Newmarket trainer David Simcock talks us through his big hopes for the 2019 Flat season after landing three races at the top level last year.
The retirements of Lightning Spear, Teppal, Sheikhzayedroad and Curbyourenthusiasm, as well as a whole host of private sales, means there is a transitional feel at Trillium Place ahead of the 2019 Flat season for Newmarket handler David Simcock.
It's left to Grade One Canadian International winner Desert Encounter to fly the flag for the stable this year, with Simcock hoping that horses with potential like Mrs Sippy and Raakib Alhawa step up to the next level at some point during the campaign.
Bless Him and Highbrow were nominated as handicappers to follow, while Algometer and Spanish Mission are likely to be keeping higher company than that.
Watch the video at the top of the page for the full interview as Ben Linfoot talks to Simcock about his triple Group One success last year and his hopes for 2019...
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Algometer – His second at Longchamp reads very well. He was second to Marmelo and there was a stewards’ inquiry, we got stopped in our run, and I joked with Hughie Morrison how much he had paid the stewards as we’d normally get a race like that in France! He’s a grand old soldier, crying out for 1m6f and two miles and always has done. He looks really good, he looks big and well and we’ll probably start him off at Sandown in the Henry VII and work from there. He’s always had talent, he’s always had plenty of stamina and staying is his game. It’s just taken us a while to get there.
Arod – We plan to bring him back for the Windsor race he won last year and then set a plan from there. He had a disaster in Meydan, it never really happened for him, he never really trained over there, very similar to his profile when he went to Australia. He raced very keen, which to us is a little unlike him, so we’ll campaign him as we did last year. He’s an old horse and he’s had his issues, nothing is really straightforward with him.
Bless Him – I’d like to think he’s well-handicapped off 95, I certainly think it’s workable. He’s a talented horse, he nearly died twice last year, once at the beginning of the season and once two-thirds through the season, he suffers from colic. It was all a rush to get him to the Hunt Cup. We had to get a prep race into him as he was so big, at Nottingham on soft ground which he hates, and he ran very respectably in the Hunt Cup but it felt like a bad preparation. It felt like the whole season was a disaster, hence he’s come back in off a mark of 95, he’s big and well now, he’ll probably go to Windsor at the start of May, a track that might not suit him, and then we’ll probably head to the Hambleton at York.
Breton Rock – He’s training and showing all of his old enthusiasm, he’s a marvellous horse. The Lennox really suits him, he won it two years ago and then was beaten a short head and a head last year. All roads will lead there. It’ll be slightly easier for him this year as he won’t have a Group Two penalty. We’ll start him off in a Listed race on May 11 at Haydock and work from there. I ran him back very quickly after the Hungerford, he ran well in that race and finished third, unlucky in-running, and then I ran him back a week later and I’d never done that to him in the past. I won’t do that to him again. He’s always been perceived as a horse that wants heavy ground, the fact is he handles it and I’ve never run him on fast ground. He’s probably at his best on good ground but so are other horses, the fact he handles extreme conditions when others don’t falls into his strengths. He’s always struggled with a penalty, so when he wins a Group Two it’s hard for him.
Desert Encounter – The likelihood is he’ll turn up at Royal Ascot. It’s an important day for owners and we’ll probably pick the Hardwicke and then we’ll go on our travels. We’ll certainly look at the Sword Dancer at Saratoga, the Joe Hirsch in Belmont and then probably we’ll have another go at winning the Canadian International. It’s a valuable programme, it suits him, he’ll have a Group One penalty hanging around his neck all season in England and it’ll make it very tough. He’s probably not a genuine Group One horse in England, whereas he suddenly becomes very good in North America. He’s an overachiever in a sense, a horse with a turn of foot he’s always going to be susceptible to, but if they go too quick in front of him they set it up and he’s got that one burst. A mile and a half seems to suit well.
David Simcock's Three To Follow
Highbrow – Highbrow is a horse that started off the year really well, his form in the 10-furlong Listed race at the Guineas meeting, he had Old Persian a length in front of him, he then went to the Cocked Hat and he finished close up behind Aspetar. But then he disappointed in the King Edward, ran no sort of race on very fast ground and that probably curtailed his season. We got him back at Doncaster in September and he went through the race very strongly, probably hit the front too soon and then didn’t see the 1m4f out as well as we thought he might. He’s off a workable mark of 97 and hopefully we’ll have a lot of fun with him.
Mrs Sippy – She’s a talented filly, a big, scopey, filly. Lots of her. She was a very good second to Sea Of Class first time out over 10 furlongs and then we really did stick her in the deep end in the Lancashire Oaks where she missed the break badly, followed a horse 10 lengths off the leaders and it was a disaster. She made her ground up so well and was only beaten two-and-a-half lengths in the end. She had some tough tasks last year. She went to a Group Two in Deauville, she won her Listed race at Longchamp and then she was second at Newmarket on her last start. She got very hot going to the start and was slightly upset at the stalls and she went through the race so well that day and then emptied half a furlong out. She’s talented, she’s got to be a better filly this year and we’ve got high hopes for her. She’ll start off in the Middleton at York, the track will suit her and it’ll tell us what direction to go in. We see her as a mile-and-a-half filly, but if she can be competitive over 1m2f in a race like that it’ll give us more options.
Raakib Alhawa – He won the Haynes, Hanson & Clark race at Newbury very well, it’s a tough race to win and generally won by a good horse. We took him to the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster and you’re going there on the back of one run, but he didn’t look great going into the race. He trained very well two weeks prior and then he’d just gone, it comes very late in the season, and we were really disappointed. We think he’s very talented, he’s the best of our three-year-olds and I haven’t exactly worked out where I’m going to start him but we think he’s pretty smart. He’s in the Guineas, but I’ll have to speak to the owner, it’ll be the owner’s call at the end of the day.
Spanish Mission – He’s a nice prospect, certainly when he sees a mile-and-a-half. He was meant to run in the Feilden Stakes but woke up with a slight temperature on race day hence he didn’t run. He’ll probably go to the Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood, a race that should really suit him, and we really see him as a middle distance horse for the future, he won over 10 furlongs as a two-year-old. Coming back to a mile at Kempton in the race last time was all wrong but Jamie Spencer was very sensible on him, looked after him, didn’t knock him around, we’ve very much got the future in mind with him. We’ll work from Goodwood and maybe he’ll ply his trade in North America come July and August.
Juveniles – We’re not really renowned for our two-year-olds but we’ve got some sharper types. We’ll introduce our first one at the end of April and that will tell us plenty about the others. They’re a nice bunch, if I don’t like them now I’ll never like them, but to pick out a few there’s a Kingman out of Madame Chiang and, knowing the mare well, by an exciting stallion, she’s showed up really well. And there’s a nice Oasis Dream out of a mare called Landmark, the brother won at the Craven Meeting and he’s a nice type of horse.
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