May 17 – York – Azure Blue – 101

One of last season’s most improved fillies, Michael Dods’ inmate carried on where she left off with her biggest success so far to date and she looks set for another productive campaign at this level. In what looed a strong field on paper beforehand, the daughter of El Kabeir was always very comfortable at the pace they were going and once asked for maximum effort late on, she duly delivered the goods. Having confirmed she stays six furlongs just as well as five, there are now plenty options available for her during the season and although not yet entered in the King’s Stands Stakes at Royal Ascot, there is every chance she will be supplemented.

May 18 – Salisbury – Relief Rally – 93

In informative two-year-old contest won by a filly who has so far really impressed with her attitude. Very professional when scoring on her debut at Windsor, William Haggas’ filly was up against a rival in the shape of Juniper Berries who had posted a big number on her opening bow at Bath but, having proved the more tractable of the pair in the stages, she was able to see the trip out better inside the final furlong. Following this performance, the obvious target would appear to be the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot and she will go into that contest as one of the fastest fillies’ on the clock. As for the runner-up, it should pay to give her another chance to vindicate the impression she created first time out, she just needs to learn to settle a bit better before becoming the finished article.

May 18 – York – Croupier – 99

As ever, a typically competitive mile handicap by the track standard and it went the way of a horse who was bouncing back to form from a poor display on soft ground previously. Unsighted in the Lincoln, Simon & Ed Crisford’s gelding looked more at ease under these conditions and having raced handy throughout, he pounced late to deliver the knockout blow. Granted similar conditions, he will have a chance to further transport his career in the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot next month. Of the rest, Northern Express has to be given plenty of praise for coming from where he did at halfway and there should be more decent prizes awaiting him during the remainder of the campaign.

May 19 – York – Giavellotto – 99

A strong-looking renewal of this top staying prize on paper beforehand and it did not disappoint with virtually all five of the main players holding some sort of chance at the furlong pole. However, it was Marco Botti’s gelding who came out on top and he went along way to prove his third in last year’s St Leger was no fluke. Likely to head to Royal Ascot to contest the Gold Cup, his previous form at the Berkshire venue suggests he deserves the utmost respect. As for the runner-up, Eldar Eldarov, he should also have a huge say in the same race in a month’s time based on his opening bow of the season, even more so if he gets his favoured fast ground.

May 20 – Newbury – Haskoy – 101

For the second day in succession, last season’s St Leger form received another boost, this time it was Ralph Beckett’s filly – runner-up on Town Moor (demoted to fourth) – who provided the tonic. Seemingly needing every yard of this trip (1m4f), it makes perfect sense to suggest she will be seen to even better advantage over further and it would come as no surprise if she were to take up her engagement in the Gold Cup, alongside her old advisories.

May 20 – Newbury – Modern Games – 101

An hour later and another strong speed figure emerged courtesy of Charlie Appleby’s colt, this time in a Group 1 over a mile. In what looked a strong-looking field beforehand, the son of Dubawi appeared to be in a spot of bother at the halfway stage, but he gradually warmed to the task and in the end, he ran out a convincing winner. Reading the post-race chat, the next step for him will be the Queen Anne barring accidents and, as the four-year-old has already strong form at the Berkshire venue, he is likely to take high rank in the curtain raiser in a month’s time.

May 20 – Thirsk – Scottish Summit – 100

Promising on his seasonal bow at Ripon, Geoff Harker’s gelding travelled with his usual verve throughout this strongly-run handicap over a mile and he was able to finish off the deal at the business end, something he hasn’t always necessarily done in the past. On this evidence, he seems in as good a frame of mind as he has ever been and it would come as no surprise if he were to supplement these gains at some stage during the rest of the season, granted a similar set of circumstances.