If Karl Burke needed any encouragement that his horses were in good shape ahead of this weekend's Betway Lincoln meeting at Doncaster then he certainly received plenty of optimistic signs with three of his last four runners (Man About Town, Musikel and Ladofash) scoring at Wolverhampton and Newcastle on Thursday and Friday and his other participant (Rinaria) finishing a close second.
The Middleham trainer has handicap stalwart You're Fired primed for the first major handicap of the turf season and he is likely to be joined in the Spring Mile with London Protocol and My Amigo, Navajo Wardance and Timeless Art could complete his team.
Of course, Karl will be looking forward to the heady days of Summer when stable star Quiet Reflection duels once more with the sprint brigade in the Golden Jubilee at Royal Ascot as she bids to improve an already impeccable CV with the Commonwealth Cup and the Sprint Cup at Haydock on her score sheet.
Burke remains a trainer that is consistently looking to take another step forward in a career where he already has seen more than his fair share of success and he has a team that has every chance of carrying the baton still further.
With the turf season ready to rock and roll, Karl kindly spoke to Tony Elves of ATR about those he hope can carry on the good work.
4 b f Galileo - Rose Bonheur
Winner of one of her 4 starts and currently rated 81. Off the mark at Hamilton (1m 1f) last August when scoring easily by three lengths from Twobeelucky in a maiden.
"She is a very progressive filly and she didn't run at two. She is a very well bred filly and she will start off in handicaps and we will be aiming to get black type somewhere down the line. She is well handicapped."
4 gr f Showcasing - Dictatrix
Winner of two of her three starts in Italy for Stefano Botti including the Italian 1000 Guineas at Capannelle (1m) in April of last year.
"She is new to the yard and won the Italian Guineas last year. She hasn't shown us a lot so far but she must be hard to get fit as the more she is doing the more she is showing. We haven't made any firm plans with her as we need to get her fit first."
4 b f Peer Gynt - Jackette
Winner of three of her 14 starts and currently rated 81. Last success at Wolverhampton (1m 1/2f) in December when beating Carolinae three quarters of a length off a mark of 79.
"She won a nice £20,000 handicap on the AW before Christmas but on her next run came back with a stress fracture on her pelvis. She has been off since then but is a very capable filly and one that is still improving. She is French bred and at some stage will head over to France in the Summer for some of their premiums. She is back in light exercise now and imagine come June she will be ready to roll again."
5 b m Dylan Thomas - Ridiforza
Winner of three of her 22 starts and rated 70. Last win at Beverley (1m 1/2f) in April of last year when beating Miss Ranger three quarters of a length off a mark of 70.
"He is another who has been with us since two and has won a race every year. She will start back at Beverley in the Fillies Handicap that she won last year on April 19. She is in great form and has strengthened again and I would hope she can be very competitive in that race."
7 b g Oratorio - Jazzie
Winner of three of his 45 starts and currently rated 85 on the turf and 89 (AW). Finished ninth of 15, beaten seven and a quarter lengths, to Keystroke at Kempton (7f) in January off a mark of 90.
"He has been a good old horse for the yard and ran well in the big mile handicap at Kempton in September when finishing second. We will be trying to target that again with him this year."
4 ch g Falco - Augusta Lucilla
Winner of one of his 8 starts and currently rated 77. Off the mark in a maiden at Wetherby (1m) in May when beating Torch a length and a half.
"He is another horse I like a lot - he is a big strapping horse and maybe not a black type horse but a capable mid 80's handicapper."
6 b m Mastercraftsman - Cover Look
Winner of five of his 35 starts and rated 96 on the turf and 133 over hurdles. Finished creditable fourth, beaten three and a half lengths, to Winterlude in a conditions event at Kempton (2m) in February and previously fourth, beaten 19 lengths, to Vroum Vroum Mag in a Grade 2 Mares' Hurdle at Doncaster (2m 1/2f) in January.
"She is a decent filly and has a great year last year. She has obviously gone up in the weights as far as the Flat is concerned and she will have one run over hurdles, probably in the Scottish Champion Hurdle, the owner is keen to get some more black type over hurdles with her, and I am keen to keep campaigning in those good mile and six handicaps. She is still capable of running very well in them off her mark."
8 b g Librettist - Turn Back
Winner of seven of his 37 starts and rated 74. Came closest to victory last season when runner-up, beaten a short head, to Bahamian Bird at Ayr (7f) in July off a mark of 70.
"He has been a great servant to the yard and he is not the soundest of horses and limited as he has to have heavy ground. He loves Ayr and he will be campaigned in low grade handicaps on heavy ground and still has the ability to win those."
LITTLE LADY KATIE
5 b m Lord Shanakill - Akarita
Winner of four of her 20 starts and rated 86. Last victory when slamming Lucy The Painter seven lengths at Newmarket (1m) in June off a mark of 80.
"She is a lovely tough performer. She wants cut in the ground and will win off her mark with the right conditions. She is a miler really but might stay a little bit further."
4 ch g Muhtathir - Troiecat
Winner of one of his 15 starts and rated 94. Several pleasing effort last season without winning and came closest to success when beaten a head by Destroyer at Sandown (7f) in June off a mark of 85.
"He runs in the Spring Mile and is in great form. He had a Racecourse gallop at Newcastle last week and he has definitely strengthened from three to four. That first handicap is a bit of a lottery but we are hoping to have some fun with him. He was placed in a listed race in France last Summer and we will campaign him out there at some time."
5 b m Stimulation - Peneia
Winner of three of her 16 starts and currently rated 88. Scored by three quarters of a length from Flinty Fell when gaining her last success at Musselburgh (1m) in September off a mark of 80.
"She was a filly we inherited half way through last year and she won a nice race for us at Musselburgh and was second when we stepped her up in trip at York. She is quite a free going filly and I imagine we will start her at a mile and go from there. She would have a chance of getting some black type in the Autumn if she progresses."
4 gr c Stimulation - Blue Crest
Winner of two of his four starts and currently rated 86. Last win at Wetherby (5 1/2f) last May when beating Celebration three quarter of a length off a mark of 81.
"He is another new recruit in that he didn't run last year. He was kept out of training whilst he changed stables but he's a nice horse. He goes to Doncaster on Sunday for the six furlong race but he will stay seven and we would be hoping he could make up into a type of Ayr Gold Cup horse later in the year.
4 b g Makfi - Navajo Rainbow
Winner of one of his 12 starts and rated 82. Off the mark in a maiden at Ayr (1m 2f) in May of last year when beating Torremar four lengths.
"He goes to Doncaster for the mile and a quarter race and he has definitely strengthened from three to four and settled. He was a little bit hot natured. He is a horse that should progress and he could make up into a nice dual purpose horse."
4 b f Showcasing - My Delirium
Winner of seven of her 10 starts and currently rated 116. Winner of the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot (6f) in June when beating Kachy a length and the Group 1 Sprint Cup at Haydock (6f) in September.
"She is obviously the stable star of last year and she has wintered brilliantly. I am really pleased with her - she has thickened out and strengthened as a lot of those sprinting horses do. She is fairly restricted and limited to where she can go but she will start off in a Group 2 in either the Duke of York, the Temple Stakes at Haydock the following week or a Group 2 over six furlongs at the Curragh on the same day as the Temple. She will go to one of them as a prep run for Royal Ascot and hopefully then onto the July meeting at Newmarket and then maybe onto the Nunthorpe depending on how she gets on in the Temple. She will go for the Sprint Cup at Haydock and then Champions Day at Ascot and then that will be her done."
4 b g Medicean - Bellona
Winner of two of his 7 starts and currently rated 85. Impressive two length winner from Titan Goddess off a mark of 78 at Newmarket (1m) in October.
"He is a very nice horse who progressed well last year and ended up bolting up in a handicap at Newmarket in October. He goes to Doncaster over seven furlongs at the weekend to start him off. He has plenty of speed and it shouldn't be a problem dropping him back in trip and will hopefully go to the Craven meeting after that."
8 b g Holy Roman Emperor - Tarayo
Winner of six of his 65 starts and rated 81 on the turf and 75 (AW). Finished fourth, beaten two and three quarter lengths, to Monumental Lad in a claimer at Lingfield (6f) in January on latest start.
"He has been a good horse for the yard and won his share of races. There is no reason why he can't win again this season in his grade and he loves Kempton. He has won on the turf as well and is a good horse to have around."
6 b g Firebreak - My Sweet Georgia
Winner of six of his 26 starts. Finished seventh of nine, beaten six and a half lengths, to Convey in the Group 3 Winter Derby at Lingfield (1m 2f) in February on latest start.
"He heads for the Lincoln and worked very well last Friday. Clifford Lee will ride him and take 5lb off and hand on heart I can't say he is well handicapped but those type of horses don't get in the Lincoln nowadays unless they are Group class. We would be hopeful of a good run and he is a tough consistent performer."
BORN TO BE ALIVE
b g Born To Sea - Yaria
"He is a very well bred horse who should have a future."
BORN TO BOOM
br g Born To Sea - La Belle Maison
"He is another well bred horse who worked very well last week. He will probably start at Redcar in a median auction maiden."
b f Casamento - Passaggio
"She showed plenty last year and picked up an injury at the end so we couldn't run her. She is just coming back now but she could be one to watch in maidens."
b g Acclamation - Xeralda
Winner of one of his 5 starts. Scored by two and a quarter lengths from Town Charter in a novice event at Carlisle (6f) last June.
"He showed a lot of ability early on last year for us and then just lost his way. He suffered from corns in his feet for awhile and wasn't jumping out of the stalls. He has come back from a good long rest and looks in good order."
b g Sir Percy - Costa Brava
Unplaced in mile maidens at Wolverhampton (twice) and Newcastle in December, January and February. Given a mark of 65.
"He is handicapped on three runs on the AW and should improve for the turf. He is a lovely scopey horse and I am sure he will go and prove a dual purpose horse for the Rooney's. It is the first horse I have had for them and I am hoping that he is handicapped to win."
b f Mount Nelson - Fanny's Fancy
"She is a beautiful looking filly and she is entered at Newcastle at the end of the week. She could be very nice but I'm just a little disappointed in her work of late. We are going to run her and see where we are."
FEAR THE FURY
ch g Elusive Quality - O Beautiful
Winner of one of his three starts and rated 76. Off the mark in a maiden at Wolverhampton (7f) in January when beating Mountain Angel a length and three quarters.
"He is a very good looking sort who bolted up in his maiden on the AW and we gelded after he disappointed at Wolverhampton last time. He will campaign in decent three-year-old handicaps over a mile and could be a nice horse to follow."
ch c Frankel - Noah's Ark
"He is an interesting Frankel colt who was bought at the Breeze-Ups last year. We didn't run him and he is going to want a trip. We are very happy with him and he could be very nice."
LOST AT SEA
b c Dutch Art - Tahlia Ree
Winner of one of his 3 starts and currently rated 99. Made a winning debut in conditions event at Doncaster (6f) in September when beating Dream Of Dreams a length and a quarter.
"He won first time out when putting up a really good performance to beat some seasoned horses. He disappointed in his next couple of runs but he isn't a horse I have lost faith in. He could be nice for later on in the season."
MAN ABOUT TOWN
ch g Dandy Man - Zanida
Winner of two of his 7 starts. Off the mark in a handicap at Newcastle (6f) in March when beating Celerity two and a half lengths and followed up over seven furlongs there last week when scoring by three quarter of a length from Stretewise.
"He has won his last two races at Newcastle and he's going the right way. He is potentially a nice horse."
ch c Medicean - Fairy Shoes
Winner of one of his 5 starts and currently rated 99. Scored by ten lengths from Galahad in a novice event at Carlisle (5f) in May. Beaten in better company afterwards.
"He is probably one of our highest rated two-year-olds last year and only got beaten a few lengths in the July Stakes. He is a horse I like a lot and he worked very well last week. I am not sure where he starts yet but he would want quick ground to be seen at his best but he's a nice horse for the future."
gr c Elzaam - Docklands Grace
Winner of one of his 3 starts and currently rated 80. Off the mark with a length and a half success from Compromise at Haydock (6f) in September.
"He is a very nice Elzaam colt who won his maiden on his final start last year. He was a very weak horse and we put him straight away. He has done very well and he did a nice piece of work last week and I am very happy with him. I don't know where he starts off but he should be a nice six and seven furlong horse."
b g Frankel - Musical Treat
Winner of one of his 2 starts. Made a winning debut for the stable when beating Globetrotter a length at Newcastle (1m) last week.
"He pleased us when winning at Newcastle last week and we will see what the handicapper does with him but hopefully he will progress from there."
b g Rip Van Winkle - Devotion
Placed in two of his three starts and currently rated 67. Best effort on latest outing at Newcastle (1m) in January when third, beaten a length, to Moamer.
"We really like him but he has been a disappointing horse and as a result he has got himself handicapped 67. He goes to Newcastle this week and hopefully he can start and climb the ladder."
b f Tamayuz - Riynaaz
Runner-up, beaten three quarter of a length, to Hidden Charm on her debut at Wolverhampton (1m 1/2f) last week.
"She finished second first time out at Wolverhampton last week and ran a great race. She should progress and win a maiden at least. She is a scopey well bred filly."
b f Dutch Art - Deep Bleu
Winner of one of her 7 starts and currently rated 78. Off the mark with a six length victory from La Casa Tarifa in a maiden at Ripon (6f) last July.
"She ran some races for us last year and is a bit of a madam at home but has lots of ability. She is going to need seven furlongs and maybe a mile later on."
b g Showcasing - Maid To Dance
Winner of one of his 3 starts and currently rated 72. Scored by half a length from Local Artist at Carlisle (6f) in June.
"He won his last race for us last year and should be well handicapped. He has been gelded since last year and he is in good form at home."
b f Equiano - Greensand
Winner of one of her 4 starts and currently rated 77. Made a winning debut at Beverley (5f) in May of last year when beating Chevalier Du Lac four and a half lengths.
"She is an interesting horse from last year and has definitely wintered well and trained on. She is a filly who should win her share of races."
APRES MIDI - lightly raced and well handicapped filly who could well progress much further this term.
INTENSE TANGO - could be just the sort for the Scottish Champion Hurdle before turning her attentions to the Flat.
MY AMIGO - could start of at Doncaster this weekend and one to keep on the right side.
QUIET REFLECTION - has wintered well and could make further inroads in the Sprinting division this time around.
MEDICI BANCHIERE - smart sort from whom the best may not have been seen yet.
SHOWDANCE KID - gelding operation could well bring about the racecourse performance his trainer hopes for.