Preview: Hennessy Gold Cup (Grade 1)

Boston Bob, stays the trip and is fine on the ground but has been a bit disappointing in three starts this season. Needs to find back to his best to feature.

Carlingford Lough faded badly in the Lexus Chase in December after travelling well until the last. Better ground may well suit today and should strip fitter.

First Lieutenant hasn’t won since April 2013 and seems to regress. Chance on best form but plenty to find on recent showings.

Foxrock was an excellent Novice last season and did well this season as well. There might be still a bit improvement left in him, but he has to find a bit with most of this field.

Home Farm is still generally lightly raced and may well be a fresh horse after he fell at the first in the Lexus. He won a
Listed chase at Thurles back in November. Has stamina to prove today.

Lord Windermere hasn’t shown much since winning the Gold Cup last season. Obviously he is in with a chance judged on his best, but one has to wonder if this is only another prep towards Cheltenham?

On His Own was a strong runner-up in the Lexus after setting a gruelling pace for most parts. Runner-up in the Gold Cup last year and Ruby on board this time.

Texas Jack has all to prove over 3m today and on form shouldn’t be good enough.

Verdict: For me this race really evolves around the first three in the market. Foxrock may well have the improvement in him to feature here, but he hasn’t shown this kind of level of form that is required here normally, which is the case for Boston Bob, On His Own and Carlingford Lough the case, however. Boston Bob hasn’t convinced me this season in his two starts. He was rather fair and square beaten. Obviously on his best he’ll be a big runner with the good ground to suit.

But Ruby has opted for On His Own, the Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up, who finished in the same position in the Lexus. He’s a hardy horse, never knows when he is beaten. If he can set his own pace, and a less demanding one than in the Lexus, he could be tough to peg back. But how much has this tough recent race taken out of him?

Carlingford Lough in contrast has only his second start this season. He is an improving animal and the way he travelled super strongly in the Lexus until the last, caught my eye. He faded badly soon after, but on soft ground and first seasonal appearance, that can happen. I imagine him to strip fitter today, and the better ground should suit as well. He may be able to pull out a bit more improvement to put his head over the line when it matters.

Carlingford Lough @ 7/2 Coral – 5pts win

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Saturday Highlights

It’s been a busy Saturday racing wise. Top class National Hunt in the UK, rounded up by excellent Graded action over in the US during the night – can a racing fan ask for more? Well, I don’t think so! But hey, let’s quickly reflect on the key points from yesterday…

Coneygree could win a Gold Cup – sooner or later!

You will have seen my preview of the Denman Chase (I hope!) – a really exciting renewal of this Grade 1 at Newbury yesterday. It shaped to be a cracker beforehand, and it turned out to be quite a noteworthy race in the end, indeed! However, none could have foreseen what really happened.

As I stated in my preview, I was extremely sweet on the chance of Novice Coneygree. Lightly raced, a smart hurdler, taking extremely well to fences. An exciting prospect, that is was he was and after yesterday certainly is. He was so impressive at Kempton, such a good, relentless galloper with big potential, when winning the Kauto Star Novice Chase. But yesterday, he brought it to another level. Taking on some really talented, tough & experienced chasers, he jumped off in front and literally ran them into the ground. Turning for home he had the whole bunch sitting in his neck. They were all poised to take him on. Waiting for him to tire and fade. It was the ultimate real test for his class. What would he have left to offer in the home straight? Well, an awful lot, it turned out! He prevailed. Easily. Jumping well, not slowing down, just galloping strongly to the line. It was a demolition job and resulted in a breathtaking seven lengths success in the end. Coneygree has the “WOW factor”! So question is now: Arkle or Gold Cup – what’s next?

Grugy’s return a jumping error

Staying with jump racing for the moment: Saturday was the day we saw last years Champion Chaser Sire De Grugy back after his long injury absence. He clearly didn’t look his old best unfortunately, his jumping wasn’t good, he blundered badly at the fourth last and jumped the third last even worse, eventually unseating jockey Jamie Moore. That says the Champion Chase is up for grabs now. Grugy disappointed, so did Sprinter Sacre on his respective seasonal debut. Will both improve towards Cheltenham? Sure, they will. Will they be ever as good and dominant as they used to be in the past? Unlikely.  Un De Sceaux. it’s all yours – if you want…

Dortmund plays it well in California

Over to the US and a brilliant card at Santa Anita. Usually at this time of the year, we have to start talking about the Derby – the Kentucky Derby I mean! And I do really wonder: Have we seen the Derby winner at Santa Anita yesterday? Because there is this extremely good looking colt, called Dortmund (how appropriately named, knowing how poorly the once famous German football club of the same named town is playing in the Bundesliga at the moment), who started into his classic season the same way as he ended the last year: with a gutsy performance, landing the Robert B. Lewis Stakes with a late surge! This should be a stepping stone for him towards the Derby. Admittedly, I was already mightily impressed with his attitude, presence and long stride when getting up late in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity Stakes in December. A son of Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown, he should have the right pedigree and the way he races suggests the Derby trip will suit. He’s currently trading as the 10/1 ante-post favourite….

Not quite #TheRematch

Shared Belief made it look easy in the end, when effectively eased down before crossing the line as the clear winner of what was branded as ‪#‎TheRematch‬. He beat California Chrome by 1 1/2 lengths in the San Antonio Invitational. Shared Belief got a perfect start this time – unlike in the Breeders Cup Classic – tracked Chrome’s every move, and Mike Smith was probably rubbing his hands when Espinoza let Chrome lose – a bit too early I thought actually. That played into the hands of Shared Belief, who, once looming alongside Chrome in the home straight, went easily past him. Bob Baffert’s Hoppertunity ran a fine 3rd, but was never really able to challenge the two big guns. Reflecting on this race, I believe both, Shared Belief and California Chrome will come on for this run. Chrome is going to Dubai and will do well there. He has a chance to win the Dubai World Cup. But only if Shared Belief doesn’t go down the same route. Chrome could then be heading for Europe and some of the good turf races in England. Surly it would be interesting to see how he fares over here.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner

Oh before I forget: It’s nice to have a bit of punting success lately again. Coneygree went off a 15/8 favourite. If you followed me, you would have got 7/2, which turned out to be a huge price, as we know now. Also Shared Belief went off the evens favourite, I got him at 7/4 as advised. It wasn’t quite 3/3 yesterday. Ballista ran a cracker at Lingfield, made all, and would the winning post come a couple of yards earlier, he would have won. A narrowly denied third is what he ended up.

What’s on the tab today

Well, I could write a long essay about what all the great racing today. But I believe, sometimes an image can speak for thousand words. So just look at this below – I don’t think I need to say more!

hennessy

The NEW Horseracing – International . COM

Welcome to the brand NEW Horseracing – International . COM! If you have been a frequent reader of the old blog, then you know by now that I have made some changes, in terms of administration and particularly the platform the site is hosted. We’ve been with Google’s Blogspot platform for about four years and during that time the blog evolved and reinvented itself a number of times. However I always felt the restrictions on Blogger and had a move planned for a while.

So here we are now: On WordPress.com. A stable platform, that gives options for creativity and a new structure. This is just the beginning, though. Things will change further. But one step after another.

From now on I’m going to publish under this new address: http://www.horseracinginternational.wordpress.com. As before you’ll reach this site also via the normal domain www.Horseracing-International.com. You can follow the blog via mail – sign up on the left hand side. Or simply bookmark, and/or follow us on Facebook & Twitter.

New site, new theme and new address – however what remains the same is the content of the side. Well, not quite. Changes will be seen over the course of the next weeks and month’ as well. More opinionated articles, less betting, instead more big race previews. Quality content is what I want to offer here.

Of course ALL the old content, race previews, reviews, articles and photos – they aren’t lost. You can still visit the old blog via http://horseracing-international.blogspot.com.

I hope you like the new site. Leave feedback if you want or if you have recommendations, please feel free to voice them. Looking forward to hearing from you and seeing you around here!

Florian

J&B Met: Futura is a true champion!

Hype – a word, when associated with horses, then often with a negative perception. This is because hyped horses often don’t do what everyone expects them to do. They don’t live up to the hype and more often than not their names are quickly forgotten again. Happens all the time. Nothing new.

The more it is astounding what South Africa’s Futura has done since he has been hyped to win the countries most prestigious race – the Durban July – last summer. Without ever having won or even contested a a race at the highest level, he was the focus of some huge hype. His ante-post price slashed to only a fraction of it, he went off as one of the favourites on the day of the July.

He didn’t win. He finished ‘only’ third. Still a remarkable achievement considering that he didn’t have the run of the race that day. He didn’t quite live up to the hype, but he proved to be a pretty good racehorse. Since then, Futura hasn’t looked back Soon he won a deserved first Grade 1, and after a well earned break he started into a new season with a brilliant success in South Africa’s most important race over 1.600m, the Queen’s Plate.

Eventually Futura bagged his third Grade 1 victory yesterday, when he landed the prestigious J&B Met, the countries Premier 10f race, and in its importance only overshadowed by the Durban July. Futura, the second favourite behind last years Triple Crown winner Louis The King, travelled like a dream throughout, and once the home straight opened up, jockey Bernard Fayd’Herbe had only to press the button at the right time…. and whoosh off the went to win the big race! Futura produced an instant turn of foot, flying home to the line. That was easy! That was breathtaking! The world on his feet now, Futura is still a young horse with so much more to come. He truly has lived up to the hype. He’s a superstar!

PREVIEW: Cape Derby

One of the biggest race days of the South African racing calendar kicks off with the Cape Derby, which historically throws up some legendary winners. Last year it was Legislate, who moved on to win the Daily News and of course the Durban July, which in turn brought him the honour of becoming the 2014 horse of the year. Potentially we have a similar star on our hands in this years renewal, the question is only who is it? Checking the betting, this looks a one-horse race. But is it?

Well, Act Of War, currently trading a 1/5 favourite to land the Derby, looks certainly the real deal as he’s going for seven in a row today! The son of legendary sire Dynasty was only beaten on his racecourse debut, and then only by the narrowest of margins. Since then he never looked back, nicked in a couple of Graded races, with his biggest triumph to date, a decisive victory in the Cape Guineas. All those forms have also worked out very strongly, with plenty of subsequent winners. He looks right now a world class miler. Can he take this form to the next level over an additional two furlongs? That is the main question. Being a son of Dynasty surly helps, so he has enough stamina on his sire side for obvious reasons. Small doubts coming from his dam side though, with that line effectively never having anything produced over further than a mile. So far Act Of War looked special over trips ranging from 1.200m to 1.600m. He’ll be hard to beat if he’s taking well to the longer distance, that is for sure.

Realistically, there is only one real danger for Act Of War in this field , and that one is coming of course from Mike De Cock. His lightly raced Ertijaal is equally as exciting a colt as it gets. He had only three starts to date after having an injury troubled 2yo old career, and has been rather rushed to get here. He had three starts in the last two month, and one has to see how the takes this amount of racing. However he has been rapidly improving all the same.

Ertijaal

He was far too good on debut and second start, winning by a culminating 16 lengths those two races. Stepping into Listed company earlier this month, he turned on things in the final furlong to get up on the line. He was always going to win once in full flight and finished this task nicely. He looked green an immature all the same though, and will have learned plenty. He’s a nice, scopy colt who has already proven his stamina over 2.000m and going back to this trip today, will be a bonus, since he is bred for middle-distance.

Verdict: It is not worth to look anywhere else, trying to find the winner of this race. The rest of the field should simply not be good enough and it would be a major surprise to see any of those go even close. It seems rather a lottery to determine who else could make the frame. So concentrating on the two fancied runners makes sense. That says I’m going to have a nibble on Ertijaal. Simply for the reason that he has plenty of improvement left in him on what is only his fourth start. With a steep learning curve, and a trip to suit perfectly, he should be a close match for hot favourite Act Of War, as long as he takes the recent starts well. That says, Act Of War looks a special horse and if he stays the trip, will not be beaten. But odder things have happened in racing than a proven star miler fading over the additional two furlongs.

Ertijaal @ 7/2 Ladbrokes – 5pts win

Dubai World Cup Carnival is truly alive

SURFER: It was his target, and he ran like he clearly knew what he was supposed to do on the day. Surfer won the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round two in taking style while making most of his draw. Never too far off the pace, he attacked turning for home and was able to get lose one furlong out to draw clear by a bit more than two lengths in the end. This is particularly sweet since he was my selection for this race. Favourite Outstrip absolutely hated the Dirt on his Meydan debut. He was outpaced early on and subsequently never really in the race. The tough English runner Ocean Tempest also didn’t look happy at all on this surface. A fact we may have to conclude more often than not in the next couple of weeks when we talk about European runners on the Meydan Dirt track.

TRUE STORY: Impressive success for True Stroy in the Listed Singspiel Stakes. In hindsight, one could say he was very much entitled to win as good as he did. First time headgear, the gelding operation and being fresh clearly rejuvenated him. The change of gear he was able to produce entering the home straight demonstrated why he was once thought to be a leading Epsom Derby contender. Question is now if he’ll be able to reproduce the same sort of form against tougher opposition the next time. This win meant that James Doyle was off to a flying start for the boys in blue. Recently acquired as the retained jockey for Godolphin, he couldn’t have envisioned a better start.

DE KOCK: South Africa’s top trainer has a rather slow start this season but one should expect that form will pick up soon. Some horses did perform eye-catchingly today and believing his words, his whole string is expected to improve with growing match fitness. Ajeeb was one that particularly caught my eye. Over 5f in the turf sprint, he travelled very well for a long time trailing the field and making some really nice progress late without getting a particularly hard race.

Given the fact that he was off for more than a year and was once runner-up in a 7f Group 2 in Australia as well as only five lengths beaten in top class company behind Atlantic Jewel, one can easily see why this colt could be very interesting moving forward from here. Expect him to strip fitter next time and when stepping up in trip, he’ll be one to have the money on I feel. Another interesting De Kock runner to keep in mind might be classy Sansaawhes. He was in receive of a slightly odd ride by Soumillon but finished very well and should come on for this run after being back from a break as well.

MUSIC THEORY: An absolute nightmare run for the Godolphin gelding in the final race. He travelled extremely well in rear of the field but had absolutely nowhere to go in the home straight. He got bumped and had to fight for a gap, but once he got out late, he finished like a train. Keep an eye on him, he could go all the way into pattern class. Music Theory was a very promising juvenile when he finished once less than three lengths behind Kingman in the Solario Stakes. He had only two starts last year but ended 2014 with a fine runner-up effort at Lingfield. His lightly raced profile let’s assume that there is still a good deal of improvement left.

Paco Boy

DIRT: It is almost impossible to win from the rear of the field. The kick-back is horrible and it looks a bit like Wolverhampton at its worst days before the relay of the new surface… well Meydan today looked probably even worse! The vast majority of dirt races were won by horses very much up with the speed – with the only exception the 7f Handicap where they went a relentless gallop. So the trend from the minor meetings clearly continues in that sense.

Doesn’t mean that spectacular racing is a thing unlikely to happen on this surface, however visually it isn’t particularly pretty – not to my eyes at least. The beauty of flat racing for me is when you see a strong travelling horse looming hard on the bridle around the 2f marker, waiting to be unleashed to go and win the race. That’s why I once fell so much in love with Paco Boy. His 2010 Lockinge Stakes success or the year before the Queen Anne triumph – simply poetry in motion!

Horse Racing Around The Globe

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