Tag Archives: April

Thursday Selections: 4th May 2023

One third of 2023 is over. It went fast. Thankfully, after a rough start, with losing months in January and February, March and April got me back on track.

April finished with another winner last Thursday – I watched Pillar Of Hope on my small mobile screen while boarding for a plane to Germany to stay on strongly to win his Beverly race. He got home in the nick of time, literally.

He made it winner #7 for April. 235 points profit, from 23 selections in April. Only last November was a more profitable month in the last three years.

Annual P/L makes it 300pts up for the year now from 101 selections.

A more extensive overview of all selections can be found as always here (Betting Stats & P/L tab in menu).

………..

1.30 Ayr: Class 6 Handicap, 1m

Far From A Ruby has been nicely progressing with each run since her return in early February where she entered the list of eyecatchers.

That day over 6 furlongs, a trip too sharp, she showed good early speed and enthusiasm, which was exactly what I hoped to see. She followed up with another solid run subsequently, although still seemingly short of full fitness.

She’s approaching peak soon as evident three weeks ago at Southwell when she tracked the pace and was right there until fading back to 4th place, 2 lengths beaten.

She now appears to be seriously well-handicapped in this type of low-level apprentice handicap as she goes up in trip. Turf and fast ground won’t be an issue.

Though, down to a mark of 54 offers a huge opportunity. She ran to a 58 speed rating at Ayr over 7 furlongs back in September. She ran to a 50 speed rating when last seen, when not fully tuned up.

I have full faith that she’s still as good as last autumn, and won’t have an issue making up the pounds needed to reach the same level of performance. She stays a mile, has a 3-1-2 record over this course and distance and hasn’t much to fear in this poor field.

10pts win – Far From A Ruby @ 3/1

……

5.00 Lingfield: Class 5 Handicap, 1m

Plenty of unexposed horses and you never quite know what you get. However, I’m quite hopeful Totnes can be better than her current 71 rating now that she moves up in trip.

Last time out, given she was an odds-on shot, she was probably disappointing the way she finished in 5th, especially as she travelled very strongly in rear of the field, made good progress from 3f out and loomed large entering the home straight.

Her challenge petered out from over 1f out as she hang badly to her left, which is a concern, as well as that she can be keen in the early stages.

I’m prepared to excuse the run because she was ultra-impressive weeks earlier over the same C&D, winning in the manner of a talented filly on only her second career run. Something must have bothered her a few weeks ago – whatever it was, I hope it’s fixed now.

Her pedigree points to stamina and a good chance that there’s more improvement to come as she moved beyond 7 furlongs. Ideally i would love to see her at a stiffer track, but the fact she travelles well and could have a class edge against this opposition makes me cautiously confident.

I don’t think many of her rivals have a lot of scope, while she offers plenty of upside. Totnes looks like a filly capable to progress beyond marks in the 70s.

10pts win – Totnes @ 5/2

………

8.15 Chelmsford: Class 6 Handicap, 1m

Compere looks to have found a nice chance to score. Even though 13 go to post, not many seem to be here to win. Hence I’m not worried about the #6 draw at all, which is good enough to get easily to the front in a race with not much pace to compete against.

The gelding is still pretty lightly raced but took his form to the next level when last seen over this course and distance at Chelmsford over a mile.

He endured an awkward start, heavily bumped a rival before then finding himself in front, overcoming the issues out of the gate, eventually settled in third.

He kicked on nicely against inside rail approaching the home straight; hit the front 1f out, and kept going strongly. But he had no chance with winner from off the pace, eventually.

This is strong form. The winner was back-to-back winner; the third won last time out and finished third subsequently. The 4th won next time out.

Compere was a 50/1 shot, so clearly outran his price tag there. He now drops in class, down to 0-55, and the fact that solid but ultimately exposed Thomas Equinas heads the betting says all about the strengths in depth of this field.

The handicapper was kind to Compere, as he left him on the same 56 rating. Even though. I imagine the gelding will eventually prove better over 10 furlongs, he’s shown enough speed for the mile and should find this easier, in order to run out a strong maiden victory.

10pts win – Compere @ 6/1

Thursday Selections: 27th April 2023

2.20 Beverley: Class 4 Handicap, 5f

Pretty quick turnaround for Ventura Flame, who ran about a week ago over this course and distance.

It was huge performance, and that’s a question mark whether he can back it up so quickly. On the other hand, it’s only his second run this year and he looks in great form.

When last seen he tracked the pace early on before taking up the lead over 2f out. Still ahead entering the final furlong before he was beaten by a strong finisher from off the pace half a furlong from home.

He’s down to last winning mark from spring 2022, since then ran twice 74 speed rating plus, including near career-best 77 last year and drops into an easier grade here.

There doesn’t seem too much other pace to compete against, hence the #7 won’t be an issue. That aside, there doesn’t seem to be any real danger in this field either. He should be too good off a his74 mark.

10pts win Ventura Flame @ 3/1

……..

4.00 Beverley: Class 4 Handicap, 8.5f

This looks a wide open contest but without a clear and obvious favourite. Even though I would prefer a slightly longer trip for him, I still think it’s worth to back Pillar Of Hope in this field.

For a 5-year-old he’s quite lightly raced and the reason for that might be what appears to be his rather light frame. Perhaps that’s the reason why he performed well upon his return off a break in the past.

Indeed, in early March, after 110 days away from the track, he ran pretty well when 5th at Newcastle in a pretty strong race.

He was alertly away, disputed the lead, until he came under pressure from 2 furlongs out. He was quickly going backwards, but eventually kept on rather strongly up the stiff finish.

Beverley isn’t that stiff. but the slightly longer trip, up the hill to the line, on possibly rain softened ground with solid pace expected, should make this enough a test of stamina.

He achieve a career-best last September at Redcar, when he ran to 86 speed rating and winning off 82. Now 2lb lower, he could have enough in hand against this opposition even over this trip.

Rain is forecasted for late afternoon. The earlier arrives the better, to ensure there remains some of that good to soft before off time. Also the fact that he had ample time to recover from the recent outing gives hope.

10pts win – Pillar Of Hope @ 5/1

Wednesday Selections: 26th April 2023

Dog Fox done the job on Tuesday. We knew he’s a tricky sort and irrespective of the hood he pulled hard in the early stages; no problem, though – he was too well handicapped on his debut, as hoped.

He was well backed, went off 3/1 (backed at 5s). The 6th winner in April. It’s unlikely I’ll break my “career-best” of nine winners in a single months. Still, from only 20 selections, a 30% strike rate, that’s unusually high for me…. so, waiting for it come crashing down.

Bridge Water was disappointing, but they ran so slow, she never stood a real chance. Dark Design was friendless in the market and never landed a blow.

…….

1.50 Catterick: Class 6 Handicap, 5f

I can see how Golden Gal turns out to become the gamble of the race here with her return fresh from a wind op, having strong course and distance form.

But I do like my recent form, and as such, one of the most unfortunate horses without a “W” to his name this year is Sir Benedict. This lad is SO ready, I can see a scenario where he just runs way with this in the final furlong.

But I also can clearly envision a scenario where he runs on late for 4th place. Because he’s a tricky sort and there’s a reason why he’s yet to win in 2023, despite knocking on the door and having dropped to a rating that is more than realistic.

In saying that, the drop to the minimum trip should suit in theory, as long as it doesn’t dry out completely, and he doesn’t mess up at the gate, as he can do.

Ignore his latest run. 6f, a muddling pace and no cover never gave him any chance. He pulled like a train, and in that context he still caught the eye the way he travelled to challenge for the lead from three furlongs out, before running out off steam.

Look no further than the two runs prior, though. Two back at Newcastle, stuck behind a wall of horses, he finished best, doing so nearly on hard held.

And prior to this at Wolverhampton, again not enjoying a clear run, he dipped below 11s in the penultimate furlong and finished like a train.

What gives me plenty of hope is: 1) a low draw – in theory he should be able to track the pace; 2) the hot pace, which is to suit him, especially if he can use the inside lane, safe ground and use the extra bit of stamina he possesses.

The cut in the ground is to his advantage as well, and now down to a mark of 59 he’s simply looks irresistibly well-handicapped, given he ran to a 54 speed rating easily last month and 3x to 59 plus within the last twelve months.

10pts win – Sire Benedict @ 5/1

Tuesday Selections: 25th April 2023

Big Bard produced a great finish to run out an easy win by about 4 lengths today. The 5th winner in April.

He simply was so well handicapped with the 7lb claim of excellent Alec Voikhansky in the saddle, who gave the gelding a cool, patient ride: waiting for the gap to open on the inside, before he stayed on strongly in the final furlong.

I was deliberating back and forth last night because of the big field and the slight questions over the likely proper soft ground. But in the end the prevailing thought was the gelding is too well handicapped to let go. A correct decision in the end.

4.25 Yarmouth: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 2f

I was sweet on Dog Fox earlier this month before he was withdrawn after being upset in the stalls. There’s a concern over his behaviour here as well, of course.

But that aside, the same reasons as back then apply here too, why I’m prepared to back him again. For one, this isn’t a strong race on paper. Not many appear to have a large amount of scope to outrun their current handicap marks.

Dog Fox is also an intriguing horse: one I flagged up in my 3-year-old handicappers to follow list and feel this represents a superb opportunity to get off the mark for him.

This confidence may seem misplaced given Dog Fox showed nothing in three runs as a juvenile. However, those runs came over trips that were clearly on the sharp side.

Heā€™s bred to enjoy middle-distance trips and is expected to improve dramatically in handicap company going up in trip. The majority of his damā€™s offspring performs solid once upped to 10 furlongs, as his sire Cityscape has a 10.1 stamina index to offer.

An opening mark of 62 looks stiff judged purely on juvenile form, but could underestimate him judged on potential improvement for trip and age.

The soft ground wonā€™t be an issue I reckon. The sire and dam enjoyed cut in the ground during their respective racing careers. The application of a hood may help to calm him.

10pts win ā€“ Dog Fox @ 4/1

…….

6.25 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Handicap, 7f

There’s no question Aihawawi is a great chance in this race and was a huge eyecatcher last time out. Off the same mark here, with the #3 draw to attack the race from, he could be hard to beat.

On the other hand, he was probably beaten for speed at Newcastle, and stayed on up the stiff finish in the closing stages. Does the sharper, less stiff Wolverhampton suit?

At 6/5 I’m not prepared to find out and rather take the proverbial gamble on another eyecatcher, that is Bridge Water. I say gamble because there’s every chance the filly is twice the price tomorrow afternoon.

But I make an as much as possible informed decision and risk assessment that says, all I can judge right now in terms of information in front of me, says she’s too big a price in this field. I have her much, much shorter.

She caught the eye two back at Kempton. There she was restrained from the widest draw and and trailed the field, nicely settled. She travelled strongly and made strong progress from 3f out to eventually finish much the best. She was simply poorly positioned, otherwise she could have won that day.

The form itself isn’t strong, but the way she finished was noteworthy and in line with her prior run that warranted an upgrade too.

Over 6f she probably doesn’t have the speed to win, I feel. But she could improve for the step up to 7f. She’s by Starspangledbanner with a7.0f stamina index, out of an unraced Le Havre mare.

She also has a lowly 49 mark. The return to the All-Weather is a plus, as she didn’t enjoy soft ground when last seen.

10pts win – Bridge Water @ 10/1

…….

9.00 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

Dark Design ran a huge race in defeat when last seen at Lingfield. He moved quickly forward from his wide draw to slot in right behind the pace setter, but had to do a lot to get there just before the first turn.

He tracked a very strong winner racing in second place, travelled well approaching the home turn. He didnā€™t have the pace to match from 1.5 out and tired in the final furlong. A fine form, also given the fact he covered about a lengths more than others in front of him that day.

He ran petty well in recent weeks and months, including achieving a 50 speed rating here as well s a 56 one at Chelmsford in January. He’s clearly in strong form and now has been given a chance by the handicapper.

Dropped 2lb to a mark of 55, with a good draw and a CD that may suit, he’s well weighted. He Won off 55 and 57 last season and should enjoy a strong pace to track here which should bring his extra bit of stamina to the fore in the closing stages.

10pts win – Dark Design 5/1

Flat Eyecatchers 2023: #1

A list of horses that caught my eye during the recent weeks of racing. Find all previous lists here.

With the flat season under way, it’s time to shift the focus away from the sand finally for good. Hence this is the start of the new series for the2023 flat season.

There can still be a few horses on the list that caught the eye on the sand, given All-Weather racing never sleeps. But the majority will come from turf from now on. Good times!

……..

Maywake
10/04/23 – 4.01 Redcar:

Bit awkward away from the gate. Swiftly moved over to the far side, travelled strongly as part of the group there, still on the bridle 2f out. Had to sit and suffer, before finally out 1f out and ran on really well to finished best.

Lovely return off a break. Down to a mark of 80 now. Won off similar mark last year (also ran career best 84 speed rating). Enjoys cut in the ground and looks ready to run a big race once again in those conditions over 7f.

Race Replay

Stormy Pearl
10/04/23 – 5.46 Redcar:

Swiftly moved over to join the pace full of enthusiasm, a bit too keenly, doing too much. Nonetheless, travelled the best approaching the 2f marker, everyone else off the bridle. Tired rapidly inside the final furlong.

Strong return, especially on soft ground. Raced a lot for a May foal last year and may not have much scope for improvement. But down to realistic 55 mark again, won off similar plus speed rating last year.

Best form on decent ground. Worth to wait for those conditions, given she doesn’t have tons in hand, but is one who could strike on the right day in these early days of the season.

Race Replay

Wen Moon
11/04/23 – 4.00 Pontefract:

Disadvantaged by widest draw, settled in rear. Turned widest for home while going best, smooth progress to hit the front at final furlong marker but hang badly to his left. Won well with plenty in hand I believe.

Impressive how he won on this ground against the pace bias. Almost certainly better on decent ground. Only 3lb up. Lightly raced, gelded during winter. There’s more to come.

Race Replay

Foreseeable Future
12/04/23 – 2.10 Catterick:

Not ideal low draw in soft conditions here, moved quickly toward the centre, that was costly; going okay for a long time before tiering in the final furlong.

Comeback run can be upgraded. Down to good mark. Ran to higher speed ratings last year and won off current mark. Much better on decent to fast ground over the minimum trip and dangerous in those conditions.

Race Replay

Thornaby Beauty
12/04/23 – 5.20 Catterick:

Settled wide in drear from second widest draw. Looked poised over 2f out and tried to make progress through a gap that suddenly got tight and she got bumped several times by rivals. Kept going well to the line.

Superb run in circumstances. Lightly raced. Ran solid speed rating on the sand in line with her current mark, but possibly even more so open to progress on turf.

Should have a chance to stretch out over 7 furlongs on decent ground, but 6f with cut may prove the ideal trip.

Race Replay

Aihawawi
13/04/23 – 5.05 Newcastle:

Went forward and made most after an initial pedestrian first furlong set a strong pace. Under pressure from over 2f out when headed by strongly travelling rival, but kept going gutsily and finished second best in final furlong behind winner from off the pace.

Nice reappearance, first time expected to run well. Still lightly raced and open to progress over 7f, perhaps also on turf on decent ground.

Race Replay

Bella Kopella
13/04/23 – 5.05 Newcastle:

Early up with pace, before tracking the leader who set a solid pace. Stylish progress from over 2f out to head the leader and move ahead. Travelled like the winner but did a lot in the middle part of the race. Tired badly in the final furlong.

Progressive as a juvenile, and won well over this CD upon seasonal return last month. Looks still open to more improvement, ran to 59 speed rating lto and travelled like a “good thing” here.

The way he fell away in the final furlong was a bit concerning but they went hard and he did a lot to push the pace as well.

Race Replay

Indian Creek
17/04/23 – 3.45 Windsor:

Tracked pace early on before putting more pressure on the pace setter. Did too much in the first half of the race in desperate conditions. Most that finished better races more restrained. Tired from 2f out.

Solid comeback. Prefers better ground. Course and distance specialist. Won off 85 and multiple times off in and around 80, including running to 80 speed rating last season.

Dangerous if he drops below 80 now on better going, ideally at Windsor, but also ran well at Goodwood and Newbury.

Race Replay

Cuban Breeze
17/04/23 – 3.45 Windsor:

Set the early pace, showed excellent early speed. Did way too much in desperate conditions and fell away rapidly from over two furlongs out. Still really positive the early speed he showed.

Ran well lto at Kempton clocking a good speed rating. Clearly in solid form. NTO can be ignored in hot company.

Prefers better ground. Ran well last season of mid 80 marks, including 3x 80+ speed ratings. Mark should be revised and becomes really interesting in right conditions. Has speed for minimum trip and stays 6f.

Race Replay

Aurora Dawn
18/04/23 – 2.00 Lingfield:

Bumped a rival as she hot out of the gate. Quickly relegated to the rear of the field. Going okay turning for home, but not quite a clear run in the home straight until gap opens up properly at the final furlong marker. Finished much the best.

Handicap debut, looks like she wants further, and pedigree says a mile could see her improve. Opening mark wasn’t a giveaway and jury is out whether she is ahead even if she steps up to a mile.

But she ran here to 61 speed rating in less than ideal circumstances. With natural improvement there is every chance she can make up the gap and be better than 68.

Race Replay

Swinging Eddie
18/04/23 – 7.30 Southwell:

Overcame his #9 draw quickly to come across and grab the lead. Travelled well enough for a long time, only headed over 1f out and tired late.

Fine seasonal reappearance. Good form. Down to dangerous mark. Ran well off higher last year, including a 62 speed rating. Flexible ground wise on turf over 7f.

Race Replay

Ventura Flame
19/04/23 – 2.50 Beverley:

Tracked the pace early on before taking up the lead over 2f out. Still ahead entering the final furlong before beaten by strong finisher from off the pace half a furlong from home.

Excellent seasonal reappearance. Down to last winning mark from spring 2022, ran twice 74 speed rating plus, including near career-best 77 last year.

Looks in good form. Not a huge margin for error but dangerous if allowed to dominate.

Race Replay

Mustaffiz
20/04/23 – 7.30 Chelmsford:

Went forward really hard to get the lead no matter what. Raced wide as a consequence for most of the race, finally in front as the field turns for home, but tired badly as a consequence of early exertions.

Bumped into a few well-handicapped ones lately. Still ran huge races. Somewhat in the grip of the handicapper but looks capable to win off 59 in race with less pace to compete.

Return to turf would be interesting for possible improvement. Won over 5f on soft in France.

Race Replay

Nogo’s Dream
20/04/23 – 5.15 Newmarket:

Travelled strongly, smooth progress from 3f out, on the bridle, went on to press the lead approaching the final furlong but tired badly.

Perhaps didn’t get home over the stiff 7f. Still lightly raced. Won a maiden over 5f prior. Opportunities off current 67 rating over easier 7f or drop to 6f looks no issue.

Race Replay

Fortamour
20/04/23 – 3.20 Ripon:

Raced in midfield and made excellent progress to grab the lead from over 2f out in his group. Did well to win the near side group from the wide draw#. ( other 6f race on the card also won decisively by far side)

Fine comeback run. Down to excellent 80 mark now. Won off 80 and last year. Ran to 82 speed rating as well. Ripon specialist.

Race Replay

Jax Edge
21/04/23 – 5.20 Bath:

Travelled well when tracking the pace, but stuck in a pocked from 3f out. Looked dangerous if a gap would ever open. No clear run until late when getting tired.

Good comeback run. This should be solid form for this low grade. She won her final race as a juvenile on handicap debut over 6f, which is strong form.

A 61 mark offers opportunities over sprint trips for the filly. She was arguably unlucky not to finish better here but also should come on for the run.

Race Replay

The Defiant
22/04/23 – 4.40 Brighton:

Keen to get on in the early part but restrained to track fast pace a few lengths off. Got rolling from 3f out, big move, pressed leader from 2f out. Established good lead but eventually caught half a furlong out by winner who was ridden more patiently in the middle part.

Excellent comeback. 1lb above last winning mark but ran three times to speed ratings 70+ last year. Clearly ready to go, ideally over 5f. Can run well downhill. Ascot entry next week intriguing.

Race Replay

Huddle Up
22/04/23 – 3.45 Thirsk:

Crossed over soon after the start from his low draw to the stands’ side rail. Tracked good pace, move from over 2f out, in a head-to-head battle with the leader from 2f out all the way to the line. Just beaten in final 50 yards by horse from off the pace.

Strong comeback run after over 300 days off. First proper performance since moving to the UK but also first time on soft ground.

Cut in the ground seems key. Fall to sexy mark. Has speed for minimum trip and stays 6f.

Race Replay

Ramiro
22/04/23 – 4.15 Thirsk:

Off to an okay start, travelled well enough, but repeatedly a clear run denied from 3f out. Tried to get through an opening inside the final furlong just to be squeezed out again.

Would have gone close. Comeback run. Plenty of issues at the start in the past. Hood seemed to help here. Fallen a long way down in the ratings. Seriously dangerous.

Best over 7 furlongs, but 6 furlongs on proper soft off current low mark a possibility. Looks in superb form judged on this run.

Race Replay

Monday Selections: 24th April 2023

1.30 Windsor: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

Big Bard ran with plenty of credit the last three times and caught the eye in two of those. He returns to turf and to a course and distance he got desperately close to win back in October.

He came on my radar on the final day of 2022, at Lingfield, when he showed good early speed to lead, seemingly enjoying himself in front of the pack before he got tired and fell back rapidly from 1.5 out.

He was too keen the next time over 7 furlongs, but finished strongly at Lingfield back down to 6 furlongs when last seen in March. Both 6f Lingfield forms look rock solid and confirm that he’s not far off winning form, in my view.

As he returns to the 6f as Windsor, where he was only a shoulder beaten in a tight finish back in October, he can now race off 58, 5lb lower than then.

It’s also intriguing that Big Bard is re-fitted with cheek-pieces. He responded really well to wearing them for the first time in that aforementioned Windsor run.

In addition, the 7lb claim of talented apprentice Alec Voikhansky gives his chance in this race here another boost, if he can handle the soft ground. There is more rain expected, so it may turn to proper soft on the day.

There’s hope, though. He ran well on good to soft in the past, but also won on fast ground, off his current 58 mark, that was his last win, back in October 2021.

This is a competitive race, already given by the 16 runners. Not too many appear overly well-handicapped, on the other side. Big Bard does appear to be one of the better handicapped runners, in any case.

It looks like this race may have been a target to get him ready for over the last weeks. Certainly there is a bit of money this evening already, with the early bigger prices rapidly vanishing. Thankfully I still got what I wanted for my entire stake, although we only see tomorrow whether there is anything real about.

10pts win – Big Bard @ 15/2

Saturday Selections: 22nd April 2023

3.45 Thirsk: Class 5 Handicap, 6f

This looks a thoroughly uncompetitive affair, despite a field of 13 runners. That should give Phoenix Beach an excellent chance to get his first win on turf, after he got off the mark on sand last summer.

He was only seen one more time last year, over the same course and distance as his maiden victory. That’s where he caught my eye for the way he travelled through the race from the front, before he suddenly tired rapidly.

He travelled so supremely well there, in line with his impressive first career victory a few month earlier, that something must have been amiss for him to drop out so tamely.

Thankfully it turned out that he lost a shoe and was found lame afterwards, indeed.

He returned last month at Doncaster over 5 furlongs in desperate conditions. He didn’t travelled particularly well but stuck to the task well enough before getting tired in the final furlong. A rock solid comeback run.

You’d hope he can improve from there and as generally lightly raced individual it’s far from impossible that he can find more for natural improvement as well. Off a 72 mark he offers upside.

10pts win – Phoenix Beach @ 6/1

……

5.25 Nottingham: Class 6 Handicap, 5f

I’m really excited to see Captain Corcoran returning so quickly after his latest Catterick run. I believe this lad is in super form and ready to strike.

He caught the eye on his seasonal reappearance last month, where after an awkward start he was held up in rear and finished seriously well under and easy hands and heels ride after not getting a clear run until late.

He was clearly ridden with intend not to show all of his cards there and appeared on a lovely mark next time at Catterick, but he faced an uphill battle from the #4 draw.

The jockey seemed to try too hard (by design?) to overcompensate for this significant disadvantage over that course and distance and used a lot of energy but also giving ground away moving all the way across to the stands’ side.

Captain Corcoran looked threatening for a brief moment over 2 furlongs out but eventually faded.

As a result he dropped another two pounds. Now down to 52 he appears pretty well-handicapped with soft conditions likely to suit. The more rain that falls and is excepted tomorrow, the better for his chances.

10pts win – Captain Corcoran @ 6/1

Friday Selections: 21st April 2023

Another pretty quiet week so far, but one that has been hugely successful: two winners on Tuesday, The Toff and later in the evening it was Papa Cocktail especially who ran out gutsy wins to land a rare 2 from 2 on the day.

………

4.18 Cork: Conditions Race, 1m 2f

It’s always tricky to know how these 3-year-old horses have wintered and how fit they are on their fist run in the new season. This contest at Cork looks particularly trappy as four of the five runners have legitimate claims to develop into proper pattern class horses this year.

Nonetheless, Bertinelli appears somewhat underappreciated here. I would have expected him to be a bit shorter, given how highly I rate him. but can see why he’s not.

He is one of my Horses to Follow, and I firmly believe he’s got the potential to be a seriously good colt this year. In saying that, one may underestimate him if purely judged on the lack of perceived impressiveness of his sole victory as a juvenile.

That was his second and final start asa juvenile, when he battled hard to land a Dundalk maiden. He won by a neck, but the performance warrants an upgrade because the jockey reported that the colt got struck into behind and that had a major impact on how he ran.

With that in mind the Dundalk run was a fine follow-up on his eye-catching debut that came at Leopardwown where finished an excellent second place behind smart winner Peking Opera, while he didnā€™t enjoy quite a clear run from 2f out. He also achieved a promising 74 speed rating.

Bertinelli was also reported to be rather weak and had a lot of growing to do last year, which puts these two performances into even better perspective.

Apparently he has wintered really well and had been working nicely since being back in training before hitting a slight setback suffering from a stone bruise.

That’s a concern, but the fact he’s running today, still maintains all his fancy entries, and Ryan Moore coming to Cork, looks positive, as is the step up to 10 furlongs, which is an absolute must.

I’ve no doubts that he stays the Derby distance, and that, if all goes well, we’ll see him in one of the English or Irish Derby this year. But he looks speedy enough for 10 furlongs, and has already shown to handle slightly better ground, while his other rivals, with pedigrees have won in deep ground and look to need a trip on pedigree.

This is as low a price I ever back, but I’m more than hopeful Bertinelli can justify these odds to get his 3-year-old campaign off to the flyer.

10pts win – Bertinelli @ 9/4

Tuesday Selections: 18th April 2023

2.00 Lingfield: Class 5 Handicap, 7f

Trappy contest given the unexposed form of half the field. I do like the exposed form of The Toff, though. He caught the eye the last time, and to a lesser degree also the time before.

At Southwell over a mile he simply didn’t see out the trip after overcoming a wide draw to challenge strongly from three furlongs out.

Last time out at Lingfield, dropped to 7 furlongs, was an interesting race that finished in a sprint finish. Even though he was able to track the pace, he didn’t receive the most economical ride and had to concede first run to the leader. He finished a strong second and the fastest horse in the last three furlongs.

He clearly is in prime form and ready to win. Still a maiden, though, not without promise shown multiple times, he was gelded in October and that may have contributed, in addition to a drop in his handicap mark, to those fine runs lately.

Seven furlongs with a solid pace should be an ideal scenario and is the likely one to be encountered in this race with plenty of pace excpected. This is an easier contest than last month – on paper, if there wouldn’t be all that unexposed form in this field – although, those handicap debutants enjoy only a fair opening mark at best.

He’s an uncomplicated sort, usually up with the pace, and should be able track whoever wants to burn himself out in the early parts. He’s in in strong form and looks primed for a yard that’s going well enough at the moment.

10pts win – The Toff @ 10/3

……….

8.30 Southwell: Class 5 Handicap, 6f

The price is skinny enough, given his patchy record, but ultimately it feels like this is the day I have been waiting for to back Papa Cocktail.

He was a huge eyecatcher in a similar contest over this course and distance in February when he finished like a train from well off the pace despite not enjoying the clearest of runs. That forms is seriously strong as well.

A stiff 7 furlongs at Newcastle where he moved forward to lead until steadily going backwards from about 2 furlongs out probably stretched his stamina, when last seen. It was also a stronger race.

Even though I believe 7 furlongs is possibly his optimum, perhaps a slightly less stiff track and more restraint ride should see him get the trip really well, I also think 6 furlongs with a good pace to aim at will suit him really well, too.

He should find this here. The #7 draw doesn’t worry me too much because he will be ridden off the pace in any case. I hope fore a no-nonsense ride with a challenge unleashed toward the stands’ side, for a clear run.

A mark off 63 gives him a tremendous chance. He caught the eye multiple times last year on turf as well. There is a reason why he’s fallen to such a low rating now, but he clearly showed a spark the last two times to assume he’ll be the one to beat in this contest.

10pts win – Papa Cocktail @ 4/1

Saturday Selections: 15th April 2023

Grand National day. My preview of the big race can be read here. On the flat racing front things remain quiet this week and also this weekend, to the most part.

But looking at the tracker for next week things are going to get hot. There are no less than 21 eyecatchers scheduled to run only from Monday to Wednesday alone The flat is back!

………..

4.30 Yarmouth: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

Not a particularly competitive race. El Royale saw some money this morning, and some of that may well be the “Billy factor” more than anything.

The horses drops down in trip and is unexposed, but strikes me as a weak favourite, nonetheless.

Phoenix Star and ConciergeĀ are the obvious interests for me, having caught the eye in their last runs. In saying that, the #8 draw isn’t ideal for Phoenix Star, who’s also one of the more popular horses in the market this morning.

High draws have a poor record over this course and distance. That aside, he strikes me as best over the minimum trip, perhaps with some cut in the ground. He’s yet to win over 6f on turf, hence ConciergeĀ is the more interesting horse today.

His record over 6 furlongs isn’t brilliant, either. However, he is a distance winner, even on good to soft in the past, has been able to stretch out to 7 furlongs, and has clearly the speed for the minimum trip (which may be his optimum).

In any case, I was impressed by his comeback run last month at Kempton, where he was a serious eyecatcher:

ConciergeĀ travelled at the back of the field. Made really good progress on the inside, showed multiple accelerations from mid-race right onward to finish the fastest from 4f out.

He couldn’t follow-up at Chelmsford, but travelling wide throughout, chasing the pace, was the reason why he dropped out badly in the closing stages.

As a consequence he’s down another couple of pounds, a new career-lowest. He ran to a 64 speed rating at Kempton, though, suggesting there’s enough there to believe he can win.

Whether he is still as good as last season remains to be seen, now that he’s back on turf. Last year he ran well a number of times, including when achieving a 73 speed rating run at Newmarket over 6 furlongs.

He drops down to class 6 today – obviously he’s not the force of old, but this is much easier than anything he’s encountered even in the more recent past.

Even though I’m not totally sold on credentials over 6f on turf, I feel he’s still got too much class for these rivals. He definitely won’t mind the ground, looks to be in fine form, and if on a going day (i.e. allowed to run on merit) he could be hard to beat.

10pts win – ConciergeĀ @ 6/1