Tag Archives: Ballydoyle

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

 

Friday Selections

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A third and a fourth last night, nothing to exciting…. but both horses ran with plenty of promise. Dream Team was a bit of a gamble and went off single figures odds. He confirmed he’s one who can win a race, probably one to keep an eye on once he steps into handicap company.

On home soil, the Group 3 Ballyroan Stakes took place at Leopardstown. I got to admit I was surprised to see Bondi Beach readily available at 15/8 during the day, though I should have been smarter, knowing how Ballydoyle operates. This was clearly a prep run, a slightly more intense workout, given the ride Bondi Beach received.

Clearly promising though, and he’s obviously better over further – another crack at the Melbourne Cup is on the menu next next? Winner Stellar Mass goes from strengths to strengths. Always talented, but finding it difficult to get his head in front – he was 3rd in the Irish Derby – he followed on from a recent success in Listed company and could be St. Leger bound.

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2.50 Wolverhampton: Tulip Dress @ 6/1 VC

Big chance for the only three year old in this race to add to his sole course and distance success. Trainer Anthony Carson does well in these type of race at the Wolverhampton Tapeta particularly this season and he has found another excellent opportunity to score.

3.10 Brighton: Onehelluvatouch @ 9/1 Ladbrokes

Lightly raced three year old who caught the eye on his handicap debut at Lingfield. Overcame wide draw and made the pace, was halfway through taken on for the lead but hit the front again turning for home just to run out of steam toward the end.

Better ground is likely to help here and the handicapper gives her a chance. A useful 3lb claimer is booked too. Trainer Philip Hide is very successful at Brighton, particularly with three years old’s in Handicaps, so bringing this intriguing filly here looks significant.

4.40 Brighton: Port Lairge @12/1 Ladbrokes

Trainer John Gallagher does really well in Brighton Handicaps over the year and has Michael Murphy booked for the ride on four times course winner Port Lairge. Jockey and trainer have enjoyed a fruitful partnership in the last years during Murphy’s time as an apprentice but there is no sign that this success will dry up any time soon.

Port Lairge usually runs very well at Brighton, having been placed in half of all his runs over today’s trip. Down to a workable mark, he is expected to run well.

6.40 Newmarket: Jupiter Light @ 5/2 Ladbrokes

Hot maiden but Gosden’s colt stands out with Dettori booked. Well bred for this trip and expected to be ready for the job on hand right now.

By Lonhro who was an excellent juvenile, out of Fantasia who was a pattern winner over 7f in her debut season – trainer Gosden often introduced successfully those types over the years.

Preview: Breeders Cup Friday

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7.30 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (Grade 1)

Aiden O’Brien has two very strong contenders in a race he has won twice in the past. Hit A Bomb is probably the strongest candidate of the two Aiden saddles –  the colt scooted home at Dundalk when last seen after he got off the mark on his debut. Clearly a very talented individual, he would be very hard to beat if he hadn’t been drawn in the car park. Ryan Moore will have to work his magic. It won’t be easy.

Soft ground is detrimental to the chance of Ballydoyle’s second string, Shogun. He drowned at his only try in really soft conditions, however looked special when winning a maiden at the Curragh on good to yielding ground – similar to what is expected at Keeneland’s turf track today.

Whether he can perform on this sort of ground to a level that is required to be competitive in in top race like this remains to be seen – but connections hailed this colt as a special one not so long ago. I really liked his performance at Longchamp earlier this month when he finished  strongly in a race he meat plenty of in-running trouble. He wasn’t far beaten in the end behind Cymric, who finished a close runner-up that day and is one of the leading fancies here again.

Shogun has a good draw and I would hope to see him being ridden positively as the trip shouldn’t be a problem. He looks a colt we haven’t seen the best of yet and I believe he is underestimated.

Shogun @ 12/1 Coral – 5pts Win

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8.50 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (Grade 1)

A wide open race for the juvenile fillies. Aiden O’Brien saddles the favourite with progressive Alice Springs. There is plenty to like about her: draw is handy, trip will suit this Galileo filly, fine form in the book. Question mark is the ground. It’s likely to be tacky. We have to see if that really suits her.

Harmonize was a nice winner of the Grade 3 Jessamin Stakes here at Keeneland recently. She encountered a wide trip and did well to win from where she came from. Interesting though that the horse beaten in second by half a lengths seemed to have a more ideal run visually, but in fact only saved a neglectable amount of ground according to Trakus figures.

The runner-up that day was Sapphire Kitten. A very lightly raced filly. That was only her second career start and she travelled really nicely. She seemed to be outstayed eventually, but that means the slight drop in trip to 1m will suit today. How she copes with the ground is a question for all in the field – on pedigree she has a fair chance to handle it just fine. At 16/1 she is a nice value play in this field.

John Gosden has brought over talented sprinter Illuminate. Already a Group 2 winner and excellent runner-up in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes, she has obvious credentials to land this race if her stamina lasts. I’m not all that confident in that in the ground conditions.

One that doesn’t seem to get any love is formerly in Ireland trained Last Waltz. She’s having his first start in the US today after showing plenty of promise in his native country. She was a close 3rd in the Group 3 Weld Park Stakes at the Curragh when last seen, where showed plenty of early speed and was just beaten in the dying strides. That encourages me to believe that she can overcome her wide draw here.

The ground won’t be an issue either I believe. Given that it is drying all the time, she should be okay. On pedigree the step up to 1m will suit her well enough too and first time lasix can only be a positive – so at 20/1 she is quite a big price.

One more to mention is Catch A Glimpse. A two times winner on turf, she is likely to be up with the early pace from a good draw and may well improve if she can cope with the ground.

Sapphire Kitten @ 16/1 VC – 5pts Win
Last Waltz @ 20/1 WIlliam Hill – 5pts Win

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9.35 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (Fillies’ Grade 1)

You can’t fault Wedding Toast – she is the clear and fair favourite to land the Distaff. Two Grade 1’s on the bounce, both in utterly impressive fashion. Only question is: can she bring her top game to Keeneland? She finished 4th in her only start at this track last year and has a clear preference for Belmont.

What are the dangers? Got Lucky has to be one. The dramatic winner of the Grade 1 Spinster won’t mind a poor draw as he usually comes from behind. He’ll need a lot of luck though if he wants to do it again here, this time in an even deeper field.

Classy Sheer Drama has got a poor draw, which could be detrimental to her chances. She won two Grade 1’s this year and clearly has to enter calculations. But with the track an unknown, and the draw against her, others may make more appeal.

The pick of the three year old’s is clearly I’m A Chatterbox. I’m a big fan of her I have to admit. She is gutsy, honest filly, but one who poses tons of talent. She usually travelles well thanks to her ability of an outstanding cruising speed and once in front doesn’t let go.

She won the Grade 1 Cotillion when last seen after finishing second twice as well as third in her last three starts the top level – though if not for a crazy demotion in the American Oaks, she would have two Grade 1’s victories to her name now.

I’m A Chatterbox has been on the go for a while now, and that is a concern. So is the draw. From box one it’s never easy but she showed plenty of early pace in the past so I’m hopeful she can get out of this easily. If she has still something in the tank then it’s hard to see her not being involved when it really matters here, given that she has won at Keeneland before.

I’m A Chatterbox @ 8/1 Paddy Power

Leopardstown Preview: Juvenile Stakes

Aiden O'brien

4.05 Juvenile Stakes (Group 3), 1m

Tricky renewal with some hot prospects in the line-up. Bolger’s Sanus Per Aquam makes plenty of appeal with excellent form in the book and the step up in trip sure to suit. He’s a very short price though in a race where plenty of potential is still unlocked.

Ballydoyle has a strong hand in this renewal, which Aiden O’Brien won with John F Kennedy last year. Shogun looked smart when he got off the mark at the Curragh earlier this year, but didn’t enjoy soft ground subsequently. So the overnight rain is a big concern, as the inside track is unlikely to dry out enough to suit him.

Seemingly second string, albeit you never really know with this yard, is Johannes Vermeer. Equally an exciting prospect, he impressed me with his nice action and change of gear at Killarney. He put stamina questions to bed as he never seemed to stop in the 1m 100y contest. He may not be too inconvenienced by the ground, given his pedigree.

Dermot Weld’s True Solitaire is another one to like. A big winner at the Galway Festival, he doesn’t mind rain softened ground and is sure to respond well to the step up to 1m.

Restive for Ger Lyons looked a bit lazy, albeit smart enough to held off his opposition in a Curragh maiden recently. He’s a scopey individual, but may not run due to the ground. His other charge Waipu Cove has been in excellent form lately and could do still better, however is more exposed than others here.

Conclusion: Hard to predict what happens. Nonetheless I believe the 7/1 for Johannes Vermeer is rather over the top. I like his pedigree, he’s bred to be precocious, gets the trip, has a good draw and should be okay on the ground.

Johannes Vermeer @ 7/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win

Preview: Royal Ascot – Friday Selections

Home Of The Brave

King Edward VII Stakes (Group 2)

Ol’ Man River is hugely talented but something has been amiss this year; tongue-strap is fitted now. He looked like as horse with breathing problems, so this gear can help sometimes. But I’m concerned, and not prepared to back him at short odds.

Favourite Stravagante was seriously well handicapped at Epsom, steps up in Grade here and has surely more to offer. Not so sure, though, whether he really wants this trip. Ballydoyle’s second string Father Christmas is seriously well bred but not for 12f. That says he looked slow over shorter. Festive Affair and Balios may not appreciate the step up in trip. Magic Dancer should have the stamina but also has loads to find on form.

I give John Gosden’s Mr Singh another chance. He looked potentially smart when winning a hot Handicap at Newbury. Subsequently disappointing at Goodwood, which was a strange race. He was green that day, and the form looks good with the winner a subsequent Derby third. He needs pace and fast ground. Second point is given, first one unclear. Trip looks fine.

Mr Singh @ 12/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win 

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Commonwealth Cup (Group 1)

Couple of fascinating runners here. Obviously speedy Hootenanny is well fancied. Won at Royal Ascot last year and proved to stay a mile at the Breeders Cup. How good he’s coming back as a three year old dropping back in trip, we’ll see. His prep run against very poor opposition didn’t tell us anything. Tongue tied for the first time, I’d be slightly concerned.

Another clash between Anthem Alexander and Tiggy Wiggy. Both with good form this year. I feel the Hannon filly is the slightly better one. Her 1000 Guineas run is a massive performance, given the sectionals she clocked. She might be fighting with Hootenanny for the lead though. Let’s see how that works out.

I restrict myself to one bet in this race and that has to be Home Of The Brave. Mentioned him as an unlikely eye-catcher after the 2000 Guineas. He failed to stay the mile which is no surprise given his pedigree but ran with loads of credit. He confirmed his excellent Listed success over 7f on his seasonal reapperance when he clocked a very fast time. He run the last three furlongs in hand stopped 33.80s and did that easily – this lad has serious speed!

Drawn towards the rail in box two, have to wait and see how it pans out with so much pace on the other side. But I’ve no concerns about the in trip and think there is a huge performance due.

Home Of The Brave @ 18/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win

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Coronation Stakes (Fillies’ Group 1)

People makes excuses for Found; a bit too many for my liking. This is tougher than the Irish Guineas in my mind and she is a silly price in my book.

The French filly Ervedya was a second behind her last year in a big Group 1, but ridden differently now and more mature, I’m sure she’s the better one. She won the French 1000 Guineas in utterly impressive style. Ground is the issue, though. Nothing in her form nor pedigree suggests that she wants it fast.

That’s the opposite for Bolger’s Lucida. Her runner-up effort in the 1000 Guineas was a monster performance. She fell out out of the gates but travelled well, made a bit too much too early and therefore hit the front too early. Nonetheless she went just down to Legatissimo, no disgrace to finish 2nd, well clear of the rest of the field. The winner in contrast had the run of the race, covered all the time, with gaps opening at the right time.

The sectionals confirmed how strong Lucida’s run was. On another day when things are not working to the textbook for the winner, she’s going to prevail easily. If she can follow on from the Guineas, here with conditions to suit, she’s hard to beat.

Lucida @ 7/2 Ladbrokes – 5pts Win

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Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes (Class 2 Handicap)

Dabadiyan is a huge price and rightly so judged on his recent form – but less than 12 month ago he was still able to be competitive in Listed company. Before that he had a rather decent stint at Meydan. He was competitive in Handicaps of big marks and even finished with loads of credit in two Group 2’s.

Quick ground and 12f seems ideal for him judged on his best. A mark of 100 looks still high enough but if he can find back to form he’s able to run a race. I expect him to overcome his draw and to be very prominent. Since he stays a bit further as well he might be still there when others are really hurt. He might as well finish stone last.

Dabadiyan @ 66/1 Ladbrokes – 2.5pts E/W

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Queen’s Vase (Listed)

Very hard to know who’s going to stay this trip, However I’m pretty certain that Star Rider won’t lack the stamina for 2 miles; she might however lack class. But lightly raced she is, done well to win a Chelmsford maiden over 13.5f, found the drop in trip not what she needs at Goodwood subsequently. On rating she has loads to find, but there is stamina all over her pedigree.

Star Rider @ 66/1 Ladbrokes – 2.5pts E/W