SPRING definitely seems to be in the air which means the countdown has begun to the start of the new turf season which begins at Donny on Saturday 27 March, exactly four weeks today.
Only two weeks ago, the stable staff were riding out in sub-zero temperatures but those days are beginning to look like distant memories. Yes, it was still quite frosty first lot this morning but it was bright sunshine and by the time third lot pulled out later on, the sun’s rays were beginning to permeate through.
It has been a frustrating few months for Harper Lodge Farm with a barren spell without winners stretching back to November but if one was to judge the string on looks, there is plenty of room for optimism.
There’s been a changing of the guard at the yard with the likes of Lancelot Du Lac being retired and mares such as Eirene and Lucymai enjoying a new life in the paddocks as broodmares. The string will be more streamlined this year with around 30 horses in training but there are still some potential big guns to be fired throughout the season and some of them looked on great terms with themselves.
Librisa Breeze showed that he retains plenty of ability and equally importantly, enthusiasm for the job, as the Group One Champions Sprint winner worked nicely under Travelling Head Lad, Graham Mash. He’d been for a racecourse gallop recently and that had clearly brought him on as he’s prepared for a tilt at the Lincoln on the opening day of the season.
Badenscoth, has only just come back into work but even at this time of year, his coat had a shine to it and the seven-times winner was on good terms with himself, as he worked under Jo Cousins. Solario Racing’s Dancinginthewoods was another who looked very well in his coat and he too is being prepared for a possible race at Donny as he cantered under Drew Cummins.
As Cheltenham Festival fever gathers apace, it may sometimes seem as though all roads lead to Prestbury Park. They don’t. The M1 and M18 most definitely lead to Donny and Harper Lodge Farm cannot wait!