Big Race Preview: Tattersalls Gold Cup

Al Kazeem

Great to see the Tattersalls Gold Cup finally posing a field worthy its top level status – that wasn’t the case in recent years! But this years renewal makes certainly up for the lack of classy contenders over the last couple of seasons.

Top rated The Grey Gatsby was no match for new emerging French star Solow (taking on Cirrus Des Aigles at Longchamp today) in the Dubai Turf back in March but the 9 furlongs trip was probably a bit on the sharp side for him. He wasn’t disgraced finishing second and is expected to come on for the run.

The stiff Curragh uphill finish may well suit this gutsy grinder – on the other hand, it will ensure that any flaws in his stamina are going to be exploited over the 10.5f trip. His only try over further than 10f ended in defeat. Thay may sound a contradicting given that I sad 9f have been potentially too sharp. But it seems that a flat 10 furlongs is the absolute optimum for The Grey Gatsby. 

Nonetheless his heroic Irish Champions Stakes victory is the standout piece of form. No doubt he’s at he head of the market for all the right reasons. He is the horse the others have to beat.

Exactly two years ago it was Al Kazeem who took the scalp of Camelot in this very same race. He went on to win the Coral Eclipse and was initially retired at the end of the 2013 season. He didn’t make it as a stallion in the breeding shed but clearly didn’t lose much of his old ability. He won a French Group 2 back in April and went on to push Cirrus Des Aigles hard in the Group 1 Prix Ganay. That’s very strong form and gives Al Kazeem a very decent shot today!

Progressive Postponed has clearly trained on. He is a big, scopey individual, who impressed on his seasonal reappearance when second in the Gordon Richards Stakes. He’ll relish the stamina test this track and trip will provide, but is it enough?

He seems bit better over further and may need quick ground to be seen to best effect as well. However he has every chance to prove me wrong one this particular perception today. Drying ground is surely a plus.

Dermot Weld’s Fascinating Rock emerged as a lively Derby contender early last season but those dreams didn’t materialize eventually. He was off after two disappointing performances in the English and Irish Derby but looked stronger and more mature first time out at Leopardstown in a Listed race over 1m back in April this year.

He followed up with an impressive display in the Group 3 Mooresbridge Stakes over 10f here at the Curragh. Today is is his toughest test to date but he looks improving as an older horse now and may well be up to it.

Parish Hall finished a fair second behind Fascinating Rock last month. He was clearly second best on the day should be found out for class today. Highly Toxic looks very much up against it in this field.

Verdict: Hard to split the big guns. That’s why I go with Fascinating Rock who seems a bit overpriced. He has to prove that he belongs in this class as well as that he can act on better ground alike. But there is every chance for more improvement from him. The way he put the race to bed last month here at the Curragh impressed me and I don’t think that the ground is a real issue. We’ll find out today if he is a proper Group 1 horse, or maybe just slightly below the level required to mix it with the very best.

Fascinating Rock @ 11/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win

Kimbay can exploit featherweight!

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2.15 Curragh: Handicap, 6 furlongs

There isn’t much between the first two in the betting, In Salutem and Captain Cullen. They finished close to each other in a 5f sprint at Navan recently and neither of them will mind the additional furlong today. It’s really hard to split them on that particular form. That says both should be thereabouts but don’t appeal to me in terms of price. I feel the odds reflect their chances in fair way.

I liked Russian Soul’s gutsy performance at Cork only two days ago. He’ll be better for the step up in trip and was a bit unlucky in his penultimate run. Though he’ll need to bring his absolute A-game to the Curragh today in order to overcome a monstrous weight of 10 stone four!

The value in this field lies with Kimbay in my mind. Still not too many miles on the clock for a five year old, she can race off a featherweight and might be well in on the weights judged on her progressive last season. She won four races and been only beaten by a head in the other two starts that year. She is up by 7lb for her final appearance at Dundalk in December when she won a very competitive 5f sprint. This form worked out very well though, which means she could still be well handicapped.

Kimbay has done well as a fresh horse in the past and while this here represents a significant step up in class, the conditions should suit down to the grounds. At 8/1 she looks overpriced in my eyes, given her profile.

Kimbay @ 8/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win

Curragh Preview – Irish 2000 Guineas Day

Gleneagles

It’s a beautiful morning here in Dublin – pleasantly warm, the sun is out, the air smells like summer… finally!

Ideal conditions for racing at the Curragh, where the ground is drying out and that will make for fair and exciting racing. I’ve continued to work myself through the card this morning – so let’s have a look at the races in a bit more detail!

A comprehensive preview of the 2.15 Listed Marble Hill Stakes can be found here

1.40 Fillies Maiden, 6f, 2yo

She is a full-sister to multiple Group 1 winning mare Misty For Me and has THE name: Ballydoyle is expected to get off the mark in the opening race of Irish Guineas weekend. She may face the stiffest competition from stable mate Dewdrop who cost a bit of money as a yearling and is equally well bred. Not race to have a bet in for me, but one to watch with interest.

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2.45 Greenland Stakes (Group 2)

A competitive sprint race which has attracted some big names. Sole Power makes a rare appearance on home soil but this seems more like a prep run for Royal Ascot. Six furlongs at the Curragh is not an ideal scenario for him and consequently he has neither ever won here nor over this trip elsewhere.

Globetrotter Gordon Lord Byron warrants plenty of respect. Seemingly healthy again after injuring himself when last seen in March in Hong Kong, he is the one to beat with trip and ground sure to suit. He has bigger targets on the agenda later the year as well though, so I’m wondering if he’ll be fully wound up for today?

Astaire has been a revelation this year. Last season he couldn’t quite follow on from a strong two year old campaign, but he clearly raised his game this year: An excellent Group 3 success over six furlongs at Newmarket last month followed up with a good performance in the Group 2 Duke Of York Stakes. But I suspect he may need idealy quick ground to be able to see out the trip and the uphill finish at the Curragh won’t be in his favour either.

Dermot Weld’s Mustajeeb is well fancied today. He’s expected to be ready for his seasonal reappearance. It’s a drop in trip for him, though, as he mostly raced over 7f up to 1m last year, when he finished 2nd in the Irish 2000 Guineas behind Kingman. He didn’t quite fulfil his potential subsequently and I’m not sure what to expect of him today.

The drying ground clearly works against Maarek today. Jamesie, albeit a course and distance winner over an unlucky Gordon Lord Byron last year, is very much up against as well. An Saighdiur shouldn’t be anywhere good enough.

However I feel Majestic Queen could be the right piece to solve this puzzle. This filly seems to be improving with age. She won a very competitive Group 3 a Lingfield a fortnight ago and the drop to 6f won’t be an issue. She needed her first run this year but showed progressive form last season when winning a Group 3 sprint at Leopardstown and subsequently finished an unlucky but not far beaten 4th behind Jamesie and Gordon Lord Byron.

The five year old has to raise her game today but may well progress from her recent strong Lingfield performance with track, trip and ground to suit perfectly. At double figure odds she is my selection against the field.

Majestic Queen @ 14/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win

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3.20: Irish 2000 Guineas (Group 1)

It’s all about Gleneagles – can he complete the Newmarket/Curragh double today? The most likely answer is: Yes. He is five to two on and it is hard to look past him, indeed. His commanding performance at Newmarket proved not only that he trained on, but also that he gets a strongly run mile!

That says he is such a short price that I have to take him on – for a reason: He already looked very mature and strong as a juvenile. It is not impossible that others may improve past him with time moving on this year. He also had the run of the race at Newmarket, gaps opened when they needed to open and he was positioned where you would have wanted him to be.

The same couldn’t be said about Ivawood – who is expected to be the biggest danger to Gleneagles today. He finished a very good third at Newmarket, but had to deal with some difficulties as a outlined in my Guineas Review in more detail.

In short: He answered questions marks about his ability to stay the trip but didn’t have the benefit of travelling in the favoured stand side group that day. Only two horses from single figure stalls finished in the top eight eventually – he was the best of them. Ivawood also showed guts when he fought for his gap over 2f out.

This big, strong, well muscled individual made a big impression on my while I had my doubts beforehand. He’s clearly a very talented horse and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him pushing Gleneagles to the limits today. Wheather that is enough to win… well, we’ll see and find out.

Last seasons top rated 2 year old Belardo is fighting for redemption today after an utterly disappointing display in the Greenham Stakes. Has he trained on? This question will be answered today once for all.

I really like Ger Lyons Endless Drama. He was one of my Horss To Follow this season. But I’m surprised to see connections still going along with races and trips seemingly beyond him. In my eyes he’s a sprinter and should be dropped in trip accordingly. I reckon he can be a force over six furlongs.

The rest of the pack: Hard to distinguish them. There might be one or another turning up today who runs the race of his life. Some decent place money is looming. But who is going to be the one? No idea. I would like to see Paco Boy son Lexington Times to show some further progress.

Betting wise, I go with Ivawood. At 6/1 he is worth a punt. If things go normal, he finishes a fair second. But if he can improve a bit from his Newmarket effort, then we’re in for a real fight. He’s overpriced in my book.

Ivawood @ 6/1 Coral @ 5pts win

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3.55 Lanwades Stud Stakes (Fillies Group 2)

Dermot Weld’s Brooch is the hot favourite. She is expected to improve from last season where she was unbeaten in three starts, culminating in a strong Group 3 success. However she seemed to need every inch of the 9.5f at Gowran Park and I’m not sure if the drop to a mile is what she really wants. She looks vulnerable, considering her very short price-tag.

Value for me has Lady Dutch. She seems to get better with age and was impressive in her first two UK starts on the Kempton All-Weather. She looked potentially smart when landing a Listed event there in April, producing an impressive change of gear. She was a bit disappointing at Newmarket subsequently, but seemed not t handle the undulations of the course and the wide, galloping Curragh may be a better fit for her.

Lady Dutch @ 8/1 William Hill – 5pts Win

Speedy Washington Dc can land Marble Hill Stakes!

Curragh

Yes, finally! The Irish flat season kicks off! It’s the Guineas weekend at the Curragh – should be really good! I like the entries for most of the big races and look particularly forward to the 2.000 Guineas – of course it’s all about Gleneagles – isn’t it?! Well, more about that later.

Not sure if I go both days, but surly won’t miss Saturday. While looking through the first couple of races, there is one race that sticks out immediately – so let’s have a look…

2.15 Curragh: Marble Hill Stakes (Listed)

This could be an early pointer for Royal Ascot – a lovely race with some really nice individuals going to post. Plenty of strong form on offer, it’s bound to be competitive! The stiff five furlongs might not suit everyone though, however there won’t be many excuses as the ground is drying all the time with warm temperatures clearly helping the cause.

Jim Bolger is training more and more horses for Godolphin these days and with Teofilo son Round Two he has a smart prospect on his hands. Round Two won a good Conditions race on his racecourse debut at Navan, beating a fine LTO winner in second. He’s bound for major improvement and his trainer is pretty sweet on him. Concerns are the drop in trip since his debut came on soft over 6f and he seemed to take a while to hit top gear that day. That may have been greenness, nonetheless any flaws will be exploited here.

Exiting Stae Of Emergency is already a two times course and distance winner this season. He followed up here from his successful debut in a hot Conditions Race earlier this month with a gutsy performance to take the scalp of a well fancied Bolger inmate. There is likely more to come and this Listed contest will tell us whether he’s an Ascot horse or not. He has all his form on soft ground, so the drying ground conditions are a question mark

A race like this wouldn’t be complete without a highly promising Aiden O’Brien inmate. His Washington Dc makes plenty of appeal after he showed tremendous speed at Tipperary four weeks ago. Six days earlier he was very green at Dundalk on his racecourse debut – that day beaten in a tight finish. He improved dramatically at Tipperary. Quick at the start, he was soon travelling like a dream all over his rivals and won that 5f maiden easily on the bridle. O’Brien said afterwards  the big target for Washington DC this summer is the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The second Bolger runner Taisce Naisiunta was a fine maiden winner in bottomless ground. He probably has a bit to find with the better fancied rivals. In contract Blood Moon has beaten already Washington Dc this year, last month at Dundalk. And he was not far behind State Of Emergency in a Conditions Race here at the Curragh. He might be able to outrun is big price-tag. Neither out of the equation is Athas An Bhean. A fine debut winner, he followed up with a good effort in the Listed Marygate Fillies’ Stakes.

Verdict: The first three in the betting are all set to become future pattern class performers. But it is Washington Dc who could have the brightest future ahead of himself. The minimum trip will suit this speedy Zoffany son down to the grounds and I’d surprised if he isn’t a much shorter price when the gates crash open. Therefore I’m happy to get on him now for a price which in my book is too big, taking the likely big improvement into account.

Washington Dc @ 9/4 Betfred – 10pts Win

Medrano can outrun the odds in Cocked Hat

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4.00 Goodwood: Cocked Hat Stakes (Listed)

Really hot Listed contest with a very strong favourite: Best Of Times won well on his seasonal reappearance at Newmarket earlier this month. They went the first half of the Newmarket Stakes (Listed) pretty quick but BOT stuck to the task. He’s now on a four-timer and unfortunately any value in his odds has diminished. At 6/4 I have to take him on. There is a lot to like about him, but he has to give 3lb away in a competitive field.

John Gosden’s Mr Singh makes obvious appeal. He got off the mark in a strong Newbury maiden over 1m3f and there is a good chance that he can improve big time for the run. Great Glen is still a maiden but made a good impression on his first start this year when staying on for second place at Newmarket. The additional furlong should help today, but it remains to be seen whether he is on the same level as some of the better fancied rivals.

Storm The Stars is a likeable sort. He was always sure to improve as a three year old and his 2nd in the Chester Vase behind Hans Holbein rates a strong piece of form as he came from an unfavourable position. That says he looks a skinny price at 11/4 and I fail to see why Medrano, who finished a fair 3rd in the Vase, is five times the price. Medrano wasn’t favoured by the run of the race either but finished well enough behind Aiden O’Brien’s Derby hopeful.

Obviously Medrano is more exposed than most and had already three starts this year. Albeit a good deal beaten in two of them in France, he finished in the place money behind good horses. It remains to be seen how he handles the better ground, though the trip should suit down to the grounds. There’s every chance that others in this field have the ability to progress to a level beyond him, but these unknown improvements are seemingly reflected in the betting, while he sets a fair actual standard on form. He’s not my ideal idea of a winner here, but he is certainly overpriced.

Medrano @ 20/1 Betfred – 5pts Win

Richard of Yorke Bound For Big Run

Curragh

7.35 Sandown: Class 3 Handicap, 1m2f

This race looks utterly competitive with some really promising sorts going to post. That says I’m not sure if the market has got it right here at all.

Currently trading as favourite is Dubawi son Dartmouth. He made an OK seasonal reappearance over course and distance last month, though it remains to be seen what a 12l beaten 4th behind Jack Hobbs is worth. Maybe not too much in this field I fear. Nonetheless he remains open to improvement and is on a fair mark. It doesn’t inspire me to trough money at him, though.

Godolphin’s Rare Rhythm was a good maiden winner in a decent field at Newmarket when last seen in 2014. He should improve for the step up to 10f but looks vulnerable today given his pretty stiff opening mark. Soluble was a bit unlucky at Salisbury recently, he may be better than the bare result suggests. He isn’t a price to get involved, on the other hand.

I really like the pedigree of Duretto. He’s sure to relish the new trip, however it’s questionable how much he beat when he got off the mark in 1m Kempton maiden back in November. I’m sure he is much better, but given his price and opening mark, I feel others offer better value.

None more than Richard of Yorke. I’m surprised to see him not at the head of the betting. This Oasis Dream son really impressed me on his debut run at Windsor. He was green and had to overcome one or another difficulty throughout the race. Coming from off the pace, not getting the gaps when needed, having to be brave, and yet getting up eventually, beating the eventual runner-up who had the run of the race – that’s is something to do first time out! The second went on to win a maiden by 15 lengths subsequently…

Another one to mention is Istinfaar. One of the long-shots in the field but I feel he could be much better than the 20/1 price tag. I liked the way he won his maiden at Wolverhampton recently, albeit he didn’t beet much. But he looks a scopey sort, lightly raced, with much more to come. He’s sure to relish the step up in trip too. Well bred, out of a 1m 2f Listed winner with Hanagan in the saddle, I can see him able to outrun the odds.

Richard of Yorke @ 5/1 Sportingbet – 5pts Win
Istinfaar @ 20/1 William Hill – 5pts Win

Kempton: Exciting Majeed Bound To Progress!

Dundalk All-Weather

Dundalk seems to become a happy hunting ground these days – Cape Wolfe travelled all over the opposition and won it quite easily in the end. A nice 12/1 winner… much needed! The Ger Lyons inmate is Royal Ascot bound now.

7.40 Kempton: Class 3 Handicap, 1m 3f

The flat season is in full flight, yet we have some really interesting racing on Kempton’s All-Weather tonight. This intriguing Class 3 Handicap for four year olds and older horses appears to be an open enough contest with seven out of the ten runners having previously won at this venue.

The betting suggests Andre Balding’s lightly raced Smiling Stranger is the one to beat and won’t lack fitness after 291 days off the track. He showed some promise in maidens last year, though was found out for class on his handicap debut. Gelded over the winter, he could be one with plenty of improvement to come, given a fair handicap mark. Personally I wouldn’t like to be on him at 5/2 though. Despite all the positives there are also a couple of question marks and such a short price doesn’t represent value in my eyes.

Equally lightly raced Majeed didn’t show any rustiness to land a Chelmsford Handicap in March coming off a 1½ year long break. The five year old had obvious problems in the past but looked big and strong at Chelmsford. He travelled off the pace and had plenty enough to do 2f out but really motored home in impressive style. Only 3lb up, with a very useful 5lb claimer in the saddle today, he looks a major player with further improvement likely to come off a potentially lenient mark.

From the former course winners, Double Discount can’t be ruled out. He’s weighted to be competitive if he is back to his best. Jacob Cats won a CD Handicap in March and on that form must rate a danger. The Gay Cavalier loves it around Kempton and should be a big runner if he can bounce back from his last poor run. All-Weather specialist Troopingthecolour is rated below his last winning mark but has to find back some form. First time cheek-pieces may help him. All of these have plenty of questions to answer, though.

Verdict: I like the favourite’s profile. If Smiling Stranger is fit after the break, he could be hard to beat off a fair mark now as a gelding. But from a value perspective lightly raced Majeed makes more appeal. He’s also on a very fair mark and has the assistance of a very good apprentice, which effectively sees him racing off 2lb lower than when winning at Chelmsford. I was really impressed with that performance and 9/2 looks a big price in this field.

Majeed @ 9/2 Paddy Power – 5pts Win

Horse Racing Around The Globe

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