Saturday Selections: October, 19th 2019

Ascot Grand Stand, by Florian Christoph

I’m short in time today, hence for now only focus on British Champions Day – Wolverhampton selections maybe later on today. Saying that, still looking for a first winner in October. Tough times…. and as my two selections are massive prices I can’t realistically hope that it’ll change anytime soon!

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2.45:  G1 Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes, 1m3½f 

Looks a coin toss on form and ratings between four fillies, namely favourite Star Catcher, Oaks winner Anapurna and the Aiden O’Brien duo Fleeting and Delphina.

You can make solid cases for either of these, but the forgotten horse in this quartet is Delphina. Yes, she is yet to win on the highest level, and only three starts back was beaten in a Group 3 at Cork. The drop in trip may not be totally ideal, but then I think over this course with soft underfoot conditions it might well be.

For a start Delphina is drawn well, so she should be able to settle close enough to the pace which I feel is an advantage here. She will not have to work hard for that, unlike, for example at Longchamp when last seen where was drawn widest.

That performance in the Prix de Royallieu was an excellent performance, given she ran into plenty of trouble in the closing stages. It was also a nice progression from her excellent runner-up performance at Doncaster in the Hill Stakes.

That particular performance is interesting as Delphina ran to a 105 topspeed rating, which is the highest in this field. Granted it came on fast ground, but she proved in France that soft ground is no issue.

Given she has yet to win beyond maiden company she has a little bit to find with the market principles. However on official ratings that is a mere one or two pounds. If she still has something to give after a busy second half of the season I see her going really close today.

Selection:
10pts win – Delphina @ 24/1 MB

……….

3.20: G1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, 1m

With the tough going likely to slow down things significantly and the ground potentially suitable – well, certainly a change – I’m quite intrigued by Phoenix Of Spain today, given he also has a new jockey on board.

He was so impressive in the Irish 2000 Guineas, though hasn’t kicked on from there, although you couldn’t say he’s been running poorly, given he contested top class opposition on the highest level, and despite not coming close to win clocked 93 and 94 tospeed ratings in his last three runs.

That is far off the whopping 105 achieved at the Curragh, or the 101 at last years Futurity Trophy (on softish conditions!), but shows Phoenix Of Spain hasn’t gone dramatically backwards.

On the plus side also he might be a little bit fresher than some of the more fancied runners here. I hope he can overcome the wider than ideal draw and settle up with the pace. If so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him outrunning his price tag.

Selection:
10pts win – Phoenix Of Spain @ 25/1 MB

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Friday Selections: October, 18th 2019

Wet Dundalk Polytrack

7.35 Newcastle: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 

Two I find interesting here given their huge prices, which look way too big, but only if the handbrake is off today. I’m not sure about that one, but prepared to take the risk.

Elusive Heights hasn’t won for a long time, though has fallen to a career lowest handicap mark now, even though he caught my eye when last seen at Ayr. He made excellent progress from four furlongs out but didn’t really get a clear passage through when it mattered most.

That was his second run coming off a long break, before that last autumn Elusive Heights ran pretty well of marks in the 70’s over this course and distance. Hence, now down to a 68 rating, which he excelled on topspeed five times in his lifetime I feel he’s potential super well handicapped today, albeit his racing style is asking for trouble in big field like this.

The other one is the opposite, in terms of racing style: Destroyer went off like a lunatic over CD when last seen a week ago. He was never to last home but one could argue run well for as long as he did given the suicidal pace.

He#s down to an interesting handicap mark too, as he’s ran to higher topspeed numerous times before as well. Most interestingly, Destroyers penultimate run at Pontefract, a 3rd place finish, was a 67 TS effort in a race that looks strong form as the runner-up has franked the form since then.

Ideally you would like to see him drop another couple of pounds and drop down to class 6, then Destroyer would be tremendously well handicapped; hence I’m doubting today is “the” day. But as a bit of money is coming all day long, and I see him being certainly handicapped to go close if allowed to, I’ll take the risk.

Selections:
4pts win – Destroyer @ 20/1 MB
6pts win – Elusive Heights @ 22/1 MB

Sunday Selections: October, 13th 2019

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3.15 Curragh: Listed Testimonial Stakes, 6f

There is little to expect from the 3-year-old individuals in this field, hence we can focus on the older horses right away, that makes it much less competitive race overall. Clear top of the list is obviously Make A Challenge, after his impressive 5f romp here at the Curragh.

Ground and tip won’t be a worry, but as he is going up in class he has to progress again…. or not. This is a weak listed contest, hence he is the right favourite and will be hard to beat.

But if one can beat him I feel it will be the undervalued Urban Beat. He was 4th and well beaten behind Make A Challenge in the aforementioned Curragh race, however, given circumstances ran a massive race.

He clearly was disadvantaged by the draw and pace, most importantly, but a clear best from the low drawn horses, therefore one can upgrade his run.

The soft ground today won’t be an issue – he’s won twice on heavy ground; but the step up to 6 furlongs is one that can bring him much closer to the favourite today as I feel that is his optimum trip. Drawn close to the pace Urban Beat should get the perfect race, and as one of only very few in this field he has already ran to a 90+ topspeed rating in the past – 2 times, in fact – which means he’s a huge price in this poor field, in my book.

Selection:
10pts win – Urban Beat @ 15/2 WH

………

3.50 Curragh: Handicap, 6 furlongs

Medicine Jack looks handicapped to go really close today, after proving his well being at Navan over the minimum trip only four days ago, when he was probably unlucky to bump into a well-handicapped winner who got first run.

Stepping up to 6f will suit, so does the soft ground and the pace he’ll find around himself to track. The gelding has fallen a long way in his handicap mark, from a 101 at the beginning of the season to 80!

Despite this deep fall, Medicine Jack has a number of decent runs in the book this year; such as two over course and distance in big fields this summer.

This is a much easier contest than those handicaps, and given he has ran to 80 plus topspeed ratings in the past, I am hopeful that with preferred conditions today he can get his head in front again.

Selection:
10pts win – Medicine Jack @ 5/1 MB

Saturday Selections: October, 12th 2019

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5.20 Newmarket: G3 Darley Stakes, 1m 1f

I am an admirer of consistent Matterhorn but feel in these conditions he will not be able to show his best, which will be required to beat two others I also quite fancy for this particular contest.

The 3-year-old Feliciana De Vega is obviously the most exciting and intriguing individual here. Lightly raced, showed a lot as a juvenile posting strong figures, and hasn’t been without promise in two starts this season either, while also loving soft ground, he has the ability to improve again and take advantage of WFA.

However, the price has dropped below one I’m prepared to back him, given the potential improvement is well and truly reflected in the odds.

Also dropping in price, but still underestimated is 4-year-old gelding Indeed. Not quite as sexy in profile as the favourite, however, no less with the potential for potential improvement, I feel.

He also remains still generally low mileage, has shown preference for cut in the ground and improved nicely from two to three to four years of age – as you would hope to see from an April foal.

Indeed won twice this year already, including over a mile here at Newmarket (plus a 10f success on the All-Weather), posting a 101 career best topspeed rating. The form looks solid, and even though he couldn’t follow on from there next time out, he clearly had valid excuses at Goodwood.

A little break since then may have freshened him up, and hopefully the Goodwood run hasn’t left any marks on him; if it hasn’t he’ll be a massive player today, one I have much closer to Feliciana De Vega in my book than the bookies still have.

Selection:
10pts win – Indeed @ 6/1 MB

Friday Selections: October, 11th 2019

Newmarket Rowley Mile False Rail

3.35 Newmarket: G1 Bet365 Fillies’ Mile, 1m

Intriguing contest, but possibly a weak one without a real star? For all what the market principles have achieved form wise, they haven’t run particularly fast yet.

Neither Love nor Cayenne Pepper have come near at least a 90 topspeed rating, despite having ample opportunity. You may give recent 9 lengths winner Quadrilateral the benefit of the doubt, though.

Nonetheless, I feel Powerful Breeze is underestimated in this field. The filly was supplemented after kicking her career off with two impressive runs. A winning debut over 7f here at Newmarket, followed up with an excellent Group 3 success at Doncaster.

That day she ran to a 92 topspeed rating, which is by far the best of what any filly has achieved in this field. There is no reason to doubt its legitimacy, as it was a well run race and Powerful Breeze improved nicely from her debut 87 TS performance.

She looks a filly open to plenty more improvement, being well bred, a March filly and by Iffraay. She gets the trip well, the ground is a slight question mark, given she hasn’t met cut in the ground yet.

I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt on that front, given her dam acted on soft, and Iffraay’s offspring tends to perform well enough also. Certainly if she can run here to the same sort of level – possibly even a little bit better – than in the May Hill this filly has a much better chance than the odds suggest.

Selection:
10pts win – Powerful Breeze @ 7/1 MB

Thursday Selections: October, 10th 2019

kempton

7.30 Kempton: Class 5 Handicap, 6f

Lightning Charlie has fallen to a career lowest handicap mark and looks poised for a big run with top jockey Jim Crowley booked for the job.

The 7-year-old isn’t the force of old, but now dropping to class 5, having dropped 15lb in his handicap mark since the beginning of the year, even though he has ran with credit in higher class a number of times this summer, returns to the All-Weather where’s posted six times in his career topspeed ratings of 70 and higher.

There’s still life in Lightning Charlie as he showed back in August at Brigton, when a fair 4th in a decent class 4 contest, not beaten fat that day. The latest Ascot effort in big field can be forgiven.

Selection:
10pts win – Lightning Charlie @ 11/2 MB

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7.45 Southwell: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

Hat-trick seeking favourite Queen Of Kalahari should go really well and has a big shout to make it three on the bounce, though from a wide draw he’s one to oppose at short odds.

Much more interesting, enjoying a much kinder draw, suitable to his racing style, is Poeta Brasileiro. He’s ran really well since changing yards to David Brown, in the money the last two times over sprinting trips off a similar mark, having a big chance today, given those last two races he ran to a 62 tospeed rating as well, suggesting he’s certainly weighted to go close today.

Back at Southwell where he’s been placed before over the shorter 5f trip, this is only his third start on the fibresand and that offers a bit of upside. His sire has a super record here, and as Poeta Brasileiro has already proven he can go well here, there’s no worries on that front.

The colt has ran to a career highest 65 topspeed rating on the All-Weather last winter also, suggesting with his current form, current handicap mark and a top draw to leverage he’s a massive chance today.

Seletion:
10pts win – Poeta Brasileiro @ 10/3 MB

Wednesday Selections: October, 9th 2019

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6.40 Kempton: Conditions Stakes, 6f

Marnie James is clearly the class act in this field and will be hard to beat if he can stretch out to 6 furlongs. He remains unexposed on the All-Weather were he’s one win from one start, but more importantly has proven this season a couple of times his classy speed, particularly compared to what he encounters in this field.

Hi second and third place in big handicaps at York over shorter are tremendous pieces of form as he ran to topspeed ratings of 97 and 99 on those occasions. The latter one over 5.5 furlongs in fact, where he didn’t stop, suggesting another half a furlong may not be that big a deal.

Let’s not forget Marnie James has tried 6 furlongs only three times, the last time in September this year, finishing third in the listed Garrowby Stakes. Not exactly shabby form.

He’ll certainly have superior speed to the rest here if they will dawdle and should this end in a sprint finish.

Selection:
10pts win – Marnie James @ 10/3 WH

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8.10 Kempton: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

This looks a wide open race given the favourite drops to a trip that looks on the sharp side for him. There aren’t too many one can have on the shortlist for this poor contest, but Alba Del Sole features highly on mine, that’s for sure.

The mare isn’t a frequent winner, however is a course and distance winner and has dropped to a really tasty mark. Twelve months ago she was still a 70 rated individual, is now down to 52, though hasn’t ran all that badly this season, actually. Since switching yards this August her last two performances at Wolverhampton were decent enough, particularly her debut run for the Charlie Wallis yard was rather promising.

The fact Alba Del Sole has ran 8 times to topspeed ratings of 53+ is also encouraging in that context, suggesting she may be quite well handicapped now. Add the 7lb of useful apprentice Sean Kirrane who takes the ride – his only one on the card -and you have a competitive chance in this race.

The draw isn’t ideal, which really is the only negative, beside the obvious point that one has to trust the mare still has the appetite for the game.

Selection:
10pts win – Alba Del Sole @ 15/1 MB

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