Empress Ali Will Relish Chester Conditions

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That was some exciting start to Chester yesterday! We saw exciting finishes and potentially even the Epsom Oaks winner… the Chester Cup though didn’t went the same way as last year. It was a strong staying performance from improving Trip To Paris who landed Ed Dunlop the big race. Talks about a stint at the Melbourne Cup are obviously on the cards now for this exciting stayer.

In the very same race, my selection John Reel ran an almighty race, didn’t he? Unfortunately the tank was empty 200y too early and he faded from first into fifth in the end. Nonetheless great ride by Kirby, gave the horse every chance and I couldn’t be happier with it, despite the e/w bet not quite getting in.

The Cheshire Oaks went to Aiden O’Brien once again. Diamondsandrubies was a brilliant winner. My selection Entertainment ran a really good race there as the runner-up. Blithe Spirit was the huge disappointment. No excuses for her. I still think she was the best handicapped in the race but she lost it right at the start.

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2.10 Chester: Handicap (Class 2, 10f)

With the weather playing havoc this seems to be a widen open race. Last years winner Tres Coronas must clearly enter the calculations despite a 4lb higher mark today. He’ll handle the ground and loves it here. You surely will need to get the trip and like it soft, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Brazilian import Energia Fox going close today too. On the other hand she looks not particularly well handicapped, that’s why I won’t back her despite very generous odds on offer.

The favourite Collaboration has no issues with rain softened ground either, but I can’t have him here after a 14lb hike in the mark for an – albeit impressive – recent success at Epsom. This is much more demanding today, and despite his progressive profile I just struggle to see any value in odds of 9/4.

Last years runner-up Sennockian Star gives it another go here as well. He looks a mad price at 16/1 in my eyes. Obviously he would have to improve dramatically from what he has shown so far this season. On turf he was well beaten in his last couple of starts and maybe he’s just lost it.

But a return to this track may well rejuvenate him. There is also the small matter of his dramatically low looking handicap mark. He finished runner-up here off 101 last May, won at Glorious Goodwood of the same mark subsequently but is now down to 95! He handles soft ground as well and has a good draw today. At big odds I’m rather on than against him.

Sennockian Star @ 16/1 Paddy Power – 5pts win

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5.25 Chester: Handicap (Class 3; 10f)

Fahey’s Modernism seems to be on a good mark judged on his All-Weather form but only one win on turf puts me off, as well as his non-existent record with cut in the ground. The Character has won a CD maiden last year on good to soft and could be well treated off his current mark if he would find back to that sort of form. Ardmay has a CD success in similar conditions to his name and judged on his very best he may be still capable of better off his current mark.

The one I feel is really overpriced though is the filly Empress Ali. It is a slight risk to trust her on her seasonal reappearance and there is the question if she has trained on from three to four, but that is well reflected in the price, given her progressive profile last year, her positive course record, preference for cut in the ground and possible tactical advantage today. She won a CD Handicap of a mark of 82 following up on some fine performances throughout the summer. Probably a bit over the boil in her final start, still she wasn’t disgraced in a hot race at York.

Currently rated 86, there is fair chance that she has still more to offer, particularly with conditions likely to play to her strengths. She has good draw today which will ensure that she can be ridden handily, or possible even try to make all. She looks versatile in that regard but surly will be in a good tactical position today. All the rain in recent 24h has clearly enhanced her chances too. At 7/1 she looks overpriced in this field.

Empress Ali @ 7/1 William Hill – 5pts win

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Preview: Cheshire Oaks

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2.40 Chester: Cheshire Oaks (Listed)

If Aiden O’Brien sends a horse over to Chester you have to take notice. His filly Diamondsandrubies  has already some good form in the book this year. Her recent third in a Navan Listed event gives her a fine chance today. She showed signs of greenness but very likely has learned plenty that day. Out of a Sadler’s Wells mare you would imagine her too stay the new trip here. On the other hand, the 2/1 odds on offer seem skinny enough.

The one horse I find most intriguing here is the Godolphin runner Entertainment. She has an Okas entry and is related to some pretty good horses, which is no surprise given that this Halling filly is well bred. She got off the mark in a 1m Chelmsford maiden last month when she attempted to make all. She was very green throughout the race, had problems turning properly around the bends but held on gamely in a tight finish.

I would expect here to come on for this run in terms of fitness and experience. The ever turning Chester track may help her to keep her mind occupied throughout the race. Most interesting factors are the new trip and ground. She didn’t look the speediest at Chelmsford but now over 1m 3f one would think this is much more her trip given her pedigree.

The softish conditions are unlikely to cause problems. She acted on soft in maiden company last year and her sire was a good soft ground performer. The deep Chelmsford surface is another indication that slow turf may not be an issue anyway.

She steps up markedly in class of course. It remains to be seen wheather she is good enough. But there is a very good chance that she can improve a good bit from what she has shown so far and I feel this filly is a very big price in this field.

Entertainment @ 14/1 Coral – 5pts win

Blithe Spirit is bound to improve

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

3.10 Chester: Handicap (Class 2, 5f)

A very competitive Sprint Handicap that should be fast and furious. Plenty of pace in it and the rain softened ground will make it a tough finish. One of those who’ll be bang there is B Fifty Two. He’s two from two at Chester, goes well on softish ground, can win over five as well as six furlongs and has the benefit of a good draw. Slight downside is the current handicap mark. It looks still a bit high. He won off 96 here over 6f last season but couldn’t confirm this performance in subsequent starts.

The only filly in the race, Blithe Spirit, must have a huge chance. She is very speedy but can win over six furlongs too. She loves it soft and she has been successful in three from six outings at Chester. She is only 3lb higher than when winning at this meeting last year and her performance on her seasonal reappearance must rate a strong piece of form. She was only beaten by 109 rated Spinatrix while giving 14lb away to the favourite on ratings. The third of the race has won subsequently. Expect Blithe Spirit to come on a bit for the run.

From the bottom of the weight scale it is Come On Dave who’ll have plenty of supporters here. He won well on the All-Weather and looks on a good turf mark right now, given the fact that he is 2lb lower than when winning at Chelmsford. He has pole position drawn in 1 and will not hesitate to go on. He has to show that he can translate his AW form now to turf though as he struggled off lower in lesser races last season.

Veteran Noble Storm isn’t entirely out of this while Ballesteros looks to be on a very good mark if he could find somehow back to his former best. Piazon is only 2lb above his last winning mark and likes it soft, but has to improve a bit to be competitive here. Lexi’s Hero goes well at Chester but may find the minimum trip a bit too sharp these days.

From a handicapping point of view I believe the filly comes out on top. She has room for improvement, should improve for her recent outing as she did last year too when she scored over CD. She won impressively off only 3lb lower but ran in her seasonal reappearance probably to something like 94 I reckon. Conditions are in her favour here and the draw no problem – she looks a big price at 5/1.

Blithe Spirit @ 5/1 Betfred – 5pts win

Preview: Chester Cup

Betting

3.10 Chester: Chester Cup (Handicap, Class 2, 2m 2f 147y)

Traditionally those drawn in single figures have an advantage in this race. So segmenting the field in that very simple way should be interesting. That says I fail to warm up with any of the runners with this little bonus to their name. instead the Chester Cup really looks like a wide open renewal.Rain is arriving and that adds a bit of extra spices – it should ensure that this is going to be a true test of stamina and determination.

There is no doubt that the favourite Quick Jack has excellent credentials to land this race. But in the context of the huge field and many other very good rivals in the line-up, he looks a rather short price at 9/2. Last years winner Suegioo has a very wide draw to overcome and is also on a 9lb higher handicap mark these days. It’s a difficult task. Koukash’s best hope seems to be bottom weight Gabrial’s King. He’s on a very good mark but any more rain would see his chances going down the drain.

Last years rather unlucky runner-up Angel Gabrial is a whopping 15lb higher in his handicap mark than at this stage last season. He probably hang the race away last year but made subsequently amends to land another big Handicap. A good draw is a big help here for him, though the rain isn’t. Recent Ripon winner Trip To Paris is on a hat-trick and is clearly an interesting horse. He could improve again, but has to overcome a double figure draw and will need all the in-running luck in the world because of his hold-up tactics.

Dermot Weld’s sending over lightly raced Zafayan. Hurdles didn’t quite work out for him over the winter, so he’s back on the flat and repapered with a commanding success at Leopardstown. Much more is required here. He may improve, but hard to fancy for seemingly skinny odds. Mubaraza finished fourth in this last season. He’s on the same mark and there is no reason why he shouldn’t run a fair race once again. That may not be good enough to win, though.

Expect an aggressive front-running ride from Buthelezi. He’s back in form after a recent start-to-post win at Musselburgh. Up six pounds for it – he may be found out for class. Highly progressive All-Weather scorer Mymatechris is an intriguing horse. He has a good draw, but usually travels well off the pace. I don’t like that at Chester. Softish ground is an unkown factor.

Godolphin’s Famous Kid won a stayers race at Meydan earlier this year. He is still lightly raced and might be well able to cope with the new trip. He has not the best of draws and his habit of slow starts is a worry. He won a maiden on soft ground, though. Shu Lewis ran a fair race in defeat when second behind Cheltenham Festival winner Windsor Park. A career best is required from this nine year old. Ground, trip and draw work well in his favour. So he could run a big race.

Despite a rather negative draw (15) John Reel makes appeal. The arriving rain is definitely in his favour and his decent gate speed should give him a chance to overcome the draw. He has to, though, as he likes to be up with the pace. If he can do so and doesn’t burn too much energy in the early stages of the race then he clearly enters the calculations big time in my mind. He should stay the trip, as he showed his best performances over stayer trips and won an AW Handicap over 2m ½f earlier this year.

He hasn’t won in his last four starts but was never beaten further than 1¾ lengths and hit the post a couple of times for what he went up in the ratings. I really liked his big performance in the All-Weather Championships Marathon where he made a bit too much in the first half of the race but lead well into the final furlong. He got a bit tired in the end and finished only in fourth. Nonetheless it rates a big performance.

He will have to improve again to be really competitive in this top class Chester Cup field but he’s been progressive since he came back from a year long break it is far from impossible that there is more to come from him, having the switch to turf in mind, as well as conditions very  likely to suit,.

John Reel looks a cracking price at 33/1 in my mind. Too big to ignore. He’s definitely a better chance in my book. The start will be crucial though. He can’t afford to blow it. He will need to overcome the poor draw quickly. Kirby in the saddle should have enough experience to get this job done.

John Reel @ 33/1 Stan James – 2.5pts e/w

Special Miss Well In Off Feather Weight

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4.20 Brighton: Handicap (Class 3; 1m 2f)

This race looks wide open. You could make a case for each and every runner but could easily pick big holes into their form either. The betting is telling pretty much the same story with the favourite Puzzle Time being a 4/1 shot who usually shows her best with a bit of cut in the ground. Brighton is quick, though – however poses a demanding finish to the winning post.

Recent All-Weather scorer Lady Marl makes appeal on the visual impression she gave when running out a cosy victory at Lingfield. But that was against poor opposition. Much more is required here and a penalty has to be defied too. The step up in trip to 10f for the first time may bring out some further improvement, though.

Tears Of Sun would prefer it further normally, but she acts on quick ground and won at Brighton in the past. A fine runner-up effort at Bath last month gives her a good chance to be thereabouts here, but she doesn’t have any margin of error off her current mark. Same applies to Calm Attitude, who looks on a high enough mark. She may not be suited by the fast ground conditions either.

Likeable frontrunner Boonga Rogeeta was finally back in the winners enclosure when last seen. She held on gamely to win a 10f Handicap at Chelmsford, taking advantage of a slipping mark. She has to follow-up in this better race off 5lb higher now. Top weight Stosur might be the only one in this field who is rather easily discounted. She would need to improve quite a bit for her try over 1m 2f to be competitive of a very high looking mark.

Turf debutant Elbereth may strip fitter for her recent All-Weather outing. She doesn’t appear to be too well handicapped, but with emphasize on stamina in the finish, she could be in the mix here.

Authorized filly Special Miss has the benefit of a feather weight and that could help her to find back to her best. She was beaten in third in a five runner affair last month, that day a couple of lengths behind Tears Of Sun. However she received a very light ride and the jockey didn’t seem to be too bothered with her chance of finishing the race as close as possible. Expect her to be sharper here.

The trip is a bit a question mark. She stayed twelve furlongs in the past against poor rivals and has won over 9f, though in three start over 10f she never seemed to get home yet. However on pedigree she has every chance to get the trip, and with fast conditions to help, she may have found an ideal opportunity to win off a lowly 72 mark.

Special Miss @ 9/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win

Guineas Weekend Review

The flat season is well and truly alive! Not only that, but time moves quickly and we now have also the first Classic of the new season behind us! So let’s quickly recap on what happened over the last weekend….

Gleneagles’s a proper miler…..

Isn’t he? You couldn’t say anything else after an impressive display over the Rowley Mile on Saturday. Yes, he had pretty much everything going for himself. Perfect draw, ground to suit and gaps opened when you would have wanted them to open for him.

Says he got an inch perfect ride from Ryan Moore and had the class to take advantage of the gaps when it was most needed. He romped home, stayed strongly the new trip and the 2¼ lengths winning margin is a fair reflection of how much better he is than the rest. For the moment at least.

Gleneagles


No excuses for…..

Estidhkaar! Yes, it probably was an advantage to be in the stand side group, but no, that isn’t an excuse for his flat performance. Hanagan hard at work from over three furlongs out – Estidhkaar was simply not good enough.

My assumption proved right that the Greenham result was a rather freakish one, and I find it amusing that connections now try to blame the quick Newmarket ground on his poor Guineas performance, when he performed so well in blistering quick conditions at Newbury before.


Ivawood and The Brave One….

Ivawood - 2000 Guineas

There were plenty of horses a bit unlucky of not getting the best of runs in the 2.000 Guineas. But two individuals do stand out for me in terms of proving a point:

Ivawood clearly stayed the trip and his third place is a very strong result given the fact that he didn’t have the benefit of travelling in the favoured stand side group. Only two horses from single figure stalls finished in the top eight eventually – he was the best of them.

Ivawood was gutsy and showed loads of talent, while not having quite a smooth ride as he had to angle out and fight for his gap. The Irish 2.000 Guineas is next on the agenda for him where he’s going to take on Gleneagles again. He may be able to finish closer then.

Home Of The Brave is an unlikely eye-catcher but in fact he was a strong one for me. He set a true pace for the stand side group and was there till the final furlong marker but didn’t quite see out the trip in the end.

He still finished a good sixth for all of that and he may can win a less demanding pattern race over a mile with an easy lead, or probably preferably, would be dropped back to 7f. He clearly confirmed that his fine victory in the Free Handicap (Listed) was no fluke.


Telescope finds a way to get beaten… again!

Telescope

He was the short priced favourite in a four runner affair and looked certain to win the Jockey Club Stakes. But he got beaten – once again. Probably Ryan Moore let him loose a bit too early, yet he should have been good enough to fend off Second Step.

In his last seven starts Telescope was either short favourite or joint favourite. He won only one of these and becomes an expensive commodity to follow. Bookies on the other hand are likely to erect a statue for him.


Twilight Son is Pattern Class….

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It was only a Handicap, but it’s also been only his third career start. Twilight Express was impressive to win the 6f sprint for three year old’s. Particularly in the way he did it.

This race resulted in the fastest finish on the card and Twilight Son ran just 12.18s for the concluding uphill furlong.  There is clearly much more to come from this Kyllachy son.


Legatissimo a legitimate Oaks favourite!

David Wachman’s filly stormed home to land the 1.000 Guineas in some style. Though this may be a slightly disappointing result for the fillies’ mile division – as she is clearly not a miler but very much a middle-distance horse.

Many of the better fancied fillies didn’t handle ground or trip or track or all of that combined. But you can’t make excuses for everything and personally I’m slightly disappointed with the race. Lucida is potentially the one to take out of it, though. She got hampered at the start and ran out a nice second place.

Legatissimo on the other hand came into this race on the back of a Listed success over 9.5 furlongs. So to see her romping home in the way she did, dropping back to a mile, was impressive and says allot about her individual class, but also about the lack of class of most of her rivals in the field.

Anyway, she is obviously a very legitimate Oaks favourite now. On pedigree she is entitled to stay thus far, no problem. Out of a Montjeu mare, you would hope that there is more to come once she steps up in trip again.


False Rail is a positive move….

Newmarket Rowley Mile False Rail

Admittedly, the newly introduced false rail didn’t prevent the field from splitting into two groups in the 2.000 Guineas, nonetheless it is a positive move and I would hope this experiment will continue. More tracks should follow suit.

Why? Because it helps to prevent horses from finding themselves short of room on the inside rail when coming from off the pace. It works at Dundalk rather well for example, where this was a huge problem for many years before the introduction of a false rail.

It also works well in other racing jurisdictions. I In this context I always like to point to South Africa where false rails are a common theme at every track. It makes for fair and exciting racing more often than not. There is no reason why it shouldn’t be in place over here as well.


Tiggy Wiggy….

Impressed me in the 1000 Guineas. She performed much better than I would have thought. Positive tactics and fast ground helped her to get home rather well over a trip that stretches her stamina to a maximum.

She’ll be reverted back to sprinting now and will be a force in that particular division this season I’d reckon.


Personal Experience….

National Stud

It’s been the second year running that I went over to Newmarket to witness the 2.000 Guineas. Becomes a bit of a tradition now?! I really like the Rowley Mile. It’s a nice track, good facilities, good viewing (if binoculars on hand) and despite a huge crowd on Saturday, it never felt uncomfortable at all. Perfect!

Took in this time also some proper sightseeing as I already arrived on Friday. Walking up the legendary Warren Hill was quite an experience. Knew this place only from the comfort of my couch and TV. It’s really steep, isn’t it?!

Next stop was the National Stud. Said hello to Toronado and Dick Turpin and rounded up the day with a beautiful walk along the July Course and the Rowley Mile in splendid sunshine. Saturday followed the Guineas – it’s been fantastic I have to say.

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All Photos Credit: Florian Christoph

Curragh: Best Of The Rest

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3.50 Curragh: Handicap (Class 1, 1m)

A 16-runner strong field for this 1m Handicap, but it doesn’t look overly competitive. It is easy to discount plenty on pure form or for the reason of unsuitable ground. With heavy conditions at the Curragh, you will need to get every inch of the trip and of course you need to love it bottomless.

Three horses intrigue me, though. One of those is Princess Glamour. Still a generally lightly raced filly, she ended her three year old campaign on a high note thanks to an impressive success in a good Navan Handicap. She sliced nicely through the field and stayed on strongly to prevail in tough conditions over one mile.

This form works out well, but Princess Glamour is only 2lb up for this victory. Now as a four year old there might be still more to come from here. Money is pouring in for her and trainer Edwar Lynam seems to hit a bit of form lately. You would expect her to be ready to go today. The 10lb claimer on board looks pretty useful and is a nice bonus.

Main rival should be equally lightly raced filly Bobby Jean. She was just touched off in a 6.5f race at Limerick and the step up to a mile could work for her. She won well over 7f before and relishes soft conditions. She is on a fair mark and I like her. If she stays the trip, she will thereabouts.

The third horse to mention is Yes I Am. This gelding hasn’t won on turf yet but was a bit unlucky the last two starts when he wasn’t favoured by the way the races unfolded. But he goes well on soft ground and his fine third place behind Princess Aloof at Leopardstown gives her a pretty fair chance.

Summery: On balance I feel Princess Glamour is the one offering the biggest value at 8/1. She is still unexposed and could be rather well treated of her current mark with a promising apprentice on board. That says the other two mentioned should go really well and it could be one of those races where I have the right ideas but may end up on the wrong horse.

Princess Glamour @ 8/1 Betfred – 5pts Win

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4.55 Curragh: Handicap (Class 1; 1m 2f)

The two horses at the head of the betting market are clearly two very solid individuals with fair credentials to win this race. Fair mark, get the trip and no issue with the ground. However they are nothing more than fair prices in my book.

However the four year old filly Sweet Cherry makes plenty of appeal at 12/1. She should improve from her recent Leopardstown outing. A wide draw worked against her and she didn’t seem to travel at all when caught wide throughout. But with a run under her belt she can be easily much better today.

She was a fairly progressive three year old as she improved from being as low rated as it gets over in the UK to being able to win a Handicap off 70 when she moved to Ireland. She got off the mark in a maiden, and then subsequently upped in trip to 10f saw her successful in Handicap company.

She followed up with another good effort in a 12f Handicap, though one could argue that she was maybe a bit unlucky, when stumbling in the closing stages. Her final outing over 1m wasn’t the right test for her.

Sweet Cherry can race of a mark off 71, which looks generous, given that she won off 1lb lower last season. With conditions definitely to suit today I can see her running a big race.

Sweet Cherry @ 12/1 Betfred – 5pts Win

Horse Racing Around The Globe

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