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Saturday, June 30, 2012
I am looking forward to Derby weekend with great relish as I have a lot of fond memories surrounding the festival.
It always is a great few days of racing and social interaction and I expect that it will be no different this time around.
Peter Walwyn used to stay with us when he travelled over and I well remember his Derby win with English Prince in 1974 and Grundy, the following year. Grundy, who was ridden by Pat Eddery, was completing a Derby double having won in Epsom before that – something Camelot will be attempting on tonight. John Dunlop used to stay as well and there were great house parties.
There is a great buzz surrounding the festival and it is just a pity that we have had such heavy rain. That has impacted upon my plans once again, as it has on the plans of many trainers. You can see that by the relatively small fields. There has been some drying though and hopefully there will be more over the weekend. But I promise, I won’t talk about the weather today… not much anyway!
Hopefully I can create some more good memories. It has always been a lucky enough weekend in terms of racing for me, and Gimli’s Rock won the premier handicap on the Friday last year.
I would be more confident if the ground were better. I had been hoping to get two nice two-year-old fillies out but I couldn’t let them run on soft ground as it would leave a mark on them for the season. So we’ll wait a bit longer with them until the ground dries up.
One Fine Day is one that won’t mind the ground and she’s going for a hat-trick in the fillies’ handicap today. She’s drawn in the middle of them so there will be no complaints on that score. She’s coming back a furlong but that shouldn’t worry her either. You’d like to think she’s still progressing and while it’s a very competitive heat, I think she can make the step up in class. She must have a very good chance.
Tomorrow Calissa runs in the two-year-old Group 3 Grangecon Stud Stakes. She ran a great race when third in a Fairyhouse maiden at the beginning of the month. She should handle the ground, which is a definite positive. We’re going for a little bit of black type and if she got that it would be brilliant. If she puts her best foot forward, she could well do so.
The ground won’t be suitable for Bob Le Beau but he’s got to run. He’s had one run this year and he’s just been sitting in the stables. The plan is to go for the Ebor in York so we just have to get him on the track and hope we get a bit drier weather.
The same applies to Bible Belt in the Pretty Polly, who has missed a couple of intended engagements because of the ground. She too has managed just the one run so far this season. We’d like better conditions but we’ve got to get going. Even allowing for the ground, if she runs to the best of her ability – and she has come out of the Tattersalls Gold Cup very well – she could put it up to the likes of Was and Sapphire.
The ground will be an issue for Steps To Freedom as well. He would like it much quicker as everyone knows, but he hasn’t been as active as we’d have planned because of that. He was actually pencilled in for the Northumberland Plate in Newcastle this weekend but they’ve had it even worse than us. He is flying so we wanted him to go somewhere.
We were hoping for good ground for all three of them and it hasn’t materialised. But they appear to be in really good form so they are all going to take their chance. If the sun shines and the wind blows, those chances will improve quite a bit.
As for the Derby, I’m hoping Camelot does the business and he should if the ground isn’t too heavy for him. I know John Oxx is keen on his two but I think Jim Bolger’s Light Heavy might be closest. He’s tough and he stays well.
Alpine Eagle ran very well to be second coming back over hurdles at Down Royal yesterday week.
He will continue to mix it between hurdles and fences but he really needs two-and-a-half miles at this stage. Backbench Blues ran very well to be second to Tannery in the Listed Martin Molony Stakes at Limerick the same evening, giving Tannery three pounds. We may bring him back to a mile-and-a-quarter.
I was delighted with Go On Murt. He just got stopped three times and if he’d any sort of run, he’d have won instead of been fourth. But he has to be dropped in so that’s always a possibility. I think he’s a winner waiting to happen though.
Bendzoldan won impressively in Naas on Wednesday but unfortunately, the handicapper thought she was impressive too and put her up 11lbs to 75.
So we’ll move her up a better grade and see how she goes but having had three runs in June, she’ll get a three-week break now.
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