Top broadcaster Mike Cattermole reflects on last week's Greenham Stakes and looks ahead to All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Lingfield on Good Friday.
Tregoning back with a good one
Mohaather's decisive win in Saturday’s Greenham Stakes at Newbury showed that he is already a pretty smart colt and, even though there is a lot of speed in his pedigree, he surely deserves a crack at the 2,000 Guineas.
It is good to see Marcus Tregoning back with a good horse as it has been far too long.
Sir Percy won the Derby back in 2006 but although there have been some big race triumphs since, with the likes of the leading stayer Askar Tau and dual Camridgeshire winner Bronze Angel, things have been quieter than he would have wished since leaving Lambourn to take up residence at Whitsbury Manor Stables in 2013
Tregoning likes the way that Mohaather settles in his races, which will help him get home if he lines up at Newmarket on May 4. The only thing that was a touch wayward on Saturday was running off a straight line once taking up the running. However, the son of Showcasing had only made his debut as late as last September, so perhaps that can be put down to inexperience.
Even if it turns out that he is not a miler, there are plenty of exciting options ahead for him.
Great Scot in second also ran a pleasing trial for Tom Dascombe as he was dropping back in trip and couldn’t match Mohaather’s speed. He showed a great attitude though and going back to a mile will suit him both on style and pedigree.
If there is any outsider that may make the frame in the Guineas, it could be him. He is 66-1 with one firm.
Andrew Balding off to a flyer
No Flat trainer is in better form right now than Andrew Balding.
Twelve winners from just 33 runners in March has been followed by a further seven already this month, including winning the Free Handicap on Tuesday at Newmarket with Shine So Bright who so relished stepping up to seven furlongs and may even stretch out to a mile.
Connections, perhaps noting that he can be a bit free, don’t seem quite as convinced, however, but he does have an entry in the 2,000 Guineas.
Shine So Bright is owned by King Power Racing and their new partnership with Silvestre De Sousa could not have got off to a better start.
De Sousa also wore the now familiar royal blue and white colours on the Balding-trained Fox Chairman who won by four lengths on his debut over a mile at Newbury on Saturday. But Raise You, who Balding sent out to win the second division just over half an hour later, was arguably even more impressive, strolling home by six lengths and in a time that was over a second and a half faster.
Raise You is owned by Jonathan Palmer Brown who will no doubt be fielding calls from interested parties about this exciting Dante Stakes entry who is a son of the sought after stallion Lope De Vega.
Good Friday for the armchair punter
Lingfield, Newcastle and Bath stage some terrific early season Flat racing on Good Friday, all live on Sky Sports Racing, while ITV4 will also cover all but one of the seven-race card at Lingfield and show two from Newcastle.
Keep an eye on the jockey bookings this day, as they could be significant. For example, Silvestre De Sousa heads to Newcastle for three rides, led by Fox Power who looks to have a tough task on paper in the Listed Burradon Stakes but is a colt that is still well thought of by his trainer, Richard Hannon.
It will be great to see Christophe Soumillon at Lingfield and he should take some beating on Amade in the Marathon (2.00) when he will no doubt leave things pretty late on this smart performer.
But Lingfield takes a bit of knowing so it might be a little test for the French champion jockey who I am not sure has ridden on the AW here before.
Speaking of hold-up specialists, Jamie Spencer has been booked for just the one ride – on Clon Coulis for David Barron in the Fillies and Mares (2.30).
She is drawn wide (not easy over seven furlongs here) and the former champion will have to drop her in, sit chilly and hope for the best. She is more than capable of going close here - granted luck - and appeals each way at 10-1 with SkyBet.
William Buick is also a one-trick pony and partners Concierge in the 3-y-o Conditions Stakes (3.40) but George Scott’s charge needs to improve.
This looks a tough contest with runners such as Charming Kid and Deep Intrigue drawn wide. Both should be involved and perhaps Deep Intrigue can break Mark Johnston’s AW Finals duck.
Ryan Moore has six mounts, all competitive but none look outstanding, although you see him grabbing a winner from somewhere. Note that he has jocked off Josephine Gordon from Encrypted, a horse she knows well, in the Sprint (3.05).
Josie heads to Bath instead.
Skeltons are the rising force in the jumps world
Richard Johnson is about to be crowned champion jockey for a fourth time – has AP really been retired for that long? - and Paul Nicholls is going to regain his trainers’ title, while on the verge of training his 3,000 domestic winner over the jumps.
However, both men are going to face a rising force over the next few seasons that is going to keep them more than honest. Yes, there is no time for slacking when the Skelton brothers are around.
Both Dan and Harry have made huge strides in a relatively short space of time and are perhaps lacking the acknowledgement that they deserve. Dan’s first full season as a trainer was in 2013/14 when he sent out 27 winners.
That has been followed by seasonal totals of 73, 104, 118 and last season, 156. That’s a steep rise.
As far as sheer numbers is concerned, Dan is in a league of his own, both in winners and runners. There is just over a week of the season to go and he needs just seven winners (at the time of writing) to notch up a first double century, which is an achievement that Nicholls, his former boss, and Nicky Henderson have never been near.
And come Sandown next Saturday, he will also be closing down on 1000 runners.
The vast majority of those winners have, of course, been ridden by Harry who must surely fancy his chances of becoming champion jockey one day. He will be by far the closest pursuer to Johnson this time round.
Incredibly, Harry has ridden winners for just four other trainers during this campaign and with that stat surely set to rise, a fifth title for Johnson next season is no foregone conclusion.