As in previous years I’ll start by stating the Royal Stud is going through a phase of change which dwarfs anything it has done in the last 60 years. I’ll illustrate that by listing 2yos of families that were not in the stud 10 years ago. Spanish Music c by Lope de Vega out of Set to Music (first runner, Eightsome Reel, from this mare (Petite Etoile family) won his only 2yo race) not allocated at present, Dusty Dream f by Dubawi out of Memory (half-sister to group winners Recorder and Call to Mind) in training with Haggas, Approximate f by Dubawi out of Estimate (full-sister to maiden Calculation) in training with Stoute, Punctuation c by Dansili out of Key Point (mare is half-sister to Kalanisi but has been disappointing as a mare) in training with Balding, Cranberry f by Toronado out of Raymi Coya (half-sister to a number of disappointing horses and one winner Make Fast) with Hughes, Evening Sun c by Muharrar out of Fiery Sunset (dam is from El Gran Senor family and first foal Flarepath (Exceed and Excel) won as a 2yo) in training with Charlton, Kew Palace f by Kingman out of Shama (2nd foal of mare from Shergar family, first foal is 3yo Shrewdness) with Haggas, Vindicate c by Lope de Vega out of Aurore (half-brother to a set of disappointing animals, just one winner Enliven) with Stoute, Code of Conduct c Siyouni out of Sequence (dam is half-sister to Sinndar but so far disappointing mare) with Charlton, Dauntless c by Dubawi out of Enticement (full-brother to useful Diploma) with Gosden. This year I’ll look at them trainer by trainer referring to families. I’ll mention early type 2yos only, at this stage. Stoute I suppose Stoute is still considered the leading Royal trainer. His main Royal older horse is the 4yo Sextant (by Sea the Stars). An unraced 2yo, he appeared very green last year and even after winning a fairly straightforward maiden he finished with a schoolboyish final outing. Has been gelded and needs to grow up and show us if he has real ability. This colt is from the Amicable family which provides the Queen with most of her runners. What seemed his best Royal 2yo last year was also from this family and that was Sovereign Grant (by Kingman). This colt won his maiden well enough but needs to step up a good deal as a 3yo. On pedigree you’d fancy him to get 10f but the mares’ previous foals, who’ve both won, have seemed better suited to 6 to 8f. I can see Stoute starting him in a good handicap somewhere and going from there. A big disappointment as a 2yo was Estimate’s first foal Calculation (by Dubawi) who ran 3rd (of 5) on his debut behind too Darn hot, but then ran a shocking race at Goodwood. Estimate did not win until the May of her 3yo career (then going on to win at Royal Ascot) and I’m sure Calculation will start at 12f as Estimate did. An early win at Newbury or Newmarket would be good to see. He, too, has been gelded. Mentioned in the 2000G betting over the winter was the unraced Frankel colt Invictus Spirit. He is out of a difficult mare called Daring Aim, who never wanted to exert herself. Her offspring have all been quirky, though some of them have had ability. He is still entered for the Derby. He doesn’t appear to have an early 2yo. Haggas Haggas has only one older horse this year and that is the fully exposed gelding Seniority but this trainer did have a couple of 2yo winners last year. The most impressive was Magnetic Charm (by Exceed and Excel) who is a brought-in filly from Darley: from Wildenstein’s Vitiges family. After winning her maiden she was a little patchy in a series of listed events. However if she could be more consistent she could be a useful 8-10f handicapper or listed horse. Haggas’s other 2yo winner was Flarepath, who won an all-weather maiden fairly convincingly. Again by Exceed and Excel this filly’s ambition must be some black-type and an 8-10f race should suit her. Haggas has the two latest foals out of Memory, who has so far delivered two Group winners as well as a another 2yo winner from her first three foals. The unraced 3yo is Space Walk and being by Galileo is a full-brother to the two Group winners Recorder and Call to Mind. He remains entered for the Derby and Haggas has now entered him for two French Group 1s: an unusual act for an unraced colt (Haggas slightly got it wrong last year with Humbolt Current. I’d expect Space Walk to start at somewhere like the April Newbury meeting and to move on from there, but if he’s to move on to Group 1s he’ll have to move fast. The first filly from this mare, Dusty Dream (by Dubawi), may not be seen until mid-summer but must be much awaited. Other Haggas 3yos are Shrewdness (who was highly entered as a 2yo but in the end only managed a reasonably promising Newbury run), Desert Caravan (by Oasis Dream out of Sinndar’s sister Sequence) was unraced and unentered and has now been gelded. Bell Bell ended up having a good 2017 with Royal favourite Fabricate, now a 7yo gelding, winning 2 Group 3 events. Getting long in the tooth now it would be nice to feel he can add to his total of 7 wins this year. The really interesting animals are his two 3yo colts who both got off the mark towards the end of last season on their seasonal debuts. Eightsome Reel (Iffraaj) was the first and this first foal to race of Set to Music (who won the Galtres Stakes and was 2nd in the Park hill) should get at least 10f and may stay further. Perhaps more impressive was the victory of the Sharmadal colt Youthful, who is the first foal of the Cape Cross mare, Good Hope. This mare emanates from the Feola family whose key members include Aureole, Highclere, Nashwan and Deep Impact. It’s a long way from a Wolverhampton to Listed races but there must be a hope this well-bred colt will make the grade. He looked a bit of handful on the gallops and it is no surprise that he’s now been gelded. Good Hope won a small race over 10f and that distance looks ideal for Youthful. It is about time the Queen had another good animal from this family. As ever Bell has a clutch of 2yos (in fact 6). On paper the most interesting is Formality, who’s a Frankel colt out of an Oasis Dream mare (and the last foal of Ribblesdale winner Phantom Gold). The Queen hasn’t had a lot of success with Frankel and if this foal was rated I’d expect him to be with Stoute or Haggas (sorry Michael). Bell also has Good Try an Iffraaj sister to Youthful, and also Cloud Drift (by Toronado) who is a half- brother to Humbolt Current and Bell’s other 3yo Regular. So far their dam Humdrum has had 3 winners from her first 3 foals and these two should keep up the record. There’s a yearling colt by Oasis Dream to follow these. Surprisingly Equal Sum’s 2yo full-sister, High Shine, is in training with Bell. Bell also has Otago (a Cable Bay colt out of Humdrum’s dam) though Good Try and High Shine look the 2yos to be interested in. Hannon This trainer ended up having 2 2yo winners in 2018. The first was the Toronado colt Topical who may win again but I find difficult to get excited about (now gelded). The other winner was the filly Equal Sum (by Paco Boy) who won well on her debut and then failed to give 7lb to Enable’s half-sister Entitle. They were both promising performances as Equal Sum comes out about 7lb ahead of Youthful and 4lb ahead of Entitle. We don’t know which way she will go but while this filly has speed for 7 to 8f she may get a lot further as her dam (Hypoteneuse by Sadler’s Wells, dam of Sextant and full-sister to Oaks 2nd Flight of Fancy) stayed 12f. A start in Listed company may not be out of reach for this member of the Amicable family. Hannon has two 2yos and the most likely looks to be Divine Covey, who is a Dark Angel filly out of the decent Pack Together (by Paco Boy). She was an early 2yo and her first foal could be similar. Balding Natural History, who won on his handicap debut, has been gelded and will be aiming at 12-14f handicaps this year. He is the last member of the Starlet branch of the Amicable family, so this branch will die out now. A horse worth following I should think, Balding is not sent the best horses and has done reasonably well with what he gets, but he’s only got 3 other horses (two 2yos and 3yo). His 3yo is an unraced Henrythenavigator gelding called Compass who is half-brother to a good 2yo filly called Light Music. Balding should get a win out of him. His most likely 2yo is Kings Lynn, a colt by Cable Bay (a first season sire at Highclere) out of a Royal Applause sister to Humdrum. This mare, Kinematic, was pretty fast and if the foal’s any good I can see Kings Lynn being an early sort. Charlton The Beckhampton trainer had a miserable 2018 (due to a virus) not troubling the judge with any of his Royal inmates. He has one 3yo who needs to wake up and that is the well-bred West Newton (by Kitten’s Joy out of a full-sister to Hypoteneuse). At least this fine trainer has a couple of well-bred 2yos. The first is Code of Conduct, who is by Siyouni out of a mare called Sequence. Unfortunately this mare has been super disappointing so far, despite colts by Oasis Dream and Frankel. Perhaps more exciting is Evening Sun (Muhaarar), who’s the 2nd foal of the Galileo mare Fiery Sunset, whose first foal, Flarepath, won as a 2yo. Being by Muhaarar, you’d expect Evening Sun to have some speed and could be out as was her older sister, midsummer. Charlton badly needs a winner or two for the Royals. Gosden Appointed as a Royal trainer for the first time in 2018, he received 2 Darley bred 2yos but nothing from the Royal Stud. One of those 2yos, Pianissimo (by Teofilo) ran once on the all-weather, finishing a respectable 2nd. He doesn’t appear a world-beater at the moment, but should be capable of winning a maiden. His unraced 3yo is the Dubawi colt Gold Study. 2019 sees him becoming a fully fledged Royal trainer as he has been sent Dauntless , a colt who is a full-brother to the listed winner Diploma. Diploma won as a 2yo and I’d expect to see Dauntless entered this Autumn. He is also training another Dubawi colt out of the Royal Stud’s mare Free Verse whose first foal Frontispiece had some ability. Gosden also trains another couple of brought-in 2yos from Darley, who are both by Sharmadal. Hughes This trainer is getting the lesser types and has a 3yo and 2yo this year. The 3yo, Puzzle, looks as if he will win a small race. His 2yo is out of the disappointing Raymi Coya. Her only winner was Make Fast (by Makfi) and Cranberry (by Toronado) is more likely to be a 2yo than 3yo. Summary The Queen is now a major owner in number terms but not in quality terms. She has 58 flat horses in training this year, small compared with the likes of Godolphin and Coolmore but sizeable nonetheless and much her biggest number ever. In the main she is using many top stallions: she has 10 Dubawis for example. Hopefully she has a better year than last year. 20 winners is not good enough for someone using these sort of resources. What does worry me is some of her throws with certain sires. She has 3 Cable Bay 2yos, has yearlings by this sire and sent 3 mares to him in 2018, and it should be no surprise he stands at Highclere. In 2018 she sent 7 mares to her good 2yo Recorder. That is an enormous investment in a new sire. I’m pleased she has sent a mare to Muharrar, and in 2018 one mare went to Caravaggio but she needs to do more of this. After Kingman’s excellent first season I’d like her to use him more. I am expecting a better year and much better quality wins from this year’s horses. A good start at Newbury in April would help. More on the 2yos later.