Symbolic Star can improve big time!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thanks AP!

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

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

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

Professor can bounce back at Haydock

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

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

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

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

Preview – President’s Champions Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday Night at Dundalk: Report + Photos

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

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

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

Postulation
Postulation

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

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

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

Kilimanjaro
Kilimanjaro

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

Iron Major
Iron Major

Dundalk All-Weather

Iron Major’s a huge price

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I’ll be on my way to Dundalk today – for their weekly Friday night meeting. It’s far from a high class card, but I really like the track. A fair All-Weather surface, excellent facilities and a relaxed atmosphere. That’s all I need to be happy.

The feature on the card is the 7.35 Irish Stallion Farms E.B.F. Race for three year olds. A really good race one has to stay – the stand-out race by a mile this evening. There are a couple of promising individuals in the line-up, none less than the favourite Queen Nefertiti. She made a big impression when last seen at Leopardstown. O’Brien’s colt The Happy Prince won a maiden recently, while looking still very green. He’s a nice prospect, but that can be said about each and every runner. Great race!

Betting wise, I’ve serious interest only in one race – the 7.05 Handicap over seven furlongs. It looks open enough but I do feel veteran Iron Major is hugely overpriced at 10/1 – if he is fit on his seasonal debut. He’s down to a very low mark now, and has additional assistance of a 10lb claimer. Without coming close to win in his last eight starts, he performed with credit of much higher marks nonetheless.

In this modest field he is one who is proven over course and distance and has a very good chance to go close in my mind. That says only if he is fit enough for his first start in 2015. Concern is that his trainer hasn’t hit any sort of form yet. But I’m prepared to take the risk as Iron Major is more like a 5/1 chance in this field for me.

Iron Major @ 10/1 Paddy Power – 5pts win

Preview – Sandown Mile

Bow Creek

I love milers. Why? It’s simple: 1 mile races are the perfect combination of speed and stamina. Now, what does this say? I’m feeling quite excited about the Sandown Mile on Friday afternoon. My all-time favourite miler Paco Boy won this race twice during his illustrious career. So this race really has a special place in my heart.

That says we have a cracking renewal on our hands! Some smart, progressive milers are going to post. There might be bigger targets on their radar further down the line, but this is a good starting point. A real pointer in fact!

The jury is out on Shifting Power in my mind. He ran a cracker in last years 2.000 Guineas and backed it up with a fine second in the Irish equivalent behind Kingman. He ran another cracker in defeat in the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat that summer. But was subsequently a huge disappointment n lesser grade when last season in 2014.

His trainer feels he’s a Group 1 winner in the making. The form tells so, to an extend. I always thought he lacks the extra bit of speed required at the highest level, though. Now, the Sandown Mile is a Group 2 and Shifting Power entitled to be favourite. Particularly since he is in receive of weight from other main rivals. But his price is nothing more than fair. At 11/4 there are better alternatives.

The Irish trained Custom Cut really made gigantic progress last year. He won a couple of races, including the Group 2 Joel Stakes at Newmarket. I expect him to be ready for the race and a bold bid is expected. I’m just slightly worried that he certainly needs the lead to be seen at his best. However he may be challenged here, or at least won’t have it all that easy from the front with horses chasing him.

Here Comes When won two Group 2’s toward the end of last season. He’s been clearly progressive and an exciting prospect. However the quick ground certainly counts against him at Sandown. He seems sure to be seen to best effect with cut in the ground. For that simple reason he looks opposable to me.

By far the most exciting individual in this field is Bow Creek. Now trained by Charlie Appleby, he was a two times Group 2 winner last season for Mark Johnston. He landed the Celebration Mile at Goodwood from the front, despite hanging badly in the closing stages. He followed up with a gutsy success on Irish Champions Weekend.

Cheek-pieces fitted for the first time should help him to stay focused in the closing stages, as sometimes things seem to distract him and he can hang. No doubt he has bigger targets this year and will come on for the run, but he’ll love the fast ground and the track should suit as well. He looks a big price to me.

The rest of the field has allot to find against the main contenders. Baltic Knight went close to beat Custom Cut in a Listed event last year, but hasn’t been in any sort of form similar to that when seen recently. Fast conditions may not be quite suitable for Breton Rock and Master Carpenter. Top Notch Tonto would not be out of it if he could run to something like his performance in the Group 2 Boomerang Mile. But it’s not easy to see to be honest.

Verdict: A cracking renewal with some rally exciting horses in the line-up… you can’t ask for more. That says the penalties for last seasons successes make it an even more intriguing contest, in that sense that Shifting Power has no excuses receiving 5lb from his main rivals. However betting wise I’m sweet on Bow Creek. He has tons of potential plus track, trip, ground will suit perfectly.

2.30 Sandown: Bet365 Mile (Group 2)
Bow Creek @ 4/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win

Horse Racing Around The Globe

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