In his lifetime in racing P. J. McBride (Charlie McBride) has earned a reputation in Newmarket as being a shrewd operator with his finger on the pulse but even the laidback handler at Exeter House Stables has to admit his heart races more than just a little bit as operation moves into full swing with the turf season almost upon us.
The reason that the butterflies remain in the stomach is the thoughts of major league prizes with Spiritual Lady who won three of her four starts and was probably robbed a massive pay day when withdrawn before the start of a valuable Sales race at Doncaster in September when looking the one they all had to beat.
Spiritual Lady went onto land the Listed Bosra Sham Fillies Stakes at Newmarket last October in exemplary style from Spy Ring and she could well test her Guineas credential in the Nell Gwyn Stakes at the Craven meeting later next month.
McBride said: "For a small stable like ours it is a dream to have a filly like Spiritual Lad in the yard. She is a very exciting filly and done all that we have asked of her so far. She settles very well and that will give her every chance of staying and we will find out in the Nell Gwyn - if she doesn't stay then we could always go back to sprinting but she is a very special filly."
McBride has stable stalwart Brigliadoro to work away with once more and he kindly discussed his team with Tony Elves of ATR.
2 gr f Worthadd - Albacocca
"Kirsten Rausing sent her to me and she is a two-year-old filly by Worthadd who Sir Mark Prescott-trained. He is a first season sire and she was sent to me as I helped get Archipenko started with a little filly I trained. She said she would like to repeat the exercise and she is just cantering away at the moment and we wouldn't know what level she is at right now."
3 b f Excelebration - Be Free
"She is a half sister to Aqua Libre who we have won with. She was a bit backward last year but she has been cantering away nicely this Spring and we are hoping she will win a maiden at the very least. She will probably want a mile."
ANGEL IN DISGUISE
3 b f Vale of York - Meynell
Unplaced in maidens at Newmarket (7f) in October and Chelmsford (1m) in November.
"She had one run at Newmarket at the backend and one on the AW during the Winter as she was very weak and backward last year. She always worked very nicely but she was a tricky eater last year and we couldn't get any condition on her. She is better now and should pay her way this year."
4 b f Aqlaam - Be Free
Winner of one of her 11 starts and rated 79. Ran well in a claimer at Lingfield (7f) last week when third, beaten only a head, to Willwams.
"She has been a bit disappointing and was an 85/86 rated filly but the handicapper had a hold of her. She had temperament problems last year and wouldn't go on the gallop but she has been going out exercising with a pony and she has really relaxed. She seems to have settled back into a going rhythm at the moment and she ran very well at Lingfield last time. That was more like it and if the handicapper was to drop her to 75 she would have a chance of winning a handicap."
BOND STREET BEAU
2 ch c Dandy Man - Loveleaves
"He is a nice colt by Dandy Man and a half brother to a Group horse. He is a nice two-year-old colt and we haven't done a lot but Chris Budgett and myself have taken a half share in him and we do like him as a racehorse."
6 ch g Excellent Art - Milady's Pride
Winner of three of his 28 starts and rated 90 on the turf and 92 (AW). Impressive three and a half length victor from Mukaabra at Yarmouth (1m) in July off a mark of 80.
"He is a very consistent 90 rated horse and we have had him three or four years now and he rarely runs a bad race. The handicapper has hold of him but he's in the Lincoln and he may not get in there but he's in the consolation race and he will go to Doncaster. He would prefer faster ground and the least amount of rain we get in the Spring the better for him. He had a long break and has been out to the stud and he is fresh and well and working nicely."
3 ch f Sakhee's Secret - Akathea
Winner of one of her three last season and rated 69. Off the mark in a maiden auction event at Chelmsford (1m) in October when beating Masonic half a length.
"She won on her third run at Chelmsford and is a progressive little filly who should win more races over a mile to a mile and a quarter. She looks on a nice handicap mark and should be capable of winning again."
3 b f Kyllachy - Bling Bling
Unplaced on her debut at Lingfield (1m 2f) last week
"She had her first run at Lingfield last week and she was very green and backward. She is entered in the maiden at Lingfield this week and she will probably have to go the handicapping route."
4 b c Dick Turpin - Native Ring
Winner of two of his 16 starts and currently rated 68. Last win in an amateur riders handicap at Southwell (1m 6f) in January when beating Noguchi three and a quarter lengths off a mark of 65.
"He won over the Winter at Southwell and is a staying horse. He had one run over hurdles and we decided we would keep him and let him run in two and a half mile handicap hurdles when he strengthens up. He was always a weak backward horse that was going to take time to fill his frame."
2 b f Paco Boy - Fin
"She is a Paco Boy filly who is owned by PM Racing who have been very lucky owners for me. She has been breezing well and she will probably be one of our earliest two-year-olds. I don't think we have a five furlong two-year-old in the yard but I think she will be in action around the second week in May probably at Newmarket. She has shown some promise."
3 b f Archipenko - Larab
Runner-up, beaten nine lengths, to the odds-on Driver's Girl on her debut at Chelmsford (1m) last month.
"She ran well on her first at Chelmsford. She injured her off fore knee and had surgery on it and she is resting at the moment. She will have two or three weeks on the walker then will be back in training and she should find her races."
3 b f Aussie Rules - Aliena
Winner of one of her five starts and currently rated 74. Off the mark on her reappearance in a maiden at Lingfield (7f) this month when scoring by three lengths from Havelock.
"She won her maiden nicely and the handicapper was fairly generous. She only went up 1lb and she is entered to run at Lingfield on Friday in a 0-75. I would be disappointed if she didn't run very well. She will win a couple of handicaps."
OLD TOWN BOY
6 b g Myboycharlie - Native Ring
Winner of three of his 16 starts and currently rated 89. Last win at York (1m 4f) in October 2014 when beating Emerahldz a length off a mark of 89. Unplaced on his reappearance at Wolverhampton (2m 1/2f) off his current mark.
"He was a very good three-year-old and won three times and got a very high handicap mark and had a rating of 95 at one stage. He came back in the Spring of last year and injured himself again - he was off with suspensory ligament damage previously. He is ready to come back into training this year and he would be, for me, a potential Ebor Horse as he is rated 90+. We could put him aside and train him for the second half of the season and he would be an Ebor/Cesarewitch type of horse. He is quite a good horse in his own right."
3 b g Holy Roman Emperor - Lilting
No wins from five starts and well beaten off his initial handicap mark of 70. Currently rated 67.
"He had five runs last year over trips that were probably a bit short for him. He is by Holy Roman Emperor out of a mare who was a mile and a half filly. He has galloped reasonably well this Spring and he should be winning over a mile and a quarter plus."
4 b g Equiano - Hundred Year Flood
Winner of three of his 12 starts and currently rated 79 turf and 85 (AW). Last win at when beating Sign of The Kodiac a neck off a mark of 92 at Wolverhampton (5f) in December 2015.
"He won three times as a two-year-old but struggled with his high handicap mark. He has dropped down now to a reasonable mark and he is working well at home. He will be starting off on the grass off a mark of 79 which I think is a good mark. He should win on the grass and, hopefully, will start at Doncaster."
3 b g Poet's Voice - Sonning Rose
Unplaced a huge odds at Kempton (6f and 7f) in November and December and at Lingfield (1m) in January.
"The handicapper was a bit harsh and gave him a handicap mark of 61. He finished last twice in two maidens as he was running too keen and we had to try and settle him. We held him up last time to mentally to get him to finish the race. He should have got a mark around 50 and he got a 61 mark. Over a mile ridden held up he should win a race."
3 b f Pastoral Pursuits - Rouge Dancer
Winner of three of her four starts and currently rated 105. Ended her first season with a comfortable length and a half victory from Spy Ring in a Listed Fillies event at Newmarket at the end of October.
"She won three out of four and won a listed race at Newmarket. She is rated 105 and she is a very good filly. She had a very good Winter and has done extremely well. It is a bit of a dream for of a small yard likes our to have this filly for this year. If she settles (and that is a big if) then she is well on track for the Nell Gwyn - we may have to take a pull with her as she is already come in her coat and looks fantastic. We will have a go at the Nell Gwyn first and sees what happens - if she keen or runs as if she is a sprinter then we will drop her back in trip. On the other hand if she was to run well in the Nell Gwyn and she stays then we would be thinking about the Guineas. She is a very nice filly, the best we have ever had and we are getting excited."
3 b g Power - Supreme Spirit
No wins from four starts and currently rated 63. Best effort on nursery debut at Chelmsford (6f) in November when fifth of 11, beaten two lengths, to Wentwell Yesterday off a mark of 64.
"He is rated 63 now and the form of his last race has worked out really well. Everything around him has won and he is well capable of winning - he should win a six furlong 0-65."
2 b f Sir Percy - Faliing Angel
"She is by Sir Percy and she is owned by Chris Budgett. She is a nice filly and it will probably be June/July before she sees a racecourse
3 b g Air Chief Marshal - White Wedding
"He will start off in the Wood Ditton and he has been working nicely at home with Brigliadoro and Spiritual Lady. He was big backward roman-nosed horse last year and he comes from a good family. We liked him last year but he was just too backward and we have saved him for this year. He would be a nice horse to follow for the year."
2 b f Footstepsinthesand - Sancai
"She is a Footstepsinthesand filly out of Sancai and she is not named yet but she shown a little bit this Spring. She was only a £2000 filly but she fits the profile for what we produce with cheap fillies'. She has been working quite nicely and she will win. We are probably talking June over six furlongs."
BRIGLIADORO - stable stalwart who can be guaranteed to pick up a decent handicap when conditions are in his favour.
CLAIRE'S SECRET - looks on a reasonable mark and can prosper further.
MILLIE'S KISS - handicapper could have erred on the generous side and could strike at Lingfield on Friday.
SPIRITUAL LADY - stable star who could be in for a very interesting second season.
SUPREME POWER - looks capable of winning off his current mark over six furlongs shortly.
ZACK MAYO - well regarded in stable and can find his race this term.