Tag Archives: 2000 Guineas

Eyecatchers #6 2022

A list of horses that caught my eye during the last seven days of racing. These individuals look ready to win a race sooner rather than later.

Main Target
29/04/22 – 7.55 Newcastle:

A touch slow out of the gates, pulled hard in the early stages of the race. Made impressive headway on the outside from 4 furlongs out posting fast sectionals. Contested lead two furlongs from home, then tired in the closing stages and not knocked about.

The way he travelled through the middle part of the race here is evidence that he’s better than the result. It was his first run since being gelded and he dropped down to 6 furlongs as well.

He continues to fall in the ratings, perhaps will do so further. He’s a lovely bred gelding. Even though he’s yet to run fast topspeed ratings I still feel a mark of somewhere around 70 could underestimate him if he can put it all together.

He is still lightly raced enough to hope for better, especially if he steps up in trip. A mile looks highly possible on pedigree. He needs to settle better, though. Headgear would be interesting.

Race Replay

Checkandchallenge
30/04/22 – 3.40 Newmarket:

Squeezed right after the start, possibly lit up from the early bump, was keen in phases. Still travelled well enough into the race, albeit away from the pace on the far side where – in my view – it was an advantage to race. In a pocket from three furlongs out, short of room 2 furlongs out. Eased afterwards.

He wasted too much energy early on and raced inefficiently, and wasn’t helped by how the race developed. He is a better colt than this 14/15 finish suggest.

He won the Burradon Stakes at Newcastle in really impressive style on only his second lifetime start after overcoming greenness on debut back in November at Wolverhampton.

Whether he is absolute top-class remains to be seen, but he can win some good races. Perhaps a step up to 10 furlongs would be beneficial, but another try over a mile would be worth a go for the moment, too.

Trais Fluors
30/04/22 – 2.05 Thirsk:

Had to overcome a wide draw and settled in rear after a good start. Travelled well into the home straight behind a wall of horses. Tried to switch to the outside for a clear run from 3 furlongs out but got boxed in. Switched back inside but still no luck. Finished easily on the bridle with seemingly plenty left in the tank.

Was eye-catching last time out at Newbury on his seasonal reappearance when he finished strongly with the fastest final furlong split despite not being overly hard ridden.

The 8-year-old is obviously well in himself and ready for a big run. He’s down to a 87 handicap mark but was able to win of 92 last summer, running to a 91 topspeed rating, which isn’t too far of his best form.

Race Replay

Dandy Dinmont
02/05/22 – 4.06 Beverley:

Made good progress throughout travelling notably well for the majority of the race, even though he looked a little bit keen in the first furlong. Was locked behind the leading horses, switched to the inside over one furlong out and finished well despite things being tight. Was the only one making a significant impression from off the pace.

Clear improvement from his seasonal reappearance which was better than the bare form suggest too. He starts to drop toward more realistic handicap marks especially with a claimer in the saddle.

He showed a bit of progress as a juvenile but got injured in August and only returned at Doncaster last month after 267 days off the track. I imagine 5 furlongs will be his optimum. Perhaps the All-Weather could be interesting as he’s a full brother to a Wolverhampton winner over the minimum trip.

Ideally I would love to see a couple pounds off the mark before taking a betting interest in him. A drop in trip and/or switch of surface may also be desired. Regardless, he’s still lightly raced, an April foal and looks one who can still improve.

Race Replay

Dark Vega
02/05/22 – 2.55 Curragh:

From her position in midfield toward the far side rail she had to negotiate a lot of traffic from 3 furlongs out, travelling behind a wall of horses. She stuck nicely to the task behind a wall of horses, moved around bravely through tight spaces and finished well giving the impression there as still quite a bit left in the tank.

This was only her second career start as well as her seasonal reappearance after she won on debut last autumn over course and distance. That form was franked by the runner-up Boundless Ocean, who ran last week in the 2000 Guineas.

The filly has been given time and didn’t turn into a Guineas filly as Jessica Harrington hoped she might do, but this highly compelling reappearance over 7 furlongs – a trip possibly a little on the sharp side now – was a great pipe opener and suggested she could be than her opening mark, especially if stepping up to a mile.

Race Replay

On The River
03/05/22 – 6.10 Wetherby:

Up with the pace early on and seriously keen particularly around the first bend when nearly running away with his jockey having to take a big pull. Comes under pressure from three furlongs out but is a clear run denied to move forward and as a consequence loses his position. Finishes visually well while tenderly handled in the final furlong.

He won last year of a mark of 56 over 7 furlongs, was subsequently placed of 9lb higher. Starts to drop down in the ratings to what could soon be a really good mark.

Especially if he can find a little bit improvement for going up in trip. A mile looks quite possible on pedigree. I’ll be interested if he drops below 60 in the rating and tackles the mile for the first time, ideally not on fast ground, though.

Race Replay

Mutanaaseq
03/05/22 – 6.40 Wetherby:

He travelled in rear off the pace where the race would eventually develop thanks to slow early fractions. As the pace increased entering the home straight he got outpaced and looked bound for finishing last. Found another gear late to finish much the strongest visually and backed up by sectionals.

This was a clear return to form after a number of rather poor showings. He performed still quite strongly last year, won of a mark of 67, was placed of 72 and ran to topspeed 73.

Slowly comes down to a fair mark again. All his best form is over 6 furlongs, hence recent runs over 7f have to be seen in that context. It may take one or two more runs, but if he drops to a mark of 67 or lower again, over 6f, and ideally with a bit of cut in the ground, he’ll be of high interest.

Rae Replay

Highlight Reel
03/05/22 – 8.10 Wetherby:

Swerved right off the gates, settled in final third but didn’t seem to travel overly well early on in a tight field. Got squeezed and hampered from 3f out an, as many did in a finish that had more to do with bumper car racing than horse racing.

Eventually found a way out with less than two furlongs to go, having to take the scenic route around the entire field on the outside. He still encountered trouble all the way to the line. The fact he finished so well in fourth despite all the trouble is noteworthy.

He was out of the weights here which shows how far he’s fallen as a result of poor form this year. However, there are mitigating factors as he’s never done much on the All-Weather and sprint trips are too sharp these days.

He won of a mark of 47 over 10 furlongs last year, running to topspeed 50. I would argue this most recent performance suggests he’s capable to run to a similar level of form. I wouldn’t be interested in him over shorter than a mile. Anything up to 10f, ideally on fast ground and perhaps a good apprentice on board will be intriguing.

Race Replay

Tolstoy
04/05/22 – 3.40 Chester:

He didn’t look entirely straightforward throughout, perhaps not quite enjoying the track, but also showed keenness in the early stages. Travelled well enough in the middle part but was locked on the inside in a disadvantaged position.

Racing room only opened up late in the home straight. Finished well eventually without being beaten up. He was chanceless with the winner but a lot can be attested to his racing position I feel.

He was a busy enough juvenile showing promise over 6 furlongs, although I feel he can improve going up in trip. The way he finished here in soft conditions supports the idea. He’s got to improve, though, if he wants to be competitive in Handicap company of his current mark or perhaps Listed level.

Cut in the ground seems key to him. Goin up in trip – I envision a mile to be ideal – will make him interesting for me, but his tendency to pull is a concern. Not one I’d be keen to back at short prices.

Race Replay

Dangerous Rascal
04/05/2022 – 6.30 Kempton:

Bumped heavily right after the start. As a consequence possibly lit up. Never travelled overly well in rear on the inside then, also looked still green, raw and unsure of his job.

Hang around the home turn and hit a flat spot over 2 furlongs out. Once in the clear and asked for full effort the penny dropped and he ran home much the strongest with the fastest last 2 furlong splits without being fully pushed out in the final half furlong.

He’s obviously got a bit of talent but appears to be a tricky customer as well who has still plenty to learn. First-time visor seemed to help in the closing stages. This was his first handicap start and try over 7 furlongs, also second up from a break and gelding operation.

He cost some decent money as a yearling and fetched €115k at a breeze up, likely down to his excellent breeding and being a full-brother to Group 1 placed Rhythm Dancer.

As much as it seems obvious that he is better than a 59 rating, he’s also clearly not a pattern performer. Nonetheless, with experience he should improve significantly. He finished well enough to suggest stamina for 7 furlongs isn’t an issue.

Preview: 2000 Guineas 2022

A mouthwatering prospect. The champion two-year-old versus the ante-post Derby favourite. But there’s more to it. A number of highly promising colts line up for the first Classic of the new flat season.

#1 – Berkshire Shadow: won the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot. Found out in the Dewhurst Stakes. Dwelt in majority of his races. I am not sold on the mile trip.

#2 – Boundless Ocean: won a maiden earlier this month, albeit over 10 furlongs. Most likely has a future beyond a mile.

#3 – Checkandchallenge: fine winner of the Listed Burradon Stakes at Newcastle recently. Has more to offer on only his third run. Proven match fitness. Has loads to find on topspeed ratings, though.

#4 – Coroebus: a lot of hype about him. Justified? We’ll see. Won the Group 3 Autumn Stakes when last seen. Possibly unlucky in Royal Lodge Stakes. Achieved fine 91 and 96 topspeed ratings. My feeling is he’ll be much better beyond a mile. Course form is a big plus.

#5 – Dubawi Legend: quite experienced with 4 lifetime starts. Dewhurst runner-up. Failed to land a blow at the Breeders Cup. Needs to settle to have a chance over a mile. Tongue-tie fitted for the first time.

#6 – Eydon: race fitness assured after two runs this season. Impressive runaway winner of the Feilden Stakes three weeks ago. May need more of a stamina test when racing at the highest level. Low topspeed ratings are a question mark.

#7 – Light Infantry: unbeaten in two runs as a juvenile, including Group 3 over 7 furlongs. Open to improvement but needs to find loads of it to feature.

#8 – Lusail: precocious as a 2-year-old. Twice Group 2 winner over six furlongs. Fine runner-up in the Geenham Stakes on seasonal reappearance. Questionable stayer.

#9 – Luxembuorg: unbeaten top-class juvenile. Impressive winner of the Beresford Stakes and Grade 1 Futurity Trophy. Already ran to 100 and 102 topspeed ratings. He’s the Derby favourite. Most likely his optimum trip lies beyond a mile. Race fitness and whether he has the speed on fast ground over a mile against the very best are key questions.

#10 – Native Trail: unbeaten champion two-year-old. Impressive Dewhurst winner and excellent successful seasonal reappearance in the Craven Stakes recently. Sets the standard on form. Consistently fast and high-class performances. Ran three times to topspeed 100.

#11 – Perfect Power: two-times Group 1 winner as a juvenile, including the Middle Park. Brilliant comeback run in the Greenham. Achieved highest topspeed rating in this field (105). Stamina is a concern. He looks like a sprinter. 7 furlongs could be the maximum.

#12 – Point Lonsdale: experienced and progressive juvenile. Won four of five last year, only beaten by Native Trail in the National Stakes. Should improve for going up in trip. Career-highest 90 TS means he has a bit to find at this stage.

#13 – Royal Patronage: ran down Coroebus in the Royal Lodge last year. Possible excuses in Futurity Stakes. Should have more to offer, albeit likely needs a longer trip. Could make this a stamina test to suit himself if going hard from the front.

#14 – Tacarib Bay: only win came in a maiden in three starts. Solid runner-up in the European Free Handicap. Could improve if he stays the additional furlong. Has tons to find with better fancied horses, though.

#15 – The Wizard Of Eye: some solid runs in defeat in Group races but ultimately not good enough even on Group 3 level. Impossible to fancy.

Summary:

I may eat my words in a few hours time if I say this: this edition of the 2000 Guineas is a two-horse race.

Native Trail and Luxembourg should lead the way home. Saying that the X-factor could be Perfect Power. If the pace is somehow slow enough for the race to become a sprint home and/or he truly stays the trip no matter what, he’s obviously highly dangerous.

What a about Coroebus? I don’t buy the hype (yet). Charlie Appleby’s second string is obviously a talented colt. But I reckon he will be a much better horse over 10 furlongs (being fully aware there are contrasting opinions available).

In theory the same could be said about Luxembourg. There is a major difference, though: Coroebus didn’t crack the 100 topspeed barrier last year. He has the potential, I’m sure about it. Yet, he didn’t do it last year and with the question mark whether the mile truly brings out the best in him, he slips down the packing order for me.

Perfect Power is most likely the fastest horse in the race. Judged on juvenile form he certainly is, in fact. As much as I adore this colt, he looks a sprinter to my eyes, nonetheless.

A good case can be made for Point Lonsdale to be competitive. Despite ample racing experience as a juvenile, I feel he can still improve this season. Especially tackling the mile trip. Whether he is quite in the category of the market principles is hard to know at this stage.

Conclusion:

On paper there is not much between Native Trail and Luxembourg. What speaks for the Godolphin horse is match fitness and that he encounters perhaps his ideal scenario: 8 furlongs, Rowley Mile. I agree with the market in so far as he’s the most likely winner.

And yet I feel Luxembourg is the much stronger bet with more upside. He had two runs less than native Trail last year and comes fresh to Newmarket. The factors experience and race fitness count against him, but are possibly overrepresented in his price.

The other factor that drives his price is the notion that he’s the Derby favourite and as a son of Camelot sure to do his best work beyond the mile trip. Nonetheless, Luxembourg was mightily impressive over a mile in his three lifetime starts.

He also achieved topspeed ratings that match Native Trail. In fact his Beresford Stakes victory earned him a 102 TS rating, which is better than Native Trail’s best of 100. It’s fair to say there is every possibility Native Trail can run much faster when needed, of course. The same can be said about Luxembourg as well.

Watch the replay of the Curragh race and you see a horse as green as the Irish grass in spring. Luxembourg followed up in the Futurity Stakes. He quickened nicely in soft ground on the outside of the field despite racing without cover for the most part, and held the challengers with ease in the closing stages.

I am pretty certain Luxembourg is the most talented horse in this field. The only question mark is how much have team Ballydoyle left to work with the Derby probably the key target. I am prepared to take the risk.

10pts win – Luxembourg @ 11/2

Preview: Irish 1000 Guineas

Curragh

The Irish 1000 Guineas will rise and fall with the Jessica Harrington trained Albigna. The only top-level winner in the field has the best form in the book and will be hard to beat with natural improvement.

Albigna’s victory in the Prix Marcel Boussac is the strongest form on offer from last year – by far! Not to forget the classy filly was far from disgraced in the Moyglare or the Breeders’ Cup.

In a weak Guineas field there is no denying that she holds all the aces. The equation is a simple one: if the daughter of Zoffany can run to her juvenile form then she is more than likely to run away with the race this evening.

However – and I may repeat myself in all these Guineas previews over the last week – Albigna is an experienced individual, who saw a racecourse for the first time in May last year. There is every possibility that she was simply ahead of her rivals in terms of mind and body.

And given that the Guineas is held a month later than it usually is, there is a danger that others have been able to catch up with time and age on their side. In saying that that I also feel odds around 2/1 are entirely fair, if not even a tad generous.

Aiden O’Brien appears to have weaker hand than usual in the 1000 Guineas. None of his three fillies tasted success on Group level yet – that is rather unusual. But the lightly raced Peaceful may well be the biggest danger to Albigna I feel, as she caught my eye on a number of occasions last year and she could have any amount of improvement to come.

The most intriguing filly in my eyes, though, seems to be completely overlooked: that is the Michael Halford trained Ridenza. She is a huge price in a race that lacks depth.

The one-time raced Sea The Stars daughter is tremendously well bred, given her dam is the 2014 Debutante winner Raydara. She will probably stay further than the Guineas trip but makes appeal over a mile as well, certainly at the current price.

Ridenza lacks experience. She made a winning debut at Leopardstown in a seven furlong maiden last August and was put away ever since, not helped by an injury she sustained.

That piece of form looks strong: the fourth placed Lemista won a Group 3 earlier this year and the 9th of that race, Peaceful, won a Listed contest and is the 3/1 second favouite today.

In fairness, the Aiden O’Brien filly got a very light ride that day and looked to have tons left. Nonetheless it was really positive sign that Ridenza was able to win on debut, overcoming plenty of greenness over a trip that is possibly on the sharp side.

Trainer Michael Halford noted after the race that this was indeed Ridenza’s very first time away from home and even the first time of her tasting turf. He also mentioned that she has plenty of growing to do, which was probably the reason why we didn’t see her again as a juvenile.

He also described her as “a smart filly, very well bred and she’s always shown plenty at home” in addition to being quite hopeful that there is much more to come when she turns three.

Obviously there is a reason why Ridenza is a 18/1 chance today: how has she wintered? Has she trained on? Is she ready to go? is she over the injury? Is the trip potentially too sharp?

But at the same time, given her fantastic pedigree, that points to excellent form over the shorter distances as well, I’m inclined to give her a better chance than the odds suggest.

Selection:
10pts win – Ridenza @ 18/1

……….

Siskin Delight in Irish 2000 Guineas

It was an incredible victory for Siskin in the Irish 2000 Guineas last night. The favourite did it the hard way, having to fight for a gap to get out late and thunder home, beating the Aiden O’Brien “football team”.

If you read my race preview you know I had major doubts about his ability to stay the trip as well as actually being good enough as a three-year-old. He proved all doubters wrong. How well Siskin stayed the Curragh mile and ran strongly to the line, no care in the world for the uphill finish?!

There was a lot of love for Ger Lyons as well. For him it was a very first domestic Classic success. A man who always speaks so well, who is open and honest with the public, it was wonderful to see the man reduced to tears in the post-race interview.

Preview: Irish 2000 Guineas

DSC_2598

The Irish 2000 Guineas shapes as an intriguing contest, albeit a wide open one. Can ante-post favourite Siskin reward trainer Ger Lyons with a first domestic Classic success?

The 2020 renewal of the Irish 2000 Guineas, while intriguing, looks hardly a vintage Classic. There is no proven superstar here today – unlike in the English equivalent a few days ago – and given the delay of the season, the race has become an even trickier puzzle to solve.

More than half the field is trained by one man: Aiden O’Brien. While that isn’t anything new, it remains a sad fact that six of eleven runners come from the same yard in an Irish Classic.

Ante-Post Favourite:

The Ger Lyons trained Siskin is the ante-post favourite ever since he ended 2019 unbeaten. Four starts and four wins as a juvenile, with the highlight clearly a first Group 1 success when landing the Phoenix Stakes in August at the Curragh.

On form he is the horse to beat. However, only a week ago we saw that it’s never an easy task to carry over exceptional juvenile form to a classic season – particularly when achieved over shorter sprint distances – when facing rivals that have caught up physically and mentally.

With that in mind one could ask the very same questions as last week when wondering whether a precocious Pinatubo will be able to continue his incredible superiority.

Siskin started his juvenile campaign in May 2019. He raced four times over six furlongs before being put away for the winter after a final victory in the Phoenix Stakes back in August.

The key questions are obvious: Can Siskin improve? Will he stay additional two furlongs?

As mentioned last week in the English 2000 Guineas analysis, the fact that the Guineas is held much later than usual will have a significant impact on what type of horse it’ll suit. It certainly will give the precocious, early foals less an advantage than it does in any normal year. Siskin falls into this category.

On the stamina question: As a juvenile he never left the comfort of the 6 furlongs distance. That doesn’t mean he can’t stay a mile. However his sire First Defence was quite speedy himself and his offspring tends to perform best over shorter distances as well, with a noticeable decline in performance as they step up to a mile – in general terms.

Siskin’s dam stayed a mile, which is encouraging. So is Simon Rowland’s striding analysis that suggests he has a fair chance to stay the new trip.

Probably my biggest issue with Sisikin is that his form is far less impressive than four wins on the trot would usually suggest. He largely beat the same horses over and over again. Most depressingly, even though he had ample opportunity to run fast, he’s never done it.

A career-best 89 topspeed rating is not up to the standard of a top-class colt. Yes, these ratings aren’t the holy grail and have to be taken in the right context, but in my book they do continue to be a fine predictor of class and future success.

Having said that, I simply have to oppose Siskin as the Irish 2000 Guineas favourite. Mind, this isn’t an overly strong renewal. He has a fair chance to go close if he can find answers to the two key questions.

Aiden O’Brien Contenders:

From the comments AOB has made in recent days it feels like that Armory is Ballydoyle’s #1 here. And you can see why.

This son of Galileo was fast enough to win Group races over 7 furlongs, plus was a good runner-up, albeit a long way beaten, behind Pinatubo in the National Stakes and has already Group 1 form over a mile, when finishing third at Longchamp behind subsequent French 2000 Guineas winner Victor Ludorum.

He’ll likely stay further than the mile and should have a bit more to come once stepping up in trip. He ran already to a career-best topspeed rating of 95 and certainly wouldn’t mind any more rain (it has been raining a fair bit here in Kildare over the last 24 hours, and continues to do so as of writing).

Royal Lytham with first time blinkers is interesting stepping up to a trip that could suit on pedigree. He showed good form as a juvenile, in particular when staying on strongly to win the July at Stakes at Newmarket.

He got within a lengths of Siskin in the Phoenix Stakes when things didn’t quite worked his way. He’s an interesting horse but needs to find improvement as he’s yet to run particularly fast.

It’s hard to see Monarch Of Egypt to land a blow. He has a lot to find even with his stable mates. Fort Myers as a big price is a more compelling each-way contender if one wants to back one. His juvenile form is solid, if not spectacular. He should stay the mile and will appreciate if he ground stays decent.

Vatican City is an unknown quantity. A disappointing debut at Newmarket, followed by a visually impressive success on Dundalk’s All-Weather – what that form is worth is difficult to evaluate. Aiden O’Brien speaks fondly of the colt and he can improve any amount, so to speak.

In my view the most intriguing horse from team Ballydoyle is Lope Y Fernandez, though. He showed good form as a 2-year-old, in particular when a strong runner-up behind Pinatubo at Royal Ascot and he also stayed seven furlongs already.

He is a full brother to Al Hayyah who competed well in listed company up to the 1m 2f distance and his dam is a Listed placed miler.

Lope Y Fernandez has ran twice to 90+ topspeed ratings already, including a 95 rating, which is joint-best in this field. Although that is still a bit off a proper Group 1 winning horse, he looked like one in the making when winning the Round Tower Stakes at the Curragh in excellent style, proving himself to be in a different league to the rest of the field in the Group 3 contest.

Also Running:

The unexposed Sinawann stayed a mile well last year already. He looks interesting given the clear indication that he’ll be a much better three-year-old. The son of Kingman will need to improve quite a bit if he wants to emulate his prominent father, but it’s not impossible that he does.

Jim Bolger’s colt Fiscal Rules lacks experience. It has be pointed out, though, that his runner-up debut behind Wichita reads really well, given how well the Aiden O’Brien trained ran at Newmarket last week. Yet, it’s a tall ask to be pitched right into a Classic with only a single start under his belt.

Also quite unexposed is the Jessica Harrington trained Free Solo. A fine winner on his second start last July, he hasn’t been seen yet. The yard is going strongly, so that is a positive. But it’s total guesswork whether this son of Showcasing is good enough to land a blow.

The Verdict:

Only one horse I am really interested in from a betting perspective: Lope Y Fernandez. The fact that he is an April foal who showed quite strong form as a juvenile already while giving the impression he may need a step up in trip to be seen to best effect, I have reasonable hope that he can find the required improvement to be a major player in the 2000 Guineas.

With that in mind he appears to be a bit overpriced for all that there are so many question marks over the other market principles.

Selection:
10pts win – Lope Y Fernandez @ 5/1 VC

Saturday Night Thoughts

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A busy Saturday full of intriguing racing action is behind us. Some thoughts on the things that stood out me.

Kameko Wins 2000 Guineas

He appeared to be a rock solid chance beforehand but turned out to be the very best in a deep 2000 Guineas field: Kameko came late to the party with only the final furlong left to go when finally challenging for the lead. Eventually the son of Kitten’s Joy beat the Ballydoyle “money horse” Wichita… and he did it with a bit of authority.

I felt beforehand that Kameko should be a big player if he improves in a way one would hope he can as a three-year-old, given his consistent (particularly on the clock) and strong performances as a juvenile.

The fast pace surely suited him but that doesn’t mean he got it easy. In fact he had to fight for room and a clear passage. Over two furlongs out Oisin Murphy pulled Kameko out in what was quite a violent move, which in turn hampered Kinross rather significantly, who it seemed to my eyes, was just about to hit top gear and fighting to get through a gap himself.

Once in the clear, though, Kameko stayed on strongly, suggesting he will get further – which puts my suggestion that he has miler “written all over” him pretty much to shame.

What does hold true: he falls into the bracket of late foals that seemingly improve during the summer months exponentially, which rather nicely proves the point I made in my race preview that the later date of this years 2000 Guineas will have a profound impact on what type of horse it suits best.

A first British Classic success for Oisin Murphy – it was coming sooner rather than later. Derby next for Kameko? It would be a shame if not.

As for “my boy” Kinross: he raced a lot closer to a brisk pace – at least early on in the race – than I would have anticipated. He lost ground in the middle part, finding it all a bit too hot.

When it looked his race is over, Harry Bentley seemed to galvanize him once more which meant Kinross started to make progress and was about to be moving through an opening gap with about two furlongs to go.

It was then that the accelerating Kameko suddenly cut across and as a consequence hampered Kinross badly, who lost vital momentum. One could also argue Kameko was simply faster moving through the same gap Kinross wanted to get through too.

The drift in the betting to 20/1 SP was evidence that there was little confidence in his chances. So it looks he may not be quite as good as I have hoped. Nonetheless I still think he can become a top class horse. He finished 6th in a deep 2000 Guineas despite being badly hampered, though possibly need the step up to 10 furlongs to be seen to best effect. I retain hope.

Richard Hughes Calls Out Racingpost

If those from within the industry start to call you out it’s time to finally listen and step up. It’s clear that people are fed up with the substandard product the Racingpost is producing. What were usually disgruntled racing fans, now starts to spread to people from within the sport. That must be a real concern for the Racingpost.

I concluded as much last week that the paper is devoid of original content. If you charge £3.90/€4.20 for a daily paper that operates in a niche segment that is horse racing you better offer tremendous value – i.e. quality content – to justify such a steep price tag.

Tough Times for Ryan Moore

He’s one of the best, if not THE best jockey on the planet. But even Ryan Moore is a human being (seriously!). In fact he’s as human as any other jockey in that he can go through a bad run of form from time to time. Which is what he’s doing right now.

Racing is only back for less than a full week but Ryan Moore has clearly angered a lot punters judging by my Twitter feed.

The numbers look bleak: 21 rides, 1 winner. However, the reason for this may be as simple as he didn’t ride a lot of good horses. In fact, ten of his rides came on horses that went off 9/1 or bigger – some at much bigger odds even. Only one was a favourite: and won.

Hawwaam Is Back

I absolutely loved seeing the almighty South African superstar Hawwaam back (or close to) his best this afternoon. He won the Grade 1 Horse Chestnut Stakes at Turffontein in fine style where he was travelling strongly throughout and putting the race to bed rather easily in the end.

After two defeats in Cape Town where issues of travelling and settling in his new surroundings may have hindered him to show his very best, as trainer Mike De Kock suggested, the four-year-old clearly enjoyed his return to Turffontein, bagging a fifth Grade 1!

Rough Betting Days

Racing is back and been quite successful for me personally from a punting perspective. Three bigger priced winners from six bets before Friday. Brilliant!

Then came Friday. A bit of a shocker. Then came Saturday. Brutal. All bets lost. That in itself isn’t a problem. That’s what naturally happens if you back the big prices I do – 6 losing bets – isn’t the end of the world and doesn’t bother me. Normally.

What does bother me is if I don’t follow my Golden Rules of betting on horses. When I let myself down making poor choices and decisions guided by emotions and “gut feeling” and not by hard facts. When I know full well the horse is unlikely to be well handicapped but still follow through to back the “fancy”. Memo to myself: make better decisions. No bet no problem.

Preview: 2000 Guineas 2020

kingman

The Guineas meeting at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile is an unusual affair this year: it’s staged behind closed doors with no crowds allowed. But it also takes place much later than its usual date at the end of April/beginning of May.

A solid four weeks delay can have a rather profound impact in the world of horse racing, particularly for the classic generation of horses. The reason is that three-year-old colts mature at different rates generally, but start to catch up during their three-year-old campaign with their elders. An individual that was still a little bit behind in the early Spring days may have come on nicely under the sun in June.

The more precocious types can have an advantage early in the season – this certainly shows in facts such as that only few May born colts have tackled the 2000 Guineas in recent times (also notably less April foals).

For example over the last two decades the winners were predominantly born in either January (6), February (6) or March (5), whereas they fall significantly for April (2), while not a single winner was born in May. Obviously not as many born in the later months contested in first place. That in itself already illustrates that the Guineas tends to suit horses that are naturally ahead of younger three-year-old colts.

If we take this a step further then it becomes apparent that a month can make a big difference in the life of a classic horse: the picture changes if you look at those that have won the Derby over the last two decades, run in June.

Compared to the Guineas, Derby winners are significantly less born in January (2) or February (4) but we notice a massive spike in March (10) foals. Also April (3) and and particularly May born colts (4) perform much stronger now.

The Derby is a longer distance and attracts different horses, so this isn’t quite a scientific comparison. usually only few Guineas horses make it to the Derby. But isn’t that a clue in itself as well? Quite clearly the Guineas – in normal circumstances – is suited to those older three-year-olds while the younger ones catch up as the weeks progress.

You frequently hear punters and racing experts say late foals need time to develop therefore the Guineas comes too soon and therefore they can’t be backed – this notion isn’t wrong as illustrated above. At the same it doesn’t apply nearly as much to the the 2020 edition of the 2000 Guineas as it does in most other years.

Pinatubo:

The odds-on and ante-post favourite is right in the sweet spot if it comes to his date of birth. He is also the top rated horse in the field, has been incredibly impressive as a juvenile and posted superb speed figures.

Opposing the son of Shamardal may look extremely foolish come Saturday afternoon. On pedigree the step up to a mile shouldn’t be an issue. Given the fact he ran so strongly to the line at the Curragh in the National Stakes, which has a notable uphill finish, as well as in the Dewhurst in soft conditions at Newmarket, I have little doubt that an additional furlong, particularly on fast ground, will cause any trouble.

On facts and figures based on two-year-old form Pinatubo is nearly impossible to oppose and one can argue should even be a good deal shorter in the betting.

What speaks against him? For a start: his juvenile campaign started in May last year. Quite early, which also points to him being rather precocious which is enhanced by the fact he’s ran six times in 2019.

It’s unlikely he’ll need to improve as he ran to such a high level already. If he would be still as good as last year, and stays a mile, he’d win the 2000 Guineas in most years. Begs the question: can Pinatubo run to the same or at least close to the same level as a 3-year-old? His sire stats are no confidence booster.

Shamardal colts at the age of three over the mile trip have a poor strike-rate, effectively winning only half of as many races as they should (A/E), perform particularly poorly in June, and the drop in performance from two- to three-year-old is – on average – quite significant.

Pinatubo is odds-on right now. Backing him at this price one needs to have full confidence that he’s not one of those Shamardal sons that regress as they get older.

For me there are enough reasons to oppose Pinatubo. As much as I would love to see him being the next superstar. Yet, I feel this is quite a deep 2000 Guineas field and others in the race have a lot of potential to improve in a way that the gap to him can be closed.

Arizona:

Somewhat a similar profile to Pinatubo as he showed plenty f talent as a juvenile – as well as born in February – when he landed the Coventry Stakes. Arizona performed strongly on top level for the rest of the year, including a runner-up performance behind Pinatubo in the Dewhurst, and an unlucky effort at the Breeders Cup.

How much better can Arizona be? His sire No Nay Never is inviting uncomfortable questions. His offspring doesn’t progress too well from two to three – albeit there is only a single season of evidence, to be fair – but there is a significant drop in performances for his 3-year-old colts. It looks particularly dire over a mile, even if we only allow for those that were fancied in the betting.

If I have these concerns about Arizona than it’s only right and fair to say Wichita has the the same sort of question marks to overcome. As an April foal with less mileage on the clock he has a better chance of improving. I don’t see that happening over the mile trip as the dam side is speedy enough.

Kameko:

He’s got a lovely profile. He stays the mile, has proven to deal sufficiently enough with fast ground and won the Futurity Stakes – albeit on the All-Weather – in fine style at the end of last year.

I am most impressed by the consistency of his efforts in four runs as a juvenile, because there is every chance he is going to be a better three-year-old. Kameko ran to topspeed ratings of 97 and 99 (2x) already, which is quite good, if not top class, but certainly a consistent level of strong form.

If he does improve as one would hope he does, the son of Kitten’s Joy is a major player, particularly as I feel he has miler written all over him. Saying that, Kameko will need to improve again in order to feature in this deep field.

Al Suhail:

There is a lot of stamina on the dam side, even though well bred, related to a couple of horses that showed their best definitely beyond a mile. For me that’s a real worry on fast ground, despite Al Suhail having form on it.

He ran a fast time when runner-up to Military March at the Rowley Mile when last seen. I rate that form. But it came on soft ground. I feel he’s more likely to be found out for speed here.

Military March:

He really impressed me in his two starts. Won the Autumn Stakes going away in the closing stages. Excellent topspeed rating awarded for that performance. One to keep an eye on this year.

On the other hand as a full-brother to Clongowes, who stayed two miles and needed well beyond a mile to win, I feel Military March will be outpaced when it matters most.

Royal Dornoch:

He was a surprise winner of the Royal Lodge Stakes. With that he has graded course and distance form to his name which is a big plus. He ran often as a juvenile but given he is an April foal things may simply took time to click. Is a dark horse in my view – if allowed to run on merit and not here on pacemaker duties.

Kenzai Warrior:

One to keep in mind for rainy days. He’ll appreciate the step up in trip, though may need even further to be seen to best effect. Most likely will appreciate significant cut in the ground. Will be taken off his feet on the likely fast ground.

Mums Tipple has sprinter written all over in my book but will be interesting to see what he can do given he posted that rather big 110 topspeed figure at York last summer. Juan Elcano is a solid prospect, likely over further than the mile. Shouldn’t bee good enough here, though.

Hard to see any of Cepheus, Persuasion, Starcat or New World Tapestry feature.

Kinross:

Seven month ago I was super bullish when stating Kinross will win the 2000 Guineas. Didn’t work out that well on that specific day in the Futurity Stakes where I backed him at short odds. Different story on Saturday?

When talking about Kinross one can’t forget this incredible Newmarket performance. Visually stunning. The turn of foot electric. You simply don’t see a newcomer all that often doing what he did that day.

The form looks good on the numbers too: the runner-up, Raaeb, was a 2nd in a Listed race earlier this year, then only behind subsequent, and rather unlucky Group 3 runner-up Malotru, and is now a 97 rated individual. Kinross beat him as easily as it gets by 8 lengths and could have won by more, if needed.

Not surprisingly but still remarkable – let’s not forget it was his very first official racecourse appearance – Kinross was awarded a topspeed rating of 100, which is extremely high for a debut performance.

He went to Newcastle as the hot favourite for the Futurity Stakes where he finished a 6¼ lengths beaten fifth. Disappointing. Big but: the surface probably didn’t suit, he was still seriously inexperienced which showed at the start and he received a huge bump mid-race which knocked him off his stride.

Kinross will have learned plenty that day. Besides, anything he did as a two-year-old was as bonus. He is a May foal and was always one with the next year in mind. The fact that the Guineas takes place in June as opposed to a month earlier can only be a positive for his chances.

Home reports are positive for what will be Ralph Beckett’s first 2000 Guineas runner! The likely fast ground, as well as the additional furlong, open further possibilities for more improvement. This is as exciting a prospect as I’ve seen in a long time.

Verdict:

Even though I make some hard calls on some of the runners, make no mistake: this is a really deep field. Quality colts who have proven to run fast as two-year-olds. Obviously we don’t know how they have trained on. There were no trials and even for trainers it’ll be hard to gauge how their horses measure up at this point in time.

Pinatubo is the right favourite. The best two-year old in a long time, he is a star and could confirm his status as the new superstar of the sport. But I have doubts that he can run to the same high level as he did last year. He’s short enough to take on.

The boys in blue have some interesting contenders, beside the obvious one already mentioned. None of team Ballydoyle excite me, on the other hand. Although, Royal Dornoch could outrun his price tag, if not on pacemaker duties and allowed to run on merit.

Futurity winner Kemko is a rock solid chance to run well and will be suited by the conditions.

My fate is tied to Kinross, naturally. I do feel he offers the greatest potential to make a gigantic step forward. He is a massive price, with the potential improvement not factored in at all.

I was at Newmarket when his sire Kingman was denied by Night Of Thunder (and also when he won the Irish Guineas subsequently). Here’s hoping his son Kinross can go one better.

Selection:
20200606nmk153507 10pts win – Kinross @ 14/1 VC Bet