News from Kimpton Down Stables


R Beckett news

Spring is traditionally a time for looking forward and here at Kimpton Down there is much to be hopeful and excited about over the coming months.
Significantly we have the momentum from last year, our best ever in terms of number of winners trained and prize money earned. That gives us very solid foundations from which to build further. Jockey arrangements will be largely the same again - rides principally shared between Rossa Ryan, Hector Crouch and Rob Hornby. All three regularly ride work here and fully deserve their opportunities. Various owners have their individual preferences and I’m happy to be flexible. Outside of this trio, we will endeavour to use the best available depending on circumstances.
This is an important week with the first of the Classics taking place and I’m thrilled to have a major 2000 Guineas contender in TASK FORCE, who could not be better bred for the job.
As has been well documented, he was kept to six furlongs last season because he was an exuberant, immature two-year-old who needed to be taught to conserve energy in his races.
For a horse destined to be a miler on both pedigree and physique, if anything he overachieved when finishing second in a hot-looking renewal of the Middle Park after winning both previous starts. With that Newmarket experience behind him, it was always the plan to go straight to the Guineas. He has enjoyed a good, trouble-free preparation and I was particularly pleased with how he settled in a racecourse workout at Newbury last week.
He’s not one you have to go looking for on the gallops - he loves his work and puts in a proper shift every morning - so lack of fitness won’t be an excuse.
I do hope, though, that Newmarket doesn’t get too much rain because he has smallish feet and a quick action, so the faster the ground the better.
If the weather gods are kind to us, we will go there very hopeful of a top-three finish. We all know how highly the market principals are rated, especially City Of Troy, but this is the right race for Task Force and that’s what matters most.
Disappointingly we won’t be represented in the 1000 Guineas as the wet March and cold April did not do our two potential candidates any favours, Fillies heading for Oaks trials include.
SKELLET, a close second in the Oh So Sharp at Newmarket last autumn, is a little behind in condition. She’s grown over the winter, changed shape and filled her frame. She could yet make the French equivalent, the Pouliches, if progressing in time. She’s one of our nine Oaks entries and I could see her getting a mile and a half based on her physique, though she’s not certain to appreciate it on pedigree. INDELIBLE, our other Guineas defector, doesn’t have an Epsom entry as we think she’s probably one for peaking a bit later. She’s in the Irish Oaks and possible starting point is the Michael Seely at York. She got a mile well last year and is out of Midday, so stamina should not be an issue.
MERIBELLA won on the July course there on her only juvenile start and has been working well. She probably wants fast ground to be seen at her best.
YOU GOT TO ME was another debut winner, who then perhaps got bogged down in heavy ground in the Montrose at Newmarket in early November. She’s bred to stay well as her dam won the Galtres. The Cheshire Oaks is the trial I have in mind for SEAWARD, who will appreciate the drop in grade after finishing seventh in the Fillies’ Mile last autumn. She’s a neat filly, not very big, so Chester’s tight turns should suit her.
That race could also feature FOREST FAIRY, who had the clockwatchers drooling when running away with a Wolverhampton novice on her debut in February. The manner of her victory surprised us a little as we hadn’t done a whole lot with her. She’s been working well on the grass so won’t be inconvenienced by the change of surface.
TREASURE is earmarked for the Lingfield Oaks trial. She had been showing very little, so we put her in the December Sale (subsequently withdrawn) but then her work improved to the extent that it wasn’t a surprise when she won a Nottingham maiden on her debut. She was strong at the finish over a mile on heavy ground that day and will stay very well, plus she has a great pedigree.
Lingfield could also be on the agenda for LA PASIONARIA, who is very tough both mentally and physically. She also disappointed in the Montrose, though she does want juice in the ground - again perhaps it was just too testing for her.
Fillies’ Mile fourth CLASSICAL SONG had a hold-up last month and it’s a question of whether we can get her ready for a trial. She’s a late foal, so we won’t rush her, but we see her as a smart middle-distance prospect.
As regards WHERE I WANNA BE, she’s a bit behind and I’m not sure where we’re going with her at the moment. Another late foal, she’s an imposing filly - you could mistake her for a colt.
On the Derby entry front VALVANO is likely to for the Dante. He sluiced through the Nottingham mud to win easily on debut in October and I was delighted with his reappearance second at Kempton last month behind an unbeaten Godolphin colt who holds Guineas and St James’s Palace entries. For a horse who we feel will stay middle distances it was a highly encouraging effort over a mile round a sharp track and the run has done him the world of good judged by his subsequent work.
MACDUFF pleased us with his second behind an all-the-way-winner in Sandown’s Classic Trial last week. It was his first run since the end of September, he was a bit keen and Rossa felt the soft ground was against him. I would expect him to improve for the run and he’s more the finished article this year. If he does go to Epsom, we’ll probably settle for a racecourse gallop somewhere rather than take in another trial.
FEIGNING MADNESS didn’t handle the track in Epsom’s trial but galloped out well after the line and could head to Royal Ascot for the Queen’s Vase instead.
I also have the royal meeting in mind for PONIROS, who has twice run well under a penalty in novice events after winning on debut at Nottingham last autumn. I’m happy with the mark he’s been given and he’s open to improvement stepping up to a mile and a half. He might well go for a 0-95 at York on route to the King George V Handicap.
Greenham runner-up ZOUM ZOUM is another Ascot possible, with the Jersey pencilled in. He was only just ready for Newbury but we were keen to take our chance due to the softish ground. He’ll probably have another run beforehand. Whether he’ll handle a quicker surface is something we need to find out.
REMARQUEE has already proved herself ground versatile and the Duke Of Cambridge is her first main target of the season, having run so well in the Coronation Stakes there last year. She’s had a wind operation since disappointing at Deauville and is likely to resume in the Chartwell at Lingfield. Ascot’s Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee is again the intended starting point for stable stalwart and superstar KINROSS. Then it will be a similar campaign to last year in that he has loads of options open to him over six and seven furlongs. He’s still showing all his old enthusiasm at the age of seven and with 28 races behind him - an absolute pleasure to train.
Last year’s King Edward VII third ARTISTIC STAR is in the Gold Cup and even if he doesn’t take up the entry should have a good campaign at a slightly lower level. A very late foal, he’s done well from three to four and been gelded. He’ll come on from last week’s fourth in the Gordon Richards at Sandown and looks capable of winning a Group 3 back up in trip. BLUESTOCKING, another of our stars of last season, has returned full of beans and is on course to reappear in the Middleton at York. She deserves to win a good pot, having been pipped in two Group 1s (Irish Oaks and Champion Fillies & Mares). Looking further ahead, the Lancashire Oaks is an obvious race for her.
That could also be on the agenda for LADY BOBA, who is set to return in the Rothesay at Ayr later this month. She won a Listed race in France last backend and could go travelling again, including to America as her owner is New York-based.
RIVER OF STARS won the Bronte Cup on seasonal debut last year and is likely to attempt a repeat, though she does have the Yorkshire Cup as an earlier option. Previously light-framed and lean, she’s really strengthened up so could improve further.
The Yorkshire Cup, as well as Newbury’s Aston Park, are possible races for SALT BAY after his excellent third in the John Porter last month. He’s really benefitted from being gelded and is a different shape as a result. He’s not so heavy-topped now and may not necessarily need soft ground.