Tag Archives: Ascot

Saturday Selections: 15th October 2022

4.00: Ascot: Group 1 Champions Stakes, 1m 2f

It’s all about Baaeed. Unbeaten in ten career starts, he comes here after that massive performance in the Juddmonte International Stakes. He’s very much expected to win in style this afternoon.

Retirement beckons afterwards, and surely the smartest fillies are waiting for him in the breeding shed next year. That’s for then. It’s a bid for racing greatness here and now.

In truth, though, I have been somewhat reserved in getting overly excited about what Baaeed had done until he demolished a strong field at York in August.

The reason a simple one: I hold topspeed close to my heart as a KPI if it comes to judging race horses. Prior to the Juddmonte, Baaeed’s career-best of 106 was quite good, but far from brilliant – especially given the comparisons to the true greats of the recent past, like his sire Sea The Stars, or Frankel.

Even my beloved Paco Boy achieved much better; yet, I as the most enthusiastic Paco Boy fan in the world, have to admit, he was not one of the greatest the sport had ever seen.

Roll on the 17th August 2022: Juddomonte International Stakes – Baaeed eases into the lead, effortless, floating over the ground, majestically; he quickens in impressive style and slaughters a labouring Mishriff by 6½ lengths.

Nearly as important as the margin of victory: Baaeed achieved a topspeed rating of 124. Finally a superb performance on this measure as well.

Any concerns over the trip were convincingly put to bed. Connections decided against moving up to the Arc distance subsequently, though. Probably a wise decision in hindsight.

Baaeed – a perfect 10 out of 10 – is impossible to oppose today….. or is he? Most likely, I am clearly in the minority: I still question whether he deserves to be called a “true great”. In my view: not yet.

It’s possibly harsh to say he has to prove himself today. Yet, in my eyes he’s got to prove his greatness: a performance similar to York, and I am going to be fully on board.

That says, he faces two real dangers today: the ground and a fresh Adayar.

Softish ground isn’t a big deal, given Baaeed has won in these conditions in the past. However, he never faced a rival as classy as Adayar in these conditions. I firmly believe Baaeed can’t quite produce the same change of gear on this type of ground.

Baaeed is vulnerable: he produced a 94 best topspeed rating on ground when the word soft appeared in the going description. It’s likely he’s a better horse today than the last time he encountered softish ground; nonetheless, it’s a question mark.

That brings me to Adayar. The only serious opposition today. We haven’t seen much of last years Derby and King George hero. You have to worry about his disrupted year.

On the other hand, it gives him the opportunity to arrive fresh, without a hard season in his legs, after a solid, if unspectacular comeback run at Doncaster last month.

If – and it’s a proper if – Adayar is anywhere near as good as he was last season, then he’ll be a formidable danger to Baaeed. Because let’s remember, he produced his two best performances with cut in the ground in the Derby, and subsequently here at Ascot in the King George, then on fast ground. This versatility could be key.

He ran a huge race in the Arc toward the end of last season; one can forgive a subsequent poor run in the Champions Stakes. The drop to 10 furlongs is another question mark I have. On the other hand, given the softish ground, it could prove ideal, especially if William Buick is bold enough to kick on once the field turns for home. Adayar isn’t slow, and one thing is for sure: he will stay all the way to the line.

Tactically it’s going to be intriguing: what’s Crowley’s game plan? From the #1 draw, he may get boxed in, if he doesn’t move forward right away. I doubt he wants to be too aggressive early on, though. That’s a clear danger, especially if the ground takes something out of Baaeed’s turn of foot.

At the given prices, I simply can’t ignore Adayar. I have question marks. But I have them over Baaeed as well. He’ still by far the likeliest winner, mind. And the fan in me wants him to bow out in style. Yet, the punter in me says a fit and happy Adayar has a better than 10% chance to win a third career Group 1 this afternoon.

A shoutout for Royal Champion: a huge price, one who I feel could outrun this price tag (can be backed at 160s on Exchanges). I was hugely impressed with his recent Ayr run. One to keep an eye on for the future, in any case.

10pts win – Adayar @ 9/1

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3.50 Catterick: Class 4 Handicap, 6f

Perhaps it’s the end of the road for veteran Dark Shot after a number of recent below par performances; however, he was earlier this season still running to low 70 ratings, with a really strong run only back in July at Goodwood, when a neck beaten runner-up.

He was rated 69 and ran to topspeed 67 that day – a seasonal best on that measure, although it was especially his Doncaster 4th place finish a few weeks earlier that caught my eye.

He couldn’t back up those runs the last three times, but two came at Southwell on the All-Weather. He weakened badly in all three races, though. A worry.

But: Dark Shot won this very same race 12 months ago. He’s on a lower mark, will enjoy the return to soft ground and has a solid draw to attack the race from.

10pts win – Dark Shot @ 15.5

Saturday Selections: 23rd July 2022

It’s been a rather quiet week so far. But I have five selections for what I call a proper “Super Saturday” today. As we’re on the home stretch in July I could do with another winner to “ring fence” the profit for the month.

Please read my comprehensive preview for the King George here.

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2.25 Ascot: Group 3 Valient Stakes, 1m

I fully understand why Zanbaq is favourite in this contest, but the price is silly in my view. It’s a different proposition stepping up from a Handicap, albeit a strong one at Royal Ascot, to Group 3 level. The fact she can miss the break and likely will have to come from off the pace could turn out to be a significant disadvantage too.

The one seriously overpriced is German raider Novemba. She has to give weight away to the younger generation but she is a proven Stakes filly with a Classic victory to her name.

Her third place behind Real World last October is the standout form on offer in this race. She couldn’t match this form in two starts this season, but she needed the run at Baden-Baden and wasn’t disgraced at Royal Ascot in the Duke Of Cambridge.

The round track will suit her better today. She likes to be up with the pace. Being on the speed should be an advantage today, in my view, especially on fast ground.

Saying that, the ground is a concern. No question she prefers it softer. But she can act on a faster surface and I feel given she’s likely the best filly in the race and may enjoy a tactical advantage over key rivals, she is clearly overpried.

10pts win – Novemba @ 7/1

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3.35 Ascot: Group 1 King George, 1m 4f

10pt win – Mishriff @ 10/3

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5.20 Ascot: Class 2 Handicap, 5f

Jawaal was beaten by a combined margin of 23 lengths+ in four starts this year although he didn’t ran quite that badly in my view. He certainly caught the eye in his two starts in May, actually and also had sometimes more, sometimes less, valid excuses the last two times.

In any case, as a consequence of finishing down the field four times in a row, he has fallen dramatically in the official ratings. If he is indeed better than the bare forms suggest, as I believe, and he can find back to somewhere closer to last seasons form, he’d be a massive runner today.

He won twice in 2021, and ran to topspeed 98 at Haydock in September – arguably a career best – and also achieved 84 and 89 topspeeds earlier the year.

In truth, even with valid excuses, the way he finished his races this year doesn’t suggest he’s close to that. On the other hand he usually travelled quite smoothly, but found trouble in-running and didn’t produce any significant kick once in the clear.

That can be a sure sign for his waning ability now as a 7-year-old. Nonetheless, down to a mark of 89, with ideal fast ground conditions, at track he’s CD winner and potentially cheek-pieces to help in a wide open contest, I’ll give him a chance to find some form. If he does he’ll be hard to beat.

10pts win – Jawaal @ 9/1

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7.30 Salisbury: Class 5 Handicap, 6f

I quite like Delagate This Lord here who will probably enjoy ideal conditions stepping back up to 6 furlongs again. But I struggle to bring myself backing an 8-year-old, especially with an exciting alternative.

Perhaps even a blind man would have seen the eyecatching run Prophecy produced earlier this month at Ffos Las. He couldn’t get a clear run at all, yet finished supremely well on the bridle in the closing stages, matching the quickest final furlong. He looked like a horse well ahead of his mark.

That was his comeback run after a long break. He changed yards too. Still a maiden after 10 lifetime starts, though he showed a bit of promise on the All-Weather. Today is only his third run on turf. He looks pretty unexposed for the surface and there looks to be significant improvement to come, judged on the last run.

There are clear risks attached today, and that’s probably the reason why he’s as a big a price he is: the potential “bounce factor”, the firm ground may not be ideal, given his full-sister did her best running on softer, and he probably will improve markedly for a step up in trip.

And yet at given odds I can’t ignore him, too impressive was this recent run, too far ahead of his mark he appears to be.

10pts win – Prophecy @ 6/1

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8.40 Lingfield: Class 6 Handicap, 7f

Sir Philip caught the eye on his handicap debut over the minimum trip at Wolverhampton earlier this month. Five furlongs are certainly too sharp as was evidence when he struggled badly at the back of the field. He finished nicely on the eye though, without being overly hard ridden in the closing stages.

Stepping up to 7 furlongs looks the right move on pedigree and visual evidence from all his races. He is still lightly raced and completely unexposed over this trip. Down to a mark of 59 he has opportunities I feel, especially in a weak race.

Drawn in stall 1 offers a way forward, I hope but is also a danger. If he misses the break he could be left in a poor position. He showed that he can start quickly on his second career run, incidentally the only one beyond fife furlongs to date.

10pts win – Sir Philip @ 13.5

King George Preview 2022

A small but certainly select field makes this edition of the King George an exciting renewal. Some of the very best older horses meet the leading lights of the 2022 Classic generation.

All eyes are naturally drawn to Westover: an unlucky third in the English Derby and subsequent runaway winner of the Irish Derby. He’s been seriously progressive this season and today is about telling us whether there’s even more to come.

Of course the rematch with Desert Crown was highly anticipated but won’t be happening for quite some time, it seems likely now. That doesn’t distract from the intrigue that surrounds Ralph Beckett’s colt.

The son of Frankel is hard to fault. A progressive sort, he created visually a strong impression at the Curragh when landing the Irish Derby where he also ran to topspeed 100 as easy as you like. He confirmed his strong Derby performance that saw him run to topspeed 106 despite the well documented trouble he encountered in the home straight.

What the Curragh form is worth remains to be seen. And another question mark remains: how does he cope with proper fast ground? Could he be found out for speed on this ground in a race with a possibly muddling pace? He’s a short enough price to find out.

The other three-year-old in the field is English Oaks runner-up Emily Upjohn.

Many will argue she was quite unlucky that day at Epsom. Perhaps she lost the race at the start, although, that is my view, she had every opportunity to win in any case, given the winner Tuesday didn’t enjoy the smoothest of runs either.

Prior to the Oaks the John Gosden trained filly was a runaway winner of Musidora Stakes and won in even more impressive style on her seasonal reappearance at Sandown. If not for the neck beaten effort at Epsom she’d be unbeaten in four career runs.

Yet, in my view she appears to be seriously vulnerable. The fact of the matter is the figures are against her. She ran to topspeeds 95 at York and 97 at Epsom. Circumstances play a role in these figures, yet they tell a story at the same time and Emily Upjohn had opportunities to prove she is top-class on speed ratings as well.

She may well do so today. In fairness, she looks progressing all the time. But she has to take another big step forward today.

Mishriff was certainly an unlucky horse in the Coral Eclipse earlier this month. Short of room at a crucial stage, he finished much the best and was only a neck beaten by brilliant 3-year-old Vadeni. Another day he wins the race.

He is top-rated in this field, up to 5lb clear on official ratings There’s good reason for it. A runner-up in the 2021 edition of the King George, just beaten by excellent Derby winner Adayar, he went on to land the Juddmonte International in great style a few weeks later.

He ran to topspeed 116 and 118 in those two races. He ran 108 at Sandown. there is a slight question mark whether he truly is in love with the 1m 4f trip. Most likely the race today will turn out a test of speed more than pure stamina, so it’s unlikely to be an issue.

Mishriff is the class-act in the field and if he can improve just a tiny bit from Sandown – not impossible, given he came off a break – he’s going to be hard to beat, I reckon.

I love to see Torquator Tasso here. It’s brave by trainer Marcel Weiss to take a chance on ground most likely too fast for last years Arc hero. Weiss also has been quite open in admitting Torquator Tasso won’t be 100% today. Defending his crown in Paris is the ultimate goal.

There are questions marks over the validity of his Arc victory because of the heavy ground that day. He was a shock winner. Nonetheless, he’s a multiple Group 1 winner regardless. Clearly top-class, he deserved to be in this field. As much as I would love to see him do the “Danedream Double” it’s difficult to see.

The two long-shots Pyledriver and Broome are given little chance in the betting. The latter is clearly the more interesting one, in my view. An excellent winner of the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, he ran to topspeed 108 that day – that level of form entitles him to have a fair shot, today, especially on fast ground and his ability to go from the front.

Selection:

The market is tight but still underestimates Mishriff, who is clearly the best horse in the race. If he can run to the level of form he produced last summer in this very race and subsequently at York – and the Eclipse indicates he can – then he is simply too good for the rest in this field.

He has to give weight away to some smart younger horses, but he looks well capable of doing that in my book. On topspeed nothing in this field gets even close to him. I have him around a 5/2 chance as fair price. So there’s still a bit of juice left, albeit not that much.

10pts win – Mishriff @ 10/3

Saturday Selections: 9th July 2022

On a roll. A hat-trick of winners over the last three days. Flotus won the Group 3 Summer Stakes at York in lovely fashion.

It couldn’t have gone any better: the filly broke well, led the field, although others tried to go with her. Halfway through the race I thought she may have done too much too early. But she kept going all the way strongly to the line. She proved the best filly in the race. Class prevailed.

Hard to believe how rapidly and dramatically the tide can turn in this game as long as you make good decisions, believe in your method (IF it’s a solid and proven method) and show consistency in the effort put in day in day out and most importantly the quality of decisions made.

Already five winners in the first week of July, that’s one more than in the entire individual months of April or May. Right now things are flowing, so to speak. But the pendulum can swing as quickly the other way again, I know all too well.

So I’ll try to stick (not always easy) to the Golden Rules regarding emotions: never too high, never too low. Because three losers on Saturday and the world looks a little bit gloomier again.

3.35 Ascot: Group 2 Summer Mile, 1m

A close one: there isn’t much between the main principles in the field on official ratings, RPR’s or topspeed – the outcome will depend on the form on the day, on pace and possibly on who gets first run round the Ascot mile.

Modern News, My Oberon and Perotto met only a fortnight ago at Windsor in a tight finish with not more than ¾ of a lengths between them as My Oberon finished strongly to get up on the line.

I felt that day Perotto could be marked up for his front-running effort when he possibly over-raced a bit in the early stages. I was hugely impressed how he fought back so gamely once headed, even after being slightly hampered over half a furlong from home. He simply didn’t give up.

He’s no star but a rock solid individual, who has sometimes lacked sharpness out of the gates but clearly responded well to front-running tactics the last time. Cheek-pieces added seem a logical move and hopefully help him to be sharp early. A prominent position on fast ground at the round course is an advantage in my book.

He acts well on fast ground, clearly stays a mile as seen when winning a strongly run Britannia last year and should go well. He’s not the likeliest winner, but certainly overpriced while better fancied horses are priced up according to reputation more so than substance, I feel.

Chindit in particular, who looks a wrong favourite. He hasn’t even cracked a 90 topspeed rating in his last six starts.

10pts win – Perotto @ 12/1

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4.45 Ascot: Class 3 Handicap, 1m

Washraa is clearly well handicapped on the basis of her seriously impressive Sandringham Stakes run. She travelled like a good thing, looked likely to come with a big challenge over two furlongs out, but clipped heels, stumbled badly and lost every chance, yet finished in impressive style, nonetheless.

Of course it’s hypothetical how much she would have found with a clear run. Though, I’m pretty certain she would have gone seriously close. She can race off the same mark here, which offers a great opportunity to resume the winning habit she showed in two starts before Royal Ascot.

She improved nicely since her seasonal reappearance, hinting talent already as a juvenile and should have too much talent for this slightly easier race than the rivals she encountered at Royal Ascot.

10pts win – Washraa @ 3/1

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5.20 Ascot: Class 4 Handicap, 7f

Out From Under is a strong favourite. Only a pound up for his recent very strong Newmarket effort is possibly lenient. At prices I must select the talented filly Tarrabb, though. I reckon she is better than her official rating of 80.

Whether she is already better now, after three career runs, is the key question. She looked raw and very much learning on the job in all her races, nonetheless won really well on debut, wasn’t disgraced when beaten as runner-up subsequently after pulling hard, and lost her race at the gates at Thirsk.

She still very much caught the eye that day in particular, making good progress from the back of the field but not getting a clear run. It’s reasonable to assume she is ahead of her mark. Straight Ascot seven looks an ideal, simple test for the filly.

10pts win – Tarrabb @ 8/1

Eyecatchers #7 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 given the right conditions.

Dancing Tango
06/05/22 – 3.25 Ascot:

Bit slowly away from the gate, then travelled really well into the home straight on the bridle, made progress to 2 furlongs out when a bit short of room, pulled out and stayed on strongly. Solid topspeed 70 rated performance.

Clearly one to improve for going up in trip. Bred for 12 furlongs. Full-sister to good handicapper Dancing Approach. Possibly wants ease in the ground too. Soft 10f on a stamina demanding track may also be a possibility.

One to wait for going handicapping. Showed promise on debut run last month too. Have to monitor the opening mark. Will need on more run to qualify.

Race Replay

Zameka + Kindness
06/05/22 – 4.35 Ascot:

The two aren’t obvious eyecatchers from a pure visual point of view. Though, there is a lot to take from this race for their future chances.

Zameka was disadvantaged right away from the widest outside draw. Travelled okay to the two furlong marker then dropped away quickly. First time blinkers didn’t help much in terms of performance, although he looked a lot more settled and less awkward than in the past.

Ran really well at Lingfield on his seasonal debut in a hot handicap when he hang his chances away in the closing stage but finished well given the circumstances.

He was two times placed and won well on his final start in 2021. Therefore he’s certainly better than this most recent poor showing. He was a $170k yearling, a full-brother to 95 rated Eagle Song, who won twice over 7 furlongs on the All-Weather.

With that in mind, as well as the pedigree, there is plenty of potential upside if Zameka goes back up in trip to 7 furlongs. He’s already won over the trip. The shorter sprint distances are too sharp. Perhaps a return to the All-Weather could be interesting too.

Kindness was drawn the total opposite in the #1 gate. She raced without cover and faded rapidly from two furlongs out, eventually finished last.

This was her seasonal reappearance. My impression is the trip is too short. That’s despite her winning over 5.5 as a juvenile. Back then in September she was quite badly outpaced at the back of the field but stayed on strongly as the leaders went too hard.

On pedigree she should enjoy a step up to 7 furlongs. With a reduced mark and tackling that additional distance she’ll be really interesting.

Race Replay

Mick McHugh
06/05/22 – 5.45 Ripon:

The run itself was not much on the eye. He was outpaced from 3f out, kept up to work for a while but was eventually eased. However, this was a solid comeback run after a 100 day break that should put him spot on.

He showed talent in January on the All-Weather over 5 furlongs, especially when placed at Lingfield finding plenty under pressure despite the minimum trip certainly being an inadequate one.

His breeding clearly points to a mile. that context I feel these three runs are noteworthy and perhaps he didn’t show too much the handicapper. An opening mark of 72 is workable if he steps up in trip to 7 furlongs or a mile.

Race Replay

Shallow Hal
06/05/22 – 6.45 Ripon:

Outpaced at the rear of the field 3 furlongs out, looked poised and dangerous two furlongs from home, travelling behind horses while searching for a gap. Didn’t get a clear run until late, finished strongly with the fastest final furlong split.

Jockey was 1lb overweight here, perhaps the ground not quite soft enough to see Shallow Hal to best effect. Strong run in circumstances. Not for the first time over the last weeks; he’s ran with plenty of credit and not always the best of luck in his races, mostly running to form and mark.

This consistency means he’s in the grip of the handicapper. However, this most recent run shows that he has options of a mark of 73 – he could be really dangerous with a claimer on board, especially with cut in the ground.

Ideally he drops to below 73 before I back him. Ground conditions are non-negotiable for me; I might be tempted on softish ground with a strong apprentice of his current mark, if the price is right.

Race Replay

Makyon
06/05/22 – 6.26 Wolverhampton:

Got a bump early and travelled keenly throughout. Had a lot to do from the back of the field and was rather tenderly handled. Finished in impressive style weaving through the field under hands and heels, posting the fastest last two furlongs.

He has lost his way completely, which is the reason why he has fallen to a basement mark. But he showed the flame is still burning lately. This recent performance is the best to date.

Would be very interesting back on turf over 6 or 7 furlongs, ideally with cut in the ground.

Race Replay

Late Arrival
06/05/22 – 5.35 Nottingham:

Chased early pace, got shuffled back from 3 furlongs out as he didn’t quite possessed the speed to stay close to the early pace. Stuck behind horses and short of room from two furlongs out, while sticking nicely to the task. Gets out late and finishes strongly with second fasted final furlong split.

Best on All-Weather but has ran well on turf last season too, without winning, though. Down to a solid mark. Wouldn’t mind another couple of pounds off. Handicapper would give him a real chance then.

Needs to go back to 7 furlongs, either on the All-Weather, or on turf with cut in the ground.

Race Replay

Wet Wind Blows
06/05/22 – 6.10 Nottingham:

Went out hard in the early part of the race setting some fast fractions. Slowed it down in the middle and kicked on impressively in the home straight to win by 5 lengths.

He defied a penalty for winning on debut at Newcastle but the weight was no issue here, despite meeting some solid opposition. His Newcastle performance was also noteworthy as he overcame greenness and not having the clearest of runs, finishing very strongly.

He’s a quirky sort, still learning on the job, but clearly talented, having ran to topspeed 90 here. Ten furlongs looks fine as a trip. Moving up in distance isn’t out of question. He looks pattern class and will be interesting where he goes next.

Race Replay

One Ruler
07/05/22 – 4.05 Ascot:

Travelled in midfield on the stands’ side really well until about two furlongs from home when he starts to lose his position as a combination of being slightly outpaced over this 7 furlongs distance as well as being stuck behind a wall of horses.

Finds himself about to be relegated to last approaching the final furlong. Switches to the inside rail and finishes under easy hands and heels the joint fasted final furlong split. Impressive.

Seven furlongs and fastish ground racing off near top weight was an incredibly tough assignment. To run so well in these circumstances is especially noteworthy.

Back up to a mile he’ll be a big chance, particularly with ease in the ground.

Race Replay

Ribtide + Eldeyaar
07/05/22 – 7.05 Thirsk:

Ribtide has to content with an outside draw, travels at the rear of the main group really strongly, hard on the bridle all the way to the final furlong marker behind a wall of horses with no way through.

Clearly better than this result and better than the odds of his first four career runs suggested. An opening mark of 67 looks stiff enough for what he achieved so far, although his runner-up performance in March behind Fly To Glory, who is now 83 rated and finished a solid third subsequently behind another 83 rated individual could indicate he’s got a bit more to offer.

This was his handicap debut. He was a 50/1 shot. And the way he travelled looked nowhere near like a no-hoper. Six furlongs looks to be his trip. I’ll be really interested wherever he goes next. He was a January foal and should win races soon. But the market has to be monitored.

Eldeyaar was another hard luck story. He got a heavy bump right after the start. Travelled at the rear end of a small group on the stands’ side. As the groups merged and the race got hot from two furlongs out he appeared slightly outpaced, but kept going nicely.

He had a bunch of horses in front, couldn’t quite quicken fast enough whenever a gap opened for a brief moment. Eventually things opened up late and he ran home strongly.

Clearly a better run than his 50/1 price suggested. This was his handicap debut. He looks to be potentially better than this opening 58 mark. His three qualifying runs where also better than the bare form.

Pedigree matches my visual impression that he wants an additional furlong. He should be a big runner if he steps up in trip. He may be well handicapped enough over 6 furlongs for now – but only with cut in the ground.

Race Replay

Elzaal
0705/22 – 7.35 Thirsk:

Travelled well as part of the smaller of two groups toward the stands’ side. Looked poised for a big challenge over two furlongs out as the groups merged. Was in a tight spot and badly hampered over one furlong out. Had to regain momentum. Impressive how he did it.

The form should be strong thanks to the winner who was still well handicapped.

There are obvious issues and risks with him. He’s a maiden after 20 runs. He’s got close a number of times. Down to a 49 mark at the moment, the right race is there for him to win.

Ideally 5 furlongs on soft ground as otherwise I’m sure he’ll be found out for speed. I would also be curious to see him attempting 6 furlongs again. He tried the distance only once. His pedigree gives him every chance to stay the trip.

Race Replay

Marselan
07/05/22 – 8.35 Thirsk:

Raced as part of a duo isolated on the stand’s side. Pair was lengths behind main bunch and had plenty to do with two furlongs to go. Marselan found plenty to finish much the strongest to grab 2nd place. He also achieved a career best 60 topspeed rating.

This was the first time after a wind operation – he was never going to be a 66/1 shot if his breathing would be fixed. The loss of form last year can most likely be attributed to those issues.

He won of 65 and 67 last summer over 7 furlongs. Now down to 62 he’s obviously well handicapped with the breathing issues rectified. I think 6 furlongs with cut in the ground can work as seen here but the additional furlong and decent ground may well be his optimum.

Race Replay

Arlecchino’s Gift + Salta Resta
09/05/22 – 1.40 Wolverhampton:

Arlecchino’s Gift was caught wide from his wide draw and only dropped in over three furlongs out around the home bend. Travelled much the best entering the home straight but had the entire field to pass.

Appeared to find a small gap over a furlong from home but got badly squeezed eventually. He pulled through but lost momentum. Got quickly going again and finished well – despite the trouble and being eased in the final 100 yards he ran the fasted home straight sectionals.

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 here.

Salta Resta raced at the back of the field and was quite keen throughout but travelled strongly entering the home straight. Had to delay her effort to wait for space to open on the inside. She finished strongly, despite not having a clear run in the closing stages once again, not being knocked about either, with the second fastest home straight sectionals.

She’s been better than the latest results suggest. Currently only 2lb above her last winning mark from Southwell in January when she also achieved a 56 topspeed rating and beat Arlecchino’s Gift.

I feel anything below 6 furlongs will be too sharp. A step up to 7 furlongs looks possible given the dam side. But she’s always quite keen, so perhaps a fast 6 furlongs with a pace to run at should see her capable of winning another race.

Race Replay

Jumira Bridge
09/05/22 – 2.40 Wolverhampton:

After his usual awkward start he travelled well at the back of the main bunch. Looked poised turning for home but got stuck amongst horses. Had to switch to the inside in a harsh move over a furlong out and finished much the best, although the winner was long gone. Raced 1lb out of the weights.

Excellent follow-up from a good performance in a seller over course and distance when he made eye-catching headway turning for home carrying 10st.

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.

If he drops down to class 6 he’ll be a big chance sooner rather than later I reckon. All-Weather or fast ground on turf both should work.

Race Replay

Monsieur Jumbo
09/05/22 – 3.40 Wolverhampton:

He lost the race at the gate. Not for the first time. Had to play catch up from early on. Appeared a bit outpaced around the home bend, kept up to work and stuck gutsily to it in the home straight, rattled home once switched to the middle of the track in impressive fashion, very much the strongest visually and also backed up by last 2 furlongs splits. Doing this despite losing his right-fore shoe.

No doubt he was the best horse in the race. He ran much better than the form suggested at Redcar before. After missing the break, he travelled powerfully through the middle part of the race, just got tired in the end doing too much before it really mattered.

He should stay the mile given the stamina on the dam side. I think it’s worth another try as things happen a little slower there. Ideally we see some headgear applied too.

He was a £85,000 as a yearling and has shown at the track he’s got some talent to match the price. He’s yet to run to a TS rating that matches his current mark, but I firmly believe he’s well capable.

Race Replay

Ustath
09/05/22 – 3.30 Catterick:

Grabbed the lead but didn’t find immediate change of gear entering the home straight. Got pressured left and right and badly hampered repeatedly from 2 furlongs out and never had a change to unleash a challenge. Whether he would have found enough to truly challenge is hard to answer.

Catterick as a track wouldn’t totally suit him. He’s best on flat tracks or the All-Weather. He’s down to a good mark having ran with consistency to a higher level last year. He won off 65 and was placed three times of a similar mark on turf and fibresand, and ran five times to topspeed ratings of 58 or higher (3x 61+).

Even though he has fallen down to a 56 rating at the moment, he was already twice placed this year and ran to a 58 TS rating at Newcastle.

Back on 6 furlongs on fast ground he’ll be ripe to win.

Race Replay

Port Noir + Hope Probe
10/05/22 – 2.20 Chepstow:

Port Noir travelled on the outside from a wide draw away from where the pace and race would develop. Going well making fine progress two furlongs out, then bit short of room and in tight spots a couple of times. Runs well to the line under hands and heels.

Fine performance given the circumstances. She is better on the All-Weather but a few pounds too high for my liking. One to monitor for a few more runs.

She won of a mark of 64 last September at Wolverhampton over 7 furlongs. That performances matches her career best 64 topspeed rating. Wait for her to drop down to that mark in those circumstances.

Hope Probe was at a disadvantage from her low draw much like Port Noire. Moved right over to the stands’ side rail but now behind a wall of horses. Switched back to the middle of the track from 3f out and eventually further to the outside in a dramatic move, making rapid progress.

Received two slight bumps in the last two furlongs but continued to finish well to grab 3rd place on the line.

He must have had issues having dropped 15lbs in a year and changed yards twice. He won of 55 over 7 furlongs last April ( 58 TS) and was multiple times placed of higher ratings subsequently.

This was a clear and obvious return to form. He could be well handicapped if stepping back up to 7 furlongs again.

Race Replay

Silver Diva
10/05/22 – 3.20 Chepstow:

Travelled strongly on the inside behind horses, kept up nicely to the task while having to bide time. Some space opened up late in the final furlong and she moved through easily to finish strongly under hands and heels.

She is still a maiden after 17 attempts, but there are mitigating factors. She also showed promise of higher marks last summer, especially with cut in the ground when she finished 3rd at Salisbury and Windsor.

Down to a basement mark at the moment, she has improved nicely with each run since her seasonal reappearance. The fact she ran so well on fast ground over the minimum trip here is noteworthy.

On proper soft ground she’ll be quite interesting over 5f with a stiff finish or otherwise over 6 furlongs, taking also into context her dam was a soft ground horse too.

Race Replay

Kylie Rules
10/05/22 – 3.40 Beverley:

Travelled very strongly approaching the two furlong marker. Had to wait for racing room, switched toward the inside rail but had to keep fighting for space. The race was gone as she reached the final furlong, although she didn’t find much either in the closing stages.

This was a hot race with some well handicapped individuals here, including the strong winner. She ran a big race last time out here at Beverley over 7.5 furlongs, finishing much the strongest visually and on sectionals, confirming the promise of her seasonal reappearance at Redcar.

No question, she is a frustrating mare these days. She hasn’t won for years, often enough caught the eye, none more so last June when an unlucky 4th at Thirsk of a mark of 67 while running to TS 66.

She is down to a 49 mark now. There is still some spark. But she will need ideal conditions: a bit of cut in the ground. Too often she raced on fastish ground, ran well, but I feel she needs a bit of ease in the ground these days. If that’s given over 7-8 furlongs she’ll win soon.

Race Replay

Gibside
10/05/22 – 4.10 Beverley:

Sluggish start, settled in rear, looked not quite to enjoy the sharp track and still seemed green. Bit short of room 3f out, switched widest for challenge and hang in the home straight a bit to his right. Better than the result, finished well on the sections.

Strong follow-up from last time out when he ran a big race as runner-up. That day he made his move too early that day and a more conservative ride would have seen him gone much closer. Ran to topspeed 54 the last two times now.

I think Beverley looks too sharp for him as a track and fast ground possibly not quite ideal. He looks like one who doesn’t want it any faster than good. He’s a poor starter. Can see him move up to 12 furlongs. That should unlock additional improvement. 1m 2f distance isn’t out of question but want to see him on a less sharp course and with cut in the ground in that instance.

Race Replay

Lailah
10/05/22 – 5.20 Beverley:

Settled well in rear and travelled solidly into the home straight, looking potentially poised for a challenge. Kept in a pocket and not clear run from 3f out, eased to finish second last in the end. Was a big drifter in the betting on the day.

Clearly one for handicaps. Inexperienced, only the second career run for the filly, who was an April foal too. She’ll improve with racing and certainly if going up in trip. She’s a sister to solid handicapper Knowing, a 10f winner who stays 12 furlongs.

I suspect Lailah needs to move beyond 10 furlongs to be seen to best effect. That will happen. Give her time, monitor for the next few starts, also with an eye on the opening mark – she’s one for later this season.

Race Replay

Rose Camira + Adjourn
10/05/22 – 7.00 Newcastle:

Rosa Camira travelled nicely in midfield for a long time, made a bit of progress entering the home straight, but not helped by a shifting rival carrying them toward the far side. Eased after not finding much in the closing stages

Lovely return to the track for the filly on her second career start. She didn’t show much on debut over inadequate 7 furlongs. I reckon this piece of form here will work out quite well, though. Certainly she will have learned quite a bit.

She’ll be interesting once qualified for a mark and if stepping up in trip. There’s an awful lot of stamina in the pedigree. She’s a full-sister 1m 4f winning Lady of Shalott and Lady Morgana who was only 1¼ lengths behind Group 1 winning Eshaada in her sole run.

It’s unlikely that this filly will be a star, but she could be underestimated given the naked form doesn’t read too well yet; hence she’s one to wait for later this year when she goes up in trip and hopefully hasn’t shown too much to the handicapper too early to get a nice opening mark.

Adjourn quickly crossed over from his wide draw to be right up with the pace. He clearly made way too much in the first half of the race.He still looked in with a chance entering the home straight but in reality was gradually weakening and fading away.

This was his first run since September, having been gelded in the meantime. When last seen in 2021 he was an excellent 5th, only 2.5l beaten, behind smart Subastar at Newmarket.

He stepped up to 10 furlongs for the first time here at Newcastle. The jury is out whether he truly stays it. The pedigree is not fully conclusive on that question. The reason why he didn’t get home in this race was simply down to pacing, so worth another chance over the distance.

Otherwise a mile with some ease in the ground could be interesting too. That says one has to monitor the opening mark. As mentioned before I feel this was a strong maiden. And his juvenile form may push his mark beyond an acceptable level. He was a £135,000 purchase, though, and should have talent.

Race Replay

All Are Mine
10/05/22 – 8.00 Newcastle:

Was slowly away and clearly inexperienced. Pulling also really hard for the majority of the race in what was a field crawling for the most part. Didn’t get a clear run of things from 2 furlongs out as pace increased, perhaps also a little bit outpaced shortly after, but very impressive how he changed gears inside the final furlong when finding racing room to fly home.

Highly impressive debut despite drifting out to 25/1 from single figure odds in the morning. Fetched €162k at a breeze up sale last year.

Should improve for a trip given his pedigree. Ten furlongs looks no issue on that front. Will be really interesting to see where he goes next and what the market says. Exciting prospect.

Race Replay

Gold Charm
10/05/22 – 7.45 Lingfield:

Perhaps a tiny bit slow out of the gates, she travelled stylishly into the home straight. Didn’t have an immediate change of gear but wasn’t help by a rival hanging into her, pushing her toward the inside. Eventually with some space in front of her, she finished much the best, especially from half a furlong out.

This was her handicap debut after a really solid pipe opener in quite a hot Newbury maiden last month. An opening mark of 73 isn’t a giveaway from the handicapper; however, this run and particularly the way she finished the race is encouraging.

She has plenty of stamina in her pedigree, and matching that with the visual impression here I reckon she can unlock more potential if she moves up in trip. Winning over 12 furlongs of her mark looks realistic.

Race Replay

Wobwobwob
11/05/22 – 2.25 York:

Drawn in stall #1 on the far side, tried to go with the pace early on but soon flat footed and under pressure. Things happened too quickly here. Still found something under pressure and finished okay, isolated on that far rail.

Six furlongs on decent ground is probably too sharp, especially in this class. Ran a number of good races last year, including when winning at York twelve months ago over 7 furlongs. Continued to improve without winning. A third place at Ayr in a highly competitive Handicap of a mark of 88 running to topspeed 86 counts as a career best.

His seasonal reappearance at Thirsk last month was excellent. Both runs this year now confirmed he’s as good as ever. An 85 OR gives opportunities. Any drop in the mark in combination with a step up to 7 furlongs, ideally with a bit of cut in the ground, will be really interesting.

Race Replay

Life’s A Beach + Mr Freedom
11/05/22 – 8.30 Bath:

Life’s A Beach settled in rear after a slightly sluggish start. Was trailing the entire field turning for home. Had to wait for room, which opened up late inside the final furlong when switched to the inside where he finished really well with seemingly a lot in the tank.

This was his seasonal reappearance having been off since disappointing as short priced favourite at Kempton on Handicap debut. The way he travelled and finished from the back of the field suggests he’s certainly well handicapped.

It’s reasonable to expect he can improve with age and experience given he’s an April foal. He can be a slow starter and wasn’t able to quicken when it mattered at Kempton, so I’d be warry of dropping to 7 furlongs and want to see him over a mile.

Mr Freedom also travelled toward the end of the field. Still third last entering the home straight, he was stuck amongst horses, tried different avenues to get out and hang a bit over one furlong out when switched toward the inside again.

This was his first outing this year and first handicap start after showing nothing as a juvenile. He was surprisingly well backed from an early morning 20’s into 10’s SP.

He’s obviously light on experience and also one you definitely would hope to improve with time. There’s also a good deal of stamina that make me believe his future will more likely be over 10 furlongs.

Race Replay

Flying Secret
12/05/22 – 4.18 Salisbury:

Travelled strongly in rear on the inside, having plenty to do with two furlongs to go. Not finding much racing room until finally in the clear approaching the final furlong. Doesn’t have an instant acceleration but eventually stays on well to land 3rd place.

He’s got his issues in the starting gate and looks in the grip of the handicapper. At least over 6 furlongs. He needs the step up in trip, possibly 7 furlongs will suffice, but a mile should work too. Ideally he gets a couple of pounds off his mark too.

Will monitor for the next starts where they go with him. I wouldn’t back him over 6 furlongs.

Race Replay

Jawwaal
12/05/22 – 1.50 York:

Not the best of starts but that’s normal for him these days. Travelled powerfully behind a wall of horses, looming large, whenever he could get a gap to run through. No gap appeared, switched over 1 furlong out but the race was gone by then. Was eventually eased.

Really nice first outing for the year. Should improve from this. Travelled so well to assume he’s in fine nick. Proved to be prolific last season winning twice and achieve a career best 98 topspeed rating.

Currently rated 98. Would like to see a couple of pounds less before I’m seriously interested, which may already be achieved after this run if the handicapper is lenient. 5 furlongs in smaller field at Doncaster or Ascot on fast ground would be the ideal scenario.

Race Replay

Saturday Selections: 7th May 2022

2.20 Ascot: Listed Buckhounds Stakes, 1m 4f

Can you trust Al Aasy? I can’t. No doubt he is – in theory – the best horse in the race. His official rating and 2021 form is testament to this fact. However, it’s undeniable that his sudden form loss toward the end of last season is a major concern.

Possibly dropping down to Listed level on his seasonal reappearance is an ideal pipe opener to build confidence thanks to a relatively easy assignment. If his enthusiasm is back he’ll win this race running backwards.

At the given prices I absolutely must take him on with all the justified doubts, though. In fairness, this field is light in terms real quality. Third Realm has some nice form in the book and ran multiple times to low topspeed ratings of low 90’s, but never beyond TS 92 and all his form comes with cut in the ground.

The only other one who has ran to topspeed ratings of note is Stowell. He’s an obvious choice at given prices. By no means a sexy individual, one who’s more a grinder than flashy accelerator, but one who offers still some upside as a 4-year-old.

Stowell has match fitness on his side after a solid seasonal reappearance at Newbury last month. He’s a course and distance winner and ran with a lot of credit when third in the Queen’s Vase as Royal Ascot. He ran to TS 94 that day, it’s the second best on offer in this field the favourite aside.

I think he’s fast enough for the 1m 4f trip, especially on Listed level against this sort of opposition – if the potential class act Al Aasy isn’t anywhere near as good as he used to be.

This lad strikes me as a rock solid horse and he’s a overpriced in this field today.

10pts win – Stowell @ 4/1

………..

5.15 Ascot: Class 4 Handicap, 6f

I said after his latest disappointing performance at Wolverhampton to keep faith for the day he returns to turf. – so I’ll stick to my word and continue to have financial interest in Chief Little Hawk.

The gelding messed up at Wolver three weeks ago, though, left the impression that he has more to give if things fall right – once again. But Wolverhampton was never going to be the right track for him. Straight 6 furlongs at Ascot on turf should suit a lot better.

Chief Little Hawk was a big eye-catcher for me at Southwell on his penultimate run. As mentioned then, the way he finished in the closing stages from the back of the field in a race dominated by the two pace setters wasn’t what you normally would see from a 40/1 shot.

He wasn’t even hard ridden in the final stages of the race, yet was the third fastest finisher from two furlongs out, according to sectionals – underlying the visual impression.

Since moving yards away from Aiden O’Brien over to Jamie Osborne Chief Little Hawk has rarely been fancied in the betting. He was long odds most of the time, and still managed to finish 4th, only 1.5 lengths beaten as a 50/1 outsider, in a class 2 Handicap at Newmarket of a mark of 94 last August.

He has fallen significantly in the ratings in the meantime. He is now down to an official rating of 80 and runs in a class 4 Handicap on turf for the first time. Given Chief Little Hawk ran to topspeed 83+ on three occasions in the past, I feel he could be really well handicapped.

Obviously this is a massive field, stall 20 is a question mark and the jockey form is poor. But he’s a price I am prepared to run the risk.

10pts win – Chief Little Hawk @ 9.5/1