may not run again. It's a small field, which suits her, and she seems well in herself - Model Pupil will be hard to beat, but we've beaten him once before at Leicester last season so we're taking encouragement from that!
Jamie Hamilton works for us and rides mainly in point-to-points and hunter chases. He's a nice lad and gets a chance on Yeomanoftheguard in the amateur riders' race. This horse has always been a handful and is still one, but he was worth giving a chance on the grass to as I'm not sure that Wolverhampton has really been suiting him.
Heaven's Guest improved rapidly last season and has been gelded over the winter. He runs in the six-furlong handicap, but again it's a tough-looking race and although I like this horse he might just need the race first time out with the ground the way it is.
Another old favourite Viva Ronaldo is back in the seven-furlong handicap. He looked as if he might be on the way back a couple of times last season but couldn't get it together and you'd have to say it was a disappointing year. We've got to make a decision with him soon so it would be nice to see him show a bit more sparkle. Samantha Bell is going to ride him. She came to me from Kevin Prendergast in Ireland, for whom she rode a few winners. I'm looking forward to seeing how she gets on.
Khelman is one of my best chances this weekend in the seven-furlong maiden. He's a real nice sort, who was a bit unlucky not to break his duck last season. If he copes with the ground, he'll run a big race and he has been working well. My worry is that he doesn't have an ideal draw in stall one as if they come towards the stands' side he could get left up the middle. We'll have to see.
I'm a bit embarrassed that Personal Touch didn't win a race last season as he's a talented horse and not badly handicapped either. I ran him in the wrong race at Newmarket and it was an uphill battle after that - he kept just missing out. The plan is to get him winning again, and as soon as possible. His last run at Newcastle was a good one and although he's had a couple of little problems he's fit and very well. I'm expecting a decent run in the second division of the seven-furlong handicap as he has seemed to handle soft ground well before.
Saturday is going to be a busy day for us as well if we beat the weather.
White Coppice has done exceptionally well from two to three and is now a big horse. He was always going to be a better three-year-old and didn't do at all badly in a couple of sales races where he had a lot to do on the formbook last year. He steps up in trip quite markedly and we'll have to see how that suits, but I think it will help him.
Farlow and Alejandro run in the six-furlong handicap. A few people suggested Farlow might be a horse to look at when we went to the sales at the end of last season and I thought we might just be able to get some more out of him. Soft ground is no worry to him at all and he has been working quite well. I have my worries about the one slot [stall one] for him but it might work out best if they avoid the stands' rail - you just don't know. He's ready enough to run well. Alejandro is probably about 7lb too high in the weights, which is why I've put an apprentice on him, but I'll be happy to be pleasantly surprised. I would say that the handicapper never gave him a chance last season, but to be fair the horse kept running so well that he didn't have the chance to drop him.
We've had Garde Cotiere for about three months, but when you have a five-year-old who has only run three times you know that somewhere along the line it hasn't been easy. We're still learning with him and just want to get some racing into him now - he is still raw and green, although I am happy enough with his work. We'll learn a little more about him after his run in the Spring Mile. Extraterrestrial looks very woolly in his coat at the moment and is crying out for a bit of warmer weather but he could run well if he's in the right mood. He loves a bit of cut in the ground. Hi There is a hardy horse who has done a lot of work, but the going is more of a worry for him.
"The thing with a race like this is if there are any potential Group-race horses lurking in the handicap then we're probably not going to win and you'd have to say there are a couple of interesting and lightly-raced types in there."
Brae Hill won the William Hill Lincoln last year and bids to repeat that victory. He went home to his owner's for a few months, but came back in January and if anything he looks better in his coat now than he did 12 months ago. His work has been good and I'm hopeful.
The thing with a race like this is if there are any potential Group-race horses lurking in the handicap then we're probably not going to win and you'd have to say there are a couple of interesting and lightly-raced types in there. But to be fair I would probably have said the same thing before last year's race.
We also run Majestic Myles and Justonefortheroad. Myles is a grand sort of horse who ran in Group races last season but my hunch is that he might have a better chance running in handicaps, even if he will have a lot of weight to carry. He and Brae Hill both have low draws - and I have no idea whether that is an advantage or a disadvantage - but we've got Justonefortheroad in with a high draw so at least we have both options covered, although I wonder they might just come up the middle if the ground is poached on both rails. Justonefortheroad goes well fresh and and he doesn't mind any give in the ground either, so hopefully he's got a chance although when I looked at the race I was a bit worried that there might not be as much pace on his side of the track.
Warcrown runs in the first division of the mile-and-a-quarter handicap and I have to say that he's been very disappointing. He did win a race last season, but if he could just match the promise of his homework on the track he'd win a whole lot more. We had discussed the possibility of gelding him, but I don't think that's his problem - he's had one or two other niggles which I am sure won't be an issue if he can just get over them. He's got form on soft ground although very heavy would be a bit of an unknown.
Docs Legacy runs in the second division. He took well to hurdling, jumping really well, and even managed to pick up a jumpers' bumper, so we know he's in good form. On his Flat form, he might just have enough weight, but sometimes when you get a horse like him who has had a spell over hurdles they can find a bit more improvement back on the Flat so we'll have to see.
To be honest, some of the races are a bit more competitive than I imagined they might be so we could be struggling, but it would be great to get a winner on the board. Khelman and Personal Touch would be among my best chances.