Boyne Hurdle Preview


The Grade 2 Boyne Hurdle at Navan shapes as an intriguing little contest. It may be hard to look beyond the first three in the betting, but that doesn’t make it less interesting, as three big guns, all multiple Graded winners, taking each other on. Effectively it’s a re-match of last months John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle, which took place at Gowran Park in thick fog on bottomless ground over gruelling three miles.

It was Gigginstown’s Dedigout who prevailed that day. In a dramatic finish, he got right up on the line. The Willie Mullins trained Zaidpour and Briar Hill were decisively beaten in third and fourth. Judging by that performance, and the short price in the betting market today, Dedigout is clearly is expected to follow on to land another big prize today. It is his third run after a year long absence and it is obvious that he haven’t lost any of his old ability. He’s been a prolific chaser back in the day, but has really excelled over hurdles.

Question mark is, however, if he can bring his impressive form also to Navan today? Because were race in with significantly different conditions today, than it was the case three weeks ago at Gowran Park. it’s a sharp drop in trip from 3m down to 2.5m and instead of heavy ground it is actually quite decent today – considering what one would normally expect in Ireland at this time of the year. That says Dedigout has form over this trip and conditions, so he may well be happy enough with what he’s likely to find today. But if you want to find some question mark in this short price favouite – well, then this would it be!

Nine year old Zaidpour remains a very good horse. Back in November he won here at Navan a Grade 2 over 2m 4f. Not a particularly good one, but you can only beat what is in front of you. He was without a chance against Dedigout last month, though. Beaten five lengths, and dropped right out when it mattered. Expect him to be more competitive today. The drop in trip will suit and he he’s fine on this ground. Nonetheless, I feel that Zaidpour has always been a better horse with plenty of juice in the ground. Could that make the difference in the end?

In all honesty, I’m more sweet on the other Willie Mullins runner, Briar Hill. He is still only a seven year old and could easily have still some more improvement left. Yes, he has been disappointing in his two starts this season over 3 miles, but make no mistake, there was a reason why he was the favourite for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last season. I believe the drop in trip will work wonders for him today.

Those last poor showings exploited his stamina limitations and his best forms came all over shorter trips. Briar Hill was Grade 1 winning Novice hurdler last season here at Navan over 2 miles and 4f. I’m pretty confident with ground and trip to suit today, we’ll see a much improved Briar Hill. Obviously he still has a good deal to find on pure form with favourite Dedigout and it is not a given that he is actually able to find back to his best. But there is a fair chance and I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt today.

There are a couple more runners in this field, but realistically they shouldn’t be good enough to put any pressure on the three big guns. Back In Focus used to be a smart individual, but he has been off for a very long time, so he is probably best watched today.

Briar Hill @ 11/4 VC – 5pts win

It’s Dortmund’s Derby

It’s midway trough February – time is really flying! Blink with the eye and we’re almost in May. Then when the run for the roses is upon us… the Kentucky Derby, the myth-enshrouded race along the iconic Churchill Downs twin towers. It’s one of those races I’m always looking forward to. It’s the atmosphere surrounding this event. Staged like the battle of titans. legends are born here. Will we see something special? Or may this even be the start for some colt to merge as a potential Triple Crown winner?

kyderby
This year, the race is going to be ran on the 2nd of May. As always, the first Saturday in May. Yes, this may seem still almost three months away, but I said it before: time is flying. Qualifying races for the Derby are already under way. In fact some of the ‘thought to be main contenders’ have even shown their class this year.

It’s no surprise that Bob Baffert seems to have a very strong hand for the 2015 renewal – yet again. The two horses at the head of the ante-post market are trained by him. That is American Pharoah – he was mightily impressive as a juvenile last year. Though he missed the Breeders Cup due to a foot injury. He is reportedly back in training and will be back racing, probably next month.The other one is Dortmund, who showed his class this season already.

Indeed, it is this very good looking colt Dortmund who made me go down the ante-post route – which is rather unusual for me these days. But I do really like this horse. He has just started as well into his classic campaign as he ended his juvenile season: With ultimate success, protecting a 100% record!

So what is it about him? Well, Dortmund won his first two career starts by a combined 12 lengths +, including a runaway victory at Churchill Downs – which is the home of the Kentucky Derby of course. He followed on to win the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity Stakes in dramatic style at the end of last year. That day he stayed on strongly to win it in a photo, while setting a new 1 1/16 miles course record! Yes you read that right. This two year old colt set a new course record on only his third ever career start!

Dortmund reappeared in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes last week for his first race in the new year. He looked a bit fresh and keen early on, was bang on with the pace, and got himself locked up in a match race from halfway out. Turning for home he seemed beaten when dropping a good lengths behind the then leader Firing Line – who himself is a fancy for the Derby, and finished a narrowly beaten runner-up in the Los Alamitos behind Dortmund. But then Dortmund showed some impressive guts, something you wouldn’t see often in such a young horse. He fought his way back into the race! Close to the line, he eyeballed Firing Line and eventually emerged victorious – clearly on top when it really mattered!

One simply has to be impressed with what Dortmund has done so far in his short career. Keep in mind, according to his trainer, he actually didn’t quite fancies the Santa Anita dirt, but actually prefers the deeper Dirt tracks, like Churchill. And is if not enough, what really impresses me about this colt is his fabulous conformation. He is an absolutely stunning looking individual. He has this huge frame, these mighty long strides, and looks quite mature and very forward at this stage. With that in mind, he has the right profile for the Kentucky Derby. Reportedly he is still a big baby – mentally – but he should have learned plenty from these last tough battles.

After all he ticks almost all the right boxes:  He Acts at Churchill Downs, a track that suits him very well. He proved his class and attitude at the highest level. Has the looks of a monster. He set a track record at Los Alamitos over 1 1/16 miles – as a two year old. is it too good to be true? Well, the only question mark is the Derby trip. He is bred more for speed actually, however he is a son of Derby winner Big brown nonetheless and there is stamina on the dam side down the generations. Also the way he finished his races are a fair indicator that he can get further. Given his relaxed character, he should have every chance to stay the Kentucky Derby distance.

Next stop is the Santa Anita Derby. After that we know much more about him. I duly expect him to oblige. If Dortmund wins indeed, you can be sure that he’ll be a very short price on Derby day. So I’ll be going now with the big 16/1 offer. I believe this colt is the real deal, as long as he stays healthy!

Want to have a bet on the Derby or any other US race? > Kentucky Derby at BetOnline

It’s all Balder’s Success!

The big race of the day was held at Ascot today. Despite only attracting a small field, the Ascot Chase shaped to be a cracker. In the end it was Balder Succes who won a deserved first Grade 1 outside Novice’ company. A good round of jumping, he travelled well throughout and beat smart filly Ma Filleule comprehensively.

Trainer Alan King was quoted afterwards: “He was very good today and since going over fences he has been good all the way through. He’s more mature now mentally. We’ve got to stick to the Ryanair route.”

Ma Filleule is likely to go down the same route. Second favourite Ballycasey was a big disappointing and dropped out as soon as it really mattered to show some fighting spirit. The 6/4 favourite Ptit Zig didn’t complete the race. He was a faller at the tenth fence. Thankfully he was quickly up to his feet and fine after the race

Weekend!

Weekend!
It’s Weekend! Some great racing ahead. Several Graded races in the UK and Ireland. Ascot Chase on Saturday as the highlight of course, but there is also some great action at Gowran Park and Navan, plus some excellent All-Weather racing from Lingfield. Enjoy all the fantastic racing and good luck whatever you bet!

Saturday Preview: Lingfield Feature

Spiritual Star


Sovereign Debt
has been off for more than a year now and question is how much of his old class he still has. Makes AW debut for new yard. Should be fine on surface but big mark to overcome dropping into handicap.

Don’t Call Me hasn’t won for quite a while but finished well in 3rd in hot race last week, only neck beaten by 105 rated individual on first outing since October. Still career best required to win off current mark. However remains as good as ever and won strong Handicap last summer off 3lb lower.

Tiger Tale finished runner-up on couple of occasions in recent weeks. Mark is increasing without winning since good win at Kempton in autumn. Fine performance lto over CD when short of room in crucial moment. Career best required.

Secret Art is back after a break. Goes well on the All-Weather and ran well the last two starts in Autumn. Career best required today.

Melvin The Grate is much improved since switched to the All-Weather. Won with plenty in hand on penultimate start over CD and ran fine 3rd of revised mark lto when not having run of race. Needs good pace to be able to close from trailing position.

Energia Flavio hasn’t won in UK yet but has been competitive last three start on AW. Looks in the grip of the handicapper though. Claimers allowance sure to help however.

Freud is a French import and hasn’t been seen since August. Seems to act on AW but hard to know what to expect today.

Santefisio doesn’t win often but returned to form at Wolverhampton lto. May need more assistance from handicapper to be winning candidate in this class.

Spiritual Star won with plenty in hand over CD last month when dropped to a mile. Five pounds up looks fair and remains competitive, though more required up in class today.

Mindyourownbusiness finished a gutsy runner-up behind Spiritual Star a fortnight ago. Not too many miles on the clock and may improve again. But need to so as was fair beaten lto off similar mark.

Halation was progressive last season on turf. Placed on AW as well. Now back after break. Fitness a question mark but top jockey in the saddle a bonus.

Stormy Paradise was a fair lengths beaten on seasonal return over CD lto. Would need improve quite a bit for that run to be competitive here.

Verdict: This is a really competitive affair, as one would expect from a big feature Handicap on a Saturday. More than half of the field have the potential to be really competitive in this. There is no doubt that Melvin The Great is a fair favourite. He won with plenty in hand his penultimate start and followed up with another nice performance over course and distance. His running style means that he’ll always need a rattling pace and bit of luck as well. Not sure if he’ll get another clear run today. As he had it all going for him the last two. i would expect Tiger Tale, who finished runner-up behind Melvin The Grate before, and beat him by half a lengths lto then when he was second again. He hit the crossbar a couple of times now and it remains to be seen if he can win off his current mark. Another bold performance wouldn’t surprise though. Halation is a bit a dark horse today. Back after a break, progressive profile as a three year old. He could have still some unlocked potential and has Atzeni in the saddle.

Secret Art has a similar profile to a certain extend. He was competitive before a break and if he is match fit, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him going close today. All those mentioned until now should go well, but I feel they aren’t offering any value if it comes to odds. However the 12/1 for Don’t Call me looks huge. He remains most of his old class and done extremely well in a very good handicap at Wolverhampton last week. He hasn’t won off a mark as high as his current one, but this most recent performance indicates that he is well up to it. He didn’t get quite a clear run in the closing stages lto, but the slight drop to a mile should suit much better today anyway.

Not to underestimate is the chance of recent winner Spiritual Star either. An impressive winner over course and distance two weeks ago, his revised mark looks more than fair, if not even lenient to a certain extend, given with how much in hand he won and how similar winners have been hit with much higher increases. He hasn’t won off a mark as high as this, however was placed over CD off even higher last season. He has the habit of starting slowly from time to time. So that is a risk that he may lose the race already at the start. Yet 9/1 looks a very big price.

Selections:
Don’t Call Me @ 12/1 Sportingbet- 5pts win
Spiritual Star @ 9/1 William Hill – 5pts win

Preview: Wolverhampton Feature


Luv U Whatever
is on a three race winning streak and hasn’t been out of the money in five. All came at Southwell though. Has to transform this form to tapeta off career highest mark now.

Gold Trail won his last two and seems to thrive on the AW. Talented individual, improving all the time. Had the run of the race lto when up with slow pace. Seems to do only as much as required. Unclear how much he has left and if he truly gets the trip. 4lb up but excellent 3lb claimer on board too.

Entihaa is a classy stayer in fine form. Not far beaten last twice after winning two on the bounce. Drop in trip not sure to suit, though has past form over 12f. Career best required.

John Reel won his last three and is greatly improved, thriving on the AW. Still rather lightly raced for his age. Won over variety of trips. Successful in hot 12f handicap at Lingfield, followed by 2m win at Wolverhampton lto. Turned out under penalty today.

Saptapadi has won only one single race in his career and as a 9yo isn’t likely to improve. Should find this too tough.

Verdict: It’s only a small field but there won’t be a lack of pace with most runners likely to prefer being up with the speed. Godolphin’s Gold Trail is a worthy favourite, showing good improvement lately and he he’s on a hat-trick today. He stepped up successfully to 12f at Lingfield the last time. But in my eyes that didn’t quite prove if he truly gets this trip as he had the run of the race tracking the leader who was crawling for most parts. Any flaws in his stamina will be exploited today.

Already a six year old, but not many miles on the clock for that age, John Reel improved dramatically over the last couple of weeks and he seems to thrive over any sort of distance. Quickly turned out under a penalty now, he has to overcome a career highest mark and drops dramatically in trip again. Potentially he is good enough.

Southwell specialist Luv U Whatever may not quite be suited by Wolverhampton’s tapeta surface. He has to be at his very best and I’m wondering if he is able to show that at this track. Saptapadi won’t play a role in this race, however Entihaa may well do. He’s likely to want it to be a stamina test and it remains to be seen if he has the speed for 12f these days. He’s clearly in fine form though, was in front until half a furlong out lto when John Reel got the better eventually, but meets the same rival on six pounds better terms today.

The two red-hot in-form favourites John Reel and Gold Trail have any right be short prices. Both have the potential to improve further. However they are short enough and the trip is a question mark for most of the runners in this field, those two included. I feel Entihaa is well overpriced, though. Trip is a question mark, but he has done pretty well recently and he is worth a shot here in this field as he has been able to perform over 12f in the past.

19.15 Wolverhampton:
Entihaa @ 8/1 Coral – 5pts win

Meydan Preview


There is some pretty good racing at Meydan today. Couple of Group races on the Dirt track, most notably the 2.000 Guineas which looks a real cracker! The Handicaps seem intriguing puzzles to solve – nothing less is expected, though. But that makes it interesting, right? There is clearly some value to find on this card today and analysing todays races, I’ve come up with three selections. All decent prices. If only ones gets in, it’ll be a good day.

3.20 Meydan: Jaguar F Type Trophy (Handicap)

This big handicap looks wide open and usually a bit of luck plays its part. There are a couple of the better fancied horses here who have some doubts about the trip in my mind and I feel this could easily go to a longshot. That says Pilote is one I do really fancy to go close if he gets a clear run from off the pace. He is clearly on a mark he can win off. The same applies to Tha’ir. He can go well too and a big run is expected.

However for a huge price I take a chance on Sennockian Star. He didn’t perform to his best in two starts here at Meydan in recent weeks, however he slipped another 3lb in the mark and that can make a difference. He is one who likes to be up with the pace, and while he isn’t drawn super close to the rail, his draw in seven gives him every chance to waste not too much energy to take up a prominent position. Officially he is one pound above his last winning mark (in a Handicap) when he won a big one at Goodwood last summer. He followed up with a fair second in Listed company. All over 10f, which is his ideal trip these days. I feel he is worth a punt today to outrun his big price tag.

Sennockian Star @ 20/1 Coral – 5pts win

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3.55 Meydan: UAE 2.000 Guineas (Group 3)

Two big favourites in the Guineas with Godolphins Maftool and De Kock’s Mubtaahij heading the market. Both have strong form to share from last month’ Guineas trial over 7f. Mubtaahij won that day in pretty emphatic fashion. He had the perfect race from the start, and drew clear in the closing stages, clearly benefiting from match fitness through a run he had before. He’s still lightly raced and there could be much more to come. Clearly an exciting prospect. Maftool in contract had his first start in over three month, was first time tried on the Dirt, and had to overcome a completely messed up start. The way he finished the race was very impressive, and he must be a big danger to Mubtaahij today. Albeit very talented, question mark is about his attitude, as he looks a difficult horse to ride, though.

De Kock has a second runner in this field with Ajwad. Already a four year old, formerly trained in Argentina. Ajwad is bred for dirt and one would belief can improve a good deal for his first run here at Meydan, when he finished a fair third behind Mubtaahij. He clearly needed the run, the way he finished as a tired horse, and he did allot in the early parts of the race. He should benefit from the step up to 1m as that is what is clearly in his pedigree. I expect him to improve a good deal and he’ll finish much closer to his stable mate today. He has to give loads of weight to the three year olds though, and they have in turn potential to improve themselves of course. So it remains to be seen if he is good enough after all. But that says he has the right profile to go really close and he looks a nice alternative to the short priced favourites.

Ajwad @ 11/2 PP – 5pts win

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18.15 Meydan: Range Rover Sport Trophy (Handicap, Class 1)

This is a premier handicap and some really good horses are lined up here. Former Group winners all around, and that makes it a pretty interesting race over 9 furlongs. Consistent Mushreq is top of the market and ran already pretty well in two starts this year here at Meydan. He’s bound for another good performance. De Kock’s other hope Zahee has been places over 9.5f on the tapeta track in the past, but best forms came over shorter and he may struggle to get home. Ocean Tempest flies the flag for the UK, ran well lto and I’m sure he does well today too, but this trip seems to be slightly beyond his stamina as he usually is best over 1m. In general this looks a wide open race and a case can be made for most runners. I’m most interested in Vancouverite and Mujaarib though, as they seem overpriced in my eyes.

Mujaarib is the third De Kock runner here. He didn’t land a blow on his seasonal debut in Group 2 company lto, when fifth behind word class stablemate Vercingetorix. But it was a decent run nonetheless I thought, and if he can come on a bit for that, he must be in with a fair chance today. Nine furlongs seems to be his ideal trip, he won a big Group 2 at Meydan last year, beating Mushreq. Reportedly he is a pretty lazy horse, so no surprise to see blinkers on again, which may sharpen him up. He has done well with them fitted in South Africa, so they should help him to focus and 16/1 looks way too big for his chance, despite the fact that he has to overcome top weight.

Talented Vancouverite is trading as high as 6/1 an in my eyes that is very generous for a horse that has been beaten less than two lengths to Vercingetorix in the G1 Jebel Hatta last season. He was in subsequent starts not quite as good as expected, with a second place Listed contest at Haydock (albeit a good one) the highlight. He’s done well as a fresh horse in the past however, so chances are there that he goes well today again.

Vancouverite @ 6/1 Coral – 5pts win
Mujaarib @ 16/1 William Hill – 5pts win

Horse Racing Around The Globe

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