Godolphin’s progressive Dream Child is turned out quickly after failing by the narrowest of margins to get his head in front four days ago over 9.5f here at Wolverhampton. He got hampered that day over 1f out at a crucial stage of the race and as a result had to re-organize himself pretty quickly – which can be a difficult task for an inexperienced horse. He quickened nicely nonetheless and almost got there on the line. He travelled strongly throughout and followed up nicely on a hugely impressive success over 12f at Wolverhampton back in January.
Dream Child is still lightly raced and the fact that he can race off the same mark today as four days ago, makes him a huge chance here. The step up in trip poses no problem whatsoever. He proved his stamina before. Judged on this latest performance, he should be a couple pounds higher rated and potentially goes all the way into pattern class after this in my mind. No doubt Dream Child is the most talented runner in this field.
The main dangers are Noble Gift who’s holding his form well and he should run a good race once more. Luv You Whatever has excellent form and was able to translate his Southwell forms to the tapeta last time out. But has to overcome another hike in the mark, which means a career best is required. I’m usually not for the short favourites, but think in this case that Noble Child should be a good deal shorter. With Adam Kirby booked for the ride I hope he won’t meet trouble in-running this time and then he should simply have too much on the plate for the rest.
7.45 Wolverhampton: Class 2 Handicap, 12 furlongs
Dream Child @ 11/10 Coral – 10pts win
WOW! What a week it has been – betting wise I mean! It’s a funny old game sometimes, isn’t it? Yes, It’s been a tough time for me in recent weeks if it comes to betting – I’ve been previewing races, shared my thoughts on tactics, analysed and assessed the chances of oh so many horses and was even bullish enough to published my selections here on a regular basis. But it just didn’t seem to happen for my selections. They either ran no race whatsoever, or – albeit only occasionally – hit the crossbar. Though getting the head in front when it really mattered? Nope, no way!
But that must surly be the beauty of horse racing and particularly betting on this sport: Things can change so quickly! One or two winners and suddenly your back in the profit – even after suffering a long losing run!
I encountered certainly a pretty gruelling losing run, indeed. 20! Yes, twenty losing selections on the bounce! That’s allot. However, I didn’t really think about too much and simply did my job. For me it is all about the value in the price and the profit in the long term. A losing run doesn’t mean that the bets haven’t been good. In fact 95% of all my bets placed this year are ones I would actually do again f I ‘d be in the same situation. I simply have to believe in my value. Sooner or later the winners would eventually fly in again. Otherwise it would be pointless, wouldn’t it?
It’s about confidence in the own abilities and having the right mindset. I’m certainly not the best punter in the world. Nor would I claim to be a particularly great form analyst. But there are things I’m good in and I’ve got skills that enable me to turn my betting into profit – in the long term.
That hasn’t been always the case in the past, but one has to learn from mistakes – or not?! In betting terms there can be quite costly mistakes. Though I believe I’m at a point where I learned from the past, and where know what I can do and also what doesn’t work for me. The believe in my skills ensured that I ‘knew’ the big winner is just around the corner. And so It happened – Finally, this week. Things kicked off with The Hangman in South Africa. A juicy 10/1 winner. It got even better with Flying The Flag at Meydan today, who landed a competitive Handicap at 7/1. The cherry on the cake was gutsy Chookie Royale who ran his rivals into the ground at Chelmsford and was a 13/2 selection this morning. Suddenly it’s all back in profit for the month!
I usually don’t fancy “shorties” (which doesn’t mean I’d exclude them completely – far from it – you can find value in hot favourites as well) and most of my bets are in the price range of at least 5/1 and upwards. It’s absolutely normal to encounter losing streaks if you’re betting on these kind of prices. However if I have value – theoretically a bet with a better chance of winning than the odds suggest – then I’ll turn things into profit in the long term. It simply will happen. I say that without any arrogance, knowing how much I “invested into learning the game” over the years. But saying that with confidence, while knowing I do make this game pay. However, one thing is most important than anything else. First of all I’ll always be a fan of the sport!
This is a Handicap which lacks the competitiveness of what one would have seen in recent weeks in this very similar slot. Not too many of the runners in the line-up give the impression to be either particularly well handicapped or have conditions in favour to achieve a career best performance. That makes Tha’ir a very fair favourite and his last win was rates a big performance, no doubt. I wouldn’t be surprised if he could follow on and he has every chance here, but I’m not sure if he should be much shorter in the betting than what he is now, given that he has to deal with a rise in the mark.
Mushreq is a consistent performer, though doesn’t seem to be as good this season as he was the last years. First time tongue tie fitted doesn’t instil much confidence and as the top weight is one to avoid here today. Berling ran a fine second behind Tha’ir recently, and another bold bid is one the cards. He’s to overcome a wide draw once again and may find one or two too good today. Belgian Bill didn’t quite have the run of the race in the very same race and stayed on nicely. If that is an indication that he gets the trip these days, then he’ll be a big runner. Francis Of Assisi, if fit after a break, is a very interesting runner, now in Godolphin colours, while Star Right may well be able to build on a promising last run.
However the most interesting runner and also the only really overpriced one in my mind, is Mike De Kock’s Flying The Flag. He was a Group 3 winner in Ireland over 10f back in 2013, joined subsequently De Kock’s yard without setting the world alight in two starts in pattern class in the UK. Dropped into handicap company on his seasonal reappearance earlier this month, he travelled very well but had a tough ride turning widest and losing loads of ground. He really stayed on very strongly eventually.
That performance came over 1m but general perception is that he is best over further. The step up in trip should suit perfectly today and his mark of 106 gives him a very nice chance to run big. De Kock was pretty bullish talking about Flying The Flag which is a significant boost for his chances: “He’s catching the eye in his exercise gallops. He ran on well after a rest last time and I fancy he’ll be very competitive here.”
6.15 Meydan: Class 1 Handicap, 10 furlongs
Flying The Flag @ 7/1 Paddy Power – 5pts win
After his latest two impressive wins over seven furlongs, Safety Check is a hot favourite to make it three in a row. He always looked a classy individual and it is good to see him fulfilling his potential. His most recent Group 2 success in the Al Fahidi is the stand out form and for that reason alone he warrants an awful lot of respect. Is he a sure thing in this field, though? I’m not so sure about it. It’s now his third race in rather quick succession, and he has shown his very best over seven furlongs, which could point to him being a specialist for that particular trip. He has to bring all this now to a mile today, and will have to give three pounds away. He has previous form over the distance, but he encounters some classy rivals today.
On of those rivals comes from his own stable. Outstrip returns to turf after a rather disastrous try on the dirt. This should suit much better for obvious reasons. His Breeders Cup Grade 1 success is the form that is the best in this field by a country mile. Since then things didn’t go to plan in his classic season last year. He went straight into the Guineas after his seasonal break and finished tailed off. A very much improved performance saw him finding back to form in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot when he finished third behind Kingman and Night Of Thunder. The small field in the Sussex Stakes and a slowly run race didn’t suit him at all subsequently and it didn’t get better in the Joel Stakes either, which ended his season. After this recent outing on the dirt, it is hard to know what to expect of Outstrip today. He is the highest rated individual in this field, though probably flattered by a mark of 118. I believe he deserved another chance. No excuses today. Ground and trip are sure to suit.
Progressive Dark Emerald was impressive in Handicaps this winter and his latest triumph was very taking indeed. Not impossible that he can improve further, but he’ll have to lift his game to another level today. De Kock has a strong hand in the race with Anaerobio, who, if he could find to last seasons form, would be in with a good chance to go close, though age may be catching up with him and his best came over 7f. Darwin is an interesting runner. Thought to be a potential superstar when brought over from the US to Aiden O’Brien, he couldn’t quite live up to the early promise, but a third in the Sussex Stakes must rate strong form, however he had the run of the race back then and he’ll need to bounce back after a poor effort on the dirt. Johann Strauss is another former O’Brien horse now in De Kock’s care. Hard to know what to expect from him today.
Hugo Palmer’s Short Squeeze deserves a shot in this race today. He is a very fair performer in hot handicaps and Listed level. Perception is that he needs to find a bit to be really competitive here today. That says, on balance, I feel Outstrip is overpriced. One has to trust him to find back to something of his old best. No excuses for him today, though. It one last chance he deserves. All is set for a big run. It’s on Outstrip to show if he is good enough these days. A performance like at Royal Ascot last year, would be good enough to win this I suspect, and with fitness on his side after the last outing, he’s the one I side with here.
5.40 Meydan: Zabeel Mile, 1m
Outstrip @ 13/2 Coral – 5pts win
This is a really fascinating contest. The betting already reveals that the race is as open as it gets, with almost any of the seven runners in with a very fair chance. Current favourite Trojan Rocket has been nicely improving this winter and won two on the bounce. Can he overcome a new career highest mark? Ballista showed a return to form lately and can race off the same mark as when beaten only on the line the last time. Same applies to Mishaal who improved nicely on the All-Weather and was only beaten in a photo at Lingfield last time out. Quiet Warrior and Golden Amber aren’t out of the equation either. And let’s not make the mistake to rule out classy Chookie Royale, despite a significant drop n trip.
What makes this race particularly compelling from a tactical point of view is the fact that most runners are known to be right up with the pace, if not making all. It’ll be interesting to see how that pans out. On the deep Chelmsford polytrack this could easily end in a test of stamina, rather than end speed.
I feel that this may play into the hands of Chookie Royale who is a top class performer over seven furlongs. He’s the class act in this field, as a result has to give weight away and the drop in trip to 6f doesn’t look ideal at the first glance. But with the pace in mind and the fine form he showed lately, I think he could be ready to run a big race. Trainer Keith Dalgleish isn’t travelling 383 miles with his top performer to have a good night out. At the current odds, I think he is too big in the market and should be much closer towards the head of it.
8.10 Chelmsford: Class 2 Handicap, 6 furlongs:
Chookie Royale @ 13/2 Coral – 5pts win
Didn’t tip many winners in recent days, but The Hangman went in yesterday at Vaal at advised 10/1 odds! He clearly found something back of his former best and was a rather easy winner in the end. Because it worked yesterday, I gonna stick with South Africa today again
The 1.40 on a rather low grade Kenilworth card looks set up for one of the three year olds to take. The older horses are largely exposed and didn’t show anything that instils confidence in them, neithert hat they’d be able to produce anything better than the level they have performed to so far.
Favourite Sail For Gold looks pretty short though, given the fact that he had nine career starts already without looking all that progressive. He won a maiden race over a mile on his penultimate run and performed with credit on handicap debut and he may have still a bit more to offer dropping to 1.400m, but for all of that he is a good deal too short. Around Not Across makes more appeal on his Handicap debut after winning over 1.200m a maiden in fine form. Opening mark looks fair and stepping up in trip may well suit on only his fourth career start. However he is also a pretty short price.
Fire Master looks a pretty big price in comparison. He is also still lightly raced, won a maiden over 1.200m in good style and followed up with a strong performance in a MR77 Handicap stepping up to a mile, when he was less than two lengths beaten in third in the end. He was disappointing subsequently, but something was amiss in the latest and if he can reproduce his penultimate run, he must be in with a big chance as he is dropping in class today and is the highest rated individual here. He could have still plenty of improvement left, dropping to more suitable 1.400m should work in his favour. The downside is that he has 61.5kg to shoulder which is massive obviously.
But he is not giving too much weight away to the other 3yo’s which are all on big weights here due to the fact that is actually only a MR72 and the older horses a group of poor individuals. On balance, he should be a good deal shorter in the betting in my mind.
1.40 Kenilworth – MR72 Handicap:
Fire Master @ 6/1 Sportingbet – 5pts win
You may remember this: I made recently a case for Dortmund to the win the Kentucky Derby. Nothing has changed in that regard, I still believe Bob Baffert’s colt will be a big runner on Derby day, in fact I do fancy him to be one of the shining stars this season. However, sometimes you come across something that makes you think: “WOW, this is special!”.
It’s likely that I wasn’t the only one who thought this way after the lightly raced Khozan won a Claiming race at Gulfstream Park by a mere 12 lengths last weekend. This low mileage colt is rapidly emerging as one of THE prime Derby contenders for the Kentucky Derby. But Why? Well, there is his outstanding pedigree first of all. He is a half-brother to multiple Grade 1 winner Royal Delta, and simply bred to be a champion. Take this: His sire, dam, and damsire were all graded stakes winners, and his damsire was even inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame
Then there is his price tag. He was purchased by Al Shaqab Racing for $1mio at the sales. Right, you may say, money doesn’t make necessarily a good racehorse. Only to point out then, that Khozan looked the real deal when he appeared on the racetrack! He ran extremely well first time out on a very eye-catching debut. But Khozan clearly stepped up to another level over the last weekend. He couldn’t have been more impressive on what was only his second career start then when winning a claimer by a street under a light hands and heels ride. Yes, he didn’t beat much, but as mentioned, this was only his second career start and he got a really nice educational ride, having some difficulties to overcome right after a start and also getting some dirt into his face. This experience will toughen him up and he should have learned plenty. The manner he drew clear in the home straight was nothing less than impressive after all.
So far so good. Okay, here’s a bit of a dilemma, though: History is against him. Horses that haven’t raced as two year olds have failed in their attempt to win the Derby since Apollo managed to do exactly that for the last time – back in 1982. They call it the “Apollo Cause.” But hey, you know what? Sometimes it needs something special to break the duck. Khozan has the talent to do so… if he can qualify for the Derby. Because he hasn’t qualified for the race yet! Obviously he didn’t have any chance to earn points yet.
But, breath easy, he’s due to run in the Florida Derby next. If he wins it, he’s in. The race should suit perfectly as he has won twice at Gulfstream Park now. If he is a legitimate Derby contender, well then he has to perform strongly in this next qualifier anyway. Do I expect him to live up to his rapidly growing reputation? Yes, absolutely. You can still back Khozan at 20/1 with Bet365 & Racebets. I’d recommend to lump on. Back Dortmund and this boy at the big prices which are available now – surly not on Derby day though – and you’ll have two extremely strong runners for your money when it really matters!