Tag Archives: Cracksman

Betting Preview: Champion Stakes

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3.30 Ascot: British Champion Stakes, 1m 2f

On paper this is likely a match between odds-on favourite Cracksman and top rated Crystal Ocean. It’s also the duel of the super sires Frankel vs. Sea The Stars.

Cracksman is the one who’s likely to enjoy the soft going the little more. First time blinkers after a surprising defeat at Ascot when last seen is an interesting move by John Gosden. Personally I judge this as a big minus. One couldn’t help but feel, despite his early season wins, that Cracksman isn’t as good – or shall we rather say focused – as he was last season. The Coronation Cup scare already was a revealing hint, I feel.

On prices I probably would favour Crystal Ocean. He’s 4lb higher rated at the moment. Something to take with a pinch of salt, nonetheless it tells a story of a horse who’s at the top of his game.

In saying that, Crystal Ocean continues to chase the elusive Group 1 victory. While his runner-up performance behind wonder mare Enable at Kempton showed he remains as good as ever, with ground potentially too soft to be ideal and a trip potentially too short to be ideal, I find myself picking plenty of holes not only in to the odds-on favourite, but also the second fancy in the betting.

Capri? An interrupted season, has to be taken seriously still, after a damn good effort in the Arc. He could try to steel the race from the front, utilizing his superior stamina. He’s a fair price, for sure.

However, I’m drawn to a massive long-shot here. Jim Bolger’s Verbal Dexterity, last year’s National Stakes winner. Things didn’t go plan for him afterwards, clearly. And his latest showing in the Irish Champion Stakes is worrisome, despite a more than fair seasonal reappearance weeks earlier.

On the other hand the ground looks ideal for him, unlike at Leopardstown. Whether he can stretch out to 10f on soft going is an entirely different matter. Either way, I feel this lad has a big race in him. Jim Bolger continues to show faith, otherwise he wouldn’t bring him over.

As the only three-year-old in the race at the bottom of the weights, despite a massive price I can see him outrunning this price tag for at least a place.

Selection:
10pts Each/Way – Verbal Dexterity @ 28/1 PP

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A Windstoss sweeping past Cracksman?

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3.10 Epsom: Coronation Stakes, 1m 4f

Cracksman was incredibly impressive in the Prix Ganay last month, following on from his very strong three-year old campaign, winning three on the trot in the latter part of 2017.

The son of Frankel is near to impossible to oppose in the Coronation Stakes on all evidence available. With softish ground conditions likely to be encountered by the 6 runners, and Cracksman being at least eight pounds clear on official ratings, one could assume he has the race in the bag.

He probably has. That says, if you want to be negative, Epsom may not be the perfect track for him to show his best. Yes, he won here and finished 3rd in the Derby. On the other hand he should have won the Derby last year, actually, given he turned out by far the best horse of the race. Also simply the way he travells may not be best suited to the quirks of Epsom.

That’s nitpicking, of course. Cracksman is going to win. But – and that is a big but – if for whatever reason he can not quite put his best foot forward there is at least one compelling choice in the race representing tremendous value in my book.

Let’s first deal with the rest of the field: I’m a fan of Hawkbill, however am firmly of the belief he needs a flat, fast track to be at his very best. He’s vulnerable at Epsom. Idaho is a very good horse without being top class. He’ll give his running, though whether conditions are totally what he likes is questionable.

Yukatan is an interesting one. Still generally lightly raced. He can turn out to be a better four-year old simply needing time and experience. Nonetheless, without having shown quite enough in two starts this season as well as never having raced beyond 10 furlongs he’s one to oppose is my belief.

In saying that, as easily as I discount the chances of mentioned individuals above you can also make good cases for each of them running close to challenge Chracksman and finish at least second.

Now, I am eyeing a big price that is not totally without a chance to chase home Cracksman for victory but who certainly has a cracking chance to finish second hence pays some handsome each-way money. Usually, this isn’t quite my cup of tea.

Yet, without being patriotic, I absolutely do love Marcus Kluge’s Windstoss! The four-year old won the German Derby as well one of Germany’s most prestigious Group 1 prices, the Preis von Europa, pretty much under hands and heels. Things didn’t go his way in either race, yet he found a way to get up, producing stunning turn of foots.

Those two forms are certainly below some of the other top performances produced by Cracksman, Hawkbill and Co., nonetheless, the way he did it is what counts in my mind.

Windstoss is expected to be an even better four-year old…. if that is possible. He had a fair seasonal reappearance in the Gerling Preis: one lengths beaten under a Group 1 penalty and likely short of full fitness.

The Coronation Stakes was the intended early season target all way long. So, thanks to an uninterrupted preparation, good prep run and softish conditions sure to suit, this multiple Group 1 winner must be taken into serious consideration.

The betting market doesn’t reflect that at all. That’s wrong. it may turn out he doesn’t like Epsom or isn’t quite good enough in the end. At this point in time I have to say, though, 33/1 is a massive price.

Selection:
5pts Each/Way – Windstoss @ 33/1 PP

Monday Selections: April, 30th 2018

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I got it wrong: Cracksman did that so easily in the Prix Ganay this afternoon. He certainly looked like the horse the betting suggested he is. On the other hand you have to hand it to Frankie Dettori. He gave Cracksman a peach of a ride. Tracking the pace, always in the right position.

That’s the difference between a good jockey who gets it often right and a top class jockey who is at the top of the game for decades who gets it very rarely wrong

Dettori’s judgement was stark contrast to the rather poor ride Cloth Of Stars received from Mikael Barzelona. The idea behind dropping the five year old in seemed sensible. However, you got to be flexible and be able to react to the fact that you can’t concede first run to Cracksman, or at least come from miles off the pace if you want to beat him over this trip is not rocked science (says the armchair jockey that I am).

Would a different ride have made any difference in terms of outcome of the race? Likely not. Though, we might have gotten a contest, at least.

……..

4.25 Wolverhampton: Class 5 Novice Stakes, 9.5f 

This is a really good field with the majority of these interesting moving forward this season. Clear preference is with recent Chelmsford scorer Mootasadir. He nicely bred and sets a good standard here.

He is a short price and gives weight away to some other promising individuals. Same goes for Well Suited, also a winner on the Chelmsford All-Weather. One with scope but also weight he’s conceding.

I am most interest in that context in the first son of wonderful Shirocco Star: Starcaster. He’s obviously incredibly well bred but also receives a good deal of weight from the market principles due to them already being off the mark. A further 3lb claimed by a fine apprentice in the saddle is a little bonus.

Starcaster caught the eye in his first two career starts towards the end of last season. He certainly was desperately unlucky not finish closer than a 1½ lengths beaten third at Goodwood.

Judged on those performances as well as collateral form, Starcaster, with the weight he gets, should be in with a big shout in this race. Whether he is fully wound up first time out this year remains to be seen.

Selection:
10pts win – Starcaster @ 9/2 WH

 

6.50 Southwell: Class 5 Handicap, 1 mile

In an open contest I feel it’s worth siding with one who is likely to give his running: CD specialist Muqarred. He may well be in the grip of the handicapper, however, in a slightly less competitive contest than the ones he raced in over the winter months, given he has been eight out of eleven runs in the money over CD, even as top weight he appeals to me.

The main reason is that he has shown to be competitive of marks around his current rating off 77 – a run to this sort of mark will see him go close. The bonus that could Muqarred the edge is fine apprentice Ben Sanderson in the saddle.

The 7lb claimer has been striking a fine partnership with trainer Roger Fell lately, particularly at this venue. He is certainly worth his claim – taking that into account means Muqarred has a prime chance here.

Selection:
10pts win – Muqarred @ 6/1 PP

Sunday Selections: Prix Ganay Preview

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Let me be upfront: Cloth Of Stars is a silly price in this afternoon’s Prix Garnay. I totally get why Cracksman is a hot favourite to land the Group 1 prize, and I also understand why he should be a short price to do so – however two to one on? Whereas Cloth Of Stars an unloved 7/2 shot? That’s not right.

We all have still in mind when Cracksman ran away so impressively with the Champion Stakes, smashing excellent opposition, having Poet’s Word chasing in vain seven lengths behind.

He won three on the trot in the second half of the 2017 season. He could hardly have done more. Agreed. However, it is probably fair to say his most impressive performances all came with significant cut in the ground.

Cracksman has proven to run well fresh. So that might not be a concern today. However, being fresh, on good ground, against classy- and race fit opposition with bigger targets on the horizon is a proposition that makes me think he is potentially vulnerable today.

Main threat is going to be Cloth Of Stars. Last year’s runner-up in the Arc behind Enable. He didn’t have things going for himself as a three year old, though stepped up markedly in 2017.

He won the Prix Ganay and ended the year with the excellent second place in the Arc where he got out into the clear too late in order to have a serious crack at Enable. It still was an almighty performance, given he travelled so strongly and picked up instantly once seeing daylight.

Cloth Of Stars has race fitness on his side. A prep run on the All-Weather, before he headed to Dubai for the Sheema Classic. With no pace on, the five year old colt had to sit and suffer behind leader- and eventual winner Hawkbill. Cloth Of Stars needs pace in order to settle – he didn’t get that at Meydan at all and pulled the arms off Mikael Barzelona pretty much until turning for home.

Wasting all that energy, Cloth Of Stars still finished a fine third. Back on home soil, pace will be a question once more today. He’s got a pace maker in the race – a 150/1 shot – but if that one gets ignored because virtually a hopeless chance to win, then it could still turn into a bit of a muddling affair.

Nonetheless, I feel there is not as much between Cracksman and Cloth Of Stars as the betting tries to make us believe. Both are really good Group 1 horses. Cracksman might still turn out to be the one with the bit more class. At given odds I feel comfortable backing Cloth Of Stars, regardless.

Selection:
10pts win – Cloth Of Stars @ 7/2 VC