All posts by Florian Christoph

Florian - not a cool kid and don't try to be one. I'm a 31 year old photographer and writer, make a living in the land of rain but am German by nationality yet free and cosmopolitan by heart. The camera is my companion at places near and far.

Preview: Irish Champion Stakes 2018

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This years renewals of the Irish Champion Stakes wins in excitement purely on the basis of the renewed clash between Roaring Lion and Saxon Warrior. Both met several times in big races over the last two seasons and it has been interesting to see how each individual progresses differently.

One could argue that since the 2017 Racingpost Trophy Roaring Lion has been the more progressive one; certainly since Saxon Warrior landed his own early season target with the 2000 Guineas, Aiden O’Brien’s charge has been playing second fiddle on three occasions behind “The Lion”.

The last time, in the Juddmonte International, the gap was at its biggest ever since these two dated each other for the first time. 5 lengths Roaring Lion had to spare that day. Will it be different today?

It’s been a long year for both horses now and it probably comes down who’s able to hold his form.

On paper Roaring Lion is poised to win another battle today. Ground and track should suit him, and the fact AOB seems to throw the kitchen sink at him reminds me a little bit of 2009 when the same happened taking Sea The Stars on.

Regardless, taking prices into account, I find it impossible to back the favourite, even if he is the most exciting horse of 2018 and he’s likely to win today. Odds-on is a no go for me. And this particular race has proven over the last number of years it can be a bit of a minefield for short priced favs.

So I settle happily with Ballyoyle’s second string: Rhododendron. Her Lockinge Stakes win earlier this year rates as a superb piece of form and as she has proven in the past to stay 10 furlongs she would be a much shorter price if not for an abysmal run of form.

I bank on her to find back to her best today, for the simple fact the AOB yard wasn’t right for some time this summer and her runs were simply too bad to be true.

The setup of the race today could suit her well. In saying that, she has to find with the two market principles, of course. But then, she is a massive price, and on her best form she should be half of the odds available today.

Selection:
10pts win – Rhododendron @ 22/1 PP

Saturday Selection: September, 15th 2018

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5.10 Chelmsford: Class 5 Handicap, 1M 5F 66Y

A risky shout out for long-shot Global Style here. He’s yet to win a race and didn’t exactly come close yet. However, he has a few half-decent performances to his name; most importantly his latest Windsor run.

That was a better race than this here today, he was pretty keen in first time blinkers and didn’t get the breaks when needed with a wall of horses in front, hampered slightly over 3f out and a bit more severely in the closing stages. Yet he galloped all the way to the line and wasn’t far beaten.

He doesn’t exactly cries out for a stamina test, but with first time tongue tie and the added benefit of the pedigree there is a fair chance he can last the 1M 5F 66Y trip today.

He’s only slowly coming down in the mark. It remains to be seen whether he can win off 71. But against lesser rivals there is a fair chance I reckon. Robert Havlin on board with a super record for Ed Dunlop in this type of races. Worth a nibble.

Selection:
10pts win – Global Style @ 22/1 PP

Big Race Preview: St. Leger 2018

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A wide open St. Leger – I’m saying that despite the betting telling a different story. It’s a foolish price for John Gosden’s clearly exciting filly Lah Ti Dar. But so exciting to believe 7/4 is the right price? Surely not. Not for a filly that, albeit totally unexposed, has yet to run to a time speed rating of 100 or more.

She may well be the one to beat here, she may well be proving her class and stamina today – at this incredibly short price I rather look elsewhere.

I have not to look far. My eyes set firmly on what Aiden O’Brien brings to the table. And that is so much more than Kew Gardens. He’s clearly a classy individual. He should enjoy the Leger trip. But can he improve again? Does he even have to? Probably not. He’s setting the standard here, in my mind.

But he’s well exposed. We know what we get. And that may or may not be good enough. At given prices it’s nothing more than fair. And the fact team Ballydoyle brings a handful of runners here doesn’t scream confidence in Kew Gardens.

Two other runners have caught my eye. Not for the first time this is The Pentagon. A promising juvenile last year, he also showed continued promise earlier this year; I quite liked his 3rd placed finish in the Derrinstown Derby Trial and subsequently saw him as a fair each-way chance in the Derby.

He was a long way beaten that day eventually, though that run was better than the bare form may suggest. He’s been beaten in the Irish Derby and the Great Voltiger subsequently – but both runs showed there is some class. Particularly his Curragh performance, where he made a lot of ground from the back of the field is interesting.

Stepping up in trip could suit. The Pentagon has no turn of foot, he’s more of a grinder, I feel. That may well suit the Leger and he can outran his big price tag.

So can be stable mate Southern France. Less exposed and a huge individual in physical presence, his return from a small break in the Irish St. Leger Trial last month was hugely promising.

He clearly wasn’t well placed trailing the field and had a lot of ground to make up in the home straight. Which he did pretty easily. He wasn’t beaten up to finish closer to those in front of him who also either set the pace or rode close to it for most parts of the race. It was a lovely prep for the big one, I feel.

Selections:
5pts Win – The Pentagon @ 26/1 MB
5pts Win – Southern France @ 17/1 MB

Monday Selection: September, 10th 2018

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5.45 Chelmsford: Class 4 Novice Stakes, 7f

Open looking contest. On paper there seems little between Balladeer, Just Later and Rockshore, who is in my eyes the most interesting of the trio, hence Balladeer certainly a wrong price.

But it’s Miss Green Dream who catches my eye with Harry Bentley in the saddle. The filly showed promise in two starts over shorter. Particularly the most recent run looks strong form on paper. She was minded in both starts also.

Stepping up in trip is surely what this filly needs judged by how she was outpaced in her two previous starts and on pedigree. The switch to the sand is interesting and may help her combined with the new trip to improve significantly, having the added bonus of a good draw.

Bentley and trainer Williams have an excellent record together this season. Particularly with two-year old’s. It’s possible that this race is only another stepping stone to when she’s going handicapping. But all the evidence mentioned above suggests she’s got as good a chance as the rest in the field at a much bigger price.

Selection:
10pts win – Miss Green Dream @ 10/1 Sky

Saturday Selections: September, 7th 2018

Leicester Racecourse home straight

4.15 Haydock: Group 1 Sprint Cup, 6f

Hard to argue against red hot favourite Harry Angel…. if he’s top fit and back to his best. That’s a big if. He’s coming back from an injury here and can easily get fired up. With ground not ideal, I feel he is vulnerable.

That says, he’s the defending champion and won this race last year in similar conditions when quite a few things were staked against him. So he’s the one they all have to beat. What I’m saying is: Harry Angel is beatable here. Certainly at short odds not one to play for me.

Plenty of better options given the odds available here. I’m siding with Jim Crowley’s mount Eqtidaar. An excellent winner of the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot when getting home with a bit to spare despite hanging badly in the final furlong, he looks certainly overpriced here being harshly judged by one poor subsequent outing.

He was comprehensively beaten in the July Cup, so clearly needs to bounce back. But given he showed fine form in his two seasonal starts prior to Royal Ascot could mean Eqtidaar simply had a bad day in the office.

round conditions will be totally different to Ascot. In saying that he has shown to act with cut in the ground. A winner on good to soft and runner-up in the Group 3 Pavilion in Stakes on genuinely soft ground on his seasonal reappearance make me think Eqtidaar is going to be fine.

The draw may not be totally ideal as it may favour those wider drawn given how the race could pan out in these conditions, it’s also where the pace looks like to be. At 28/1 that’s a risk worth taking.

Selection:
10pts win – Eqtidaar @ 26/1 PP/MB

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4.50 Haydock: Class 2 Handicap, 5f

Largely consistent top weight Gracious John hasn’t been good in his most recent race but showed multiple times this year already that he is still very competitive in this class and off this type of mark.

He’s been running to higher TS ratings than his current mark in the past and achieved twice this year alone a 93 and 95 TS rating, suggesting he’s as good as ever. Returning to sharp 5f and most importantly with cut in the ground will be a big help for this course and distance winner.

Gracious John has a 40% strike rate in 5f Handicaps, won already two times this year, including a 5f Handicap of a mark off 98 in good to soft conditions. For one who can go forward his draw looks perfect also.

Selection:
10pts win – Gracious John @ 15/2 PP

Sunday Selection: September, 2nd 2018

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

4.00 Brighton: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 2f

Lightening Dance and Double Reflection come into this in excellent form. Form that looks solid, also on the clock. So this is an ultra competitive fillies’ handicap, despite only a small field.

The one I feel that’s potentially underestimated is Last Enchantment. She won a shade cozily a 1m contest at Nottingham in May of a mark off 72, running to a RS rating of 75. She hasn’t been disgraced in higher grade and longer trips subsequently, so her last run in July was quite a surprising  disappointment.

She has a wind surgery since then and also dropped a couple of pounds in the mark to a sexy looking 73 – if the wind op does the trick for the Camelot filly.

Last Enchantment is bred for this trip and shouldn’t mind the ground either. Interestingly jockey Charles Bishop has generally a fine record if having only one mount on a given day, but it increased dramatically if that ride is at Brighton.

Selection:
10pts win – Last Enchantment @ 4/1 WH

Saturday Selection: September, 1st 2018

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

1.50 Sandown: Class 3 Handicap, 5f

New trainer and only his third run this year, Global Applause has plenty to prove today. Particularly as he has top weight to shoulder as well.

On the other hand, he drops in class into a race that may well be as competitive in nature as most of the others he ran in the past but arguably an easier one. Down to a mark of 97 it remains to be seen if he is up to it these days.

On past form, having run to a career highest time speed rating of 98 and 90+ on more occasions, Global Applause has surely got a fine chance. He was a smart juvenile, lightly raced as a three year old and certainly no disgraced when a less than two lengths beaten 5th in a red hot Doncaster Handicap of a mark off 98 in his final run in 2017.

This year has seen him back to form on his seasonal reappearance when runner-up at Newbury, though it is his most recent run at that very same venue back in May that has left big questions to answer.

Drop in class, drop in trip and back at Sandown with a bit of juice in the ground is hopefully enough to see Global Applause find back to his best.

Selection:
10pts win – Global Applause @ 11/1 MB

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