March 28 – Newcastle – Bless Him – 100

Connections were taking a bit of punt in dropping the son of Sea The Stars back in trip, but such is his love affair for a strong gallop over a stiff track, he managed to pull it out of the fire with a well-timed late challenge. Perfect for the way Jamie Spencer likes to ride, it will be no surprise to see David Simcock’s contesting some of the big-field handicaps during the summer such as the Victoria Cup and Hunt Cup at Ascot and even though he is knocking on a bit age wise, he can still be competitive when races are run to suit.

March 30 – Lingfield – Smart Connection – 95

Unsuited by how the race panned out at Newcastle the time before, Alice Hayes’ gelding was soon back in the groove with a more conventionally run affair and in posting a smart number, he also proved he stays the 1m2f journey extremely well. One of the few in the field who lasted it out after being towards the head of affairs, his performance deserves extra praise, and it’s just a case of whether he can go and translate some of his recent solid all-weather form to the turf.

March 31 – Chelmsford – Dark Moon Rising – 97

Having his first run for 173 days and making his all-weather debut, Kevin Ryan’s colt made the perfect start to the new campaign with a victory of some substance. Despite the small field the pace was strong and, having raced handy throughout, he stayed on best of all to score in decisive fashion. Good on the numbers, the son of Night Of Thunder should prove just as effective back on turf and knowing his set of connections, something at the Dante meeting in May has probably already been up for discussion.

April 1 – Dundalk – Changingoftheguard – 93

Promising in three starts as a juvenile without winning, Aidan O’Brien’s colt did not have to wait too long before getting off the mark this term and on the evidence of his victory at the Co Lough venue, a bright campaign ahead looks likely. Setting off in front right from the start and setting a brisk tempo, the son of Galileo soon had his rivals in trouble and he maintained the strong gallop all the way to the line. The only horse during the winter campaign to clock 2.01.0 for the circuit of the Co Lough track, this long-striding colt will now have his attentions focused on the turf and although it’s earlier days to make too many bold predictions, it will be a surprise if he does not work his way into pattern company before too long.

April 2 – Leopardstown – Piz Badile – 95

A competitive Derby trial on paper and based on the resulting time figure, there is no reason to underestimate the form going forward. Always handy, Donnacha O’Brien’s colt picked up the running over two furlongs out only to be headed soon after, but he battled back with such tenacity that he was able to rally and regain the lead close home. A really likeable type in terms of class and heart, the son of Ulysees could easily be classic material in the making.

April 2 – Ayr – Win My Wings – 74

A competitive-looking renewal of a race steeped with tradition and there surely could not have been an easier winner in its long history. From a good way out it was apparent Christian Williams’ mare was travelled all over her rivals and once assuming command jumping three out, she quickened right away to score as she liked. Winner of two of the biggest staying handicaps in the season, no doubt connections will have even bigger aspirations for her next term and if she can maintain her current frame of mind, the sky is the limit for this copper-bottomed stayer.