Tag Archives: Ballydoyle

Preview: Irish Champion Stakes 2018

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This years renewals of the Irish Champion Stakes wins in excitement purely on the basis of the renewed clash between Roaring Lion and Saxon Warrior. Both met several times in big races over the last two seasons and it has been interesting to see how each individual progresses differently.

One could argue that since the 2017 Racingpost Trophy Roaring Lion has been the more progressive one; certainly since Saxon Warrior landed his own early season target with the 2000 Guineas, Aiden O’Brien’s charge has been playing second fiddle on three occasions behind “The Lion”.

The last time, in the Juddmonte International, the gap was at its biggest ever since these two dated each other for the first time. 5 lengths Roaring Lion had to spare that day. Will it be different today?

It’s been a long year for both horses now and it probably comes down who’s able to hold his form.

On paper Roaring Lion is poised to win another battle today. Ground and track should suit him, and the fact AOB seems to throw the kitchen sink at him reminds me a little bit of 2009 when the same happened taking Sea The Stars on.

Regardless, taking prices into account, I find it impossible to back the favourite, even if he is the most exciting horse of 2018 and he’s likely to win today. Odds-on is a no go for me. And this particular race has proven over the last number of years it can be a bit of a minefield for short priced favs.

So I settle happily with Ballyoyle’s second string: Rhododendron. Her Lockinge Stakes win earlier this year rates as a superb piece of form and as she has proven in the past to stay 10 furlongs she would be a much shorter price if not for an abysmal run of form.

I bank on her to find back to her best today, for the simple fact the AOB yard wasn’t right for some time this summer and her runs were simply too bad to be true.

The setup of the race today could suit her well. In saying that, she has to find with the two market principles, of course. But then, she is a massive price, and on her best form she should be half of the odds available today.

Selection:
10pts win – Rhododendron @ 22/1 PP

Big Race Preview: St. Leger 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday Selections: August, 3rd 2018

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

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

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5.50 Newmarket: Class 5 Handicap, 12f

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

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

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

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

Thursday Selections: August, 2nd 2018

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

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

……….

3.00 Goodwood: Group 1 Richmond Stakes, 6f

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday Selections: May, 9th 2018

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

2.25 Chester: Cheshire Oaks, Listed, 1M 3F 75Y

This is not a good renewal. At least on paper it appears rather weakish. So, given his record in this race and the jockey bookings at given prices I’m happy to take a chance with Aiden O’Brien’s Magic Wand.

Only to starts to date, a fair debut as a juvenile, and fair pipe opener at Leopardstown in probably unsuitable ground conditions. She looks like crying out for the trip, though the better ground should be a big help too.

Magic Wand was an expensive purchase, is obviously incredibly well bred and has some fancy entries for later the season. Hence this is hopefully only a stepping stone.

Selection: 
10pts win – Magic Wand @ 7/2 WH

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3.35 Chester: Chester Vase Stakes, Group 3, 1m 4f

Open looking contest as it often it is the case at this time of the year: who of these well bred colts turns out best? The answer for today may be found in the recent Sandown Classic trial. Two of the main contenders clash here again: Hunting Horn and Ispolini.

I prefer Goldolphin’s Ispolini today. I like his progressive profile and the fact that he clearly has come on over the winter as we seen when he ran a fine race to finish 2nd at Sandown on his seasonal debut.

That was only his third career start and you saw a bit of inexperience in the closing stages. At the same time he is entitled to come on for the run. From a good draw and with the step up in trip likely to suit, this could turn out to be a real Derby contender for the boys in blue.

Selection:
10pts win – Ispolini @ 7/2 PP

Al Wukair a serious Guineas Contender?

Did we see the 2000 Guineas winner today? Well, the answer is: maybe! Certainly Al Wukair made a big impression at Maisons-Laffitte when landing the Group 3 Prix Djebel.

The two year old son of Dream Ahead dawdled along in the rear of the field but once switched to the outside by rider Gregory Benoist the colt produced a stunning turn of foot and won rather handily going away in the end without being all out.

This, big scopey lad looked still a bit green, which is fine as it was only his third start – though also his third win! He finished last season with a 100% two for two record, culminating in a really nice Listed race win at Deauville where he proved to stay the mile.

Seven furlongs today was no big deal either but he was probably slightly taken out of his comfort zone by the pace and a return to the eight furlong trip will suit him. This form appears to be very strong, given runner-up National Defense is the reigning Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere champ.

Trainer Andre Fabre was pleased stating in the aftermath “it was a useful race, I was delighted by the style in which he won; seven furlongs is a bit sharp for him so, with all that put together I am happy and we will go for the Guineas,”

With these French horse but more in general with Guineas contenders you don’t know how they take to the quirky test that Newmarket racecourse provides. It may well be a bit of a culture shock for Al Wukair too, however I crunched the numbers for Dream Ahead offspring which are quite encouraging, actually.

Albeit a limited sample size, it looks still significant: over a mile from 9 starters 3 have won and overall 5 were in the money. That is quite healthy output given the average SP for those starters was 7/1.

In summary there is plenty to like about Al Wukair. He was a promising juvenile but has clearly trained on and filled his big frame as we’ve seen today. He’s classy, has a turn of foot and on pedigree should be okay at the Rowley Mile. He’ll come into the 2000 Guineas race fit and it can’t be a disadvantage to be trained by the master that Andre Fabre is.

Al Wukair is already as short as 5/1 with some firms, but 8/1 is still available. It won’t last. Whether favourite Churchill can be beaten remains to be seen, but he’s a very short price and let’s not forget what happened to the red hot favourite of the same stable last year when everyone thought he was unbeatable.

At 8/1 I’m happy to put a big ante-post wager each-way on Al Wukair. He showed me today anything I wanted to see from a potential Guineas star.

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2.00 Lingfield: Maiden Stakes

Favourite Eagle Creek looks hard to beat if ready to go on his seasonal reappearance. He ran well on debut last season but was put away subsequently. He’s destined for better and this race is most likely only a stepping stone.

From a good family by Raven’s Pass and Listed race placed dam Blue Angel, a half-brother to listed race winner and multiple Meydan winner Viren’s Army, he should be too good for this lot at Lingfield.

The All-Weather surface is unlikely to pose a threat and connections must clearly feel he’s here to win as Atzeni comes for only this one ride and his record in Lingfield maidens when he’s having only a single ride on the day is marvellous

Selection:
10pts win – Eagle Creek @ 2/1 Bet365

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3.10 Pontefract: Class 3 Handicap

The books seem to have the wrong horse favoured in the betting in my book. William Haggas’s Battered looks a far better chance at a bigger price. Battered run well in four starts in his juvenile campaign. Won a competitive maiden at Yarmouth and lost little in defeat when runner-up in a hot Handicap at York.

He had subsequent Listed places Tomily behind him who is now a 99 rated individual. RPR’s also suggest Battered is likely to be well in here off his current 82 mark.

Further to that he did better than one would expect as a two year old given sire Foxwedge progeny seems to do better as three year olds. With a track that favoures prominent runners sure to suit this pacey lad I feel he takes the world of beating.

Selection:
10 pts win – Battered @ 2/1 PP

Big Race Preview: Arlington Million Day

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Big night Chicago – it’s Arlington Million Day! Three Grade 1 races on the turf, plus the US St. Leger – not  a bad card of flat action in my book. So let’s have a look inside – here’re some thoughts and selections:

American St. Leger (G3)

One of the locals is heading the betting market – Da Big Hoss. Given the strong record Europeans have in the race this might be a slight surprise, however this year’s challenge from overseas is not as strong as in years before.

That says there is a good reason to believe a local horse can land this unusual test – by US standards – of stamina.

Da Big Hoss has already proven his stamina landing the Belmont Gold Cup in impressive style, he’s also a multiple Stakes winner. He sets a high standard. On the other hand he gives crucial weight away,  at a short price is probably worth to oppose.

The main European challenge is likely to come from Clondaw Warrior and Wasir – both very decent stayers. Though there are some question marks whether they have the required speed today.

Might sound counter intuitive in a race called St. Leger, but makes perfect sense as we shouldn’t forget the fast ground horses encounter at Arlington’s turf and the sharpness of of the track, including a short run-in.

The two I find most intriguing in the line-up are Billabong nd Montclair. The latter one formerly trained in France, has staying form good enough to feature, however the ground might be against him.

Billabong has won over this sort of trip, albeit on the All-Weather, but has also proven himself to be competitive over shorter in Group company. He should be fine on the fast ground and gets the benefit of first time lasix.

At 10/1 he looks too big in the betting, given the rather open nature of the race, in my mind.

Selection: Billabong @ 10/1 Ladbrokes

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Secretariat Stakes (G1)

The first big one of the night and looking through the most recent history of the race it would be unwise not to have  proper look at whatever Aiden O’Brien saddles.

It’s probably fair to say, though, this years entry Long Island Sound is not as strong as the likes of Highland Reel or Treasure Beach were in years before.

Interesting to see William Buick booked on a decent US horse in American Patriot. Hugely improved since fitted with blinkers, he has to carry a penalty after a recent Grade 3 success nonetheless and that makes life difficult.

Beach Patrol looks the most likely winner after an excellent third in the Belmont Derby. However he’s a short enough price, so my advice is: watch and enjoy the race, safe the money and buy cans of beer instead of burning it here.

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Beverly D. Stakes (Grade 1)

It’s the big one for the females. A wide open race in my view, though I clearly see why Sea Calisi is a hot favourite. I was very fond of her last year when she still raced in Europe and was placed in the Prix Vermeille and Yorkshire Oaks – naturally that type of form gives her a standout chance.

She also had a good start to her US career, with a win and runner-up effort in Grade 2 competition. Worry for me today is her late running style and the trip. It’s a bit on the sharp side for her and she might get rolling too late.

Team Ballydoyle has the filly with the same name in the race. The 1.000 Guineas runner-up disappointed in the Belmont Oaks, which was her second poor showing on the bounce actually. .

Stable mate Coolmore is more interesting. I love the looks of this filly and rate her third place in the Belmont Oaks highly. From the widest draw, she missed the kick yet marched forward to share the lead soon and still managed to finish in the placings.

That was a big performance, although she ran out of steam in the closing stages – says she had every right to do so.

I always felt she’d be best suited over a stiff mile, but she deserves another chance over this sort of trip today, particularly with fast ground a help.

Selection: Coolmore @ 7/1 WH

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Arlington Million (G1)

The main event of the night and you know what? It’s a straightforward race. Focus on the Europeans and you can’t go wrong!

Right, there’s 2015 Million winner The Pizza Man in the line-up, but he clearly is not in the same form as last year. Grade 1 turf winners Wake Forrest and World Approval are the main hope for the locals – both have good form in the book but would hardly be Group 1 material in Europe.

So here come the Europeans, all  pumped to the eyeballs with lasix! Mondialiste proved he’s a different horse in the US. On his two starts – what coincidence both times on lasix – he outperformed his European form.

Tryster, first time on lasix today, should show improvement big time I suspect, though not only for the medication, but also for the likely fast pace in combination with the quick ground. He’ll be flying towards the end.

And there’s three year old Belmont Derby winner Deauville. A good horse, but not a world beater. However trip, track and ground is something he’ll love, and I can see him following up on his impressive Belmont success.

Deauville has to overcome a wide draw yet again, but he proved the other day the doesn’t lack early pace.  Also he’s a big three year old, who’ll make most of the weight allowance today.

Whereas I’m not sure whether Mondialiste will enjoy the conditions, whereas Tryster might get going too late, Deauville should be in the right spot when it really matters.

Selection: Deauville @ 6/1 Ladbrokes