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Friday 12th July

Fri 12 July 2019

Good afternoon from Newmarket. The July meeting is in full swing now, although we are going slightly further afield in our search for winners today. It was wonderful to see young Sophie Smith and Perla Blanca win once again at Doncaster yesterday, and let us hope that our runners at Chepstow and Chester today can maintain the momentum.

We have to wait until the 6.55 at Chester for our first bit of action, when the old warrior Dark Red takes his chance in the mile and three-furlong 0-95 handicap. This horse has been a wonderful servant for many years, but there is not much doubt that he has endured the most difficult few months of his career recently. He had an unsuccessful time of things over in Dubai during the winter, and then had to go on the easy list for a month or two. He was carefully nursed back to health by our team, but his two runs since returning to action have been inconclusive.

He performed creditably at Chelmsford when taking third in May, having been outpaced on the turn for home and then running on strongly. His jockey Ben Curtis afterwards suggested that he might want a mile and a half now, though on soft ground at Haydock last time he produced a very flat performance and was beaten before we could draw any conclusions about the distance. We do go up in trip with him a little today, and the ground should be just about ideal as they have had rain on good ground. Added to this, Dark Red has a great record at Chester and Ben is once again back in the saddle. So we are short on excuses, albeit this is a very competitive race. Hopefully the old spark will be in evidence and we can begin to plan for the rest of the season.

Moving to Chepstow, our first runner will be Caen Na Coille in the mile 0-70 fillies handicap at 7.05. We had relatively high hopes for this filly earlier in the year, and her first run at Wolverhampton and follow up effort at Sandown did little to alter the sense that she was a horse with a future. However, her third run at Doncaster was desperately disappointing, as she was keen early on and then showed nothing in the home straight, eventually trailing home 59 lengths behind the principals. Nothing has come to light since so we press on and hope it was simply an aberration. Her keen-going nature last time has encouraged us to come back to a mile, and hopefully she will put in an improved showing under Oisin Murphy.

Staying at Chepstow, our final runner of the day is Dancingwithwolves in the seven-furlong 0-70 three-year-old handicap at 9.10. This horse finished a good second over course and distance just 10 days ago, finishing two lengths behind the re-opposing Jungle Juice. The terms are revised a little this evening; we are theoretically well in as Dancingwithwolves receives four pounds from Jungle Juice rather than giving a pound. However, the Channon team have put their very capable apprentice Scott McCullagh on board Jungle Juice to take five pounds off, effectively putting us back on the same terms as last time out.

So in that sense there is little reason to believe we can beat our old rival, and we may have to play second fiddle once again. The only counter argument is that Dancingwithwolves continues to improve with racing, as he learns to settle more effectively, so another step forward is not out of the question - whilst we do get to race from our old rating of 71 so do have a pound in hand. One way or another, he ought to be involved in the shake-up, and Dan Muscutt will once again be in the saddle.

Three half chances today, let’s hope for a slice of luck somewhere along the line.

Best wishes,



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