All-Weather Eyecatchers #6

A list of horses that caught my eye during the recent weeks of racing on the All-Weather.

Dark Shot
10/01/23 – 8.30 Southwell:

Poor start from the widest draw meant his race was done and dusted there and then. Crossed to the inside rapidly and keenly. Travelled well subsequently, strong progress against the inside rail as the field turned for home, but effort petered out in the final furlong.

Borderline stays 6 furlongs. No surprise after start from wide draw to see him falter late. Did too much to overcome disadvantage from 4f to 2f. Best All-Weather efforts over the minimum trip, though won over 6f in October off a higher mark.

Slight concern he’s had a few issues at the start lately. Can be hit and miss, these days; no surprise given his age. Looks potentially quite well handicapped if down to 5f from a good draw and a sharp start, though.

Race Replay

Come On Girl
13/01/23 – 1.10 Lingfield:

Awkward start from widest gate, wasn’t an advantage in this field, albeit only five other rivals in it. Dropped to rear, under pressure from three furlongs out, then finished much the fastest from two furlongs out despite turning wide.

Obviously in fine form. Ran to 59 and 60 speed ratings over this CD in November. Not always advantaged by the draw, but often ran well in recent weeks.

Down to last winning mark. Interesting, ideally with a good apprentice on board, otherwise I’d prefer her to drop another couple of pounds, given mares over the winter are always up against it, even if she looks to be in good form.

Race Replay

Hiatus
13/01/23 – 2.40 Lingfield:

Went off hard from the front, seemingly not easy to control, set the world alight in the first half of the race. Was bound to fade badly but managed to hold on for third, albeit hanging in the home straight.

Difficult sort. But this performance is probably strong. Cost only 18k as a yearling, has probably not too much in hand yet, but a drop to 6 furlongs could see him win. Stiff 6f at Newcastle perhaps? I can see 7f with a good draw at Wolverhampton also a possibility, though, especially if the handicapper would be lenient.

Race Replay

Dutugamunu
14/01/23 – 12.35 Lingfield:

Not the sharpest out of the gate, soon moved forward and took quite a grip travelling behind the leaders. Travelled notably well into the home straight but didn’t find much.

He’s a tricky sort who can be a bit slowly away. Didn’t finish his races too well lately. But comes down to seriously low mark now, dropped another 2lb in the meantime, and the way he travelled was noteworthy. Possibly extended too much energy early on.

I would love to see him given another try over 7 furlongs, but have to keep an open mind over a mile as well in the right race.

Race Replay

Holdenhurst
14/01/23 – 3.30 Lingfield:

Moved over quickly from wide draw just to get in front at the entry of the first bend. Led by a couple of lengths and did a lot to get there. Travelled well enough, still ahead at the final furlong marker, before fading badly.

Solid run, better than 10th place finish suggested. Dropped blow OR 50. Still managed some solid speed ratings in the last 12 months; this a return to form in my view. Interesting back at Wolverhampton; even drop to 6f could be interesting.

Race Replay

John O’Groats
15/01/23 – 12.50 Southwell:

Very slowly away from wide draw, in rear, eyecatching progress around the home bend going wide, ran on for second. Appeared to stay on late but his final furlong split is slow.

Quirky sort. Can pull really hard. Ran some intriguing races on turf last year. Lightly enough race but one to monitor for support in the betting and I am only interested once he drops down to 7f.

Race Replay

Aberfoyle
15/01/23 – 1.20 Southwell:

Right on the heels of the leader, travelled strongly, still on the bridle approaching 2f marker, before getting tired. Winner came from off the pace.

Handicap debut, lightly raced, gelded in November. More to come but will need drop to 6 furlongs.

Race Replay

Seagrave Fox
15/01/23 – 1.20 Southwell:

Attempted to make all, led while pestered by horse on his heels. Was going well but quickly faded from 2 furlongs out.

Probably doesn’t stay the trip, given he can exert himself in the early stages. Was his 3yo debut and only 2nd Handicap run. Drop to 6f will be really interesting. One for now, though. Started early as a juvenile and won’t have much scope.

Race Replay

Battle Point
16/01/23 – 7.00 Wolverhampton:

Soon chased the leader, pestered him all the way while pace was really solid. Battled well right to the line before fading late for 3rd.

Off a lay-off, being gelded in the meantime too, strong performance here and inline with lto run that can be significantly marked up; wasn’t fancied here at all.

Still a maiden but clearly down to a good mark, if untouched by the handicapper.

Race Replay

Prince Of Rome
16/01/23 – 7.00 Wolverhampton:

Awkward start from wide draw, bumped into rival, settled off pace, swerved very wide around the bend before moving inside again but being relegated to last. Incredible progress in home straight, finished much the fastest.

Comeback run after a long lay-off. Changed yards in the meantime. Clearly in good nick. Ready to win in right conditions. Monday entry #8 draw not compelling. Wait for a day with a good draw over the minimum trip.

Race Replay

Lady Ursula
17/01/23 – 6.00 Southwell:

Bit awkward away from the gate, ducking left, settled off pace on the outside, never got much cover. Made significant progress halfway through, tried to challenge but bit outpace from 2f out; gutsy and brave ran strongly to the line.

Needs to move up to 6f again. Should have solid chance to stay 7f. Full-sister to modest 75 rated gelding who stays 7f. April foal, may still have some improvement to do. Possibly one for early turf season more than AW.

Race Replay

Galileo Glass
17/01/23 – 7.30 Southwell:

Good start, but restrained at the back of the field. Turned for home in last position, seemed posed for a solid challenge, but didn’t get a clear run, had to switch multiple times. Finished easily.

Lost his form, new yard didn’t bring out any uptick in form yet. But this a clear sign of life. Could be well handicapped on best form. One to monitor if the betting speaks in his favour.

Race Replay

Ornate
17/01/23 – 12.40 Kempton:

Pushed aggressively forward to grab the lead. Always challenged by rival, though. Hot pace, had eventual winner on the stretch, especially around the sharp bend. Tired badly.

Strong run. The old boy can still win. Won off 61 at Chelmsford in October, ran to 63 speed rating there. Will be interesting in less hot race pace wise with good draw over 5f once dropped below 60 in class 6.

Monday entry in class 5 one to sit out.

Race Replay

Tricky Business
20/01/23- 4.23 Southwell

Good progress from the widest draw on the outside of the field to grab the lead soon. Let the field for home ,setting a good pace. Severely under pressure and headed over two furlong out but kept going strongly.

Re-Entry from Eyecatchers #3. Ran well down to 6 furlongs at Newcastle in the meantime, followed up here with a strong effort off lowered mark.

Remains of interest over 6 furlongs, especially if the handicapper leaves him on a 55 OR. has entries over 7f next week. Should be competitive again but I still believe the trip is most likely to far as he will exert too much energy going hard from the front, or else, pulling hard if restraint (despite is sole career win over the trip).

Race Replay

Huberts Dream
21/01/23 – 12.27 Lingfield:

Quickly moved forward, showed good early speed and led enthusiastically. Poured it on from over 3f out and had the field on the stretch, still leading by a couple of lengths approaching the final furlong, before a dramatic collapse.

Did way too much too soon, but impressive how long he kept going strongly. First start as a 3yo, won three juvenile races on the trot prior. Still progressing as a May foal you would expect.

May be too short price, but clearly still capable to win and Handicapper hasn’t much opportunity to hike his mark for this 5/7 finish.

Race Replay

Rebel Redemption
21/03/23 – 6.30 Wolverhampton:

Rushed forward aggressively from the widest draw, got the lead but had plenty of rivals on his heels, some who would often go forward. Led into home straight, and in front to nearly the final furlong before getting tired.

Good run, off a small break, looks to find some form again. Worth to wait for any further reduction in his mark, and when some money in the market. Ran 10 months ago over this CD to 68 speed rating off a 69 mark when he won.

Race Replay

Saturday Selections: 21st January 2023

Two (betting) days in row a winner – Seesawing done it the hard way from the front, but had enough in hand to hold on.

The stiff 6 furlongs at Newcastle suited and his stamina for a bit further clearly helped as t looked a fast pace, especially as he wasn’t the sharpest out of the gate and run a race to the car park before the actual race on the polytrack!

Not quite the same story for Ustath, who led on the stands’ side but wasn’t able to hold on and finished 2nd eventually. A fair performance, but ultimately a bit disappointing that he wasn’t able to prevail in this poor contest as the top rated horse.

……..

3.45 Southwell: Classified Stakes, 6f

I said on Tuesday I wouldn’t give Paddy P another chance beyond the race that took place that evening…. well here we are. It’s truly the last chance my dear friend Paddy K.

He remains a maiden after 17 runs and call me stupid I still very strongly feel he is cherry ripe to win a race. Not much from what I said on Tuesday has changed; in fact, I feel only even stronger after a clearly unfortunate run that saw him finish a 1½ lengths beaten fifth.

It was an eye catching run – yet again – although one that was probably lost in the first furlong rather than in the penultimate one when Paddy P was badly short of room and saw his momentum stopped.

Despite a low draw, jockey PJ McDonald wasn’t decisive enough when the space in and around him tightened only moments after the gate opened. He didn’t push through the rapidly closing gap right in front of him, instead had to settle much further off pace than excepted and surely wanted.

Paddy K didn’t like it. He pulled for his head for the first half of the race. He travelled well into the home straight, though finding himself right beside the eventual winner approaching the two furlong marker.

Again a split-second decision went wrong, as Tathmeen, who went on to win the race, went to the outside while Paddy K stayed in the middle. One got a gap before it was too late, the other only when it was too late.

Eventually, a furlong from home, Paddy K got an opening, and it’s credit to him that he got going again. He didn’t have all that much left in the tank, after the early exertions, though.

He caught the eye a few times in the last weeks and months. Obviously a tricky sort, who needs things to fall his way. However, Tuesday represented only his second opportunity over 6 furlongs on the All-Weather – I feel it’s the ideal scenario for him; so over the same CD here in an even weaker race from a super draw with a favourable pace scenario he is a massive chance.

Ustath is here too. I do like him a little bit more over 6 furlongs these days. He’s a top chance from his low draw and not much competition for the lead. But he’s a short price and the fact he wasn’t able to win on Friday is probably a reflection of the fact that he is not much better than his current mark.

In this poor Classified Stakes race, running to that sort of rating may be good enough. I simply think Paddy K has a bit more scope over this CD and is a much better price. That says I do hope he moves forward to track Ustath. No excuse this time.

10pts win – Paddy K @ 7/1

Friday Selections: 20th January 2023

It was good to back a winner on Wednesday – Iva Feeling did it really well, as hoped, always nicely positioned from her low draw and she saw out every inch of the mile.

The rare trip over to Dundalk was a profitable one for me – finally positive news on the W front, the third winner for the month; yet, January is nothing to shout about on the P/L sheet.

Not so good was the blatant non-trier Northern Chancer. That’s disappointing to see if you back a horse. But then, that’s the nature of the game I willingly participate in. It’s bound to happen, another time in my favour.

Probably even more disappointing, a disappointment with my own decision making, was backing May Remain. I knew pre-race the pace scenario is against him; was blinded by the mantra chanting in my head “but he’s so well handicapped”.

Maybe he was, and perhaps he’s even more so next time, but the way the race was going to unfold was always going to kill off his chances. This is not hindsight bias because I knew it well enough beforehand, identified this issue and still put the money down. Wanted it too much.

It’s important to be honest with oneself. I can be and know: this was a poor bet. You can’t construct good bets. Only bad ones.

……..

12.50: Classified Stakes, 5f

I must give Ustath another chance. He drops down to the minimum trip, which shouldn’t be an issue, given he’s a multiple course and distance winner.

His most recent run in Handicap company over 6 furlongs earlier this month was disappointing, but the damage was done in the first half of the race, and he also was hanging in the straight.

I go back to the penultimate run, though, that was seriously eyecatching. That level of form, if he could run close to it, will see him hard to beat against poor opposition today.

Ideally he would have a low draw, given those low numbers on the far side are clearly preferred over the 5f at Southwell. But there looks to be little real pace on that side in this race, which means it will probably play out in the middle of the track, so the #9 gate is fine.

10pts win – Ustath @ 9/2

………..

5.15 Newcastle: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

It was an excellent comeback run for Seesawing last month at this venue when 6th after a long break. That form looks quite strong as it has started to work out well.

After an awkward start he moved forward to led toward stands’ side, somewhat isolated there. He seemingly travelled well, before hanging toward the middle of the track from 2 furlongs out; tiering late and losing a few places.

He was entitled to tire, was 330 days off and changed yards in the meantime as well. This run is noteworthy for the strengths of the form and the fact winner and runner-up came from well off the pace, which is no easy task at Newcastle; it gives the form substance, and shows Seesawing ran pretty well from the front.

He’s hopefully fitter today. In any case he’s down to a solid mark that offers opportunities as he’s still lightly raced enough, although also seeking a first career win.

He ran to a speed rating of 63 last year, that ties in nicely with his current mark (minus 3lb claimed by Mark Crehan) and he’s quite unexposed over this sort of trip, especially on the All-Weather and in Handicap company.

I would have liked to see him over 7 furlongs with turn, but the drop to 6 furlongs with a stiff finish as present at Newcastle could be an ideal scenario. There shouldn’t be much competition for the lead and I hope he goes forward, drops his head and will make most of an easy lead.

10pts win – Seesawing @ 5/1

Wednesday Selections: 18th January 2023

3.10 Dundalk: 4yo+ Handicap, 1m

An unusual one for me: I rarely bet Irish races, certainly not Dundalk. I struggle to trust the form, the races can be chaotic and these usually full fields throw up odd results.

But Iva Feeling has everything going for herself, stepping up to a mile as I hoped she would eventually, and is still a huge price on the exchanges (smarkets especially) – this looks such a superb opportunity tomorrow, everything speaks in her favour, nothing against backing a mare at Dundalk, other than backing a mare at Dundalk…

Anyway, the mare was a huge eyecatcher in early October over 7 furlongs at Dundalk:

That day she missed the break from the widest draw, was right away at massive disadvantage and travelled in rear, also quite wide. She but made excellent progress gradually entering the home straight to finish best from those off the pace.

She is still a quite lightly raced mare for her age with some scope on the sand, especially back over a mile. She is also on a pretty good handicap mark now as her last three runs are prove. She ran better than the bare form at Curragh in her final turf start; she caught the eye at Dundalk and Leopardstown in spring. Her most recent effort over 7 furlongs again was also quite strong.

She started much better, but kept fighting hard to keep up with the pace and not losing position. She ran strongly to the line, achieved a good speed rating and once again looked like she could appreciate a return to a mile.

She never had the chance to tackle a mile off such a low mark. She is drawn in #4, and has the assistance of a good 5lb claimer in the saddle. As much as these races can feel like a lottery sometimes, she looks ready to rock.

10pts win – Iva Feeling @ 6/1

…….

4.25 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

May Remain finally drops to 6 furlongs again. It was about time. The last number of runs over 7 furlongs he ran his heart out and performed with plenty of credit in the circumstances, but the trip was literally a furlong too far, as evidence when last seen once again last time out.

Hasn’t looked a winner waiting to happen since joining Ivan Furtado

Racingpost Spotlight

Obviously the RP analyst and myself have seen different races because for the last four or five runs I thought May Remain looks definitely a winner waiting to happen with the right trip.

He has fallen to a career lowest mark as a consequence. Off 54, over a more adequate trip – all of May Remain’s 6 career wins came over the minimum trip or 6 furlongs – he must be a huge runner in this field.

The one concern is the pace scenario. There could ne too much competition for early speed. His #6 draw isn’t ideal either. But not many appear well handicapped at all, and some may resist the urge to move forward this time.

It’s a gamble, to some extend hope, that he can find quickly a good spot tracking the likely leader in Jupiter Express. he may be caught wide, too, if things go badly.

But I am prepared to go risk, feel he is so well handicapped over this trip.

10pts win – May Remain @ 11/1

…….

7.15 Southwell: Classified Stakes, 6f

Shocking race. But longshot Northern Chancer caught the eye on his handicap debut and is stepping up to 6 furlongs, which should suit, being completely unexposed.

Last time at Newcastle over the minimum trip, he was a tiny step slow off the gate, before quickly moving forward against the stands’ side to lead. He was fastest over first half of the race, setting quite a strong gallop that compared well to other sprint races on the card, contested by older horses.

He appeared to be hanging throughout, though, which is a concern, and faded badly in the last two furlongs. perhaps he was just green and raw, and have learned from this run.

It was his comeback run since August and Handicap debut. He was gelded in the meantime. That may help, so will the step up in trip. I think he showed enough to suggest he can win a poor race. Also: his family tends to do well on All-Weather.

10pts win – Northern Chancer @ 11.5/1

Tuesday Selections: 17th January 2023

8.00 Southwell: Class 6 Handicap, 7f

Surprise Picture should have a cracking chance in this field from the #1 draw back over 7 furlongs. He dropped 6lb since his eye catching run over this trip at Wolverhampton in a hot class 4 contest in November.

That day he was hurried up to move forward from the start, even though heh looked a bit awkward. He tracked the pace, but didn’t received an economical run before finding himself short of room 1f from home when coming with a challenge.

He caught the eye earlier in November, too, when caught wide, and again received a seriously uneconomical ride, and he followed up with another strong run over this CD mid-December. I can forgive the last 6f effort from a wide draw.

He ran multiple times ran to speed ratings of 68+ last year; so down to am mark of 64, having shown good form lately, gives him a superb chance as he drops in grade as well.

10pts win – Surprise Picture @ 10/1

………

8.30 Southwell: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

I am delighted to see Paddy K dropping in trip. It was obvious the last number of times that he just finds a way to get beat if he races beyond this distance. He’s certainly a tricky character, and his winless record tells the tale.

But down in trip, in a race that should suit from a pace scenario, with a good draw, off a career lowest mark, he looks seriously overpriced.

He caught the eye a few times – when seen the last time and only time on the All-Weather over 6 furlongs at Newcastle in October when he fought gamely despite having a far from ideal race.

He ran really well prior to this on his final turf start of the 2022 campaign as well, and followed up with a number of solid runs on the sand over 7 furlongs, before running his possibly strongest race at the end of November at Kempton.

His form has tailed off subsequently, and that’s a concern. But he doesn’t stay a mile and 7 furlongs is a stretch too; especially when he pulls hard and goes hard from the front, as he did the last time. I think, with that in mind, those last two runs can be forgiven.

Now, you don’t want to make constantly excuses for a horse still without a career win after 16 starts. He is a seriously tricky horse. Can pull, can hang, can mess up at the gate, but clearly he also on a good mark, if he can run to anywhere near the level of form he showed toward the end of last year, now down in trip.

I won’t give him any more chances beyond this. 6 furlongs from a good aw with what could be an ideal scenario with Dapper Man possibly giving him a lead; he’ll never find a better chance to get his head in front, ever.

10pts win – Paddy K @ 15.5/1

Monday Selections: 16th January 2023

4.20 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Handicap, 9.5f

Tricky opener to Wolverhampton’s Monday card: every horse in the field attempts a new trip or is going to make their handicap debut – it’s a somewhat muddy picture.

At the same time I believe there is about three horses with a prime chance: those are Densetsu, Marmara Star and Smooth Ryder.

The two fillies look bound to improve for the trip on handicap debut, so should the gelding, especially back on the All-Weather. If I can, though, I try to oppose fillies and mares during the winter, hence I am more interested in Smooth Ryder.

This US bred son of Smooth Daddy cost quite a bit of money as a yearling and looks clearly bred to excel over this sort of trip on the sand. He’s not fulfilled the promise of his price tag, and has been gelded in November. However, he showed some promise, at least for what’s required on this lowly level, in his first two starts especially, in my view.

Those came on the All-Weather, incidentally. He was green and raw on debut, but made some solid progress in the home straight, after a rough start to his life as a racehorse.

His second run over the same CD – 7 furlongs at Chelmsford – was quite eye-catching, as he jumped quickly and led the field, setting solid fractions and travelling well into the home straight, before fading.

Those horses ahead of him are all much higher rated today – the winner even as high as 98, other in the 80’s.

Given the trip was certainly on the sharp side, Smooth Ryder ran seriously well that day. When last seen on heavy ground he clearly didn’t enjoy the going, and it’s a form best to ignore.

An opening mark of 61 looks more than fair, judged on the Chelmsford performance, especially as he is back on the sand, and goes up to 9.5 furlongs. Franny Norton is in the saddle, for this one ride only today.

Given the gelding has shown alertness from the gate I expect him to move forward from the #1 draw. There aren’t too many concerns about the trip on pedigree, so a positive ride shouldn’t compromise his chances.

A concern is the drift in the betting. But I reckon not many will truly have a grasp on what we get from this bunch today and I happily back him at what looks potentially generous odds.

10pts win – Smooth Ryder @ 6/1

Sunday Selections: 15th January 2023

A rather quiet week on the betting front: only the one selection on Monday; obviously that went as badly as it could. Nothing stood out worthy of an investment ever since.

That’s okay – the week produced a handful of intriguing eyecatchers that will be on the list in the next version (latest eyecatchers here).

One interest today: a small field, but good race this afternoon on the Southwell Tapeta.

……….

2.20 Southwell: Class 4 Handicap, 7f

Intriguing contest. Quite open, the betting tells the tale. But only one horse seems to be potentially well handicapped. That is Mogok Valley, who caught the eye when last seen.

That day at Kempton over 6 furlongs he enjoyed a solid start, travelled nicely amongst a group of horses tracking the pace, before things started to heat up from over two furlongs out.

His acceleration wasn’t rapid and he had to switch to his right at the 2 furlong pole, and again when approaching the final furlong marker, in order for clear run. He also appeared to be a tiny bit disorganised, and that cost vital momentum.

The winner, who produced a stunning turn of foot from well off the pace against the inside rail, was long gone before Mogok Valley eventually rattled home in good style for a fine runner-up performance.

This was his handicap debut, and rates as a strong follow-up performance from a recent comeback run over the minimum trip one month earlier.

He is still lightly raced – today is going to be his 6th career start only – and is completely unexposed over the new trip. Moving up to 7 furlongs seems a wise move, given how he ran last time and the pedigree is a solid guide as well: Zoffany’s stamina index is 9.4, while the dam, although a sprinter during her racing career, produced a 1m 5f winner already.

If Mogok Valley can improve for the trip he has a good chance to prove a win or two better than his current rating. He steps up in class, though and obviously has to show that he belongs here. He’s yet to run a speed rating that provides this sort of evidence.

The betting is a bit concerning as he’s drifting a bit this morning. In saying that, he’s pushed out to an acceptable price for me now. I am sweet on him, backing the potential improvement after an eye-catching handicap debut last time out.

10pts win – Mogok Valley @ 3/1

Monday Selections: 9th January 2023

5.30 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Apprentice Handicap, 7f

I’ve got three running from the latest Eyecatcher list. Not ideal. Thankfully I’ve got clear conditions set out for Jupiter Express and Desert Dream, and they aren’t met here.

They should still be fancied runners. In contrast, few in this field I regard as serious contenders. But knowing this race isn’t ideal for either Jupiter Express nor Desert Dream means they aren’t value for the win, in my view.

That leaves Healing Power. This looks a perfect opportunity for the 7-year-old gelding, in comparison. Let’s first review his most recent effort, that got him an entry on the eyecatchers:

Three weeks ago at Lingfield, he lead from the front, albeit pestered by a rival throughout. He set a good, even pace throughout. He was still leading at the final furlong marker, before headed over half a furlong from home by the eventual winner and runner-up, who came from off the pace. He managed to hold on for third eventually.

I believe this is strong form – on an individual level, because speed ratings confirmed an excellent figure of 59; form wise – because winner and second ran to higher than- or equal speed figures to their handicap mark. The winner went back-to-back and followed up with another strong 2nd place afterwards again.

The handicapper has been surprisingly friendly, having dropped Healing Power by 2lb for this strong performance, that at very least was very much in line with his then current rating, actually.

Off 62, in the right race, Healing Power will be handicapped to win in my view. He ran to 64 and 65 speed ratings within the last half year over 7 furlongs on the All-Weather, and this lto effort confirms his excellent current form.

Is this the right race? Yes and no. It’s not because this is Wolverhampton, Tapeta. His best sand performances all came at either Lingfield or Chelmsford on the polytrack. He also has to overcome a wider than ideal draw in #7. The Furtado yard has a poor spell right now, is 0/16 in the last fortnight.

But the positives outweigh all the negatives. He only raced three times on the Tapeta, was placed once in a hot class 5 contest, with the other two runs came over 6 furlongs and a mile, neither an ideal trip, off higher marks as well.

In class 6 over 7 furlongs he’s 1/5 and placed in 3 more, all those runs with Elle-May Croot in the saddle, who is on board here once again, and who maintains her 7lb claim even in this Apprentice race – with that she has a positive weight advantage to some other apprentices in this field, if they would meet in an ordinary Handicap, in fact.

The draw isn’t ideal, yes; thankfully Healing Power is a quick starter and there isn’t too many horses who are likely to charge forward in this field. The only one is Jupiter Express, who is likely to pull for his head over this trip, but at the same time will give Healing Express a nice focus point, something like a lead horse, who will be setting a fast pace that will suit him help to settle, as otherwise he’s known to pull early, as well.

The yard ran a bit better than the bare form suggest. In the last week 3/6 were placed, while the average SP was in the range of 23/1 for all runners in the last 14 days. Context is key, hence, if talking about the form of a yard.

In summary, Healing Power should have a cracking chance and perhaps should be considered the favourite to win the race, in my view.

The prices on the exchanges are total bonkers for the moment (and you can get on a proper stake; there is even bigger available, but I got the price I got). Of course, you never know in these races. There might be a reason for that. But the price doesn’t put me off at all; I doubt at this stage anybody knows who’s going to be on a going day here.

10pts win – Healing Power @ 10/1

All-Weather Eyecatchers #5

A list of horses that caught my eye during the recent weeks of racing on the All-Weather.

Lord Paramount
20/12/22 – 3.55 Southwell:

Moved across from wide draw enthusiastically, probably wasted too much energy fighting for his head early on. Tracked pace four lengths off, going well entering home straight. Looked awkward, then hanging badly from 2 furlongs out. Empty in closing stages.

Won well lto over 7f in Novice company. Would be interesting down in trip, too. Dam did her best over minimum trip. He ran to a 74 speed rating in second career start. Hence opening mark could underestimate him.

Tricky sort. Shown tendency to hang. Still lightly raced and well backed on every occasion. Could be a good deal better than OR 70 if he can get his act together.

Race Replay

The Cola Kid
20/12/22 – 4.30 Southwell:

Moved forward to grab the lead, did a lot in the first three furlongs. Unable to quicken in the home straight, still a solid run, in line with last two performances.

Clearly best over 6 furlongs. Was not expected the last number of times. Comes down to excellent mark. Ran to higher speed ratings last year, and looks capable if on a going day, ideally 6f with a good draw.

Race Replay

Ustath
20/12/22 – 5.00 Southwell:

Off to a quick start, led early on, then as part of duo many lengths ahead of field before fading very badly.

Some return to form, as the enthusiasm for racing is still there. One that’s hard to catch. Comes down to solid mark again. Ran 3x times to speed ratings 54+ last year.

Ran okay nto, but did too much too soon after not starting the sharpest. Ideally would like to see a couple pounds lower in the mark (<62) before getting involved over 6f .

Race Replay

Desert Dream
21/12/22 – 6.30 Wolverhampton:

Was going well for the entire race toward the inside rail, possibly coming with a winning move before badly short of room over 1f out. Got going again. Excellent run.

Consistent 9yo, in the grip of the handicapper right now; still can win, but best speed rating in last half year was only 50. Want to see him down to this handicap mark, too, before getting involved, then over 7 furlongs.

Race Replay

Healing Power
22/12/22 – 11.50 Lingfield:

Lead from the front, albeit pestered by rival throughout. Set good, strong pace early on. Still leading at final furlong, before headed over half a furlong from home. Still managed to hold on for third. Should be strong form, ran to 59 speed rating.

Lenient handicapper dropped him another 2lb. Will be really competitive in similar race over 7f off. Ran tp 64 and 65 speed rating within last half year over this C&D.

Race Replay

O Twenty Boy
22/12/22 – 5.00 Southwell:

Bit outpaced at back of the field on stands’ side from over 2f out. Made nice progress in the final furlong under easy hands and heels, though.

Probably better over 6f, especially now as an 8yo. Ran well a number of times this year, including 4 performances achieving speed ratings of 60+.

Already down to a mark of 60. any further reduction will be interesting, in particular once he goes up in trip again.

Race Replay

Eagle Eyed Freddie
22/12/22 – 6.30 Southwell:

Uncontested lead by a couple of lengths. Set blistering pace, especially in the middle part. Still a few lengths ahead over 1 furlong out but tired rapidly. Huge run, speed rating 58.

Consistent front-runner. NTO performance not so good, should help to get some respite from the handicapper. Anything below OR 55 will be intriguing over a mile with a good draw and not much competition for the lead. A drop to 7f would be incredibly intriguing, too.

Race Replay

Shabs
22/12/22 – 7.00 Southwell:

Tracked pace, travelled much the strongest over 2 furlongs out but found little once again. Same story as lto when he travelled like a winner just to fade badly.

Knocked on the door multiple times but it’s obvious he doesn’t truly stays a mile. Pedigree points toward 6 furlongs, in fact. Will only back him if he drops to 7 furlongs. Then should be a cracking chance, ideally with a good draw. He’s not the sharpest starter.

Ran four times to 50+ speed ratings in the last twelve months, to 51 lto; on a mark of 51 right now, huge chance in the right race.

Race Replay

Proclivity
27/12/22 – 4.30 Wolverhampton:

Restrained at the back of the field travelling seriously well. Stuck in traffic and no chance until late when finishing third under hands and heels.

NTO run over 6f can be ignored as well. Wide draw, travelling on the outside keenly and big drifter on the day. Clearly better than this, and more likely in good nick as well as on a good mark. ideally drops down to 5f as best performances came over minimum trip.

Ran three times to speed ratings 60+ on turf; yet to replicate on the All-Weather. But this performance suggests he’s able to win if the handbrake is off. Has shown ability to move forward in the past as well.

Race Replay

Shark Two One
28/12/22 – 6.25 Newcastle:

Pushing pace on far side, they went a serious pace. Was still right there at the final furlong marker before getting desperately tired. Managed to hold on for 4th place.

Was capable to finish fine runner-up off 80 and running to a 73 speed rating last April. Never been in the same form again, but this was a return to some form, racing off a career lowest mark. Deserves another chance over 6f to see whether he can follow-up.

Race Replay

Billy Dylan
30/12/22 – 5.00 Wolverhampton:

Moved quickly forward and led as part of duo setting good pace. Still ahead as they turned for home before tiring quite badly. Strong race with winner went back-to-back and runner-up in form.

Off small break. Could be bang on next time out, possibly another reduction in his mark. Ideally drops down into 0-50; ran largely in better races this year.

Consistent front-runner over this course and distance. With lower mark and possibly easier race should have every opportunity to go close soon.

Race Replay

Big Bard
31/12/22 – 3.15 Lingfield:

Make good use of #1 gate and moved forward, led the field going solid clip, seemingly really enjoying himself for majority of the race. Tired from 1.5f out, though.

Ran to speed ratings 59 and 60 since September, although on turf, but career best AW SR is 59. Will be on a pretty fair mark soon. Ideally want to see him drop below 60 to become really interested.

He was beaten only by a neck off 60 running to 60 speed rating at Windsor in October with first time headgear (CP); I believe he’s as good on the All-Weather; watch out for application of blinkers potentially and/or drop into 0-60.

Race Replay

Fine Wine
01/01/2023 – 4.56 Southwell:

Quickly out of the gates and led as part of trio by a number of lengths, going a seriously hard pace. Tired badly from over a furlong out and hung to his left, but did best of front-runners holding on for 2nd.

Huge run. Went back to back prior. High mark now, may find it tough in Handicaps. More interesting on Stakes races over minimum trip. kept improving with age and this run confirms he’s as good as his current rating.

Race Replay

Modular Magic
01/01/2023 – 5.26 Southwell:

Led the field, although closely followed. Challenged from two furlongs out, eventually got behind, but stuck to it impressively in the closing stages.

Off a small break, had to carry big weight down in class. Hot race for class 5, though. Should find easier opportunities. On a good mark judged on turf performances in 2022.

Race Replay

Hit Mac
02/01/2023 – 1.53 Lingfield:

Travelled in rear on the outside off the rail, possibly wider than ideal. Moved toward the inside over 2 furlongs out, short of room and momentum stopped around the home bend. Possibly cost him the race.

Unlucky sort. Ran really well but found trouble multiple times over the last weeks. Ran consistently strong speed ratings in line with his mark of 55, 58 and 59.

Put up 2lb in the meantime. Can race more forward than here. Think he is still a win ahead with a clear run, ideally over 6 furlongs.

Race Replay

Smooth Red
02/01/2023 – 5.40 Newcastle:

Got significantly outpaced from halfway on, lost ground, before running on rather well in the final furlong.

Handicap debut off a break and freshly gelded, showed nothing in three starts prior. Should improve, especially up in trip. Looks to be crying out for a return to 6 furlongs. Could be interesting then.

Race Replay

Northern Chancer
02/01/2023 – 5.40 Newcastle:

A tiny step slow off the gate, before quickly moving forward against stands’ side. Led and was fastest over first half of the race but appeared to be hanging throughout. Faded badly in the last two furlongs.

Comeback run and Handicap debut. On a basement mark. Showed enough to suggest he can win a poor race. Family tends to do well on All-Weather. Sire has tremendous record over 5f at Newcastle in Handicaps.

May need to step up tp 6f to be seen to best effect. Headgear possibly needed. Wouldn’t rule out minimum trip with HG applied.

Race Replay

Thomas Equinas
03/01/23 – 2.00 Chelmsford:

Slowly away, quickly pushed forward to bulldoze his way to the front after one furlong. Set what looked a hot pace, and resemble more like an extended 5 furlong sprint, as nobody wanted to really go ahead until he grabbed the lead.

Emptied quickly entering the home straight when put under pressure by dedicated 5f sprinter from 3 furlongs out. Winner eventually came from well off the pace.

Still a maiden after 9 runs, but showed plenty of promise, especially two runs back over this CD when he ran off 57 to speed rating 54. Should get bit more help from handicapper now. Usually moves forward.

Race Replay

Jupiter Express
03/01/23 – 2.00 Chelmsford:

Was quickly out of the gate and briefly led, before rivals took over. Keen in the first half of the race. Didn’t have the pace to match winner and third but ran on well for a 59 speed rating n only his second start on the sand.

Ran an interesting race lto over 5f on debut for the new yard also, then at Wolverhampton after a break. Is still a maiden but knocked on the door a few times and achieved some solid speed ratings.

Want to see him drop below a mark of 60 and race over 6f. Not interested in next weeks 7f entry. Will likely pull too hard.

Race Replay

Another Angel
04/01/23 – 2.50 Newcastle:

Good, quick start, led the field by a couple of lengths setting a seemingly hot pace. Travelled well but eventually caught, headed and quickly beaten over one furlong out.

Doesn’t truly stay beyond the minimum trip (0/13 over 6f). Can be upgraded here and ran better than bare form lto as well. Not getting younger but still capable of running well. Especially interesting down to 5f with any additional help from the handicapper.

Race Replay

Kraken Power
04/01/23 – 3.20 Newcastle:

Travelled smoothly tracking the pace. In a good position over 2 furlongs out, but also in a pocket with no way to really get out. Jockey kept the gelding restraint, pulling back to the rear of the field approaching the final furlong in order to find space. Finished strongly, under hands and heels.

Familiar story. Mostly a similar story to a myriad of previous runs. Obviously ready to win, but needs to have absolutely everything to go right.

Won’t back him on the All-Weather unless he finds a way to drop below a mark of 50. He should be too well handicapped to lose, unless he run backwards. Otherwise wait until turf season, with better opportunities more suitable to his style.

Race Replay

Mogok Valley
04/01/23 – 7.00 Kempton:

Good start, travelled nicely amongst group of horses up with the pace. had to switch 2f out, and again over 1f out in order for clear run, looked bit disorganised, too, lost momentum. Ran on really well.

Handicap debut. Strong follow-up performance from recent comeback over 5f last month. Looks on fair mark but can improve for step up to 7f. Sire stamina index of 9.4, dam, although a sprinter during her racing career, produced 1m 5f winner already.

The Nail Gunner
05/01/23 – 2.15 Wolverhampton:

Grabbed the lead, set solid pace. Was up there for a long time and still fought gamely even after headed in the final furlong. This is strong form, winner and 3rd came from off the pace, and were on going days.

7f is too far, especially off current mark. Is rated right to his best. Ran 64 speed rating over 6f in July. Will be competitive, nonetheless, particularly with a good draw and if not much pace to compete against.

I want him down to 6f again and dropping by a couple of pounds. May need a few runs to get there.

Race Replay

Friends Together
06/01/23 – 6.15 Southwell:

Brilliant start, super quick out of the gates and showed solid early speed, settled well tracking the pace and kicked nicely in the home straight. Tired late.

Was most likely not run on merit in all starts prior. Clearly capable off current mark. April foal with a bit of scope, especially going up to a mile interesting.

Race Replay

Praise Of Shadow
06/01/23 – 8.15 Southwell:

Caught three deep on the outside, close up with the pace from his wide draw. Travelled well into home straight, kept fighting, but slightly hampered in tight race for gaps, before eased; ran home easily.

Put up strong speed rating when winning over CD lto. In line with similar speed ratings in when running really well in defeat. Clearly in superb form.

Possibly a bit too high in the ratings to consider really well handicapped. Drop a couple of pounds and 6f with race to dominate will see him have a big chance once again, though.

Race Replay

Cherryhawk
07/01/23 – 12.35 Lingfield:

Settled in rear, always travelling wide. Switched inside for challenge in the home straight. Ran on nicely, slightly short of room 1f out before going again.

Wasn’t expected in three runs. Should get a low opening mark. Looks one I am only interested if stepping up to 10f. On pedigree a fair possibly, and could unlock improvement. I liked the way she finished and responded late to the jockeys urgings.

Race Replay

Wake Up Harry
07/01/23 – 1.10 Lingfield:

Restrained, travelling smoothly well off the pace. Still going well when turning for home wider than ideal, before unleashing a fine challenge in the home straight. Not quite the speed to get to leaders and came from too far back.

Hasn’t been racing over the right trip the last two runs. Can forgive comeback run after long break too. Clear sign of hitting some form again here, will be interesting if up to a mile.

I’d also be seriously keen to see him up to 10 furlongs again. The two previous tries can be forgiven for various reasons. If he’s turned out in the not too distinct future over 1m-10f he should be a huge runner.

Race Replay

Sun King
07/01/23 – 8.00 Kempton:

Pushed after the start to get into position, travelled a few lengths off pace tracking it throughout, still going okay turning for home, bit flat footed as pace suddenly increased over 2f out; switched inside and ran on well, not knocked about.

Comeback run since Royal Ascot in June, in the meantime gelded and sold out of AOB for GBP120k and now trained in the UK.

Still open to improvement. Well bred and full-brother to some smart mares. Took him a few start to get off the mark. But some strong performances in defeat.

Second in a maiden behind subsequent Futurity runner-up Sissoko. Caught eye at Royal Ascot in hot Golden Gates Stakes when finishing well from the rear of the field over 10 furlongs. Races off the same mark currently. Will improve for the run. A strongly run mile needed, or else a step up to 10 furlongs.

Race Replay

Kenilworth Selections: King’s Plate Day 2023

A brilliant day of racing at Kenilworth today: two competitive Grade 2’s, and two hot Grade 1 contests, including the King’s Plate. Christophe Soumillon is also here, back in the saddle for the first time since THE incident.

We will see the mouthwatering clash of wonder mare Captain’s Ransom going against the up an coming 3-year-old Make It Snappy, with Durban July winner Sparkling Water thrown in for good measure in the Grade 1 Paddock Stakes.

Obviously the Queen’s Plate and the return of Charles Dickens is what everyone wants to see. I am desperately exciting to find out whether this colt is the superstar he promises to be.

………..

2.10 – Grade 1 King’s Plate, 1 mile

The race everyone has been waiting for: superstar 3-year-old colt Charles Dickens takes on the best of South Africa’s older horses to find whether he truly is the real deal, the best in a long time, perhaps ever, as he promised to be in his six most scintillating career runs to date.

Before we get to crown Charles Dickens the king – how fitting for the new name of race after the death of the British queen – it must be said this years King’s Plate is packed with superstar older horses. This won’t be a walk in the park.

The Runners:

Jet Dark: won this race the last two years in a row. The best miler/middle-distance horse in South Africa at the moment. Comes here fresher than others not having seen since winning a Grade 3 in early November.

Looked as good as ever there, after winning two Grade 1’s last year and ran a huge race in the Durban July as runner-up over a trip that stretched his stamina to the limits. Would be hot favourite without Charles Dickens in the race.

Kommetdieding – commonly known as the “people’s horse”. The 2021 Durban July winner, and last years Met winner. Didn’t win again since last January’s Met success, but often fought heroically in defeat.

Had a lovely prep run in the Green Point Stakes. Will need this to run at a red hot pace. He’s better over further, could be found out for speed today.

Golden Ducat – won in 2020 the Cape Derby and Champion Cup. Usually competitive but probably just below top level these days, especially over a mile. Solid prep run in the Green Point, though.

Linebacker – Memories of his spectacular 3-year-old season fading fast. In 2021 he won the Guineas, Cape Derby and Daily News. Bit unlucky in the Durban July the last two years, but certainly better over 10 furlongs than a mile against the very best.

Trip Of Fortune – won three of his last four and seems still progressing. Took his form to new heights when landing the slowly run Green Point Stakes last time out, a first success over a mile. Will need it to be a dawdle again to feature.

Also running are last years Guineas winner Zapatillas, who only has been seen once since that May victory. Will find this too hot, most likely. Al Muthana makes more appeal as a place chance if he could run anywhere near last June’s G1 Gold Challenge Cup winning form. Hard to make a case for Russian Rock and Speed Machine.

Charles Dickens:

Unbeaten in six starts, he quickly has become the hottest equine property South African racing has seen in a long time. He’s already compared to the legendary Variety Club, and many think as good, if not potentially better, than the monster that was Horse Chestnut.

You can see why: from 5 furlongs to a mile Charles Dickens managed to win. Bar a slightly scary debut over the minimum trip, when he was still seriously green, he been the most impressive horse ever since.

Certainly since landing the Grade 3 Cape Classic on the bridle he looked to be something special. Last month the son of Trippi stepped up to a mile and up into Grade 1 company in the Cape Guineas. He had to answer two questions: does he stay the trip, and can he prove against the best 3-year-old colts?

He very much did. Even though he was a bit keen early on, he travelled sweetly well off the pace, was covered up until two furlongs from home, before pulled out wide.

What happened then was simply sensational. He destroyed his rivals with a devastating turn of foot to win handsomely by 4¼; but he could have won by the lengths of the straight if ridden out.

Charles Dickens looks a freak. He’s, no doubt the best colt I have seen in a very long time. Obviously I love a good colt from South Africa, have a soft spot for the racing there. This lad is special.

Yes, he’s got to prove it today. He takes on the very best. Jet Dark is a brilliant horse. If he can beaten him, then all the hype will be more than warranted.

I believe with the weight allowance Charles Dickens has in his favour today and the level of performances he has shown so far, he’s nearly unbeatable today. I don’t say this lightly.

Backing him at close to 1/2 isn’t a serious bet, I must say. It’s simply one I want to do because I want to be on this horse. It’s pure emotion…. Fly Charles Dickens…. fly.

10pts win – Charles Dickens @ 1.55

……..

1.00 – G2 Anthonij Rupert Wyne Premier Trophy, 9f

13 go to post. This is super competitive. Not my type of race. There a few that caught the eye in their latest run, and there is, of course, star veteran Do It Again. Can he do it again? He sets the standard, still, but is an 8-year-old now.

Last years Cape Derby win Pomp And Power is probably the most talented individual, though, his behavioural issues are well documented. he ran poorly the last two, and the words from the yard that some of the fire isn’t quite there as it used to, is a concern.

On form Universal is the one to beat. Won over this course and distance in grade 3 company last year, and improved nicely for a tame comeback run when last seen an excellent runner-up in the Grade Green Point Stakes. He’s likely to get an ideal trip. Not much not to like, except that he rarely finishes strong, and could be vulnerable to a fast finisher.

That could be the one I am seriously sweet on: Airways Law. I backed him as a longshot in the Durban July last summer, when he came into South Africa’s Premier race as an unproven, yet exciting improver.

He ran a massive race that day, finishing 6th from off the pace, making fantastic progress in the final 3 furlongs. He ran the 4th fastest split for final 400m, only 0.2s slower than fastest finisher, class act Jet Dark, despite getting quite tiered in the the last 100 yards.

Sure, the low weight helped, but he ran on well against a pace bias, and it showed he can mix it with the best horses.

Leading up to the July he won three on the bounce, mainly on the All-Weather. Doing so in the most exciting style thanks to a devastating turn of foot. He is a strong traveller, who can change gear in an instant. In 7 of his 10 career runs did he clock the fastest final 400m splits.

Still quit unexposed on turf, this will only be his fifth start on grass, although, he’s already a Grade 3 winner on the surface over the 9f trip.

After the July he got a nice break, returned in December in a Grade 2 Handicap over this CD. He made a bit of late headway, but it was clear the run was badly needed.

He should strip much fitter and one would think connections have eyed this race. Jockey Gareth Wright is back in the saddle too – knows this horse really well from riding all five wins.

One could argue Airways Law has a bit to find with the very best here on the weights. However, I think there is good chance he can still improve a bit. He’s a super price to find out whether he’s a good one in this class.

10pts win – Airways Law @ 14/1

……….

1.35 – Grade 1 Paddock Stakes, 9f

Superstar filly Captain’s Ransom is a short price favourite to land her 14th career victory in then 17 starts. An outstanding record, especially against her own sex she is tough to beat. She also loves Kenilworth.

But 9 furlongs is close to her stamina limit. She has won this race last year, but her very best comes over shorter and this looks a strong renewal. In her favour maybe the lack of pace. At prices I am happy to take her on, as she isn’t getting younger, either.

Sparkling Water the reigning Durban July champion hasn’t been quite that good in two runs since, and this trip is on the sharp side for her.

More appeal makes 5-year-old Marina. She is 4 from 7 over this course and distance and had a lovely prep. She is a big runner.

She was beaten back in November, however, in the Summer Bowl by rapidly improving 3-year-old filly Make It Snappy. There is 4.5kg turnaround in the weights, but the younger rival only races for the fifth time today and steps up in trip to 1.900m for the first time.

When last seen, she won the Fillies’ Guineas in fine style, which followed her Summer Bowl victory. She sees out a mile really well and as a daughter of Dynasty should have the required stamina for the additional furlong.

Her dam’s only other offspring won over 9 furlongs as well, so I don’t see an issue with the trip, at all. Her prominent racing style should be an advantage in a race where not many want to move forward, I reckon.

She can kick nicely from the front, as seen in the Bowl, where she ran the final 400m the fastest, despite having made all.

Of course she has to prove that she truly belongs here, now taking on the best older fillies. However, she is improving all the time, is nicely bred for the job, and with the WFA allowance could be hard to beat I believe. I’d make her a 2/1 shot in this field.

10pts win – Make It Snappy @ 7/2

……..

Picture Copyright: CANDIESE LENFERNA

Horse Racing Around The Globe

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