A big week for Hugo Palmer who bids to do the English/Irish 2,000 Guineas double with Galileo Gold on Saturday, and here the Betfair Ambassador updates us on his star colt as well as discussing his other entries and looking back on the last seven days...
"But every day since the Newmarket victory I have asked Galileo Gold's work rider Toby Atkinson how the horse is and have received the answer that he feels amazing."
We haven't done a great deal with Galileo Gold since his Guineas win, but it is always a very nervous time for trainers when Classics are on the horizon.
As we saw with So Mi Dar yesterday, anything can happen to horses and they are not machines. But every day since the Newmarket victory I have asked Galileo Gold's work rider Toby Atkinson how the horse is and have received the answer that "he feels amazing."
Here is hoping that I hear the same response every time I ask the question this week.
As I said immediately after Newmarket, the horse didn't lose much weight and what he did lose he immediately put back on.
He has been on his racing weight since, and the only serious piece of work we have done with him since the Guineas was on the Limekilns last Friday and Toby was very happy with him.
Toby actually said that he is more relaxed now, and that the race has settled him down a bit. He has cooled down, rather than got more wound up, and you have to believe that is a positive.
Irish 2,000 Guineas: Home team present stiff opposition
There are 13 in the Irish 2,000 Guineas as it stands, and Aidan O'Brien has a very strong hand with six of the entries. The likes of his champion 2yo Air Force Blue and his French Guineas winner, The Gurkha, are among those, not to mention the Guineas fourth Air Vice Marshal, and Jim Bolger is responsible for four, among them the Derrinstown winner Moonlight Magic.
You clearly write off any of Aidan's horses at your peril - and he has brought back the likes of Roderic O'Connor and Power to win this race after disappointing at Newmarket - but if Galileo Gold runs the same race as he ran in the Guineas then the others have to pick up their game to beat him.
The ground is currently good to firm, but there is plenty of rain forecast this week. But I am relaxed about the ground, as he is such a clean-actioned horse.
This Week's Entries: Some informative racing ahead
We wanted to give Afandem a test in his next start to see where we stood with him. But he faces only four rivals in a novice at Goodwood on Thursday, though against that three of those are newcomers from leading stables, and one holds a Group 1 entry. So it could be a hot little race.
Afandem crept up on us a little bit, and he was slightly under the radar before his debut, though his work had been pleasing me. Earlier in the year, he looked like being a very early sort but then he worked poorly, so we backed off him a bit and gave him more time. And he still hasn't completely come in his summer coat.
But he was very impressive on his debut at Doncaster last month, and the runner-up won his maiden by seven lengths on Monday, and hopefully he can make it two from two at Goodwood.
Bithynia faces 10 rivals on her debut in a 6f Novice fillies' stakes at Sandown on Thursday night, and I have been very happy with her since she was sent to me after the Newmarket breeze-ups last month.
But she breezed well at Newmarket, has done a couple of bits of work since we have had her, and there is a lot to like about her. And she is a Kodiac half-sister to six winners, too.
It does look a hot race, though. Grizzel is another Kodiac filly from the Newmarket breeze-ups, too, and she has drawn stall one, while Ertijaal's sister Naafer has to be respected on her debut.
Walpole is entered at Haydock on Friday and York on Saturday, and we will let the ground largely decide where we go nearer the time.
Jamie Spencer said he might have been feeling the ground a bit at Windsor, and was changing his legs quite a lot, so a bit of rain would help, as he doesn't want extremes of going. It could have just been greenness at Windsor, but I'll look for good ground for him.
Incidentally, we are also aiming him at a $300,000 listed race over 2m on the Belmont Stakes undercard called the Belmont Gold Cup.
I was chatting to some guys over from NYRA at the Craven meeting, and they asked me if I had a stayer who would be suitable for the race. Although Walpole is relatively lowly-rated, he is unbeaten and it makes sense to go there with him, as the Americans don't tend to get many stayers, all being well.
I have always liked Evergate, who is entered in a 6f novice at Newmarket on Saturday. He was a gorgeous-looking yearling so I was persuaded the owner not to sell his in-foal mare.
Mind you, I will temper my enthusiasm somewhat as I was head over heels in love with his half-brother Gaspirali this time last season and I refuse to be as smitten with this colt until he has done it on the track!
I believe his mare is in foal to Native Khan, who has made a fantastic start at stud in Turkey, with two or three winners on the board already.
Like I said, Evergate goes well , but there is no hiding place first time up in a novice at Newmarket.
As with Walpole, we will be led by the ground as to whether Twitch goes to York or Goodwood on Saturday, and the opposition. We will be tracking the declarations on Thursday morning.
She ran well first time up at Goodwood but the problem is that she has to take on the boys this weekend. Ideally, I would like to wait until she can take on her own sex in the Group 3 Pinnacle Stakes at Haydock on May 27, so it's a toss-up as to what we do.
Zodiakos is in the Silver Bowl at Haydock on Saturday, and that has been the long-term plan for him, but he doesn't want the forecast rain. However, he ran well first time out at Newmarket, and hopefully he can be competitive off a mark of 89 here, given decent ground.
I have entered Aventinus and Liberatum in the novice at York on Saturday, and I am hoping the race will divide, so I can run both.
Both are nice colts who will benefit for the run. This is actually the race that Galileo Gold was beaten in on his debut last season, and my colts have done plenty of work and who should give their owners plenty of enjoyment this season and make up into nice 3yos.
Galileo Gold is by Paco Boy, as is Liberatum, and he is the likelier of the two to run if the race doesn't divide.
Looking Ahead: Royal Ascot next for Ninety and Khan
We had some disappointments last week, but we certainly ended it on a high with the winning performances of We Are Ninety and Murad Khan.
We Are Ninety is owned by the most wonderful lady. And this filly was actually Lady Manton's 90th birthday present from her nephew, hence the name.
Her twin sister, Mrs Stockwell, also bred a colt, who just happens to be Hit It A Bomb, who won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Keeneland last season. So after We Are Ninety's win at York, one now has a listed race winner and the other a Grade 1 winner. Not bad going!
The trainer got greedy when trying to win two races in four days with We Are Ninety at Chelmsford last month, and it taught me a huge lesson, namely that it is very hard trying to win under a penalty.
The filly has clearly come a long way in a short space of time since winning a 0-70 handicap a little over three weeks ago but, after York, we now have our eyes set on the Ribblesdale for her.
Royal Ascot, and the Britannia, is also on the agenda for Murad Khan after his win at Doncaster on Saturday night.
He had to win there if we were going to have a chance of getting into that handicap, and we are hoping that he is a Group horse in the making, which you probably need to be to win the Britannia.
He is Ascription's half-brother and he has shown more than that horse at this stage of his career, so the signs are very promising for him.
Other Reflections: The benefits of a good apprentice
Hawksmoor obviously ran an excellent race to finish third in the Alary at Deauville yesterday and other performances that delighted me in the past week were those of Strong Steps at Newbury and Ecureuil.
Galileo Gold's lead horse Strong Steps is so genuine, and perhaps too honest for his own good, and I think we will look to claim off him now to give him a helping hand.
I thought Marc Monaghan gave Ecureuil a lovely ride to finish third on her debut at Salisbury last Thursday.
Marc rides her every day and a less assured apprentice could have got stuck into her when she was in with a winning chance at Salisbury. But he held her together and looked after her, and gave her the best of introductions.
And Finally: The negatives
Like I said, we had our disappointments. Spanish Squeeze ran okay at York, but Gold Trade ran below expectations at Newmarket, and I think we will continue to try and find some black type with Peru, possibly on the continent. She has already won a race, so that makes sense.
Gulliver disappointed me at York, not so much in the result but the fact that he didn't really help his jockey. Pat Smullen said that the horse spent most of the race looking behind him.
Whether it was greenness or temperament, I don't know at this stage, but we will give him one more go, possibly Lingfield on June 2nd.
But if he doesn't get his act together there he could pay for it with something that he holds dear. But that didn't do Gifted Master any harm!