With the Epsom classics out of the way, it is full steam ahead into the busy mid-summer programme, which will see the return of the July course at Newmarket. There is a bit of a theme here too with Newmarket at the heart of it, with a trio of horses and a trainer to keep on side in the coming weeks. I also have two jumpers to follow as well going forward and a late developing northern stayer.
Classic winning trainer Paul D’Arcy saddled his final winner in January 2021, and his horses moved on to John Butler’s Newmarket base. Subsequently John Butler now has Knight Of Kings in his care, the horse who was D’Arcy’s last runner at Kempton the day after his final winner at Southwell. Speaking to D’Arcy a while ago, I know he always felt this son of New Approach had plenty of ability and although he hasn’t set the world alight yet, he has still only had four starts.
He made his handicap debut at Yarmouth on the 9th of June which turned out to be a messy encounter which didn’t suit quite a few, including this lad. I really do think it is a matter of time until goes very close to winning off a mark which at the moment stands in the mid fifties.
There were a couple of horses to take out of the three year old and over fillies’ maiden stakes on the card, one who was fancied on the day and another a big outsider from a small stable.
The main market mover in the race beforehand was the Rae Guest trained Empress Makeda, who was making her debut under 5lb apprentice Seb Woods. Once again, it was a strange old heat with a muddling pace, ultimately turning into a bit of a sprint with plenty of horses finishing in a bunch. Empress Makeda was green when the taps really started to be turned on, but then stayed on nicely, running right through the line in the very closing stages.
She definitely has a future and based with a yard who excel with three year olds, I’d be baffled if she didn’t find the back of the net this summer.
The other runner from that race at Yarmouth to go in the tracker was Marionette for the shrewd Chelsea Banham team.
Having first start for new connections after leaving the Willie McCreery yard in Ireland, this four year old was having to give 10lb plus to the field due to being the only older horse in the field, but I was extremely taken with how she travelled into the race. She was one of the last off the bridle and given her SP and 352 day absence prior to that effort, that has to be of significance. Her rider never picked the stick up on her either, just merely a hands and heels effort as she steadily fell back through the pack, feeling the effects of that lay-off.
Since then, I think the handicapper has been very harsh giving her an opening mark of 60, which certainly looks on the stiff side, but still may be workable going forward.
The nursery season is just around the corner as well, with the first of them at Haydock on July 3rd, and as ever some yards tend to target them more than others. One such yard may well be Patrick Owens, who only has a small team in Newmarket, but is seemingly getting the few he does have plenty of experience early on so far this year.
To read more about Will’s thoughts on the nursery season and 4 horses he feels are worthy of the Notebook upgrade to On Course Profits Gold Membership here
Will Bowler is a freelance writer, together with being one of the busiest Point To Point commentators. Will also commentates on harness and pony racing, with a long list of different venues including Haydock, Wolverhampton, Southwell and a personal favourite in Beverley. He worked at Southwell Racecourse for six years as race day presenter and marketing executive, helping at Doncaster and Uttoxeter on occasion. He has shares in two horses, one with Laura Morgan and one with John Mackie.