Monday Selections: June, 18th 2018

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3.05 Ayr: Class 6 Handicap, 5f

13 year old Secret Asset has dropped to a very dangerous mark and finds himself in a pretty poor low grade contest despite showing here and there glimpses of retaining some sort of competitive form.

He clearly isn’t the force of the past, however now down a mark off 46 he looks ready to land a race with conditions in his favour. Four of his six career turf wins came on fast ground.

So, the fact he finds a fast surface today is a bonus. The jockey/trainer combo doesn’t look strong, nonetheless 5lb claim on top of the low mark may mean Secret Asset can outrun his price tag.

Selection:
10pts win – Secret Asset @ 15/1 MB

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4.45 Ayr: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 5f

He’s on the drift and that might be a sign in itself, still I fancy top weight An Fear Ciuin and put a speculative bet on him to shorten later on again. He really looks ready for a big one today.

Back on the flat, dropping into class 5 Handicap – the last time he found himself in this lowly class he won (over 2m) – and also down to his last winning mark.

He should be fit from hurdling after two fair efforts over two miles. The ground might be a bit faster than ideal, and this could well be a race to bring the mark further down. So be it…. An Fear Ciuin is way too big a price.

Selection:
10pts win – An Fear Ciuin @ 25/1 PP

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8.30 Windsor: Class 5 handicap, 1m 2f

Wide open Handicap for three year olds. Another rather speculative one for me here with handicap debutant Vlannon.

Three starts in maiden company in quick succession. He final one over 7f at Lingfield was the best of the lot. He battled hard in a fair race but clearly needs further.

His pedigree, at least on the dam side supports this. Vlannon is a half-brother to a couple of individuals who did there best over further and later over hurdles. His opening mark is fair, gives him a good chance to win a race as improvement is likely to come for the new trip.

Selection:
10pts win – Vlannon @ 13/1 MB

Saturday Selections: June, 16th 2018

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

3.45 Chester: Class 4 Handicap, 5f

Stall 2 at Chester over the minimum trip often leads to the golden highway. So it is a significant boost for Dahik to have start from the top draw. The gelding never lived up to the promise he showed when winning a Novice contest at Bath last year and has moved yards in the meantime.

You can’t say Dahik set the world alight in two starts for new trainer Michael Easterby, although it was at least a fair comeback run on his seasonal debut at Nottingham in early May.

Last time in a hot class 2 handicap he was out of his depth. Dropping back into class 4 while also relieved of a few more pounds off his handicap mark could help him to be competitive here in this race, though.

Ground should suit – his best performances cam on a fast surface. A low weight, a lowly mark off 76 and an eye-catching jockey booking as Phillip Makin rides Chester incredibly well in combination with the excellent draw might be enough to see Dahik run a massive race.

Selection: 
10pts win – Dahik @ 14/1 Sky

Friday Selections: June, 15th 2018

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

4.50 Sandown: Class 4 Handicap, 10f

Bottom weight Kabrit looks to have got in lightly here. He’s got three runs under his belt, the two this season didn’t look to shabby. He was chasing a strong pace on either occasion, proving still a bit raw and green.

Likely to improve in handicaps, he remains with potential particularly of a lowly 65 handicap mark. I feel this opening rating does underestimate the ability of this strong Mastercraftsman colt.

Selection:
10pts win – Babrit @ 11/2 GB

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7.30 Chepstow: Class 5 Handicap, 7f

Top weight Operative has been labeled an “unreliable type” by Timeform. I disagree. Operative has been half of his life starts in the money – 11 of 22 starts. That isn’t unreliable. That is rather reliable, in my book.

Truth is, the five-year old gelding’s form this year reads unreliable: 10-2-7, though it isn’t so much taken circumstances into account.

Operative had no chance on his seasonal debut at Nottingham; hampered at the start, wall of horses in front, hampered in the final furlong, yet wasn’t far away in the end. He ran a strong race finishing second subsequently here at Chepstow over 6f, bumping into a tremendously well handicapped winner.

It’s true, Operative hasn’t done anything over 7f yet. He was again well beaten two weeks ago over CD. That says he did so on rain softened ground. His other two starts over this trip give indication it may be too far. I still remain optimistic, given fast ground today can be a help and he looked like running on well on his penultimate start over a furlong shorter.

Operative also drops down to class 5 for the first time this season. He ran well in a better grade twice this season – this today is a much easier assignment. He may not see out the trip, and we can put that to bed at the end of this day; until then I believe firmly that Operative is tremendously overpriced.

Selection:
10pts win – Operative @ 14/1 PP

Thursday Selections: June, 14th 2018

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

5.30 Nottingham: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 2f

Top Beak has dropped dramatically in his handicap mark over the last twelve months – for good reason. He still managed to finish 3rd of o a mark off 90 in April 2017 but his form deteriorated ever since.

He’s also a very infrequent winner, to say the least. Nonetheless there’s hope. I have been encouraged by Top Beak’s last two highly credible runs at Lingfield and Sandown. He ran well enough from the rear of the field to suggest with a little bit more help from the handicapper and the right conditions he can be bang there.

Today he finally gets fast ground again which looks ideal. He also dropped further, now on 62, with the additional bonus of 5lb claimed by excellent apprentice Paddy Bradley.

It’s a big field and he needs a bit of luck in these, but if Bradley can nurse Top Beak through it and deliver the gelding at the right time he has a big chance to finally get his head in front again.

Selection:
10pts win – Top Beak @ 9/1 Sky

Monday Selections: June, 10th 2018

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Been a tough week. Finally a winner, though. Justanotherbottle (9/2) done that really nicely and won hands and heels his race at Nottingham in the end. That ends this week one a slightly more positive note.

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4.30 Brighton: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

Impart hasn’t won in 20 starts and clearly has gone backwards ever since running a huge race off an 89 rating in class 3 Chester Handicap twelve months ago.

Here and there some promising runs suggesting there might be a return to form around the corner. But mainly he’s been disappointing and fortunes haven’t changed since moving to a new yard.

He’s dropping to a new career lowest mark while also dropping in class and moving up to six furlongs. On anything near his old best he’d run away with this. He isn’t the horse of the past, however Impart looked very much improved at Lingfield last month.

He was about to find his second win and challenge at least for some place money entering the final furlong when the door seemed to shut in front of him at a crucial stage.

Impart was still not far beaten and appeared to be able to finish a good deal closer with a clear run. That run gave the indication he wouldn’t mind an additional furlong, so the step up to 6f off a low mark into a wide open race should give him a proper chance to get back to the winning ways.

Selection:
10pts win – Impart @ 15/2 PP

 

Sunday Selections: June, 10th 2018

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Oh I was so wrong! How glad I am to be SO wrong! Justify justified all the hype to become the 13th Triple Crown champion!

He did it and he did it well. This was – in my eyes – his best performance by a country mile. Put simply: the task on hand, as outlined in my preview, seemed an incredibly steep climb beforehand.

But this wonder colt he made it look easy. Mike Smith made it look easy too. “Big Money Mike” – he’s got the nickname for a reason.

For some reason this Triple Crown touched me more from an emotional side of things than American Pharoah’s. Maybe because the whole campaign felt more humble, more authentic than all that surrounded Pharoah’s campaign.

……..

4.05 Nottingham: Class 3 Handicap, 5f

A return to form at Redcar last months brings Justanotherbottle right into the picture here. He was going away at the end picking up the pieces off a strong gallop.

The now four year old ran extremely well in some big handicaps in the second half of 2017 while also being incredibly progressive, winning twice throughout the year and improving his handicap mark by 21 pounds!

After his last success a career highest is needed today. I feel with ever improving apprentice Ger O’Neill who’s worth every single pound of his 5lb claim this is possible to achieve in this race.

He’s a CD scorer already, the fastish ground won’t pose any problems and he is one who looks still on the up with a an assignment at higher level on the cards fairly soon. I have him closer to the top of the market than his current price, that is for sure.

Selection:
10pts win – Justanotherbottle @ 9/2 PP

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Photo Credit: CBC

PREVIEW: Belmont Stakes – Justify a Triple Crown Winner?

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An almighty task on hand, the chance to become an equine legend beckons at the end of it – Justify has to defy history one more time to land the Triple Crown!

Still unbeaten, the Scat Daddy colt only started his racing career in February this year. He’s come a long way since then. Memorable victories in the Santa Anita Derby, the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes bring him here to this day, the day where it’s all on the line.

We all want to see a Triple Crown winner. And we may do so today. It’s so difficult to achieve, such a tremendous ask for a three year old colt who’s still learning his trade. Three grueling races within four weeks; different trips, tracks, underfoot conditions, going against some fresh and not so fresh, inexperienced and race hardened rivals.

If history tells us how difficult it is to win the Triple Crown then we must saviour the opportunity to witness the second one of these historical achievements within three years. Amercian Pharoah broke through this barrier that latest decades. Who’d have thought we might see one again so soon after?

So, the question everyone is asking: can he do it???

No. He can’t. My heart wants it. My head disagrees.

There are a few much smarter brains than I am out there who brought compelling arguments forward for and against. What sticks out for me personally is Simon Rowlands take on the race as he uses striding analysis to understand how Justify’s performances to this date compare to other notable Triple Crown winners.

His comparison and the facts uncovered are comprehensive. They tend to agree with my less so analytical thoughts: Justify is all speed. Or mostly speed. His pedigree doesn’t scream “I want a trip” either.

Don’t get me wrong, he impressed me in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, no doubt. The way he looks, the way he moves, the way he goes about his business.

Today is an entirely different race, though. Different conditions. An additional two furlongs. Against opposition that didn’t have to compete in all three Triple Crown races. Some of these may have a bit more left in the locker plus a few of the rivals Justify will meet today are likely to appreciate this marathon trip quite a bit more than he likely does.

Lest to forget: Justify needed to go all out for a while now – on the go since February – each month one important race for him to contest and be at his best. That must take its toll.

if it doesn’t- and if Justify can overcome all of these hurdles then he truly is a special horse, one that warrants to be mentioned in line with the best – make no mistake about that.

Okay so, if not Justify, who’s then going to win the Belmont?

Well, I take a punt. He’s not the most obvious one, he may not be good enough after all. Regardless, I do sense that Free Drop Billy is overpriced. He hasn’t won a race this year and only managed to get places in a couple of Grade 2- and 3 contests. He ran in the Kentucky Derby like his price suggested: rotten.

BUT there is a big but: Free Drop Billy is a Grade 1 winner already, nonetheless. He landed the Breeders’ Futurity Stakes at Keeneland as a juvenile. He also was a fair runner-up at this seasonal reappearance this year in February behind Derby third Audible. He clearly has class.

That says he very much looks like a grinder. One who’s always going to get beaten for speed. He’s also one who is likely to get into his own in the second half of the year – so now! Free Drop Billy is May foal; normally these individuals need a bit more time.

Connections clearly felt that way after the Derby. They gave him time off. He bypassed the Preakness and comes here fresher than most. And there is the fact that he is a son of Union Rags – himself a Belmont Stakes winner – while also being a half-brother to multiple 1m 4f Stakes scorer Hawkbill.

Dare I say that Free Drop Billy looked excellent in his work this week leading up to the big race? I start to believe….

In saying all of this, Free Drop Billy needs to improve, needs to step up a good deal to be in with a shout. I feel there is a better chance for him to do exactly that than the betting suggests. I believe he is a lively place chance, at the very least.

Selection:
5pts Each/Way (3 places, 1/5) – Free Drop Billy @ 66/1 VC

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Photo: nytimes.com

Horse Racing Around The Globe

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