Big chance on Handicap debut for Victoriously

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Plenty of unexposed types in this race and naturally this can be a bit like a guessing game. That says I feel the Brian Meehan trained Victoriously is potentially underestimated on his Handicap debut.

The Azamour colt ran a dismal race on his seasonal reappearance in a hot maiden at Newbury earlier this week. Probably a performance to ignore and he should strip fitter this time. It’s more interesting what he has done as a juvenile last season.

Victoriously  improved massively from his debut run last summer when he finished a good third over 7.5f at Lingfield’s turf. He was very green throughout the race that day, most of the time without cover too but showed a bit of talent the way he made progress from 3f out. That was enough to suggest he could turn into a nice individual and was put away for the rest of the year as he was always one who should improve with age given his pedigree.

Pedigree is the key: He tackles 12f for the first time here. It’s quite a dramatic step up in trip but connections must feel this is the best thing to do to give him a chance to win. He is out of a 7.5f Listed race winning mare but she is by Monsun and in general there is plenty of stamina on both sire and dam side, which suggests the step up in trip is the right move indeed. He has a very good chance to stay the trip, particularly on a sound surface.

He will be first time blinkered tomorrow. That may help to sharpen him up. Most interestingly is his open handicap mark. A moderate 67 gives him every chance and could underestimate his true merit, particularly over a trip more suitable.

8.00 Windsor: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 3f 135y
Victoriously @ 14/1 Bet365 – 5pts Win

Plenty to like about unexposed Mohaayed

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Nice little race, with some interesting individuals going to post. Aiden O’Brien’s Royal Navy Ship proves popular since the yard finally starts to get into top gear. His runner-up effort in last years Group 3 Killavullan Stakes reads a fair piece of form, though none of those in the race has backed it up actually. Hard to know what to expect from this War Front son here.

Zafilani finished with in the Ballysax Stakes earlier this month, in front of Derby fancy John F Kennedy. The merit of this form is debatable but the better ground here should suit. Prologue looks very hard to fancy on form.

I’m very sweet on Mohaayed in this race, though. He’s one of the horses on my Horses To Follow List, and while his seasonal reappearance in the 2.000 Guineas trail at Leopardstown was nothing to be too impressed about, he still finished a fair third in a very hot race behind two smart individuals. I believe he is bound to improve dramatically for this run, for many reasons.

It was only his third career start and he still learns the game. He wasn’t quite as green as last season, but clearly further progress is to come in that department. He won on his second start last year in very impressive fashion, despite wandering in the closing stages, and beating a smart Ballydoyle horse in third. He’ll relish the better ground at Gowran Park I imagine as he didn’t look to be able to put in his best effort on soft at Leopardstown in the Guineas trail. And let’s not forget that he steps up in trip now. Middle distance shall be his game I believe.

So, plenty to like about his chance. He should have plenty more to come and if he wins this nicely then his next target is very likely the Dante. Says I’m really looking forward to see this Prendergast inmate perform to his best tomorrow.

5.35 Gowran Park: Conditions Stakes, 1m 1f 100y
Mohaayed @ 5/2 Paddy Power – 10pts Win

Symbolic Star can improve big time!

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This intriguing Handicap over one mile for three year olds looks not like an easy race to call, however I can’t let Godolphin’s Symbolic Star go for a big looking price. A cautious bet, yes, as it is not quite clear what to expect from some of the others, but cautious only to an extend. Let’s take a look at his rivals here first.

The Richard Hannon inmate Maftoon won on the Chelmsford All-Weather when last seen. He did that nicely and progressed from his juvenile season. But now switched to turf of a mark off 86 in a hot race much more is required. He looks a bit smalish as well, I can’t see him as a well handicapped individual.

Lingfield scorer Alfajer makes much more appeal. She won really well back in October 2014 and the step up to 1m should suit. Botti has his horses well at this early stage of the season, so wouldn’t be a surprise to see her go close. She’s drifting in the betting though, which is a slight worry.

Grand Spirit finished a good deal beaten at Brighton on his seasonal reappearance. The form works out well with the winner hacking up subsequently. He should improve but that says he has to if he wants to go close here.

Paco Boy son Sarsted won a poor maiden last season. There might be more to come. Darshini could easily be a better three year old but has been off the track for a long time. Darrington drops in trip which will help. He’s interesting as the feather weight with a 5lb claimer in the saddle.

That brings me back to Symbolic Star. He steps up to 1m now, which should clearly suit on pedigree. An opening mark off 85 looks stiff at first glance, but if assessing his form a bit closer, one has to get the impression that it could also be fair, maybe even lenient.

On his debut he finished a close 3rd over too short 5f in a very hot maiden, with the first and second franking the form. The runner-up won a Group 3 subsequently for example. His success in a rather poor Wolverhampton maiden over 7f was visually very impressive then. He seemed to have wintered well and the change of gear was excellent. In my eyes he has the most potential of them all in this field, and if he can cope with the quick ground, he should be hard to beat.

7.00 Doncaster: Class 3 Handicap, 3yo, 1m
Symbolic Star @ 3/1 Bet365 – 5pts win

Thanks AP!

It’s all out and over – Anthony McCoy has officially retired from race riding. His long career has come to an end at Sandown Park today. He finished in third place in his last ever race on appropriately named Box Office. When he jumped off, a visible emotional Anthony McCoy was no longer an active jockey.

Much has been said over the course of the recent days, weeks and months since AP announced his retirement towards the end of the season. That says there isn’t much that I could add to it that hasn’t been said before already. But one last thing:

Enjoy your retirement Anthony. You’re a legend. I hope you’re in a good place and you’ll find plenty of things that keep you happy and occupied after a long life of race riding. It ain’t be easy. But you champ, you can do it. #Thanks AP!

Professor can bounce back at Haydock

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Open looking contest. Not many make appeal on their current Handicap rating. Some of the bigger prices are interesting, so is Lincoln expected to run bigger dropped in trip. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Emell improved either. But a chance is taken on Professor.

The Michal Attwater inmate was disappointing at Meydan in recent month, but performed with loads of credit last season in hot races off higher higher marks. He dropped down to a rating of 101 now and judged on old form should be very competitive here over trip and ground to suit.

He loves the Haydock track, has won three times from five runs here including a CD success. Professor was a strong winner of a Conditions Stakes race last summer, having some fair pattern class performers behind him. He also was placed the Wookingham Handicap of a mark off 108. Anything close to those performances, and he has a big chance today.

3.30 Haydock: Handicap (Class 2) 7f
Professor @ 12/1 Bet365 – 5pts Win

Preview – President’s Champions Challenge

Exciting filly Majmu is going to post as the hot favourite in the big Grade 1 President’s Champions Challenge this afternoon at Turffontein. Unbeaten in her last three, including successin the Cape Fillies Guineas and the Empress Club Stakes, both Grade 1’s, she has obviously star potential. Trainer Mike De Kock hails her as a filly right up with the best he has ever trained – if not even better!

She is weighted to win this big Grade 1 today. She receives loads of weight as a filly against the boys as well as for her age. If she is as good as anyone thinks she is, then there isn’t too much in this field that could be dangerous to her. However first time against the boys over 2.000m is a completely alien experience for her. And that is the concern. At a very short price, I take her one…

… but only because there is a horse in the line-up which ranks among the best in the county over the 2.000m trip. That is of course Wylie Hall. The memories of his devastating demotion to second place in the biggest race of the South African racing calendar is still vivid – after a tough battle with Legislate, the stewards decided that he had interfered with the original runner-up in a way that made a difference about the outcome of the race. You could see it that way, and many did, but other opinions were voiced aplenty as well.

Anyway, the Durban July is history, Wylie Hall has moved on and made his season debut earlier this month in the Grade 2 Colorado King Stakes. He won this prep race easily, in fact couldn’t have been more impressive and is clearly in good order. Naturally he should improve for the run.

His excellent track record means he is expected to go really well today. I see him as the only real danger to Majmu. He has to give 4.5kg away to the filly. But age, sex as well as proven class over track and trip are fairly reflected in the weights in my mind. At 5/1 he looks the value in this race.

President’s Champions Challenge (Grade 1)
Wylie Hall @ 5/1 Sportingbet – 5pts Win

Friday Night at Dundalk: Report + Photos

Dundalk last night has been great! As always – I have to say. It never disappoints. Of course it helps if your 10/1 selection goes in, though! It was my third visit to Ireland’s only All-Weather track. The course is often hailed by trainers for its consistently excellent surface. Well maintained, not much kick-back, and with the false rail installed it is a fair track to race on these days.

Punters alike favour the track because the form stands up and most importantly you can see some good horses in action as well, usually in the feature race on the night. So happened yesterday, as outlined in my preview. The Irish Stallion Farms E.B.F. Race saw some really nice sorts going to post and it promised to be a real cracker. It didn’t disappoint! A three runner photo finish – exciting stuff!

Postulation held on to win it for Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen. He finished a good runner-up behind subsequent John F Kennedy conqueror Success Days – so no surprise to see him going close here. Favourite Queen Nefertiti finished only third – but she should come on for the run and looked well in the parade ring before, like a filly that has clearly trained on.

Postulation
Postulation

Runner-up The Happy Prince for Aiden O’Brien in hands of his son Joseph travelled like the winner until the furlong marker, but didn’t quite find enough in the end. Yet he followed-up with a good performance on his recent Limerick success and is a nice type for the future.

Shannon Soul was beaten in fourth but was clearly the most impressive individual in the parade ring. Put him in your tracker, he may be able to win a nice race soon.

Kilimanjaro was a nice winner for the O’Brien team in the last race on the card. He contested in two hot maidens last season, showed himself much improved on his second start back then, but really made visually a good impression here at Dundalk in the parade ring. He won the maiden over the extended 10f trip in good fashion, really seemed to get rolling in the closing stages. He has a Derby entry. You wouldn’t expect him to be good enough. But the first time hood helped and sometimes these O’Brien horses can improve explosively, as we all know.

Kilimanjaro
Kilimanjaro

Personal highlight on the card was undoubtedly the win of Iron Major. If you read my preview yesterday, you know I tipped him to win at 10/1 – and he obliged duly. Inexperienced 10lb claimer Oisin Orr delivered a confident ride from the back of the field and went through an open gape 2f out. Iron Major found plenty when asked for an effort and was clearly well handicapped, as imagined beforehand.

Iron Major
Iron Major

Dundalk All-Weather

Horse Racing Around The Globe

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