Eyecatchers #8 2022

A list of horses that caught my eye during the last seven days of racing. These individuals look ready to win a race sooner rather than later given the right conditions.

Saulire Star
13/05/22 – 6.45 Hamilton:

Solid start from double-figure draw. Settled a few lengths off the pace setter, travelling strongly. Smooth headway into the home straight, heading the leader about two furlongs from home. Eventually had to pay tribute for chasing the hot pace when fading in the final furlong.

He did best of those up or close to the pace. The winner and runner-up both came from off the pace. He is unlucky to be a maiden after 16 career runs having been hampered/short of room the last two times at crucial stages of the race. Especially the lto performance is noteworthy for the way he finished the race.

Down to a mark of 48 and unlikely that the handicapper will be harsh after this run, he stays up to 10 furlongs, though, perhaps doesn’t want it genuinely soft over that trip. I believe he’s ready to win a race.

Race Replay

Scorpio
13/05/22 – 2.40 Newbury:

Bit slowly away, also drawn low no advantage given where the race developed. Travelled well enough in midfield but looked for an opening from over two furlongs out. No instant change of gear when gap opened with about a furlong to go but kept going nicely to finish well in 5th without being asked too many questions.

Fine debut run given circumstances as she lost her left fore shoe in the closing stages. This could be pretty solid form. She likely ends up as a miler. Will be interesting if going up in trip. Needs monitoring for the next starts. Should be one for handicaps.

Race Replay

Tammani + Ramiro
13/05/22 – 4.45 York:

Tammani settled in rear and had loads to do entering the home straight. Tried to move toward stands’ side over two furlongs out. Repeatedly short of room until late when he finishes incredibly well on the inside under hands and heels.

Even a blind man would have spotted this eyecatching run. He’s obviously down to a really good mark, having been a Listed winner at two and Group 3 placed at three. Could be too obvious for nto.

He’s not ran to a topspeed rating matching his current handicap mark but that is most likely because he used to race in France until last summer where TS is often not available.

He’s a tricky horse, nonetheless, and I am prepared to wait for ideal conditions. That is a mile on soft ground. I would also consider 7 furlongs with a stiff finish. Soft ground is non-negotiable, though.

Ramior was also an unlucky horse in the race. He was touch slowly away, but then appeared to be going strongly approaching the 2 furlong marker. Behind a wall of horses he had to delay his challenge and was severely short of room in a tight spot a furlong from home. He was eased and reportedly lost his action after the 1f incident.

This was his best run since moving to Brian Ellison. He won races of marks of 74 and 78 the last two seasons in Ireland. In that context I am not too bothered that his best topspeed rating is only 73.

Ease in the ground is key for him too. Another reduction of the mark and 7 furlongs with a bit of cut in the ground is the scenario I am looking for.

Race Replay

Mobarhin
13/05/22 – 1.40 Newmarket:

Had the perfect draw to grab the rail and did so right from the start. Moved forward and set a red hot pace having the entire field on the stretch 3 furlongs out. Headed eventually but kept going gutsily right to the line.

He looks capable of staying 7 furlongs with a more conservative ride but perhaps 6 furlongs is his optimum. Won in January over the trip on the All-Weather of a mark of 70, achieving a 74 topspeed rating.

I believe he has still a bit of scope on turf, especially over 6 furlongs on decent ground. Ideally he gets a bit assistance from the handicapper before backing him.

Race Replay

Gumdrop
14/05/22 – 4.05 Thirsk:

Travelled initially on the outside quite keenly, perhaps being quite fresh on his comeback run. Was going well enough, even though perhaps a little bit outpaced halfway through at the rear of the field. Not the clearest of runs from two furlongs out. Finished nicely under hands and heels late.

First run since September 2020. Gelded in the meantime. Promising return to the track. Drifted out 18/1 on the day. Won of a mark of 75 and ran to topspeed 81 as a juvenile at Chester. Still lightly raced and seems to retain ability.

Should enjoy a step up in trip on pedigree. There is plenty of stamina on the dam side, although the dam only won over 6 furlongs herself. Should be monitored next time in the betting.

Six furlongs perhaps with some ease in the ground can work but I wouldn’t mind the step up to 7f. Also need a bit help from the handicapper before I’m really interested.

Race Replay

Dusky Prince
16/05/22 – 4.25 Redcar:

Raced right in the middle of the pack, slightly niggled halfway through as pace was red hot but kept going and looked in with a big shout if only a gap would have opened. He couldn’t get a run right until the very end. Wasn’t needlessly knocked about even when some space opened up late.

The form book might suggest that he’s in the grip of the handicapper. But I feel he’s probably been quite an incredibly unlucky horse on the All-Weather in his last three runs.

He caught the eye on all those runs, especially at Newcastle (badly hampered when most likely coming with the winning move) in February and Lingfield when he got too far behind but was flying home with a sub 11 second final furlong.

Some of the bad luck is self-made, though. It is absolutely clear that he’s not quite speedy enough for the minimum trip and that is a reason why he meets trouble. Clearly he needs to move up to 6 furlongs.

The dam was a winner over 6 furlongs as well as twice a winner over 7 furlongs on the All-Weather. He tried 6 furlongs only twice before and that was in really hot company. So there is plenty of scope for better, both on turf or All-Weather. He’s absolutely ripe to win if he moves up in trip.

Race Replay

Gurkhali Girl
16/05/22 – 4.15 Carlisle:

Despite being quite keen in the early part of the race she travelled well into the home straight looking to have a big say in the outcome of the race. Bit inconvenienced by a horse crossing over from the right side around 2.5 furlongs from home. Tries hard to get going but runs completely out of energy in the end.

Was quite keen last time out in a maiden over a mile at Ayr on her first run since July 2021 but travelled notably well there. Didn’t get the clearest of runs on the inside either. Faded badly but was entitled after being off the track for such a long time.

In these two runs she caught my eye for the way she travelled strongly into the home straight. She cost £50k as a yearling and is quite well bred. I assume she needed the run these two times and soft ground accentuated her tired finish here at Carlisle.

The Iain Jardine yard is in poor form. it’s something to watch out for. A mile looks possibly an ideal trip on pedigree. The way she can be fresh and pull for her head is a concern. On the other hand she’s going to drop to an interesting mark now. The jury is out whether she can perform on soft ground as her sire did.

Race Replay

Corinthia Knight + Firenze Rosa
16/05/22 – 5.10 Windsor:

Corinthia Night was outpaced from an early stage, hampered over two furlongs out, wandering around behind a wall of horses in order to get a clear run. It only opens up inside the final furlong when he runs on well for a 5th place finish.

He’s fallen dramatically in the weights in the last months. It was only back in July 2021 when he won back to back, including of a mark of 92 running to a near career best topspeed rating of 92.

Ever since he’s hardly ever shown much. Now down to a 73 rating, this most recent performance was a first proper sign that there’s still some spark. In my mind he wants 6 furlongs these days, though. He acts on soft but I wouldn’t back him unless it’s reasonably fast ground.

Firenze Rosa travelled pretty well until about the halfway stage. Was then stuck behind horses. Briefly tracking the initial winner but not getting through on the inside. The inexperienced jockey perhaps also not quite brave enough to take a gap on the stands’ side until very late. Finishes well enough under an easy right suggesting there was more left in the tank.

She was 1lb out of the weights here, yet I hope the run motivates the handicapper to give here a bit leeway.

She won of a mark of 56 in soft here at Windsor and she finished the turf season in October with a really strong runner-up effort of a 57 mark running to a 57 TS rating that day.

If she drops below a mark of 55 over 5 furlongs on proper soft ground she should have a really good chance.

Race Replay

D Day Odette
16/05/22 – 7.40 Windsor:

Went left at the start, then settled in last trailing the field. Still last approaching three furlongs out. Eyecatching progress on the bridle when switched to the outside of the field challenging two furlongs from home. Possibly a bit tired in the closing stages after the big effort.

Second start. Seasonal reappearance. Frist time with a tongue tie. Changed yards in May. Purchased at breeze up for €58k. Should stay 10 furlongs on pedigree with relative certainty.

One to monitor next time. Most likely one for handicaps when moving up in trip.

Race Replay

Kelapa
17/05/22 – 1.30 Brighton:

Out of the #1 draw, bit keen early on travelling on the inside okay and looked in with a shout. Short of room 2f out, not getting a run, hampered at the final furlong marker. Gets some space late and finished nicely under an easy ride.

Handicap debut for the filly after three no-shows last year. 7 furlongs should be fine on pedigree. There is plenty of fast ground form in her line, so I reckon that will be ideal conditions. She may have enough speed for 6f too. Would prefer a stiff finish in that case, though.

Race Replay

Cabeza De Llave
17/05/22 – 1.20 Wolverhampton:

Appeared to be outpaced at stages in the first half of the race racing in midfield. Got back on the bridle and travelled well into the home straight. As the eventual winner kicked form he front he didn’t have the pace to challenge but kept to the task and wasn’t overly hard ridden. Finished well enough for 4th place on a day when it was certainly beneficial to be up with the pace.

Handicap debut and first outing in 2022. Expected to come on and learn from this. Certainly needs a step up to 6 furlongs. 7 furlongs looks possible on pedigree as well.

Race Replay

Shahnaz
17/05/22 – 3.50 Wolverhampton:

Awkward start and as a consequence at the backfoot right away, also outpaced early on. Flat footed from 4 furlongs out as pace increased again, turned wide and make impressive challenge on the outside of the field, finishing much the strongest visually and on the clock.

Interesting performance last time out at Nottingham too. Ran much better than result suggest in strong race. Had been handed tough assignment by handicapper with opening mark. Comes steadily down.

Last two performances suggest she can win. I like to see her up in trip to 10 furlongs again. Ideally the handicapper gives her an an opportunity.

Race Replay

Makyon
19/05/22 – 1.30 Wolverhampton:

He’s one who featured on the list last week. Ran in the meantime at Wolverhampton over an extended mile. That wasn’t interesting from a betting perspective. The trip is too far in my view.

He travelled very well at the back of the field, though, notably on the bridle right into the home straight. But not much got involved here, certainly not from the back of the field, and he certainly didn’t have a chance stuck behind tons of traffic.

Trainer has given a positive mentioning the last two times. He’s got another entry on the AW over 8.5 next week. I’ll maintain to wait for a drop to 6 to 7 furlongs on turf.

Race Replay

Lory
19/05/22 – 2.50 Wolverhampton:

Did a lot in the first half of the race racing around the first bend to dispute the lead on the outside. Travelled nicely until 3 furlongs out. Faded away in the closing stages but not asked a question either.

Former Andre Fabre and Godolphin horse, caught the eyes on two starts in France. Those races have worked out quite well. She hasn’t seen the whip in any of her three starts to date so it’s hard to gauge how much she would find if ever properly asked.

Seven furlongs seems to be as far as she would want it at this stage I reckon. Perhaps dropping down to six wouldn’t be an issue either. She’s going handicapping and is to monitor for her opening mark.

Freedom Flyer
19/05/22 – 3.50 Wolverhampton:

Wasn’t ideally positioned from his wide draw in rear of the field in a slowly run race. Eventual winner got a soft lead and everything caught napping in behind. FF travelled strongly into the home straight but locked behind horses only got really into the clear about a furlong from home which was to late. Finished well enough but not overly hard ridden, smart ride by jockey.

Continues to fall slowly in his mark. Comes down to a good rating. Went almightily close over CD in October of 64. Ran to topspeed 62 over CD before that, as well as TS 72 on turf.

Would be interesting to see him back on turf over 6 furlongs on decent ground of his current mark.

Bomb Squad
19/05/22 – 4.25 Wolverhampton:

Travelled in midfield, seemingly bit outpaced midway through, looking strong coming into the home straight, waiting for room to challenge. Consistently short of room, though, and badly hampered inside the final furlong, still finds momentum late to finish 2nd.

Runs consistently well on the All-weather and possibly in the grip of the handicapper on this surface. However will be really interesting back on turf on proper soft ground.

He has excellent form in those conditions over 6 furlongs. Given current wellbeing and strong form, he’ll be dangerous. Worth to wait for the right circumstances.

Thursday Selections: 19th May 2022

3.50 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

A few look dangerously handicapped here but non more so than Jumira Bridge. He really caught the eye on his second run off a break over the minimum trip at this venue.

He was unlucky to be a clear run denied at a crucial stage of the race but he found his momentum again and finished much the strongest.

This was an excellent follow-up from a good comeback run in a seller over over the course and distance when he made eye-catching headway turning for home while carrying 10st.

He’s obviously a tricky customer, who can lose races at the gate and has fallen a long way down in the ratings. These last two performances suggest there is life in the 8-year-old, though.

Dropping down to class 6 and up to 6 furlongs he can race off bottom weight here from a good #2 draw. If he doesn’t totally mess up he hopefully finds himself in a decent position in midfield racing against the inside rail and then hopefully gets the gap when needed most.

The last time he ran at Wolverhampton over 6f in class 6 he won in impressive style, back in January 2021 of a 62 mark. He’s 12lb lower today – for a reason – but showed more enough lto to assume he will take a lot of beating if in the same form. I really feel he’s going to be cherry ripe.

10pts win – Jumira Bridge @ 5.2/1

…………

4.35 Lingfield: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

Arlecchino’s Gift was a major eyecatcher ten days ago at Wolverhampton over 6 furlongs. He was caught wide from his outside draw and only dropped in with about tree furlongs to go. Yet travelled much the best entering the home straight but had the entire field to pass.

He appeared to find a small gap over a furlong from home but got badly squeezed and hampered, losing crucial momentum. He was brave to pull through and got gong quickly again, finishing the fastest home straight sectionals despite the trouble and being eased in the final 100 yards.

Starting issues prevented him from a more fruitful juvenile campaign, although he showed some talent. A gelding operation over the winter helped and thanks to being more professional at the start he’s finally winning races. He’s been progressive this year, wining twice and running well a number of other times.

When winning of a mark of 55 at Wolverhampton he appeared to have a bit in hand, which was confirmed by a 59 topspeed rating. There were excuses at Chelmsford subsequently when he was badly bumped at the start and was overly keen in a slowly run race.

This most recent performance adds to the picture that Arlecchino’s Gift continues to improve. Of a mark of 60 he could still be well handicapped given he ran to TS 59 with relative ease and caught the eye so dramatically last time out.

Question mark is the turf. He hasn’t really fired apart from the All-Weather. However, he hasn’t been on turf since his gelding operation and the clear improvement he’s shown since then. Breeding wouldn’t suggest that there are any issues with turf.

10pt win – Arlecchino’s Gift @ 9/2

Tuesday Selections: 17th May 2022

2.50 Wolverhampton: Class 5 Handicap, 7f

Two eyecatchers run here: Port Noir is back on the All-Weather with an excellent 7lb claimer in the saddle and has every chance to go close. However, He’s never won beyond a mark of 64 and hasn’t run to a higher topspeed rating than 64 either. Hence, as mentioned in Eyecatchers #7 I keep monitoring and wait for him to come down in the ratings.

The other one is Northbound who was a massive eyecatcher at Thirsk last month on his first outing in 2022. He travelled smoothly on the inside, still hard on the bridle approaching the final furlong but never got a run. He finished eye-catchingly well in one of the fasted final furlong splits despite being hard held.

He hasn’t won since his juvenile days, but has been competitive and placed numerous times last season without winning. He was placed of 65 and ran to Topspeed 58, 59 and 61 last year. He also has a career best 71 TS rating, albeit over the minimum trip.

His mark has fallen another 2lb in the meantime, now down to 58. He looks rather well handicapped, potentially with further scope on the All-Weather, having ran only twice on the sand. The dam won at Dundalk and the sire produces some fine All-Weather horses too.

The draw is a negative. He’s drawn too wide for my likening. The jockey isn’t the most positive booking either. But Northbound may have those additional pounds in hand to overcome it and make full use of bottom weight.

10pts win – Northbound @ 11.5/1

(Note: I wrote this piece last night and took the price in pieces throughout. Money is coming this morning, which is a positive sign. 10s still available in places which I’d personally still regard a great price.)

Monday Selections: 16th May 2022

4.25 Redcar: Class 5 Handicap, 5f

Competitive race but Dandy Dinmont looks potentially the one with the biggest upside. This is a slightly easier race than the one he caught my eye in last time at Beverley.

That day he made good progress throughout travelling notably well for the majority of the race, even though he looked a little bit keen in the first furlong. He had to delay his challenge but eventually made strong progress from 2 furlongs out. It got a bit tight in the final furlong on the inside and he wasn’t knocked about when the race was gone. He also was the only one making a significant impression from off the pace.

It was clear improvement from his seasonal reappearance which was better than the bare form suggest too. He showed a bit of progress as a juvenile but got injured in August and only returned at Doncaster last month after 267 days off the track.

He’s still lightly enough raced and an April foal to think he will progress with time and experience. He should be 100% fit today, is a pound lower than the last time, in an easier race – big chance.

If.… that is a big if: he acts on rain softened ground. With the rain expected to come, the currently fast ground may turn soft. Not sure it’s what he wants. Risk and reward. At given prices I am prepared to run the risk.

10pts win – Dandy Dinmont @ 6/1

Preview: Lockinge Stakes 2022

The Lockinge Stakes is one of my favourite races of the entire year: a straight mile on decent ground and a field of top-class milers – flat racing at its best.

I also love the Lockinge Stakes because it brings back memories of the “good old times” when my all-time favourite horse Paco Boy won the race in 2010 in the most sensational style.

The moment when Richard Hughes asked him to shift gears after cantering all over the field approaching the final furlong marker….. the turn of foot…. the arrogance – pure horse racing porn.

As for the 2022 edition: we have an overwhelming favourite as we had back in 2010 when Paco Boy was odds-on. This time it’s star miler Baaeed who is expected to win the Lockinge in style. He’s a 4/9 shot. A near certainty.

But is he?

Baaeed is unbeaten in six career starts. He went from strengths to strengths last year: from winning a maiden at Leicester in June to landing the QEII at Ascot in October.

A multiple Group 1 winner, successful in a variety of ground conditions who’s created a stunning visual impression whenever we’ve seen him. There’s no question Baaeed is the righteous favourite today.

He can be beaten, though. Even more so today. This is going to be his first run in 210 days. Yes, the Lockinge is a Group 1, but the Queen Anne next months is most likely the main target. Baaeed may not be fully tuned up today.

The ground is drying. Perfect for racing. And Baaeed won on fast ground. However, his very best performances came with cut in the ground.

Most importantly: even though he’s won two Group 1 races – and doing so visually quite nicely – he’s yet to achieve a topspeed rating worthy of a colt of the highest order.

His career-best came on his second career outing over a mile on good to soft ground – a solid, but not world beating 97 TS rating. He’s ran to 93 and 94 subsequently. With that sort of speed rating he may have struggled to get close in this years 2000 Guineas.

TS ratings aren’t everything and they have their own flaws. But they are a key gauge of class, form and speed. The fact Baaeed hasn’t achieved better ratings despite having ample opportunity suggests to me he’s not quite as good as his form reads.

Or let’s say: he wasn’t last year. Another year older and he may well be a better horse. He could still improve. And he’ll have enough chances to prove he can be a top-class colt also on topspeed.

Saying all that I obviously want to make the case for taking Baaeed on today. Not because he isn’t the most likely winner. He is. But because there are reasons to believe he’s vulnerable today – he’s a very short price and simply not quite as much a certainty as the odds suggest.

Of course it’s only worth opposing him if there’s anything in the field capable of beating him. So: is there?

With Mother Earth and Alcohol Free there are two other Group 1 winners in the race. Last years 1000 Guineas winner Mother Earth showed consistency and ran many fine races last year.

She ran to 100 and 101 topspeed ratings, although her form dropped significantly in the second half of the season. Her successful seasonal reappearance at the Curragh wasn’t flashy but you can expert her to come on quite a bit for the run as Aiden O’Brien’s horses tend to do.

She’s dangerous if she can find back to that early season form of 2021.

Alcohol Free is the reigning Coronation Stakes and Sussex Stakes champion. That’s the mark of a top-class miler. At her best she’s a big danger. But in three subsequent starts she didn’t look anywhere near the filly she was at Goodwood. Her seasonal reappearance left more questions than answers. And the drying ground is far from ideal.

From the rest of the field Chindit and Sir Busker can’t be ruled out at their best form. Nonetheless, both horses struggled in Group 1 company in the past and I reckon a lot has to go wrong for the better fancied horses for either of them to win.

The dark horse in the race is Real World. He’s the one I am really interested in – certainly at the odds on offer.

What sparks my interest is plenty fold: most importantly he’s achieved the fasted topspeed rating in the field. Crucially that performance is pretty recent. He ran to 107 when winning the Zabeel Mile at Meydan in January.

Granted, Meydan form isn’t always the most trustworthy one. Yet it’s a believable progression from what he achieved last season when he ran to 98 (2x) and 102 when he won the Steventon Stakes at Newbury – albeit that was over 10 furlongs.

Real World was a highly progressive 4-year-old once he returned to Europe and turf last season. He won four on the bounce, and brought it to five in a row with the Meydan victory, before trying the dirt at the highest level. He clearly hated the dirt, though, as was evidence earlier in his career already. Therefore I am fully prepared to discount those last two runs.

If you draw a line under those races you see him being unbeaten on turf in five starts. He won over a mile, 9 furlongs, 1m 2f, on very soft to fast ground. This is a top-class horse ready to win a Group 1.

The concern I have is the mile trip on drying ground at this top level. Normally that is. In this field, as alluded to earlier, there aren’t many top-class rivals. With that in mind Real World is a massive price and I couldn’t leave him unbacked.

Selection:
10pts win – Real World @ 9.5/1

Eyecatchers #7 2022

A list of horses that caught my eye during the last seven days of racing. These individuals look ready to win a race sooner rather than later given the right conditions.

Dancing Tango
06/05/22 – 3.25 Ascot:

Bit slowly away from the gate, then travelled really well into the home straight on the bridle, made progress to 2 furlongs out when a bit short of room, pulled out and stayed on strongly. Solid topspeed 70 rated performance.

Clearly one to improve for going up in trip. Bred for 12 furlongs. Full-sister to good handicapper Dancing Approach. Possibly wants ease in the ground too. Soft 10f on a stamina demanding track may also be a possibility.

One to wait for going handicapping. Showed promise on debut run last month too. Have to monitor the opening mark. Will need on more run to qualify.

Race Replay

Zameka + Kindness
06/05/22 – 4.35 Ascot:

The two aren’t obvious eyecatchers from a pure visual point of view. Though, there is a lot to take from this race for their future chances.

Zameka was disadvantaged right away from the widest outside draw. Travelled okay to the two furlong marker then dropped away quickly. First time blinkers didn’t help much in terms of performance, although he looked a lot more settled and less awkward than in the past.

Ran really well at Lingfield on his seasonal debut in a hot handicap when he hang his chances away in the closing stage but finished well given the circumstances.

He was two times placed and won well on his final start in 2021. Therefore he’s certainly better than this most recent poor showing. He was a $170k yearling, a full-brother to 95 rated Eagle Song, who won twice over 7 furlongs on the All-Weather.

With that in mind, as well as the pedigree, there is plenty of potential upside if Zameka goes back up in trip to 7 furlongs. He’s already won over the trip. The shorter sprint distances are too sharp. Perhaps a return to the All-Weather could be interesting too.

Kindness was drawn the total opposite in the #1 gate. She raced without cover and faded rapidly from two furlongs out, eventually finished last.

This was her seasonal reappearance. My impression is the trip is too short. That’s despite her winning over 5.5 as a juvenile. Back then in September she was quite badly outpaced at the back of the field but stayed on strongly as the leaders went too hard.

On pedigree she should enjoy a step up to 7 furlongs. With a reduced mark and tackling that additional distance she’ll be really interesting.

Race Replay

Mick McHugh
06/05/22 – 5.45 Ripon:

The run itself was not much on the eye. He was outpaced from 3f out, kept up to work for a while but was eventually eased. However, this was a solid comeback run after a 100 day break that should put him spot on.

He showed talent in January on the All-Weather over 5 furlongs, especially when placed at Lingfield finding plenty under pressure despite the minimum trip certainly being an inadequate one.

His breeding clearly points to a mile. that context I feel these three runs are noteworthy and perhaps he didn’t show too much the handicapper. An opening mark of 72 is workable if he steps up in trip to 7 furlongs or a mile.

Race Replay

Shallow Hal
06/05/22 – 6.45 Ripon:

Outpaced at the rear of the field 3 furlongs out, looked poised and dangerous two furlongs from home, travelling behind horses while searching for a gap. Didn’t get a clear run until late, finished strongly with the fastest final furlong split.

Jockey was 1lb overweight here, perhaps the ground not quite soft enough to see Shallow Hal to best effect. Strong run in circumstances. Not for the first time over the last weeks; he’s ran with plenty of credit and not always the best of luck in his races, mostly running to form and mark.

This consistency means he’s in the grip of the handicapper. However, this most recent run shows that he has options of a mark of 73 – he could be really dangerous with a claimer on board, especially with cut in the ground.

Ideally he drops to below 73 before I back him. Ground conditions are non-negotiable for me; I might be tempted on softish ground with a strong apprentice of his current mark, if the price is right.

Race Replay

Makyon
06/05/22 – 6.26 Wolverhampton:

Got a bump early and travelled keenly throughout. Had a lot to do from the back of the field and was rather tenderly handled. Finished in impressive style weaving through the field under hands and heels, posting the fastest last two furlongs.

He has lost his way completely, which is the reason why he has fallen to a basement mark. But he showed the flame is still burning lately. This recent performance is the best to date.

Would be very interesting back on turf over 6 or 7 furlongs, ideally with cut in the ground.

Race Replay

Late Arrival
06/05/22 – 5.35 Nottingham:

Chased early pace, got shuffled back from 3 furlongs out as he didn’t quite possessed the speed to stay close to the early pace. Stuck behind horses and short of room from two furlongs out, while sticking nicely to the task. Gets out late and finishes strongly with second fasted final furlong split.

Best on All-Weather but has ran well on turf last season too, without winning, though. Down to a solid mark. Wouldn’t mind another couple of pounds off. Handicapper would give him a real chance then.

Needs to go back to 7 furlongs, either on the All-Weather, or on turf with cut in the ground.

Race Replay

Wet Wind Blows
06/05/22 – 6.10 Nottingham:

Went out hard in the early part of the race setting some fast fractions. Slowed it down in the middle and kicked on impressively in the home straight to win by 5 lengths.

He defied a penalty for winning on debut at Newcastle but the weight was no issue here, despite meeting some solid opposition. His Newcastle performance was also noteworthy as he overcame greenness and not having the clearest of runs, finishing very strongly.

He’s a quirky sort, still learning on the job, but clearly talented, having ran to topspeed 90 here. Ten furlongs looks fine as a trip. Moving up in distance isn’t out of question. He looks pattern class and will be interesting where he goes next.

Race Replay

One Ruler
07/05/22 – 4.05 Ascot:

Travelled in midfield on the stands’ side really well until about two furlongs from home when he starts to lose his position as a combination of being slightly outpaced over this 7 furlongs distance as well as being stuck behind a wall of horses.

Finds himself about to be relegated to last approaching the final furlong. Switches to the inside rail and finishes under easy hands and heels the joint fasted final furlong split. Impressive.

Seven furlongs and fastish ground racing off near top weight was an incredibly tough assignment. To run so well in these circumstances is especially noteworthy.

Back up to a mile he’ll be a big chance, particularly with ease in the ground.

Race Replay

Ribtide + Eldeyaar
07/05/22 – 7.05 Thirsk:

Ribtide has to content with an outside draw, travels at the rear of the main group really strongly, hard on the bridle all the way to the final furlong marker behind a wall of horses with no way through.

Clearly better than this result and better than the odds of his first four career runs suggested. An opening mark of 67 looks stiff enough for what he achieved so far, although his runner-up performance in March behind Fly To Glory, who is now 83 rated and finished a solid third subsequently behind another 83 rated individual could indicate he’s got a bit more to offer.

This was his handicap debut. He was a 50/1 shot. And the way he travelled looked nowhere near like a no-hoper. Six furlongs looks to be his trip. I’ll be really interested wherever he goes next. He was a January foal and should win races soon. But the market has to be monitored.

Eldeyaar was another hard luck story. He got a heavy bump right after the start. Travelled at the rear end of a small group on the stands’ side. As the groups merged and the race got hot from two furlongs out he appeared slightly outpaced, but kept going nicely.

He had a bunch of horses in front, couldn’t quite quicken fast enough whenever a gap opened for a brief moment. Eventually things opened up late and he ran home strongly.

Clearly a better run than his 50/1 price suggested. This was his handicap debut. He looks to be potentially better than this opening 58 mark. His three qualifying runs where also better than the bare form.

Pedigree matches my visual impression that he wants an additional furlong. He should be a big runner if he steps up in trip. He may be well handicapped enough over 6 furlongs for now – but only with cut in the ground.

Race Replay

Elzaal
0705/22 – 7.35 Thirsk:

Travelled well as part of the smaller of two groups toward the stands’ side. Looked poised for a big challenge over two furlongs out as the groups merged. Was in a tight spot and badly hampered over one furlong out. Had to regain momentum. Impressive how he did it.

The form should be strong thanks to the winner who was still well handicapped.

There are obvious issues and risks with him. He’s a maiden after 20 runs. He’s got close a number of times. Down to a 49 mark at the moment, the right race is there for him to win.

Ideally 5 furlongs on soft ground as otherwise I’m sure he’ll be found out for speed. I would also be curious to see him attempting 6 furlongs again. He tried the distance only once. His pedigree gives him every chance to stay the trip.

Race Replay

Marselan
07/05/22 – 8.35 Thirsk:

Raced as part of a duo isolated on the stand’s side. Pair was lengths behind main bunch and had plenty to do with two furlongs to go. Marselan found plenty to finish much the strongest to grab 2nd place. He also achieved a career best 60 topspeed rating.

This was the first time after a wind operation – he was never going to be a 66/1 shot if his breathing would be fixed. The loss of form last year can most likely be attributed to those issues.

He won of 65 and 67 last summer over 7 furlongs. Now down to 62 he’s obviously well handicapped with the breathing issues rectified. I think 6 furlongs with cut in the ground can work as seen here but the additional furlong and decent ground may well be his optimum.

Race Replay

Arlecchino’s Gift + Salta Resta
09/05/22 – 1.40 Wolverhampton:

Arlecchino’s Gift was caught wide from his wide draw and only dropped in over three furlongs out around the home bend. Travelled much the best entering the home straight but had the entire field to pass.

Appeared to find a small gap over a furlong from home but got badly squeezed eventually. He pulled through but lost momentum. Got quickly going again and finished well – despite the trouble and being eased in the final 100 yards he ran the fasted home straight sectionals.

Starting issues prevented him from a more fruitful juvenile campaign, although he showed some talent. A gelding operation over the winter helped and thanks to being more professional at the start he’s finally winning races. He’s been progressive this year, wining twice and running well a number of other times.

When winning of a mark of 55 at Wolverhampton he appeared to have a bit in hand, which was confirmed by a 59 topspeed rating. There were excuses at Chelmsford subsequently when he was badly bumped at the start and was overly keen in a slowly run race.

This most recent performance adds to the picture that Arlecchino’s Gift continues to improve. Of a mark of 60 he could still be well handicapped given he ran to TS 59 with relative ease and caught the eye so dramatically here.

Salta Resta raced at the back of the field and was quite keen throughout but travelled strongly entering the home straight. Had to delay her effort to wait for space to open on the inside. She finished strongly, despite not having a clear run in the closing stages once again, not being knocked about either, with the second fastest home straight sectionals.

She’s been better than the latest results suggest. Currently only 2lb above her last winning mark from Southwell in January when she also achieved a 56 topspeed rating and beat Arlecchino’s Gift.

I feel anything below 6 furlongs will be too sharp. A step up to 7 furlongs looks possible given the dam side. But she’s always quite keen, so perhaps a fast 6 furlongs with a pace to run at should see her capable of winning another race.

Race Replay

Jumira Bridge
09/05/22 – 2.40 Wolverhampton:

After his usual awkward start he travelled well at the back of the main bunch. Looked poised turning for home but got stuck amongst horses. Had to switch to the inside in a harsh move over a furlong out and finished much the best, although the winner was long gone. Raced 1lb out of the weights.

Excellent follow-up from a good performance in a seller over course and distance when he made eye-catching headway turning for home carrying 10st.

Obviously a tricky customer, who can lose races at the gate and has fallen a long way down in the ratings. These last two performances suggest there is life in the 8-year-old, though.

If he drops down to class 6 he’ll be a big chance sooner rather than later I reckon. All-Weather or fast ground on turf both should work.

Race Replay

Monsieur Jumbo
09/05/22 – 3.40 Wolverhampton:

He lost the race at the gate. Not for the first time. Had to play catch up from early on. Appeared a bit outpaced around the home bend, kept up to work and stuck gutsily to it in the home straight, rattled home once switched to the middle of the track in impressive fashion, very much the strongest visually and also backed up by last 2 furlongs splits. Doing this despite losing his right-fore shoe.

No doubt he was the best horse in the race. He ran much better than the form suggested at Redcar before. After missing the break, he travelled powerfully through the middle part of the race, just got tired in the end doing too much before it really mattered.

He should stay the mile given the stamina on the dam side. I think it’s worth another try as things happen a little slower there. Ideally we see some headgear applied too.

He was a £85,000 as a yearling and has shown at the track he’s got some talent to match the price. He’s yet to run to a TS rating that matches his current mark, but I firmly believe he’s well capable.

Race Replay

Ustath
09/05/22 – 3.30 Catterick:

Grabbed the lead but didn’t find immediate change of gear entering the home straight. Got pressured left and right and badly hampered repeatedly from 2 furlongs out and never had a change to unleash a challenge. Whether he would have found enough to truly challenge is hard to answer.

Catterick as a track wouldn’t totally suit him. He’s best on flat tracks or the All-Weather. He’s down to a good mark having ran with consistency to a higher level last year. He won off 65 and was placed three times of a similar mark on turf and fibresand, and ran five times to topspeed ratings of 58 or higher (3x 61+).

Even though he has fallen down to a 56 rating at the moment, he was already twice placed this year and ran to a 58 TS rating at Newcastle.

Back on 6 furlongs on fast ground he’ll be ripe to win.

Race Replay

Port Noir + Hope Probe
10/05/22 – 2.20 Chepstow:

Port Noir travelled on the outside from a wide draw away from where the pace and race would develop. Going well making fine progress two furlongs out, then bit short of room and in tight spots a couple of times. Runs well to the line under hands and heels.

Fine performance given the circumstances. She is better on the All-Weather but a few pounds too high for my liking. One to monitor for a few more runs.

She won of a mark of 64 last September at Wolverhampton over 7 furlongs. That performances matches her career best 64 topspeed rating. Wait for her to drop down to that mark in those circumstances.

Hope Probe was at a disadvantage from her low draw much like Port Noire. Moved right over to the stands’ side rail but now behind a wall of horses. Switched back to the middle of the track from 3f out and eventually further to the outside in a dramatic move, making rapid progress.

Received two slight bumps in the last two furlongs but continued to finish well to grab 3rd place on the line.

He must have had issues having dropped 15lbs in a year and changed yards twice. He won of 55 over 7 furlongs last April ( 58 TS) and was multiple times placed of higher ratings subsequently.

This was a clear and obvious return to form. He could be well handicapped if stepping back up to 7 furlongs again.

Race Replay

Silver Diva
10/05/22 – 3.20 Chepstow:

Travelled strongly on the inside behind horses, kept up nicely to the task while having to bide time. Some space opened up late in the final furlong and she moved through easily to finish strongly under hands and heels.

She is still a maiden after 17 attempts, but there are mitigating factors. She also showed promise of higher marks last summer, especially with cut in the ground when she finished 3rd at Salisbury and Windsor.

Down to a basement mark at the moment, she has improved nicely with each run since her seasonal reappearance. The fact she ran so well on fast ground over the minimum trip here is noteworthy.

On proper soft ground she’ll be quite interesting over 5f with a stiff finish or otherwise over 6 furlongs, taking also into context her dam was a soft ground horse too.

Race Replay

Kylie Rules
10/05/22 – 3.40 Beverley:

Travelled very strongly approaching the two furlong marker. Had to wait for racing room, switched toward the inside rail but had to keep fighting for space. The race was gone as she reached the final furlong, although she didn’t find much either in the closing stages.

This was a hot race with some well handicapped individuals here, including the strong winner. She ran a big race last time out here at Beverley over 7.5 furlongs, finishing much the strongest visually and on sectionals, confirming the promise of her seasonal reappearance at Redcar.

No question, she is a frustrating mare these days. She hasn’t won for years, often enough caught the eye, none more so last June when an unlucky 4th at Thirsk of a mark of 67 while running to TS 66.

She is down to a 49 mark now. There is still some spark. But she will need ideal conditions: a bit of cut in the ground. Too often she raced on fastish ground, ran well, but I feel she needs a bit of ease in the ground these days. If that’s given over 7-8 furlongs she’ll win soon.

Race Replay

Gibside
10/05/22 – 4.10 Beverley:

Sluggish start, settled in rear, looked not quite to enjoy the sharp track and still seemed green. Bit short of room 3f out, switched widest for challenge and hang in the home straight a bit to his right.

Better than the result, as was the case last time out when he ran a strong race as runner-up. He made his move too early that day and a more conservative ride would have seen him gone much closer. Ran to topspeed 54 the last two times now.

I think Beverley looks too sharp for him as a track and fast ground possibly not quite ideal over this trip. He’s a poor starter. Can see him move up to 12 furlongs. 1m 2f distance isn’t out of question but want to see him on a less sharp course.

Race Replay

Lailah
10/05/22 – 5.20 Beverley:

Settled well in rear and travelled solidly into the home straight, looking potentially poised for a challenge. Kept in a pocket and not clear run from 3f out, eased to finish second last in the end. Was a big drifter in the betting on the day.

Clearly one for handicaps. Inexperienced, only the second career run for the filly, who was an April foal too. She’ll improve with racing and certainly if going up in trip. She’s a sister to solid handicapper Knowing, a 10f winner who stays 12 furlongs.

I suspect Lailah needs to move beyond 10 furlongs to be seen to best effect. That will happen. Give her time, monitor for the next few starts, also with an eye on the opening mark – she’s one for later this season.

Race Replay

Rose Camira + Adjourn
10/05/22 – 7.00 Newcastle:

Rosa Camira travelled nicely in midfield for a long time, made a bit of progress entering the home straight, but not helped by a shifting rival carrying them toward the far side. Eased after not finding much in the closing stages

Lovely return to the track for the filly on her second career start. She didn’t show much on debut over inadequate 7 furlongs. I reckon this piece of form here will work out quite well, though. Certainly she will have learned quite a bit.

She’ll be interesting once qualified for a mark and if stepping up in trip. There’s an awful lot of stamina in the pedigree. She’s a full-sister 1m 4f winning Lady of Shalott and Lady Morgana who was only 1¼ lengths behind Group 1 winning Eshaada in her sole run.

It’s unlikely that this filly will be a star, but she could be underestimated given the naked form doesn’t read too well yet; hence she’s one to wait for later this year when she goes up in trip and hopefully hasn’t shown too much to the handicapper too early to get a nice opening mark.

Adjourn quickly crossed over from his wide draw to be right up with the pace. He clearly made way too much in the first half of the race.He still looked in with a chance entering the home straight but in reality was gradually weakening and fading away.

This was his first run since September, having been gelded in the meantime. When last seen in 2021 he was an excellent 5th, only 2.5l beaten, behind smart Subastar at Newmarket.

He stepped up to 10 furlongs for the first time here at Newcastle. The jury is out whether he truly stays it. The pedigree is not fully conclusive on that question. The reason why he didn’t get home in this race was simply down to pacing, so worth another chance over the distance.

Otherwise a mile with some ease in the ground could be interesting too. That says one has to monitor the opening mark. As mentioned before I feel this was a strong maiden. And his juvenile form may push his mark beyond an acceptable level. He was a £135,000 purchase, though, and should have talent.

Race Replay

All Are Mine
10/05/22 – 8.00 Newcastle:

Was slowly away and clearly inexperienced. Pulling also really hard for the majority of the race in what was a field crawling for the most part. Didn’t get a clear run of things from 2 furlongs out as pace increased, perhaps also a little bit outpaced shortly after, but very impressive how he changed gears inside the final furlong when finding racing room to fly home.

Highly impressive debut despite drifting out to 25/1 from single figure odds in the morning. Fetched €162k at a breeze up sale last year.

Should improve for a trip given his pedigree. Ten furlongs looks no issue on that front. Will be really interesting to see where he goes next and what the market says. Exciting prospect.

Race Replay

Gold Charm
10/05/22 – 7.45 Lingfield:

Perhaps a tiny bit slow out of the gates, she travelled stylishly into the home straight. Didn’t have an immediate change of gear but wasn’t help by a rival hanging into her, pushing her toward the inside. Eventually with some space in front of her, she finished much the best, especially from half a furlong out.

This was her handicap debut after a really solid pipe opener in quite a hot Newbury maiden last month. An opening mark of 73 isn’t a giveaway from the handicapper; however, this run and particularly the way she finished the race is encouraging.

She has plenty of stamina in her pedigree, and matching that with the visual impression here I reckon she can unlock more potential if she moves up in trip. Winning over 12 furlongs of her mark looks realistic.

Race Replay

Wobwobwob
11/05/22 – 2.25 York:

Drawn in stall #1 on the far side, tried to go with the pace early on but soon flat footed and under pressure. Things happened too quickly here. Still found something under pressure and finished okay, isolated on that far rail.

Six furlongs on decent ground is probably too sharp, especially in this class. Ran a number of good races last year, including when winning at York twelve months ago over 7 furlongs. Continued to improve without winning. A third place at Ayr in a highly competitive Handicap of a mark of 88 running to topspeed 86 counts as a career best.

His seasonal reappearance at Thirsk last month was excellent. Both runs this year now confirmed he’s as good as ever. An 85 OR gives opportunities. Any drop in the mark in combination with a step up to 7 furlongs, ideally with a bit of cut in the ground, will be really interesting.

Race Replay

Life’s A Beach + Mr Freedom
11/05/22 – 8.30 Bath:

Life’s A Beach settled in rear after a slightly sluggish start. Was trailing the entire field turning for home. Had to wait for room, which opened up late inside the final furlong when switched to the inside where he finished really well with seemingly a lot in the tank.

This was his seasonal reappearance having been off since disappointing as short priced favourite at Kempton on Handicap debut. The way he travelled and finished from the back of the field suggests he’s certainly well handicapped.

It’s reasonable to expect he can improve with age and experience given he’s an April foal. He can be a slow starter and wasn’t able to quicken when it mattered at Kempton, so I’d be warry of dropping to 7 furlongs and want to see him over a mile.

Mr Freedom also travelled toward the end of the field. Still third last entering the home straight, he was stuck amongst horses, tried different avenues to get out and hang a bit over one furlong out when switched toward the inside again.

This was his first outing this year and first handicap start after showing nothing as a juvenile. He was surprisingly well backed from an early morning 20’s into 10’s SP.

He’s obviously light on experience and also one you definitely would hope to improve with time. There’s also a good deal of stamina that make me believe his future will more likely be over 10 furlongs.

Race Replay

Flying Secret
12/05/22 – 4.18 Salisbury:

Travelled strongly in rear on the inside, having plenty to do with two furlongs to go. Not finding much racing room until finally in the clear approaching the final furlong. Doesn’t have an instant acceleration but eventually stays on well to land 3rd place.

He’s got his issues in the starting gate and looks in the grip of the handicapper. At least over 6 furlongs. He needs the step up in trip, possibly 7 furlongs will suffice, but a mile should work too. Ideally he gets a couple of pounds off his mark too.

Will monitor for the next starts where they go with him. I wouldn’t back him over 6 furlongs.

Race Replay

Jawwaal
12/05/22 – 1.50 York:

Not the best of starts but that’s normal for him these days. Travelled powerfully behind a wall of horses, looming large, whenever he could get a gap to run through. No gap appeared, switched over 1 furlong out but the race was gone by then. Was eventually eased.

Really nice first outing for the year. Should improve from this. Travelled so well to assume he’s in fine nick. Proved to be prolific last season winning twice and achieve a career best 98 topspeed rating.

Currently rated 98. Would like to see a couple of pounds less before I’m seriously interested, which may already be achieved after this run if the handicapper is lenient. 5 furlongs in smaller field at Doncaster or Ascot on fast ground would be the ideal scenario.

Race Replay

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