All posts by Florian Christoph

Photographer & Runner - lives in the land of rain.

Minding’s back with a Bang!

No surprise in the first Group 1 of the new flat season: Evens favourite Cloth Of Stars delivered the goods for Godolphin, Andre Fabre and Mickael Barzelona in the Prix Ganay.

Ridden patiently, Barzelona waited for the right moment to make the decisive move. Once in the clear the Son of Sea The Stars powered home strongly. A first success at the highest level for Cloth Of Stars.

But should it have been a first taste of Group 1 success for last years French Derby runner-up Zarak? Probably. Soumillon in the saddle had to sit and suffer at a crucial stage of the race while Zarak finished like a train eventually – unlucky!

No problems for Minding at Naas. She did it as easily as it gets in the Group 2 Mooresbridge Stakes and she clearly has not lost anything over the winter.

She made all from the front and the moment Ryan Moore gave her a little squeeze she stretched swiftly clear. Granted, she was shorts odds-on an clear on the ratings, but still on her return to win so easily is impressive.

Next stop on the agenda is the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Currag. The Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot are most likely the subsequent summer target.

Stable mate Johannes Vermeer finished last but got a very light ride with the future clearly in mind. I expect him to come on quite a bit for a run and would not lose hope in him yet.

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2.30 Brighton: Class 5 Handicap, 6f

I look forward to see Equiano son Otomo return to the track as a three year old now dropping to six furlongs for the first time. He showed promise as a juvenile, was twice narrowly beaten here at Brighton, although over 7f, and ended the season with two more decent performances.

In all his races he showed plenty of early pace but did not quite get home, so he looks ready-made for sprinting. An opening mark of 67 seems reasonable, and any age- plus trip related improvement should see him run a big race.

It’s noteworthy that the Hide yard is in good form, with a fantastic record at this track and with Liam Keniry in the saddle. Also Equaino offspring tends to perform incredibly well at Brighton.

Selection:
10pts win – Otomo @ 6/1 Bet365

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4.20 Nottingham: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 2f

Well bred Secret Soul was relatively well fancied in her three career outings so far but despite two decent performances she never came close to win. However it’s fair to assume she simply needed the experience and now going handicapping with a pipe opener already under her belt she could improve.

She is fitted with first time visor as a reaction to her most recent fourth place at Kempton where tried to make all from the front. It may keeps her focused on the job when it really matters.

Given what she has achieved an opening mark of 68 seems slightly on the stiff side. However she ran in and around that level on RPR’s the last two times and clocked fair speed ratings too, so potentially she could be well in, if the combination of experience, race fitness, suitable trip and headgear sees her putting the best foot forward.

Selection:
10pts win – Secret Soul @10/1 Bet365

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6.30 Wolverhampton: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 4f

If anywhere near full race fitness Brimham Rocks should be able to exploit his potentially very lenient opening mark here. His three maiden runs last year have been nothing of note but they were more of educational nature, over partly wrong ground and trips too short anyway.

H’s been a very late foal who’s sure to improve as a three year old once stepping up in trip, given this well bred son of Fastnet Rock is out of an Oaks trial places mare. So the 1m 4f trip should suit hands down.

Also Brimham Rocks’ sire has a 43% strike rate with offspring at Wolverhampton over this distance. All points toward that this lad is certainly well handicap on his handicap debut.

Selection:
10pts win – Brimham Rocks @ 5/2 Skybet

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9.10 Chelmsford: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 6f

I feel Addicted To You has a pretty good chance to follow up on a recent maiden success over 12f. At Lingfield this Medicean colt made all from the front. He got a bit idle in the closing stage which meant a closer from behind got a bit too close for comfort eventually, but overall it was a convincing win.

Now of a 75 rating he could still be undervalued even more so as he steps up in trip which should suit more than it is a problem. He’s got the profile to improve with age and according to sire stats the 1m 6f trip, particular around Chelmsford, should suit.

Given Addicted To You’s two sisters both achieved RPR’s of 80+ it is fair to assume that he can still find a bit to get off the mark in handicap company now.

Selection:
10pts win – Addicted To You @ 7/2 Bet365

Blockbuster Monday

Blockbuster Monday: The Group 1 Prix Ganay at St. Cloud is the headline act, but no doubt most eyes will be glued to the action at Naas.

The County Kildare course has picked up another high quality card thanks to the Curragh redevelopment tomorrow with the highlight no doubt the Mooresbridge Stakes where we gonna see wonder mare Minding back in action!

We know how good she is and therefore even more intriguing could be the return of stable mate Johannes Vermeer. Back after a half year long lay-off – he also had only one run last season – the winner of the 2015 Criterium International is an exciting prospect for the class of the older horses.

Betting wise, though, my eyes turn to Beverley in England. Not an overly exciting card there, however I really fancy one horse over there quite a bit….

 

4.50 Beverley: Class 4 Handicap, 8.5f

There is every chance that the top two in the betting are both on marks underestimating their true class, however Carnageo is a better price and I prefer him given I liked his seasonal reappearance at Doncaster earlier this month. allot

Carnageo won three times last season, though he only got up by narrow margins the last two, still it’s fair to say he improved extremely well during his three year old campaign. His final performance at Nottingham over 8.5f given the form delivered five individual winners subsequently and the runner-up is now 8lb higher rated.

Probably stretching his stamina to the max, Carnegeo travelled well at Doncaster three weeks ago and seemingly came with a big challenge from three furlongs out, however he hit a wall inside the final furlong and was eventually eased.

The drop down to 8.5f should suit and with race fitness ensured he might still be able to pull out a bit more. Only the faster than ideal ground is a real question mark for me.

Selection:
10pts win – Carnegeo @ 9/2 William Hill

Saturday Tips

4.40 Leicester: Class 5 Handicap, 7f

I was quite keen on Favourite Royal ten days ago at Wolverhampton but felt she might need the run, so didn’t back her then. Her fast finishing runner-up performance was incredibly eye-catching that day, though, indicating this filly has wintered well and is well able to win a race of her current mark.

She was a very green and raw filly as a juvenile, with a bit of learning and filling of her frame to do. Now as a three year old you would hope that she can still improve a bit and I feel the 2lb added to her rating on the back of the last run might not stop her in a race that should suit.

The bounce factor is a question mark but given she has not a lot of running under her belt yet, this lightly raced filly seems likely to be well handicapped.

Selection:
10pts win – Favourite Royal @ 11/2 PP

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6.50 Wolverhampton: Class 5 Handicap, 9.5f

Drago seemingly enjoys this track and the unique trip given he has quite a good record around Wolverhampton. He looks improved since fitted with a hood: his last four performances when wearing it were all very decent enough, and he’s only 3lb higher than when winning over course and distance back in November last year.

He already has a run under his belt this season; arguably a pipe opener in a seller. I feel there is a genuine chance that he can still improve a bit over this CD and having a decent 7lb claimer in the saddle should be an advantage.

Selection:
10pts win – Drago @ 9/1 Bet365

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7.05 Doncaster: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 4f

Top weight Mr Davies seems to have a tough task assigned on his handicap debut with 9st 9lb to carry, however this completely unexposed gelding could be on a lenient opening mark either.

He got two runs in quick succession as a juvenile, was then put away and reappeared four weeks ago four weeks ago here at Doncaster over 10.5f in a maiden. From the widest draw he pushed forward, travelled well throughout but was entitled to get tired in the final furlong.

Despite never finishing in the money in three maiden runs his RPR suggest those performances are close to in line with his opening mark. It is reasonable to imagine that this big, scopey gelding can improve for his pipe opener and the step up to 12f for the first time.

Selection:
10pts win – Mr Davies @ 11/2 PP

Coneygree Superstar!

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The Punchestown Gold Cup promised to be a race not to be missed…. it thoroughly delivered! In a thrilling, head bobbing finish, Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Sizing John got the better of Djakadam and the unbelievably brave Coneygree. What a race it was!

It’s been the cherry on the cake of an unbelievable season for Jessica Harrington and Robbie Power – only a good week ago they also landed the Irish Grand National and of course the big price at the Festival in March.

For me, though, this race was all about Coneygree. He who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup as a novice in 2015, but since then until today had only two more runs due to injuries. After another lengthy spell on the sidelines he returned to the racecouese today and tried it once again his way – the hard way – from the front.

He set a rattling pace, jumped explosive as ever, but got tired in the closing stages – who will begrudge him that – and as a result made a big mistake two fences from home, which ultimately ended his dreams.

Though – and that was what impressed me most – he rallied and battled, fought his way back into contention to be in with a chance jumping the last.

It wasn’t enough, Djakadam an Sizing John battled it out in the final furlong – Coneygree came home one and a half lengths beaten in third eventually. Given the circumstances this was as massive a performance as you’ll ever see. What a superstar Coneygree is!

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1.40 Beverley: Class 5 Handicap, 5f

If it wouldn’t be for apprentice Patrick Vaughan on board I’d say Lawless Louis is a penalty kick in this race. The young jockey’s record on turf is atrocious and even on the All-Weather he’s having a hard time this year so far.

On the other hand he’s got some decent rides for the O’Meara yard over the last couple of seasons and is quite an experienced rider for his seven pound claim, so this allowance might come handy here, actually.

Lawless Louis makes his seasonal reappearance here at Beverley where his trainer has quite a fine record over the years and given he can race off what could easily be a lenient mark I assume he’s ready to go fresh.

He finished a fine sixth in the Listed 2yo Trophy when last season in 2016, which was an excellent performance and in line with some other decent performances where he wasn’t all that far beaten and the form has stand the test of time.

Now as a three year old dropping to 5f again and taking a massive drop in class I feel he has a bit of potential to win one or two races. Certainly the handicapper gives him every chance, and while it is no easy feat as a younger horses against older, seasoned handicappers at this point in the season, I feel he has a prime chance in this particular race.

It’s also noteworthy that Lawless Louis is a full-brother to the decent filly Lydia’s Place who herself was a 89 rated individual at some point in her career.

Selection:
10pts win – Lawless Louis @ 5/1 Bet365

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Another winner on the board yesterday – okay half a winner! London Master travelled much the best in the 6.30 at Wolverhampton but just couldn’t quite get past the gutsy filly Log Off. He appeared to be in front behind the line, though when it mattered, it seemed to my eyes that Log Off held on.

After lengthy enquiry a dead heat was declared – certainly a result I can live with, giving I though it was lost! And as I backed London Master at 11/2 the night before, even a dead heat resulted in a decent payout!

Tuesday Tips

4.25 Yarmouth: Class 5 Handicap, 7f

Favourite Wurood looks a skinny price and certainly one to take on at the top of the weights against the boys at the back of a visually fine looking maiden win at Wolverhampton, where, however, she was most likely flattered given she had the run of the race from the front.

I’m much more keen on the equally lightly raced Derek Duval. This son of Lope De Vega was a very late fool and should be open to a good deal of improvement now as a three year old, even more so stepping up to 7 furlongs for the first time.

On his seasonal reappearance at Wolverhampton over 6f last month he got off the mark which was only his second career start. He stayed on nicely to win by a close margin, though he was good for more.

On handicap debut a fortnight later he pulled hard in the early stages of the race and was subsequently disadvantaged by his position at the back of the field where he was also forced to race wide. Still he came with a storming run on the outside to finish a close third in the end.

It’s seems obvious that an additional furlong can only be a positive and a 2lb rise in the mark with further natural improvement to come might underestimate Derek Duval, as long as he acts on fast ground turf.

Selection:
10pts win – Derek Duval @ 7/1 Bet365

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6.30 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 1f 103y

Top weight London Master is a full-brother to relatively smart Irish filly Booker good sire by Mastercraftsman. This lightly raced, though winless maiden, has a pretty good chance to can improve this season as a three year old.

In 2016 he had three obligatory maiden runs without setting the world alight –  he was clearly ridden with the future in mind, nonetheless his RPR’s were quite in line with the opening handicap he received for those performances.

And that might ensure he’s potentially well handicapped now moving into Handicap company for the very first time. That is because this colt is quite good looking, with a big, scopey frame to fill, and he step ups in trip which should very much suit given his mother was a winner over 10 furlongs.

He was a January fool, so at this stage as a three year old, also taking the visual impression from last season into account, he should be definitely ready to use his strengths (and hopefully class) to exploit a rating of 60.

Interestingly Jockey Adam Beschizza makes the journey to Wolverhampton for this one ride – probably not for a leisure spin around the track.

Selection:
10pts win: London Master @ 11/2 Bet365

Crystal Ocean – a Derby contender?

It’s been quite an excellent week – another one, I dare to say – as Dakota Gold went in at 12/1 and did so in fine fashion. Enjoy as long as it lasts…. desperate times may be around the corner at any given point as the past has taught.

Betting aside, it’s bee a huge day for racing. The jumps still feature big time, despite May only days away. The Scottish National was on the cards today, and one I fancied allot for Aintree, who then fell at the very first fence, made amends here and made it back to back victories in the Scottish equivalent: Vicente!

At Newbury we saw a potential 2000 Guineas contender – a serious one, most likely. Barney Rot looks a brute of a horse and overcame inexperience to score readily in the Greenham Stakes for his daddy Exelebration who himself was runner-up in this race who then went on to win the German Guineas subsequently.

Bareny Rot, though, will run at Newmarket and must be a serious contender if he turns up healthy. He’s now a mere 6/1 chance and should be ready for a step up to the 1 mile trip. That says I remain firmly in the Al Wukair camp, of course!

We may saw a different Classics contender at Nottingham: in the 6.30 Maiden the well fancied Sea The Stars colt Crystal Ocean impressed me with an easy victory in what appeared not a bad race at all. But he did it so nicely, all hands and heels. A bright future lies ahead?

Possibly. He is certainly bred to be a really good horse. Crystal Ocean is closely related to the excellent Crystal Capella and the Derby trial might be next on the agenda now that’ll give us a better idea of how good he really is.

It’s noteworthy that Crystal Ocean is trained by shrewd Sir Michael Stoute who certainly knows how to get one ready for the big day. With a muddy Derby picture at this point in time I’ll do have a small nibble at 40’s – he may not run, but if he does, this price could easily look incredibly big.

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4.55 Navan: Class 1 Handicap, 1m 2f

Prendergast’s Althiba is one who looks ready to step up and take advantage of a fair looking mark after a fine placed effort on her seasonal debut. However I feel the top weight Massif Central could easily do the same but offers much better value at a huge price.

Massif Central ran pretty well in maiden company, achieving mid-80 RPR’s that make his handicap mark appear fair. However on handicap debut which was also his seasonal comeback he started awkwardly and was soon relegated to the back of the field. He didn’t really look comfortable throughout and turning widest didn’t help either.

He still ran better than the bare form suggests, though this looked more like a pipe opener than anything else. On the other hand he seems physically improved. A fine, biggish, scopey colt, who now steps up to 10f for the first time.

Not a given that he stays the trip, but there is a fair chance he does and if that turns out to be true than it is not unreasonable to believe he can improve for his second seasonal run too. If same happens then he could be a bit better than his current rating. Also this is an easier race than the other day plus the better ground should suit.

With a top jockey in the saddle I feel connections expect a big run from this Arcano son – at 12’s he seems quite a bit overpriced in an open race.

Selection:
10pts win – Massif Central @ 12/1 Paddy Power