It was a fascinating and exciting week last week. There was a couple of firsts for Ontoawinner. We have been involved in winners in England, Wales and Scotland and we had our first runner in France. Karl has run many horses previously in France and although there is a substantial cost getting to France the prize money if you are successful makes the trip worthwhile. London Protocol who is French bred ran at Deauville on Monday in the six and a half furlong race and Ioritz Mendizabal rode. Ioritz probably isn’t as well-known as other French jockeys but he has ridden previously at the Shergar Cup and has ridden numerous winners in France and has the occasional ride in Britain too. From the off Ioritz got London Protocol out in front of the six runner field and they set the early pace. London Protocol, wearing check pieces, was enjoying himself at the head of affairs setting a steady tempo. The field were well bunched together and as the field made their way towards two furlongs from the finish Ioritz began to wind up the pace and several of London Protocols rivals started to come under pressure and their jockeys were working hard. There was one exception, the odds on favourite, ridden by Christophe Soumillion who was still travelling comfortably on the wide outside. Inside the final furlong LP and the odds on favourite had the race between them and the odds on jolly joined LP at the front of the race and both jockeys began to get serious on their horses as the winning post started to loom. Ioritz got more serious on LP who stuck his neck out and was fighting off the favourite who had no more to give and in the last fifty years LP began to stride away again and he won by a length. A great first win for LP and his owners. LP had shown he had ability but in his first two races he had his mind on other things and having been gelded can now solely concentrate on racing. With 17k euros to the winner plus a 9.5k euro owners premium bonus, it was a fruitful day. As a result of this win he was supplemented to run on Sunday in a valuable listed race also at Deauville.
Fazza was next up on Wednesday when he went to Carlisle and contested the one mile one furlong handicap and Paul Mulrennan rode. Fazza wore cheek pieces for the first time in the hope these would spark some extra effort from him. From the stalls opening Paul settled Fazza from his wide draw in midfield and they were happy to track the early pace being set up front. Paul had Fazza settled nicely and racing enthusiasticly and it looked like they were going to fight out the finish as the field made the final turn into the home straight. The field swept into the middle of the course and Fazza still tucked in just behind the leaders was traveling powerfully three furlongs from the finish. Paul pushed Fazza through a gap and just over a furlong out looked to have every chance of being in the first three places. Howe haver inside the final furlong Fazza couldn’t continue his run and stayed on at the one pace and finished in sixth place. Paul unsaddling thought he would win two furlongs out but the horse ran out of petrol up the stiff hill and suggested dropping the horse back to a mile.
Thursday was our other first this week when for the first time we have had a filly represent us in a Group race and all eyes were on Quiet Reflection when she ran in the Group 2 six furlong Lowther Stakes at York and Joey Haynes took the ride. This was a marked step up in class after she had won a maiden at Hamilton and she was racing against experienced fillies, several of whom had ran at Royal Ascot and other big meetings. Howe haver Quiet Reflection had impressed in her homework and hopes were high that she would put up a bold show. From the stalls opening QR was a little keen and Joey tried to get her settled as the select field made a dash towards the turn that leads in the home straight. Runners either side of her began to edge across her and Joey had no option but to rein QR back as these two horses firmly shut the door on her and QR was squeezed for racing room and stumbled slightly in the process. This immediately put QR on the back foot with racing to do to get back her prominent position that had been taken away from her. Joey allowed QR to find her feet again as the field began to head down the home straight towards the finish. With the leader heading towards the centre part of the track Joey angled QR towards the inside and they soon made progress and as the roar from the crowd went up, as the runners hit the furlong from home marker, Joey pushing away at QR where now they almost joined a line of four runners that were disputing the lead. Inside the final furlong Joey and QR were hard at work and three horses at the head of the betting market went clear. QR kept going all the way towards the line and inside the last fifty yards she got a little tired and was passed and had to settle for fifth place. It was a fantastic effort from QR who on her second run was extremely professional in the build-up and was an unlucky fifth. There are very exciting times to be had with QR in the upcoming months.
On Saturday Carbutt’s Ridge went to Sandown and ran in the very competitive seven furlong nursery and Ben Curtis rode. Carbutts had bottom weight, such was the competitive nature of the race, and he also had the inconveince of being drawn out widest of all in the eleven strong field. Supporting a pair of blinkers as the gates opened Ben got a good start and allowed Carbutt’s to stride forward to try and get a prominent position which is such an advantage at Sandown. Probably using a bit more energy than he really wanted he managed to get Carbutt’s Ridge forward on the outside of the field into around fourth place as the field took the sharp turn into the home straight. Carbutt‘s was stuck on the outside of the field seeing plenty of day light as Ben was unable to get any cover and as the field headed down the home straight the pace of the race quickened as the field hit the two furlong from home marker. It was here that CR just started to lose his place and was passed by a couple of horse and as Ben tried to get CR running on again they were squeezed by two horses very badly and Ben had to pull CR sharply back and all momentum was lost. Ben kept CR going all the way to the line but all chance had gone and they finished at the rear of the field.
London Protocol started and then finished off the weeks runners when he went back to Deauville and ran in the richest Listed race in Europe over one mile. It was a step up in trip and to get into the race we had to supplement the entry fee but all connections thought this was a worthwhile chance to take with good prize money on offer with only six runners in the field it was hoped we could earn some more euros. Ioritz Mendizabal took the ride again. From the off Ioritz got LP out in front and set the pace howe haver they were soon joined by another English based runner and they jointly held the lead for the first couple of furlongs. LP was on the inside of the track whilst the other runner took a position down the centre of the track and as the field swept into the home straight LP dropped to second position. As the pace began to really quicken just over a furlong from home LP just started to drift back through the field as he went into unknown territory having never run over this far previously. Inside the final furlong LP got very tired and was passed by his competitors and finished at the rear of the field finishing very tired. The step up to a mile on very soft ground prived a step too far at thius point in time. A fantastic fact finding mission with him came to a close and he is now on his way home.