Thursday May 12

Miss Crick kept the ball rolling when winning at Worcester yesterday, and, having spent an enjoyable morning with Alan, who proudly showed off his excellent new all-weather gallop before outlining his hopes for what is his biggest Flat team ever, standing at 30 plus – we also looked ahead to what is a busy few days coming up for Barbury.

First up is Grumeti in the finale at York today, and we can forgive Max McNeill’s versatile performer an unplaced return on the Flat at Ripon recently as, while on a lovely day there are few more beautiful tracks in England, the Yorkshire course is not every horse’s cup of tea, what with its dips and ridges up the straight, and Grumeti will be much happier on the Knavesmire.

Alan said:”It’s been dry at York since 11am yesterday and we could have done with another shower of rain – we have had plenty here this week!  Grumeti is 4lb higher than when giving us the thrill of all thrills to win the Cesarewitch at Newmarket at 50-1 last October and that race will again be his long-term aim this season. However, if the ground is not too firm I’d hope he’d run well today.

“We also have a couple going to York tomorrow. Sir Michael Stoute always had a high opinion of Top Tug, so we were excited to add him to our team this season and he made the perfect start when winning at Lingfield last month. He is 4lb higher for what looks another competitive race, but he is good form and fingers crossed he’ll go close,

“Our other runner up there is Master Blue Eyes, who has his first run in a handicap in the finale. He showed promise in three maidens last year and will hopefully improve for going up in trip, and I was delighted that we were able to get Dougie Costello to ride.”

Alan will be at Newbury tomorrow, and, with 16.7 inches of rain having fallen in the last 24 hours, the ground has changed from good to firm to soft, heavy places. Assessing his hopes for our four runners, Alan said:”We have two in the 11-furlong handicap. Rainbow Dreamer won his maiden by four lengths in the soft at Nottingham last year, so I wouldn’t think the ground would be a problem and he ran well in what looked a competitive handicap at Sandown on his return. Primitivo, who won a mile nursery at Windsor, will appreciate going back up in trip, and, with York still on it’s always difficult to get jockeys for this meeting, but we have secured James Doyle and George Baker for this pair, so I have no complaints there.

“We also have two in the 10-furlong maiden. Easy Easy ran in a couple of maidens at Goodwood last year and he’ll be qualified for handicaps after this run, while Burguillos is an unraced Lope de Vega who is ready to get started. We have Adam Beschizza and Jimmy Fortune, so again we will lack nothing from the saddle.”

Finally, we have two going up to Aintree for tomorrow’s jumping fixture. Awesome Rosie, who was only beaten half a length in what proved a virtual ‘match’ at Wincanton last time, runs in the opening mares novice hurdle, while we have Magic Music Man in the other novice. He hit the frame recently at Ludlow and Exeter and Alan said that the drying ground will suit both of ours.”