Friday 19 January 2018

Alanza's turn of foot may earn four-year-old campaign

Alanza needed to improve a little again if she was to win the Sceptre Stakes at Doncaster yesterday -- and much to my delight, she did. She has looked a smart filly ever since landing her maiden at Listowel last year and yesterday's result means that she has now won two Listed races and a Group Three on her last three runs.

With the turn of foot that she possesses, Alanza has great potential, so we may decide to put her away now in preparation for a four-year-old campaign.

The nature of my operation and the clientele that I have here means that, generally speaking, I never have many in training beyond their three-year-old seasons. That leads to a high turnover of horses, which means that the quality of our two-year-olds is critical to what kind of season you are going to have the following year.

With that in mind, it was satisfying to see Akeed Mofeed deliver so smoothly at Leopardstown on Saturday. While it's never wise to get carried away with a maiden victory, Akeed Mofeed is a horse we have always liked.

His next stop will be the Beresford at The Curragh. Alamshar, Azamour and Sea The Stars all won that for me in the past, so we will learn more about him in two weeks.

With backward juveniles, some years the wait can be frustrating, especially if you get to the autumn and nothing happens. You need to be patient, but it's always nice to win a decent race by the season's end, as then you feel much more optimistic about the year ahead.

Despite having no runners on Sunday, it turned out to be a busy day for me. I had a client here looking at horses, and then I spent much of the afternoon planning.

In this country, there might only be one or two races a month that will suit any one horse, so you need to know in advance what you want to do with them. Once you have done that, you can then organise their work around where you want to go.

Because most of our fast work is done on Tuesdays and Fridays, there is a bit more fuss around the place on those mornings. Johnny Murtagh, Mick Kinane, Niall McCullagh and Ben Curtis all come in and I rely heavily on their opinions.


We've all got a good rapport and understand each other, which is important. It's lovely to still have Mick involved, too, as his judgment and ability is all still there. He is an excellent asset to us.

I always organise the various strands of work the day before, so my role on a work morning is to supervise and observe. That is a large part of any trainer's life -- observation.

Be it watching a gentle canter or inspecting at evening stables, you need to spend time monitoring the horses. No one else can do it for you.

On Tuesday, Born To Sea, a half-brother to Sea The Stars, did his final piece of routine work before his debut at The Curragh tomorrow. He is ready to run.

His eyes aren't popping out of his head or anything, but he is ready for what should be a nice introductory run in the Blenheim Stakes. Born To Sea is quite a precocious colt, but plans to run him during the summer were scuppered when his shins got sore.

As a result, our hand has been forced a little now, as there isn't a suitable maiden for him until the 24th or later, hence the Listed entry. He has some of his brother's ability and potential, but we'll get tomorrow out of the way before making any further plans.

After sending out our first English runner of the campaign yesterday, Saddler's Rock will be our second in the Doncaster Cup today. He is unexposed, but he is capable of belying his mark if he gets the two-and-a-quarter-mile trip, as he is in superb form.

In general, it has been a good year, with a high percentage of our runners proving up to winning.

If they are healthy and well and perform up to their full potential through the year, then that's your job done as a trainer. No one ever asks for more than that.

For more information on racing in Ireland this weekend check out

Irish Independent

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