Saturday was wild. Harry’s Hill won, despite drifting out to 15/2 SP. He won like a ‘good thing’, though. I was stuck with 9/2 in any case, so the drift was no good to me. But I had him a good point shorter in my book, anyway. So, happy days.
Not so much a “happy ending” in the 2000 Guineas. Silver Knott was never going to win once the rain arrived. And there was a lot of rain! So much so it turned the ground to proper soft.
I’m upset with my eagerness to back him early, instead of having waited until Saturday to make a much better informed decision. Poor decision making is what eats profit.
And then there was Hi Royal. A huge price, could have been backed at 150s in the morning. Surely a small each-way bet would have been on the cards, especially as he was one of my 3-year-olds to follow and I wrote about him:
“Could be somewhat of a “dark horse” for the Guineas… given the speed he showed in his first two career starts. Clearly he’s seriously talented”.
Well, he ran a huge race to finish 2nd, looked like the winner even, before hanging badly. A missed opportunity. Sometimes I just don’t trust my own judgement enough.
It wasn’t a bet but I was nonetheless incredibly delighted, simply as a racing fan: everyone who follows this blog probably knows I love South African racing, and have grown particularly fond of 3-year-old colt Charles Dickens.
He was back today, down to a mile against his own age group. He won with authority, produced his usual stunning turn of foot and it was simply great to see him back to somewhere near his brilliant best.
It was a super ride by Aldo Domeyer, who made progress at the right time before it was too late as the pace wasn’t all that hot, and then trusted the acceleration of Charles Dickens, that was instant, to move through the gap on the inside.
The Durban July has been ruled out. Which is rather obvious, given the colt didn’t get home over 10 furlongs. But another crack over a mile against older horses would be seriously intriguing. The Gold Challenge at Greyville next month has been mentioned as a potential target, indeed.
3.00 Newmarket: Dahlia Stakes, 9f
The ground throws this race wide open and I feel progressive filly Al Husn is possibly underestimated. She’s one of the horses I gonna follow keenly this season. Moving up to Group 2 level is asking plenty of her, but I believe she showed enough last year to think she could have a solid chance to be in the mix.
It may turn out that she isn’t quite good enough, but the filly loves it at Newmarket and is likely to enjoy the soft underfoot conditions, given she won impressively on good to soft when last seen and seems to hit the ground quite hard, too.
I loved her win over a mile in a class 3 Handicap here back in September, when she ran home strongly to win a shade cozily. She was even more impressive, I thought, when she moved up in class and trip to win a hot class 2 Handicap a few weeks later over 10 furlongs at the Rowley Mile.
She became a bit disorganised in a rough finish from 3f out before she hit top gear and sprinted home strongly to win with authority once again.
Dropping down to 9 furlongs in proper soft conditions shouldn’t be a problem. She showed plenty of cruising speed in her races and has the pedigree to stay, possibly even beyond 10 furlongs.
I’d be surprised if she isn’t ready for her reappearance. Roger Varian wouldn’t throw her into the deep end, otherwise. Yes, she has a bit to find on ratings, including speed ratings, but she has an opportunity to show that she belongs here. She looks the value in this contest.
10pts win – Al Husn @ 10/1
3.25 Leopardstown: Group 3 Derby Trial Stakes, 10f
Up And Under was an unlucky runner-up in a photo in the Ballysax Stakes on his seasonal reappearance. He travelled much the best, made smooth progress on the outside of the field until he got tight for room and badly bumped 2 furlongs from home.
It was impressive how he gathered momentum following the collision as rapidly as he did to fight it out in a battle with potentially smart White Birch. If he wouldn’t have been hampered, could he have won? I think he might have and then would be a shorter price.
He clearly acts on soft ground, as he also ran a lovely race on debut on heavy ground in his sole start as a juvenile last October.
He looks a lovely prospect for middle-distance races this year, and could also step up to 12 furlongs.
For now, this presents a good opportunity to score in Group company because favourite Proud And Regal may well be the default favourite but the Donnacha O’Brien trained colt’s Group 1 win at the end of last season doesn’t look overly strong form.
The price is just about getting quite skinny now and I would not go below 11/4, to be honest.
10pts win – Up And Under @ 11/4
3.40 Newmarket: Group 1, 1000 Guineas, 1m
Favourite Tahiyra is all class. The way she won the Moyglare last season was incredibly impressive. It’s the standout piece of form and she ran a good 99 speed rating as well, without having to go all out.
The vibes from the Weld yard were somewhat mixed leading up to the Guineas. However, it’d be hard to believe such an experienced handler would send her over if she wouldn’t be ready to go.
She beat Meditate at the Curragh in the most impressive style. Hard on the bridle with two furlongs to go, she never saw the whip, yet produced a sensational turn of foot.
I think she’s not a bad price at all, even. Certainly the one to beat on paper.
Meditate, runner-up in the Moyglare went on to win at Breeders’ Cup subsequently. The Aiden O’Brien trained filly should rate a key danger once again.
She ran to a 104 speed rating when runner-up behind speedy Lezoo in the Cheveley Park Stakes. Therefore, she possesses plenty of speed and looks well capable to stretch out to a mile as evident at Keeneland. But that was on firm ground. The soft going is a a bit of a question mark.
Aforementioned Lezoo would be seriously dangerous if she could stay a mile. She looks a sprinter to me, though. Somewhat similar doubts hang over recent Nell Gwyn Stakes winner Gammas Girl. The Guineas is a much deeper race, but it’s far from a given that she can get home over the additional furlong.
Dreams Of Love and Mawj bring solid form from Meydan. Is that form good enough? Maybe. Mawj ran excellent speed ratings and has experience on her side. She’s a danger I seriously rate.
But there is absolutely no doubt in mind that they all have to beat Remarquee, including the filly herself. What I mean is: she is obviously a tricky filly, can be raw, awkward and looks seriously green in her first two career runs.
At the same time she created a huge impression on debut last year at Salisbury when she finished like a train, and no less so at Newbury in the Fred Darling two weeks ago.
That day she didn’t have the clearest of runs, before she accelerated really well from two furlongs out. She looked far from straight forward, carried her head awkwardly, yet won with tons in hand, nearly on the bridle, eventually.
Obviously I’m biased because I flagged her as a 3-year-old to follow. But it’s difficult not be impressed by what she has done so far, exactly because she was so green.
That recent experience can only help. So should the step up to a mile and the soft ground, which is going to suit her more than many here. I must back her at current prices.
10pts win – Remarquee @ 7/1
4.58 Hamilton: Class 6 Handicap, 6f
Sir Benedict ran too poorly to be true at Catterick when last seen less than two weeks ago. His rider relinquished an advantageous draw and steered away from the far rail, which was no help at all.
But I do remain faithful to him, even though, one could ask: is there ever going to be another day for him to shine? He’s probably one of the most unfortunate horses without a “W” to his name this year.
He’s a tricky sort and there’s a reason why he’s yet to win in 2023, despite knocking on the door a number of times and having dropped another two pounds lower than. At the same time, I maintain that he looks cherry ripe.
To go up and run over 6 furlongs again is a risk, though. He can pull hard when there’s no pace to run at. You never know how the race is going to develop, though, it looks likely that they good a decent clip here.
He caught my eye a number of times over the last weeks and months. Especially three runs ago at Newcastle, stuck behind a wall of horses, he finished best, doing so nearly on hard held.
And prior to that also at Wolverhampton, again not enjoying a clear run, he dipped below 11s in the penultimate furlong and finished like a train.
The soft ground at Hamilton should be to his advantage, as well as that he’s a course and distance winner, who won here off 60 and ran to a 64 speed rating last June looks.
However, on proper soft ground the stiff finish may stretch him, especially if he shows any signs of keenness early on. That’s a the risk. He’s irresistibly well-handicapped, though, I’d follow him over the cliff another time again, given he ran to a 54 speed rating easily last month and 3x to 59 plus within the last twelve months.
10pts win – Sire Benedict @ 7/1