Ascent of Everest the endgame for Sands Of Mali as yard looks to juvenile talent. The lowdown on a prolific stable with a top crop of two-year-olds in prospect
Horse numbers are large and seasonal totals border on astronomical at Musley Bank, but that means expectations are high and any shortcomings are quickly seized upon. For Richard Fahey, however, winners are never taken for granted and achievement is hard earned, no matter what the critics may say.
“Funnily enough somebody told me it was a bad year last year, with 190 winners and almost £3.4m in prize money,” he laughs. “It doesn’t sound like a bad year to me, but I suppose we’ve made a rod for our own backs there. If you keep turning out close to 200 winners, people think it just happens as a matter of course, whereas speaking as a trainer I’m amazed every year when we start from zero and still get there.”
The annual task is made harder by the fact that many of the yard’s best young horses end up being sold to race in Hong Kong, which means each new season is a fresh project.
“When we go to the sales I know there are hundreds worse off than me, but we’re down the pecking order,” explains the trainer. “We can’t complain, though. We’ll just keep doing what we do, but it means unearthing a few good two-year-olds is very important. Luckily I think we have a good bunch this year.”
Yard Musley Bank
Where Malton, North Yorkshire
Started training 1993
Finest hour Ribchester winning the Queen Anne in 2017, breaking the course record in the process
Strike rate last year 12%
Total prize-money 2018 £3,377,935
Senior assistant trainer Robin O’Ryan
Assistant trainer Jess McLernon
Jockeys Paul Hanagan, Tony Hamilton, Barry McHugh, Paddy Mathers
Apprentices Sean Davis, Connor Murtagh, Sebastian Woods
WINNERS IN BRITAIN
PROFIT/LOSS TO A £1 STAKE
High Chaparral (sire) – Songbird (dam)
Owner: Sir Robert Ogden
Form figures: 22013-3
Racing Post Rating 95; Official rating 91
We just wanted to get a run into him at Newbury but it turned out to be a good, solid run in the Spring Cup. It was strange ground and they finished like three-mile hurdlers but I think it will have put him right, with the first port of call being the Thirsk Hunt Cup on Saturday, where I’d be hoping for ground that’s not extreme either way. I think he could improve.
4f Declaration Of War – Sindjara
RPR 89 OR 84
She got better as we stepped her up in trip last year and I think she’s a filly who could progress through the ranks in the staying division. She ran on well at the finish at Ripon on Saturday and I think she’s one to keep on side.
4f Mayson – Dance East
Cheveley Park Stud
RPR 100 OR 96
A useful filly who won a Listed race at Carlisle last June, she went to get covered and things didn’t work out, so she’s come back into training and will go back to Carlisle for the same race. She likes slower ground but didn’t get a chance to race on it in 2018.
4f Dutch Art – Entreat
Cheveley Park Stud
RPR 100 OR 93
I was disappointed with her comeback over a mile on quick ground at Newmarket, where she was maybe a bit fresh, but she’d been working well before that and I’m sure she’ll get some black type before the end of the year, on decent ground at around a mile and a furlong.
5g Lawman – Alava
Mrs H Steel
RPR 116 OR 112
I thought things would be tough for him this year after his wins at Group 3 and Group 2 level but I was over the moon with his second in the Earl of Sefton. The obvious target is to go back to Chester, where he won the Huxley Stakes in 2018, and although in an ideal world I’d like it on the easy side to slow the others down a bit, I wouldn’t be too worried.
10g Dark Angel – Guajira
Dr Marwan Koukash
RPR 117 OR 104
He’s not getting any younger but he’s been a legend for us and I was happy enough with his reappearance third in the Doncaster Mile, although he was down the field at Haydock on Saturday. He’s gone to the well for us plenty of times without winning too many, but he’s in good form and I’d say he’ll have to go back to Chester for the Huxley Stakes, because he’s run in the last four and I think they’d cancel it if he didn’t turn up.
7g Dark Angel – Midnight Oasis
M A Scaife
RPR 111 OR 106
He ran out of his skin again when second to Kachy at Lingfield last time and he’s running to his mark, but he’s a bit of a ‘twilight’ horse and hard to place. The owners are keen to go to the Duke of York Stakes on May 15 and I’m not going to stand in their way, with the form he’s in at the moment, although it will be a tough task. I’d be happier if he were rated 97 and we could aim him at some of the big handicaps, but you can’t complain about having a horse who can take you to the top races.
4g Elzaam – Guana
Mr and Mrs J D Cotton
RPR 105 OR 94
I liked him a lot last year and I still do, but he’s been disappointing. He didn’t stay 1m in the Lincoln and although he was better over 7f at Haydock on Saturday I still think he didn’t get home, so now I’m going to drop him back down again in distance, probably for a sprint handicap at York, and hope I’ve been getting his trip wrong for the last year and a half. His work is still very good at home and I haven’t given up hope.
6g Elnadim – Chiloe Wigeon
N D Kershaw and Partner
RPR 116 OR 110
Won in Listed and Group 3 company last year, but he’ll find it a bit tougher with his penalty. There’s not much around for a 110-rated Group 3 winner at this time of year, so he’ll go to the Group 2 Greenlands Stakes at the Curragh on May 25 and I hope that will tee him up nicely up for a later campaign. He’s tough, genuine and seems to go on any ground these days, and if it turned up heavy at Ascot he might go for the King’s Stand.
Sands Of Mali
4c Panis – Kadiania
Phoenix Thoroughbred and Cool Silk Partnership
RPR 121 OR 118
I had a lot of faith in him at the start of last season and he did us proud, finishing off with success in the British Champions Sprint at Ascot in October. I was quite disappointed with his comeback run in Dubai [sixth behind Blue Point in the Al Quoz Sprint], where I felt he didn’t finish his race well, but it’s a big ask taking on hardened pros over there and the main thing is he’s in great order for the season ahead and going very well at home. There’s talk of going to the Everest in Australia in October, which is an exciting prospect, but closer to hand we’ll look at York, although it’s possible his next run will be in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot. He has good form on most going but he wouldn’t want it too firm.
5g Arcano – Idonea
M J Macleod
RPR 97 OR 90
He was disappointing at Ripon last time but I’d put that down to trainer error, running him too soon after his reappearance, and he was just a bit flat. He won a couple for us last season – on good to firm between a mile and 1m2f – and although he probably doesn’t have a lot in hand of his mark, he can go in again when things drop right.
4g Mayson – Moonglow
RPR 102 OR 96
Ran consistently well for us last year and we got a run into him at Newmarket to blow the cobwebs away, so he’ll be entered in all the big 7f handicaps through the year, quite possibly starting at Ascot in the Victoria Cup on May 11, where I think he could run a big race.
c Elzaam – Ekagra
RPR 86 OR 84
Won well on his first run back from a break, where I thought the run would just put him right. It was a competitive race, so I was very pleased with it as a springboard for a productive campaign.
c Charm Spirit – Child Bride
The Cool Silk Partnership
RPR 105 OR 97
Had no chance from a wide draw at Lingfield on Good Friday but he wasn’t disgraced. He’s a very quick horse and we’re happy with him, so although life won’t be easy this term, he’s honest and I think he’ll win again.
c No Nay Never – Dhamma
RPR 97 OR 94
Won a couple for us last spring and wasn’t disgraced at Group 2 level, so I’m hopeful of another good campaign. He’s in good form and will be aimed at the decent 6f and 7f handicaps, but I wouldn’t run him on fast ground.
Gabrial The One
g Zoffany – Guilia
Dr Marwan Koukash
RPR 82 OR 79
A horse I’ve always thought would improve with age, he finished a pleasing third at Beverley over 1m2f on his return and that should set him up for a good season, starting off at Chester.
c Garswood – Miss Bunter
Withernsea Thoroughbred Ltd and Partner
RPR 60 OR –
A big, raw horse who works well at home and hopefully in time will get it all together on the track. He’s had just one run, over 5f at Wolverhampton in March, where he was slow away and ran very green, but he was going on at the finish and showed plenty of promise.
g Iffraaj – Royal Rascal
Mr and Mrs N Wrigley
RPR 79 OR 82
He was a big playboy last year but a gelding operation has been the making of him and we were very pleased with his work before he scored on his reappearance at Wetherby on Sunday. He may well head to York next and if he progresses as I hope he will, I think he could make up into a Britannia horse for us. I really like him.
g Heeraat – Ringtail
Dr Marwan Koukash
RPR 83 OR 82
He’s progressing, won well at Beverley last time and heads to Chester for ‘The Doctor’. I’ve told Marwan that if this one gets a decent draw he’ll go well.
c Mayson – Crinkle
Mrs Janis Macpherson
RPR 104 OR 104
His form last year was rock solid but he had a little bit of a setback that held us up. On what we’ve seen so far he could be anything and he’ll be aimed at some decent sprints later in the year, but we’ll tread gently.
Show Me A Sunset
c Showcasing – Sunrise Star
The Cool Silk Partnership
RPR 55 OR –
We think an awful lot of him and his debut seventh at Newcastle was a disappointment given what he’s shown us at home. He returned a little sore, which may have contributed to the poor run, so I haven’t given up hope at all.
c Bated Breath – Sky Crystal
RPR 103 OR 103
Progressed nicely last year before running very well when runner-up on his reappearance in the European Free Handicap. He won’t be easy to place off his current mark but we’ll find something for him.
g Raven’s Pass – Tranquil Spirit
Middleham Park Racing XIX and Partner
RPR 95 OR 92
Won well on his reappearance over 6f on good to firm at Pontefract and he’s the type that might improve as we go a bit further with him. He’s a big, powerful horse with plenty of natural speed, and on pedigree he should get a mile and a quarter, but I’d prefer a little ease in the ground.
c War Front – Quarter Moon
Mrs Richard Henry
RPR 94 OR 91
He’s still learning but I thought he ran well over 1m2f at Newmarket last time, on his first run on turf, beaten only by a well-treated horse. The handicapper put us up 5lb but I think he’ll stay further and end up a proper horse.
Our youngsters are ready to go but the dry weather and the quick ground have held us up and we haven’t had the chance to sort out which are the better ones. Having said that, I’d be very pleased with what we’ve got.
f Acclamation – Majestic Alexander
RPR 86 OR –
An honest filly who ran a promising race on her debut and looks a good early-season type who will win races.
Show Me Show Me
c Showcasing – Springing Baroness
Ontoawinner 8 and Partner 4
RPR 86 OR –
He’s not very big but he’s a tough, genuine little horse who won the Brocklesby in pleasing style, despite being drawn out on a limb, and I’m glad to say the form is working out well. He looks a natural and is one to stick with.
c Pastoral Pursuits – Finalize
Middleham Park Racing LXXXI
RPR 78 OR –
Did extremely well to win at Thirsk on his debut, giving the field a head start and having to make up a fair bit of ground to overhaul a decent type. He could make up into a useful horse.
Among the unraced colts, a few showing up well are Custodian(Muhaarar – Zuhoor Baynoona), Dutch Decoy (Dutch Art – The Terrier), My Kind Of Day (Exceed And Excel – Sound The Alarm) and a big Kyllachy (ex Varnish), as well as the fillies Sun Crystal (Exceed And Excel – Takizada), Winter Sleep (No Nay Never – Sunbird) and a lovely War Front (ex Diamondsandrubies).
Horse to follow
Sands Of Mali
The burgeoning Phoenix Thoroughbred operation have bought into Sands Of Mali and are likely to see a good return on investment from their Group 1-winning four-year-old, particularly at Ascot. The son of Panis has shown ground versatility and an aptitude for the unique demands of the Berkshire track. After coming within a whisker of Commonwealth Cup glory he defeated sprinting star Harry Angel in the Champion Sprint Stakes in the autumn. He had a comeback spin at Meydan behind Blue Point in March and rates a big player in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.