Our star columnist Richard Fahey with an unmissable guide to his big names for the new Flat season.
ANGEL GABRIAL: The handicapper has started to give him a bit of a chance now. He’s been running well in some Black Type races and it will be no surprise that the Chester Cup is his main target. He has an entry at Musselburgh on Saturday and is ready to go.
ANOTHER TOUCH: He was very disappointing at Doncaster. I thought he’d run a big race in the Spring Mile and I’m hoping it was down to jet lag – he’d been stuck out in Dubai for three months and never got a run. We’re still very happy with him at home and hopefully he’ll bounce back.
BIRCHWOOD: He was a fraction disappointing in the Cammidge Trophy at Doncaster. William Buick didn't feel he was moving particularly well. It’s strange as he’s a very sound horse at home and trotted up sound afterwards. It’s back to the drawing board with him, maybe well go back to seven furlongs next time and put blinkers back on to try and spark him into life. We were very happy with him at home before Doncaster though.
BRIAN THE SNAIL: He’s a horse we do like an awful lot. I was delighted with his reappearance win at Pontefract, he looked the real deal and a Pattern horse. He's exciting. I was nervous beforehand but he did it nicely and will go to Ascot for the Group Three Pavillion Stakes on May 3rd. You'd hope the Commonwealth Cup at the Royal Meeting could be next after that but we'll take it one step at a time.
DOLPHIN VISTA: I thought he ran a blinder in the Lincoln. The ground had just dried up too much for him, he goes on it but on good ground he ideally wants ten furlongs. I’m sure there’s a big race in him somewhere down the line.
DON’T TOUCH: We’re going to try and step him up in trip this year. He has the right mind and pedigree to stay further so he’s starting out in a seven furlongs Listed race at Haydock and we’ll take it from there.
EASTERN IMPACT: He drew a blank last year but won on the all-weather the other day and will head to the good handicap at Newmarket as he loves it there. He has a workable mark of 102 but it will be back to Pattern company if he wins next time.
FOREST RANGER: This is a horse we like and he has some fancy entries too. He's a huge individual - he could be 16-3 – and is still quite immature mentally and physically. He could really progress this year.
GABRIAL: He’s a legend. I thought he ran a cracker off 108 in the Lincoln, he gave them a head start and nearly caught them all. He is a wonderful horse with a great constitution, he doesn’t do holidays, he just likes racing. He decides when he runs well and is hard to place as he has to carry top weight in the big handicaps or compete at the very highest level. Even at his age though he’s capable of doing himself justice in both.
GARCIA: He had a little setback last backend but is due back in here next week. He’s always been a shell of a horse but I saw a video of him at Highclere last week and he looked fantastic. I’m looking forward to his return. He’ll be aimed at all the big mile handicaps towards the second half of the season.
GEORGE BOWEN: He’s another who needs a bit of help from the handicapper and we had no excuses at Doncaster last time. He was very fit and very well but was slowly away and never a factor. We might try to step him up to seven furlongs to see if that helps as he was working particularly well ahead of his reappearance.
GROWL: He’s going to have to dine at the top table this year – I wouldn’t mind him being back down to 87 where he was last summer! He’ll have his first start in the Duke Of York at the Dante Meeting, is effective at six and seven furlongs and goes on any ground so he gives us a real chance.
HEAVEN’S GUEST: The handicapper is starting to relent a bit and if he comes down a few more pounds he could still be competitive in decent races for all he isn’t getting any younger.
HOME CUMMINS: We’re trying to get some Black Type with her. She’s not off a rating that would scream she’ll get some but sometimes they nick it and she’s in a Listed race at Kempton on Saturday. She’ll also go to York for some of their handicaps as she loves it there. She’s very capable on her day as she showed when setting a track record at the Knavesmire.
INNOCENT TOUCH: He reappears at Pontefract on Tuesday. He had a good season last year but is paying the price now with a mark of 94. He’ll be aimed at the good 10-furlong handicaps but needs to improve to win one of them.
KIMBERELLA: This is a nice horse to have been sent and he heads to all-weather finals day at Lingfield on Good Friday. We’re very happy with him, he’s a grand horse, easy to deal with, he has no issues and I hope he runs well for his owner this week.
MAYFAIR LADY: She’s been covered and we hope is in foal. She was bought to breed from and it would be great to pick up some Black Type with her first, although she has tried and failed a few times before.
MELESINA: She’s been a wonderful filly. I was shocked when she was beaten at Ayr in September and hindsight shows I was entitled to be as she’s gone up over 20 pounds since! Ten furlongs and decent ground will be ideal for her and she’ll be competing at a high level this term.
MR LUPTON: He just went off the boil last backend and we don’t know why. We’re happy enough with him at home again and he has an entry this week although he sometimes needs an outing to sharpen up. We’ll see how we go as we have the option of good handicaps or Pattern races with him.
MUSHAIREB: He was very disappointing on his reappearance at Doncaster. Nothing came to light and we might drop him in trip to see if that helps. He is a horse we liked before the last run.
PRIVATE MATTER: He’s a Listed winner who was gelded over the winter and will probably start off in the Free Handicap at Newmarket. The operation has done him good and while it’s a tough season for three-year-olds with his rating, he did win well in France when he had his conditions last backend.
QUEEN KINDLY: She’s in great form and we’re going to see if she has pretentions of staying a mile by running her in the Fred Darling at Newbury. She has a good mind so gives herself every chance and we’ll decide after Newbury whether we’re heading to the Guineas or switching back to sprinting. She’s working extremely well – as you’d expect of a filly with her speed.
RENE MATHIS: He’s rated 100 and will be running in all the good seven furlong and mile handicaps. He’s not getting any younger but is no back-number.
RIBCHESTER: He was a little rusty in Dubai but when he took up the running I thought he was going to go on and win but he still ran a big race. It would have been nice to get complete clarity over whether he does stay beyond a mile as it will open up more options with him but he’s come out of the race in great nick. He goes to the Lockinge then the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot. After that we might look at going beyond a mile again but there’s no rush. He’s a wonderful horse and in great form right now.
RIGHT TOUCH: He has a high mark but is a tough, genuine sort who just needs some luck. He hasn’t had a lot of racing, through no fault of his own, and if everything drops right he could win a decent race. He’ll be aimed at the valuable handicaps.
SENATOR: He’s another who was gelded over the winter. He was just a free-going sort who needed to chill a bit and we’re very happy with him now. His mother improved with age and this fellow could take after her. He’ll be aimed at the big three-year-old handicaps.
SUEGIOO: He’s a star who does his own thing but has been competing at the very highest level for us. The handicapper has given him a bit of a chance and he’s another who would be bound for the Chester Cup.
THIRD TIME LUCKY: We’re going to try him over ten furlongs at Lingfield on Friday. It’s a valuable race and while I’m not convinced he’s a pattern horse, he’s entitled to take his chance. He’s been a grand servant over the last couple of years but won’t find it easy with his current mark.
TOSCANNINI: He was sent to us as a lead horse for Ribchester and will join him in the Lockinge. His presence will ensure they go a good, even gallop which is what the other horse needs. He ran at the Lincoln meeting and we were delighted with him there – but his main job this year is to help his stablemate out.
WITHERNSEA: He is what he is but I thought he ran well at Doncaster last time – arguably too well as the handicapper won’t drop him. He’s given his owners a lot of fun and has been banging on the door in some decent prizes without winning. Hopefully one could fall his way.
It’s been a very positive start with three of the six we’ve run to date winning. These are the sharper ones you’re seeing now but we have nice horses for the whole season and they look a really good bunch. It’s exciting to have made such a good start with them.