Don't be surprised if there is not a dry eye in the house at Jamesfield Stables in Newmarket's Hamilton Road come Saturday night as stable favourite Lamar is set to have a possible last career run in the Derby Trial Stakes at Lingfield.
The James Tate-trained mare was beaten only a short head by Grendisar in the mile and a quarter contest 12 months ago and has netted nearly £150,000 in prize money and won six of her 24 starts. A plan to have her covered last year failed when she took exception to Kingman's teaser and didn't have the liaison to that stallion but she is likely to be let down and prepared in a more traditional manner for a date later this Spring.
Lamar's possible exit doesn't mean there are replacements in Tate's care to take her place and with the likes of Namhroodah to go to war with and healthy influx of talent from he now-retired Clive Brittain's team it looks another bright season ahead for the progressive Newmarket handler.
Tate said: "It will be a very sad day when Lamar goes off to stud as we think the world of her. We had three Listed fillies win for us last year in Urban Castle, Blhadawa and Lamar and as I train for owner breeders those will be the type of races we would be looking to win again rather than handicaps. It was good to win those listed races last year and we hope to improve on that this season."
James kindly spoke to Tony Elves of ATR about some of his team he hopes will be making hay this season.
4 ch f King's Best - Bint Doyen
Runner-up in two of her 4 starts. Beaten only a nose by Bipartisan at Thirsk (1m) in September. Currently rated 69.
"She is a transfer from Clive Brittain's and is a fine big King's Best filly. I would have thought breaking her maiden should be easy enough for her as she only had a mark of 69.She should be out at the end of March and she is unlucky still to be a maiden."
5 gr h Clodovil - Shambadia
Winner of two of his 22 starts. Creditable efforts when unplaced in top handicaps over seven furlongs and a mile last season. Currently rated 97.
"He is a Clive Brittain transfer who has had a wind operation during the Winter. It would be lovely to get him back to some of his best form as he has just dropped to a workable mark. He is a Class 2 Ascot winner of 95 and he has also run some cracking races up to 100. Now he is back to 97 I would like to think he could win a Saturday handicap. His favourite trip seems to be a straight 7f on the soft side."
4 b f Iffraaj - Sheer Bliss
Winner of one of her 6 starts. Off the mark when beating Havre De Paix half a length at Newmarket (7f) in April. Currently rated 87.
"She is a nice big filly by Iffraaj who always looked like the type to improve from three to four so we will find out. She certainly improved from two to three and broke her maiden and got a listed second in Germany. She is only rated 87 at the moment and hopefully add to her black type and win some races. She is a filly who likes really fast ground."
4 b f Sir Percy - Fin
Winner of one of her 12 starts. Scored by a length from Mezajy at Yarmouth (1m 2f) last August off a mark of 81. Currently rated 85.
"This is another transfer from Clive Brittain's who has always hinted at ability and she found better form at the end of the season for Clive winning at Yarmouth and then running a good third in a decent fillies handicap at Doncaster. With a rating of a 85 she is just on the cusp of going for some black type. Hopefully we can win a race and get some black type with her."
5 b m Cape Cross - Deveron
Winner of six of her 24 starts. Gained Listed success at Lingfield (1m) in November when beating Very Special half a length and added to her tally in a conditions event over that course and distance in January when scoring by three lengths from Captain Cat. Currently rated 106.
"She is meant to be retired after she runs in the Winter Derby Trial on Saturday. She is an incredibly tough filly and it will be sad when she leaves. She has been listed placed on the grass and was in the frame in Group races as well as winning her listed race on the AW. She was beaten a short head by Grendisar in the Winter Derby Trial last year and has her listed penalty to carry but it would be nice if she could go one better."
LIGHT AND SHADE
4 b f Aqlaam - Tara Moon
Winner of three of her 9 starts. Last success when beating Iconic three and a half lengths off a mark of 84 at Ascot (1m) in September. Currently rated 91.
"She is a nice big filly who did well last year and rose through the rating to 91. With all these types of fillies you are really looking for black type with her. She ran in a listed race at the end of the year at Newmarket but I don't think Newmarket is her favourite course and it dried up for her that day too."
4 br/gr f Sea The Stars - Independent
Winner of one of her 4 starts. Placed once in three starts in listed company last season. Currently rated 96.
"She would definitely be the best horse in the stable on the home gallops. We don't really feel she has had a chance to show her true potential yet. She won her only start at two on the AW and ran twice in Listed races on ground that was too firm for her. She was third in a listed race on good ground at Newmarket last September and probably wasn't quite 100 per cent as she had a little setback shortly before. We would like to think if we got some luck and got her to the races 100 per cent with a bit of soft ground she would show she is better than just a listed placed filly."
4 b f King's Best - Jane Austen
Winner of her only start at Kempton (1m 3f) in October when beating Ballynanty a length and three quarters.Currently rated 79.
"She is a once raced winning daughter of King's Best. She is quite delicate to train but she proved she was worth waiting for when she won her only race at Kempton in good style and she wouldn't have been that wound up for it either. We will look for a nice Summer with her - she is certainly a dark horse and unexposed. You would have thought she would come into her own this year so fingers crossed."
5 ch h Sir Percy - Hermanita
Winner of three of his 16 starts. Last victory at Wolverhampton (1m 4f) last March when scoring by three quarters of a length from Two Jabs off a mark of 78. Currently rated 85.
"He is entered up on Friday and may have his first run back since April. He is working very well but is likely to need his first run back. He has won three times and loves it around Wolverhampton and Chelmsford. He should be worth following albeit on his first run back he may need it."
4 ch f Iffraaj - Bratislava
Winner of two of her nine starts. Improving with experience and winner at Wolverhampton (7f) in September off a mark of 63 and added to that success when beating Nouveau Foret three lengths off a mark of 67 at Chelmsford (1m) in October off a mark of 67. Currently rated 73.
"She is a filly we have always thought a bit of and she had a wind operation in the middle of last Summer and her form improved a lot. She worked very well on Saturday and is entered up on Friday and Sunday. I would expect her to keep winning and progressing."
4 b f Teofilo - Very Nice
Placed in two starts at two and not seen out since runner-up, beaten two and a quarter lengths to Prince Gagarin in a listed contest at Pontefract in October 2014.
"She is another Clive Brittain transfer and the last time she ran she finished second in a listed contest at Pontefract. She missed the whole of last year with an injury she sustained in the Spring but that is well and truly healed. She is back training and she was always bred to improve with time. Fingers crossed she will be able to be competitive at a decent level for us."
4 b c Lope De Vega - Atalina
Winner of one of his three starts. Not seen out since running in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2014.
"He is a Clive Brittain transfer who broke his maiden on his debut at Ripon in 2014. He injured himself in the Chesham and missed the whole of last year but is a lovely looking horse and is back in training. Hopefully we can get him back this year as a four-year-old."
Three Year Olds
ch c Lope De Vega - Aglow
Twiced raced. Better effort at Wolverhampton (1m 1 1/2f) in January when runner-up, beaten four and a half lengths, to Mitre Park.
"He is from a German pedigree and should improve with age. He has worked well at home and is still immature. We will now wait for the grass with him as we see him as a proper turf horse rather than skating round on the AW. I would expect him to progress this year."
b c Elusive Quality - Awesome Maneuver
Promise in two maidens at Newmarket (6f) last August.
"He is a horse we picked up for 25,000gns at the Breeze-Ups and I have always thought a bit of. I was happy enough with his first run at Newmarket and in his second run he just seemed to have gone a little bit weak. He is going nicely after his Winter break and a maiden at some stage should prove a formality and hopefully he can go on from that."
b f Cape Cross - Najam
"She is a transfer from Clive Brittain and she is a half sister to Fit The Bill who won four for us last year. She has something about her and is training nicely and is being trained for the turf season. Clive thought a lot of her and she should certainly be breaking her maiden and going on from there."
ch f Raven's Pass - Guarantia
Winner of her only start at Chelmsford (6f) in November when beating Turn On The Tears half a length. Currently rated 75.
"She is going well and I was delighted with her when she made a winning debut at Chelmsford in November. I was also pleased to see that the second and third have both come out and won since. She won over six but always looked like she needs seven furlongs and has been given a Class 5 handicap mark of 75. We would like to think she is better than that."
b f Bahamian Bounty - Queensgate
"She is a nice Bahamian Bounty filly and we have always liked her. She works well and for one reason or another she didn't make it to the track last year. On her home work she ought to easily break her maiden."
b c Dubawi - Casanga
"He is a lovely big Dubawi from a German staying family. There is no surprise he wasn't mature enough to run as a two-year-old and he is only doing strong canters at the moment but he covers a lot of ground. I would have thought he would be a nice horse to follow through the year."
ch f Exceed And Excel - Fashionable
"She has had a few little niggly injuries which would be partly due to the fact that she was a very late foal (May). She has always worked well and hopefully we can get a clean run with her this year. She is certainly up to winning a maiden."
b f Dream Ahead - Knapton Hill
Runner-up in three of her 9 starts.
"She is a bit of a conundrum as she has always worked well at home and she is still a maiden despite having earned over £50,000 and having run well a few times on the grass. The maiden win should be easy enough but because she's a filly who always works so well and has run well at Newmarket we might also try her in higher grade races and see how she gets on."
IL PICCOLO GRANDE
ch c Ifraaj - Soxy Doxy
Winner of one of his 7 starts. Off the mark when beating Compel a length and a half at Carlisle (6f) in September off a mark of 63. Currently rated 82.
"He is a transfer from Clive Brittain. He is a fine big horse and at the moment is 575kg. You can't help but look at him and think that whatever he did last year he can improve on this year. I know he is a horse that Clive thought a bit of and he certainly looks nice in his canters so far. He is being trained for the turf season but he catches the eye as a nice big horse."
b f Dansili - Jira
Winner of one of her four starts. Off the mark in a maiden at Chelmsford (6f) in October when beating Little Swift a length and a half. Currently rated 74.
"She is a home-bred filly of Saeed Manana's. We always thought a bit of her and we were obviously pleased when she broke her maiden and hopefully she will go on from that as the handicapper as given her a mark of 74. On her home work she certainly looks better than a Class 5 filly."
b f Iffraaj - Peace Signal
"She is an unraced Iffraaj filly who works nicely at home and has had a few niggly injuries but is going well at the moment. She could run in the next couple of week and we will start her over 7f. She might progress into a mile plus filly."
b c Aqlaam - Sabaweeya
Fourth, beaten 11 lengths, to Every Chance in a maiden at Wolverhampton (1m 1 1/2f) in December.
"He runs on Friday and he's a home bred from the family of Marienbard. I was happy enough with his debut fourth but I would expect him to improve on Friday. He's strengthened up since his first run and if he doesn't win on Friday I would expect him to lose his maiden tag soon."
gr c Dandy Man - Red Riddle
Better effort in two starts on his debut at Kempton (5f) in September when third, beaten three lengths, to Teresar.
"He is a horse who has always shown a bit at home but he's struggled with some lameness issues. He ran well first time at Kempton but ran poorly next time at Bath and was wrong behind on his return. At the moment he is moving well and if we get a clean run with him he should win his maiden comfortably."
b f Poet's Voice - Peaceful Song
Finished third, beaten 9 lengths, to Bell Heather in heavy ground at Lingfield (7 1/2f) on her only start last August.
"She was always going to be a three-year-old rather than a two-year-old and we ran her once at Lingfield where it was very heavy ground. She got a bit tired and finished third but I would like to think she is a bit better than that."
ch g Stormy Atlantic - Kiswahili
Best effort in three starts when beaten a nose by Sahalin at Lingfield (1m) in October. Currently rated 69.
"He is a nice horse who has always shown a bit at home but we have always has issues with him. He really hated the starting stalls and his first three runs were about getting him in and out of the starting stalls. The last time he ran his rider dropped his reins and he got beaten a nose. He seems a bit more settled this year and with a Winter break on his back he ought to be able to win off his mark."
BRAZOS - wind operation could have sorted out a few problems and a 7f handicap on soft ground could come his way off current mark of 97.
LIGHT AND SHADE - may not have reached her full potential and could find a black type contest this year.
NAMHROODAH - still lightly raced and the best could be seen on her this year.
QUEEN'S NOVEL - fragile but has gears and looks set for further success.
CERTIFIED - winner of her only start and could be attractively handicapped off a mark of 75.
JAMEERAH - lightly raced filly who can exploit her mark of 74.