Tag Archives: Aiden O’Brien

Preview: Dewhurst Stakes 2018

Newmarket Rowley Mile tight finish

Odds-on favourite Too Darn Hot couldn’t have been more impressive in his three career starts. Winning the Champagne Stakes thanks to a deadly turn of foot without making it even remotely look hard work was quite something. He’s hard to oppose on that basis.

On the other hand, analyzing a a metric that I personally hold dearly – time speed ratings – the achievements of those lining up today turn this renewal of the Dewhurst into a more open race than one would have thought, if purely checking the betting market and assessing the left-hand column of the racecard.

Best TS Rating to date: 
Too Darn Hot – 106
Mohawk – 104
Anthony Van Dyck – 103
Advertise – 100

Obviously you can’t take this at face value. There is more to racing and performance. Particularly with these unexposed juveniles, performances can fluctuate, improvement can be sudden and unexpected, also TS ratings depend on circumstances.

Nonetheless, this is an interesting additional layer to interpret performance to date. Certainly what this shows is that TDH is likely to be the best horse in the race on what he’s achieved on the clock to date – but only by a slim margin.

For me the takeaway here is the urge to assess the two O’Brien horses, who ran to career best 103- and 104 TS rating last time out. Anthony Van Dyck’s National Stakes performance certainly rates highly. He’s expected to improve for it and he should make it a race for the favourite. He looks useful type who can progress into a top class individual next year.

In saying that, at given prices, his stable mate Mohawk clearly is a much more interesting individual. Five starts already, he didn’t look anywhere near top level when comprehensively beaten in the Futurity- and National Stakes subsequently.

However, this son of Galileo looked still raw and green to some extend those days. On the other hand, as a January foal, he should be rather forward by now. And he finally turned good last month at Newmarket in the Royal Lodge Stakes.

He looked bigger and better than ever. Granted, it was probably not the strongest of Group 2’s ever ran at HQ, it was still an impressive performance visually, as Mohawk quickened nicely in the closing stages to win a shade cozily. The fact that the visual impression is backed up by the TS rating gives me confidence that this lad has learned and improved, indeed.

The Royal Lodge was over a mile. Dropping back to 7 furlongs, a trip Mohawk was outran in Group company already, isn’t ideal. The rain is coming though, should take the fast out of the ground potentially, and may help to make this race more of a stamina test.

That’s a lot of “could be” and “if’s” to hope for – in saying that, as I am trying to make a case for a 25/1 shot, that’s rather expected. The likely outcome is that Mohawk, with Wayne Lordan in the saddle – which isn’t exactly a vote of confidence – won’t be good enough.

Regardless, the price is too big in a race where we can not predict how these juveniles have progressed since we saw them the last time. Given Mohawk appears to be making significant steps in the right direction I feel he’s got a chance to be competitive today.

Selection:
10pts win – Mohawk @ 25/1 PP

Preview: Prix Marcel Boussac 2018

DSC_4696

Arc day kicks off in under an hour – the opening race is one that interests me given the Aiden O’Brien trained filly Pink Dogwood is nice price in an open contest.

The favourite for the home side, Rocques has to be taken very serious after a recent Group 3 success, however is too short in the betting.

Instead Pink Dogwood offers tremendous value. This February foal has improved with each run this year and won in impressive style a couple of weeks ago at Gowran Park. She made all from the front and easily left the rest – in fairness not a particularly strong – field standing still in the closing stages.

The daughter of Camelot is stunning to look at, she clearly is quite forward and should be uncomplicated to ride in this small field, where she might be able to dictate from the front and then difficult to peg back.

Let’s hope this is a good start to the day; the cherry on the cake follows in the main event?

Selection:
10pts win – Pink Dogwood @ 4/1 PP

Preview: Irish Champion Stakes 2018

DSC_0221

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

Big Race Preview: St. Leger 2018

DSC_4696

A wide open St. Leger – I’m saying that despite the betting telling a different story. It’s a foolish price for John Gosden’s clearly exciting filly Lah Ti Dar. But so exciting to believe 7/4 is the right price? Surely not. Not for a filly that, albeit totally unexposed, has yet to run to a time speed rating of 100 or more.

She may well be the one to beat here, she may well be proving her class and stamina today – at this incredibly short price I rather look elsewhere.

I have not to look far. My eyes set firmly on what Aiden O’Brien brings to the table. And that is so much more than Kew Gardens. He’s clearly a classy individual. He should enjoy the Leger trip. But can he improve again? Does he even have to? Probably not. He’s setting the standard here, in my mind.

But he’s well exposed. We know what we get. And that may or may not be good enough. At given prices it’s nothing more than fair. And the fact team Ballydoyle brings a handful of runners here doesn’t scream confidence in Kew Gardens.

Two other runners have caught my eye. Not for the first time this is The Pentagon. A promising juvenile last year, he also showed continued promise earlier this year; I quite liked his 3rd placed finish in the Derrinstown Derby Trial and subsequently saw him as a fair each-way chance in the Derby.

He was a long way beaten that day eventually, though that run was better than the bare form may suggest. He’s been beaten in the Irish Derby and the Great Voltiger subsequently – but both runs showed there is some class. Particularly his Curragh performance, where he made a lot of ground from the back of the field is interesting.

Stepping up in trip could suit. The Pentagon has no turn of foot, he’s more of a grinder, I feel. That may well suit the Leger and he can outran his big price tag.

So can be stable mate Southern France. Less exposed and a huge individual in physical presence, his return from a small break in the Irish St. Leger Trial last month was hugely promising.

He clearly wasn’t well placed trailing the field and had a lot of ground to make up in the home straight. Which he did pretty easily. He wasn’t beaten up to finish closer to those in front of him who also either set the pace or rode close to it for most parts of the race. It was a lovely prep for the big one, I feel.

Selections:
5pts Win – The Pentagon @ 26/1 MB
5pts Win – Southern France @ 17/1 MB

Friday Selections: August, 3rd 2018

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

Three on the bounce! What rare joy to find a winner on three consecutive days – Land Force (7/2) clearly stayed the trip as hoped and won the Richmond Stakes in commanding style under a class ride by Ryan Moore.

……

5.50 Newmarket: Class 5 Handicap, 12f

It was a disappointing handicap debut for Floria Tosca the other day after she showed a bit of promise in three maiden starts. I was keen on her the last time as I thought that judged by her second start at Chelmsford she could be well treated off her opening mark. That form worked out incredibly well and her subsequent performance at Bath looked more than decent too.

A fortnight ago the race then didn’t quite worked out the way as hoped. They were crawling for most parts, Floria Tosca was left flat footed over 4f out but then made quite a bit of stylish progress to lead briefly over 2f out. She didn’t see it out eventually and that becomes a bit of a habit now, which is a concern.

Hopefully it is more greenness than anything else. She is bred for the job so upped to 12f may suit. There should be a fair pace on the cards today and it is very winnable race. Dropped 3lb to a mark off 70 plus interesting young apprentice Marco Ghiani in the saddle who claims another 7lb means the filly must enter calculations here.

Selection:
10pts win – Floria Tosca @ 11/1 PP

Thursday Selections: August, 2nd 2018

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

He’s finally done it! Lightning Spear after more than two handful of attempts finally broke through the barrier to land a Group 1! And how he did it – beautifully timed and produced with patience and poise by Osisin Murphy, the seven year old colt stormed to success in the Sussex Stakes. A great price he was all the same (selection @ 12.5/1)!

……….

3.00 Goodwood: Group 1 Richmond Stakes, 6f

Ballydoyle isn’t going quite as strong as one would usually see this time of the year. There were issues in the yard reportedly. Nonetheless Land Force looks a supreme candidate to land the Richmond Stakes today.

He’s been a February foal so no surprise to see him having quite a bit of racing already in his legs as he also appears to be a good looking and imposing individual. He took the step up to graded class in his stride when finishing a strong 3rd in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot. Arguably a race he wasn’t advantaged due to his positioning toward the stand side for most parts of the race.

He finished very strongly, indicating a step up to 6f will be beneficial. He remained over the minimum trip next time out in a Listed contest at Tipperary. Not the strongest of contests, but he only needed to be pushed under under hands and heels to win cozily.

Today’s test looks ideal for this speedy individual. The additional furlong won’t be a problem, neither is the ground.

Selection:
10pts win – Land Force @ 7/2 PP

Thursday Selections: May, 10th 2018

DSC_1062

That looked good… at least for the wallet: Magic Wand (7/2) thundering down to landing the Cheshire Oaks yesterday. A general 14/1 chance for the Oaks, it remains to be seen how much that form is worth as it surely didn’t look a strong renewal. Ispolini in contrast was a real letdown in the Chester Vase.

…..

4.35 Chester: Class 3 Handicap, 1m 4f

You don’t see that often an Aiden O’Brien trained individual running in a British Handicap, and those that do generally fail to fire. So, you got to be wary of this Christopher Robin today.

On the other hand, this son of Camelot showed promise as a juvenile and despite a disappointing reappearance at Leopardstown recently remains to have some very fancy entries for later the season.

Christopher Robin could also be excused for his 6½ lengths beaten fifth of fifth finish in heavy conditions over 10f in a race that was run at a start stop gallop. If the going was a concern, then the fact he was trailing the field and in a bad spot when the field turned for home is in combination a fair excuse.

Nevertheless, this lad is unlikely to turn into a Group performer. But of a handicap mark off 81 he looks well in given improvement is likely to come for the better ground and step up in trip. This race isn’t that deep and at given odds I feel Christopher Robin is overpriced, actually.

Selection:
10pts win – Christopher Robin @ 5/1 Matchbook