The Hangman is still a class act

A quick trip to South Africa today or the feature Handicap on the Vaal card – a very competitive looking MR92 Handicap. Many runners are of interest here, but I can’t let the top weight go unbacked at a pretty huge price. That is because The Hangman is clearly the class act in this field.

One has to remember that the five year old is a former winner of the big Grade 1 Champion Stakes! He hasn’t been in the winners circle since a Grade 2 triumph back in December 2012, though he was a good third behind subsequent Guineas runner-up Forest Indigo (who was that day then only denied by Triple Crown winner Louis The King) last February.

Since then he hasn’t shown too much. However his second start after rest tomorrow should see him in much better light given that he drops a good deal in class right in higher end of Handicaps. Trip should suit perfectly and rated a career lowest now, he must rate a big chance if he can regain something of his former best.

2.15 Vaal – MR 92 Handicap:
The Hangman at 10/1 Sportingbet – 5pts win

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Fresh Boonga Roogeta set to cause an upset


Dream Child is on a four-timer and looks rock solid to perform strongly once again in the Wolverhampton feature today. Dropping to 9f shouldn’t be a problem as she has won over this trip before. With a good apprentice booked, the rise in the weight is offset to an extend. However one has to wonder how much improvement is still in her. Also she has a huge weight to shoulder today because of the big difference in ratings. She may well be good enough, but she better be at her best.

As always I try to oppose those short favourites and I feel with Boonga Roogeta there is one mare in the race who has the ability to cause an upset. She has won on the All-Weather in the past was mostly seen on turf in the last couple of seasons. She has slipped to a very handy mark now, as she won off similar or higher three races in the past. The last one at Brighton last May off 9lb higher than today. She likes to go from the front, and with her ability to get further she may well be able to dictate matters, set a strong gallop and fend off all her rivals.

She has been off the track for a while, but has performed strongly as a fresh horse in the past, and this record instils confidence that a big run is on the cards with her regular rider in the saddle too. Paddy Power is offering a huge price in this small field and it looks huge value to my eyes, so I’m bullish with the stake.

5.00 Wolverhampton:
Boonga Roogeta @ 8/1 PP – 10pts win

Taste of Champagne for James at Naas

Naas
This big novice handicap looks wide open with plenty of improving individuals in the line-up. Conditions at Naas are going to be tough today, with plenty of rain falling overnight.

Personally I do fancy one runner in particular. I was already pretty sweet on Champagne James’s chance at Leopardstown last month, but it turned out that things happened a bit too fast for him over 2m 1f on rather decent ground. That was his Handicap debut after he was a good second in a Novice chase at Fairyhouse before where he caught my eye initially.

He’s a big strong horse, made for chasing and hasn’t shown his true potential yet. Rated at 126 he could be exploiting this mark today, stepping up back to 2m 4f in soft conditions. This race is hotter than the last one, but as a result he is on a good weight, much in contrast to the big top weight he had to shoulder lto. I’d expect him to go really well today as he looks still overpriced, despite prices already falling.

2.50 Naas: Champagne James @ 13/2 Betfred – 5pts win

Preview: Ladbrokes Handicap Lingfield


The progressive Shyron looks a very worthy favourite and is chasing a hat-trick today. He won with a bit in hand the last time. But while he’s renewing rivalry with a couple of runners today, and on this last performance looks likely to be up to his revised mark, it also has to be stated that he got the run of the race and bumped into two rivals, which meet him on better terms this time. He looks the likeliest winner, but is a very short price in this strong handicap.

One would expect that Grey Mirage will perform with credit once more, though he may need some assistance from the handicapper to be able to win in this class again. Related didn’t quite get a clear run in the home straight the last time and may get closer to Shyron with a clear passage. Another one who was interfered in the very same race was Brigliadoro. He still finished well enough in the end and run with credit over a mile the next time in a hot race that threw up a nice winner subsequently. Dropping back to 7f again, he may be able to outrun his price tag today.

Money Team is still trying to win a race on the All-Weather but came very close the last time when he stayed on nicely. He goes 2lb up in the mark and tries 7f for the first time. The way he finishes his races suggests that it’s worth a try, also on pedigree it looks not unlikely that he gets the trip. The apprentice on board is well worth his 3lb claim and that should give Money Term every chance to run big today.

Brigliadoro @ 14/1 Coral – 5pts win
Money Team @ 16/1 Coral – 5pts win

Preview: Cleves Stakes


Another tremendously competitive race and even more so over this sprint trip where horses taking each other on on a regular basis, and often enough it only depends on form on the particular day who is going to win. I find it hard to distinguish the more fancied horses here though, and while trying to find out if there is one of the long-shots overpriced, I stumbled across the 20/1 for History Book. I believe if he’d be wearing still the well known blue Godolphin colours today, he might be a shorter price. But he left Charlie Appleby recently and has his first start for a new yard, interestingly with cheek-pieces fitted for the first time too.

History Book is still a rather lightly raced individual, in fact completely unexposed over sprint trips. Bred for something different, he didn’t really take off in his early days, but gradually dropped down in trip until appearing over 6f here at Lingfield last month in a pretty decent class 3 Handicap. He travelled very well and got up on the line with a late push in a thrilling finish. The form of that race worked out well in so far as that the runner-up prevailed subsequently in a very hot race while stepping up in grade.

Going right into Listed class today, this is obviously the toughest test History Book ever faced and it may turn out that he is not good enough. But he must have potential to improve further over this new trip, which seem to suit him well. He is drawn quite well too and may make use of that with more aggressive tactics today, using the bit of stamina he should have to offer. Considering all, he looks a huge price and deserves a chance here.

History Book @ 20/1 Coral – 5pts win

Preview: Winter Derby Trial Stakes

Grandeur is a class act, has done well in hot Graded races over in the US last summer and won this very same race last year off a break. No reason why he shouldn’t go well once more today.

Grendisa won back in December a Listed race over course and distance, is a proven All-Weather warrior over variety of trips while giving weight away today however.

Afonso De Sousa makes his first start for a new yard after break. Won as fresh horse before and usually performed well on Dundalk All-Weather in the past.

Ansaab has done really well at Lingfield over CD last two starts, when beaten by a neck and won by a neck in class 3 Handicaps. More required here but deserves his chance.

Cloudscape hasn’t been seen since 1.5l fourth in Group 3 over 12f at Goodwood. Drop in trip should suit if fit on reappearance. Won fresh last year and on debut on Kempton AW.

Maverick Wave has a 100% record over course and distance, won last month good class 2 Handicap. Fom pick in this field with more improvement likely.

What About Carlo is back off a break, won as fresh horse in the past and over 10f. All-Weather debut. Hard to know what to expect today.

Lamar proved himself an AW specialist. Won the last two in conditions races. Has to prove stamina today though.

Verdict: This is an ultra competitive contest and I’m surprised to see such a huge difference in prices. Yes, Grandeur is a fair favourite for obvious reasons. He’s here to defend his crown and no doubt will be the one to beat. But there are a couple of progressive rivals in the line-up that can be dangerous to underestimate. So I’m happily oppose him today.

I believe John Gosden has a very strong hand in this race. Cloudscape is a very interesting contender for obvious reasons. Still rather lightly raced, he shaped with loads of promise last season and has some excellent form to his name. If he is fit and well and has wintered well, he is a big runner. His price doesn’t really offer value in my mind though. Which looks different for Gosden’s second horse, Maverick Wave. An all the time improving colt, he is unbeaten at Lingfield over 10f and may have a tactical advantage if let loose in front. He deserves a shot on this and the weight he receives from the more fancied rivals, he is in with a big chance as on the ratings he hasn’t to find all that much.

Grendisar is a strong travelling horse, who will need a strong pace and all the luck in the world here. he is a classy individual but I feel the race may not be run to suit him. Afonso De Sousa also wouldn’t like it to be a crawl with all his wins on the All-Weather came over 11f. He is an interesting runner nonetheless on his debut for David O’Meara. Improving handicapper Ansaab deserves a shot at this too, but potentially he is not good enough.

I’m intrigued by bottom weight Lamar. He is really progressive on the All-Weather, won two conditions races over shorter last month and finished a strong fourth over 7f in a very competitive listed race at Deauville. I believe he has more to give and looks extremely overpriced. Question mark is the trip. However it’s only his second try over 10f and he didn’t seem to stop over 9.5f at Wolverhampton, also on pedigree there is a fair chance that he can get thus far. He may be tracking the leader, and if this won’t won’t be run at a mad pace, it could play very much in his hands.

Maverick Wave @ 13/2 VC – 5pts win
Lamar @ 20/1 VC – 5pts win

Cladocera a class act in the Balanchine

The betting said it all beforehand and so it was no surprise when Cladocera surged clear to win the Group 2 Balanchine Stakes with plenty in hand last night.

The lightly raced four year old filly looks to improve nicely with age and followed up in impressive style on her recent Dubai debut. The 1/2 favourite was travelling super well in the rear of the field, but had to go widest around the home turn in order to get a clear shot. She was still able to produce an electric turn of foot and made it look pretty easy in the end.

That are the signs of a talented individual. And while she was surly entitled to win this race in style, it appears that Cladocera has the potential to improve further and that makes her a filly to follow this season. Of course she has to step up in grade now and tackle some stronger rivals to prove how far she can go. But at this stage, a bid for the Dubai Turf must be on the radar of trainer Alain de Royer-Dupré.

Maybe the one to take out of this race besides the winner is runner-up Anahita. She was ridden much closer to the pace than Cladocera, travelled very strongly into the home straight but wasn’t able to match the burst of speed of the big favourite. However she showed plenty of guts, fighting to live and defend her second place. It looks to me, in combination with her pedigree, that she wants further. She looks to have trained on very nicely over the winter and now as a four year she appears to be a much stronger individual. More improvement is likely once she goes up in trip I believe. She finished a gallant runner-up in her only start over 10f last year.

Horse Racing Around The Globe

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