I was taken by his seasonal reappearance at Windsor last month in seriously deep ground. He travelled pretty well for a long time before he fell away badly to finish a long beaten 4th.
But this was a strong race, he may have needed it in any case, and there’s every chance he can improve from the outing and enjoy the better conditions today a bit more.
He also steps up in trip to 10 furlongs, which is most likely to suit. He’s a son of Nathanial out of a Dylan Thomas mare – you can be almost certain he’s going to improve as a 3-year-old and as he moves up in trip.
With that in mind, I felt what he did as a juvenile warrants respect and proved there is possibly more ability than his current lowly rating suggests.
After three unremarkable qualifying runs, he improved markedly on his Handicap debut and final run in 2022 at Brighton over 7 furlongs.
There he found himself multiple times outpaced but kept showing a positive attitude as he finished well up the hill and achieved a 53 speed rating.
The performance warrants an upgrade, as the form has worked out well in the meantime, and he’s rated only a pound higher today.
The wide draw and large field are a small concern. I also wouldn’t hope the ground dries out to anything beyond good. At given prices, and granted he’s been drifting, it’s worth taking the risk here.
Bobby Joe Leg appears to be a solid favourite given he ran seriously well over 7f on the All-Weather the last two times, having achieved strong speed ratings as well.
He’s clearly handicapped to win, yet seems to find way to get beaten. He may bump into another even better handicapped rival once again today.
Nefarious caught my eye at Lingfield in March for the first time. That day he clearly wasn’t in it to win it, received an uneconomical ride, but showed glimmers of ability when quickening under a light enough ride from 3f out to the final furlong post.
Back up in trip the next two times, he ran much better than the bare form would suggest; first at Kempton and subsequently at Lingfield, outrunning big odds.
Having dropped to a career-lowest 58 mark, he looks dangerous if he could move forward from his #6 draw in a highly winnable race with not too much pace on.
Other than the aforementioned favourite, there isn’t much depth in this field.
Hollie Doyle is booked, which should be a bonus. Perhaps that’s the sign he’s here to run on merit. It looks a good opportunity to score, if allowed to run with the handbrake off.
Sergeant Tibbs beaten on the line. He ran a huge race but got just caught. Could have done with this one. Eponina ran no race at all. She was in trouble from 4f out. Something looked amiss.
That’s 11 losing bets on the bounce. Struggling a bit lately. Memories of the good start to the month have faded. Most selections have ran poorly as well.
Although, bare one, I liked all those selections. Can’t be too critical there. It’s just one of those times again, I guess.
3.30 Longchamp: G1 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches, 1m
Blue Rose Cen brings top-class form to the party and looked brilliant when she quickened nicely from near the front in the Prix de la Grotte, but I think the visual impression didn’t quite match the merit of the performance, given it was on deep ground and a slowly run race.
Aiden O’Brien saddles Never Ending Story and ever since she won the 1000 Guineas trial at Leopardstown I felt she is a high-class filly, a Group 1 winner in the making.
That day she was gutsy, stayed on strongly and proved that she has progressed after a somewhat underwhelming juvenile campaign.
She looked stronger, and ran a good 90 speed rating, as the form has ben given a significant boost in the meantime by the second and third.
I imagine she’s even better on decent ground. On the other hand, she clearly goes well on heavy ground, which will be key at Longchamp. She should enjoy stepping up to a mile once again, too.
She seems somewhat underappreciated in the betting. I see her a whole lot closer the favourite than current prices have it.
Never Ending Story @ 7/2
5.45 Hamilton: Class 3 Handicap, 5f
This handicap brings a wide range of horses together will all sorts of abilities. It is a class 3 in name only, though. The higher rated individuals may have the upper hand on paper, but neither looks well-handicapped.
No question, though, having been left untouched by the handicapper, Huddle Up must even as he moves up in class, and doing so significantly.
He ran a huge race on his comeback run after 11 months off the track at Thirsk about three weeks ago off a mark of 74, achieving a respectable 72 speed rating, with the performance also warranting an upgrade.
Huddle Up crossed over to the stands’ side soon after the start from his low draw. He tracked a good pace, made a strong move from over 2f out, and found himself in a head-to-head battle with the leader from 2f out all the way to the line. Eventually he was only beaten in the final 50 yards by a horse from off the pace.
It was his first opportunity to race in the UK with significant cut in the ground since he moved over last spring. That seems key to his chances. He ran to a 77 speed rating as a juvenile in heavy ground, and this most recent run suggests he may not be far off his very best.
The drop to 5f won’t be an issue, he has won over the minimum trip, and the stiff finish on softish ground will suit. There seems enough rain in the forecast to expect the ground not to dry out much beyond the current good to soft.
Disappointing Friday. Both horses were well-backed. But that didn’t mean anything once the gates opened.
Elterwater was off the bridle pretty early, and after it looked briefly as if she could get involved, she fell rapidly away in the closing stages.
Shark Two One ran solid for a third place, but never looked like winning. I think I’ll stick with him for now as his revised mark gives him a good chance next time, I believe.
4.55 Ascot: Class 4 Handicap, 6f
Sergeant Tibbs caught the eye a number of times in the last half year. He ran extremely well on the All-Weather in his last three runs at the end of 2022 before a break, without winning, though.
he made life difficult for himself on the sand, and in any case, is a better horse on turf.
He changed yards this spring, now trained by John Flint. He made his stable debut for the new yard at Windsor last month., which was also his seasonal reapperance and first run since December.
With that in mind, he finished a respectable 5th place, less than 4 lengths beaten, on heavy ground, having been closer ridden to a hot pace early on than the horses that finished ahead of him.
His next run at Goodwood can be marked up as well. He was probably found out for class, ultimately, but early keenness wasn’t any help. He still finished solid enough taking all that into account.
Those last two performances suggest he’s in pretty good form. The handicapper has been lenient, dropped him another 2lb.
Here at Ascot he can race off 70, takes a drop in class, down into an even easier race than the one at Windsor. He’s a tricky character and the lack of pace could be an issue. Nonetheless, he remains still lightly raced on turf, having ran well enough i most of his turf starts, most of those with cut in the ground.
Including a Handicap win off 77 last May, when he also ran to an 82 speed rating. Therefore, he could be seriously well-handicapped in this field as soft ground isn’t a worry.
10pts win – Sergeant Tibbs @ 15/2
8.10 Leicester: Class 5 Handicap, 7f
Veteran Eponina looks to have found an ideal opportunity to score. She won this race twelve month ago off a 2lb lower mark, ran to a 66 speed rating that day, and followed up weeks later with a win and head beaten 2nd off 69 and 70 ratings.
She clearly is on a good mark, although, not one where she has tons in hand. But she is in super form, there’s no doubt. She was well-backed last week at Beverley, and ran really well.
Eponina grabbed the lead, although was closely followed all the time. She was a bit keen in the first half of the race and came under severe pressure entering the home straight. I was impressed how gutsy she was, answering the calls for effort and focus.
The drop to 7 furlongs on soft ground should be in her favour, as should be her return to Leicester.
Her experience will be an asset in this race against a bunch of inexperienced 3-year-olds. This is still the time when the elder should have a distinct advantage, regardless of WFA.
The favourite Albeseeingyer is on five-timer. She ran a good speed rating when she won the last time, and could still be progressive enough to overcome her revised mark. But this is better grade and Eponina certainly a tougher rival to beat.
Backing 9-year-old mares isn’t my cup of tea normally, but I feel she could prove too good for this field off her current mark, and represents sufficient value at current prices.
The more experienced horses, especially those lto winners, appear to have little scope to improve any further than their current ratings. Therefore this could represent an ideal opportunity for lightly raced Elterwater to open her account.
This is her seasonal reappearance but I expect her to be ready. There is no need to hold back anything and she steps up in trip in line with expectations of what should be her optimum trips.
She showed signs of improvement on Handicap debut when last seen in October when she was also quite well backed. She travelled nicely but didn’t have the pace to match in the closing stages over 7 furlongs.
Elterwater is a full-sister to a smart Aussie performer over 1m to 10f who improved nicely in her days as a 3yo. She looked quite big last year and is possibly one to be most interested in Spring. So her time should be now.
There is no doubt she is expected to improve as she moves up in trip as a daughter of Camelot. Her current 59 rating looks ready to be exploited, although how much she is in hand remains to be seen.
10pts win – Elterwater @ 7/1
8.40 Nottingham: Class 6 Handicap, 6f
Shark Two One is going to be 2lb lower when he races next time, and if things don’t work out here I’d be happy to back him then again. But he may rather be 4lb+ higher next time, in actual fact, because he looks cherry ripe for a big W.
He caught the eye for the first time at Newcastle at the end of last year when he pushed a seriously hot pace and only faded late. The form didn’t amount to much in general, but his individual performance in isolation was strong.
He’s 6lb lower today, back on turf, however, where he’s a better horse. Not only that, his most recent run a fortnight ago proved that the 5-year-old gelding is in superb form right now, and clearly well-handicapped off 63.
He wasn’t advantaged how the race panned out from his draw and caught too far back than ideal. He looked like coming with a proper challenge over 2 furlongs out but multiple avenues to kick on closed subsequently.
He finished better than the bare result suggests and he doesn’t need the additional 2lb help from the handicapper to win. Conditions as well as course and distance won’t be an issue.
Frustrating Sunday. Frustrating weekend… would, could, should. Al Husn and Up And Under solid 2nd place efforts. Although, it was a poor ride by Mikey Sheehy in the Derby Trial.
The pace wasn’t hot and he gave the colt way too much to do. Al Husn ran well but had no chance with the winner. I think she should be capable of winning a Group 3 over 10 furlongs, though, and remains on my list.
Remarquee never seemed to travel and was beaten before the 1000 Guineas approached the halfway mark. Mawj, who I mentioned in the preview as “a danger I seriously rate”, won in a thrilling finish. Of course I left her unbacked.
Sir Benedict was the “cherry on the cake”. Not. Yes. I’m talking through my pocket, and of course the horse is one who finds trouble consistently. But there were ways to avoid it here. Callum Rodriguez made every effort to ensure he finds the trouble today. Disappointing.
Well, it could have a been a sensational weekend. It wasn’t. The winner on Saturday helps to even things out, to the most part. On to Monday….
7.15 Windsor. Class 5 Handicap, 5f
I am prepared to give Concierge another chance after his solid but ultimately uncompetitive effort at Yarmouth last month. I backed him that day, despite some reservations given the surface and trip.
He moves up in grade but drops down in trip. I don’ think this race is overly competitive, so I’m not concerned about the class. However, I do fancy him over the minimum trip, especially with cut in the ground.
He’s a course and distance winner as well and has dropped another pound, down to a mark of 65. That’s only a pound off the 64 speed rating he achieved back in March at Kempton – although that was on the sand.
Nonetheless, that run clearly showed he’s still well capable to run to a competitive level in these lower grade.
That day Concierge was a serious eyecatcher as he travelled at the back of the field. Made really good progress on the inside and showed multiple accelerations from mid-race right onward to finish the fastest from 4f out.
He couldn’t follow-up at Chelmsford, but travelling wide throughout, chasing the pace, was the reason why he dropped out badly in the closing stages.
As mentioned before I do forgive him the Yarmouth run, too. Deep ground and 6 furlongs – it was an error of judgement on my part. This test here will suit perfectly.
10pts win – Concierge @ 8/1
8.45 Newcastle: Class 6 Handicap, 6f
A competitive race on the sand for this class with many chances, but that helps to drive the price for Bayraat to a point where it’s impossible to ignore him.
He drops down to 0-65 level here after he ran with tons of credit on his seasonal reappearance at Southwell in a slightly tougher race over 7 furlongs five weeks ago.
He crossed over from the #8 draw to lead the field early, before following closely the leader, doing so a little bit too keenly. He hung in the closing stages, but ran on nicely at the same time.
That performance was in line with the one that caught my eye for the first time back in November last year at Newcastle over 6f when he was lightly bumped after the start, quickly moved forward and found plenty under pressure from 2 furlongs out. That form looks solid.
You can easily forgive him a subsequent poor showing (15/11) over 7 furlongs as he was restraint at the back of the field and never in the race.
He only made his belated handicap debut at Southwell and appears off potentially well handicapped now off 65 as he drops into an easier race as well as moving down in trip.
6 furlongs with a stiff finish such as here at Newcastle may well be an ideal scenario. On his only course and distance run he was a strong runner-up. The winner that day ran well in class 3 company off 83 subsequently, whereas third and fourth placed horses have won in the meantime.
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.
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.
If you’re prepared to oppose 6/4 favourite (at the time of writing) Auguste Rodin then the first Classic of the 2023 flat season appears to be a wide open affair.
In my view, including the favourite, there are serious question marks looming over all of the better fancied horses here, though. That adds to the intrigue but also difficulty to untangle the puzzle.
That may not be unusual, given it’s only May, and half the field didn’t have a run as 3-year-old colts yet. But it feels there are more profound question marks many have to answer this time than in preceding years.
Auguste Rodin has been hailed as a potential Triple Crown winner. You can see why. Three wins from four runs last year, he finished the season with a Group 1 triumph in the Futurity.
He’s expected to improve massively as a three-year-old, especially once he moves up in trip. Any rain would be a huge help to his chances as well.
On the other hand, the fact he hasn’t achieved overly impressive speed ratings yet – although, perhaps not helped having to run on heavy ground the last two times, as well as that he always stayed on strongly more so than having a blistering turn of foot – has me questioning his speed on better ground against proper milers.
Trained by Aiden O’Brien, who knows better than most what it takes to win the Guineas; nonetheless, the price is skinny and he appears beatable.
Stable mate Little Big Bear was crowned Europe’s Champion Juvenile after a demolition job in the Phoenix Park Stakes at the Curragh back in August. That was over 6 furlongs and he wasn’t seen again last year.
He looks a sprinter to me, even though the dam side gives some hope. Yet, he showed so much precocious speed as a juvenile, I have clear doubts that he stays a mile at Newmarket in a hot 2000 Guineas.
Chaldean progressed with each run last year, winning twice in Group class before his season culminated in a superb Dewhurst success. He achieved a 106 speed rating, which is “best in class” in this Guineas field.
He has his quirks, though, as evident at Newmarket when he started slowly, and also on his seasonal reappearance in the Greenham where he wore a hood to post, before becoming distracted by a rival starting right beside him, jinked to his left as a consequence, and unseated Frankie Dettori.
I have reservations on that basis, as well as over his stamina. He kept on well enough over 7 furlongs, but how much more is there to give over an additional furlong? The dam has produced largely speedier types.
Royal Scotsman was a superb juvenile. He ran on well for a close 2nd behind Chaldean in the Dewhurst. He got the trip, seemingly. Not sure how much scope he has to improve, given he started his career in early May last year.
A mile doesn’t look impossible on pedigree, but Sakheer is another one who may prove best over over shorter distances. He didn’t ran particularly fast on speed ratings either. Craven Stakes winner Indestructible can’t be easily discounted, given he has that CD record. But he may not be classy enough for a Guineas and it’s a quick turnaround after that big run only a fortnight ago.
Even though he is only 1/5, I quite like the look of Holloway Boy as one outrun his price tag and possibly finish in the placings. He can be upgraded for some of those placed efforts last year and is sure to progress as a 3-year-old, given he’s a son of Ulysses.
Charlie Appleby saddles two: Gimcrack winner Noble Style hasn’t been seen since August. I have major doubts over his stamina. You wouldn’t have any worries about stamina with stable mate Silver Knott, though.
A winner of three of his six starts last year, he progressed nicely through the season from a 4th place beaten behind Chaldean on debut, to winning the Group 3 Autumn Stakes at the Rowley Mile.
I can forgive him a poor showing in the Champagne Stakes when he finished a disappointing last of five. The ground got him beat. He definitely prefers better ground.
He showed a lot of class at Newmarket in September, though, when he beat smart Epictetus. The way he found another gear from two furlongs out, and then always just doing enough, impressed me, as he also ran to a 105 speed rating.
Silver Knott finished the year with a desperately unlucky runner-up performance at the Breeders Cup. He wasn’t the sharpest out of the gate, appeared plenty keen enough throughout, and got stuck behind rivals at a crucial stage. And yet, he only got beaten in a photo.
No doubt, he’s likely to be seen to best effect once he steps up to 10 furlongs – granted he has trained on, which we will have to see. He’s got solid stamina in his pedigree.
At the same time, he looked speedy enough as a juvenile, and showed a nice change of gear a number of times. The ground as it stands should be a huge bonus to his chances.
However, the rain forecast is a serious concern. How much is going to fall between now and then? The clerk watered the ground which is just bizarre given the forecast.
We’ll have to find out. I gamble on the fact that there isn’t enough precipitation to turn the currently as good to firm classified going to anything worse than good to soft.
Anything worse than good to soft would be a problem. But I can’t see that happening. Therefore, at the given prices, Silver Knott looms as a major value bet in my book.
10pts win – Silver Knott @ 12.5/1
1.35 Naas: Handicap, 5f
An Irish Handicap with 21 runners? I couldn’t think of anything less appealing as a betting proposition.
And yet I find myself incredibly bullish about the chances of Harry’s Hill. He was an eyecatcher on his last two runs against much stronger rivals. Yet, despite those two excellent performance he has been dropped a whopping 4lb (whopping by Irish standards) for those runs.
He came to my attention for the first on his seasonal reappearance at the Curragh at the end of March:
He was somewhat awkwardly away from the gate, but then showed blistering early speed to lead the field. He was going well for a long time before falling away in the final furlong.
To some extend it was a similar story last time at Cork. However, that time he also had to overcome a draw disadvantage, and was racing as part of a small group on the far side. He won on his side, and once again travelled very strongly for a long time.
On both occasions he was up against it on class terms. Both runs warrant additional upgrading because they came on extremely deep ground.
His record on ground not worse than yielding over 5 furlongs – it looks fair to assume the ground continues to dry as it’s quite warm, sunny and breezy here in Naas with no further rain of any significance expected – is excellent: 7-2-3.
This is an easier race, on his preferred ground and trip. The stiff finish is the only slight concern I have. Though, he won at the Curragh which also has an uphill finish, so perhaps it’s no big deal.
On speed ratings he looks also competitive off his current 73 mark, which is 3lb higher than his career best from last year, when he seemed to take his form to a new level.
He ran to a 71 speed last season, rating but I have well founded hopes that he could improve by another couple of pounds in ideal conditions once again.
10pts win – Harry’s Hill @ 9/2
There’s one more I quite like but have to decide in the morning, if there’s some positive vibes in the betting, and will update the post accordingly.
One from three, Totnes saved the day with a late charge to win ultimately with authority, though. The wide draw was a concern and he had to come from last to first on the wide outside. Thankfully he had too much in hand. He was well backed as well (6/4 SP).
Far From A Ruby was disappointing. However, I wouldn’t lose faith. Perhaps she was too keen, perhaps the ride was too aggressive, as the sectionals look fast, if they can be believed. She’ll have her day in the sun sooner rather than later.
Compere ran well but didn’t have any excuses. Perhaps the race was more competitive as I gave it credit. In any case, he wasn’t quite good enough.
We’re in May, a couple of days away from the first Classic of the season. Yet, here I am having another three selections for Newcastle on Friday after those two runners at Chelmsford on Thursday.
7.55 Newcastle: Class 5 Handicap, 6f
Intriguing contest largely due to some unexposed horses that could improve for experience and their handicap debut.
More exposed than most here but still open to improvement off her current mark is Bella Kopella. She caught the eye the last time over 7 furlongs here at Newcastle:
She was early up with the pace, before tracking the leader who set a solid pace. She made stylish progress from over 2f out as she moved forward and travelled like the winner. Perhaps she did too much in the middle part of the race as she tired badly in the final furlong.
The form of the race is up for debate, however, she won really well four weeks earlier over the same CD, also travelling powerfully in the middle of the race.
Nonetheless, she finished not particularly strongly that day either. Both times off a hot pace, though. She has shown good cruising speed, hence the drop to 6 furlongs looks possibly ideal, especially here at Newcastle.
Bella Kopella was progressive as a juvenile, is clearly an experienced filly at this stage, but looks still open to more improvement, as she ran to a 59 speed rating lto when she won in March, in a race that worked out really well in the meantime.
10pt win – Bella Kopella @ 15/2
8.25 Newcastle: Class 6 Handicap, 6f
Macho Pride is a standout in this field. He looks seriously well handicapped on his second run for the Ruth Carr yard.
He ran with plenty of credit on the All-Weather during the winter months and showed positive signs the last two runs as well. Soft ground was never to suit when last seen, but there as well as prior over this CD he showed excellent early speed and enthusiasm for the game.
Especially two back, his 8th place finish was a much better run than the bare form may suggest. It was strong race, and as a reference performance for his form it’s really promising.
He drops into a much easier race here on the sand now and showed also on the clock some solid performances in the not too distance past. Last season when he ran three times to speed ratings of 57+, in December he ran to 56 and February 54, both times over 6 furlongs at Newcastle.
It’s pretty obvious that he is seriously well weighted off 54 now, if in peak form, which I imagine his last two runs have helped to get him ready for.
10pts win – Macho Pride @ 9/1
9.00 Newcastle: Class 6 Handicap, 5f
Beneficiary looks so ready and has found the perfect race, I firmly believe. He ran a massive race in February over 6 furlongs at Newcastle, when he came to my attention, and he should really benefit from the drop to the minimum trip.
Back then he moved forward, pushed a good pace as part of a duo initially, before he grabbed the lead 2f out, still ahead approaching final furlong but then tired rapidly.
It was a strong performance in a very strong race and he followed up with another strong run from the front when last seen. He tends to be keen and go off to hard over 6 furlongs, hence the drop to 5f will be helpful.
He drops into a much easier race here and has been given additional help from the handicapper as well. He ran to a 63 speed rating in January, so a mark off 60 offers a great chance.
The fact there is plenty of pace here should be a bonus. He doesn’t have to lead, but rather can follow the front-runners and wait for the right moment to kick on as he has stamina for an additional furlong.
One third of 2023 is over. It went fast. Thankfully, after a rough start, with losing months in January and February, March and April got me back on track.
April finished with another winner last Thursday – I watched Pillar Of Hope on my small mobile screen while boarding for a plane to Germany to stay on strongly to win his Beverly race. He got home in the nick of time, literally.
He made it winner #7 for April. 235 points profit, from 23 selections in April. Only last November was a more profitable month in the last three years.
Annual P/L makes it 300pts up for the year now from 101 selections.
Far From A Ruby has been nicely progressing with each run since her return in early February where she entered the list of eyecatchers.
That day over 6 furlongs, a trip too sharp, she showed good early speed and enthusiasm, which was exactly what I hoped to see. She followed up with another solid run subsequently, although still seemingly short of full fitness.
She’s approaching peak soon as evident three weeks ago at Southwell when she tracked the pace and was right there until fading back to 4th place, 2 lengths beaten.
She now appears to be seriously well-handicapped in this type of low-level apprentice handicap as she goes up in trip. Turf and fast ground won’t be an issue.
Though, down to a mark of 54 offers a huge opportunity. She ran to a 58 speed rating at Ayr over 7 furlongs back in September. She ran to a 50 speed rating when last seen, when not fully tuned up.
I have full faith that she’s still as good as last autumn, and won’t have an issue making up the pounds needed to reach the same level of performance. She stays a mile, has a 3-1-2 record over this course and distance and hasn’t much to fear in this poor field.
10pts win – Far From A Ruby @ 3/1
5.00 Lingfield: Class 5 Handicap, 1m
Plenty of unexposed horses and you never quite know what you get. However, I’m quite hopeful Totnes can be better than her current 71 rating now that she moves up in trip.
Last time out, given she was an odds-on shot, she was probably disappointing the way she finished in 5th, especially as she travelled very strongly in rear of the field, made good progress from 3f out and loomed large entering the home straight.
Her challenge petered out from over 1f out as she hang badly to her left, which is a concern, as well as that she can be keen in the early stages.
I’m prepared to excuse the run because she was ultra-impressive weeks earlier over the same C&D, winning in the manner of a talented filly on only her second career run. Something must have bothered her a few weeks ago – whatever it was, I hope it’s fixed now.
Her pedigree points to stamina and a good chance that there’s more improvement to come as she moved beyond 7 furlongs. Ideally i would love to see her at a stiffer track, but the fact she travelles well and could have a class edge against this opposition makes me cautiously confident.
I don’t think many of her rivals have a lot of scope, while she offers plenty of upside. Totnes looks like a filly capable to progress beyond marks in the 70s.
10pts win – Totnes @ 5/2
8.15 Chelmsford: Class 6 Handicap, 1m
Compere looks to have found a nice chance to score. Even though 13 go to post, not many seem to be here to win. Hence I’m not worried about the #6 draw at all, which is good enough to get easily to the front in a race with not much pace to compete against.
The gelding is still pretty lightly raced but took his form to the next level when last seen over this course and distance at Chelmsford over a mile.
He endured an awkward start, heavily bumped a rival before then finding himself in front, overcoming the issues out of the gate, eventually settled in third.
He kicked on nicely against inside rail approaching the home straight; hit the front 1f out, and kept going strongly. But he had no chance with winner from off the pace, eventually.
This is strong form. The winner was back-to-back winner; the third won last time out and finished third subsequently. The 4th won next time out.
Compere was a 50/1 shot, so clearly outran his price tag there. He now drops in class, down to 0-55, and the fact that solid but ultimately exposed Thomas Equinas heads the betting says all about the strengths in depth of this field.
The handicapper was kind to Compere, as he left him on the same 56 rating. Even though. I imagine the gelding will eventually prove better over 10 furlongs, he’s shown enough speed for the mile and should find this easier, in order to run out a strong maiden victory.