Category Archives: United Kingdom

Tuesday Racing – May 24th 2017

With a laughing and a smiling eye news were perceived of the retirement of the well beloved grey gelding Sollow today. He hasn’t been seen on a racecourse for over a year now after sustaining a leg injury in spring 2016.

It appears that since his recovery he did not fully find back to his brilliant best in training and therefore the decision was made to send him off to a well deserved retirement.

Pierre-Yves Bureau, Racing Manager for the Wertheimer Brothers said today:

“The horse is well but is not quite at 100 per cent and we don’t want to take the slightest risk with him, so we have decided the prudent thing to do is to retire him.”

My personal highlight of Sollow’s career is his Dubai Turf win – his very first victory on the highest level. What a massive performance it was, beating reigning Irish Champions Stakes winner The Grey Gatsby effortlessly.

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2.50 Brighton: Class 6 Handicap, 7 Furlongs

It might be wise not to judge Sixties Habana too harshly on what he has done on the All-Weather in recent months, though his last run at Kempton actually was eye-catching as the performance was better than the bare form would suggest.

A return to turf will definitely suit here, however. In three runs on turf he has been a 1.5l beaten third on debut where he achieved a RPR of 66 and followed up with a similarly good performance over 7f at Yarmouth when he got a first career win under his belt at the second time of asking

He was out of his depth the next time at Epsom in a big Handicap and then didn’t achieve anything of particular note on the All-Weather over the winter.

As a result his mark has dropped significantly now down to 55 and that makes him dangerously well handicapped on his return to the green grass over a trip, track and ground conditions very likely to suit.

The Phelan/Egan combo also has been quite successful in the last two seasons with a near 20% strike rate despite an average SP of their runners of 19/1!

Selection: 
10pts win – Sixties Habana @ 14/1 Bet365

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3.00 Nottingham: Class 5 Handicap, 2 Miles

Evens favourite Coeur de Lion is clearly the sexy horse in this race and there is a very fair chance that the four year old is well handicapped judged on his hurdle form in a race that looks for the taking.

That says I feel he is overvalued due his decent Triumph Hurdle run and fellow hurdler Dan Emmett is a better choice. He’s three years older, with more form in the book and may hold not as many secrets to the handicapper, however we have not seen him on the flat often in the last number of seasons.

Fact is his recent effort at Pontefract is one to draw a line through. The ground was unsuitably fast and the trip probably a bit too far. Return to 2m with cut in the ground will suit undoubtedly.

In flat races where the word soft appeared in the going description he’s achieved a win (off OR 60 by 12l) and two highly credible placed efforts in four starts. The three times in the money he ran to RPR’s of 79,75 and 76 respectively.

Given we haven’t seen allot of Dan Emmett on the flat lately it’s is a question mark whether he can run to this sort of form as also his last hurdle form looks questionable, however dropped to 66 in his flat rating he appears to have a very real chance to be well handicapped.

There is the added bonus of trainer and jockey going well at this track individually as well as together (limited sample size but 75% place strike rate).

Selection:
10pts win Dan Emmett @ 7/1 Bet365

Classic Glory for Frankel

Classic glory for the almighty Frankel for the very first time – his daugther Soul Stirring landed the Japanese Oaks at Tokyo racecourse in fine style this morning under an excellent ride by French jockey Christophe Lemaire.

The tremendously well bred filly – she is out of 2009 French Oaks heroine Stacelita – was also the first Frankel progeny to win at the highest level when she claimed the Group 1 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies at Hanshin Racecourse in December.

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2.40 Redcar: Class 6 Handicap, 5 Furlongs

You’re better off long-term not to make too many excuses for horses if they didn’t live up to expectations multiple times on the bounce. That’s normally a clear sign that something is not right.

Nonetheless I make an exception in the case of the still lightly raced Backinanger. This three year gelding old has been disappointing the last two starts, but mostly on his turf Handicap debut four weeks ago. He was a bad drifter on the day, so there must have been a reason for his poor showing.

Unfortunately I backed him that day when first time cheek-pieces  didn’t work at all for Backinangger. He was never in the race – to my surprise because if you go back and watch his previous starts you’ll see a horse that shows a bit of early speed, but also quite a bit of keenness.

In fact his performances on the All-Weather over the winter were noteworthy as more often than not he caught the eye and ran better than the bare result would suggest.

This son of Royal Applause was a late foal which explains why he often looked raw and unfinished business. Theoretically there should be improvement to come from him with age and experience. He also should enjoy fast conditions.

That’s the reason why I give him one more chance – blinkers are fitted and he drops to the minimum trip, which in combination of the ground and the relive of another couple of pounds could work wonders.

Selection:
10pts win – Backinanger @ 10/1 Bet365

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5.25 Carlisle: Class 5 Handicap, 7 Furlongs

Less than a handful of realistic contenders to land the race in this field in my mind and LTO winner Africa Blessing is the one in this group who is overpriced.

He won over this trip at Doncaster last month – a first time over 7f for him – and he was good for a bit more than the tight winning margin I felt. He might be able to pull out a bit more over this trip, also the uphill finish could suit this Mount Nelson son.

Africa Blessing has been raised a mere 4lb for the latest success, one that looks solid form wise and awarded him an RPR of 76. Provided he doesn’t miss the kick, drawn in four close to the pace can only be an advantage.

Selection:
10 pts win – Africa Blessing @ 4/1 Bet365

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7.35 Leicester: Class 4 Handicap, 10 furlongs

Swaheen shaped well on his seasonal reappearance last month and is expected to strip fitter today. He’s fallen significantly in his handicap mark compared what he raced of mostly last year and that makes him an attractive proposition in this race.

He’s won off 2lb higher, albeit all his major form comes over 12f+, so the drop in trip is a question mark. It might well suit, however, as very soft conditions are likely to be encountered at Leicester.

Swaheen has strong form to offer with cut in the ground despite limited opportunities on this type of ground. Though in genuine soft underfoot conditions he has won of a mark off 84 in the past – so down to 80 with a decent 5lb claimer in the saddle he has a top chance as I feel the emphasis on stamina in this 10f contest will suit him.

Selection:
10pts win – Swaheen @ 11/2 Coral

Saturday Preview: Lockinge Stakes Day

What a finish in the Yorkshire Cup (Group 2) yesterday – nearly four in line going down to the wire with the Queen’s horse Dartmouth getting the better of 2015 St. Ledger heroine Simple Verse – just!

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3.30 Newbury: Group 1 Lockinge Stakes, 1 Mile

The first big clash of the best older milers this season. And what a mouth-watering race in prospect this is. Three 120/+ individuals  head to head – this could go down to the wire!

Or not? All three main contenders – Ribchester, Galileo Gold and Lightning Spear – have to overcome the slight doubts of full race fitness on their seasonal reappearance.

Could that play into the hands of the master that is Aiden O’Brien? Shrewdly he has placed Somehow – a quality filly in her own right – here in the Lockinge. With her sex allowance and fitness assured, she could certainly cause an upset.

Somewhow won twelve days ago a Group 2 at Newmarket – a fifth career success in ten starts – though the jury is still out whether she is a top-notcher.

Dropping down to a mile in soft conditions I can see a scenario unfold where she cruises closely behind Ribchester’s pacemaker, and then from over 3f out takes over with a big move that puts all behind in trouble. With fitness and stamina a given, she could stay on to lead the field all the way over the line.

The 7/1 odds scream value if you believe in the merit of this scenario. I do. But I also have concerns about the fact that Somehow already had three tough races – two in very tough conditions – in the last five weeks. Plus she has to find a bit with the three big guns if ratings are believed.

On ratings there is not a lot between Ribchester, Galileo Gold and Lightning Spear, though. I would still discount David Simcock’s six year old on the basis of the ground that probably does suit him the least. His very best in the past came on fast ground. Plus Lightning Spear is still searching for the elusive first Group 1 victory.

That is different for Ribchester and Galileo Gold. Both have won on the highest level – Galileo Gold even twice. And both have excellent form with cut in the ground.

The score’s equal between the two. On ratings there’s a single pound between them, yet the market has Ribchester a clear 6/4 favourite. Probably on the basis that the son of Iffraaj has still a bit of improvement left.

He might have but he might not. In fact there is only a single career run betwen Ribchester and Galileo Gold.

On balance I would agree that Ribchester is likely to be the better prospect for the season. He looks the type to do better with age and experience, whereas Galileo Gold appears more likely to regress. However at this point in time it is also Galileo Gold’s best chance to win a big race this year, I feel.

Connections will certainly be aware of this. He should be fully wound up, his record as a fresh horse is fine and of all horses in the field he has the best record on soft ground. So given the prices I have to side with Galileo Gold who I would have more like a 5/2 chance in my book.

Selection:
10pts win – Galileo Gold @ 9/2 Bet365

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4.05 Newbury: Class 2 Conditions Stakes, 6 Furlongs

All about Richard Hannon’s Denaar here. He was an easy winner under hands and heels in a Chelmsford maiden on debut a mere twelve days ago over the minimum trip. The step up to 6f should suit very well and the change in conditions – at least on pedigree – is no problem; in fact can be beneficial.

The form of his maiden success looks rock solid through the experienced runner-up who on his penultimate start ran well in a race that threw up a handful of winners as well as a subsequent listed placed individual.

Selection:
10pts win – Denaar @ 15/8 Paddy Power

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5.10 Newbury: Class 2 Handicap, 1 Mile

Big field and an open contest, so at a price I give Grand Inquisitor a chance to find back to some sort of form, now returning to turf with cut in the ground off a dangerous mark.

He moved yards during the winter and hasn’t excelled for new connections on the All-Weather the last two starts over seven furlongs, but it might not be wise to judge him too harshly on those efforts.

Back over the slightly longer trip with conditions he’s proven to handle and only 2lb above his last winning mark I see a fair chance for him returning to form Not to forget he ran some massive races off much higher marks last season and knocked on the door in tough Handicaps of marks around 95.

Selection:
10pts win – Grand Inquisitor @ 18/1 Bet365

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5.35 Newmarket: Class 4 Handicap, 5 Furlongs

Richard Fahey’s Paddy Power slipped dramatically in the handicap mark compared to what the four year old ran of last season. Now down to 75 with the benefit of a fine pipe opener on Newcastle’s All-Weather, the gelding seems well handicapped on return to turf.

His win record is dismal, but he raced of up to 10lb higher in good Handicaps last year has performed more often than with credit – in fact on RPR’s he ran 11 times to ratings above his current mark of 75.

Softish conditions should be no problem, he has some okay form on this type of surface. His sire performs decent enough too, and the dam is a Listed winner on soft ground. Added 3lb apprentice allowance is a little icing on the cake.

Selection:
10pts win – Paddy Power @ 4/1 Bet365

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8.50 Doncaster: Class 4 Handicap, 6 Furlongs

I give handicap debutante Manshood a good chance to outrun his price tag. He’s had five starts in maiden company so far, placed three times, the two times he ran over today’s trip he was in the money running to RPR’s of 72 and 73.

He’s got a fine pipe opener under his belt last month, that should set him up nicely and didn’t sacrifice his potentially lenient opening mark.

Potentially lenient if he improves for his first handicap start in new conditions. Soft ground, though, should suit quite well on pedigree.  Martin Lane was the other day in the saddle, so got to know Manshood, and has the ride today too. Could be an advantage.

Selection: 
10pts win – Manshood @ 14/1 Paddy Power

Preview: Dante Stakes Day

The rain duly arrived today. The ground turned to soft. Desperate conditions, even more so moving forward. Staying with the recent past for now: circumstances made the result of the Musidora Stakes one to take with a pinch of salt, I guess.

Nonetheless Shutter Speed couldn’t do more than what she did: win well and put things to bed in the final furlong, confirming that she is a smart horse – how smart? Another day will tell. The French Oaks that is, most likely.

Eyes turn to Thursday. Dante Day. The warm-up before the big race isn’t shabby. In the Group 2 Middelton Stakes we see the return of last years Musidora heroine So Mi Dar.

She is well fancied to land the odds but first she has to dispatch two higher rated fillies: Breeders’ Cup Filly And Mare Turf winner Queen’s Trust , who returns to the track after a well deserved winter break – though the soft ground is likely against her.

And there is the South African superstar Smart Call. The sensational 2016 J&B Met winner – a day when she beat South Africa’s highest rated horse in training, Legal Eagle, who subsequently went on to land four major Grade 1’s – has been off since early last year due to quarantine and injuries.

The plan was to run her at the Breeders Cup and on the way there give her a spin around Newmarket in October. Unfortunately things did not go to plan and here she is, now in hands of Sir Michael.

Soft ground is a question mark so is the long absence. Personally I hope she runs well and has retained most of her ability, so she has a real chance of improving for the run and be the old force we know she can be.

A good half an hour later it’s time for some serious Derby contenders in the Dante Stakes. Trial winner Cracksman tries to give his Epsom form some substance. Derby “gamble” Crystal Ocean has to live up to all the bookies hype of the last couple of days.

Obviously with my ante-post wager on him here’s hoping he’ll prove his worthiness. That says I highly doubt the reportedly huge gamble is anything more than a handful of 50 quid wagers (like the one I put on at 40’s) which these days can – as we know only too well – mean bookies cut prices shamelessly and talk up horses even where no substantial sums have actually  been placed.

The Irish come over with Rekindling in particular. Young Joseph’s classic contender has the best form in the book, given the Ballysax does not look a bad race in hindsight.

I find it hard to fancy Aiden O’Brien’s Exemplar. And that’s probably the reason why this lad will bolt up…. Godolphin throws four darts. Craven Stakes third Benbatl the best of the lot.

No bet for me in the race – just sit back and hope for Sire Michael’s guy to do the business to be then in with a real chance on Derby day.

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8.00 Newmarket: Class 5 Fillies’ Handicap, 1 mile

You have to take note whenever Charlie Appleby and William Buck arrive with lightly raced individuals to the party. The yard is going very well at the moment and they look to have another big chance with Pure Shores here in this big field though not overly competitive race.

Pure Shores makes her Handicap debut after three relatively decent performances in maiden company. Particularly the two starts this year over 10f where eye-catching in my view.

Both times she pulled very hard in the early parts of the race. Despite this keenness she travelled like the winner on both occasions, though same story in the finish: the did not get home.

That might be more down to the energy wasted early on than the trip as on pedigree that looks fine. Still the drop to 1m in a big field with better pace should suit down to the ground. Softish ground – on pedigree at least – seems no problem.

Her opening mark of 76 could easily undervalue her true talent given this will only be her second start on turf and she ran much better than the bare form suggests at Sandown last month when sixth behind winner Serenada, who to some extend gave this form some substance in the Musidora Stakes on Wednesday afternoon.

Selection:
10pts win – Pure Shores @ 6/1 Bet365

Wednesday Tips – Musidora Stakes

4.05 York: Musidora Stakes (Fillies’ Group 3), 1m 2f

On paper it is hard to oppose exciting Shutter Speed on the back of a very impressive performance at York last month. Form that also worked out extremely well with the 3rd Enable winning the Cheshire Oaks subsequently.

However with the ground easing and further rain on its way it might be a little bit more an open contest than the odds-on price tag for John Gosden’s filly suggests, mainly because Jim Bolger brings an intriguing contender in the name of Vociferous Marina over.

This girl has put the “wow look” already twice on my face in her  young career. That was last year at the Curragh when she cantered all over the field to produce a stunning turn of foot to win a 7f maiden.

And that was at Navan in the listes Salsabil Stakes last month when she looked still a bit green and raw but once in the clear power home in tremendous style from the back of the field which in turn earned her a higher speed rating than the one Shutter Speed – albeit eased down in the final 100y – in her last outing.

Vociferous Marina clearly responded for the step up in trip after she bombed out on her seasonal debut run, though she was a big drifter on that day and things went clearly not her way.

She has shown in the past that cut in the ground is not a problem, so the soft conditions won’t bother her I suspect. She clearly is a big danger to Shutter Speed in my book as the turn of foot she has shown on two occasions now looks quite special.

Selection:
10pts win – Vociferous Marina @ 5/1 Bet365

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5.25 Yarmouth: Class 6 Handicap, 6 Furlongs

The jockey booking is eye-catching for handicap debutante Frank’s Legacy. De Sousa in the saddle for trainer Ivan Furtado yielded in significant success in the past – this is in line with a very intriguing runner in this race.

This Aqlaam gelding didn’t show allot in three maiden starts, however stepping up in trip to 6f on his handicap debut should suit allot. His opening mark does not look overly harsh and gives him every chance.

The draw is potentially not ideal, however if Frank’s Legacy is as well handicapped as I would believe then it does not matter. He certainly has scope to improve, given Aqlaam offspring tends to progress significantly with age and experience.

Selection:
10pts win – Frank’s Legacy @ 5/1 Skybet

Windsor’s Watering Disaster

Another winner today – Crowned Eagle (advised @ 2/1) won at Windsor despite never really looking overly comfortable. He certainly seemed not a straightforward ride, yet class got him over the line in a race that had a profound impact on the meeting.

In the grand scheme of things in the world of racing this Windsor Handicap was only a footnote. Though for the raceday itself it was the beginning of the end:

Comrade Conrad, ridden by Harry Bentley, slipped badly on the bend before turning for home which cost him every chance to win the race but ultimately could have resulted in a bad injury to horse and rider.

After the next race a delegation of jockey, trainers and course staff went out to inspect the track and subsequently decided it was not safe to continue.

Remarkably: this is the second year running that this exact meeting – which features a Listed contest – had to be called off halfway through the card for this very same reason!

No coincidence! In fact it is down to the shambolic watering policy of the track which is a common problem. Sure, it’s not easy for the clerks, I’ve all the sympathy in the world for them. However it is their job to provide safe ground. Fair enough, they have to make decisions and sometimes can get it wrong but over-watering happens way too often.

And that was the issue here at Windsor tonight: why watering a track that is good to form the evening before – so perfectly acceptable conditions –  with rain forecast the next day? It’s from my perspective – my armchair perspective that is – plain stupid.

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Anyway, on to nicer things: the excellent Beyond The Game TV uploaded a nice little film on the living racing legends in Australia – some of the most popular thoroughbreds of Aussie racing enjoy retirement at the Living Legends facility near Melbourne.

Well worth to watch the film (below) and of course visit these champions if you ever have the chance – I’m going to be “Down Under” next month and have this trip firmly on my agenda:

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2.00 Beverley: Novice Stakes, 5 furlongs

Mark Johnston’s Kodiac colt Go Now Go Now looks an overpriced individual in this race. The colt was very green on his debut last week at Ayr where was sluggish at the start while then very keen during the race and disorganised when it mattered most.

However under a clearly educational ride he finished the race nicely and responded quite well to a tender flick with the whip.

He ended fourth in what appears to be a half-decent maiden against more experienced rivals and should have learned plenty. He’s entitled to improve from that run, particularly for the switch to Beverley where his sire Kodiac enjoys a very good success rate.

Selection:
10pts win – Go Now Go Now @ 11/1 Bet365

Weekend Review

A happy ending to the week thanks to two whopping winners on Saturday – Best Solution (12/1) was a runaway winner in the Lingfield Derby Trial. He clearly was better than the form he showed on Dirt and this success puts him right into the frame for the Epsom showdown.

Though it has to be said this race is not a good predictor for subsequent Derby glory, given since 1998 no winner of the Lingfield trial actually went on to win the big race in June.

In other Derby related news it seems that the world has finally realised that Sir Michael could have a little gem in his yard as the Racingpost headline reads Derby gamble gathers pace on Stoute’s Crystal Ocean – thankfully I jumped on the bandwagon right after his impressive Nottingham victory and got a bit of the 40/1 that was available back then.

Bainne (9/1 SP) made it two winners from four selections on Saturday, when she got her head in front late yet when it really mattered in the Apprentice Handicap at the Curragh – at the same providing young Seán Kirrane a first ever winner under rules.

As far as Classics go, the French 1000 and 2000 Guineas took place at Deauville this weekend. The Poule d’Essai des Poulains went Jean-Claude Rouget’s way with exciting Brametot. The son of Rajsaman fought gamely to get up in a thriller. He looked beaten but somehow had the guts to come back and win the race on the line.

 

The fillies equivalent, the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches, was won by long-shot Precieuse with an ultra-cool Olivier Peslier in the saddle who stayed calm in what appeared to be a slowly run race

 

Acapulco got her first win since moving to Aiden O’Brien under her belt. The big filly took a while to hit top gear and achieve separation from the pack but she managed to win by half a lengths in the listed Sprint Stakes.

She’s entitled to improve and we’ll likely see her in the big sprint races this season, though I have the feeling she might find it tough to win against the best, now that she is a four year old.

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3.25 Wetherby: Class 4 Handicap, 7 furlongs

Dutch Artist ran a big race in defeat on his seasonal return at Catterick last month. He didn’t enjoy the run of the race and wasn’t ideally positioned, which makes all the difference at this track. So his 3rd place is probably better than the bare form.

Only one win to his name so far, but he remains still low mileage for a five year old and ran a handful of stormers last season, suggesting his turn could come soon. He’s dropped another pound in the mark, which sees him racing of a career lowest mark off 76 now.

Conditions tomorrow should work be fine though the draw is wider than ideal. However with a early pace that he possesses, he should plenty of options.

Selection:
10pts win – Dutch Artist @ 11/2 William Hill

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5.50 Windsor: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 2f

Top connections, top entries, to form: Crowned Eagle should be way too good for the opposition in this race. Of course fitness has to be trusted and there is always a question mark whether these young horses have wintered well.

However, I waited for the return of this lad for a while and would have expected him to be odds-on in a race like this, so I’m happy to to take the risk.

Crowned Eagle was third behind Barney Roy on debut – strong form, given that we do know how smart this Barney Roy turned out to be. He got off the mark at the third time of asking at Kempton. A nice piece of form too: the runner-up won subsequently and was thought good enough for a spin around Meydan, is now a 90 rated individual.

With further progression assumed for experience, age and the step up in trip, the current mark of 85 looks potentially well below what Crowned Eagle is capable of. Only slight concern is the fast ground.

Selection:
10pts win – Crowned Eagle @ 2/1 Skybet