Tag Archives: Chester

Sunday Selections: August, 4th 2019

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2.00 Chester: Class 4 Nursery, 5f

Rarely do I get involved with juveniles, but I feel this race is for the taking, given the favourite has to deal with a stiff opening mark given by what he has shown in three starts so far, and the second favourite is certainly not well handicapped.

But the filly Shammah appears to be massively underestimated based on two below part efforts lately, however on unsuitably fast ground.

She looked potentially smart winning a novice contest at Windsor in June, though. Which is pretty strong form judged through the 3rd placed horse Hubert, who subsequently was only half a lengths beaten behind smart Homespin.

Shammah’s Windsor performance earned her a topspeed 79 rating, which came on good to soft. She’s dropped below that mark in handicapping terms, now on an official rating of 78. So from that perspective, given she also has a top draw today, finds conditions she likely enjoys, there is potentially more to come and she can easily be well in.

It’s important to note that more rain is on its way to Chester and Shammah’s dam has shown her best certainly with cut in the ground. Despite plenty of stamina in the pedigree, Shammah appears to break sharply, so she ma well be able to utilize the plum draw and her superior stamina, in a bid to go hard from the front today.

Selection:
10pts win – Shammah @ 5/1 MB

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3.55 Galway: Premier Handicap, 7f

another rarity: a bet on Irish flat racing! But, again, I feel pretty strong about a horse today, even though it’s the madness of Galway. Quickly turned out again, albeit slightly different circumstances, Rufus King looks sure to outrun his price.

He was a fine 4th on Tuesday here but ran out of gas in the closing stages over a trip stretching him as well as from a wider than ideal draw, which meant he had to do a little bit more than he’d want to have done in the early part of the race.

Today Rufus King drops down to 7 furlongs, is drawn in stall four and remains on a tasty handicap mark. He’s hasn’t won of this or similar ratings lately, however ran with plenty of credit, not only at Galway, but also of a pound higher in an ultra competitive handicap at Ripon last month.

Certainly he is on a handicap mark he’s sure to have a good chance of winning, granted he ran to higher topspeed ratings in the past a few times as well.

Selection:
10pts win – Rufus King @ 13/2 MB

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Preview: Irish Derby 2019

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Hello there, it’s Irish Derby Day! Let me tell you: this is an exciting day! Why? Well, the excitement really comes from all angles. Sure, we have the classy racing and the race itself – the Derby, off at 5.20pm – which shapes like a red hot renewal. But probably even more so, I feel, it’s a day when the new Curragh has the chance to delight.

Properly tested for the first time, it’ll be quite exciting to see how this unfolds: tested in a sense of how do facilities hold up when a large crowd is in attendance. Tested in a sense whether a large crowd actually materialise in first place. Attendance figures for Thursday and Friday were low. That was to be expected. Derby Saturday, on the other hand, has always seen a healthy crowd over the years.

Now that the new Curragh is firmly established, the weather – hopefully – balmy and dry in the afternoon, there really is no excuse for not attracting a solid double figure crowd today.

Curragh officials haven’t been particularly outgoing with their own expectations: 6-10.000 is what they are hoping for, officially. I’m sure behind close doors they’d be disappointed if there’ll be not in access of 10.000 in attendance today.

Tickets were €23 if you bought online in advance – that’s a cracking offer, to be fair. I’ve been critical of the Curragh and its pricing policy in the past. Likely will be in the future again. But this is a sensational offer. 23 bucks for what’s going to be an outstanding day of racing action at a modern, top-class venue – unbeatable!

The racing itself, as said there earlier, I feel strong about as well: the Derby aside, which I’ll preview in detail below, the supporting races hold up. Competitive handicaps that certainly offer value, plus some strong stakes races, particularly the intriguing renewal of the Railway Stakes – truth told I’m as keen driving down the N7 to the Curragh as haven’t been for a long time!

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5.20 Curragh: Irish Derby, 1m 4f

An exciting re-match looms large at the Curragh this afternoon as the 2019 Epsom Derby winner, runner-up and close 4th meet again. In those circumstances it doesn’t really matter that five of the eight starters belong to the same yard. This is all about Anthony Van Dyck vs. Madhmoon vs. Broome!

Can Anthony Van Dyck do the Derby double? I’ve never been the biggest fan of his: I opposed him in the Lingfield Derby Trial and even more so for the Epsom Classic. How dare I doubt a Galileo?!

Truth told, Anthony Van Dyck is rock solid – I’ve to concede. He already was a rock solid contender for the Derby. He’s even more so today. Because: he’s done it again and again, particularly taking all the relevant metrics into account: he’s ran three times to topspeed ratings of 100+ and he matched a 110+ RPR on four occasions also. He clearly is rather decent.

Hence the main characteristics of Anthony Van Dyck are “solid” and “consistent”. He usually runs as well, if not better, than expected – leaving a disappointing debut and Breeder’s Cup effort aside. You can also see why it’s difficult for people – like myself – to warm to him and (maybe) give him the full credit he probably deserves: this colt is as unsexy a Derby winner as I can remember for quite some time!

Now, perception aside, as alluded earlier, on ratings (and reputation, given he is the reigning Epsom Derby champ), Anthony Van Dyck is a firm favourite today. Undoubtedly. On the other hand: A 5/4 chance – really? I don’t think so. Sorry. I’ve got to oppose this lad once more.

Reasons are rather obvious: yes, on ratings he tops the field. But he’s not miles ahead of Madhmoon and Broome. He’s consistent, running to the same sort of form over and over again – if any of his main rivals can find any bit of improvement, he’s in trouble because as solid as AVD is, it appears unlikely he’s one with any additional upside.

And the Epsom race itself: Anthony Van Dyck looked a beaten horse two furlong out. He seemed to take full advantage of an opening with less than two furlongs to go, his jockey making a superb decision in the moment of the heat, maneuvering AVD out, sizing the opportunity for a clear passage.

AVD responded strongly and probably profited from the fact that he avoided the ding-dong battle that happened to his right side. The others didn’t quite see or notice him I suspect- they were locked up in their own little battle – while Anthony Van Dyck was too far able to finish his own race with the guidance of the rail.

Well, that’s my interpretation, at least. Anthony Van Dyck is a really good horse, no doubt. He’s certainly no world beater either. Even though he comes out on top in the ratings, his career highest top speed rating is nothing to shout about. If you’d run the Epsom Derby ten times from the moment the field turns for home you’ll probably get a different outcome any time – Anthony Van Dyck wouldn’t be as ‘lucky’ again, I suspect.

Okay, so we have that out of the way, which begs the question: who wins the 2019 Irish Derby? Obviously it would be an emotional victory if Madhmoon could land the big price for his veteran trainer Kevin Prendergast.

Madhmoon travelled much the best over three furlongs out in the Epsom race – travelling surprisingly well, because I have to admit –  I was wrong in doubting this lad to be good enough and/or stay the Derby distance. He duly did!

You can argue Madhmoon was a little bit unlucky, as he travelled so well, but had a rough passage from the three furlong marker on, having to fight for his position, squeezing through gaps, possibly lit up as a consequence – still he fought gamely to the line, and in our hypothetical game of running the race ten times again from the moment the field turns for home, you’d have to give Madhmoon a strong chance to come out on top a number of times.

Two issues I have with Madhmoon, though: despite the fact he is rather lightly, which may see him to progress further, he also had a number of opportunities to run fast already. He didn’t take these chances to run fast. A career highest topspeed rating of 99 – achieved in the Derby – is poor for a supposedly class act.

Further to this: my suspicion is Madhmoon will always show his best on a fast surface. With the rain we’ve got here in county Kildare over the last 15 hours or so, the ground may ride a bit too tacky for him.

While I fo see his potential for additional improvement, I also feel this is already reflected in his odds: 5/2. I can not make a case where I see him a better chance than that, at all.

Before moving to my preferred selection, a quick glance further down the market, to the outsiders in this field: realistically none of the long-shots should have a say here. You could make a case – with a bit of imagination certainly – for Norway to bounce back. At 50’s he’d be a decent each-way shout. But he’s 33’s in the betting. Which is only fair.

Truth told: none of the long-shots is good enough. Of course, it can happen from time to time that a pace setter proves difficult to peg back, particularly at the Curragh. Still, I struggle to make out a viable each-way alternative at given prices.

So, that leaves Broome as the one for me. The negative first: what I said about Madhmoon can be copied and placed here to count against Broome as well: for a supposedly class horse he’s yet to run particularly fast. A TS rating of 97 and an RPR of 117 – he needs to improve today.

Can he? I think if one of this trio is able to break out and move significantly forward it’s him. The reason for this is a simple one: he looked a fair prospect as a juvenile, but was always sure to show his best as a 3-year-old stepping up in trip. And so he did: Broome won the Ballysax and Derby Trial at Leopardstown in fine style, without breaking sweat.

On Derby day Broome was one of the more unlucky sorts. Not massively hampered or anything of that sort, but he was always travelling wider than ideal, covering extra distance and turning quite wide for home as well.

Taking that into account as well as the visual impression of him staying on strongly in the final furlong plus the fact he was beaten by a close margin and hitting the line with full momentum, potentially winning if the race is a few yards longer, is enough for me to believe Broome is the one with the most upside today.

There is a good chance he’s a dour stayer who prefers the Leger trip. On the other hand, with the bit of rain that’s falling, hopefully a strong pace and a stiff uphill finish at the Curragh, I strongly feel the conditions are right for him to shine.

Selection:
10pts win – Broome @ 10/3 PP

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The rest of the Curragh card: I don’t fancy anything as much as that I would back them at my usual stake. I placed some accumulators win and each/way (the bigger priced ones) to keep me entertained for the other races. That includes’s: 

1.45: Twenty Minutes; 2.20 Beckford; 2.55: Old Glory; 3.30: Global Giant; 4.05: King’s Field; 4.40: Fort Myers; 6.00: Mutadaffeq  

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2.35 Chester: Class 3 Handicap, 5f

This is a highly competitive race, but I feel the horse at the bottom of the market is grossly underappreciated, as Wild Eric now drops to the minimum trip for the first time, which I believe will suit this pacey front-runner down to the grounds.

The 3-year-old is already course winner, albeit over a furlong further; he’s been disappointing in three starts this year, but now drops below the 80 rating barrier that sees him racing off a feather weight in this race today.

Wild Eric ran to topspeed 84 last season. If the trip revitalizes him and he can come close to that he’ll be hard to beat today from a top draw, I firmly believe.

Selection:
10pts win – Wild Eric @ 15/2 MB

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7.30 Doncaster: Class 4 Handicap, 6f

He’s yet to show any sort of that form that saw him become a mid-90 rated sprinter as a three-year-old, but now dropping to to a handy mark as well as dropping to a class 4 Handicap, Roundhay Park appears ripe for a big run today.

Even though he hasn’t been in the money in four starts this year, I’d argue his 6th place finish at York in an ultra-competitive race back in May shows there remains plenty of ability and appetite for the game.

The good ground will suit at Doncaster today and this is a much easier race than anything he’s encountered this season so far. A mark of 85 with a good 5lb claimer in the saddle will see him go close.

Selection:
10pts win – Roundhay Park @ 13/2 MB

Saturday Selections: May, 25th 2019

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2.35 York: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 4f

On last season form Ad Libitum is an obvious chance here today, now with a run under his belt, he’ll strip fitter I reckon. With that in mind, his reappearance at Thirsk a fortnight ago is one I happily excuse.

Ad Libitum won twice last year and ran well in defeat a number of times as well. Most importantly is he was able to match his current handicap mark twice in terms of time speed ratings, running to 74 and 76, as well as winning of a 77 handicap a 12f a class 4 handicap at Ripon.

He certainly enjoys fast ground, posting a 25% strike rate and having been placed in four out of eight starts.

Selection:
10pts win – Ad Libitum @ 9/1 MB

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2.55 Chester: Class 2 Handicap, 7.5f

Super competitive race: more than half the field in with a fair shout. At the bigger prices bottom weight Arcanada makes a lot of appeal, though, even though he hasn’t won on turf for a number of years now.

Nonetheless, his overall form profile looks still highly competitive, and the surface isn’t an issue. More the fact that he found life tough in hot races, racing of high marks.

Arcanada has now dropped to a tasty mark of 88 – on turf alone he has ran to TS ratings of 90+ on five occasions throughout his career and he matched a 89 TS rating last December winning a Listed contest on the All-Weather.

The 6-year-old is a course specialist also, having a 50% strike rate here. His draw is wider than ideal for his running style, but with a visor fitted for the first time and a good 5lb claimer on board I hope he can bounce out of the gates and then hold on for the lead.

Selection:
10pts win – Arcanada @ 25/1 MB

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6.50 Salisbury: Class 5 Maiden Stakes, 6f

It’s a small sample size, but Kyllachy offspring have a fabulous record in Salisbury maiden races over the years. His offspring generally performs well here, particularly the 3-year-olds.

That is the reason why I am interested in his daughter Twilighting in this particular race. She amplifies the sire angle with an encouraging debut run herself coincidentally.

A fortnight ago at Lingfield she didn’t have the best of starts, was subsequently badly outpaced but found her rhytm from 4f out and looked suddently threatening over 2f out. The early effort to catch up took its tool eventually, but she ran pretty well in these circumstances until the final furlong marker.

The fast ground looks sure to suit today with a good jockey in the saddle, Twilighting could be well capable outrunning her price tag.

Selection:
6pts win – Twilighting @ 22/1 MB

Edit: This has been absolutely smashed in the betting since writing the post, is now joint second favourite! 

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7.20 Salisbury: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 6f

Airton looks ready for a big run on his return to the flat for the first time since October. He clearly thrives over fast ground and stays this distance without an issue.

He won of his current mark a similar contest over 2 miles at Catterick last Summer – a piece of form that looks strong.

Over this sort of trip and ground Airton has achieved multiple 80+ RPR’s as well as having run to a career best TS rating of 79, which he also achieved on the All-Weather. As he ran to a 83 RPR when winning the last time, which isn’t that long ago, it suggests with the right conditions, of his current mark Airton can be a big runner in this class and type of race.

Having fine Finley Marsh on board claiming 3lb is the cherry on the cake, I feel.

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

Friday Selections: May, 10th 2019

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First winner of the week with Lincoln Park (11/2) yesterday. It was a peach of a ride by Silvestre De Sousa, utilizing the good draw in the best possible way; Lincolm Park lead pretty much start to finish, even though he was hard pressed for a while. It looked like some of his rivals were travelling stronger turning for home, but the 3-year-old kept finding.

The listed Dee Stakes were an intriguing contest. The favourite Circus Maximus won it as he was entitled to do. He had the run of the race, in truth. Moving forward I’m much more keen on stable mate Mohawk, the runner-up. I was looking forward to his return this year, and was pleased with this performance.

Wherever he goes next, granted he gets decent ground, he could be value and underestimated I feel, given his profile and achievements to date aren’t quite as sexy as some of his stablemates.

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6.50 Nottingham: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 2f

You need to have ultimate confidence in favourite Group Stage at short odds to find a hell of improvement on handicap debut now as a 3yo. Not impossible, but hard to say 3/1 is a good price.

The one I’m interested on is Michael Stoute’s handicap debutatn El Picador. He’s got a phenomenal record in these type of situations and we know his horses usually improve with time.

El Picador is clearly down the packing order in the yard, although an opening handicap mark of 72 could underestimate him quite a fair bit. He didn’t show a lot in three starts as a juvenile in the second half last year. And his seasonal debut at Wolverhampton last month was also rather poor.

However, he was an 18/1 shot that day, and travelled like an inexperienced horse, who was found out for speed in the home straight, while also looking a bit awkward as his rivals quickened away.

First time blinkered today is interesting, to keep El Picador possibly focused on the job. Stepping up in trip that will suit well on pedigree should also help to see him in much better light today.

That in combination offers enough potential to see this well bred son of Dansili improve enough to overcome a 72 handicap mark, I believe.

Selection:
10pts win – El Picador @ 8/1 PP

Thursday Selections: May, 9th 2019

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The opening day of Chester’s May Festival was intriguing thanks to – surprisingly – clear-cut winning performances in the two features, the Chester Vase and the Cheshire Oaks: Mehdaayih ran away with the race for the fillies, having ran only three weeks ago in a class 4 handicap at Chelmsford.

Her change of gear entering the home straight was a joy to watch. She’s obviously a very good filly. I would say she also benefited very from the way the race was run and got an excellent ride while also the breaks when needed.

Arguably even more impressive to my eyes was Sir Dragonet, who took the Vase home in scintillating fashion. This son of Camelot only made his racecourse debut a fortnight ago as a 14/1 chance in a Tipperary maiden coming to Chester with this single maiden win to his name. Inexperience showed as he didn’t travel particularly well, at some point he seemed slightly detached from the field.

But he found a devastating turn of foot once let loose. Most exciting for me was to see a horse being asked for a move on the outside over 3 furlongs out, and then, while anyone else is hard working come back on the bridle with less than 2 furlongs to go – you just don’t see that very often!

Surely Sir Dragonet has to be supplemented for the Derby? He looks the real deal on the basis of that performance. Which was the perfect follow-up to Tipperary where he won hard on the bridle in the manner of an exciting colt.

But of course, conditions may played a role as well and ideally you want to see it again before believing he’s a favourite for Epsom – the ante-post market he is now leading! On the other hand 5/1 (best price with firms who may lay you €2 if you’re lucky)  could look big in a few weeks time.

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3.00 Chester: Class 2 Handicap, 7.5f

I feel Lincoln Park is the one they all have to beat here with conditions likely to get softer as the days goes on. The Kyllachy colt is ideally drawn to attack today, which will suit him perfectly.

He has shown form on awkward tracks like Pontefract and appeared to be progressive last autumn on rain softened ground landing back-to-back handicaps, while improving his official mark in line with career best RPR’s and TS ratings, including running to TS 87 when winning at Haydock.

He was disappointing in his next two starts, but you could also argue he had excuses both times. Certainly he should improve having a run under his belt now, and dropping down a mark of 85, given he ran to a higher time speed rating already. He’ll need to show that again, of course, now as a 3-year-old.

However, his seasonal reappearance at Musselburgh was a fair performance, finishing 3rd over a fast mile, with the form looking strong as the winner went back-to-back in the meantime.

A softer surface and slight drop in trip at a track favouring his running style, there’ll be no excuses today. Lincoln Park meets ideal conditions and I expect a huge run.

Selection:
10pts win – Lincoln Park @ 11/2 MB

Betting Preview: Cheshire Oaks 2019

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I have some sort of “love/hate” relationship with Chester – certainly from a betting perspective. I rarely get it right. On the other hand I do love the visual spectacle of the ever turning track. It makes for exciting viewing.

As for finding winners, as rare as it is, if they come, they’re more often than not trained by Aiden O’Brien. At this Chester May Festival you can pretty much blindly back his horses in the Group contests and you’d turn a profit – at least that was the case in the past.

Aiden O’Brien has won five of the last ten runnings of the Cheshire Oaks as well – can he do it again?

Certainly this years renewal looks competitive on paper. A couple of exciting- and race-fit fillies for John Gosden as well as the unbeaten Ralph Beckett trained Manuela De Vega make thinks interesting. Aiden O’Brien, though, throws only one dart at this race, and that’s usually a good sign.

There’s little secret about Secret Thoughts. The War Front daughter was a classy juvenile but was always sure to improve with age and when upped in trip. A good seasonal reappearance in the Guineas Trial at Leopardstown over 7f should have put her right for Chester.

Under a sympathetic hands and heels ride she finished a decent 5th in a hot race that looks already incredibly strong form, judged through the winner Lady Kaya and the runner-up Happen.

Now stepping up dramatically in distance to 1m3½ furlongs, Secret Thoughts can improve again. The first foal we see on the racetrack of the wonderful former Irish Oaks winner Chicquita, the question won’t be so much about stamina, but more about whether she can settle, handles the track and will be able to show her best on soft ground.

There is plenty of rain on its way according to the weather forecast. I assume Secret Thoughts would prefer a sound surface. However, she has shown to act with cut in the ground as well. So that is encouraging. Possibly the fact she had enough speed to be competitive in 7 furlongs contests will be an advantage here as well, as she is wider drawn than it is ideal. Using early speed to move close to the pace is an advantage at Chester.

I’m slightly surprised by the odds on offer for Secret Thoughts. Given her trainers strong record and her excellent form, which is by far the strongest on offer in this field, odds around 7/2 appear overly generous – with or without rain.

Selection: 
10pts win – Secret Thoughts @ 7/2 MB

Saturday Selections: July, 28th 2018

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4.55 Chester: Class 4 Handicap, 10.5f

A wide open affair and I feel handicap debutant King Tut has shown enough in three maidens to suggest he could improve for this trip and the switch to turf.

You got to bank on his fitness, however, he he ran well on his seasonal reappearance back in March at Lingfield over a mile, travelling notably well until tiring toward the end without getting a hard time.

An opening mark of 73 looks entirely fair, but given the quite excellent record Animal Kingdom has with three year old’s in Britain so far plus the valuable assistance of 3lb claimer Adam McNamara, King Tut could be better than this initial rating.

Selection:
10pts win – King Tut @ 15/2 Sky