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.

Victoriously’s a colt with a bright future

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Normally this wouldn’t be the kind of race I have a bet in – but the Brian Meehan inmate Victoriously is very much overpriced here I feel. He improved massively from his debut run last summer when he finished a good third over 7.5f at Lingfield. He was very green throughout the race, most of the time without cover too but showed a bit of talent the way he made progress from 3f out.

He was put away after that, but he was always one who should improve with age given his pedigree. He’ll relish the mile trip as well I suspect. This colt is pretty nicely bred, out of a listed race winning mare and I would like to think that connections eye a maiden success to move on to bigger targets then.

This is a pretty competitive maiden, so nothing is given. But interestingly the Meehan yard is going really well right now and young Antonio Fresu comes here for this one ride only – he is riding strongly at the moment, despite not having many too many chances to show his skills. But if he sits on the horse, than he does so on a good one, more often than not it seems Meehan has provided a winner for this young jockey recently, which makes me believe he wouldn’t be booked if there isn’t something expected from Victoriously here.

5.10 Newbury: Maiden Stakes, 1 mile
Victoriously @ 20/1 Stan James – 5pts win

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Preview – Fred Darling Stakes

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I loved Tiggy Wiggy last year – a real speedball! One has to wonder though: Can she still improve? And does she actually stay beyond six furlongs? On pedigree I’d say probably no, she won’t last further than 6f. The visual impression of her races also clearly indicates that she is all speed – The 7f trip however is where stamina starts to kick in. Says, I feel on her seasonal reappearance over this trip she is opposable.

But who is the filly to beat her? The Kempton winner Jellicle Ball was very impressive on her debut. She may well be up for. Trip is probably fine, but I don’t really like her pedigree. The one that caught my eye is Redstart, though. Sh was unlucky on debut not to win when she was probably a bit surprised when the eventual winner cam late staying on out of nowhere. This form has been franked subsequently, so is one to take seriously.

She made amends with a dominant performance at Kempton subsequently. Probably not a particularly strong maiden, but she looked good. Redstart is entitled to improve a good bit now as a three year old, and probably she’ll be better over further in time. Ground is fine today, however, and she deserves a fair crack here. For a tasty price, I think she is the one who could take advantage if the hot favourite fades late.

Redstart @ 14/1 Sportingbet – 5pts win

Preview – Scottish Grand National

Becher's Brook

The National Hunt season is drawing to a close but before it’s all over and part of history it gonna end with a bing bang – the Scottish Grand National! 30 horses taking on the demanding 4 1/2 mile course at Ayr today – so let’s try to find the winner!

I managed to cut down the field to around 14 horses – that shows really how competitive this race is! You could make a reasonable case for so many. I can’t back them all unfortunately, but as always it’s all about the price and value for me, and that is how I came up with the following three selections.

Wiesentraum – @ 100/1 San James

The huge price doesn’t scare me off. Wiesentraum can have a chance here. The trip is an unknown, but he won a couple of times over 3m+ before, so this test may well be within his range. The good ground should be key to his chance as he needs a sound surface to be seen to best effect.

He won twice this season over 3 1/2m on good ground. Back off a break in March, he ran over much shorter. No chance that day but the race should have blown away the cobwebs. With conditions to suit, he may be able to outrun his big price tag off a fair mark.

Amigo – @ 33/1 Bet365

This French gelding hasn’t too many miles on the clock yet and was rather progressive over the last couple of seasons. A good chaser in his native country, he was a fair hurdler in his first season for David Pipe but has surpassed his hurdle mark already as a chaser this season.

Arguably his best performance to date came last month at Newbury when he was a close runner-up to Carruthers. He looks a stayer through and through, won at Ayr before and could still be on the upward. Ground conditions are perfect for him either.

Carli King – @ 40/1 Stan James

Another one who has not too many races under his belt. He won well in Handicap company at Warwick last month and he should relish the ground conditions today as well. He proved his stamina over 3.5 miles already, so it is fair to assume that he gets the trip. Up in the mark for his recent success, there is chance for a bit of further improvement.

All selections: 2.5pts win bets

No Lasix for Mubtaahij

Knowing Mike De Kock, it doesn’t come as a surprise, but it is still a brave move – the South African handler has opted against the use of Lasix for his Kentucky Derby runner Mubtaahji. De Kock argues:

“He’s never run on it, he doesn’t bleed, and I’m not prepared to take my chances running him on a substance he’s never run on before. … He’s good enough without it. I’m not experienced enough to say whether Thoroughbreds in general will or won’t run well on Lasix … If I gave him Lasix he may run better, he may run worse, but I’m not going to experiment. Lasix is not even a consideration for him.”

Source: BloodHorse.com

Obviously as someone who condemns the use of Lasix as race day medication I applaud this decision. In fact I admire his decision! Because let’s be honest, most foreign trainers do use Lasix once they send over their horses to the US. And one could argue: Rightly so.

My point of view is that Lasix is a performance enhancing drug. Actually, did anyone ever seriously doubted that? I mean this drug seems particularly effective if horses run on it for the first time. Naturally, these are often foreign raiders on their first ever visit to the US. There are many examples of horses improving dramatically. You’ve ever heard of Main Sequence?

But my favourite example is the filly Dank. A good filly, a Group 3 winner in Europe – but once on Lasix, she looked like on a different planet! I’d say she was literally flying in the Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington. Yes, maybe only a US Turf Grade 1, against weaker opposition than she would probably meet in Europe – still, the sheer acceleration… spectacular! Unbelievable!

Another fact to my point: She beat the very good filly Duntle by more than six lengths that day – she wasn’t even close to do that when these two met before. Not to mention multiple Grade 1 winning mare Marketing Mix, beaten by almost six lengths either! Further to his: If I have it right in mind, Duntle actually didn’t run on Lasix that day at Arlington.

Now, this is only the most dramatic example which comes to my mind when I think about the use of Lasix and the possible improvement it can bring out. There are many more, if you search for it, though. That says, it can’t make poor horses fly and doesn’t work for everyone. Of course not. If you’re not good enough, you’re not enough anyway. But there’s no doubt, that Lasix can bring out some improvement in good horses. It’s a performance enhancer. Simple as that.

That brings me back to the more present moment: De Kock opting against Lasix. As much as I applaud this decision , you have to wonder if it is a wise move from a pure performance point of view. Doesn’t this lower the chances of Mubtaahij to win the Derby? Yes, it absolutely does in my mind. He’s running against a bunch of US horses doped to the maximum (exaggeratedly spoken – but true to an extend). It certainly doesn’t make this mighty task any easier.

On the other hand, you got to trust the wise man – Mike De Kock. He’s a brilliant trainer, and If he believes this horse is good enough to take on a top class US Derby generation, even without Lasix,… well you know, chances arereal that the horse is good enough indeed!

Preview – Greenham Stakes

Newbury Grand stand

No joy today – Jack Steel travelled well for a long time but managed only to finish 3rd in the end. He faded badly after jumping the last. He was quite a drifter in the betting (SP 10/1) before the off as well. I suspect he may need bit further and then it also depends bit on what the handicapper does next. But he’s clearly capable of winning a race. The other two selections didn’t go close at all!

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2.50 Newbury: Greenham Stakes (Group 3)

This is a spectacular renewal of the Greenham Stakes! So many promising individuals unified in this one race – it’s simply got the be spectacular. Does that mean there should be a 6/4 favourite? Certainly not! There’s certainly plenty to like about Ivawood, but the price is madness in my mind.

Ivawood was a top class sprinter as a juvenile, a winner of two Group 2’s over six furlongs and an excellent runner-up in the Middle Park Stakes when probably unsuited by the soft ground. With quick conditions to suit here and the step up to 7f possible to work on pedigree, he has a big chance to go really close. But so can a couple of others here too. And as long as he hasn’t tried the trip, you can’t be sure if he can stay and even improve for it.

Personally I’m not the biggest fan of Estidhkaar. He is fine horse and had a good last season, but I expect him to fall short against some really good rivals. There is Belardo for example, the champion two-year old. He won the Dewhurst, though has to prove his class on much quicker ground now. Flaming Spear was a very impressive maiden winner, there is likely more to come from this lightly raced Lope De Vega son.

Aiden O’Brien throws in the Phoenix Stakes winner Dick Whittington. This form has been franked earlier this week by Craven Stakes winner Kool Kompany, who was half a lengths beaten in second by Dick Whittington at the Curragh last August. More is likely to come from this Rip Van Winkle colt, though he failed to get the 7f trip at his only try last year. Toocoolforschool and Muhaarar are both Group 2 winners but looked more home over sprint trips than over seven furlongs when tried last season.

The horse I do really fancy to have a big season is Fanaan. He is part of my Horses To Follow List and I have to admit I’m somewhat baffled by the huge price available. I expected him to be much shorter. Why? Because he was ultra impressive in two starts last year. On his debut he got easily off the mark under hands and heels, but even better was his performance in a Conditions Stakes race at Newmarket. Only three runners that day, but the runner-up is a fair individual in his own right as he’s 104 rated, as well as won subsequently – but was easily beaten by a devastating turn of foot from Fanaan.

The interesting part is that Fanaan, who is obviously very well bred, did all his racing with at least a bit of cut in the ground. However on pedigree he should actually be better on a sound surface. That says he’ll appreciate the quick ground at Newbury and the trip won’t be an issue at all. I believe his chances are underestimated here and he can have a big season.

Fanaan @ 11/1 William Hill – 5pts win

Jack Steel can be a winner for Tom Scu at Ayr

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I think it’s worth to take the favourite on here. Not sure if the drop in trip is what he wants and his recent fall isn’t exactly inspiring. I do like the look of Jack Steel though. He arrives here on his Handicap debut with a pretty low opening mark and might be able to exploit it.

He shaped okay in his last couple of starts under rules without doing anything particularly impressive. But he is a former point winner in Ireland and has done there his best on better ground. All recent starts came with considerable cut in the ground, which means the conditions at Ayr should suit him perfectly.

Of course he needs to improve from what he has shown so far but with this low opening mark there is a fair chance that he can make his experience count today. It might be telling in itself that Tom Scudamore comes here for this one ride only. The yard isn’t going well but this jockey booking instils some confidence that a big run is expected. 6/1 could be a big price.

2.00 Ayr: Handicap Hurdle (Class 3)
Jack Steel @ 6/1 Coral – 5pts win

Boom The Groom Back With A Bang On Turf?

Newbury racecourse

Okay, I know one shouldn’t do this, but hey, I’m only human, right? I have to admit 1f out I was counting my cash as Greatest Journey loomed large on the outside in the Tattersalls Millions and I would have thought he will easily outstay Cape Clear Island….. I was wrong. A close 2nd was all he got in the end.

Moheet’s bubble burst. Quite badly in the Craven Stakes. Backed off the boards beforehand but didn’t show anything that would have warranted the hype (which I wanted to believe as well). Hail The Hero didn’t quite get a clear run on the inside, though is not up to this standard. Says off his current mark of 87 I’d think he could be still well in if back in Handicap company….

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3.55 Newbury: Dubai Duty Free Handicap (Class 2)

A very tight Sprint Handicap without the one obvious candidate. It’s all to play for here and I feel that the first two in the betting are definitely skinny prices and therefore to take on. No doubt, Lucky Beggar is a fine sprinter and dropping down into Handicap company after a fair, though not sparkling effort in a very hot Listed contest over 6f at Doncaster, gives him a chance to be competitive. Though he also drops in trip, and this combination of minimum distance plus quick ground looks not quite ideal.

Robot Boy was a creditable third in the Borderlescott Sprint Trophy two weeks ago and should strip fitter. Ground and trip is fine and he has some good form to his name, though his last win came five starts ago off 11lb lower. Seven year old Steps has to give plenty of weight away and may be better suited with a bit of cut in the ground. Normal Equilibrium has to follow-up his recent Chelmsford success under a penalty. His win record doesn’t inspire too much confidence.

As a juvenile Group 2 winner, but now a four year old, Green Door hasn’t won since his big day in autumn 2013. With a dropping mark it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him going close, but hard to know what to expect. Veteran Noble Storm is hard to fancy these days off a high enough mark.

Leaves us with Boom The Groom. He was a fine juvenile in Ireland but has really taken off since moving to the UK. He really excelled on the All-Weather and has won three races in the last four month. Not to forget he has been placed a dozen of times in good races. He won a Handicap off 97 and was a fine 3rd in a hot Listed race subsequently.

He wasn’t disgraced in the AW Championships Sprint either, given that he finished behind some higher rated individuals. Back on turf now, the quick ground should suit, so does the trip. His mark looks fair and he deserves his chance in this race. He may well improve again and looks the value in this race.

Boom The Groom @ 10/1 PP – 5pts win

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6.10 Bath: Lansdown Fillies’ Stakes (Listed)

I feel this five furlong sprint evolves around the two top rated older horses. I tend to believe that it is not easy for three year olds to compete with seasoned older horses in sprint races, particularly not at this stage of the season. As for the other older horses: They have an awful lot to find on the ratings.

The consistent Demora is the favourite to land this race and her record as well as top rating means she has a top chance here. She is ground independent and has strong form on a quick surface, which is what is expected at Bath. Her record fresh is excellent and while she hasn’t won in her last five starts, she ran more often than not strong races.

She is entitled to go really close, but considering her short price, I feel there isn’t much between her and most feared rival Milly’s Gift, who makes more appeal from a betting perspective.

The five year old mare Milly’s Gift has been progressive over the last two season. She won two races last year in fine style, and particularly on her most recent success, which was her penultimate start last season, she looked to have still a bit in hand. That says she didn’t enjoy the run of the race subsequently at Ascot but finished a fine third, which makes me believe she is clearly up to her current rating, if not even a bit better, and that makes her a closely matched rival with Demora.

She was a bit unlucky in a couple of big Handicaps at Ascot last year, where she also shares form with Demora and actually beat her. She probably should have won most certainly the Class 2 Herritage Handicap at Ascot in July.

On balance she may have a bit to find with the favourite on the ratings, but effectively looks as good as Demora and has done well as a fresh horse in the past. Milly’s Gift has also winning form at Bath. In my mind she looks overpriced.

Milly’s Gift @ 5/1 Coral – 5pts win