Flat racehorse trainer Keith Dalgleish is pleased with the maturity shown by the group of young racehorses he has in his Belstane yard, near Carluke in South Lanarkshire.
His two rising two-year-olds The Scottish Farmer is following are both showing much promise as they begin their education.
The bay filly has been named Scots Law; she is by Lawman and out of the Swain-sired mare, Misaayef, and is owned by a syndicate of five, including the trainer himself. She was purchased at the Goffs sale in Ireland in October.
"We bought the yearling because we have her two-year-old full sister at home," explained Keith. "She's very similar in build and appearance to her sister, Nature's Law, who has been showing promise on the gallops and, although she hasn't raced yet, we think a lot of her."
The bay colt is by Iffraaj and out of the Common Grounds mare, Monarchy. He was purchased at the August premier sale at Doncaster and he is owned by Weldspec from Glasgow.
"He looks like a nice early type," said Keith, and he is hopeful that the colt will race at Musselburgh at the end of March.
"He looks like he'll have speed and he has good bone and is strong."
Currently, the horses are in work and will be ridden out with other horses of the same age. Keith's brother, Kevin, and Gary Beveridge did all the breaking of the horses in the yard and found both horses straightforward.
Once the horse are tacked up the horses are taken down to the indoor exercise arena, which is an oval riding circuit that measures 200m. They trot a couple of laps before being 'hacked' up the slope before going back to trot for six laps. 'Hacked' refers to the speeed, and during this time it is a steady canter.
After the the indoor track the horses then go across the road to the gallops. They'll go up once before cantering faster the second time. They'll be walked around at the top before walking steadily back down to the yard.
The horses are ridden in 'indian file' one behind the other, and by the beginning of February, Keith expects them to be cantering upsides.
"It's good to train them to get used to other horse going along side them," explains Keith. "We'll train them to see a space and sneak through a gap. They need to get used to going first and coming through from behind."
Currently they are exercised six days a week and on Sunday go onto the horse walker for an hour.
"The Iffrajj colt is making good progress; he's quite cheeky but is keen and is at the stage of being asked to do more," said Keith.
"Scots Law is a longer term project; she's younger and a little behind compared to the colt."
Of the 17 two-year-olds Keith has at Belstane he reckons approx 70% will race this year.
"If they are backward they'll maybe get a race in September near the end of the season, but if not then we'll hold them till next year," explains Keith, who points out that he is not in any rush to get them to a racecourse until they are ready.
On the opposite side of the world, Keith has two horses currently out racing at the Dubai Carnival – Stonefield Flyer and Santefisio.
The Dubai Carnival began on January 10 and takes place across 10 meetings over eight weeks at the Meydan racetrack.
"To have two horses going to Dubai any time is great. But to have them in only my second year as a trainer is fantastic. Any publicity from doing it is great for the business and for my career. But if we can have a winner, that'd be amazing," said Keith.
"It'll take a wee while for the horses to acclimatise. They're going from cold weather here to a completely different climate. But once they get used to it, it has to be better for them. Some horses will thrive on the change of routine, others won't.
"You need horses which are good enough, and I think they are. I also believe they'll both suit the style of racing over there. But we've everything to gain. Most of our expenses are covered by Carnival organisers, so there really is nothing to lose."