Tag Archives: 2022

Thursday Selections: 19th May 2022

3.50 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

A few look dangerously handicapped here but non more so than Jumira Bridge. He really caught the eye on his second run off a break over the minimum trip at this venue.

He was unlucky to be a clear run denied at a crucial stage of the race but he found his momentum again and finished much the strongest.

This was an excellent follow-up from a good comeback run in a seller over over the course and distance when he made eye-catching headway turning for home while carrying 10st.

He’s obviously a tricky customer, who can lose races at the gate and has fallen a long way down in the ratings. These last two performances suggest there is life in the 8-year-old, though.

Dropping down to class 6 and up to 6 furlongs he can race off bottom weight here from a good #2 draw. If he doesn’t totally mess up he hopefully finds himself in a decent position in midfield racing against the inside rail and then hopefully gets the gap when needed most.

The last time he ran at Wolverhampton over 6f in class 6 he won in impressive style, back in January 2021 of a 62 mark. He’s 12lb lower today – for a reason – but showed more enough lto to assume he will take a lot of beating if in the same form. I really feel he’s going to be cherry ripe.

10pts win – Jumira Bridge @ 5.2/1

…………

4.35 Lingfield: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

Arlecchino’s Gift was a major eyecatcher ten days ago at Wolverhampton over 6 furlongs. He was caught wide from his outside draw and only dropped in with about tree furlongs to go. Yet travelled much the best entering the home straight but had the entire field to pass.

He appeared to find a small gap over a furlong from home but got badly squeezed and hampered, losing crucial momentum. He was brave to pull through and got gong quickly again, finishing the fastest home straight sectionals despite the trouble and being eased in the final 100 yards.

Starting issues prevented him from a more fruitful juvenile campaign, although he showed some talent. A gelding operation over the winter helped and thanks to being more professional at the start he’s finally winning races. He’s been progressive this year, wining twice and running well a number of other times.

When winning of a mark of 55 at Wolverhampton he appeared to have a bit in hand, which was confirmed by a 59 topspeed rating. There were excuses at Chelmsford subsequently when he was badly bumped at the start and was overly keen in a slowly run race.

This most recent performance adds to the picture that Arlecchino’s Gift continues to improve. Of a mark of 60 he could still be well handicapped given he ran to TS 59 with relative ease and caught the eye so dramatically last time out.

Question mark is the turf. He hasn’t really fired apart from the All-Weather. However, he hasn’t been on turf since his gelding operation and the clear improvement he’s shown since then. Breeding wouldn’t suggest that there are any issues with turf.

10pt win – Arlecchino’s Gift @ 9/2

Tuesday Selections: 17th May 2022

2.50 Wolverhampton: Class 5 Handicap, 7f

Two eyecatchers run here: Port Noir is back on the All-Weather with an excellent 7lb claimer in the saddle and has every chance to go close. However, He’s never won beyond a mark of 64 and hasn’t run to a higher topspeed rating than 64 either. Hence, as mentioned in Eyecatchers #7 I keep monitoring and wait for him to come down in the ratings.

The other one is Northbound who was a massive eyecatcher at Thirsk last month on his first outing in 2022. He travelled smoothly on the inside, still hard on the bridle approaching the final furlong but never got a run. He finished eye-catchingly well in one of the fasted final furlong splits despite being hard held.

He hasn’t won since his juvenile days, but has been competitive and placed numerous times last season without winning. He was placed of 65 and ran to Topspeed 58, 59 and 61 last year. He also has a career best 71 TS rating, albeit over the minimum trip.

His mark has fallen another 2lb in the meantime, now down to 58. He looks rather well handicapped, potentially with further scope on the All-Weather, having ran only twice on the sand. The dam won at Dundalk and the sire produces some fine All-Weather horses too.

The draw is a negative. He’s drawn too wide for my likening. The jockey isn’t the most positive booking either. But Northbound may have those additional pounds in hand to overcome it and make full use of bottom weight.

10pts win – Northbound @ 11.5/1

(Note: I wrote this piece last night and took the price in pieces throughout. Money is coming this morning, which is a positive sign. 10s still available in places which I’d personally still regard a great price.)

Monday Selections: 9th May 2022

2.40 Wolverhampton: Class 5 Handicap, 5f

Two of my eyecatchers run here but the market clearly speaks in favour of Pop Dancer. That’s the one I preferred looking at the race last night anyway. Secretfact will have another day on turf over fast 5f soon, hopefully.

The money has been coming for Pop Dancer all morning, and even though I missed all the big prices, the move gives me confidence today is the day.

The 5-year-old caught my eye in a wild 5 furlong sprint at Epsom last month which Mokaatil won. The form looks good through the winner and third having run well in the meantime.

That day Pop Dancer was one of those who travelled strongly but didn’t find a gap when needed at a crucial stage of the race. He also fell down the camber late, even though the bird was flown at that time anyway.

Pop Dancer hasn’t set the world alight in the last year or so. Consequently he’s a long way down in the ratings. But I feel this most recent run was much better than the bare result. His previous topspeed ratings give him a great chance of his current 67 mark with his wellbeing confirmed.

He handles the All-Weather, is down in class 5 and has a good draw to attack the race from. I never like to see Luke Morris in the saddle and the stable form is a real concern. But there is more to like today than not about his chance with prices still too big.

10pts win – Pop Dancer @ 9/1

…………

4.20 Musselburgh: Class 6 Handicap, 1m

The favourite remains potentially well handicapped and has been given a big chance by the handicapper to make it two wins from his last three runs. But he has to stretch out over a mile and had already three hard runs in about three weeks.

When Rum Going On won at Musselburgh two back Cobra Kai was big eyecatcher for me. He had a horrible race then, hampered in the early parts of the race and severely lit up, not getting a clear run in the home straight too, yet finishing well in third place given circumstances.

That was an excellent follow-up performance from his solid seasonal reappearance at Newcastle. Cobra Kai is certainly in fine form and appears to be improving.

He tackles the mile for the first time. I have not many worries on pedigree. He should stay and should find improvement for it. The key question is whether he can settle. He may burn out early. My hope is Andrew Mullen goes forward from his good draw and let the gelding find a rhythm.

Despite being a maiden, I have a strong feeling Cobra Kai is quite a bit better than a 49 official rating. If he can improve for the trip as I expect him to do he could make a mockery of this mark.

10pts win – Cobra Kai @ 15/2

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.

Tuesday Selections: 3rd May 2022

A poor run from selection No Patience at the Curragh on Monday. He didn’t travel, didn’t seem to enjoy the ground, and in hindsight it was a poor selection. Hoping for better today.

The proof is in the pudding, so to speak. And I didn’t take enough note of the proof. No Patience has hardly ever ran well with give in the ground. All his best performances came on decent ground. It was an error of judgement on my side.

I got bamboozled by the sexy handicap mark and the strong visual impression of the most recent run. With that in mind No Patience remains an interesting horse if conditions are right. They weren’t yesterday and nothing annoys me more than money wasted on a poor selection.

Learn from it. Move on. Today is another day.

………

3.25 Lingfield: Class 4 Handicap, 1 mile

This is a competitive race but I really like the bottom weight The Rain King after his recent eye-catching reappearance at Windsor.

It was his first run since November 2021, in the meantime he underwent a wind operation. He wasn’t fancied as a 22/1 shot, yet was possibly unlucky not win.

The Rain King travelled well enough for a long time but had a bit to do from back of the field 3f out. He looked poised while searching for a gap that didn’t open, though. He finished the strongest with a late run eventually (fastest last 3f splits too), beaten only 1.5 lengths.

This was an encouraging reoccurrence and a return to form for the first time since winning a Galway maiden and subsequently leaving Donnacha O’Brien and Ireland for the Alexandra Dunne yard.

The Rain King was an expensive £250k yearling and clearly has ability. He’s a risky proposition, but still relatively low mileage for a 5-year-old with more to offer if his breathing is truly rectified, which seems to be the case.

A mark of 69 could certainly underestimate his potential. And simply on that most recent run, with a clear passage he would have finished much closer and would be a few pounds higher today, perhaps 6lb if he’d have won.

A good draw today should help The Rain King secure a good position. Whether he acts on the All-Weather remains to be seen and is a question mark with a certain risk attached given he failed to fire in two runs on polytrack in the past.

However, he’s related to a number of winners on the All-Weather. In addition: the jockey booking of Daniel Muscat – who retains the ride from Windsor – is quite eyecatching. He’s got only two rides on the card today having a 29% strike rate over the last two weeks.

10pts win – The Rain King @ 8/1

Monday Selections: 2nd May 2022

It’s bank holiday here in Ireland and I am looking to one of the big Handicaps at the Curragh to sweeten the day with winner.

4.40 Curragh: Apprentice Handicap, 7f

Normally, these competitive Handicaps with tons of runners wouldn’t be quite my cup of tea, I have to admit. However, I can’t look past the potentially well handicapped No Patience here.

He was a massive eye-catcher last month in a similarly hot Handicap at the Curragh, then over 6 furlongs. It was his first run since February and for the John C McConnell yard over a trip possibly a touch too sharp these days.

That race was utter carnage and you could pick out a number of unlucky horses. No Patience showed good early speed, then settled in midfield of the main pack on the stands’ side. He was shuffled back from three furlongs out and boxed in without the option to improve his position until about half a furlong from home when he ran on strongly under an easy ride.

He finished really well, proving his wellbeing and you would hope he can improve from the run now stepping up to an ideal 7 furlongs again.

He’s down to a sexy mark of 59 now, given he won of 65 over 7 furlongs at Dundalk last April, ran a good race in a hot Leopardstown Handicap last September from 11lb higher than he’s rated today, and achieved a 71 topspeed rating in the past. 

Apprentice Cillian McConnell claims valuable 4lb – it’s the cherry on the cake. He’s riding really well over the last number of weeks and months, albeit with a limited number of rides lately.

There are a few solid dangers in the field but the biggest danger is no getting a clear run. Drawn in stall one is probably not ideal. Patience will be key. If No Patience gets a run for home, he’ll be a big chance, regardless, I reckon. He’s simply so well handicapped now.

10pts win – No Patience @ 15/2