Tag Archives: 2000 Guineas

Preview: Irish Champion Stakes 2018

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This years renewals of the Irish Champion Stakes wins in excitement purely on the basis of the renewed clash between Roaring Lion and Saxon Warrior. Both met several times in big races over the last two seasons and it has been interesting to see how each individual progresses differently.

One could argue that since the 2017 Racingpost Trophy Roaring Lion has been the more progressive one; certainly since Saxon Warrior landed his own early season target with the 2000 Guineas, Aiden O’Brien’s charge has been playing second fiddle on three occasions behind “The Lion”.

The last time, in the Juddmonte International, the gap was at its biggest ever since these two dated each other for the first time. 5 lengths Roaring Lion had to spare that day. Will it be different today?

It’s been a long year for both horses now and it probably comes down who’s able to hold his form.

On paper Roaring Lion is poised to win another battle today. Ground and track should suit him, and the fact AOB seems to throw the kitchen sink at him reminds me a little bit of 2009 when the same happened taking Sea The Stars on.

Regardless, taking prices into account, I find it impossible to back the favourite, even if he is the most exciting horse of 2018 and he’s likely to win today. Odds-on is a no go for me. And this particular race has proven over the last number of years it can be a bit of a minefield for short priced favs.

So I settle happily with Ballyoyle’s second string: Rhododendron. Her Lockinge Stakes win earlier this year rates as a superb piece of form and as she has proven in the past to stay 10 furlongs she would be a much shorter price if not for an abysmal run of form.

I bank on her to find back to her best today, for the simple fact the AOB yard wasn’t right for some time this summer and her runs were simply too bad to be true.

The setup of the race today could suit her well. In saying that, she has to find with the two market principles, of course. But then, she is a massive price, and on her best form she should be half of the odds available today.

Selection:
10pts win – Rhododendron @ 22/1 PP

Preview: Juddmonte International 2018

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This is not a vintage renewal of the Juddmonte International… as so many other major flat races this year. It feels a bit like a flat flat season, so to speak. I seem not to be the only one who feels this way. On the other hand, the question could be asked: are we undervaluing the achievements of Poet’s Voice?

Possibly. Possibly not. Possibly because he’s a five-year old, around for a long time, and this sudden improvement which has seen the Stoute inmate landing two major Group 1 races on the bounce – the Prince of Wales and King George – hasn’t caused the same excitement as they would have if a sexy Ballydoyle three-year old would have done the same.

Possibly not, though, because the key rivals he’s beaten at Royal Ascot were clearly out of form and not quite up to the standard you’d usually see in a King George either.

I’m sitting on the fence here. I don’t rate the Royal Ascot success all that highly, although felt Poet’s Voice King George success was a stunning performance, if only visually. Coming from off the pace, to peg back a fine Ledger runner-up, who got first run – that was quite something.

That says, I do not think Poet’s Voice has suddenly found all this dramatic improvement over the last winter, that has resulted in him shooting up the ratings from a 119 rated individual to a world-class high 130.

In fact, I do firmly believe – while acknowledging he seems to improve with age – he is not dramatically better than his runner-up performance in the Irish Champion Stakes last year. A view that may not be shared by many.

What does this mean in the context of this race today? It means that the gap between Poet’s Voice and the leading three-year old’s going to post isn’t as high as the official ratings says. And if that is the assumption then both Roaring Lion and Saxon Warrior in particular must have cracking chances to overturn the favourite as they receive 7lb through weight for age.

While Benbatl and Irish Derby winner Latrobe can’t be underestimated, my view is that the Eclipse first and second are the main dangers to short priced favourite Poet’s Voice.

Personally I am more a fan of Roaring Lion but from a betting perspective I have to concede the price for Saxon Warrior is foolish. Let’s not forget there was only a neck between the pair at Sandown.

One could make cases for the Ballydoyle horses had the run of the race, or that Roaring Lion drifted to his right pushing Saxon Warrior toward the rails in the closing stages which may have cost him momentum.

Either way, there is clearly not a lot between these two. However the betting would suggest Roaring Lion is a couple of lengths better than the reigning 2000 Guineas winner. Not in my book.

The trip may be in favour of Roaring Lion, and also Poet’s Voice. Or is it? Saxon Warrior stays the trip as good as these two I believe. Given he had a good break now and comes here relatively fresh is a positive.

After all there is very little between three three market principles in my view.  Hence the 6/1 on offer for last years Racingpost Trophy winner is over the top.

Selection: 
10pts win – Saxon Warrior @ 6/1 PP

Saturday Selections: May, 5th 2018

Gleneagles

3.35 Newmarket: 2000 Guineas, 1 mile

You can’t deny the fact he has been massively disappointing in his last two runs, however, there were very valid excuses for Expert Eye to finish last in the Dewhurst when a warm favourite to land it, as well as when a slightly underwhelming runner-up in the Greenham a fortnight ago.

Regardless, Expert Eye possesses tons of talent as he proved in the Vintage Stakes last summer – a Group 2 event he took with so much ease only the really good ones are capable of.

No doubt, his chances hinge on him settling early on. We have seen Expert Eye pulling his chances away before, and if we see the same here, him pulling the arms off Andrea Atzeni over the first few furlongs then his race is over before it really started.

That’s the reason why Expert Eye is as big a price as he is. Still too big, as I trust Sir Michael to teach the horse how to settle and his seasonal debut run should help in that regard as well.

Selection:
10pts win – Expert Eye @ 12/1 VC

…….

6.20 Doncaster: Class 3 Handicap, 1 mile

Some interesting horses at the top of the market, though I do prefer the chance of bottom weight Chingachgook. A son of Eclipse winner Al Kazeem (wonderful memories, I was at Sandown that day to see him romp home), in five career starts he has shown plenty of potential.

After few fine performances on the All-Weather over the winter he made his handicap debut at Newcastle in February – the only time he bombed out up until now. Switched to turf for the first time at the end of March at Musselburgh, Chingachgook returned to form.

In bottomless ground conditions he didn’t have an ideal break from the widest draw and found himself for most parts of the race in the uncomfortable position chasing the pack. That’s never good at Musselburgh, particularly in those type of conditions.

Chingachgook also didn’t get the clearest of runs through the field and the bird was flown once he was in the clear. Still, he ran on well to finish a good second, doing anything as the only horse from those held up. The form has been franked by the winner and fourth subsequently.

Same handicap mark, slightly better ground, upped in grade, however having the chance to race off a featherweight – Chingachgook should be able to outrun his price tag. Whether that is enough to beat the better fancied market principles remains to be seen.

Selection:
10pts win – Chingachgook @ 9/1 WH

Tuesday Racing – 9th May 2017

A nice winner with Shargiah (4/1) at Windsor today – the “lucky last”! My other two chances for the day only hit the post – both finished in the runner-up spot, though it is fair to say both found one too good. No excuses there.

In the meantime the racing world discussed the possibilities of 2000 Guineas hero Churchill to turn up at Epsom. Aiden O’Brien didn’t commit to anything in the post-race interviews, only referring to “the lads”.

Today things became a little clearer. At least in so far as no decision will be made for at least another week. That says Aiden seemed to get slightly carried away when  letting his mind speak:

“You wouldn’t say he won’t get further with the way he did it in the Guineas.” 

A hint in itself? Well, I reckon Churchill has a go at the Derby. He’s a son of the almighty Galileo, that alone gives him a chance to stay. And let’s be honest, it’s not like that Ballydoyle has too many other exciting options for the big race at this point in time: Capri, Yukatan, Douglas Macarthur and maybe the “dark horse” Cliffs Of Moher?

…..

3.00 Ayr: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 2f

Dalgleish’s Eez Eh looks overpriced in this race now probably fitter than on his seasonal reappearance last month. The four year was gelded over the winter after a pretty fruitful opening campaign.

He went through three obligatory maiden runs to get a handicap and after finding 12f too far on handicap debut he was subsequently dropped in trip and finished runner-up twice but went one better when dropped down to 9f at Carlisle where he got finally off the mark.

You can draw a line through his final start in 2016 on soft ground over 12f. However conditions at Ayr should suit, 10f on fast ground looks ideal. Eez Eh is only 3lb higher than his last winning mark but ran already three times to RPR’s above that, so there is a good chance that he could still pull out a bit more under optimal conditions.

Selection:
10pts win – Eez Eh @ 17/2 William Hill

Sunday Tips

The flat changes gear – we saw that today. The 2000 Guineas finally kicked the new season really off and it did so in style. The race produced a blockbuster finish with the better end for the 6/4 favourite Churchill.

It was another superb ride by the master that Ryan Moore is, as he made sure Churchill was in the best position when it really matter, grabbing the rail, to keep the colt focused and in line, which was an advantage.

At least compared to some of the other well fancied rivals, like Al Wukair or Barney Roy for example. The French horse had to go wide around the whole field, found that certainly not easy but finished strongly in his own right. Barney Roy looked still a bit green.

I’d love to see a rematch of the Guineas main contenders this year, and I’m sure we get it. Will be interesting whether it’s gonna be the same outcome? I’ have my doubts.

Sunday will be another massive day. The 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, and the Derby Trial at Leopardstown, plus a handful of other Group races and good Handicaps.

…….

1.50 Newmarket: Class 2 Handicap, 1m 4f

This is a hot contest with some really good horses lining up. Favourite Big Country is an exciting improver who looks certain to bring his All-Weather form to the turf. His last Kempton win is excellent form and the lightly raced son of High Chaparral could easily defy a 10lb rise in the mark.

However at prices I prefer top weight Frontiersman. Yes, it’s a tough task to run of 101 and 9st 10lb in a Handicap. However this lad looks pattern class. He has filled his huge frame nicely over the winter, strengthening further after a fine 3yo campaign last season that saw him win a nice Handicap over course and distance.

He clearly needed the run on his reapearance at Doncaster last month and should be primed now. Fast ground seems key, which he gets here at Newmarket. He takes plenty of beating in my mind.

Selection:
10pts win – Frontiersman @ 5/1 Paddy Power

……

3.55 Leopardstown: Handicap, 7 furlongs

He’s never won on turf, nonetheless Split The Atom looks incredibly well handicapped here. It’s not like that he doesn’t act on grass, in fact he’s been placed six times, however never found the right opportunity.

It looked like he could break the duck at Navan a fortnight ago. He travelled much the best and finished like a train but was arguably an unlucky runner-up.

He’s got a chance to race off the same mark, however with a 5lb apprentice in the saddle and over his preferred 7f trip on fast ground where he has a four out of six place strike rate.

The wide draw is not a problem because he’s a hold-up horse anyway, however it is not easy to win from far back at Leopardstown, so that is an obvious question mark. Nonetheless on RPR’s an time speed figures he has a tremendous chance and I’m happy to go risk at a big price.

Selection:
10pts win – Split The Atom @ 7/1 Bet365

……..

4.55 Hamilton: Class 5 Handicap, 8.5 furlongs

Kevin Ryan’s Al Hawraa seems judged on a poor seasonal reappearance but it’s likely she’s going to be much sharper this time. We don’t know yet how good (or bad) daughter of Iffraaj is, though there was some indication last season that she is not totally  without talent.

She was able to finish a good runner-up on debut behind subsequent dual winner and she managed to finish in the placings another two times in maiden company. It’s fair to say she looked bad in her two handicap runs, however her opening mark was potentially on the stiff side.

She dropped down to 63 now and judged on her maiden form that could give her a chance to be competitive if she can respond well for the slight step up in trip. Ground looks fine and Kevin Ryan tends to do pretty well at Hamilton even more so if Kevin Stock is in the saddle.

Selection:
10pts win – Al Hawraa @ 14/1 Bet365

…….

The Irish 1000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown looks a shocking race on Sunday. What’s the chance that even one of those runs in the actual Classic? On the other hand the Derby Trial is intriguing. Capri versus Yukatan.

Yukatan is held in high regard by the ‘Brien camp. However I actually like Capri a bit better at this stage. The big grey was not suited by the slow pace on his reappearance and it’ll be interesting to if things pan out differently and if that sees him closing the gab to Yukatan.

1000 Guineas Preview

Guineas Weekend Preview

Guineas weekend has firmly arrived – the first Classics of the new flat season nearly upon us…. time is flying – studying the four miler at Cheltenham feels like yesterday!

But it’s great. I love flat racing. I love Newmarket, I love Guineas weekend. It’s when dreams are still dreamed, when the summer starts to make its presence felt and the mind gets fully focused on the flat and all those good looking, fast horses that now emerge on a near daily basis.

My allegiance in the 2000 Guineas is not a secret. I shouted it from the roof for weeks: Al Wukair will give hot favourite Churchill plenty to think about. I stick to my guns and nothing has changed my opinion – I’d be surprised if the French horse doesn’t go close.

Sunday – 1000 Guineas:

Not until last night I made up my mind up on the fillies’ equivalent. Because let’s face it, this is quite an open contest. Yes, another Aiden O’Brien inmate says ‘HI’ from the top of the betting, but  you got to be a brave man to back Rhododendron for what seems quite a skinny price.

With fillies you never know whether they have trained on, whether they are still in love with the game or whether they have set their mind on other things in life. That aside, we haven’t seen Rhododendron since last season, whereas we have seen a number of other intriguing contenders already racing in the last weeks, proving they have trained on.

Also even if you do believe strongly in her juvenile form, it’s probably fair to say that it does tie in with a handful of other runners in the field, and it’s not like that she ran all of them down in the manner of a far superior individual.

Nonetheless it appears that the Irish have a very strong hand in the 1000 Guineas on Sunday, Aiden O’Brien in particular – not only because of Rhododendron.

Big market mover in recent days was stable mate Winter, and you can easily see why. It was a huge run in the 1000 Guineas trial at Leopardstown from her. She had a wider than ideal trip throughout, yet nearly beat stable mate Hydrangea who in contrast had the run of the race from the front.

They grey has plenty of scope and is clearly talented. However the good prices are long gone. Is Hydrangea better value, given she won the trial? Yes, possibly. A good filly, a willing partner for whoever jockey sits atop, a filly that has a fair chance, though she is far from flashy and you wonder whether she can improve from Leopardstown.

The Leopardstown form has been franked in no uncertain terms by third placed Rehana in the meantime – that enhances the chances of Winter and Hydrangea, no doubt. Rehana has been impressive in the Group 3 Athasi Stakes at Naas last weekend.

IMO this piece of form, the Leopardstown Trial, is therefore key in determining the winner of the 1000 Guineas. In saying that the filly that came fourth that day is clearly the one of most interest to me.

Intricately providing young Joseph his first Classic winner? What a story that would be. She is still a whopping price, which puzzles me, particularly because the vibes from the yard seem positive.

Anyway, Leopardstown was clearly an occasion where  the main aim was to get a run under her belt. Still she ran a perfectly fine race. She raced off the pace which wasn’t ideal in this particular contest, but she travelled well enough through the race and eventually finished less than 2 lengths beaten, without getting a hard ride at all.

It should put her right for when it really matters. Lest we forget, Intricately already is a Group 1 winner! She beat Hydrangea in a tight finish in the Moyglare last season – Rhododendron was nearly two lengths back in third.

The one mile trip won’t be an issue for her. Yes, she was disappointing at Santa Anita, but that was right at the end of the season. You could draw from that performance that quick ground is a slight concern, though. However in terms of stamina, I don’t worry too much. She looks a filly that cries out for an extra furlong.

In summary, Intricately looks a big price – too big. She has the right profile, is well bred for the job, has race fitness on her side and is clearly classy given she is a Group 1 winner – so Intricately @ 18/1 is my selection for the 1000 Guineas.

…….

5.00 Goodwood: Class 5 Handicap, 10f

Duchess Of Fife looks an intriguing contender for a red hot yard. The filly was pretty raw with plenty to learn in all her three maiden runs last season, however as an April foal she should have scope to improve this season. She has quite a big frame to fill too, so a winter may have done her the world of good.

A hood is applied for the first time, so she does try the 10f trip. Her maiden form looks solid rating wise, giving her every chance of an opening mark of 65. She will need to find improvement for the distance, headgear and maturity, but if she does make a step forward she should go very close here.

Selection:
10pts win – Duchess Of Fife @ 9/1 Bet365

………

6.50 Doncaster: Class 2 Handicap, 7f

Bottom weight Aardwolf is a very interesting contender after an excellent comeback run on the back of a gelding op during the winter. With his WFA allowance and prominent racing style he could steel the race.

Nonetheless a safer pick is Gallipoli who looks certain to progress after a classy victory at Leicester last moth. The four year old is still quite lightly raced and had only three starts over this 7f trip, with legitimate excuses the first two starts over this trip where didn’t quite perform too well.

Gallipoli has course form – he got off the mark on debut here over 5f on fast ground. So conditions are sure to suit him. Hopefully there will be enough pace, as it seems not too many want to go forward. However he showed in the past to be able to track the pace and change gear.

Selection:
10pts win – Gallipoli @ 10/3 William Hill

Thursday Racing

Not all Frankel offspring can be classy. Seven Heavens certainly isn’t. I felt he deserved his chance dropping in trip in the Pavilion Stakes at Ascot yesterday afternoon. However he finished weak. No excuses this time.

However this proved to be the perfect test for Blue Point. Trained by Charlie Appleby, the Dewhurst third enjoyed the return to sprinting and looks an exciting prospect for this division this season. You’d have to think the Commonwealth Cup is the ideal target for him.

Mill Reef Stakes winner Harry Angel ran a big race in second, pulling hard. If he learns to settle there is a lot of upside for this Dark Angel colt.

In the meantime the declarations for the 2000 Guineas are in. It’ll be the smallest field since 1988 – with only ten horses going to post! Churchill remains the overwhelming favourite. He’s a general 6/4 chance.

I’m still happy with my selection, though. Al Wukair has been my ante-post fancy ever since he romped home in the Prix Djebel, and I remain confident that he’ll give me a big run for my money.

There is also a nice article on Al Wukair on the Racingpost website for further reading.

……

4.00 Redcar, Class 5 Handicap, 1m 1f

Some interesting horses in this race. Favourite Teodoro could improve big time for the trip on handicap debut while Ronnie The Rooster looks the form choice.

However bottom weight Turning Gold is the most attractive price. He had three maiden runs in quick succession last year, totally unfancied SP’s ranging from 50/1 to 200/1.

However given connections, this Prescott runner is bound improve. The handicapper thinks the same and has allotted a rather biggish mark of 58 – where did he get that from, given the shocking maiden form?

Doesn’t matter, because it could still be not enough to stop this Pivotal son on handicap debut. He steps up to 9f which looks within range on pedigree. Turning Gold was also a very late foal, born in May, so he’s likely to be better with age and experience.

It seems significant that Luke Morris is in the saddle who rides plenty of winners for Mark Prescott and has only this one ride today.

Selection:
10pts win – Turning Gold @ 10/1 Bet365