This is a really poor contest despite the fact that I have three eyecatchers running in it. Far From A Ruby is one but I want to see her back on the All-Weather. Her presence is positive from a pace scenario though, as she will go forward and that should ensure a solid gallop.
Others are expected to press her or certainly want to be in prominent positions. This proves ideal on fast ground at Ayr lately, there’s no doubt about that. In that context I struggle to see the attractiveness of Biplane who is the recipient of a bit of money this morning.
I have this between the three-year-olds, Audit and Thunderhill. The former caught the eye when a slightly unlucky 3rd at Catterick when dropped to 7 furlongs. A repeat effort with a clear run will see him go really close off the same mark.
My feeling is that Thunderhill, albeit higher in the mark, offers more scope for additional improvement and that could mean he has possibly a few pounds in hand on only his second handicap run.
He came to my attention on his final maiden race in May in deep conditions at Carlisle when he travelled sweetly through the race for a long time.
On handicap debut four week ago at Redcar he was seriously keen early on and not the easiest to steer. He finished well with the main bunch nonetheless. Probably not the best form, but no recent form in this field is better and he will have learned from it.
Thee faster pace today and the fact he doesn’t need to make it but can track it should be a huge help to his chances. He probably stays further too, so if they go really hard it will be a bonus.
He’s related to some decent winners too, though possibly will turn out to be a miler and is one to keep an eye on regardless what happens today.
Sophiesticate was possibly a little bit disappointing seven days ago over course and distance when attempting to step up to 10 furlongs for the first time. Her 5th place finish reads a whole lot better when accounting for the circumstances encountered that day.
She was restrained early on even though it’s quite difficult to make up ground from off the pace at Ayr on fastish ground, certainly how the track is riding more recently.
Yet she made quite eyecatching progress on the inside from three furlongs out, especially when dropping the fastest furlong split of the entire race from two to the final furlong marker. She didn’t get a clear run at a crucial stage, though, had to delay and switch as the race was gone by then.
In my eyes she clearly confirmed the promise shown in her recent Hamilton runs over shorter. The third place finish behind Shaladar last month was particularly noteworthy.
Even though Sophiesticate remains a maiden after eight career runs she gives the impression that she can be better than her current mark of 60. It’s only going to be her second attempt over ten furlongs and on pedigree she looks suited by the trip. I also take confidence from how she saw out some of her races in the past.
She has got a low weight here and I’d be surprised if she doesn’t run well. However, drawn in eight, with other fancied horses likely to get first run, it’s a clear risk that she comes too late with her challenge. I am prepared to give her the opportunity because I hope connections may have learned from last week, I continue to be drawn to her profile and think this is a winnable race.
I am also quite confident that she is well able to reverse form with Belle Of Annandale and Flying Moon if she gets a fair shot at it. And if that’s the case she’s likely the winner of the race.
10pts win – Sophiesticate @ 9.5
3.55 Ffos Las: Classified Stakes, 7.5f
This is such a poor race that I totally could see Mellencamp romp home to victory here…. if he’s in the right frame of mind. He looks a tricky customer but offers much more upside than the rest in this field.
He’s lightly raced and was clearly not a happy horse at Brighton the last month on his seasonal reappearance. Keen and never really travelling, I felt he wasn’t comfortable at the unique track that Brighton surely is. A more conventional, flat, galloping track, like Ffos Las, should see him travel much better.
We saw at Kempton in his final start and handicap debut as a juvenile what he potentially can do. He got behind, trailed the field, but made significant progress late and came home the strongest in third place. The form doesn’t look too shabby, certainly compared to the what the majority of horses can bring to the table here.
Mellencamp is better than a lowly 49 rated horse I am pretty certain. Whether he can bring the talent to the track remains to be seen. This yard isn’t well known for winners, whether he truly stays the trip is a question mark and he can make a mess of the start.
There are risks but there is high reward too. I am certainly hopefully he’s the best horse in the race.
Alpine Express finished really nicely against older, so returning against his own agree group gives him an obvious chance over his possible optimum trip. Nonetheless, he’s got to give 2.5kg to the filly Distinction, who looks quite forward and talented.
She ran a bit into trouble in her first couple of starts but showed some nice change of gear, especially on her second career outing. She won at the third time of asking over 1200m and the last time was an excellent runner-up in Listed company.
Those two times she showed lovely early speed – even after braking awkwardly the last time – travelled strongly, kicked on and got a break on the field. She was just caught late by smart Who Do You Love the last time. The forms out quite well already. The third Bonika went on to win a Listed race subsequently.
Top man Richard Fourie jumps on board today. The ease in the ground should suit. Distinction ran really well on softish ground on her second start. It might slow things a little bit down as well. She has the speed for the minimum trip but is probably better over the added trip.
10pts win – Distinction @ 5/2
3.00 Ayr: Class 6 Handicap, 6f
Communion improved significantly on his handicap debut last month compared to what he showed in qualifying runs. He was stuck on the inside though for the entire run with nowhere to go. Very late he finds some space but the bird has long flown.
That form is probably not a bad one, already starts to work out well and should work out even better in the future.
Off a 50 mark I reckon he’s got a bit more to offer on his second run in handicap company over this 6 furlongs trip. He looked green, raw and with plenty to learn in all four career starts so far, but with some experience under his belt I hope for improvement.
This is a pretty poor race, begging for an improving sort to grab the bull by the horn. Communion can be the type of horse to have enough in hand.
10pts win – Communion @ 13/2
5.15 Ayr: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 2f
Sophiesticate has been crying for a step up in trip lately. She caught the eye when finishing strongly in third place on her penultimate outing at Hamilton.
That day she was locked in against the outside rail while going strongly, having to delay and delay, eventually switching to the outside over one furlong from home and then staying on.
She wasn’t suited to a small field and sprint finish the next time. Clearly going up to 10 furlongs can only be a positive. Visually she appears to be badly in need of the trip. On pedigree she looks totally fine too.
10pts win – Sophiesticate @ 6/1
7.15 Ripon: Class 5 Handicap, 1m
Sydney Bay was such a huge eye-catcher last time out (same race as Communion), I believe he could have 10lb+ in hand going up in trip. A mile will surely suit this son of Australia. The fact he made such a huge impression over 6 furlongs on handicap debut is quite promising too.
That day he dropped to the rear of the field halfway through the race, travelling like an absolute dream, though behind a wall of horse. Given a bit of rain, and finally some space, he took it an instant, although it was way too late to trouble the leaders.
I don’t think going up in class will cause any issue. He’s at least a mid-70s horse. Off 63, as bottom weight only bad luck can prevent him from winning.
10pts win – Sydney Bay @ 7/2
Note: possibly addition Race 1 Kenilworth – Distinction. No prices available yet. Will update tomorrow morning if >2/1.
My selections didn’t ran badly, especially 30/1 shot Airways Law produced a huge performance from the back off the field finishing 6th against a slow pace.
But nobody in the race stood a chance against super filly Sparkling Water. Largely, that must be said, because all other jockeys were outridden by brilliant S’manga Khumalo, who maximised the chance of his mount by doing absolutely everything right.
Obviously he’s got a bit of history in the race. Khumalo is a legitimate word-class jockey. He must have studied the pace scenario really well and had a match plan that was executed to perfection. A slow pace was always likely to happen and that would significantly hamper the chances of those at the back of the field.
Sparkling Water was drawn in #12. Not ideal but not a big problem either. Khumalo pushed the filly out of the gates and crossed over towards the inside rail in an instant. The race was only a few seconds old but the winning move was already done.
From there on Sparkling Water travelled smoothly, always handy, with a clear passage, and Khumalo, knowing the filly stays all day and night, committed as soon as they reached the home straight. Two furlongs from home he called on everything and the filly responded. Once she hit the front she wasn’t for catching. It was beautiful to watch.
The master that is Mike De Kock was sweet on Sparkling Water’s chances all week. He told everyone who dared to ask. Quite how she could go off 16/1 is a mystery. She was more than half the price only a few days earlier.
I didn’t spot this large drift either. But I also didn’t rate her chances. In my mind she was a stayer. Too slow in this field of top-class 10 furlong horses in a race that was sure to be run at a pedestrian pace. I didn’t account for the magic S’manga Khumalo produced in the saddle on the day.
Safe Passage didn’t have the best of trips. He’s better than that but also tired late and probably doesn’t want to go beyond 10 furlongs ideally. Jet Dark ran a massive race in 2nd. Ridden like a non-stayer, he saw it out strong from off the pace.
Two-times champion Do It Again ran his usual strong race. Last years winner Kommetdieding also finished with plenty of credit in 5th place off a big weight. Under WFA terms, wherever he goes next, he’ll be once again the horse to beat.
Linebacker encountered a miserable trip. Heavily bumped early on, he got hampered turning for home again. Pomp And Power was backed into favouritism, pulled his chances away as expected.
In summary: I didn’t back the winner but hugely enjoyed the build-up to the July and it was an entertaining race as well. The Durban July is one of my favourite races of the entire year. it proved it all again in 2022.
4.37 Ayr: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 2f
This looks like a matchup between Lituus and and Acoustic on paper. The Grant Tuer horse may improve for the trip after an encouraging recent effort, but doesn’t appear generously handicapped on balance.
Acoustic in contract off 49 may well be. He’s yet to run particularly fast, a best topspeed of 46 is nothing to shout about. But he looks sure to improve for the additional furlong, having nearly gotten back to the eventual winner over the slightly shorter 9 furlongs at Hamilton the last time.
He was right up with the pace from the start, came under pressure from over three furlongs out, but kept going. Headed 1.5 furlongs from home, you would have expected him to fade away, but instead he rallied back strongly in the final furlong.
Acoustic clearly has every chance to stay 10 furlongs anyway, given he is out of a Singspiel mare. He also appears to be in fine shape, having been an eyecatcher two back at Weatherby when completely messing up at the start in first time blinkers.
10pts win – Acoustic @ 5/1
5.12 Ayr: Classified Stakes, 1m
I like both Bankawi and Hello Power. Both caught my eye the last times, although Hello Power on more occasions. The WFA weight swing tips the balance to the filly, who has drifted a bit to a price that’s too big now.
The three-year-old is still quite unexposed on turf but show clear signs of acting on the surface when impressing in the middle section of her recent Doncaster run. She faded into third but only because she was asked way too much too early.
This significant change of gear she showed there hints a bit of talent, though, at least on this modest level. I quite liked her gutsy Southwell victory earlier in the year and thought she was a bit unlucky not finish closer last time out at Wolverhampton.
The fact she got going again after hampered over 1 furlong out proves her nice attitude.
The question mark is whether she can stretch out over a mile. Her pedigree gives her a chance. The way she finishes her races too. I doubt there’ll be a mad pace on, which will help. Although I hope they won’t drop her in and race settle in midfield not too far off the pace.
I really like the two Gosden horses, but given the prices have to side with Aldous Huxley who I feel can defy top weight with the excellent assistance of 5lb claiming Benoit De La Sayette in the saddle.
Overcoming a mark of 101 in such a competitive Handicap isn’t an easy task. But I still feel Aldous Huxley has much more to offer than what he has shown to date; he should be a Group class horse in my view.
I’m a keen follower since his brilliant Kempton debut earlier this year when he overcame greenness and still ran to topspeed 90. Since then he was beaten behind New London, and a close runner-up in the Listed Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood most recently.
The drop back to 10 furlongs will suit. The #1 draw will provide every opportunity to go forward and be in a good position turning for home. He will stay, no question about that and I’m not too worried about the fast ground either.
10pts win – Aldous Huxley @ 10.5
4.54 Ayr: Classified Stakes, 1m 2f
Highlight Reel was disappointing on Tuesday when he got going too late, although some of that had to do with how the race developed for him. This today looks easier, while the step up to 10 furlongs isn’t an issue.
His last win came over this sort of trip 12 months ago and those latest runs suggested it’s what’s possibly required these days. He ran with plenty of credit a number of times lately, proving wellbeing and form.
I felt he outran his price tag two back at Redcar over 10 furlongs in a pretty hot contest for the low grade, he also caught the eye at Wetherby.
Ideally the ground would dry out with no soft in the description. Not sure how likely that is. He acts on soft, but probably is best on faster surfaces. But I only see Oot Ma Way as a proper danger in this field.
10pts win – Highlight Reel @10.5
5.18 Lingfield: Class 6 Classified Stakes, 1m
Surrey Territories is one I am interested in since his strong Kempton third place at the end of March. e was the only one able to finish from off the pace. He’s clearly capable of winning a race but need things to fall right.
He wasn’t disgraced in his next two starts; perhaps a shade unlucky at Wolverhampton, although the trip maybe stretching his stamina, too. Last time out he had a tough assignment on the weights in a Claimer.
This Classified Stakes is easier and quite a poor race. Less than a handful of horses give the impression of serious contenders. With a fine 7lb claimer on board and his 3yo weight allowance Surrey Territories looks to have a major shout.
The concern is the fact he will have to come from off the pace. If there is no pace on, which is far from impossible, he’ll struggle. It’s a risk I’m prepared to take because I also can see him flying home late to win.
Despite a big field this race is a rather uncompetitive one with only few appearing to be anywhere near what you’d describe as well-handicapped. There is no doubt, that when on a going day, Vive La Difference is surely one who is well-handicapped, though.
The 5-year-old gelding has been struggling to find his best for a while, certainly starting slowly on pretty much every occasion doesn’t help. At the same time a few performances have been promising this year, when not far beaten in competitive races at Wetherby or Ripon earlier this season.
Vive La Difference has fallen quite a bit in his handicap mark, now 10lb lower than he started the season. He ran twice in his career to topspeed ratings of higher than 70, and a number of times around his current handicap mark of 68, including this year.
That gives hope that today of a near career lowest mark he can run a big race with conditions sure to suit, particularly if first time blinkers can help sharpen him up at the beginning of the race.
10pts win – Vive La Difference @ 11.5/1 MB
3.10 Pontefract: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 2f
I was keen on Aiya the last time at Thirsk. Things didn’t pan out as hoped, but the gelding conveniently dropped another 3lb in the mark and also to a more suitable 1m 2f trip, I believe.
Most what I talked about in my analysis leading up to the Thirsk race still holds true today:
The 4-year-old was a little bit unlucky not get his head in front on grass yet, because he got close at Redcar when beaten by a neck back in May. He ran to topspeed 80 in that mentioned Redcar race and clocked 77 on the All-Weather in the past.
With conditions likely to suit – fast ground and 10f delivered his career best of an 80 ORR and a TS 80 – and a decent draw, there is no reason why Aiya shouldn’t run a massive race today.
I usually don’t like backing last time out winners, but make an exception for Fantasy Keeper here. He won really well at Sandown over the shorter 5 furlongs in soft conditions, being really well backed.
A little break since then, now back, moving up to 6f, only 3lb higher in the mark, which could underestimate him today. Fantasy Keeper loves cut in the ground and then it doesn’t matter if five- or six furlongs.
He ran to a topspeed rating of 83 at Sandown, before that over an additional furlong to 81. So, given he finds ideal conditions today, he looks on a fair handicap mark, potentially being able to pull out a bit more, as he’s had only three starts on soft or heavy going to date, with a win and two placed efforts to his name then.
10pts win – Fantasy Keeper @ 5/1 MB
7.55 Ayr: Class 5 Handicap, 7f
The chips are down for Chaplin Bay today, I feel. He’s backed all day long and that makes perfect sense with conditions sure to suit. He’s somewhat of a 7f specialist, who definitely enjoys cut in the ground and has a 50% place SR over course and distance as well.
He hasn’t been winning for a while, so as a consequence dropped rather dramatically certainly in his turf mark. Down to 50 now, he looks supremely well handicapped in a race like this.
Judged on form this year, he still has appetite for the game and didn’t ran too badly on a number of occasions, actually. One to keep an eye out: he’s got an entry here at Ayr for Monday also.
See You remains a maiden after 13 starts so not too much confidence can be placed in the gelding. But the fact he’s got the perfect draw to replicate tactics from his most recent run is interesting.
Third at Beverly last months attempting to make all and setting a frantic pace under an inexperienced rider, he was caught late. Dropping down to 7f again should suit. A 2lb hike in the mark remains a dangerous mark in my mind.
A repeat of that type of performance may well be enough to win this race today. Here’s hoping David Allan makes use of the good draw, indeed.
10pts win – See You @ 9/1 PP
5.45 Kempton: Class 7 Handicap, 5f
The lowest grade and a truly shocking race. Nonetheless, the still lightly raced Broughton Excels offers some promise for improvement. He showed glimpses of ability when fifth on his seasonal- and new yard debut last month at Wolverhampton when not ideally placed at the back of the field.
This late may foal should improve with time, hopefully – so dropping into a poor race stripping fitter for his latest run is interesting.
Drawn perfectly for the 5f trip at Kempton, Broughton Excels has a big chance of a career lowest mark, granted he can get the break right, which as been an issue in the past.
13 year old Secret Asset has dropped to a very dangerous mark and finds himself in a pretty poor low grade contest despite showing here and there glimpses of retaining some sort of competitive form.
He clearly isn’t the force of the past, however now down a mark off 46 he looks ready to land a race with conditions in his favour. Four of his six career turf wins came on fast ground.
So, the fact he finds a fast surface today is a bonus. The jockey/trainer combo doesn’t look strong, nonetheless 5lb claim on top of the low mark may mean Secret Asset can outrun his price tag.
10pts win – Secret Asset @ 15/1 MB
4.45 Ayr: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 5f
He’s on the drift and that might be a sign in itself, still I fancy top weight An Fear Ciuin and put a speculative bet on him to shorten later on again. He really looks ready for a big one today.
Back on the flat, dropping into class 5 Handicap – the last time he found himself in this lowly class he won (over 2m) – and also down to his last winning mark.
He should be fit from hurdling after two fair efforts over two miles. The ground might be a bit faster than ideal, and this could well be a race to bring the mark further down. So be it…. An Fear Ciuin is way too big a price.
10pts win – An Fear Ciuin @ 25/1 PP
8.30 Windsor: Class 5 handicap, 1m 2f
Wide open Handicap for three year olds. Another rather speculative one for me here with handicap debutant Vlannon.
Three starts in maiden company in quick succession. He final one over 7f at Lingfield was the best of the lot. He battled hard in a fair race but clearly needs further.
His pedigree, at least on the dam side supports this. Vlannon is a half-brother to a couple of individuals who did there best over further and later over hurdles. His opening mark is fair, gives him a good chance to win a race as improvement is likely to come for the new trip.
A first Derby win for Godolphin. It’s been in the making for far too long, the ultimate dream finally achieved, however. 41 years it took, then Sheikh Mohammed could see his home bred Masar scoot home to land the world’s most prestigious flat race.
A whopping 16/1 chance. How could so many miss the credentials the 2000 Guineas third had, including myself?! My own selecting The Pentagon only proved one thing: not good enough.
Derby Day could have been a super day, regardless. Ana Nerium ran the race of her life in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes if she wouldn’t have had had too much to do from the rear of the field, unfortunately.
The consolation in the evening, at least. The double of Sam Gold and Midnight Blue landed. Off to the winning ways in June…
6.15 Windsor: Class 4 Novice Stakes, 5f
Hugh Taylor’s selection Queen of Bermuda is backed as if there isn’t a tomorrow. And sure she was super impressive at Thirsk recently. She is well entitled to follow-up here, though all the money coming for here leaves others in the field at tasty value prices.
First and foremost the ride of Derby winning jockey William Buick. Only one ride on Windor’s evening card, he comes over to sit on well bred Leading Spirit.
The colt ran pretty green on debut at Yarmouth in a hot class 3 contest last month. The winner looked incredibly smart there, Leading Spirit faded away in the closing stages to finish a well beaten 3rd in the end.
That form should work out really well, I suspect. Leading Spirit drops to the minimum trip. That’ll suit, he looked sharp out of the gate. His sire has an excellent record here at Windsor as well as in general over 5f plus on fast ground. He’s bound to improve quite a bit and that should see him go close to the favourite, I hope.
10pts win – Leading Spirit @ 11/2 VC
8.30 Ayr: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 7f
An incredibly open race screaming for a long-shot to get his head in front. I do like the chance of In Focus here, despite him seemingly loosing his form and still looking for a first win beyond a mile.
That says, there are fair reasons for his last three forms that read so badly: he was entitled for his seasonal debut run at Wetherby last month and didn’t take to hurdling in his final run in 2017. A combination of very soft ground and potentially a little bit too much racing at the back end of last year may was the combination that saw him fading badly at Catterick on his penultimate run.
Judge on his best performances in 2017 over marathon trips, when twice runner-up in 14f handicaps, suggest he can get the trip and is competitive from his current handicap mark.
I feel the fast ground today could be real deal breaker in a positive sense. He hasn’t encountered anything like it for quite some time. He did win on fast ground twice in the past, however.
10pts win – In Focus @ 14/1 VC
FYI: If interested, keep an eye on this blog because if the ground dries further at Windsor, I may identify another selection for the evening card there.