Numerically, 2021 could have been better. Having reached the ton with a little to spare last year, we could justifiably have hoped for the same. After all, we didn’t have a two-month hiatus, and we had just as much ammunition.
However, eighteen seconds in October put paid to that and perhaps encouraged us to send horses for a break earlier than we might have done – because the 100 wasn’t on the cards.
Nevertheless, we broke our prize money record by some margin, and having been without a Group One win for six years, we had three in three weeks. Angel Bleu, having won the Lagardere on Arc weekend, went back to Paris on 24th October and won the Group One Criterium International at Saint-Cloud. Settled in last place by Frankie Dettori, he took a while to get going in the straight but was always on top and franked the form with second home Ancient Rome (who was third at Longchamp).
Twenty-four hours later, Scope followed up in the Group One Prix Royal Oak at Longchamp. A homebred of Julian and Sarah Richmond-Watson’s, whose mother was trained by us at Whitsbury, it meant a great deal to us all, not least because he is the product of a long relationship between owner and trainer. One journalist described it as the best weekend of my life. I am not sure if that is true, but it is certainly close. The horse himself was given a fine ride by Rob Hornby, winning his first Group one on his first spin around Longchamp, but in truth Scope was ultra-professional, which will come in handy next year when he starts at York in May, on the trail of The Gold Cup.
Other notable performances included Vesela in the listed Gillies Fillies, on the last day of the turf season, at Doncaster. Back off a two-month break, she travelled well through the race on slow ground, and won with a bit to spare. She will go to the paddocks now, as a Frankel half sister to Showcasing, she will make a fine broodmare.
Declared Interest finally got Black Type – on her fourth attempt, she finished third in the Listed Fleur de Lys at Lingfield. Deodar was second in the Listed Doncaster Stakes on only his second start. Whilst two-year-olds, Cygneture and Speycaster both got off the mark in recent days.
We don’t have much left to fire between now and the New Year, nor will we have many runners before the Lincoln meeting in late March. That is no bad thing – it has been a long year!