We were obviously disappointed with Dashing Willoughby’s run in the St Leger. We thought his form entitled him to run very well and that he should have been close to the second or third.

It was a sub-standard performance undoubtedly. The ground was appreciably quicker than he’d run on before so that may have had something to do with it. He’s in a Group Two in France on Arc weekend and we may end up going there if it’s not too quick.

Rest of last weekend

Diocletian was a revelation at Chester. He has always had the talent, but this was an excellent performance. He has paid for it, going up 11lbs to a mark of 96 and he could be one for the November Handicap at the end of season at Doncaster.

He won at the course as a three-year-old and he will definitely handle the ground if it’s as soft as it normally gets there at that meeting. I think he is effective from a mile and a half all the way up to two miles and I’d hope he’d run well in a race like that.

Shine So Bright probably did a little bit too much in front in the Park Stakes. If the ground is right, he could go for the Foret or Challenge Stakes next, although I’ve got it in the back of my mind that we might drop him back to sprint distances next year.

If it was soft ground on Champions Day, we may also think about running him in the Champion Sprint. We wouldn’t run him over seven furlongs on very soft ground, though.

Listed winner

It was lovely that Encapsulation managed to win the Listed Doonside Cup at Ayr on Thursday. It’s very important to win races like these with fillies and her owner Barbara Keller has done fantastically well alongside Alistair Donald, buying fillies with the potential to win Stakes races.

Blond Me won some nice races for her, including the Grade One E.P. Taylor Stakes at Woodbine in 2017. We hope Encapsulation can go the same way, she’s improving and stays in training next season which is fantastic.

Newbury on Saturday

Things didn’t work out for Pivoine  at Kempton last time, but he has his optimum conditions in the 1m3f Group Three (14:20). Even though he had a horrible trip round Kempton, he actually ran well for a long way and this distance on this ground should be perfect.

One slightly concern is that he does seem to relish a big field, so we hope it won’t be too tactical. Pondus is a very good horse and he’ll probably take all the beating, but I do think we’re overpriced as the outsider of the field.

We had the option to go to Ayr with Shadn   for the Firth Of Clyde, but we decided that Newbury is only down the road so we’re running her in the Mill Reef Stakes (14:55). For her to be placed in a Group Two would be a big thing.

Mystery Power is the class horse in the race and although he has a penalty to carry, he will be hard to beat. The fillies’ allowance obviously helps us and my dad won this race back in 1986 with a very good filly called Forest Flower.

Shadn is no Forest Flower, but the Goodwood race has worked out well and she brings a strong level of form to the table. It looks an open race and a place would be an excellent result for her future breeding career.

The mile and a quarter handicap (15:30) has been the plan for Johnny Drama  since he ran well to be second to Forest Of Dean at the Ebor meeting. It was quite fast at York that day and he handled it well, so I think he’s quite versatile when it comes to ground conditions.

The track and trip are ideal for him, but Forest Of Dean is a major problem. We’re 7lbs better off, but he beat us pretty comprehensively last time. I hope our horse will be competitive and he will be one for the big handicaps next season, like the John Smith’s Cup which we won with Pivoine this year.

As long as the ground isn’t too fast, Lariat  should run very well in the mile-and-a-half handicap (16:40). If it gets too quick, we won’t risk him. He got stuck in the mud at Hamilton last time and he just doesn’t want extremes either side. This is the right race for him if the ground is alright.

Oloroso  handles most conditions but wouldn’t want it too fast in the closing seven-furlong handicap (17:15). He has the ability to run well off his current mark but needs everything to drop right.

Ayr on Saturday 

We had Donjuan Triumphant and Stone Of Destiny  in the Ayr Gold Cup (15:50) but with a dry forecast we decided to take Donjuan out. He’ll wait for the rain to come.

Stone Of Destiny will like the ground and he’s a capable horse on his day. He’s been on the go a long time, having run out in Qatar in February, but he has always threatened to run very well in a race of this nature.

We’ve been lucky enough to win this race a couple of times in the past, but it’s not easy to do and he has no more than an each-way chance.

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