Ed Walker once described his filly, Dreamloper, as “a bit of a hot head”, and as she lines up for the tote+ Exclusively At tote.co.uk British EBF Fillies' Handicap at Ascot on Saturday, he’ll be hoping she behaves a bit better second time up.
The four-year-old travelled well at Haydock on seasonal reappearance finishing off strongly over 7f. She steps up to a mile here back to a course and distance she ran out a snug win over in September.
“I was very happy with her performance, less so with her behaviour, which is why we’ve declared her in a hood,” Walker told Tote.
“We actually cantered her down to post in a hood that day, and then took it off at the start. I’m hoping it was just freshness but she was shaking her head and was just very keen and being a bit ignorant in the early stages.
“She’s a tricky filly who is ridden by Molly Stratton who has done a great job settling her. She’s great at home but just gets her blood up at the races, so it’s our job to try and make her behave properly and hopefully she’ll do that tomorrow.”
Despite her misbehaving, Walker is still confident Dreamloper, a half-sister to the yard’s Dreamweaver, can develop into a top performer over eight furlongs, with a return to the Berkshire track in mind after this weekend.
“I think she’s a very talented filly. We’re hoping that this will be a stepping stone to the fillies mile handicap at Royal Ascot, and then onto bigger and better things in the second half of the season.”
One unknown going into Saturday’s contest is the ground, with all of Dreamloper’s past runs coming on quick ground. Her trainer suspects soft ground won’t be ideal, but wants to find out for sure.
“I think she will be at her best on top of the ground,” Walker said.
“We’ll run on Saturday so long as it’s not bottomless, but I’d quite like to see her with cut in the ground to confirm my suspicions if nothing else.”
Race to suit Mount Mogan
Mount Mogan is Walker’s other runner on the card, as he lines up in an equally competitive 6f handicap sprint.
Often found getting going too late, the shape of the race might just be ideal the gelding in his trainer’s mind.
“I think the race will be perfect for him tomorrow. He ran well over five furlongs at Ascot last year which is too sharp for him. He takes some time to wind up, and hopefully, as they sometimes can do when they go fast over the straight course at Ascot, they could come back into our lap. He’s been a frustrating horse and I think he should have won more races than he has.”
This is Mount Mogan’s first run of the season, but with the way his string have been performing, Walker is hopeful he’ll be ready to roll.
“Our horses have been more ready this year than in previous years first time up. We’ve had by far our best ever April and it’s been a good start to the year so he should be straight enough to do himself justice.”
Sprinting duo have Royal Ascot on their agenda
Looking at Ascot cards further down the line, the Ed Walker team could be cheering on two of their team in the Group 1 sprints at the Royal Meeting.
Starman, a horse Walker has always spoken highly of, has the Diamond Jubilee on his agenda, looks set to head to York first up next week. That is, so long as the rains don’t come on the Knavesmire.
“He’s flying and is great form at home. Sadly Tom can’t ride at York, but we’ve got a very able replacement in Oisin. We’re thrilled to have Oisin on board, he’s ridden him quite a few times at home so he knows the horse pretty well.
“We can’t wait to see him back on the track, but again he is a top of the ground horse, so we are hoping they don’t get washed out at York. If it’s a quagmire we might have to rethink and go to Windsor, but we’ll take it one step at a time. I’d be very disappointed if he’s not competitive in the top sprints this summer, we have very high hopes for him.”
While Starman has been bound for the top since his early days, Came From The Dark has been somewhat of a slow-burner, producing a career best when second in the Palace House Stakes at the age of five last month.
That run was something Walker had been hoping to see from the grey for some time, and now it appears he’ll remain on the Group race trail going forward.
“He’s been a horse I’ve always loved, but he just hasn’t got there. Eventually I gave up on the dream and gelded him and now he looks like he could get there. I’ve always said, slightly tongue in cheek, that this horse would win a Sprint Cup one day, and maybe I wasn’t completely bonkers after-all!
“Gelding him seems to have made the world of difference with him. He’s loving his work, he’s loving his racing and I think the stiff five at Ascot will be ideal for him, so we’re very excited.”