Tag Archives: April

Saturday Selections: 4th June 2022

Kimngrace was the winner I needed yesterday. Despite all the trouble in the world she delivered the good when most needed. Another winner today – on Derby Day – would be very much appreciated.

4.41 Musselburgh: Class 6 Handicap, 7f

Northbound was a massive eyecatcher at Thirsk in April 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 couldn’t follow up at Wolverhampton last month but his race was effectively over as soon as it began. Impeded right out of the gates and the door shut for any progress he had to settle at the rear of the field while the race very much developed at the front. This run is best ignored and I take the Thirsk performance as reference for his current form.

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 3lb in the meantime, in fact it’s 5lb lower than at Thirsk. He looks seriously well handicapped if he can show the level of performance he did in April.

10pts win – Northbound @ 7/1

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.

Eyecatchers #5 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.

Kimngrace
22/04/22: 1.20 Sandown:

After a steadied start she settled in rear of the field. She made some smooth progress from over three furlongs out but was stuck behind a bunch of horses and a clear passage denied until very late. She finished well when a bit of racing room opened up in the closing stages.

The winner made all from the front, the runner-up and third raced close to the pace too. Given these circumstances this was a big run on what was Kimngrace’s seasonal reappearance.

She looks a filly open to improvement, possibly more so if stepping up to 6 furlongs again, or perhaps a really stiff five. When last seen in 2021 she won a Maiden race at Haydock over 6f and looked at home over the trip. That particular form worked out well with the runner-up having ran a huge race in the Fred Darling Stakes recently.

It will be interesting to see what the handicapper does. I feel he can’t raise her mark too much . Of her current 78 rating she looks potentially really well handicapped, though.

Race Replay

Devilwala
23/04/22 – 1.20 Ripon:

I admit this requires a bit of imagination and context. Devilwala travelled okayish, always close to the pace, and attempted to make a move from 3 furlongs out as the pace increased. He looked one of the more dangerous horses at this moment in time, was still there for a good finish with a furlong to go, but ran out of gas eventually.

Not unexpectedly. Devilwala doesn’t stay the mile trip. He was 4th in a 2000 Guineas, and overall highly tried in his first two seasons, but his best came over 6f and 7f, like a strong 4th, less than three lengths beaten in the Dewhurst behind St. Mark’s Basilica.

Those days are long gone. He changed yards twice and has been gelded. He’s fallen from a career highest 114 OR to a modest 84 right now. I suspect he’ll be dropped another couple of pounds soon.

That’s the context to this 4th place finish at Ripon. A solid run over a distance that stretched his stamina. It should bring him on for the moment he drops in trip.

I want to see a few more pounds off the mark plus a drop in class to be seriously interested. This day will come in the not too distinct future.

Race Replay

Buckshaw Village
23/04/22 – 5.10 Ripon:

Travelled in midfield initially, then relegated to the rear and switched to the inside, possibly for more cover. Was behind a wall of horses and stuck to the task to stay in touch and looked poised for a challenge. Didn’t get a run through, slightly impeded 1 furlong out. Finished really well under hands and heels.

This was only the second handicap start for the colt and second run after a lackluster but excusable comeback run at Pontefract. He showed promise last season as a juvenile with three placed efforts in maiden & novice company.

This was a great run though, given circumstances, also over the minimum trip. I feel, given the pedigree, and the way he finished here, he’ll absolutely enjoy going back up to 6 furlongs again, or perhaps even attempting 7 furlongs.

He comes down to a workable mark, particularly if he can improve for experience and trip. Buckshaw Village is ready to win. He certainly wants decent ground, though, and wouldn’t be of interest to me if he stays over the minimum trip.

Race Replay

Billian
23/04/22 – 1.30 Haydock:

Breaking slowly put him at a disadvantage right away. He trailed the field but travelled well enough with good progress. Dramatic move to be switched to the wide outside in order to get a clear run. He looked dangerous there but had too much too do and tired in the closing stages.

Still managed to finish the 2nd fastest combined splits for the final three furlongs, just behind the well handicapped After John (3rd place). This form looks really strong and his performance a definite return to form.

He has fallen 17lb in the mark in the last year, and clearly lost his enthusiasm for racing. Breaking poorly has become a habit and he was never once fancied in 2021.

Nonetheless, he’s coming down to a sexy handicap mark now, possibly with even further assistance from the handicapper after this run. Billian has ran six times to topspeed ratings of 60 and higher throughout his career which gives plenty of hope that he can win soon.

One caveat: I have to account for the slow starts and think they are easier to make up in smaller fields. Plus while he appears ground independent I believe his best comes out on decent ground. Only in those circumstances I will be interested in him.

Race Replay

Strawman
23/04/22 – 7.05 Doncaster:

He completely messed up the start and lost a number of lengths early on (have to monitor whether this becomes a habit). Trailed until turning for home when making rapid progress highlighted by blistering sectionals to move into a challenging position. Pays for the effort in the closing stages but also entitled to tire on his first run in 223 days.

This was Strawman’s first “poor” run in a year. He won three races and finished another one second of his four starts last season. And this most recent one is a much stronger performance than the 7 lengths beaten 5/5 result suggests.

In fact this run suggests the handicapper may still not have caught up with him and he can win again as long as it’s 9-10 furlongs on decent ground.

Race Replay

Secretfact
24/04/22 – 2.40 Bath:

Was very alertly out of the gate, travelled strongly in midfield to the 2 furlong marker. Had nowhere to go from there, though, trying different routes. Eventually pushed toward the inside when he runs out of fuel.

The 9-year-old was entitled to get tired on his first start in 2022, but clearly ran much better than the result and price suggested. He has still a lot of enthusiasm for racing.

Down to a mark of 65, which is probably a fairer reflection of his class these days, but a little bit of additional assistance from the handicapper will mean he’s got to be well handicapped over the minimum trip on lightning fast ground.

Side note: He ran at Chepstow on Thursday in the meantime. Same mark, same trip. Fine performance, leading from the front, just to tire in the closing stages and drop to 4th late. He should be ready for a big run next time if conditions suit (5f, fast going).

Race Replay

Sense Of Security
24/04/22 – 4.55 Bath:

Was well away from the gates and travelled in midfield for the majority of the race. She was quite keen too, pulling hard from midway through. Yet she appeared to go easily and strongly turning for home, the jockey taking a pull over 3 furlongs out.

She seemed to travel like the winner, with the only problem how to get a run for home. It didn’t happen until very late when the race was over. She is obviously much better than this result.

Sense Of Security has shown promise last year, was placed over 5.5f at this track in an eye-catching performance. She was a good third at Kempton earlier this month too, having ran to topspeed 61.

With experience she should improve. I feel a drop to 7f wouldn’t be an issue, neither would be a step up in trip out of question given the pedigree. Though, given her tendency to pull hard, a mile is probably the maximum right now.

Race Replay

Dream Composer
24/04/22 – 4.05 Wetherby:

Travelled in last position for most of the race, until turning for home when he attempted to make progress on the wide outside. Wasn’t helped by moving horses in front but also struggled with top-end speed on this fast surface.

Was brave in the final furlong to move through a gap and finished well. Clear improvement on recent poor Pontefract showing, which was a first run after a break, though. Performance is notable for the fact he ran so well here on fast ground even though he’s a much better horse with cut in the ground.

Comes down to a really nice mark having won of 1lb higher last summer and having ran a massive race in a big Ayr Handicap of 7lb higher. Interesting next time whenever on soft ground.

Race Replay

Hodler
25/04/22 – 4.55 Windsor:

Travelled strongly in rear, hard on the bridle approaching the last two furlongs. Stuck behind a wall of horses he’s switched to the inside but that doesn’t make the situation any better. Short of room there until very late when switched even wider.

I really liked how Hodler travelled here. He spotted a hood for the first time. Still pretty lightly raced it’s clear racing him over sprint trips is far from ideal given his pedigree. But potentially required to bring the mark down from what was a stiff opening mark (78).

He will clearly benefit moving up in distance. 10 furlongs looks possible. The fact he has been keen in the past is the obvious question mark for that sort of project. Nonetheless worth waiting for it to happen before backing him.

Race Replay

Homemade Andrea
25/04/22 – 7.55 Windsor:

Settled in rear of the field and travelled much the strongest to the 2 furlong marker, although had to delay her challenge. Once things opened up she dropped away tamely.

The mile trip could be too far for her. The filly’s best is over 7 furlongs which looks more in line with her sire and dam’s sire stamina index too. I imagine she might be best with a bit of cut in the ground as well.

Clearly 13 runs and 1 single win isn’t an overly sexy profile. But she managed to win of a mark of 50 as a juvenile and was a good runner-up of 2lb higher at Lingfield in January, when also running to a 50 topspeed rating, validating this form.

She’s likely to fall another couple of pounds for this run. If dropping back to 7 furlongs she’ll be interesting with a bit of cut in the ground I reckon.

Race Replay

Golden Apollo
25/04/22 – 7.05 Thirsk:

Didn’t have a good start and as a consequence settled in the final third of the field. Travelled okay and looked in with a shot if getting a clear run. He was kept up to the task the entire race but didn’t find a gap. Finished easily and seemingly with something left in the tank.

The golden years are obviously behind the 8-year-old but he still performed of marks in the 80s last year and also ran to topspeed 84 when runner-up in a hot Redcar Handicap.

He’s been a shade unlucky a number times too in the meantime, as a results his mark is reduced all the time. He’s down to a good mark already, but any additional help from the handicapper will be welcome. A 6f race of a 75 rating in class 4 could be an optimal scenario.

Race Replay

Northbound
25/04/22 – 20.05 Thirsk:

Keen at different stages of the race, nonetheless travelling smoothly on the inside. Still hard on the bridle over a furlong out, although absolutely no chance to get a run. Gently switched to the middle of the track very late and 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 though, and sometimes unlucky.

His mark continues to fall and is down to what makes him a well handicapped individual now. He was placed of 65 and ran to Topspeed 58, 59 and 61 last year. He also has a career best 71 TS rating. 7f fast ground may be ideal.

Race Replay

Golden Melody
26/04/22 – 3.30 Nottingham:

This was a really slow race for the most part resulting in a sprint finish. Golden Melody was disadvantaged by her racing position but made eye-catching progress on the inside from 4 furlongs out against a rapidly increasing pace.

The leaders where not for catching holding all the aces due to the nature of how the race developed, but Golden Melody finished the last four furlongs still much the fastest. It’s speculative but she was probably the best horse in the race on handicapping terms and would have won in different circumstances.

The 4-year-old filly looks quite exposed on paper, given 23 lifetime starts already. However, she was still progressive in a busy campaign last year. Particularly from summer on this March filly was prolific: three wins and a number of quality efforts.

She’s up to a 73 mark now and hasn’t matched that with topspeed yet. However she came close enough with a 69 TS effort in a hot class 2 York Handicap last year. She can improve again as this most recent run suggests. Anything between 9-10 furlongs is probably ideal with relative ground independence.

Race Replay

Kraken Power
26/04/22 – 6.15 Ayr:

Got a bump right after the start and was quite keen in the aftermath. Yet travelled much the best and made a big effort from 3f out to contest the lead on the outside of the field approaching the final furlong marker. Tired in the closing stages.

He possibly paid for a big effort from three to one furlongs out. Despite fading away late, he finished the last three furlongs fast and wasn’t knocked about in the closing stages. This performance is a clear return to form and build nicely on a solid comeback run at Thirsk earlier this month.

He changed yards late last year after obviously losing his way. He hasn’t exactly fired in the first two starts for Jim Goldie but was better than the bare form suggested at Thirsk and really caught my eye here too.

Kraken Power has talent. He was rated as high as 86, was placed in good races of 82 last season, as well as ran to topspeed 82. He’s now down to 70. If this upward trend continues he’ll be a massive chance next time. Both minimum trip and 6 furlongs are fine, although fast ground 6f may be the ideal scenario.

Race Replay

Hathlool
27/04/22 – 1.50 Ascot:

Awkward start, settled in rear travelling notably well. Made eye-catching progress from midway through the race, switching toward the inside looking for a clear run, although there’s also a noticeable lack of urgency from the jockey . He’s short of room one furlong out again and finishes easily under hands and heels.

This was an eye-catching run for a number of reasons and the stewards thought so too, holding an inquiry into the ride. Whatever the lack of in-running luck, in my view the jockey didn’t really try to obtain the best possible position in the race.

Hathlool has been quite progressive over the last half year on both turf and All-Weather, winning three times and running better than the bare form suggested the last two times on turf.

His mark is probably high enough now as he’s not yet run to a topspeed above 58. But I feel once he goes up to 9-10 furlongs again, and drops to 75 or lower he’ll be really interesting.

Perhaps that’s exactly the idea of connections to get him into that type of scenario. He’s got an entry for Beverley over 8.5f on Monday. With his sketchy starting habits and the trip perhaps slightly below his preferred optimum, I can see him not running too well there. That could bring him down to the rating I want to see.

Race Replay

Rocket Dancer
27/04/22 – 5.30 Pontefract:

Had a wide draw to overcome and as a consequence settled in rear, which was a huge disadvantage in a race dominated by those up or close to the pace.

Cut the corner turning for home and then made significant progress against the inside rail to finish 4th, staying on as one of very few from the back of the field.

Clear sign of life for a horse that lost form in the second half of last season. He was still a fine runner-up over this course and distance twelve months earlier of a mark of 62, won subsequently of 64 on the All-Weather. Was well beaten in all other runs then.

Down to a 52 rating now he appears to be supremely well handicapped on past form. This performance gives me the impression he is ready to win soon.

Race Replay

Chant For More
27/04/22 – 7.55 Musselburgh:

The gelding travelled nicely enough on the inside rail behind the leading trio but had to wait for a gap to open. It only really opened up for him very late, over half a furlong from home, he went through bravely and ran on strongly for 3rd place in a tight finish.

This was a significant improvement on his juvenile form. A recent wind operation must have done the trick here. He was a cheap vendor foal but offers some upside as a 3-year-old I feel, given he was an April foal and has scope to get better with experience, now that his wind is okay.

A step up to 6 furlongs would be really interesting in a low-grade race next time.

Race Replay

Perfect Symphony + San Juan
28/04/22 – 4.05 Lingfield:

Despite a solid break from the gates Perfect Symphony got behind soon, perhaps also got a bit tight amongst horses around the first bend (hard to see). Was pushed along from 4 furlongs out and turned home in last position. Thundered home in impressive fashion to finish runner-up eventually.

The 8-year-old has still something to give as evidence by his latest performances. He ran well on a number of occasions over the last weeks and months on the All-Weather. At his age he’s a bit quirky and needs things to fall right, though.

Saying that, a small field sprint over the minimum distance on the All-Weather is certainly a possibility for him to win, particularly of such a low mark he’s fallen to. He was fancied in the betting for the first time in a while here, so I’ll want to monitor the market before backing him.

San Juan had to contend with the widest draw which wasn’t ideal given he has starting issues. Consequently he was slowly away, lost ground early on and played catch-up. Made rapid progress over three furlongs out but turned a bit awkward and wide. Took time to get organised, then rattled home to finish 3rd.

Given the circumstances this was a massive performance. The first furlong aside hampered by the start, he ran incredible sectionals. He was unlucky last time out not getting a clear run 2f out and also losing a shoe.

He’s obviously a horse with issues and one has to account for his habit of starting slowly. Now down to a mark of 48 though, he looks supremely well handicapped even taking those issues into account. He clearly acts well on the All-Weather, but I would love to see him on turf, perhaps with a bit of cut in the ground.

Race Replay

Cobra Kai
28/04/22 – 4.35 Musselburgh

A big keen to get on with the job early on, but totally lit up once hampered over five furlongs out. Was stuck on the inside in a pocket behind the long-term leader and eventual winner, always kept up to work and stuck nicely to the task. Finished well in the closing stages given the circumstances.

He was well fancied here as the favourite after a highly promising seasonal reappearance at Newcastle in March. That day he finished strongly and in contrast to what one would have expected given the price tag.

Still a maiden after eight lifetime starts now, but he looks well capable of winning of his current mark. Ideally runs over 7 furlongs or over a mile, which looks realistic on pedigree. He needs to learn to settle, that’s key, though.

If he does, perhaps with the application of some headgear, he’ll make a mockery of a 49 handicap mark I feel.

Race Replay

Thursday Selections: 28th April 2022

A disappointing run from Essme last night at Brighton. The filly was mad keen, stumbled midway and wasn’t able to sustain an effort in the closing stages.

I am prepared to give her another chance, though. Things simply didn’t go to plan for her yesterday. It was a wild race, as it can be with these races at Brighton.

I still think she can win a race, especially of her low mark. Perhaps a drop to 6 furlongs could do the trick. Though I wouldn’t lose hope over 7f either. It was her first run in quite some time. So she was obviously rather fresh.

………..

5.05 Musselburgh: Class 5 Handicap, 7f

Quick turnaround for Fanzone here after he made a fine comeback at Ayr only three days ago.

That day he was a touch slowly away but also seemed to be slightly impeded moments after the start. Nonetheless, he travelled well for most of the race, although became flat footed two furlongs out when the pace got really hot.

He made his challenge on the outside of the field and clearly took his time to hit top gear. He motored home well to claim 4th place in the end.

This was Fanzone’s first run after a break and a wind operation which appears to have worked, judged by how he finished his race.

Fanzone showed promise earlier in his career but changed yards and lost form over the last two years which meant his handicap mark has tumbled dramatically.

Now down to a really sexy mark of 58 he’s an intriguing runner back up to 7 furlongs of bottom weight today. Good jockey booking adds a bit of confidence.

10pts win – Fanzone @ 10.5/1

Saturday Selections: 23rd April 2022

Two selections for a busy Saturday of compelling flat racing that I am keen to watch for future eye-catchers. Having a winner would be nice too.

1.30 Haydock: Class 5 Handicap, 6f

After John was a massive eye-catcher earlier this month when he nearly overcame tons of trouble at Thirsk to thunder home much the fasted in the closing stages, clocking in the last three furlongs at least a full second faster than the rest.

But that was only good enough for second place on the day. He’s up a pound for the run, which could or possibly should be more. He clearly is going really well for his new yard and judged on past performances is potentially well handicapped having won of 71.

He was competitive – if a bit unlucky – last year of slightly higher marks than the current one once it slipped to a manageable rating. Particularly his 4th place finish at Ayr in September rates a strong piece of form.

He has ran four times to topspeed ratings of 65+, while his most recent performance awarded him a 63 rating, suggesting he is in great shape.

Obviously it’s a big field and in-running luck is required. I think pace won’t be an issue with a number of horses happy to lead but the chart is all over the place and could be a bit messy. I hope he ends up following the right line.

10pts win – After John @ 5/1

3.15 Haydock: Class 5 Handicap, 1m

Cloch Nua looks to have a massive chance here if in a mediocre race – IF the hood helps the hot gelding to settle. He’s got his issues and that’s the reason why he didn’t get off the mark yet.

Beaten last time out a short priced favourite at Southwell was certainly disappointing. But the run itself was better than the bare form suggest. The pace was slow, he was travelling off the pace, pulling really hard really long for his head. What looked liked a serious challenge two furlongs appeared to fiddle out rapidly.

Yet, looking at the sectionals, he still finished the race quite nicely, given the position he came from., actually. Which gives me hope he retains the good form he showed earlier this year.

I took serious note of him after his penultimate run, a 7f Novice contest at Southwell, where he travelled like a horse with some talent and finished pretty easily despite hanging badly, leaving the impression there was plenty left in the tank.

This will be only his second handicap start. A mark of 67 could be on the lenient side if he puts it all together. What makes this an outstanding chance for me is the jockey booking. Benoit De La Sayette is an excellent apprentice who is taking invaluable 7lb off the weight.

10pts win Cloch Nua @ 10/1

Eye-Catchers #4 2022

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

Tiber Flow
15/04/22 – 3.10 Newcastle:

Slightly impeded at the start, although it may not had a dramatic bearing on the outcome of the race as he has the habit of starting slowly. But as a result of this he found himself settling well off the pace and that, indeed, may have been a disadvantage.

He travelled strongly in the pack but couldn’t quite unleash a clear challenge until two furlongs out. In contrast the eventual winner was always handy and had a clear view at the most crucial stage of the race.

Tiber Flow was slightly switched over a furlong from home to thunder home on the stands’ side and nearly reeled in the winning favourite, who is a 107 rated and vastly more experienced rival.

Visuals and sections as well tell the same story: Tiber Flow was unlucky not to win.

Tiber Flow came here with a progressive profile, but clearly made a dramatic jump, running to a 103 topspeed rating while only rated 94. Surely the handicapper will rectify this gap. That won’t matter because this lad is a Group horse in the making.

How good? We’ll see. Clearly the way he finished here at Newcastle suggests he wants to go back to 7 furlongs, which looks ideal on pedigree too.

Ex Gratia
15/04/22 – 3.30 Lingfield:

From the widest draw she was soon trailing the field, although, different to all her other career runs, she started more alertly this time. Perhaps, the penny starts to drop – albeit slowly.

The race was certainly dominated by the front group with the winner and runner-up always up or close to the pace. The eventual winner kicked away and was way too good, running to an impressive topspeed rating.

In that context, also the horses finishing behind ran to solid TS ratings, giving this form a rock solid look. Ex Gratia never landed a blow, though. But she was in the worst possible position as the pace increased, and also didn’t quite seem to enjoy the sharp home turn.

What caught my eye was how easily she was finishing in the closing stages, though. Passing horses easily and closing to the main bunch without an overly animated Luke Morris in the saddle (especially if one accounts for his normally highly animated and aggressive style of riding).

This filly is obviously a temperamental, backward one. She is already four but only started racing in December. She showed plenty of promise but also plenty of quirks. The way she dismantled her rivals at Southwell – albeit a poor bunch – on her second career start remains a vivid impression.

Connections must have been impressed too as they where throwing her into the deep end at Newcastle against well seasoned high-class sprinters the next time. She faded in the closing stages but wasn’t disgraced.

The handicapper gave her an 80 opening mark which is hard to gauge whether it’s too high or too lenient. My feeling is 6 furlongs is too sharp, despite all the speed in the pedigree – but she is a half-sister to a 10f winner also.

I imagine her rating may drop a couple of pounds and if that is the case I will be interested in her over 7 furlongs. I am not ruling out a mile either. But want to see her at a less sharp track.

Race Replay

Alpha Cru
16/04/22 – 5.15 Nottingham:

From the second widest draw she was hampered early on which meant she couldn’t get close up with the pace, which is the filly’s preferred style of racing. Travelling in rear of the field she made a bit of progress in the home straight but was short of room over 2 furlongs out.

Even with a clear run from that point she wouldn’t have won, given the eventual winner ran away with it here. But it’s reasonable to argue that if things went more here way she would have finished perhaps in the placings. Eventually she finished well enough under hands and heels in my eyes.

Alpha Cru was progressive as a three-year-old last season. She won three times and performed with credit the other two times she raced in 2021. Particularly the final run last year was quite exceptional in my view.

Of her current mark there is not much scope over a mile, however her pedigree and the way she has seen out her races over that trip, gives rise to hope that a step up in trip will bring out additional improvement.

She may drop below a 80 mark now, which, if she goes up to 10 furlongs will be interesting. It’s worth waiting for that and keep tracking her for the day that’ll come probably sooner rather than later.

Race Replay

Ajrad
16/04/22 – 6.00 Lingfield:

Received a bump soon after the start that lit him up. Keen and pulling for much of the race as a consequence, yet travelling much the best approaching the home turn. He’s on the heels of a rival ahead, having to be pulled back, costing momentum.

He takes the shortest route and is brave when going through gaps on the inside finishing the final two furlongs the fastest, but the winner and runner-up had first run and were impossible to catch in the home straight.

He is still a maiden after 13 runs, even though placed on nine occasions. He tends to find misfortune in races, but also doesn’t always help himself when breaking slowly.

He is clearly ripe to win of his current handicap mark, though. Granted the handicapper isn’t harsh after this promising run. He was runner-up of 6lb higher in a class 3 Handicap last summer. A return to turf for a low-grade 7 furlong Handicap will see him with a massive chance.

Race Replay

Pop Dancer
19/04/22 – 1.50 Epsom:

This was a wild finish which could have gone many different ways on the day I feel. Pop Dancer was one of those who travelled strongly but didn’t get the gap when he needed it from two furlongs out. Horses where shifting around and whenever there an opening for a split second it closed as quickly again.

Late on there was space for a challenge but the bird was flown and he wasn’t helped by hanging down the cumber, which meant he finished poorly in the end.

The 5-year-old had a really poor last term, although comes down to a good mark and has shown in the past to be a quality sprinter. His previous topspeed ratings give him a great chance of his current 69 mark, especially as I feel his wellbeing has been confirmed with this run.

Pub Crawl
19/04/22 – 4.30 Epsom:

Travelled in rear always on the inside which would come to bite him in the home straight. When asked to improve his position from 4 furlongs out he made rapid progress but got caught between the leading trio from over 2f out, being slightly short of room and with no other option than to delay his challenge.

He looks a bit flat footed until switched over 1.5 furlongs from home when he hits top gear to thunder home and grab second place.

The way he finished matched the visual impression created three weeks earlier on his seasonal reappearance at Leicester when finishing strongly in the closing stages over 7 furlongs.

There is enough stamina on the dam side to suggest he can stay 10 furlongs. He was hitting the line at Epsom full of running over the 8.5f trip. So I’d be really interested if he steps up in distance and if the handicapper isn’t too harsh, i.e. a hike to 80 and above.