Category Archives: Race Preview

Preview: 2000 Guineas 2022

A mouthwatering prospect. The champion two-year-old versus the ante-post Derby favourite. But there’s more to it. A number of highly promising colts line up for the first Classic of the new flat season.

#1 – Berkshire Shadow: won the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot. Found out in the Dewhurst Stakes. Dwelt in majority of his races. I am not sold on the mile trip.

#2 – Boundless Ocean: won a maiden earlier this month, albeit over 10 furlongs. Most likely has a future beyond a mile.

#3 – Checkandchallenge: fine winner of the Listed Burradon Stakes at Newcastle recently. Has more to offer on only his third run. Proven match fitness. Has loads to find on topspeed ratings, though.

#4 – Coroebus: a lot of hype about him. Justified? We’ll see. Won the Group 3 Autumn Stakes when last seen. Possibly unlucky in Royal Lodge Stakes. Achieved fine 91 and 96 topspeed ratings. My feeling is he’ll be much better beyond a mile. Course form is a big plus.

#5 – Dubawi Legend: quite experienced with 4 lifetime starts. Dewhurst runner-up. Failed to land a blow at the Breeders Cup. Needs to settle to have a chance over a mile. Tongue-tie fitted for the first time.

#6 – Eydon: race fitness assured after two runs this season. Impressive runaway winner of the Feilden Stakes three weeks ago. May need more of a stamina test when racing at the highest level. Low topspeed ratings are a question mark.

#7 – Light Infantry: unbeaten in two runs as a juvenile, including Group 3 over 7 furlongs. Open to improvement but needs to find loads of it to feature.

#8 – Lusail: precocious as a 2-year-old. Twice Group 2 winner over six furlongs. Fine runner-up in the Geenham Stakes on seasonal reappearance. Questionable stayer.

#9 – Luxembuorg: unbeaten top-class juvenile. Impressive winner of the Beresford Stakes and Grade 1 Futurity Trophy. Already ran to 100 and 102 topspeed ratings. He’s the Derby favourite. Most likely his optimum trip lies beyond a mile. Race fitness and whether he has the speed on fast ground over a mile against the very best are key questions.

#10 – Native Trail: unbeaten champion two-year-old. Impressive Dewhurst winner and excellent successful seasonal reappearance in the Craven Stakes recently. Sets the standard on form. Consistently fast and high-class performances. Ran three times to topspeed 100.

#11 – Perfect Power: two-times Group 1 winner as a juvenile, including the Middle Park. Brilliant comeback run in the Greenham. Achieved highest topspeed rating in this field (105). Stamina is a concern. He looks like a sprinter. 7 furlongs could be the maximum.

#12 – Point Lonsdale: experienced and progressive juvenile. Won four of five last year, only beaten by Native Trail in the National Stakes. Should improve for going up in trip. Career-highest 90 TS means he has a bit to find at this stage.

#13 – Royal Patronage: ran down Coroebus in the Royal Lodge last year. Possible excuses in Futurity Stakes. Should have more to offer, albeit likely needs a longer trip. Could make this a stamina test to suit himself if going hard from the front.

#14 – Tacarib Bay: only win came in a maiden in three starts. Solid runner-up in the European Free Handicap. Could improve if he stays the additional furlong. Has tons to find with better fancied horses, though.

#15 – The Wizard Of Eye: some solid runs in defeat in Group races but ultimately not good enough even on Group 3 level. Impossible to fancy.

Summary:

I may eat my words in a few hours time if I say this: this edition of the 2000 Guineas is a two-horse race.

Native Trail and Luxembourg should lead the way home. Saying that the X-factor could be Perfect Power. If the pace is somehow slow enough for the race to become a sprint home and/or he truly stays the trip no matter what, he’s obviously highly dangerous.

What a about Coroebus? I don’t buy the hype (yet). Charlie Appleby’s second string is obviously a talented colt. But I reckon he will be a much better horse over 10 furlongs (being fully aware there are contrasting opinions available).

In theory the same could be said about Luxembourg. There is a major difference, though: Coroebus didn’t crack the 100 topspeed barrier last year. He has the potential, I’m sure about it. Yet, he didn’t do it last year and with the question mark whether the mile truly brings out the best in him, he slips down the packing order for me.

Perfect Power is most likely the fastest horse in the race. Judged on juvenile form he certainly is, in fact. As much as I adore this colt, he looks a sprinter to my eyes, nonetheless.

A good case can be made for Point Lonsdale to be competitive. Despite ample racing experience as a juvenile, I feel he can still improve this season. Especially tackling the mile trip. Whether he is quite in the category of the market principles is hard to know at this stage.

Conclusion:

On paper there is not much between Native Trail and Luxembourg. What speaks for the Godolphin horse is match fitness and that he encounters perhaps his ideal scenario: 8 furlongs, Rowley Mile. I agree with the market in so far as he’s the most likely winner.

And yet I feel Luxembourg is the much stronger bet with more upside. He had two runs less than native Trail last year and comes fresh to Newmarket. The factors experience and race fitness count against him, but are possibly overrepresented in his price.

The other factor that drives his price is the notion that he’s the Derby favourite and as a son of Camelot sure to do his best work beyond the mile trip. Nonetheless, Luxembourg was mightily impressive over a mile in his three lifetime starts.

He also achieved topspeed ratings that match Native Trail. In fact his Beresford Stakes victory earned him a 102 TS rating, which is better than Native Trail’s best of 100. It’s fair to say there is every possibility Native Trail can run much faster when needed, of course. The same can be said about Luxembourg as well.

Watch the replay of the Curragh race and you see a horse as green as the Irish grass in spring. Luxembourg followed up in the Futurity Stakes. He quickened nicely in soft ground on the outside of the field despite racing without cover for the most part, and held the challengers with ease in the closing stages.

I am pretty certain Luxembourg is the most talented horse in this field. The only question mark is how much have team Ballydoyle left to work with the Derby probably the key target. I am prepared to take the risk.

10pts win – Luxembourg @ 11/2

King George 2021

The 2021 edition of the King George has something special in store for us racing fans. The best of the older horses versus a strong classic generation.

Naturally all eyes are on Derby winner Adayar. He romped home at Epsom in stunning fashion. Was that a real performance? The form has been franked through third placed Hurricane Lane, who won races of the highest order in the meantime.

It was a strange race, nonetheless. The aforementioned Hurricane Lane lost a shoe, the favourite Bolshoi Ballet completely misfired and the runner-up was a maiden who was subsequently trounced in the Irish Derby.

Lone Eagle, second in the Irish Derby, is the other 3-year-old in the field. He got first run on his rivals at the Curragh and with two furlongs to go looked like to have won the race. Only in the dying strides was he caught by a fast finishing Hurricane Lane.

It was a thrilling finish and Lone Eagle didn’t lose anything in defeat. In fact, he achieved a 113 topspeed rating, which isn’t far behind the 116 rating Adayar received for his Derby victory. Topspeed-wise those are the two highest ratings on offer in the King George field.

The older generation is clearly lead by Love. The winner of the 1000 Guineas, English Oaks and Yorkshire Oaks last year, and the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes on her seasonal reappearance last month, she’s also joint top-rated, together with Mishriff.

Love won’t mind the the step up to the 1m 4f trip. In fact, her career -best performance was the 2020 Oaks success. Mishriff on the other hand, although a winner of the Sheema Classic earlier this year, may be at his best over shorter distances.

He has to give weight away too. However, Mishriff ran with plenty of credit in the Coral Eclipse where he was third behind brilliant St Mark’s Basilica coming off a break. He should be in perfect shape today.

The ground won’t turn soft enough to provide the sort of deep conditions Wonderful Tonight prefers. She is a multiple Group 1 winner though, and looked in excellent form when landing the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot last month, so can’t be taken lightly, regardless.

Broome was second behind Wonderful Tonight at Ascot. He has since won the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud. He enjoyed the run of the race, though, and I think over 1m 4f he has plenty to find with the market principles.

Conclusion:
I strongly fancy the classic generation to get the better of their elders. That says I’m not fully sure if If trust Adayar’s Derby performance. However, Lone Eagle’s Irish Derby performance appears rock solid. He should be right up with the pace once more and could be able to hold on this time. Hence at prices around 6/1 I’ll go with Loyal Eagle to win it for Frankie and Martyn Meade.

…………

3:15 York: York Stakes, Group 2

The best form on paper belongs to Armory. The four-year-old drops in class after a fine effort at Royal Ascot when third behind stablemate Love in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes. He is unbeaten in Group races below top level and has been placed in multiple Group 1’s.

His Royal Ascot performance can possibly be marked up due to the way the race developed, which wasn’t quite ideal for Armory. Consequently, he achieved a career-highest 119 Racingpost Rating. He won really well at Chester on his season reappearance back in May as well.

That means, however, Armory has to give weight away to his rivals. No less than 12lb to exciting 3-year-old Mohaafeth.

This son of Frankel is unbeaten in 2021, having progressed with each and every run. From, winning a Novice contest to a first Handicap, to landing the Listed Newmarket Stakes to bag a Group 3 at Royal Ascot.

His Newmarket victories were visually really impressive. In fact Mohaafeth won the Newmarket Stakes in such taking fashion that he was catapulted near the top of the Epsom Derby market.

The ground turning soft that day ended his Derby dream, but he made up for it weeks later at Royal Ascot. He had to start racing earlier than ideal and hang to the right in the closing stages.

He ran to a101 topspeed rating then, the highest any horse has achieved in the York Stakes field. In anticipation of more improvement to come and the weight he receives from his rivals, Mohaafeth looks certainly the one to beat.

Although, Juan Elcano shouldn’t be entirely dismissed. He has found back to the winning ways having responded to wind op. On the other hand it’s hard to see Montatham – likely employed as Mohaafeth’s pacemaker – or the other outsider Bangkok getting involved.

Conclusion:
As long as there isn’t any sufficient amount of rain it’s hard to look past the progressive Mohaafeth. He has things in his favour and looks the sort to improve again.

Coral-Eclipse 2021

Only four runners. Yet the 2021 edition of the Coral Eclipse could easily turn out to be the race of the season. Three colts rated over 120 and the combined class of nine Group 1 victories!

Top rated Addeybb is back on home soil after yet another successful raid on the other side of the world, where he landed the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick in Australia.

It was a dramatic finish as he never gave up in first-time blinkers, answering the challenges from all sides to defend his crown.

The 7-year-old also won the British Champion Stakes in brilliant style last year. There are no signs of him slowing down anytime soon.

The only potential question mark – and that is being overly picky – is whether the ground is soft enough for Addeybb to produce his very best – which certainly will be required this afternoon.

Mishriff was a long way beaten in the 2020 British Champion Stakes, though I feel you can excuse that performance. Particularly given the fact the the four-year-old has only enhanced his claims ever since thanks to some brilliant victories on the international stage.

He got it done on dirt against strong US competition and followed up on turf in the Sheema Classic success at Meydan earlier this year. Mishriff, one could argue, is perhaps the best horse in the world right now.

The 2020 French Derby winner has shown an incredible versatility and ground independence, therefore won’t mind whatever way the ground this afternoon at Sandown.

Ballydoyle’s hopes rest on a single horse: French Guineas and Derby winner St Mark’s Basilica. Last years Dewhurst winner delivered a first Prix du Jockey Club for trainer Aiden O’Brien last month. Visually it was super impressive performance – although the strengths of the form could be questions.

Nonetheless, he clearly enjoyed the step up in trip that day as he travelled all over the field, still very much on the bridle two furlongs from home, and put the race to bed in a matter of strides then.

St Mark’s Basilica achieved a 106 topspeed rating at Chantilly that day, a career best that is also closely matched with the 107 rating Mishriff was awarded for his Sheema Classic victory.

Roger Varian’s colt El Drama completes the four-runner field. But it’s hard to see the Dee Stakes winner landing a blow against the big guns, given he has at least 11lb to find with them on official ratings.

In conclusion:
There is little to chose between the trio of St Mark’s Basilica, Mishriff and Adeybb. What tilts the scale in favour of the three-year-old St Mark’s Basilica -at least in my mind – is the 10lb weight-for-age allowance.

There is a good reason why it’s there. Yet, the Aiden O’Brien trained colt is certainly top-class and this significant weight allowance is a rather huge help against his elders. Hence, St Mark’s Basilica is my selection to win the 2021 Coral-Eclipse.

Lockinge Stakes 2021

There is a special place in my heart for the Lockinge Stakes. The reason is as simple as obvious: Paco Boy.

He’s the one that made me fall in love with flat racing. The most incredible moment of his illustrious career came quite clearly in the 2010 Lockinge Stakes. Visually it was such was such an enormous performance.

Richard Hughes with balls the size of footballs. Paco Boy, overcoming early keenness, still travelling like a dream on the bridle approaching the final furlong marker. Stunning. Beautiful. Unbelievable.

The 2021 renewal of the Lockinge Stakes looks a good one. A competitive one – at least for the minor placings.

Because Palace Pier stands head- and shoulders above the rest of the field. The betting market isn’t wrong when it gives him a 60%+ chance of adding a third Group 1 to his tally.

The four-year-old colt looked as good as ever on his seasonal reappearance last month when making 115 and 116 rated horses look like class 6 handicappers. He left the disappointment of British Champions Day firmly behind. A race he still managed to finish in third place despite losing a shoe.

Palace Pier’s 114 topspeed rating is – not surprisingly – the highest on offer in this field. A performance achieved on heavy ground. Therefore the rain won’t stop him today.

Aiden O’Brien saddles Lope Y Fernandez – the second highest rated horse in the field. Clearly a talented individual, he started the season well with a fine effort in a listed contest at Leopardstown. His overall win record isn’t impressive, though. Yet to win at the highest level, he only found three times the winners enclosure in 13 starts and hasn’t run beyond a 97 topspeed rating. Not good enough.

Progressive Top Rank, a recent Doncaster Mile winner, is six from eight. Not impossible that he can improve again. He’d have to take giant steps to challenge the favourite, though.

Light raced My Oberon is on the up too. The drop to a mile shouldn’t be an issue. The ground is a question mark and the fact remains in six runs he hasn’t been able to achieve an adequate topspeed that in my book is required for this level.

I can only see two horses able to make this a race: Century Dream and Safe Voyage. The latter enjoyed the best year of his career as a seven-year-old in 2020. Three victories, including two Group 2 races and a fine third place in the Group 1 Prix de la Foret.

Even though he won the Boomerang Mile at Leopardstown last autumn, I have a few concerns over the mile trip, particularly in soft conditions.

That won’t be an issue for Century Dream. He posted a career best when winning the Celebration Mile at Goodwood last year where he achieved a 110 topspeed rating. Clearly the more rain the better for him. He wasn’t able to win a Group 1 yet, though ran with plenty of credit in a number of them.

Century Dream shouldn’t be good enough to pose a real danger to Palace Pier. Nobody in this field is. He is, nonetheless, a huge price and overpriced, certainly from ad an each-way proposition. If the price would drift out further for Safe Voyage he also would become a viable each-way alternative.

Nonetheless, it’s impossible look past Palace Pier. He is in a different league to all the others here. Baring a accident, I can’t see him getting beaten here. Will it be as impressive as Paco Boy in 2010? Unlikely.

…………

From a pure betting perspective I have a fundamental interest in the King Charles II Stakes (2:40pm) at Newmarket this afternoon. This looks a intriguing contest. You can’t ignore the impression Bellosa made over course and distance four weeks ago.

At given prices I reckon there is significant juice in the price of the Gosden horse Fundamental. He is beautifully bred and has ran to 92 topspeed rating already when landing a strong contest on the Chelmsford polytrack last month. He followed up with another promising display in the Greenham Stakes.

That performance is much better than the bare form may suggest. Fundamental raced rather uneconomical, making a big move on the outside of the field from six to four furlongs out using a lot of energy and buying ground when it wasn’t really advantageous to so in such an aggressive manner.

Whether 7 furlongs is his trip remains to be seen. But Fundamental has shown enough speed and may enjoy the slower ground here. He’s overpriced at 9/2 and above on the exchanges.

…………….

Preakness Stakes: the second leg of the American Triple Crown tonight. Leaving the doping controversy aside, the question from a racing perspective is: can Medina Sprit follow up?

Fair to say he got the run of the race in the Kentucky Derby. A pretty clear run to grab the lead after the start and unchallenged for the lead throughout. While some of the fancied front-runners didn’t have it so easy. He’s one to take on here, no doubt.

Not much made an impression from off the pace that day. The one who did and clearly caught the eye was Midnight Bourbon. He got badly bumped and squeezed right after the gate opened and had his route to a more advantageous position blocked.

He settled well off the pace, forced wide. Whether it was the smartest ride by rider Mike Smith to give so much ground away is debatable. Perhaps no other ride would have made any difference.

It wasn’t plain sailing to fight for space when turning for home either. Midnight Bourbon showed guts and fought for a gap entering the home straight. The bird was flown at that point, nonetheless he ran on well enough until eased in the final furlong.

His Derby trial performances, while not super impressive, where promising and the form franked. He’s a huge runner in the Preakness this evening from a good draw, in a smaller field and a much better chance to be up with the pace. At 8/1 he’s a good price in my book.

Preview: 1000 Guineas

Newmarket Rowley Mile False Rail

This years renewal doesn’t appear to be a “vintage Guineas”. However, that makes the contest quite an intriguing one, with so many fillies having so many questions to answer.

The betting is headed by a filly that’ll be outpaced four furlongs out and will struggle to finish fast enough in the end. In saying that I really do think Quadrilateral is a poor favourite and I am more than happy to take her on.

Her Fillies’ Mile victory is clearly a fine piece of form in the context of the Guineas but one had to be blind not to see that she needed every inch of the eight furlongs that day, not to forget on good to soft ground.

She is hardly getting any faster; in fact she is a fine prospect once she steps up in trip and probably more an Oaks contender than a solid Guineas favourite, but certainly an outstanding prospect for Group 1 races over ten furlongs.

Only a few fillies in this field have achieved a topspeed rating of 100 or more. That is disappointing and only proves the point that this year isn’t the strongest 1000 Guineas we have ever seen.

On the other hand, as mentioned in the 2000 Guineas preview, the fact that we’re four weeks behind the usual schedule will surly help those fillies that need time to mature, which in turn means there is the possibility for a big improver turning all the known form on its head.

I have little love for the Aiden O’Brien trained Love to be the one. Seven starts, beaten in four of them, only a career-high topspeed rating of 93 to show – she isn’t good enough.

Millisle has attracted a lot of positive quotes over the recent days and weeks. And rightly so. Her Cheveley Park Stakes success rates top of the queue. Given she is a late May foal you would hope for more improvement this year.

Stamina is the key question, as for many in the race today. She won twice over five furlongs. She has tons of speed. The pedigree gives some hope that she can stay the mile. In my book she is, with this benefit of the doubt, the filly to beat. At given prices she is too short for me to back, though.

The two I like in this field have both plenty to prove. There is the speedy Raffle Prize. It’s fair to say she has the best juvenile form in the book.

Runner-up against the boys in a strong Prix Morny, plus a subsequent runner-up performance in the Cheveley Park Stakes, plus two Group 2 successes early in the season – she achieved consistently high topspeed ratings, including twice of 100+ as well.

Obviously stamina is a massive question for a filly with so much speed. Her sire Slade Power was a classy sprinter but his offspring has done alright over the mile so far: a 12.6% strike rate reads decent enough. The dam side gives a bit hope too, so do the comments from the Johnston yard and the fact she is an April foal with scope.

The other one I like to outrun expectations, certainly judged by the market as a guide, is Richard Hannon’s Cloak Of Spirits. She was highly impressive on debut, subsequently disappointed in the May Hill Stakes, but really ran well in the Rockfel Stakes, when she also achieved a 97 topspeed rating, which in the context of the 1000 Guineas looks good form.

She is expected to progress as a three-year-old, boosts a scopey physique and has a fair chance to stay the distance. Richard Hannon is quite bullish about her chances as well. Not that I take too much note of that usually, nonetheless it’s a bonus if connections are keen and positive on an individual that you expect to progress anyway.

Her best form from last year isn’t far away from the best form of the market principles. So with more to come from her potentially, she is quite a massive price in comparison.

Selection:
6pts win – Raffle Prize @ 9/1
4pts win – Cloak Of Spirits @ 17/1

PREVIEW: Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe 2018

DSC_0935

It’s Enable’s race….. to lose. Can anyone stop the wonder filly? Or can she follow on from a magical Saturday where Winx thundered home to a 28th consecutive success?

The queen of European racing was so impressive twelve months ago when she landed the big one, she’s blessed with an excellent draw this Sunday – surely, she’s more than justifying her 11/10 price tag.

I’m saying that as I find it hard to see her getting beaten here. Enable has clearly shown on her reappearance at Kempton in the September Stakes that she’s hitting top form right when it’s required. As easily as she let a 129 rated Crystal Ocean look like a one paced plodder, one can’t help but be incredibly impressed.

From a betting perspective I wouldn’t want to put anyone off backing Enable. From my own perspective it’s not a price for me – so I’m looking for a bit of “Each-Way Value” in a race that appears to be pretty open if it comes to the minor placings.

Sea Of Class and Waldgeist both make appeal. Form wise they are a clear standout compared to the rest of the field – bar Enable, of course. Though, the draw is a concern, even more so for the filly who’s likely to need a lot of luck from off the pace. The French colt, on the other hand, is the biggest danger to Enable but may get rolling too late, I feel.

Leger winner Kew Gardens should be okay dropping back in trip. He’s got a fair shout, depending on the start of the race where I’d like to see him ridden positively, which might be detrimental to his chances as he’s got to deal with a wide raw also, but it could also play into his hands, making use of stamina reserves at the backend of the race. If ridden with restraint he’s got even less a chance, most likely. At given prices it’s a pass for me, anyhow.

Stable mate Capri, high class as he is on paper, is hard to fancy after his interrupted season and a rusty return to the track in the Prix Foy.

Last year’s runner-up Cloth Of Stars is an interesting individual at a big price, if quirky and hard to know what to get on the day. If he could find some sort of his best form again he can be a fair place chance. So can be defending Breeder’s Cup Turf champ Talismanic. The ground may turn against him, though.

For my selection I’ll look even further down the packing order, still. 50/1 shot Patascoy, the French Derby runner-up, is the one who appeals most to me given this massive price.

The jury is still out whether he stays the trip. This lightly raced colt hasn’t raced beyond 10.5 furlongs yet, the pedigree isn’t exactly screaming “stayer” but isn’t entirely discouraging either.

Certainly in the Derby – not an overly strong form, it has to be said – he was running hard to the line after hitting a flat spot entering the home straight. His return after a bit of a summer break in the Group 2 Prix Guillaume d’Ornano Haras du Logis Saint-Germain was good – although not form you would associate good enough for an Arc winner, to be totally fair.

What I like about Patascoy is the fact he remains open for improvement after only eight career starts and in addition he is pretty straightforward, uncomplicated in the way he can be ridden – from an excellent draw, most likely tracking the pace in the Arc. That should ensure he’s in a good position when it matters most. If I trust him to stay, then he could outrun his price tag to finish in the money, in the end.

Selection:
5pts Each/Way – Patascoy @ 50/1 PP (4 places, 1/5)