Check out our star columnist's bumper horse-by-horse guide to some of the leading lights leading the Musley Bank charge this season.
ALJADY: He’s rated 95 and had a good-enough season last term. He had a little problem at the end of the year but is fine again now and is a horse who could end up in the big six and seven furlong handicaps this season.
BORODIN: He’s rated 91 at the moment and is quite a backward horse who progressed well through last season. A year older he could get a little better and he’ll run from a mile upwards for Sir Robert Ogden.
BOUNDSY: Not an obvious one to put in given he’s only rated 67 but he dropped a long way down the weights after a horrendous season last year. He’s a typical horse who suffered from a lot of fast ground in 2018 – he needs it soft and if and when he gets it he’s frighteningly well handicapped. He needs to get his confidence back and get going again.
BRIAN THE SNAIL: I could never leave him out. He’s one of the best work horses in the yard, only Sands Of Mali goes better than him here. We tried him in the Spring Mile at Doncaster and he definitely didn’t stay. He’s now owned by Dr Marwan Koukash so will be heading to Chester no doubt and six and seven furlong races round there will be fine for him.
CALVADOS SPIRIT: He’s a strange one. I don’t think we’re getting it right with him at the minute but his work is good and it wouldn’t be a shock if he came right.
CAMBER: He’s quite a big, backward horse by Garswood. He’s wintered really well and from a rating of 69 I’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t shape-up this year. He’s the sort of horse who could run up a sequence.
CHARMING KID: He goes to Lingfield on Good Friday for All-Weather Finals Day. He’s all speed, his pedigree says he could stay a mile but he’s a five or six furlong horse. He has some solid form at those trips.
CLAIRE UNDERWOOD: She had a good campaign on the all-weather and is a filly who will progress. The further we go the better she’ll get and she looks very well right now.
COOLAGH FOREST: He’s had a wind operation and could progress well over ten furlongs.
COOLAGH MAGIC: It just hasn’t happened for him recently, through nobody’s fault, but he could easily bounce back.
COSMIC LAW: He won the Woodcote at Epsom and will be aimed at all the big sprint handicaps. I think he is a little ground dependent; he wouldn’t want it too quick. He’s talented and on his day I wouldn’t be surprised to see him win a big pot.
CROWNTHORPE: He’s now a well handicapped horse and wants juice in the ground. He ran well in Ireland and when conditions come right he’ll win races.
DEFENCE TREATY: A raw horse, the best thing we did was geld him over the winter. He’s a little more professional now and off 70 I’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t win races.
DELPH CRESCENT: Very disappointing at Doncaster on his reappearance and we don’t know why. He’d been working well before that and could easily bounce back.
EXORT: She’ll definitely get Black Type this year. She’s a big, scopey filly who has just filled her frame now. She’s rated 95 and I’m looking forward to her this year.
FOREST RANGER: He had a fantastic season last year. We took him to Dubai but he didn’t take to the experience at all but is likely to have the same programme as last year, starting at Newmarket and Chester. If he has the same season again we’d be delighted.
FOOL FOR YOU: Another who it would be great to get Black Type with. She’s starting to settle which will help and we’ll begin by trying to win handicaps but some Black Type would be great.
GABRIAL: I couldn’t have a Stable Tour without mentioning him. I thought he ran a blinder in the Doncaster Mile the other day and the handicapper was quite kind dropping him to 104. Marwan has a race pencilled in for him at Haydock towards the end of the month and I’ve no doubt he’ll be running at Chester too! He’s a wonderful old horse, a legend here at Musley Bank.
GABRIAL THE DEVIL: He’ll be Chester-bound and has done very well over the winter - we’re very happy with him. Six or seven furlongs will be fine.
GABRAL THE SAINT: Probably just needed the run at Windsor the other day and is another who will be running over six and seven furlongs at Chester. A bit of decent ground helps him.
GABRIAL THE WIRE: He was misbehaving at the backend of last season and was gelded over the winter. He’s off 79 but is quite nice, has improved dramatically over the winter. He’ll progress.
GALIPOLLI: Another heading to Lingfield on Good Friday for a race I felt he should have won last year. He’s just a little frustrating, he likes to finish second, and I don’t know whether he’s a bit of a villain or not but he tends to find things in his way. I’m sure he’ll nearly be favourite at Lingfield and I’d love him to win for his owner.
GEORGE BOWEN: Another Lingfield bound. We’ve qualified him for Finals Day at Lingfield. We had to get three runs into him and there were only three races left but managed it. He won well at Kempton the other day and heads to the Sprint, a race we’ve been very lucky in. Kachy will take a bit of beating but my fellow will be there to pick up the pieces if it doesn’t happen for him.
GINGER MAX: This is a nice horse who was fifth on debut at Wolverhampton. I think he’ll win his maiden and go on from there.
GOLDEN CIRCLE: A very fast filly and there will be plenty of opportunities for her. She wintered ok but I’d like to see a bit of sunshine to help her pick up. I’m sure she’ll be winning races.
GREAT PROSPECTOR: Last year we had a few issues with him and couldn’t find out why he just wasn’t moving right. This year he’s moving really well and I think we’re getting his trip wrong. We’re going to drop him back to seven – maybe even six – furlongs. He’s quite quick and working extremely well at home. He definitely didn’t get the mile in the Unibet Lincoln and is one I’d be quite keen on from 94.
GROWL: He had a frustrating time of it last year. He’s definitely better on slower ground but by the time it came round I think he’d run out of petrol having had some tough races. I still think he’s well handicapped, he’s in great form and will be aimed at all the big handicaps.
IRREVERENT: A horse I really like. He’s been gelded over the winter which I think has helped him as he’s matured and grown. Off 82 I’ll be disappointed if he can’t do something. He’s quite a big unit and you’d imagine as he gets older he’ll get better. I’d like to think something like the Britannia might be a race for him but he needs to improve to get there.
KING OF TONGA: He’s wintered well and his work is good. He should really shape up and win some races.
LUCKY LUCKY MAN: When he gets soft ground he’s not a bad horse. It will be tough enough for him off 88 but he’s in good order.
MR DIAMOND: Had a good season in 2018 and while he’s done well over the winter, he’s another who a bit of warm weather would help. He’s a horse who will be competitive from his mark.
MR LUPTON: He’s going to have a tough season with a Group Three penalty to contend with and rated 110 - he’s eight or ten pounds off being a Group One horse. I’m sure he’ll run well in some of the big sprints though and that’s where he’ll have to go.
NICKI’S ANGEL: A filly I really liked last year but she had a little setback. Off 90 I think she’s well handicapped, and it’s not often you’ll hear a trainer say that. She’s had her problems but if she comes back as good as she was, she’s one to note.
PACINO: Ran well the other day and I hope he likes Chester because he has a new owner in Marwan Koukash. He’ll be there every meeting and is a horse who could progress.
SABRE: Had a small setback after his last run but all has gone well in his rehabilitation and we’re very happy with him. Some of his form is rock-solid and he has a rating of 104. He’ll need to come back to his very best but his work suggests he’s up to that mark – if not a little better. I thought he was a little unlucky on occasions last season and hopefully he can come back right.
SANDS OF MALI: I was slightly disappointed with his run in Dubai but he picked up a knock a couple of days before and probably didn’t run up to his best. He had a little infection in his joint and while we were happy to run, and the vet was happy to run, he didn’t finish his race. All roads will lead to Royal Ascot with him where hopefully he can show everyone just how good he is.
SOCIETY RED: He was a little disappointing in Ireland on very heavy ground but ran much better to finish second a Pontefract on Tuesday. He’s a horse who will definitely win this year.
SPACE TRAVELLER: He’s rated 102 and will start off in the Free Handicap at Newmarket and we’ll work it from there. I think he’s a six or seven furlong horse.
THIRD TIME LUCKY: I thought he ran well in the Lincoln and his day will come again. He’s a good, hardy horse who wins in turn.
WAR TIGER: He’s had a good all-weather campaign and is a quality horse who is improving all the time. He’ll probably run in a handicap at the Craven Meeting but could progress as he’ll stay. He’s one I like.
WASNTEXPECTINGTHAT: A horse who needs to be kept off very fast ground. He ran a respectable race in Ireland and will pick up some money on decent ground this season.
ZAP: Had a good season last year and it was just a little frustrating as I thought he should have won the International at Ascot. He’ll be aimed at the big handicaps again as he’s just short of pattern class and they are very valuable.
Its quite early days with the juveniles but horses that we do like include CUSTODIAN. He’s by Muhaarar out of Zuhoor Bayoona and is a quality horse who walks around the place like he knows he’s one. He hasn’t done anything fast yet but everything about him we like.
We’d also be keen on another Cheveley Park colt, DUTCH DECOY, a son of Dutch Art. He has done a couple of fast pieces of work and seems to have a bit about him. Some of his work has been good.
SHOW ME SHOW ME won the Brocklesby. He isn’t very big but from day one he was a natural and was an easy one to pick out for Doncaster as he was working like an older horse in the build-up. We were very happy to see him win and will probably head to Chester with him.
A filly I like is WINTER SLEEP, a daughter of No Nay Never. She’s had her first spin on the grass and has a good mind and could progress. VENTURA REBEL is an early sort, a son of Pastoral Pursuit who could run at Thirsk on Saturday.
Another nice colt is an unnamed son of Oasis Dream out of Clarentine – he seems to do everything right. MY KIND OF DAY is a son of Exceed And Excel and his early work has been very good. He’s quite a big, backward horse who’s only going to get better with time.
Hand on heart it’s probably the best bunch of two-year-olds we’ve ever had. There’s some quality there and we’re still learning about them but I’ll be disappointed if there aren’t lots of winners to come from this division.