It is quite incredible to think that the 2016 turf season has already finished. It honestly feels like yesterday, when ACCESSION was lining up at the Craven Meeting. Seven months on and things have started to quieten down, as we have fewer and fewer runners, giving me time to reflect on a phenomenal third season.
At the start of the year, privately, I gave myself two targets to achieve. The first was to break through the twenty winner mark. The second was to train a black type winner. Well, we managed to do both of these! We are currently sitting on twenty-four winners (including Moonlit Show’s win in Ireland), and we celebrated out first listed winner when the aforementioned filly won the Blenheim Stakes at Fairyhouse. Something I am even prouder of is that up until the end of August, our winners strike rate was knocking around the 25% mark, higher than almost every yard in Britain. Obviously with the arrival of Autumn, and the debuts of most of our two year olds, that figure has decreased, although still sitting at an impressive 20%.
So what have been my highlights? ACCESSION’S nine length demolition of a strong field at Newmarket sticks to mind, as well as his third place finish in a listed race (first time he has achieved black type at the evergreen age of seven!). MIA TESORO’s phenomenal four timer is something else I am particularly proud of, especially as I feel there is still more improvement left in her. Obviously MOONLIT SHOW’s win in Ireland, providing me with a first ever black type winner, is something I will never forget. She is a beautifully laid back filly who is definitely an exciting prospect for next year. That is, of course, if her owners don’t decide to cash in on her increased value by sending her to the breeding shed. HIGH ON LOVE also deserves a special mention as she lined up in the Albany stakes at Royal Ascot after her exciting maiden win at Windsor. Sadly, the rain scuppered any chances she had going into the race, and that really was the story of her year. Excluding a fantastic run at Newmarket in a Class 2 nursery nothing really went right for her, however she is a lovely athletic filly and I am very hopeful for next season.
Other special mentions must go to BAADI, who won two races earlier this year, providing me with my first winner for his owners Saleh Al Homaizi and Imad Al Sagar. BUCKLAND BEAU also won three races last winter and ran incredibly consistently all summer. He has been out in a paddock with old favourites PEARL ICE and BUCKLAND, but is due to return in January. TWIN POINT and CAROLINAE have also both won twice this year and they line up in different divisions of the mile handicap at Lingfield tomorrow. If this year is anything to go by, they will both take plenty of beating.
There is plenty to look forward to and highest on my list of excitements are winter championships pair PRINCE OF ARRAN and ERHAAF. Both ran phenomenal races recently with PRINCE OF ARRAN making light work of a talented field at Kempton. He has been immensely frustrating to train because nothing has ever been easy with him, despite an enormous amount of ability. The future definitely looks bright though, as a gelding operation and summer break at Far Westfield Farm has clearly done the trick. There is a listed race at Kempton in a couple of weeks’ time that I might be very tempted to look at. I was also delighted with ERHAAF’s first run for the yard at Chelmsford last week and I am certain that a step up in trip will see him winning before long. Couple all of this with the arrival of six yearlings recently and I am sure you will agree that there is plenty to be looking forward to for 2017!
Not everything has been rosy this autumn and we were given a harsh reminder of how dangerous this profession is when talented young jockey Freddie Tylicki was left paralysed after an horrendous fall at Kempton. Freddie played a huge part in my early days as a trainer and he rode my first winner, BARBARY, at Lingfield. I know I speak for every member of staff here at St Gatien Stables when I say that we are all thinking of you and praying for a swift recovery.