Category Archives: Eyecatchers

Eyecatchers #7 2022

A list of horses that caught my eye during the last seven days of racing. These individuals look ready to win a race sooner rather than later given the right conditions.

Dancing Tango
06/05/22 – 3.25 Ascot:

Bit slowly away from the gate, then travelled really well into the home straight on the bridle, made progress to 2 furlongs out when a bit short of room, pulled out and stayed on strongly. Solid topspeed 70 rated performance.

Clearly one to improve for going up in trip. Bred for 12 furlongs. Full-sister to good handicapper Dancing Approach. Possibly wants ease in the ground too. Soft 10f on a stamina demanding track may also be a possibility.

One to wait for going handicapping. Showed promise on debut run last month too. Have to monitor the opening mark. Will need on more run to qualify.

Race Replay

Zameka + Kindness
06/05/22 – 4.35 Ascot:

The two aren’t obvious eyecatchers from a pure visual point of view. Though, there is a lot to take from this race for their future chances.

Zameka was disadvantaged right away from the widest outside draw. Travelled okay to the two furlong marker then dropped away quickly. First time blinkers didn’t help much in terms of performance, although he looked a lot more settled and less awkward than in the past.

Ran really well at Lingfield on his seasonal debut in a hot handicap when he hang his chances away in the closing stage but finished well given the circumstances.

He was two times placed and won well on his final start in 2021. Therefore he’s certainly better than this most recent poor showing. He was a $170k yearling, a full-brother to 95 rated Eagle Song, who won twice over 7 furlongs on the All-Weather.

With that in mind, as well as the pedigree, there is plenty of potential upside if Zameka goes back up in trip to 7 furlongs. He’s already won over the trip. The shorter sprint distances are too sharp. Perhaps a return to the All-Weather could be interesting too.

Kindness was drawn the total opposite in the #1 gate. She raced without cover and faded rapidly from two furlongs out, eventually finished last.

This was her seasonal reappearance. My impression is the trip is too short. That’s despite her winning over 5.5 as a juvenile. Back then in September she was quite badly outpaced at the back of the field but stayed on strongly as the leaders went too hard.

On pedigree she should enjoy a step up to 7 furlongs. With a reduced mark and tackling that additional distance she’ll be really interesting.

Race Replay

Mick McHugh
06/05/22 – 5.45 Ripon:

The run itself was not much on the eye. He was outpaced from 3f out, kept up to work for a while but was eventually eased. However, this was a solid comeback run after a 100 day break that should put him spot on.

He showed talent in January on the All-Weather over 5 furlongs, especially when placed at Lingfield finding plenty under pressure despite the minimum trip certainly being an inadequate one.

His breeding clearly points to a mile. that context I feel these three runs are noteworthy and perhaps he didn’t show too much the handicapper. An opening mark of 72 is workable if he steps up in trip to 7 furlongs or a mile.

Race Replay

Shallow Hal
06/05/22 – 6.45 Ripon:

Outpaced at the rear of the field 3 furlongs out, looked poised and dangerous two furlongs from home, travelling behind horses while searching for a gap. Didn’t get a clear run until late, finished strongly with the fastest final furlong split.

Jockey was 1lb overweight here, perhaps the ground not quite soft enough to see Shallow Hal to best effect. Strong run in circumstances. Not for the first time over the last weeks; he’s ran with plenty of credit and not always the best of luck in his races, mostly running to form and mark.

This consistency means he’s in the grip of the handicapper. However, this most recent run shows that he has options of a mark of 73 – he could be really dangerous with a claimer on board, especially with cut in the ground.

Ideally he drops to below 73 before I back him. Ground conditions are non-negotiable for me; I might be tempted on softish ground with a strong apprentice of his current mark, if the price is right.

Race Replay

Maykon
06/05/22 – 6.26 Wolverhampton:

Got a bump early and travelled keenly throughout. Had a lot to do from the back of the field and was rather tenderly handled. Finished in impressive style weaving through the field under hands and heels, posting the fastest last two furlongs.

He has lost his way completely, which is the reason why he has fallen to a basement mark. But he showed the flame is still burning lately. This recent performance is the best to date.

Would be very interesting back on turf over 6 or 7 furlongs, ideally with cut in the ground.

Race Replay

Late Arrival
06/05/22 – 5.35 Nottingham:

Chased early pace, got shuffled back from 3 furlongs out as he didn’t quite possessed the speed to stay close to the early pace. Stuck behind horses and short of room from two furlongs out, while sticking nicely to the task. Gets out late and finishes strongly with second fasted final furlong split.

Best on All-Weather but has ran well on turf last season too, without winning, though. Down to a solid mark. Wouldn’t mind another couple of pounds off. Handicapper would give him a real chance then.

Needs to go back to 7 furlongs, either on the All-Weather, or on turf with cut in the ground.

Race Replay

Wet Wind Blows
06/05/22 – 6.10 Nottingham:

Went out hard in the early part of the race setting some fast fractions. Slowed it down in the middle and kicked on impressively in the home straight to win by 5 lengths.

He defied a penalty for winning on debut at Newcastle but the weight was no issue here, despite meeting some solid opposition. His Newcastle performance was also noteworthy as he overcame greenness and not having the clearest of runs, finishing very strongly.

He’s a quirky sort, still learning on the job, but clearly talented, having ran to topspeed 90 here. Ten furlongs looks fine as a trip. Moving up in distance isn’t out of question. He looks pattern class and will be interesting where he goes next.

Race Replay

One Ruler
07/05/22 – 4.05 Ascot:

Travelled in midfield on the stands’ side really well until about two furlongs from home when he starts to lose his position as a combination of being slightly outpaced over this 7 furlongs distance as well as being stuck behind a wall of horses.

Finds himself about to be relegated to last approaching the final furlong. Switches to the inside rail and finishes under easy hands and heels the joint fasted final furlong split. Impressive.

Seven furlongs and fastish ground racing off near top weight was an incredibly tough assignment. To run so well in these circumstances is especially noteworthy.

Back up to a mile he’ll be a big chance, particularly with ease in the ground.

Race Replay

Ribtide + Eldeyaar
07/05/22 – 7.05 Thirsk:

Ribtide has to content with an outside draw, travels at the rear of the main group really strongly, hard on the bridle all the way to the final furlong marker behind a wall of horses with no way through.

Clearly better than this result and better than the odds of his first four career runs suggested. An opening mark of 67 looks stiff enough for what he achieved so far, although his runner-up performance in March behind Fly To Glory, who is now 83 rated and finished a solid third subsequently behind another 83 rated individual could indicate he’s got a bit more to offer.

This was his handicap debut. He was a 50/1 shot. And the way he travelled looked nowhere near like a no-hoper. Six furlongs looks to be his trip. I’ll be really interested wherever he goes next. He was a January foal and should win races soon. But the market has to be monitored.

Eldeyaar was another hard luck story. He got a heavy bump right after the start. Travelled at the rear end of a small group on the stands’ side. As the groups merged and the race got hot from two furlongs out he appeared slightly outpaced, but kept going nicely.

He had a bunch of horses in front, couldn’t quite quicken fast enough whenever a gap opened for a brief moment. Eventually things opened up late and he ran home strongly.

Clearly a better run than his 50/1 price suggested. This was his handicap debut. He looks to be potentially better than this opening 58 mark. His three qualifying runs where also better than the bare form.

Pedigree matches my visual impression that he wants an additional furlong. He should be a big runner if he steps up in trip. He may be well handicapped enough over 6 furlongs for now – but only with cut in the ground.

Race Replay

Elzaal
0705/22 – 7.35 Thirsk:

Travelled well as part of the smaller of two groups toward the stands’ side. Looked poised for a big challenge over two furlongs out as the groups merged. Was in a tight spot and badly hampered over one furlong out. Had to regain momentum. Impressive how he did it.

The form should be strong thanks to the winner who was still well handicapped.

There are obvious issues and risks with him. He’s a maiden after 20 runs. He’s got close a number of times. Down to a 49 mark at the moment, the right race is there for him to win.

Ideally 5 furlongs on soft ground as otherwise I’m sure he’ll be found out for speed. I would also be curious to see him attempting 6 furlongs again. He tried the distance only once. His pedigree gives him every chance to stay the trip.

Race Replay

Marselan
07/05/22 – 8.35 Thirsk:

Raced as part of a duo isolated on the stand’s side. Pair was lengths behind main bunch and had plenty to do with two furlongs to go. Marselan found plenty to finish much the strongest to grab 2nd place. He also achieved a career best 60 topspeed rating.

This was the first time after a wind operation – he was never going to be a 66/1 shot if his breathing would be fixed. The loss of form last year can most likely be attributed to those issues.

He won of 65 and 67 last summer over 7 furlongs. Now down to 62 he’s obviously well handicapped with the breathing issues rectified. I think 6 furlongs with cut in the ground can work as seen here but the additional furlong and decent ground may well be his optimum.

Race Replay

Arlecchino’s Gift + Salta Resta
09/05/22 – 1.40 Wolverhampton:

Arlecchino’s Gift was caught wide from his wide draw and only dropped in over three furlongs out around the home bend. Travelled much the best entering the home straight but had the entire field to pass.

Appeared to find a small gap over a furlong from home but got badly squeezed eventually. He pulled through but lost momentum. Got quickly going again and finished well – despite the trouble and being eased in the final 100 yards he ran the fasted home straight sectionals.

Starting issues prevented him from a more fruitful juvenile campaign, although he showed some talent. A gelding operation over the winter helped and thanks to being more professional at the start he’s finally winning races. He’s been progressive this year, wining twice and running well a number of other times.

When winning of a mark of 55 at Wolverhampton he appeared to have a bit in hand, which was confirmed by a 59 topspeed rating. There were excuses at Chelmsford subsequently when he was badly bumped at the start and was overly keen in a slowly run race.

This most recent performance adds to the picture that Arlecchino’s Gift continues to improve. Of a mark of 60 he could still be well handicapped given he ran to TS 59 with relative ease and caught the eye so dramatically here.

Salta Resta raced at the back of the field and was quite keen throughout but travelled strongly entering the home straight. Had to delay her effort to wait for space to open on the inside. She finished strongly, despite not having a clear run in the closing stages once again, not being knocked about either, with the second fastest home straight sectionals.

She’s been better than the latest results suggest. Currently only 2lb above her last winning mark from Southwell in January when she also achieved a 56 topspeed rating and beat Arlecchino’s Gift.

I feel anything below 6 furlongs will be too sharp. A step up to 7 furlongs looks possible given the dam side. But she’s always quite keen, so perhaps a fast 6 furlongs with a pace to run at should see her capable of winning another race.

Race Replay

Jumira Bridge
09/05/22 – 2.40 Wolverhampton:

After his usual awkward start he travelled well at the back of the main bunch. Looked poised turning for home but got stuck amongst horses. Had to switch to the inside in a harsh move over a furlong out and finished much the best, although the winner was long gone. Raced 1lb out of the weights.

Excellent follow-up from a good performance in a seller over course and distance when he made eye-catching headway turning for home carrying 10st.

Obviously a tricky customer, who can lose races at the gate and has fallen a long way down in the ratings. These last two performances suggest there is life in the 8-year-old, though.

If he drops down to class 6 he’ll be a big chance sooner rather than later I reckon. All-Weather or fast ground on turf both should work.

Race Replay

Monsieur Jumbo
09/05/22 – 3.40 Wolverhampton:

He lost the race at the gate. Not for the first time. Had to play catch up from early on. Appeared a bit outpaced around the home bend, kept up to work and stuck gutsily to it in the home straight, rattled home once switched to the middle of the track in impressive fashion, very much the strongest visually and also backed up by last 2 furlongs splits. Doing this despite losing his right-fore shoe.

No doubt he was the best horse in the race. He ran much better than the form suggested at Redcar before. After missing the break, he travelled powerfully through the middle part of the race, just got tired in the end doing too much before it really mattered.

He should stay the mile given the stamina on the dam side. I think it’s worth another try as things happen a little slower there. Ideally we see some headgear applied too.

He was a £85,000 as a yearling and has shown at the track he’s got some talent to match the price. He’s yet to run to a TS rating that matches his current mark, but I firmly believe he’s well capable.

Race Replay

Ustath
09/05/22 – 3.30 Catterick:

Grabbed the lead but didn’t find immediate change of gear entering the home straight. Got pressured left and right and badly hampered repeatedly from 2 furlongs out and never had a change to unleash a challenge. Whether he would have found enough to truly challenge is hard to answer.

Catterick as a track wouldn’t totally suit him. He’s best on flat tracks or the All-Weather. He’s down to a good mark having ran with consistency to a higher level last year. He won off 65 and was placed three times of a similar mark on turf and fibresand, and ran five times to topspeed ratings of 58 or higher (3x 61+).

Even though he has fallen down to a 56 rating at the moment, he was already twice placed this year and ran to a 58 TS rating at Newcastle.

Back on 6 furlongs on fast ground he’ll be ripe to win.

Race Replay

Port Noir + Hope Probe
10/05/22 – 2.20 Chepstow:

Port Noir travelled on the outside from a wide draw away from where the pace and race would develop. Going well making fine progress two furlongs out, then bit short of room and in tight spots a couple of times. Runs well to the line under hands and heels.

Fine performance given the circumstances. She is better on the All-Weather but a few pounds too high for my liking. One to monitor for a few more runs.

She won of a mark of 64 last September at Wolverhampton over 7 furlongs. That performances matches her career best 64 topspeed rating. Wait for her to drop down to that mark in those circumstances.

Hope Probe was at a disadvantage from her low draw much like Port Noire. Moved right over to the stands’ side rail but now behind a wall of horses. Switched back to the middle of the track from 3f out and eventually further to the outside in a dramatic move, making rapid progress.

Received two slight bumps in the last two furlongs but continued to finish well to grab 3rd place on the line.

He must have had issues having dropped 15lbs in a year and changed yards twice. He won of 55 over 7 furlongs last April ( 58 TS) and was multiple times placed of higher ratings subsequently.

This was a clear and obvious return to form. He could be well handicapped if stepping back up to 7 furlongs again.

Race Replay

Silver Diva
10/05/22 – 3.20 Chepstow:

Travelled strongly on the inside behind horses, kept up nicely to the task while having to bide time. Some space opened up late in the final furlong and she moved through easily to finish strongly under hands and heels.

She is still a maiden after 17 attempts, but there are mitigating factors. She also showed promise of higher marks last summer, especially with cut in the ground when she finished 3rd at Salisbury and Windsor.

Down to a basement mark at the moment, she has improved nicely with each run since her seasonal reappearance. The fact she ran so well on fast ground over the minimum trip here is noteworthy.

On proper soft ground she’ll be quite interesting over 5f with a stiff finish or otherwise over 6 furlongs, taking also into context her dam was a soft ground horse too.

Race Replay

Kylie Rules
10/05/22 – 3.40 Beverley:

Travelled very strongly approaching the two furlong marker. Had to wait for racing room, switched toward the inside rail but had to keep fighting for space. The race was gone as she reached the final furlong, although she didn’t find much either in the closing stages.

This was a hot race with some well handicapped individuals here, including the strong winner. She ran a big race last time out here at Beverley over 7.5 furlongs, finishing much the strongest visually and on sectionals, confirming the promise of her seasonal reappearance at Redcar.

No question, she is a frustrating mare these days. She hasn’t won for years, often enough caught the eye, none more so last June when an unlucky 4th at Thirsk of a mark of 67 while running to TS 66.

She is down to a 49 mark now. There is still some spark. But she will need ideal conditions: a bit of cut in the ground. Too often she raced on fastish ground, ran well, but I feel she needs a bit of ease in the ground these days. If that’s given over 7-8 furlongs she’ll win soon.

Race Replay

Gibside
10/05/22 – 4.10 Beverley:

Sluggish start, settled in rear, looked not quite to enjoy the sharp track and still seemed green. Bit short of room 3f out, switched widest for challenge and hang in the home straight a bit to his right.

Better than the result, as was the case last time out when he ran a strong race as runner-up. He made his move too early that day and a more conservative ride would have seen him gone much closer. Ran to topspeed 54 the last two times now.

I think Beverley looks too sharp for him as a track and fast ground possibly not quite ideal over this trip. He’s a poor starter. Can see him move up to 12 furlongs. 1m 2f distance isn’t out of question but want to see him on a less sharp course.

Race Replay

Lailah
10/05/22 – 5.20 Beverley:

Settled well in rear and travelled solidly into the home straight, looking potentially poised for a challenge. Kept in a pocket and not clear run from 3f out, eased to finish second last in the end. Was a big drifter in the betting on the day.

Clearly one for handicaps. Inexperienced, only the second career run for the filly, who was an April foal too. She’ll improve with racing and certainly if going up in trip. She’s a sister to solid handicapper Knowing, a 10f winner who stays 12 furlongs.

I suspect Lailah needs to move beyond 10 furlongs to be seen to best effect. That will happen. Give her time, monitor for the next few starts, also with an eye on the opening mark – she’s one for later this season.

Race Replay

Rose Camira + Adjourn
10/05/22 – 7.00 Newcastle:

Rosa Camira travelled nicely in midfield for a long time, made a bit of progress entering the home straight, but not helped by a shifting rival carrying them toward the far side. Eased after not finding much in the closing stages

Lovely return to the track for the filly on her second career start. She didn’t show much on debut over inadequate 7 furlongs. I reckon this piece of form here will work out quite well, though. Certainly she will have learned quite a bit.

She’ll be interesting once qualified for a mark and if stepping up in trip. There’s an awful lot of stamina in the pedigree. She’s a full-sister 1m 4f winning Lady of Shalott and Lady Morgana who was only 1¼ lengths behind Group 1 winning Eshaada in her sole run.

It’s unlikely that this filly will be a star, but she could be underestimated given the naked form doesn’t read too well yet; hence she’s one to wait for later this year when she goes up in trip and hopefully hasn’t shown too much to the handicapper too early to get a nice opening mark.

Adjourn quickly crossed over from his wide draw to be right up with the pace. He clearly made way too much in the first half of the race.He still looked in with a chance entering the home straight but in reality was gradually weakening and fading away.

This was his first run since September, having been gelded in the meantime. When last seen in 2021 he was an excellent 5th, only 2.5l beaten, behind smart Subastar at Newmarket.

He stepped up to 10 furlongs for the first time here at Newcastle. The jury is out whether he truly stays it. The pedigree is not fully conclusive on that question. The reason why he didn’t get home in this race was simply down to pacing, so worth another chance over the distance.

Otherwise a mile with some ease in the ground could be interesting too. That says one has to monitor the opening mark. As mentioned before I feel this was a strong maiden. And his juvenile form may push his mark beyond an acceptable level. He was a £135,000 purchase, though, and should have talent.

Race Replay

All Are Mine
10/05/22 – 8.00 Newcastle:

Was slowly away and clearly inexperienced. Pulling also really hard for the majority of the race in what was a field crawling for the most part. Didn’t get a clear run of things from 2 furlongs out as pace increased, perhaps also a little bit outpaced shortly after, but very impressive how he changed gears inside the final furlong when finding racing room to fly home.

Highly impressive debut despite drifting out to 25/1 from single figure odds in the morning. Fetched €162k at a breeze up sale last year.

Should improve for a trip given his pedigree. Ten furlongs looks no issue on that front. Will be really interesting to see where he goes next and what the market says. Exciting prospect.

Race Replay

Gold Charm
10/05/22 – 7.45 Lingfield:

Perhaps a tiny bit slow out of the gates, she travelled stylishly into the home straight. Didn’t have an immediate change of gear but wasn’t help by a rival hanging into her, pushing her toward the inside. Eventually with some space in front of her, she finished much the best, especially from half a furlong out.

This was her handicap debut after a really solid pipe opener in quite a hot Newbury maiden last month. An opening mark of 73 isn’t a giveaway from the handicapper; however, this run and particularly the way she finished the race is encouraging.

She has plenty of stamina in her pedigree, and matching that with the visual impression here I reckon she can unlock more potential if she moves up in trip. Winning over 12 furlongs of her mark looks realistic.

Race Replay

Wobwobwob
11/05/22 – 2.25 York:

Drawn in stall #1 on the far side, tried to go with the pace early on but soon flat footed and under pressure. Things happened too quickly here. Still found something under pressure and finished okay, isolated on that far rail.

Six furlongs on decent ground is probably too sharp, especially in this class. Ran a number of good races last year, including when winning at York twelve months ago over 7 furlongs. Continued to improve without winning. A third place at Ayr in a highly competitive Handicap of a mark of 88 running to topspeed 86 counts as a career best.

His seasonal reappearance at Thirsk last month was excellent. Both runs this year now confirmed he’s as good as ever. An 85 OR gives opportunities. Any drop in the mark in combination with a step up to 7 furlongs, ideally with a bit of cut in the ground, will be really interesting.

Race Replay

Life’s A Beach + Mr Freedom
11/05/22 – 8.30 Bath:

Life’s A Beach settled in rear after a slightly sluggish start. Was trailing the entire field turning for home. Had to wait for room, which opened up late inside the final furlong when switched to the inside where he finished really well with seemingly a lot in the tank.

This was his seasonal reappearance having been off since disappointing as short priced favourite at Kempton on Handicap debut. The way he travelled and finished from the back of the field suggests he’s certainly well handicapped.

It’s reasonable to expect he can improve with age and experience given he’s an April foal. He can be a slow starter and wasn’t able to quicken when it mattered at Kempton, so I’d be warry of dropping to 7 furlongs and want to see him over a mile.

Mr Freedom also travelled toward the end of the field. Still third last entering the home straight, he was stuck amongst horses, tried different avenues to get out and hang a bit over one furlong out when switched toward the inside again.

This was his first outing this year and first handicap start after showing nothing as a juvenile. He was surprisingly well backed from an early morning 20’s into 10’s SP.

He’s obviously light on experience and also one you definitely would hope to improve with time. There’s also a good deal of stamina that make me believe his future will more likely be over 10 furlongs.

Race Replay

Flying Secret
12/05/22 – 4.18 Salisbury:

Travelled strongly in rear on the inside, having plenty to do with two furlongs to go. Not finding much racing room until finally in the clear approaching the final furlong. Doesn’t have an instant acceleration but eventually stays on well to land 3rd place.

He’s got his issues in the starting gate and looks in the grip of the handicapper. At least over 6 furlongs. He needs the step up in trip, possibly 7 furlongs will suffice, but a mile should work too. Ideally he gets a couple of pounds off his mark too.

Will monitor for the next starts where they go with him. I wouldn’t back him over 6 furlongs.

Race Replay

Jawwaal
12/05/22 – 1.50 York:

Not the best of starts but that’s normal for him these days. Travelled powerfully behind a wall of horses, looming large, whenever he could get a gap to run through. No gap appeared, switched over 1 furlong out but the race was gone by then. Was eventually eased.

Really nice first outing for the year. Should improve from this. Travelled so well to assume he’s in fine nick. Proved to be prolific last season winning twice and achieve a career best 98 topspeed rating.

Currently rated 98. Would like to see a couple of pounds less before I’m seriously interested, which may already be achieved after this run if the handicapper is lenient. 5 furlongs in smaller field at Doncaster or Ascot on fast ground would be the ideal scenario.

Race Replay

Eyecatchers #6 2022

A list of horses that caught my eye during the last seven days of racing. These individuals look ready to win a race sooner rather than later.

Main Target
29/04/22 – 7.55 Newcastle:

A touch slow out of the gates, pulled hard in the early stages of the race. Made impressive headway on the outside from 4 furlongs out posting fast sectionals. Contested lead two furlongs from home, then tired in the closing stages and not knocked about.

The way he travelled through the middle part of the race here is evidence that he’s better than the result. It was his first run since being gelded and he dropped down to 6 furlongs as well.

He continues to fall in the ratings, perhaps will do so further. He’s a lovely bred gelding. Even though he’s yet to run fast topspeed ratings I still feel a mark of somewhere around 70 could underestimate him if he can put it all together.

He is still lightly raced enough to hope for better, especially if he steps up in trip. A mile looks highly possible on pedigree. He needs to settle better, though. Headgear would be interesting.

Race Replay

Checkandchallenge
30/04/22 – 3.40 Newmarket:

Squeezed right after the start, possibly lit up from the early bump, was keen in phases. Still travelled well enough into the race, albeit away from the pace on the far side where – in my view – it was an advantage to race. In a pocket from three furlongs out, short of room 2 furlongs out. Eased afterwards.

He wasted too much energy early on and raced inefficiently, and wasn’t helped by how the race developed. He is a better colt than this 14/15 finish suggest.

He won the Burradon Stakes at Newcastle in really impressive style on only his second lifetime start after overcoming greenness on debut back in November at Wolverhampton.

Whether he is absolute top-class remains to be seen, but he can win some good races. Perhaps a step up to 10 furlongs would be beneficial, but another try over a mile would be worth a go for the moment, too.

Trais Fluors
30/04/22 – 2.05 Thirsk:

Had to overcome a wide draw and settled in rear after a good start. Travelled well into the home straight behind a wall of horses. Tried to switch to the outside for a clear run from 3 furlongs out but got boxed in. Switched back inside but still no luck. Finished easily on the bridle with seemingly plenty left in the tank.

Was eye-catching last time out at Newbury on his seasonal reappearance when he finished strongly with the fastest final furlong split despite not being overly hard ridden.

The 8-year-old is obviously well in himself and ready for a big run. He’s down to a 87 handicap mark but was able to win of 92 last summer, running to a 91 topspeed rating, which isn’t too far of his best form.

Race Replay

Dandy Dinmont
02/05/22 – 4.06 Beverley:

Made good progress throughout travelling notably well for the majority of the race, even though he looked a little bit keen in the first furlong. Was locked behind the leading horses, switched to the inside over one furlong out and finished well despite things being tight. Was the only one making a significant impression from off the pace.

Clear improvement from his seasonal reappearance which was better than the bare form suggest too. He starts to drop toward more realistic handicap marks especially with a claimer in the saddle.

He showed a bit of progress as a juvenile but got injured in August and only returned at Doncaster last month after 267 days off the track. I imagine 5 furlongs will be his optimum. Perhaps the All-Weather could be interesting as he’s a full brother to a Wolverhampton winner over the minimum trip.

Ideally I would love to see a couple pounds off the mark before taking a betting interest in him. A drop in trip and/or switch of surface may also be desired. Regardless, he’s still lightly raced, an April foal and looks one who can still improve.

Race Replay

Dark Vega
02/05/22 – 2.55 Curragh:

From her position in midfield toward the far side rail she had to negotiate a lot of traffic from 3 furlongs out, travelling behind a wall of horses. She stuck nicely to the task behind a wall of horses, moved around bravely through tight spaces and finished well giving the impression there as still quite a bit left in the tank.

This was only her second career start as well as her seasonal reappearance after she won on debut last autumn over course and distance. That form was franked by the runner-up Boundless Ocean, who ran last week in the 2000 Guineas.

The filly has been given time and didn’t turn into a Guineas filly as Jessica Harrington hoped she might do, but this highly compelling reappearance over 7 furlongs – a trip possibly a little on the sharp side now – was a great pipe opener and suggested she could be than her opening mark, especially if stepping up to a mile.

Race Replay

On The River
03/05/22 – 6.10 Wetherby:

Up with the pace early on and seriously keen particularly around the first bend when nearly running away with his jockey having to take a big pull. Comes under pressure from three furlongs out but is a clear run denied to move forward and as a consequence loses his position. Finishes visually well while tenderly handled in the final furlong.

He won last year of a mark of 56 over 7 furlongs, was subsequently placed of 9lb higher. Starts to drop down in the ratings to what could soon be a really good mark.

Especially if he can find a little bit improvement for going up in trip. A mile looks quite possible on pedigree. I’ll be interested if he drops below 60 in the rating and tackles the mile for the first time, ideally not on fast ground, though.

Race Replay

Mutanaaseq
03/05/22 – 6.40 Wetherby:

He travelled in rear off the pace where the race would eventually develop thanks to slow early fractions. As the pace increased entering the home straight he got outpaced and looked bound for finishing last. Found another gear late to finish much the strongest visually and backed up by sectionals.

This was a clear return to form after a number of rather poor showings. He performed still quite strongly last year, won of a mark of 67, was placed of 72 and ran to topspeed 73.

Slowly comes down to a fair mark again. All his best form is over 6 furlongs, hence recent runs over 7f have to be seen in that context. It may take one or two more runs, but if he drops to a mark of 67 or lower again, over 6f, and ideally with a bit of cut in the ground, he’ll be of high interest.

Rae Replay

Highlight Reel
03/05/22 – 8.10 Wetherby:

Swerved right off the gates, settled in final third but didn’t seem to travel overly well early on in a tight field. Got squeezed and hampered from 3f out an, as many did in a finish that had more to do with bumper car racing than horse racing.

Eventually found a way out with less than two furlongs to go, having to take the scenic route around the entire field on the outside. He still encountered trouble all the way to the line. The fact he finished so well in fourth despite all the trouble is noteworthy.

He was out of the weights here which shows how far he’s fallen as a result of poor form this year. However, there are mitigating factors as he’s never done much on the All-Weather and sprint trips are too sharp these days.

He won of a mark of 47 over 10 furlongs last year, running to topspeed 50. I would argue this most recent performance suggests he’s capable to run to a similar level of form. I wouldn’t be interested in him over shorter than a mile. Anything up to 10f, ideally on fast ground and perhaps a good apprentice on board will be intriguing.

Race Replay

Tolstoy
04/05/22 – 3.40 Chester:

He didn’t look entirely straightforward throughout, perhaps not quite enjoying the track, but also showed keenness in the early stages. Travelled well enough in the middle part but was locked on the inside in a disadvantaged position.

Racing room only opened up late in the home straight. Finished well eventually without being beaten up. He was chanceless with the winner but a lot can be attested to his racing position I feel.

He was a busy enough juvenile showing promise over 6 furlongs, although I feel he can improve going up in trip. The way he finished here in soft conditions supports the idea. He’s got to improve, though, if he wants to be competitive in Handicap company of his current mark or perhaps Listed level.

Cut in the ground seems key to him. Goin up in trip – I envision a mile to be ideal – will make him interesting for me, but his tendency to pull is a concern. Not one I’d be keen to back at short prices.

Race Replay

Dangerous Rascal
04/05/2022 – 6.30 Kempton:

Bumped heavily right after the start. As a consequence possibly lit up. Never travelled overly well in rear on the inside then, also looked still green, raw and unsure of his job.

Hang around the home turn and hit a flat spot over 2 furlongs out. Once in the clear and asked for full effort the penny dropped and he ran home much the strongest with the fastest last 2 furlong splits without being fully pushed out in the final half furlong.

He’s obviously got a bit of talent but appears to be a tricky customer as well who has still plenty to learn. First-time visor seemed to help in the closing stages. This was his first handicap start and try over 7 furlongs, also second up from a break and gelding operation.

He cost some decent money as a yearling and fetched €115k at a breeze up, likely down to his excellent breeding and being a full-brother to Group 1 placed Rhythm Dancer.

As much as it seems obvious that he is better than a 59 rating, he’s also clearly not a pattern performer. Nonetheless, with experience he should improve significantly. He finished well enough to suggest stamina for 7 furlongs isn’t an issue.

Eyecatchers #5 2022

A list of horses that caught my eye during the last seven days of racing. These individuals look ready to win a race sooner rather than later.

Kimngrace
22/04/22: 1.20 Sandown:

After a steadied start she settled in rear of the field. She made some smooth progress from over three furlongs out but was stuck behind a bunch of horses and a clear passage denied until very late. She finished well when a bit of racing room opened up in the closing stages.

The winner made all from the front, the runner-up and third raced close to the pace too. Given these circumstances this was a big run on what was Kimngrace’s seasonal reappearance.

She looks a filly open to improvement, possibly more so if stepping up to 6 furlongs again, or perhaps a really stiff five. When last seen in 2021 she won a Maiden race at Haydock over 6f and looked at home over the trip. That particular form worked out well with the runner-up having ran a huge race in the Fred Darling Stakes recently.

It will be interesting to see what the handicapper does. I feel he can’t raise her mark too much . Of her current 78 rating she looks potentially really well handicapped, though.

Race Replay

Devilwala
23/04/22 – 1.20 Ripon:

I admit this requires a bit of imagination and context. Devilwala travelled okayish, always close to the pace, and attempted to make a move from 3 furlongs out as the pace increased. He looked one of the more dangerous horses at this moment in time, was still there for a good finish with a furlong to go, but ran out of gas eventually.

Not unexpectedly. Devilwala doesn’t stay the mile trip. He was 4th in a 2000 Guineas, and overall highly tried in his first two seasons, but his best came over 6f and 7f, like a strong 4th, less than three lengths beaten in the Dewhurst behind St. Mark’s Basilica.

Those days are long gone. He changed yards twice and has been gelded. He’s fallen from a career highest 114 OR to a modest 84 right now. I suspect he’ll be dropped another couple of pounds soon.

That’s the context to this 4th place finish at Ripon. A solid run over a distance that stretched his stamina. It should bring him on for the moment he drops in trip.

I want to see a few more pounds off the mark plus a drop in class to be seriously interested. This day will come in the not too distinct future.

Race Replay

Buckshaw Village
23/04/22 – 5.10 Ripon:

Travelled in midfield initially, then relegated to the rear and switched to the inside, possibly for more cover. Was behind a wall of horses and stuck to the task to stay in touch and looked poised for a challenge. Didn’t get a run through, slightly impeded 1 furlong out. Finished really well under hands and heels.

This was only the second handicap start for the colt and second run after a lackluster but excusable comeback run at Pontefract. He showed promise last season as a juvenile with three placed efforts in maiden & novice company.

This was a great run though, given circumstances, also over the minimum trip. I feel, given the pedigree, and the way he finished here, he’ll absolutely enjoy going back up to 6 furlongs again, or perhaps even attempting 7 furlongs.

He comes down to a workable mark, particularly if he can improve for experience and trip. Buckshaw Village is ready to win. He certainly wants decent ground, though, and wouldn’t be of interest to me if he stays over the minimum trip.

Race Replay

Billian
23/04/22 – 1.30 Haydock:

Breaking slowly put him at a disadvantage right away. He trailed the field but travelled well enough with good progress. Dramatic move to be switched to the wide outside in order to get a clear run. He looked dangerous there but had too much too do and tired in the closing stages.

Still managed to finish the 2nd fastest combined splits for the final three furlongs, just behind the well handicapped After John (3rd place). This form looks really strong and his performance a definite return to form.

He has fallen 17lb in the mark in the last year, and clearly lost his enthusiasm for racing. Breaking poorly has become a habit and he was never once fancied in 2021.

Nonetheless, he’s coming down to a sexy handicap mark now, possibly with even further assistance from the handicapper after this run. Billian has ran six times to topspeed ratings of 60 and higher throughout his career which gives plenty of hope that he can win soon.

One caveat: I have to account for the slow starts and think they are easier to make up in smaller fields. Plus while he appears ground independent I believe his best comes out on decent ground. Only in those circumstances I will be interested in him.

Race Replay

Strawman
23/04/22 – 7.05 Doncaster:

He completely messed up the start and lost a number of lengths early on (have to monitor whether this becomes a habit). Trailed until turning for home when making rapid progress highlighted by blistering sectionals to move into a challenging position. Pays for the effort in the closing stages but also entitled to tire on his first run in 223 days.

This was Strawman’s first “poor” run in a year. He won three races and finished another one second of his four starts last season. And this most recent one is a much stronger performance than the 7 lengths beaten 5/5 result suggests.

In fact this run suggests the handicapper may still not have caught up with him and he can win again as long as it’s 9-10 furlongs on decent ground.

Race Replay

Secretfact
24/04/22 – 2.40 Bath:

Was very alertly out of the gate, travelled strongly in midfield to the 2 furlong marker. Had nowhere to go from there, though, trying different routes. Eventually pushed toward the inside when he runs out of fuel.

The 9-year-old was entitled to get tired on his first start in 2022, but clearly ran much better than the result and price suggested. He has still a lot of enthusiasm for racing.

Down to a mark of 65, which is probably a fairer reflection of his class these days, but a little bit of additional assistance from the handicapper will mean he’s got to be well handicapped over the minimum trip on lightning fast ground.

Side note: He ran at Chepstow on Thursday in the meantime. Same mark, same trip. Fine performance, leading from the front, just to tire in the closing stages and drop to 4th late. He should be ready for a big run next time if conditions suit (5f, fast going).

Race Replay

Sense Of Security
24/04/22 – 4.55 Bath:

Was well away from the gates and travelled in midfield for the majority of the race. She was quite keen too, pulling hard from midway through. Yet she appeared to go easily and strongly turning for home, the jockey taking a pull over 3 furlongs out.

She seemed to travel like the winner, with the only problem how to get a run for home. It didn’t happen until very late when the race was over. She is obviously much better than this result.

Sense Of Security has shown promise last year, was placed over 5.5f at this track in an eye-catching performance. She was a good third at Kempton earlier this month too, having ran to topspeed 61.

With experience she should improve. I feel a drop to 7f wouldn’t be an issue, neither would be a step up in trip out of question given the pedigree. Though, given her tendency to pull hard, a mile is probably the maximum right now.

Race Replay

Dream Composer
24/04/22 – 4.05 Wetherby:

Travelled in last position for most of the race, until turning for home when he attempted to make progress on the wide outside. Wasn’t helped by moving horses in front but also struggled with top-end speed on this fast surface.

Was brave in the final furlong to move through a gap and finished well. Clear improvement on recent poor Pontefract showing, which was a first run after a break, though. Performance is notable for the fact he ran so well here on fast ground even though he’s a much better horse with cut in the ground.

Comes down to a really nice mark having won of 1lb higher last summer and having ran a massive race in a big Ayr Handicap of 7lb higher. Interesting next time whenever on soft ground.

Race Replay

Hodler
25/04/22 – 4.55 Windsor:

Travelled strongly in rear, hard on the bridle approaching the last two furlongs. Stuck behind a wall of horses he’s switched to the inside but that doesn’t make the situation any better. Short of room there until very late when switched even wider.

I really liked how Hodler travelled here. He spotted a hood for the first time. Still pretty lightly raced it’s clear racing him over sprint trips is far from ideal given his pedigree. But potentially required to bring the mark down from what was a stiff opening mark (78).

He will clearly benefit moving up in distance. 10 furlongs looks possible. The fact he has been keen in the past is the obvious question mark for that sort of project. Nonetheless worth waiting for it to happen before backing him.

Race Replay

Homemade Andrea
25/04/22 – 7.55 Windsor:

Settled in rear of the field and travelled much the strongest to the 2 furlong marker, although had to delay her challenge. Once things opened up she dropped away tamely.

The mile trip could be too far for her. The filly’s best is over 7 furlongs which looks more in line with her sire and dam’s sire stamina index too. I imagine she might be best with a bit of cut in the ground as well.

Clearly 13 runs and 1 single win isn’t an overly sexy profile. But she managed to win of a mark of 50 as a juvenile and was a good runner-up of 2lb higher at Lingfield in January, when also running to a 50 topspeed rating, validating this form.

She’s likely to fall another couple of pounds for this run. If dropping back to 7 furlongs she’ll be interesting with a bit of cut in the ground I reckon.

Race Replay

Golden Apollo
25/04/22 – 7.05 Thirsk:

Didn’t have a good start and as a consequence settled in the final third of the field. Travelled okay and looked in with a shot if getting a clear run. He was kept up to the task the entire race but didn’t find a gap. Finished easily and seemingly with something left in the tank.

The golden years are obviously behind the 8-year-old but he still performed of marks in the 80s last year and also ran to topspeed 84 when runner-up in a hot Redcar Handicap.

He’s been a shade unlucky a number times too in the meantime, as a results his mark is reduced all the time. He’s down to a good mark already, but any additional help from the handicapper will be welcome. A 6f race of a 75 rating in class 4 could be an optimal scenario.

Race Replay

Northbound
25/04/22 – 20.05 Thirsk:

Keen at different stages of the race, nonetheless travelling smoothly on the inside. Still hard on the bridle over a furlong out, although absolutely no chance to get a run. Gently switched to the middle of the track very late and finished eye-catchingly well in one of the fasted final furlong splits despite being hard held.

He hasn’t won since his juvenile days, but has been competitive and placed numerous times last season, without winning though, and sometimes unlucky.

His mark continues to fall and is down to what makes him a well handicapped individual now. He was placed of 65 and ran to Topspeed 58, 59 and 61 last year. He also has a career best 71 TS rating. 7f fast ground may be ideal.

Race Replay

Golden Melody
26/04/22 – 3.30 Nottingham:

This was a really slow race for the most part resulting in a sprint finish. Golden Melody was disadvantaged by her racing position but made eye-catching progress on the inside from 4 furlongs out against a rapidly increasing pace.

The leaders where not for catching holding all the aces due to the nature of how the race developed, but Golden Melody finished the last four furlongs still much the fastest. It’s speculative but she was probably the best horse in the race on handicapping terms and would have won in different circumstances.

The 4-year-old filly looks quite exposed on paper, given 23 lifetime starts already. However, she was still progressive in a busy campaign last year. Particularly from summer on this March filly was prolific: three wins and a number of quality efforts.

She’s up to a 73 mark now and hasn’t matched that with topspeed yet. However she came close enough with a 69 TS effort in a hot class 2 York Handicap last year. She can improve again as this most recent run suggests. Anything between 9-10 furlongs is probably ideal with relative ground independence.

Race Replay

Kraken Power
26/04/22 – 6.15 Ayr:

Got a bump right after the start and was quite keen in the aftermath. Yet travelled much the best and made a big effort from 3f out to contest the lead on the outside of the field approaching the final furlong marker. Tired in the closing stages.

He possibly paid for a big effort from three to one furlongs out. Despite fading away late, he finished the last three furlongs fast and wasn’t knocked about in the closing stages. This performance is a clear return to form and build nicely on a solid comeback run at Thirsk earlier this month.

He changed yards late last year after obviously losing his way. He hasn’t exactly fired in the first two starts for Jim Goldie but was better than the bare form suggested at Thirsk and really caught my eye here too.

Kraken Power has talent. He was rated as high as 86, was placed in good races of 82 last season, as well as ran to topspeed 82. He’s now down to 70. If this upward trend continues he’ll be a massive chance next time. Both minimum trip and 6 furlongs are fine, although fast ground 6f may be the ideal scenario.

Race Replay

Hathlool
27/04/22 – 1.50 Ascot:

Awkward start, settled in rear travelling notably well. Made eye-catching progress from midway through the race, switching toward the inside looking for a clear run, although there’s also a noticeable lack of urgency from the jockey . He’s short of room one furlong out again and finishes easily under hands and heels.

This was an eye-catching run for a number of reasons and the stewards thought so too, holding an inquiry into the ride. Whatever the lack of in-running luck, in my view the jockey didn’t really try to obtain the best possible position in the race.

Hathlool has been quite progressive over the last half year on both turf and All-Weather, winning three times and running better than the bare form suggested the last two times on turf.

His mark is probably high enough now as he’s not yet run to a topspeed above 58. But I feel once he goes up to 9-10 furlongs again, and drops to 75 or lower he’ll be really interesting.

Perhaps that’s exactly the idea of connections to get him into that type of scenario. He’s got an entry for Beverley over 8.5f on Monday. With his sketchy starting habits and the trip perhaps slightly below his preferred optimum, I can see him not running too well there. That could bring him down to the rating I want to see.

Race Replay

Rocket Dancer
27/04/22 – 5.30 Pontefract:

Had a wide draw to overcome and as a consequence settled in rear, which was a huge disadvantage in a race dominated by those up or close to the pace.

Cut the corner turning for home and then made significant progress against the inside rail to finish 4th, staying on as one of very few from the back of the field.

Clear sign of life for a horse that lost form in the second half of last season. He was still a fine runner-up over this course and distance twelve months earlier of a mark of 62, won subsequently of 64 on the All-Weather. Was well beaten in all other runs then.

Down to a 52 rating now he appears to be supremely well handicapped on past form. This performance gives me the impression he is ready to win soon.

Race Replay

Chant For More
27/04/22 – 7.55 Musselburgh:

The gelding travelled nicely enough on the inside rail behind the leading trio but had to wait for a gap to open. It only really opened up for him very late, over half a furlong from home, he went through bravely and ran on strongly for 3rd place in a tight finish.

This was a significant improvement on his juvenile form. A recent wind operation must have done the trick here. He was a cheap vendor foal but offers some upside as a 3-year-old I feel, given he was an April foal and has scope to get better with experience, now that his wind is okay.

A step up to 6 furlongs would be really interesting in a low-grade race next time.

Race Replay

Perfect Symphony + San Juan
28/04/22 – 4.05 Lingfield:

Despite a solid break from the gates Perfect Symphony got behind soon, perhaps also got a bit tight amongst horses around the first bend (hard to see). Was pushed along from 4 furlongs out and turned home in last position. Thundered home in impressive fashion to finish runner-up eventually.

The 8-year-old has still something to give as evidence by his latest performances. He ran well on a number of occasions over the last weeks and months on the All-Weather. At his age he’s a bit quirky and needs things to fall right, though.

Saying that, a small field sprint over the minimum distance on the All-Weather is certainly a possibility for him to win, particularly of such a low mark he’s fallen to. He was fancied in the betting for the first time in a while here, so I’ll want to monitor the market before backing him.

San Juan had to contend with the widest draw which wasn’t ideal given he has starting issues. Consequently he was slowly away, lost ground early on and played catch-up. Made rapid progress over three furlongs out but turned a bit awkward and wide. Took time to get organised, then rattled home to finish 3rd.

Given the circumstances this was a massive performance. The first furlong aside hampered by the start, he ran incredible sectionals. He was unlucky last time out not getting a clear run 2f out and also losing a shoe.

He’s obviously a horse with issues and one has to account for his habit of starting slowly. Now down to a mark of 48 though, he looks supremely well handicapped even taking those issues into account. He clearly acts well on the All-Weather, but I would love to see him on turf, perhaps with a bit of cut in the ground.

Race Replay

Cobra Kai
28/04/22 – 4.35 Musselburgh

A big keen to get on with the job early on, but totally lit up once hampered over five furlongs out. Was stuck on the inside in a pocket behind the long-term leader and eventual winner, always kept up to work and stuck nicely to the task. Finished well in the closing stages given the circumstances.

He was well fancied here as the favourite after a highly promising seasonal reappearance at Newcastle in March. That day he finished strongly and in contrast to what one would have expected given the price tag.

Still a maiden after eight lifetime starts now, but he looks well capable of winning of his current mark. Ideally runs over 7 furlongs or over a mile, which looks realistic on pedigree. He needs to learn to settle, that’s key, though.

If he does, perhaps with the application of some headgear, he’ll make a mockery of a 49 handicap mark I feel.

Race Replay

Eye-Catchers #4 2022

A list of horses that have caught my eye during the last seven days of racing. These individuals look ready to win a race sooner rather than later.

Tiber Flow
15/04/22 – 3.10 Newcastle:

Slightly impeded at the start, although it may not had a dramatic bearing on the outcome of the race as he has the habit of starting slowly. But as a result of this he found himself settling well off the pace and that, indeed, may have been a disadvantage.

He travelled strongly in the pack but couldn’t quite unleash a clear challenge until two furlongs out. In contrast the eventual winner was always handy and had a clear view at the most crucial stage of the race.

Tiber Flow was slightly switched over a furlong from home to thunder home on the stands’ side and nearly reeled in the winning favourite, who is a 107 rated and vastly more experienced rival.

Visuals and sections as well tell the same story: Tiber Flow was unlucky not to win.

Tiber Flow came here with a progressive profile, but clearly made a dramatic jump, running to a 103 topspeed rating while only rated 94. Surely the handicapper will rectify this gap. That won’t matter because this lad is a Group horse in the making.

How good? We’ll see. Clearly the way he finished here at Newcastle suggests he wants to go back to 7 furlongs, which looks ideal on pedigree too.

Ex Gratia
15/04/22 – 3.30 Lingfield:

From the widest draw she was soon trailing the field, although, different to all her other career runs, she started more alertly this time. Perhaps, the penny starts to drop – albeit slowly.

The race was certainly dominated by the front group with the winner and runner-up always up or close to the pace. The eventual winner kicked away and was way too good, running to an impressive topspeed rating.

In that context, also the horses finishing behind ran to solid TS ratings, giving this form a rock solid look. Ex Gratia never landed a blow, though. But she was in the worst possible position as the pace increased, and also didn’t quite seem to enjoy the sharp home turn.

What caught my eye was how easily she was finishing in the closing stages, though. Passing horses easily and closing to the main bunch without an overly animated Luke Morris in the saddle (especially if one accounts for his normally highly animated and aggressive style of riding).

This filly is obviously a temperamental, backward one. She is already four but only started racing in December. She showed plenty of promise but also plenty of quirks. The way she dismantled her rivals at Southwell – albeit a poor bunch – on her second career start remains a vivid impression.

Connections must have been impressed too as they where throwing her into the deep end at Newcastle against well seasoned high-class sprinters the next time. She faded in the closing stages but wasn’t disgraced.

The handicapper gave her an 80 opening mark which is hard to gauge whether it’s too high or too lenient. My feeling is 6 furlongs is too sharp, despite all the speed in the pedigree – but she is a half-sister to a 10f winner also.

I imagine her rating may drop a couple of pounds and if that is the case I will be interested in her over 7 furlongs. I am not ruling out a mile either. But want to see her at a less sharp track.

Race Replay

Alpha Cru
16/04/22 – 5.15 Nottingham:

From the second widest draw she was hampered early on which meant she couldn’t get close up with the pace, which is the filly’s preferred style of racing. Travelling in rear of the field she made a bit of progress in the home straight but was short of room over 2 furlongs out.

Even with a clear run from that point she wouldn’t have won, given the eventual winner ran away with it here. But it’s reasonable to argue that if things went more here way she would have finished perhaps in the placings. Eventually she finished well enough under hands and heels in my eyes.

Alpha Cru was progressive as a three-year-old last season. She won three times and performed with credit the other two times she raced in 2021. Particularly the final run last year was quite exceptional in my view.

Of her current mark there is not much scope over a mile, however her pedigree and the way she has seen out her races over that trip, gives rise to hope that a step up in trip will bring out additional improvement.

She may drop below a 80 mark now, which, if she goes up to 10 furlongs will be interesting. It’s worth waiting for that and keep tracking her for the day that’ll come probably sooner rather than later.

Race Replay

Ajrad
16/04/22 – 6.00 Lingfield:

Received a bump soon after the start that lit him up. Keen and pulling for much of the race as a consequence, yet travelling much the best approaching the home turn. He’s on the heels of a rival ahead, having to be pulled back, costing momentum.

He takes the shortest route and is brave when going through gaps on the inside finishing the final two furlongs the fastest, but the winner and runner-up had first run and were impossible to catch in the home straight.

He is still a maiden after 13 runs, even though placed on nine occasions. He tends to find misfortune in races, but also doesn’t always help himself when breaking slowly.

He is clearly ripe to win of his current handicap mark, though. Granted the handicapper isn’t harsh after this promising run. He was runner-up of 6lb higher in a class 3 Handicap last summer. A return to turf for a low-grade 7 furlong Handicap will see him with a massive chance.

Race Replay

Pop Dancer
19/04/22 – 1.50 Epsom:

This was a wild finish which could have gone many different ways on the day I feel. Pop Dancer was one of those who travelled strongly but didn’t get the gap when he needed it from two furlongs out. Horses where shifting around and whenever there an opening for a split second it closed as quickly again.

Late on there was space for a challenge but the bird was flown and he wasn’t helped by hanging down the cumber, which meant he finished poorly in the end.

The 5-year-old had a really poor last term, although comes down to a good mark and has shown in the past to be a quality sprinter. His previous topspeed ratings give him a great chance of his current 69 mark, especially as I feel his wellbeing has been confirmed with this run.

Pub Crawl
19/04/22 – 4.30 Epsom:

Travelled in rear always on the inside which would come to bite him in the home straight. When asked to improve his position from 4 furlongs out he made rapid progress but got caught between the leading trio from over 2f out, being slightly short of room and with no other option than to delay his challenge.

He looks a bit flat footed until switched over 1.5 furlongs from home when he hits top gear to thunder home and grab second place.

The way he finished matched the visual impression created three weeks earlier on his seasonal reappearance at Leicester when finishing strongly in the closing stages over 7 furlongs.

There is enough stamina on the dam side to suggest he can stay 10 furlongs. He was hitting the line at Epsom full of running over the 8.5f trip. So I’d be really interested if he steps up in distance and if the handicapper isn’t too harsh, i.e. a hike to 80 and above.

Eye-Catchers #3 2022

A list of horses that have caught my eye during the last seven days of racing. These individuals look ready to win a race sooner rather than later.

After John
09/04/22 – 2.05 Thirsk:

Travelled in rear of the field. until making excellent progress from three to 2 furlongs from home. Confronted with a wall of horses to pass he has to switch wide, taking the “scenic route” in order to get a clear run.

This move cost time and momentum and by the final furlong marker it’s too late to catch the eventual winner who always travelled isolated away from the field.

It’s fair to assume on a different day After John finishes a whole lot closer to the winner. He’s certainly responded to the change of scenery having moved yards on this first run for Ian Jardine.

He’s down to a handicap mark of 64 and on past form he’s well handicapped, no question. He ran four times to topspeed ratings of 65 or higher and performed well of a mark of 67 in 6f Handicaps last season.

I am hoping the handicapper won’t bee too harsh after this run and leaves him on 64. If that’s the case I reckon After John will be a big runner over 6 furlongs wherever he pops up next.

Race Replay

Andromedas Kingdom + No Patience + Breach + We’re On The Way
10/04/22 – 5.20 Curragh:

This was a wild race with as many hard-luck stories as you want to pick out. I could make the case for more than a handful of horses that ran better than the bare result suggested. But “only” four individuals find their way into the tracker.

Andromedas Kingdom travelled well on the heels of the main bunch on the stands’ side. Having to pass everyone with nowhere to go she was switched to the middle of the track in the hope for greener grass. She made dramatic progress from 2 furlongs out and finished well under hands and heels.

This was her first run in Handicap company also also her comeback run coming off a 251 day break, while having changed yards in the meantime. She is a half-sister to 100 rated sprinter Boundless Power, but I imagine she will improve going up in trip. A mile looks highly possible on pedigree. With more improvement to come a mark of 55 could easily underestimate her.

No Patience raced in midfield of the main pack on the stands’ side for the majority of the race. He was boxed in and couldn’t improve his position until about half a furlong from home when he ran on strongly under an easy ride.

He’s an experienced individual and we know all about him. However, given 6 furlongs is likely on the sharp side these days, I do rate this run as a strong performance.

He’s down to a sexy mark (turf and All-Weather), given he won off 65 over 7 furlongs at Dundalk last April, ran a good race in a hot Leopardstown Handicap last September from 10lb higher than he’s rated today, and achieved a 71 topspeed rating in the past. He looks rejuvenated for having changed yards and is ripe to win back up in trip.

Breach travelled in rear of the main bunch and is another one who had nowhere to go. She also got badly hampered over two furlongs out when running into the back of a horse. She’s switched moments later and finishes easy as you like in eye-catching fashion.

This filly has been hidden. She has raced over wrong trips since her move to Ireland. She almost certainly stays a good deal further. The dam was a 10 furlong winner. Watch out for when she moves up in trip. Her day will come.

We’re On The Way was yet another significant hard-luck story. He had no chance, was multiple times hampered and had any momentum stopped from over two furlongs out. Given a bit of reign in the final furlong he picked up seriously well, though.

He also is one you would think has no business to run over 6 furlongs. He will stay further and should improve going up in trip. Watch out for that. This was his seasonal comeback run which enhances the performance as he was not fancied at all on the day.

Race Replay

Secret Eagle
11/04/22 – 5.50 Pontefract:

He made perfect use of a low draw to chase the early pace and be in a good spot given the nature of the track. He continued to drive forward from three furlongs out and attempted to steal the race from the front turning for home while the fellow pace setter faded away.

He was finally caught with one furlong to go but continued to rally impressively to keep the 3rd spot.

This was a clear return to form and evidence that a recent wind operation has worked. Secret Eagle is down to a solid mark, having ran to topspeed 71 as a juvenile and having been placed of 3lb higher last August (a strong piece of form).

He acts over 5 furlongs as well as 6 furlongs, on softish as well as decent ground. Though, I suspect he’ll need a bit of cut in the ground for the minimum trip.

Race Replay

Ebtsama
12/04/22 – 7.45 Wolverhampton:

This filly was already on the #1 2022 list. She caught the eye here once again in a hot race. As mentioned earlier this month I want to see her stepping up in trip before backing her, so I let her run without my money.

Perhaps in that context it was disheartening to see how much she pulled in this 6f contest. Nonetheless, with more experience and a solid pace I maintain that 7 furlongs will be ideal.

Turning for home she was following the eventual winner who kicked on 2 furlongs from home. Ebtsama didn’t quite seem to have the instant change of gear to follow but also found herself boxed in, denied an opportunity to unleash her own challenge.

This could be a blessing in disguise because she may be dropped a couple of pounds by the handicapper for finishing last. She appears seriously well handicapped once stepping up in trip – and if she can relax. Perhaps head gear in some form is an option.

The form of the race looks strong on topspeed ratings. Most horses have ran to their handicap mark too – always a good sign in my book.

Race Replay

Harry Three
13/04/22 – 1.50 Newmarket:

He travelled in rear for the first half of the race. Made his move from 3 furlongs out, but crucially toward the far side, away from where the actual race would eventually develop.

He quickened in impressive style – backed up by strong sectionals. But he had to do it all on his own in the closing stages. In the end he was just beaten by two horses on the stands’ side.

He looks like a colt who is progressing as a 3-year-old after showing a lot of promise toward the end of last season as a juvenile. He is lightly enough raced to imagine he can improve again.

He didn’t always got the best of runs the last two starts he was beaten before coming here to Newmarket. All in all, over the 6 furlongs trip he clearly can win off his current handicap mark – granted the handicapper won’t treat him harshly for this effort.

Race Replay

Five To Follow in 2022

The flat kicks into gear. Here are five three-year-old horses I’m excited to follow throughout the year.

Putting the list together I have been aiming to identify individuals that have shown something significant on debut – visually and on the clock – who can be expected to improve with experience.

Not all of these individuals will go on to achieve great things. The bubble can burst quickly. Hence the list is not to be understood as a “follow to bet” instruction. Circumstances still matter.

However, I am personally intrigued to follow the progress of these horses given the early promise they have shown. No doubt all of them are capable of winning races this year.

Aldous Huxley
3-y-o Colt / John Gosden

90 Topspeed on debut – Soon established himself up with the pace, despite having to travel four wide. Big move to grab the lead halfway through the race as the pace slowed down significantly. Never saw a rival again to land the race hands and heels ridden by 6 ½ lengths beating a bunch of more experienced rivals.

The form is nothing special. However, taking into considerations the obstacles Aldous Huxley had to overcome – including greenness, as was reported by Rob Havlin post-race – this was a fine performance backed up by an excellent FTO topspeed rating.

The overall time looks pretty good in comparison to the Listed Magnolia Stakes over course and distance on the same card. This big, galloping type is a full-brother to a smart Group performer (2022 Al-Maktoum Challenge R2 runner-up Al Nefud).

I reckon a step up to 1m 2f will be ideal next time. He’s got a Dante entry.

Race Video

Subastar
3-y-o Colt / Roger Varian

84 Topspeed on debut – Impressive winner on sole start in September at Newmarket. Inexperience showed at the start, though, he was quickly up with the pace, travelling on the outside and tracking the leader, racing without cover.

Asked to increase his effort from three furlongs out, Subastar responded well to the urgings of Andrea Atzeni in the saddle. He was firmly in control from two furlongs out and was able to win in dominant style.

This form looks strong and has been multiple times franked. The second, third and fourth have won in the meantime and should to be decent horses in their own right.

Subastar is a May foal and has a big frame to fill. He should have tons of scope, particularly if he steps up in trip, given there is plenty of stamina on the dam side. He got entries for the Epsom- and the Curragh Derby.

Race Video

New London
3-y-o Colt / Charlie Appleby

87 Topspeed on debut – quite green throughout the race. After a slow start he never seemed to fully grasp the task at hand. Was still capable to win.

They raced hard from 4 furlongs out. New London looked in trouble and flat footed with three furlongs to go. Once he found his stride, though, he galloped relentlessly to close the gap and get up on the line. The final furlong split was more than half a second faster than the vastly more experienced runner-up.

The form doesn’t look overly exciting but the fact he achieved a fast TS rating on debut, overcoming inexperience over a trip potentially on the sharp side, he’s got to be considered an exciting staying prospect.

New London is a big, imposing sort, seemingly a grinder who gallops all day long without possessing a flashy turn of foot. No surprise, given he is out of a Manduro mare and a full-brother to Queen’s Vase (1m 6f) 3rd placed Al Dabaran. 1m 4f looks the minimum for him. He’s got entries in the Dante and Derby.

Race Video

Claymore
3-y-o Colt / Jane Chapple-Hyam

83 Topspeed on debut – awkward at times, certainly raw when landing a Newmarket maiden over 7 furlongs on debut. After an awkward start he moved rapidly to the front of the field breaking his rivals from the halfway mark with ever increasing sectionals.

Claymore continued to look raw and inexperienced in the closing stages but nothing could get to him. He won easily in the end. The form looks solid thanks to the runner-up.

In the aftermath connections mentioned they gave this lad plenty of time to fill his frame, didn’t rush him as a juvenile, because they expect good things next season.

He’ll have no issues staying 1 mile for sure, even though we may even see the best of him beyond that. He’s got Guineas and Derby entries.

Race Video

Cash
3-y-o Colt / David Simcock

87 tospeed on debut – keen, green and raw, particularly early on. Once pulled to the inside he travelled supremely well and made eye-catching progress through the field.

Still, victory looked rather unlikely two furlongs out. Only when approaching the final furlong marker he finally got a clear run. Once things opened up he never looked back.

Visually stunning. Speed rating matched the visual impression. Sectionals are strong. In addition this was a superb educational ride. The form looks proper having beaten more experiences rivals – the third was a fine 3rd placed finisher behind New London.

Cash was a 100k yearling and subsequently sold for €162k to David Simcock in a Breeze Up Sale. He is likely to stay well beyond the mile trip given the dam won over 1m 6f. Has Dante and Derby entries.

Race Video