Some of our greatest success stories have been our horses in training purchases, notably Burnt Sugar, Tawdeea, Penitent, Junior and of course G Force. So we've a proven track record of sourcing, from others' cast offs, a rich source of future talent and winners at the highest possible level. The beauty of purchasing horses in training, unlike purchasing a yearling is that you are buying certain guarantees. To explain what we mean is; on purchasing a yearling, the colt or filly could be a Group 1 winner or a Classic winner (we have bought as yearlings, 2 Group One winners and 4 classic runners and a classic second in the form of Ventura Storm), but a yearling can be useless and can sometimes struggle to possess enough ability to win races or even be competitive in races. However, in purchasing a proven horse in training you are buying a proven performer with the proven ability to win. Generally, purchasing a horse like KUPA RIVER affords you the luxury of feeling confident that your purchase will be winning races; it's simply a question of what level of races he will be winning.
We believe with Kupa River, we have purchased an upwardly mobile young sprinter. We thought, on viewing his races and in reading between the lines of his form that he is a very talented, progressive young horse. Timeform happen to concur, they've afforded him a mark of 97 and describe him as exactly that. He has improved approximately 7lbs each time he has raced and we feel certain that his improvement has yet to find its ceiling. He's "all speed" in our opinion, he demonstrated further improvement dropped back to 5.8f last time, he handles any ground, although he perhaps has a penchant for soft ground, which we believe is a severe advantage these days in any Sprint. Half the runners in such races are unsuited by such conditions so there's generally only 6 or 7 horses in those big handicaps that go into the race, in form and who act on soft. There are many big racing festivals in Britain but almost half of them in 2017 raced on going that was good or softer. The British summer appears to be getting wetter and wetter, so soft ground horses are performing better and better.
Officially rated 88, having recently won his maiden race by 9 lengths (see the race details and replay link below) not many horses are capable of doing that, we feel there remains a huge amount of improvement in Kupa River for three principal reasons. Firstly, he has only raced 6 times and remains inexperienced and less streetwise that most of the opposition he has been facing. Big handicaps tend to be won by unexposed, improving horses such as Kupa River. Secondly, his physique suggests there is still a fair bit of filling out to do, he remains quite a raw and rangey horse who will improve no end physically from 3yo to 4yo and from 4yo to 5yo. Sprinters tend to progress with age. The final reason for believing Kupa River is open to significant improvement is because of his pedigree; he's a half-brother to a horse who was rated 116. The dam is a proven source of quality, Group 2 quality in fact, in the form of Dark Islander. He improved to his rating of 116 through his 4yo and 5yo seasons so we'd very much anticipate Kupa River continuing to improve in the fashion of his elder sibling.
The most recent of our Horses in Training success stories was Burnt Sugar. He has been a revelation since we moved him to Roger's. A simple change of scenery and a new way of doing things has brought him back to approaching his best and winning in excess of £100,000 for his owners in the process including a fabulous Champions' Weekend €150,000 handicap at Leopardstown in September (on soft ground). Kupa River could be a perfect candidate for that race too in 2018.
If you visit the stables at Roger's it takes around 2 minutes to spot how different the gallops are, which is one of the principal reasons why the whole place works. Roger Fell isn't a household name just yet, even in racing circles, however in our opinion it won't be long before he is. Having made considerable money from haulage logistics, Roger set up in partnership with David O’Meara in 2010 from his Helmsley yard near York and all David O’Meara's early successes, Penitent, Bajan Blue, G Force, Mondialiste etc etc were trained from there. In the first half of this decade the partnership of Roger and David churned out winner after winner including many Group performers; it was probably the north's biggest success story of the decade. Helmsley can cater for up to 80 horses maximum and such was the success that they were sharing, David felt he wanted to train bigger numbers to develop the success still further. David and Roger looked a number of places to buy, but they never quite found the right one and Roger didn't really want to risk taking on a new, risky project at an unknown facility with new gallops to learn etc so Roger decided to stay put at Helmsley as David branched out to new premises. Helmsley worked for David and Roger, it works for Roger and Helmsley works for us; it has unique gallops and horses not only get a change of scenery when they arrive, but they also get a new routine, a new way of doing things.
The combination of Roger, his Helmsley facilities and Kupa River, could well prove an irresistible force in big sprint handicaps in 2018. We'd suggest that winning races next season is very much in the agenda and hopefully they'll be Saturday races with big prize money pots at the big festivals. We can't wait!
You can watch his 9 length win via this link: http://www.attheraces.com/racecard/Listowel/14-September-2017/1405
Latest Update (27th Feb'): Roger reports that Kupa River is now cantering away in preparation for the Turf season. The handicapper has confirmed that he’ll start off on a rating of 82, which we are delighted about, given that he was beaten half a length off a mark of 87 last time out in Ireland. He looks to be very nicely handicapped. We’ll look to start him off on the turf during April.