The War Front Debate

Another winner today – though not the one I expected most: Make On Madam landed the odds in the lucky last at Beverly in great style. Compare that to Seven Heavens who finished a slightly underwhelming third in the European Free Handicap.

The Frankel son was taken to post early, looked warm in the preliminaries of the race and then pulled his way through the first couple of furlongs. Given all the hype before the off in all the usual racing outlets as well as on social media, it was a bit disappointing to see him finish with zero left in the tank.

Seven Heavens looks still raw, green and like a schoolboy in first grade who finally has to face the realities of school life. It’ll be interesting to see if John Gosden can get this lad to settle – if he does, then Seven Heavens can still be an exciting prospect for the future.

The winner of the race, though, Aiden O’Brien’s Whitecliffsofdover, already looks a fine prospect. The 2000 Guineas on the radar now? Surely, after this commanding experience. A first time tongue-tie saw him finish the race strongly. He was striding clear in the closing stages, thoroughly enjoying the demanding task the Rowley Mile is.

This son of War Front looks not only quite big and scopey  but has also clearly trained on. Which is nice to see because in the past we often heard something along the lines “War Front’s don’t train on”. Not an unreasonable shout. There is undeniably some truth to it.

Declaration of War, the one example brought up over and over again to demonstrate that War Front can produce excellent older horses indeed, is certainly a valid one, but there is also a fact that – solely looking at UK runners here – performance does drop off dramatically from two to three year old offspring – 26.9% strike rate (55.8% placed) for 2 year old’s versus 11.3% (24.6% placed) for 3 year old’s.

And for the one incredibly impressive winner we saw today, there were two fancied War Front daughters that bombed out in the Nell Gwyn Stakes.

This is a persisting trend year after year and therefore can’t be denied. However there is also the mare that has a role to play and we have seen with The Factor or the mentioned Declaration Of War can be top class beyond their juvenile season.

…..

4.40 Lingfeld: Class 6 Handicap, 1m

An open and rather competitive race for this grade, though the short favourite could improve yet again after a couple of big performances and therefore might have too much on his plate for this lot.

Nonetheless I’m more interested in potential improver Caledonian Gold. The four year old mare is still without a win, however is totally unexposed over the one mile trip and has dropped to a career lowest rating, despite running to solid form the last handful of starts over shorter trips.

She has tried this sort of trip only once last season when she failed miserably, which was more down to her pulling way too hard in the early stages of the race. She looked one paced over 7f in all her races though, still always running to the line at least, suggesting that now where she is potentially wiser and more mature that she really wants an extra furlong.

The very fact that the dam won a race over 10 furlongs on the Lingfield All-Weather gives enough confidence to suggest that this step up in distance can help. And if it does edge out a bit of improvement then Caledonian Gold could easily take advantage of her falling mark.

The yard seems to expect a performance as the jockey booking of Robert Winston looks significant. A “job jockey” I would call it, he has only two rides on the card, the next one after this race nearly two hours later, and he has a very healthy strike rate for this yard either, suggesting he’s not making the trip in the afternoon just for fun.

Selection:
10pts win – Caledonian Gold @ 15/2 Bet365

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