By Jon Lees
GB: Ralph Beckett is within four victories of registering only the second century of his 21-year training career after an astonishing autumn during which he has reeled off 49 winners since September 1.
Despite the interruptions caused by the pandemic which left Beckett on just three 2020 successes by June, the stable has accelerated towards the milestone, only previously breached in 2016, helped by a Kempton treble on Wednesday which featured a return to winning form for one-time Classic hope Kinross.
But even though there is plenty of time to get there over the last five weeks of the year, the Andover, Hampshire trainer is playing down his prospects.
“The trouble is I don’t think I am going to get to a hundred,” said Beckett. “The staff here have been driving me mad about it every morning over the last week. I am not convinced we are because I am going to run out of ammo in a minute. I am being pessimistic about it, but with reason.”
Kinross began the campaign finishing sixth in the 2,000 Guineas and had not added to his eight-length two-year-old debut win until he defeated well-backed favourite Khuzaam in the Listed Hyde Stakes on Wednesday.
“It was great to get Kinross off and away,” he said. “Sometimes you have to go back to square one and we have rather done that with him.
“He had a couple of blips in the winter and I thought he was ready for the Guineas. He probably was, but then he didn’t progress from it, running the same sort of figure in the Prix Jean Prat and the same sort of figure at Haydock before disappointing at Newbury.
“We pulled back and started again and that paid off. I think the Kempton run was the best of his life. He came off a strong gallop and beat a horse who looked pretty straight to me, and an all-weather specialist (Via Serendipity) going away.
“Having won last night the all-weather programme isn’t that enticing. He could wait for the All-Weather Final on Good Friday but that’s a long way away. He would have options abroad in Dubai if we felt it was the right way to go, depending on how easy it is to travel.”
Beckett’s flurry of winners have included success in the G2 Royal Lodge Stakes with New Mandate. He earned a trip to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, with stablemate Devilwalla (8th), where there were high hopes of success under Frankie Dettori, but the race didn’t go to plan as he came home last.
“He got completely side-swiped going to the first bend,” said Beckett. “That then lit him up and he’s got to see too much daylight and gone too keen down the back. He’s run the race all the wrong way round.
“He is going to have a long break now and we probably won’t see him until midsummer. He’s a gelding and there’s not that much for him. There isn’t really anything for him at Royal Ascot either unless we drop him back to 7f for the G2 Jersey Stakes, which makes our minds up for us. Once July 1 has passed there is plenty for him.”
Beckett, who has also won the G3 Prix Miesque over the autumn with two-year-old filly Lullaby Moon, has managed to take his prize-money haul past £1 million for the sixth year running despite Covid-enforced purse reductions.
“We’ve certainly had a good deal more winners than I was expecting,” he continued. “We had 20 winners in September, 15 in October and we have had 14 in November.
“It would be great to get to a hundred. We will be doing our level best. You would think on the face of it finding five winners between now and December 31 would be certainly possible. I’m not convinced that is the case.”