Mr Bossy Boots can make feather weight count

An intriguing race that brings proven top class handicappers with progressive & lightly raced individuals together. At the top of the ratings is classy Outback Traveller who has a huge weight to defy. On pure class he is the one they all have to beat – but I feel the improving Mr Bossy Boots is probably the one they all have to fear most.

He has the benefit of a feather weight because he is the lowest rated horse in the race, but this lightly raced colt looks to have much more on the plate than the ratings suggest. He was very impressive a very impressive winner at Lingfield in January, when he looked still very green and raw, was pulling hard but surged clear with ease in the closing stages. Obviously he has to step up markedly in class today, but the handicapper’s 5lb hike in the mark for this most recent triumph has been lenient in my mind. That says Mr Bossy Boots could be a good deal ahead of this mark and must have a major chance today.

Also improving and an impressive winner was Speculative Bid. He looked in a completely different class than his rivals in a class 4 Handicap here at Kempton. He has been hit with a big hike in the mark, but looks well up to it. Though very much up in class, he may not get a smooth a ride through this time. Same may apply for Ninjago who won well first time blinkered over CD recently, but had it all going for himself.

2.15 Kempton: Class 2 Handicap, 7 furlongs:
Mr Bossy Boots @ 4/1 Coral – 5pts win

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Preview: Balmoral Cup Handicap

The rain softened ground, the 1m 8f trip and that we’re just right at the beginning of the new 2015 flat season are the facts responsible for a wide open renewal of the Balmoral Cup.

It looks significant that Gorden Elliott comes over from Ireland with versatile Bayan. A grade 3 winning hurdler, he has also been successful in Handicaps on the flat and is sure to be suited by trip and ground. He has a fine chance to score, but must overcome a career highest mark.

Unexposed Mistiroc could progress further this season. He is on a fair mark, though tries a new trip. He showed some liking for softish ground last year, so if he can stay the trip, he’ll be in with a big shot. Esteaming, Aramist and Suraj all have form on soft ground, but a combination of trip, handicap mark or lack of recent run, are big questions marks.

Formerly an excellent runner-up in the Melbourne Cup, Kelinni is a very interesting alternative here. He hasn’t exactly excelled in the UK, but has a recent run under his belt which should help to bring him along nicely for this. It is also noteworthy that he probably didn’t have his optimum conditions last season, with the one exception, when he finished a very gallant third, less than two lengths beaten, behind Gatewood in a Listed event. The soft ground will suit and the trip poses no problem to him. With Spencer in the saddle, a big run looks on the cards.

2.25 Musselburgh: Balmoral Cup Handicap (Class 2)
Kelinni @ 11/1 Bet365 – 5pts win

All-Weather Championships Day

It’s good Friday, it’s Easter weekend and it is a fantastic day for  top class racing. Lingfield’s All-Weather Championships card is simply brilliant – it brings quality horses together on a surface that is often dismayed by purists. I’m a huge fan of the All-Weather though, and think it is particularly spectacular if good horses competing on it. So it’s a a fantastic day of racing on the tab – let’s hope it’s a profitable one as well!

1.40 Lingfield: All-weather Fillies’ And Mares’ Championships

A very hot renewal with plenty of interesting runners. I feel that in these kind of Conditions races quality is what matters most, and that should mean horses right at the head of the ratings are often favoured. Plenty of money is coming for Lamar. I’m not sure if the drop in trip suits her and she looks short enough in the betting. Khatiba is progressive, so is Don’t Be. Expect them to be right in the mix.

Overpriced is the French filly Fresles, though. A 4/1 chance, she is a full point bigger than I would have thought she’d be in the betting. This filly has had a strong run over 6f in Listed company here at Lingfield in November when she came agonisingly close. Since then she won a Listed race over 7f in France on the All-Weather and produced a very fine prep  run over slightly shorter earlier this month. She’ll be primed and could have a tactical advantage from her good draw today.

Fresles @ 4/1 Coral – 5pts win

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2.10 Lingfield: All-weather Sprint Championships

The red hot favourite Pretend looks very hard to beat given how easily he beat similar opposition over five furlongs recently. If he can translate the same sort of form to this 6f trip, then he is hard to beat. But it’s a new day and maybe a bit more open this time, if not at least for the minor placings.

I particularly feel that Boom The Groom is massively overpriced. You can get 33/1 with 1/4 odds each-way with some firms and that looks a cracking bet. This colt is a course and distance winner, who holds his form very well this winter and finished a fine third behind Pretend over five furlongs the last time. He has excellent place claims at least here and with the race probably run to suit him, he may get even closer this time.

Boom The Groom @ 33/1 Bet365 – 2.5pts E/W

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2.40 Lingfield: All-Weather 3 Year Old Mile Championships

It’s been a very impressive seasonal reappearance by Lexington Times earlier this month and he is sure to go well with the step up to a mile sure to suit. But it’s the French filly Growing Glory who makes most appeal on prices. A massive 10/1 chance you wonder how that can be. With a handy 5lb sex allowance here, this filly has beaten the boys last month on the French All-Weather over 1m. It was a very impressive display as she was interfered twice in the home straight. Forgive her the recent poor showing on turf, and you see a top class All-Weather miler.

Growing Glory @ 10/1 Coral – 5pts win

Tuesday Night Quickie

Quick Tip

One late selection for the night racing at Turffontein – the last race on the card, a rather poor maiden, looks interesting. The favourite Odd Rob is a very short price here in my mind. One has to assume that he improves dramatically for his recent outing. He finished a good runner-up after a long lay-off and had been gelded before, so indeed he should come on today, but the step up in trip looks a bit of a concern. His lightly raced profile gives him an ideal chance though, if he can find a bit improvement and stay the trip, as the opposition looks weak. But he is still way too short for this sort of race.

Equally lightly raced overcame big odds to run a fair third on debut. He may progress while Woody Glow could improve for the step up in trip. But those races often produce some strange results and longs-hot Twenty Eight Nine might sneak in for the placings here.

He didn’t show anything in his first three starts, but this is his third run after gelding, and sometimes this needs a bit until improvement kicks-in. He tries 2.000m for the first but should relish this new trip on pedigree. Interesting is the jockey booking with Johnny Geroudis who is red hot at the moment and is riding here for red hot trainer Alec Laird. I’ve seen worth 66/1 shots in my life.

8.45 Turffontein: Maiden Plate
Twenty Eight Nine @ 66/1 Bet365 – 2.5pts EW

Preview – Curragh Opener

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I hope your appetite for the start of the Irish flat season is wetted by now and you have had a chance to read my preview for the Irish Lincolnshire – but there is plenty more to come on the opening meeting of the Curragh! There’s some really good Handicaps as well as one intriguing Group 3 on the tab…. so let’s get right into it!

3.10 Curragh: Handicap, 6 furlongs, 3yo plus

Great Minds looks a very short price here. A winner of this very same race last year, he followed up with another big handicap triumph on Guineas weekend, and should relish conditions today. But not only does he have to overcome a lengthy absence, but also a 9lb higher mark. There might be well more to come from him but on prices I believe Focus On Venice makes most appeal in this field. He is still pretty lightly raced and has won on each of his last two seasonal reappearances.

He beat smart Michaelmas on debut in 2013 and won a good Cork Handicap last season, from where he went on to finish a gallant runner-up in Listed company. He was found out for class in Group 3 company subsequently but now dropped into Handicaps as a fresh horse one would think he has a big shout in this race. His mark looks fair and it’s not impossible that there is still more to come from this four year old colt on what is only his sixth start. Only question mark is the heavy ground. He performed well on yielding in the past, so there is an indication that he could be fine.

Focus On Venice @ 13/2 Coral – 5pts win

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3.45 Curragh: Park Express Stakes (Fillies’ Group 3)

Interesting renewal with plenty of possibilities and the heavy overnight rain doesn’t make it any easier to solve the puzzle. Last years runner-up Odeliz is back for another crack and must be a big runner. She has form on soft ground in top class company and the only worry is her habit to find usually one or two too good. This time again?

Aiden O’Brien usually takes a while to get his string going and that certainly is something to keep in mind if assessing the chance of lightly raced filly Easter. However there is plenty to like about her. She looked big and scopy last year, as well as talented with a good attitude when getting off the mark in a Leopardstown maiden towards the end of the year. She should relish the step up to 1m and should handle the ground with plenty of soft ground form on her dam side.

Afternoon Sunlight was an excellent prospect last spring but saw her colours significantly lowered in the second half of last season. If she has improved over the winter, she is in with a good chance, though she has to give weight away. Avenue Gabrial has been progressive last year and showed to handle soft ground. She has two listed wins to her name so far, and while a bit more is required here, she has the right profile do really well.

Alive Alive Oh has never reached the heights one expected in the early days of her career, but a break and first time cheek-pieces may help her to be competitive today. Lightly raced Steip Amach caused a huge upset in the Killavullan Stakes at the end of last season. She could have still more to offer now as a three year old.

Verdict: I usually don’t like backing three year olds against older horses at this early stage of the season, but Easter looked a lovely big, scopy sort, who could have plenty more to come, and she may not be unsuited by todays conditions. The weight for age allowance is a significant bonus and I would have expected to see her right at the head of the market.

Easter @ 4/1 Coral – 5pts win

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The Best Of The Rest: 600k gns yearling The Warrior tries to get off the mark in the 6f maiden. He didn’t live up to his price tag last season but may have more to offer now as a three year old. He should be hard to beat but any flaws may be exploited by the exciting newcomer Mulkeyya. A half-sister to Mustajeeb, she could be a big runner for Dermot Weld.

The Curragh finale is an intriguing one mile maiden with last years Racingpost Tropy fourth Jacobean at the head of the market. This is only his third start and there is surely more to come, but it might not be quite as straightforward as the market predicts. Dermot Weld’s Ashraf looks a very interesting contender, so could be Appeared, who wasn’t far beaten on debut behind Jacobean in a maiden last year.

PREVIEW – 2015 Irish Lincolnshire

Irish Lincolnshire 2014

Last years winner Stuccodor has another crack at the Irish Lincolnshire and tries to defend his crown. He prevailed inan exciting finish twelve month ago and trainer Dermot Weld will be pleased to see the rain arriving right in time. Stuccodor proved gutsy last year and with conditions to suit is one of the main contenders once again. However he has to overcome a massive weight this time, even though this is offset to an extend by a useful claimer in the saddle. Nonetheless this looks a stronger race than last year and it is a big task to win this as the top weight.

The lightly raced Onenightidreamed heads the market and his lightly raced profile gives him a very fair chance to go close off a potentially lenient mark, if he can overcome an almost year long break. Another well fancied horse in single-figure odds is Unsinkable. He won a big Apprentice Handicap at Leopardstown when last seen and could well improve further, but first has to overcome a 11lb hike in the mark. Not an easy task in a classy field as this years one in the Irish Lincolnshire.

A lightly raced contender is certainly You’re Fired as well. Progressive over the last two seasons, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him going close. He’ll relish any drop of rain. But is he good enough? We’ll find out. Veteran Vastonea won the Topaz Mile at the Galway Festival last year and ended last season on a high, when going agonisingly close in the Irish Cambridgeshire of a career highest mark. Boomshackerlacker ran with loads of credit at Meydan’s dirt this winter, but may find this here a big ask off a big weight over a trip he’s never been successful at.

It’s noteworthy that Frederik Tylicki comes over from the UK only to ride Haaf A Sixpence. The six year old gelding was much improved lately when landing a good Southwell Handicap. He may have finally turned the corner and a return to turf right into a big handicap may well suit. He has done remarkably well in those kind of races in the past and is only 2lb above his last turf winning mark, which came in a very strong Newmarket Handicap in autumn 2013.

Defining Year, the second Weld runner in this race, has a poor strike record over the one mile trip, but ran a couple of excellent races in defeat. It has to be noted that he comes down in the weights and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him going close. Aiden o’Brien saddles improving Bishan Bedi. He’s been a good winner on the Dundalk All-Weather, and may have still a bit more to give, but that says he has to improve quite a bit to have a chance.

You always have to respect Kevin Prendergast runners and I feel he has an outstanding chance to go really close with lightly raced Maskoon. The now four year old ran a couple of really nice races last year, has proven track, trip and ground record and may well exploit his Handicap mark. He gets a very nice chance by the handicapper and with the 5lb claim of useful apprentice Gary Paul Halpin in the saddle, he should really be a big runner here.

Another one who may be able to make use of a slipping mark is Third Dimension. He won a good maiden over 1m last year, and ended the season with a very strong effort in a big 10f Handicap at Leopardstown, when he didn’t get the run of the race but made eye-catching progress in the closing stages. With the soft going in his favour, I feel tone mile could be about the right test for him with the likely fast pace sure to suit.

Hasanour was improving all the time last season. A winner at the Galway Festival and subsequently at the Curragh, both times in hot Handicaps, he should have the right tools to run really well, if he is fit on his seasonal debut. He has to overcome a career highest mark, but could be up to it. Aussie Valentine could be a dark horse. Silvestre De Sousa is an interesting jockey booking.

Verdict: Plenty of chances, and I feel that Maskoon could easily outrun his big price tag. He’s allot in his favour. Haaf A Sixpence looks a serious chance as well. He loves these type or races and poses good recent form. He is overpriced in my mind, as well as progressive Third Dimension, who may find an ideal test in the Irish Lincolnshire.

Maskoon @ 16/1 Stan James – 5pts win
Haaf A Sixpence @ 14/1 Betfred – 2.5pts win
Third Dimension @ 20/1 Stan James – 2.5pts win

The Flat is back!

Newbury

The flat is back! Finally! Yes, I’m very happy about this. I love flat racing. Though, understandably, there will be also plenty of sad faces today, as this means the jump season is pretty much over. Even though the biggest of them all, the Grand National is still to come!

But personally I really happy to have the flat back, as it means spring is in the air and top class racing is approaching thick and fast! The UK flat season kicks-off with the Lincoln meeting at Doncaster, while we have the Dubai World Cup night at Meydan today. It ain’t much better. I don’t want to bore you to death, dear readers, so i hope you enjoy this quick and snappy betting preview of all the big races….

2.35 Doncaster: Cammidge Trophy (Listed)

Wide open renewal. The ground is drying out and that may catch out a couple of these, particularly last years winner Dinkum Diamond. On the other hand the ground may not be quite quick enough for Naadirr, who I actually like allot, but under a penalty could find this too tough. Astaire will find this easier than the top races he contested in last season. He is a worthy favourite, but not more than a fair price.

As the value here, I fancy the filly Perfect Blessings to go well. Still rather lightly raced, she looked promising in spring last year and may do better now as a four year old than her last two results may suggest. If she is fit today, she could outrun her price with conditions to suit. 1/4 odds EW with Coral looks tasty here.

Perfect Blessings @ 33/1 Coral – 2.5pts EW

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3.45 Doncaster: Lincoln Handicap (Class 2)

The feature race on the opening day of the English flat season – the Lincoln is naturally a race with a big field and plenty of runners with realistic chances. Two lightly raced horses heading the market this year, tough current second favourite GM Hopkins makes more appeal than 13/2 favourite Mange All. If you ignore those two slightly below forms when seen last in the 2014 season – where the soft ground may not have been quite suitable – then Gm Hopkins is a rapidly improving gelding with plenty of scope. Still generally lightly raced, he won a big Newmarket Handicap last summer in the manner of a really good horse.

Strong pace is key to him, but that should be ensured today, and the drying ground is a big bonus. It’s more than fair to assume that he has much more to offer from a mark off 99. If he progresses with age as one would hope and actually expect, then 7/1 could be a bit too big a price.

Another runner I fancy, though a much bigger price, is Baraweez. A very impressive winner of a Premier Handicap on Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown, he was progressive last season as well and could have still more to give. He wwas also a good winner at the Galway Festival, both those big wins came over 7f, but he’s equally good over further, as a strong pace is simply key to him. Interesting that Chris Hayes travelled over to ride two mounts for Brian Ellison on the card, but surly this is the one he’s over for. No doubt, Baraweez is overpriced in my mind at 22/1.

Gm Hopkings @ 7/1 Bet365 – 5pts win
Baraweez @ 22/1 Coral – 5pts win

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2.30 Meydan: Al Quoz Sprint (Group 1)

I might be slightly biased here because I really love South African racing and therefore have all fingers crossed for big runs of South African horses at Meydan today. Although, even from a neutral perspective, one has to say that 14/1 for Via Africa must rate as way too big a price. The filly is the best sprinter in her native country, a multiple Grade 1 winner with loads of pace. She impressed me on her Meydan debut when she showed excellent gate speed and stuck well to the task in the closing stages.

She was entitled to fade away, given the gruelling preparation she had to endure, with all the quarantine measurements taken in regards of South African horses, but she finished well enough. Via Africa should come on allot for this, only the bounce factor is a slight worry. But conditions in her favour, I would expect a big run.

Via Africa @ 14/1 Bet365 – 5pts win

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3.40 Meydan: Dubai Turf (Group 1)

Multiple Group winner Sollow is favourite to land this, though this is his first ever crack at the highest level. In contrast proven Group 1 horse The Grey Gatsby makes more appeal on pure form. He lowered the colours of Australia last year and should be a major contender here. Slight concern is the drop in trip, as he looked to need every inch at Leopardstown.

Euro Charline looks the value against the two well fancied favourites. This filly could easily  have still more to offer. She was super progressive last year as she performed very well during spring in top Group races in the UK and won a 1m Listed contest before she travelled over to the US to land a strong renewal of the Grade 1 Beverly D. Stakes in very taking style. She proved that day what a gutsy, genuine and talented filly she is. She missed the Breeders Cup through injury, but vibes are very positive in recent days about her wellbeing and a big run can be expected.

Euro Charline @ 10/1 Bet365 – 5pts win

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4.15 Meydan: Dubai Sheema Classic (Group 1)

Probably the deepest race on the excellent World Cup card – you could make a case for almost every runner. The Japanese have a very strong hand in this once again. Harp Star was unlucky in the Arc last year, and wasn’t disgraced in two subsequent races back home in very hot company. With Ryan Moore in the saddle, she has every chance. Arc runner-up Flinsthire will relish the conditions, and must rate a big danger. His Hong Kong Vase triumph is a brilliant piece of form, after hitting the crossbar on so many occasions before. However he really needs to have everything falling right into place, as otherwise he will surly run well but without crossing the line first once again.

Main Sequence has been utterly impressive since moving to the US. He deserves plenty of respect. But this rapid improvement could easily be down to medication, and I’m not sure if he can run to the same sort of form outside the US. The one horse I feel is the value here, is the French filly Dolniya. She was very progressive last season, ended the year with a creditable 5th place in the Arc and has scope for further improvement. She beat Flintshire in a prep on the All-Weather over shorter last month and in my mind she doesn’t get the credit she deserves here.

Dolniya @ 7/1 Coral – 5pts win

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Dn’t miss the big race preview of the $10 million Dubai World Cup: Read here! 

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