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Monday 5th August

Mon 05 August 2019

Good afternoon from Newmarket! We are delighted to be heading to Carlisle today for the annual ladies only race day, and we have three interesting runners - all set to be partnered by my stable amateur jockey Sophie Smith. Three rides in one day, over different distances and a challenging track, against a mix of amateur and professional riders, ought to provide Sophie with some excellent experience. Here is hoping that one or two of her mounts might run well too.

We get underway with Gottardo in the six-furlong 0-75 handicap at 6.15. He was trained in Ireland prior to joining us this year, and made no mistake on stable debut when coming from behind to win at Chelmsford in March. He followed that up with a solid third at Wolverhampton, before we probably got the tactics slightly wrong at Bath, so his below par run is excusable.

Of greater concern is his lacklustre display at Leicester in June, where he folded very tamely to finish tenth, never showing in serious contention. It could be that he didn’t stay the seven-furlong trip, although he was beaten before that was probably an issue. Hopefully it was simply a bad day at the office for the son of Choisir, and we have freshened him up in the meantime. Six-furlongs around Carlisle in this sort of company should be right in his wheel house, and he has a nice draw in stall three. So we are short on excuses today, and hopefully we will see an improved display.

Our second representative is Perla Blanca, who is on a bit of a roll having won her last two starts. The mood could not be more different to a year ago, as at this meeting in 2018 Perla Blanca refused to load the gates. It was a habit she had picked up earlier in her career, and she repeated the dose at Newbury a couple of weeks later to put her future racing career in doubt.

Thankfully things have improved in the months since, with lots of hard work from the team at home and the expert help of Craig Witheford on course paying handsome dividends. Perla ran again twice towards the end of last season to demonstrate that her stalls issues were behind her, and has won stylishly at Ayr and Doncaster in two outings this season.

She has been nudged up a total of six pounds in the weights for her two victories, and that inevitably makes her life tougher. However, she continues in good form at home, the trip, track and ground should hold no fears, and Sophie gets on particularly well with the mare. A wide draw complicates matters slightly, but hopefully as a hold-up performer she can slot in and find a good pitch. With a bit of luck she ought to be competitive, so fingers crossed.

Our final runner of the evening will be Grandscape in the mile and three-furlong 0-70 handicap at 8.45. This horse was purchased by Sophie’s family midway through last season, and initially did us proud. He won by six lengths at Redcar in October, having gone close at Wolverhampton the time before, and returned to action this year with a good fourth in a furiously competitive race at Doncaster.

Those efforts saw him rise to a career-high rating of 72 (he won off 64 at Redcar) and to be honest he has not really threatened the places in four outings since Doncaster. We have reached for various excuses in that period, but in all likelihood he simply wasn’t good enough for the races that he was having to contest. Now back down to a more manageable mark of 66, and with the ground turning softer, it is hoped that he can have a better second half to the season.

So, there are definite reasons to be hopeful of a better show, but a very poor draw out in 15 puts a serious dampener on his chances. Nonetheless, I do hope that we will see more from the horse to give us a bit of encouragement moving forwards.


Good luck to all the runners and riders at Carlisle this evening.

Best wishes,

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