Sunday Selections: June, 16th 2019

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

It’s been another pretty quiet week – but, with only the second bet of the week (the first one  came yesterday as well and was a major disappointment, mind) the betting bank got a major boost, thanks to Gold Mount’s (SP 16/1) decisive victory in the Grand Cup at York.

To be honest I didn’t expect that after he drifted badly before the off, only minutes before the race available at 20/1. It was clear expectations were low and my worry this might only be a pipe opener seemed reflected in the market. On the other hand, even then, given his class, which I felt stood above the rest in the field, should see him go close.

In the end Gold Mount outclassed his opposition:

…….

2.30 Salisbury: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 4f

A quick one for today – I am missing the good prices as just as I made my decision to back this lad his odds start to tumble. Regardless, he remains one to back here – talking about favourite Robert Fitzroy who’ll take a lot to get beaten today.

He drops in grade after a highly encouraging 1 lengths beaten 4th place finish at Doncaster recently. That is fair form and I expect him to be able to improve for the different ground today.

As he ran to a top speed rating of 66 that day, equivalent of his current handicap mark, any improvement this still fairly lightly raced gelding can find, will likely be good enough to get his head in front today.

The ground conditions are the most likely factor that can have positive impact. Robert Fitzroy is a full-brother to smart filly Bolder Bob who is a multiple winner over this sort of trip with plenty of cut in the ground. Big Bad Bob offspring generally tends to perform well in soft ground conditions anyways.

SDS on board is the cherry on the cake.

Selection:
10pts win – Robert Fitzroy @ 3/1 MB

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Saturday Selections: June, 15th 2019

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2.35 Sandown: Class 4 Handicap, 5f

Bahamian Sunrise is 4-2-2 over this course and distance. So if the return to Sandown can re-ignite the fire again, then the 7-year-old has a massive shout. It’s a big if, granted, given he’s been in abysmal form this year so far.

However, a near-career best came only last August at Epsom over 5f in soft ground when only a neck beaten in a hot class 2 Handicap, running to top speed of 80. He’s dropped a long way down the ratings since then, allowed to let go off 67 today.

Eleven times has Bahamian Sunrise ran to top speed ratings of 69+, which shows that he’s incredibly well handicapped today, if any return to some sort of form can be sparked by this course and distance, while the ground is fine.

Selection:
10pts win – Bahamian Sunrise @ 10/1 MB

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3.00 York: Listed Grand Cup, 1m 6f

Some of these have to prove their worthiness to compete in this class, most have a question to answer on the soft ground. The short priced favourite Mekong acts with cut in the ground and his recent form is compelling, on the other hand he’s yet to run fast enough to warrant such a price tag in my view.

That is mainly down to the fact that Gold Mount (formerly known as Primitivo) looks a major danger, if ready to go after a break and his return from Meydan/Hong Kong.

The gelding was a promising three-year-old a few years ago and was sold to Hong Kong, where he developed into a classy performer over three seasons. His form tailed a bit off in the last season, though a trip to Dubai and the 2 mile Gold Cup proved he is still as good as ever.

Fourth of eight and a good deal beaten behind reigning Melbourne Cup champion Cross Counter, the race clearly didn’t pan out ideally for Gold Mount, who was held up and finished strongly as the only one of those in the back third of the field.

That was a highly encouraging performance that rates the strongest piece of form in this field today, no doubt. Dropping down to listed class, he’s the joint highest rated individual.

The ground will be fine, Gold Mount acts on a soft surface. He’s got an engagement next week at Ascot – that’s the one concern, that today is merely a pipe opener, which may be the reason why he’s as big in the market as he is. It’s worth taking the risk, though.

Selection:
10pts win – Gold Mount @ 13.5/1 MB

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3.30 Bath: Class 3 Handicap, 1 mile

Given his current mark, Medieval looks a highly competitive runner in this race: 4lb lower than his last win mark, he also has been placed of even higher than that and ran t top speed ratings of 85+ on four different occasions. So an 82 mark seems sexy.

The trip is usually fine, the ground no bother – in combination, a mile and rain softened ground is a stretch, but possible. Medieval is also in fair form, having finished 3rd the last two times – even though a fair way beaten.

The different applications of headgear this year are a little worrisome, suggesting he may not quite have the same appetite for the game any longer, which may suggest even as good as he appears to be handicapped, he may not be in actual fact. It’s the risk here. One I’m prepared to be taking in a race where little else stands out.

Selection:
10pts win – Medieval @ 13/2 MB

Saturday Selections: June, 8th 2019

Leicester Racecourse home straight

2.25 Haydock: Group 3 Pinnacle Stakes, 1m 4f

Odds-on favourite True Self is the right lady on top of the market but at the same time the confidence in her making the step up to group class overvalues what she has done so far. Her career best topspeed rating of 91 gives her a good chance, no doubt. But she is vulnerable to more talented individual.

There is only one other individual in this race likely to be more talented: Pilaster. A frustrating sort, on official ratings she has 6lb to find with True Self. However, she ran to topspeed ratings of 104 and 91 last season and is already a Group 2 winner.

The drop in trip with the slower ground in combination can suit. Her sire Nathanial has an excellent record with his offspring on soft ground. Whether she handles the heavy ground, though, remains to be seen.

I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt to find back to form here today in what looks a winnable race as long as she acts on the ground.

Selection:
10pts win – Pilaster @ 17/2 MB

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4.20 Beverley: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 2f

Judged on this years form he’s going to struggle, however the drop in grade coupled with a good draw and ground to suit may see Indomeneo find back to form.

The 4-year-old has been busy this year already and showed a bit of spark on his seasonal return, though didn’t follow-up. As a consequence he has dropped to a career lowest handicap mark, while also dropping into a class 5 handicap.

That should help Indomeneo to run better than he brought to the track in his recent starts. Taking last year into account, he certainly looks to have a major chance, as he won off 82 over 10 furlongs and was an excellent runner-up over this trip in October when also ran to a joint career highest top speed rating.

Given Indomeneo has ran multiple times to top speed ratings of 77 and higher, he is an obvious danger if he’s still got some appetite for the game. Drawn in 3 should be a big advantage to be in the right position right from the start here.

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

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8.30 Chepstow: Class 5 Handicap, 5f

The soft conditions will suit Union Rose perfectly and can ensure he’ll pull out a bit more than when seen finishing in the money three of the last four times of a similar mark.

The seven-year-old has a 100% place record at this course as well as distance, although is quite a few pounds above his last wining mark; but he’s won of much higher in the past and interestingly his highest rated performances came on genuinely soft ground – Union Rose didn’t have many chances to run in these type of conditions for quite some time now.

Given he acted well at Chepstow before, now with ideal conditions, he can find the needed improvement in order to get his head in front.

 Selection:
10pts win – Union Rose @ 13/2 MB

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9.00 Chepstow: Class 6 Handicap, 5f

It remains to be seen how much ability and speed is there over the minimum distance, however on slow ground, I feel Sovereign State could take advantage of a slipping mark and break his maiden tag.

He showed a bit of promise in a couple of starts, without ever getting close. This is a big lad, he may needed time, and looks likely to improve with age.

His best performance came over 5f on soft ground, though, which makes him an interesting candidate in a really poor race, where it wouldn’t surprise to see this low mileage lad improve enough to be competitive.

Selection:
10pts win – Sovereign State @ 8/1 WH

Saturday Selections: June, 1st 2019

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Read my Derby Preview Here

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4.00 Musselburgh: Listed Fillies’ Stakes, 7f

There is not a lot of depth in this race. Favourite Red Starlight is solid, but nothing more. The forecast favourite Indian Blessing has been drifting all day long. I remain interested in the 5-year-old mare nonetheless.

The ground is the main question mark for me. It may be too soft for her, given her best form is on a faster surface. On the other hand she ran well in a Listed contest in France a couple of years ago with cut in the ground.

The trip looks sure to suit, given Indian Blessing is a winner over 7 furlongs – albeit on the All-Weather – and has been placed a couple of times as well.

She is clearly setting the standard in this race as the highest rated individual who is also a Group 3 winner already. Indian Blessing did perform well in a few graded contests in the US last season – so I do hope her poor seasonal reappearance at the Curragh last month will bring her on quite a bit.

If Indian Blessing runs to to form she’s the one to beat, no doubt. So, even though there are a few doubts, at given prices I’m with her.

Selection:
10pts win – Indian Blessing @ 6/1 MB

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4.55 Musselburgh: Class 3 Handicap, 5f

Requinto Dawn has dropped to a tasty mark largely due to poor showings this season. However, he ran rather eye-catchingly last time out at Redcar, after dwelling in the starting gates, he finished seemingly with a bit in the tank with the pack without ever getting any serious questions asked by the jockey.

The handicapper has given him a major chance now, taking another 3lb off the mark, which leaves Requinto Dawn a whopping 12lb lower than his last winning mark!

He proved competitive of marks in the high 80’s last summer, so with this recent run appearing as if there’s still some life left, Requinto Dawn could be tremendously well in today, also having the added bonus of a fair 5lb claimer in the saddle.

The ground shouldn’t be an issue. His career highest time-speed rating came on soft going. In fact, the bit of cut in the ground may help to slow down things a little bit and put more emphasis on stamina, which will suit, given Requinto Dawn stays further than the minimum trip.

Selection:
10pts win – Requinto Dawn @ 7.8/1 MB

Preview: Epsom Derby 2019

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No overly dramatic talk is needed about how great a race the Epsom Derby is. We all know it remains the number one in the racing calendar – the one not to miss, the date marked red. Personally I’m more in love with other races but the Derby is the Derby for a simple reason: it’s history defining.

Horses can contest it only once in their life: a chance to write history and following in the footsteps of racing greats such as Shergar, Galileo or Sea The Stars comes once and never again. Derby winners are remembered. The runner-up never is.

As we’re about to find out which colt will make history this year I have to confess: I’m all over Sir Dragonet to be the one remembered! I was delighted when he was supplemented for the race; as if there was ever any doubt after what he did at Chester?

Let me be frank: you don’t see all that often a horse doing what Sir Dragonet did in the Chester Vase last month. It was only his second career start after debuting only a fortnight earlier in a Tipperary maiden.

This fact shows the general inexperience of this son of Camelot. He’s got only two starts to his name to date. He certainly looked in need of the experience at Chester. He better have learned plenty that day.

Another concern is the ground. He’s only proven with cut in the ground. Epsom will ride much faster. hence you also can question the merit of the Chester form.

Those two question marks aside. there is so much more to love about Sir Dragonet. He’s obviously supremely well bred for the job, given his daddy was a Derby winner himself plus he has the legendary Urban Sea in his pedigree as well.

His debut performance at Tipperary was eye-catching. His Chester Vase was victory visually stunning. The way he moved through the early parts of the race, not quite comfortable, very much learning his craft, how he then made smooth progress on the outside from 4f out, turning for home hard on the bridle, and then pushed out a light under hands and heels ride to win by 8 lengths as easy as he liked.

This performance is highly rated on the clock as well. Sir Dragonet ran to a 106 Time Speed figure. Reminder: he did it on what was only his second ever career start and he did did it with ease. Insane.

More importantly: no other horse in this field ran faster so far – only stable mate Anthony Van Dyck ran to a TS rating of 100+ in this field – which he did as a juvenile over 7 furlongs.

That’s not to say the likes of Broome, Telecaster or Bangkok can’t improve for the Derby trip. The fact I merely state is that judged on time speed ratings – which I rate highly, even though they have their own flaws, of course – none of the other market principles has proven yet to be able to ran to anything that matches Sir Dragonet’s Chester run.

Whether he can reproduce such an impressive performance on different ground in a pressurised environment with loads of different sights and sounds is the main question. Of course that’s always the danger with an inexperienced individual as Sir Dragonet is.

Regardless; as unoriginal as it seems, given Sir Dragonet is heading the betting and is trained by Aiden O’Brien, he’s my clear choice for the 2019 Epsom Derby.

Selection:
10pts win – Sir Dragonet @ 3/1 PP

Friday Selections: May, 31st 2019

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It’s been some incredibly busy days lately. Little time to catch up on racing, least to actually study form, analysis the markets and come up with some proper bets. So, even on a massive day as this is today – Oaks Day – I’ll got to keep it short.

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4.30 Epsom: Group 1 Epsom Oaks, 1m 4f

An intriguing renewal which lacks a standout favourite which in turn could lead to a big price landing the odds…. a bit what happened in the 1000 Guineas a few weeks ago? Well, maybe. But unlikely. The winner will come from the top third of the market – I am pretty sure of that.

Obviously the ‘sexy’ individual is John Gosden’s Mehdaayih. What she did at Chester in the Cheshire Oaks was visually stunning. The way she quickened away from the field in the home straight remains a lasting memory.

The Frankel filly clearly followed up on what was an equally impressive victory – on the eye at least – at Chelmsford on the All-Weather back in April. Still only five starts to her name, Mehdaayih is progressive, has proven class and will no doubt stay the trip.

What speaks against her: you got to question the merit of the Chester form. The race was run on much slower ground than what’s likely to be encountered today. Neither has Mehdaayih yet to clock a high enough time speed rating that would put her in the category of a legitimate Oaks favourite.

In my view there is zero juice in the price, even though she clearly has the potential to improve again and I’m not doubting her competitiveness in the context of the race. She’s likely to run well. I simply find too much against her given her current price tag.

Anapurna is the other John Gosden runner, has Frankie Dettori in the saddle, was also pretty impressive at Chester – from a visual point of view, at least. There is more improvement to come, but the stark contrast in ground encountered today versus Chester is a major concern for me.

Progressive Maqsad is well liked by quite a number of smart people, reading through my Twitter timeline this morning. Progressive, looks sure to stay the trip, lightly raced – I can see why. On the other hand, I can not have her. She only won at Newmarket so far and hasn’t encountered anything remotely close to what Epsom offers.

It brings me back to Aiden ‘Brien once more. A few weeks ago, after Pink Dogwood landed the Salsabil Stakes at Naas, I was concluding:

“I think she [Pink Dogwood] will be hard to beat if she remains healthy until Epsom.”

And that remains to be the case. She’s here and she’s healthy. Other prominent stable mates who could have lined up aren’t lining up. A vote of confidence by team Ballydoyle? I think so.

Yes, she only won a Listed race to date and was beaten the only time she stepped into Group 1 class. But the Oaks was always the intended target. She didn’t ran badly in a bunched finish over over a mile – a trip way too short – in the Marcel Boussac back last October.

But she looked so much improved on her seasonal reappearance at Naas, stepping up to 1m 2f for the first time. It was a Listed race in name, however the form looks strong and has already worked out rather well.

The fact Pink Dogwood travelled hard on the bridle 2 furlongs out and then put the race to bed under hands and heels does offset the close winning margin in my mind. She looked well on top that day.

No doubt, as a sister to Irish Derby winner Latrobe, she’ll relish the step up to the Oaks distance. There is so much more to come I reckon – frankly there has to be, because she didn’t run particularly fast yet,  judged on TS ratings.

I bank on the fact she can run fast if needed, though. I expect plenty of improvement, and while there are a few question marks, like the ground (too fast?), on all evidence and given prices I am a Pink Dogwood backer, certainly not a layer.

Selection:
10pts win – Pink Dogwood @ 3/1 PP

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2.50 Carlisle: Class 3 Handicap, 6f

In tough ground conditions there is little with appeal in this race, but clearly the market speaks in favour, and it makes perfect sense: Across The Sea should have an outstanding chance.

The Dubawi filly steps up in grade after a good effort on her seasonal reappearance earlier this month when 4th of 20 in a hot race against the boys over 6f that has already been franked.

She has won over 5f in softish conditions- and was runner-up on heavy ground last year, while also running to a career best TS rating of 74 that day at Haydock. She remains unexposed over 6 furlongs, but the trip shouldn’t be an issue, given on pedigree she s supposed to stay further and as a sister to useful Big Tour, who stayed up to 1m 2f, with tough ground this trip can bring out more improvement, I feel.

Certainly a mark of 75 with these conditions leaves room for progress, even more so as Dubawi offspring tend to over perform on soft/heavy ground.

Selection:
10pts win – Across The Sea @ 4.2/1 MB

Preview: Irish 2000 Guineas 2019

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Finally we get the race we wanted: Too Darn Hot vs. Magna Grecia: meant to happen at Newmarket, now taking place at the new Curragh. A match made in heaven?

Probably not. I’m firmly against the chances of Too Darn Hot. All the hype over the winter has evaporated after injuries forced him to miss his early assignments and a recent defeat in the Dante Stakes have connections revert back to a mile.

For a horse that had issues earlier this year, to go back-to-back so quickly, after stretching out to a trip beyond the comfort zone, now travelling over to Ireland, going back to a mile, right up into Group 1 class – there are a lot of arguments against Too Darn Hot.

Certainly at a short price, despite seeing him on the drift that still has him around a 40-45% chance, I can not have him at all.

The market has it spot on, Magna Grecia is the righteous favourite and I have him pretty much a slightly better than 50% chance – so current odds are more than fair.

The English 2000 Guineas champ has – at least in my mind – stamped his authority firmly on the mile division with the Newmarket victory. The much talked about draw bias was more like a pace bias. After all, Magna Grecia won well in the end, and it appeared to me that in any circumstance he would have been the best horse in the race. 

It was his first start in 2019 and he can only improve going forward, is my reckoning. He ran to a time speed rating of 105 that day, in line with previously achieved 102 and 107.

The Newmarket third Skardu remains of high interest. I was sweet on his chances back then. I still like the colt. However he has to find more improvement, which isn’t unlikely given his lightly raced profile, but running subsequently to TS ratings of 90 and 92 is, even though progressive, not quite what’s required here today, I feel.

At around 7/1 he is a fair chance, but nothing more, hence not a bet for me. As I try to refrain from backing below 3/1 usually, I’ll also swerve the notion of “buying money” with Magna Grecia.

The next in line in this Irish 2000 Guineas field are all minority chances. So, anything else with a realistic chance of going close?

Well, the one that I am intrigued by, and always been since his juvenile season, and am delighted to see him here as I would have been interested if he would have lined up at Newmarket, is at a whopping price the other Ballydoyle runner Mohwak.

He’s one that was thought to be a Derby horse. And you could argue that still holds true as he needed a mile to win as a juvenile and ran on well at Chester in the Dee Stakes recently, which is a fine Derby trial in its own right.

Still, in mind stuck is the vision of how he won the Royal Lodge Stakes in rather cozily fashion last season – over a mile on fast ground. He achieved a TS rating of 104 that day – which is close enough to those ratings the two market principles have achieved.

Mohawk seasonal reappearance at Chester earlier this month, when second behind a stable mate who enjoyed the run of the race, in desperate conditions, was an excellent performance, given the circumstances.

I feel, though, the return to a sound surface will see him improve leaps an bounds. And also now fit from his first run in 2019, I can see this son of the almighty Galileo show much more than anything we’ve seen to date.

The mile trip look sharp enough, most likely. The stiff uphill finish of the Curragh can suit, on the other hand.

Whether he is good enough over this trip to battle it out with Magna Grecia remains to be seen. At prices I firmly believe Mohawk is massively undervalued in both win and place market.

Selection:
4pts win – Mohawk @ 27/1 MB
6pts place – Mohawk @ 4/1 MB

Horse Racing Around The Globe

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