Tag Archives: Curragh

Saturday Selections – 1st July 2017

2.20 Chester: Class 3 Handicap, 5 furlongs

Blithe Spirit hasn’t shown anything of note this season yet, however she has to be respected on return to her beloved Chester with softish conditions sure to suit. She has been given a big chance by the handicapper and has the advantage of a good draw.

Selection:
10pts win – Blithe Spirit @ 16/1 Ladbrokes

……

4.15 York: Maiden Stakes, 1 Mile

White Rosa is the one to beat. She boosts a lovely pedigree, went close on debut and should improve a good deal with that experience under her belt.

The form of that race doesn’t look too shabby given the 4th went on to win a maiden subsequently.

Selection:
10pts win – White Rosa @ 5/2 Bet365

……

8.10 Lingfield: Class 5 Handicap, 7 Furlongs

Express Lady looks leniently treated on handicap debut. She won a fair maiden over course and distance on debut tanking along for most parts of the race not dropping to bit to get in practically on the bridle whereas the runner-up a 82 rated individual who franked the form subsequently, was labouring without having a chance.

That was against boys. Today same CD against fillies, top weight Bassmah looks a decent threat but Express Lady should be too good of an opening mark off 73.

Selection:
10pts win – Express Lady @ 13/8 Bet365

……

5.20 Curragh: Irish Derby, 1m 4f

A wide open renewal with no clear cut favourite as it’s been the case in the years before. The Epsom Derby winner Wings Of Eagles is here, though, and commands plenty of respect.

He is a legit winner of the big race in my mind. However his racing style is risky. He needs to have everything fall right for him. That was the case at Epsom thanks to a red hot pace and him finding gaps when he really needed them.

The Curragh is usually a fair track, however can – even more so when there is a bit cut in the ground – favour those up with the pace. In my opinion at least. Wings Of Eagles could still be too good but he will need all the luck in the world, I feel.

You got to respect when Andre Fabre sends one over. Waldgeist was a close runner-up in the French Derby and the longer trip today isn’t an issue. He is clearly the one all have to beat as tactically I feel he holds all the aces.

Cracksman was good in the Derby and should have still a bit more to offer given his general inexperience. The pace scenario suits him, so does the track.

I’m not a fan of Capri. A big, grey horse. Can still do better no doubt and may have not been seen to best effect at Epsom. However his overall record suggests he is not quite up to it.

One big price laughs at me: Douglas McArthur in the famous colours of South African owner Markus Jooste. This horse keeps defying expectations. He was fourth and less than two lengths beaten in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud as a 2yo behind Waldgeist, was runner-up on his seasonal reappearance in the Ballysax and won the Leopardstown Derby Trial as an unfancied chance.

He was then used as a pace maker in the Epsom Derby, where he outran his price tag once again, lasting for a very long time and finishing a gallant 7th.

He will be up there again today, but may race a bit more on his own merit. Taj Mahal may well be the Nr. pace setter. Sitting behind in second should suit Douglas McArthur. There are still some doubts about his stamina, nonetheless being with the speed will be an advantage in my mind and if he stays then he could be very hard to pass as he has already shown.

Selection:
10pts win – Douglas McArthur @ 15/1 Matchbook

Saturday Tips

After three days full of action at Chester our attention turns to Lingfield for the Derby Trial, though whether this really is a meaningful trial for the big race June is debatable. It’s also worth to have a look across the pond as racing at the Curragh is back!

On a day like this, with so much excellent racing on offer, it’s tough to remain disciplined and focused, but I try my best and worked myself through two handful of races and came up with four more or less confident selections for the day.

2.30 Lingfield: Derby Trial, 1m 3.5f

You had to be impressed with Sir John Lavery’s maiden success at Gowran Park last October, but he’s a very short price for a yard that we know doesn’t send their big guns to Lingfield. We haven’t seen him this year yet too, so you got to have allot of trust – which I don’t have and therefore think he’s worth to take on.

John Gosden’s Tartini was a fair 4th on his return in the Epsom Derby Trial, he may well improve for the run and will probably be seen in better light here stripping fitter and hopefully enjoying a bit more in-runging luck.

However for a price I do feel is over the top the bin Suroor’s Best Solution makes most appeal. It’s not ideal that he has to give weight away, but the Kodiac colt is head and shoulders above the rest on 2yo form where he ended the year with an excellent runner-up effort in the Group 1 Criterium de St. Cloud.

His runs in Meydan may be forgiven, he just didn’t take to the dirt. So a return to turf with a bit of cut in the ground could easily see him improving. He has the right profile to be a better three year old and a fair chance to stay the trip.

Selection:
10pts win – Best Solution @ 12/1 PP

…….

3.25 Ascot: Class 2 Fillies’ Handicap, 1 mile

Both three year old’s look intriguing in this contest, however the older Singyoursong is equally a very interesting contender, and in by book a better betting proposition. An improving filly last season, she is still on the up as was evident when she won on her seasonal reappearance earlier this month at Brighton.

That day over 10f she produced a nice turn of foot coming from the rear of the field to get up with plenty in hand. A 5lb rise in the mark could undervalue that success. The drop in trip to 1m isn’t an issue as she has is three from six over this distance.

Furthermore Singyoursong has course form – she won a valuable Handicap here last July in similar conditions.

Selection:
10pts win – Singyoursong @ 11/2 Bet365

……

3.50 Nottingham: Kilvington Stakes (Fillies’ Listed), 6f

First time blinkered Pichola Dance could improve for the combination of headgear, drop in trip and drop in class. She found opposition in the Fed Darling on her seasonal reappearance to hot and faded away in the closing stages, however with the rail to aim at from her draw she might use her pace to advantage today.

She’s twice a winner as a juvenile, including a good class 2 Handicap over 7f, and ended the season on a high with 3rd placed effort in Listed Radley Stakes at Newbury. With fitness on her side, ground to suit and potentially conditions to improve for, she can run a better race than the price suggests.

Selection:
10pts win – Pichola Dance @ 22/1 Bet365

…..

5.05 Curragh: Apprentice Handicap, 7 furlongs

Market leader Baine has been knocking on the door a couple of times and her two latest efforts have been massively eye-catching that also stand up form wise.

She is a horse that needs a bit of luck given she usually races at the rear of the field and certainly at Cork last month she did not get a clear run, finding traffic on numerous occasions stopping her smooth progress.

She still finished a strong 3rd behind a well handicapped winner who won subsequently and a runner-up who finished a solid 5th in a Listed contest the next time.

Baine went on to run another big race, then at Leopardstown. From a wide draw she missed the kick and was dead last turning for home. She manoeuvred her way through the whole 18 runner strong field but didn’t quite get there, finishing 3rd for the third consecutive time.

This is another big field today and she will need to get the breaks when needed, however form wise she looks well handicapped. I feel the better ground does suit her allot today and in this slightly weaker contest she must go very close.

Selection:
10pts win – Baine @ 7/1 Bet365

 

 

The flat is back – Naas Review

The flat is back! The curtain raiser at Naas on Sunday is done and dusted – is has set us up for what should be an exciting season ahead. While HQ at the Curragh is one big construction site at the moment, it was Naas that picked up the traditional Irish Lincoln meeting – it was a perfect race day, so let’s have a quick look back at the action.

People power spoke – a very healthy crowd flocked through the gates on a day of most beautiful sunshine. Spring was clearly in the air – finally one might say.

Naas racecourse itself is in redeveloping mode right now. The little stand overseeing the winning post is gone. Sadly. Possibly my favourite spot to watch racing from in Ireland. But an overhaul is needed if the county Kildare track wants to stage bigger and better race meetings in the future.

Kevin Prendergast’s filly Moonlight Bay kicked off proceedings with an exceptional turn of foot in the opening maiden of the season that only a couple years back produced Dawn Approach.

This Pivotal filly could be quite a smart horse to follow in her own right. Some performances in behind by Power colt Way Back Home and Park Army, finishing respective in 6th and 7th, caught the  eye over a trip possibly too short for them to shine on debut.

The promising three year old filly Alphabet switches stables from retiring David Wachmann to Aiden O’Brien during the winter and got the first winner for powerhouse Ballydoyle under the belt thanks to a commanding performance in the 6f maiden. The ground – but possibly more importantly the first time tongue tie – clearly helped her to put her best foot forward.

DSC_4749
Alphabet storms to victory

Ma Fee Heela, a €200k pick up at the breeze up sales, was gambled into 7/4 favouritism and travelled nicely but couldn’t cope with the acceleration of the winner. Better ground and a step up in trip will see him go much better in the future one would assume.

French recruit Gymkhana got the ball rolling for Ger Lyons and Collin Keane in the saddle as they landed the first handicap of the new flat season. The four year old colt clearly relishes the mud and may move into pattern races after a clear success of a mark of 89.

Fair play to Maarek for finishing third here of what was a tough task having 10st 2lb to carry. The veteran remains nearly as good as ever but will probably find it tough to get his head in front without the help of the handicapper I feel.

Lightly raced bottom weight Gino Severini took the Madrid Handicap. She got a superb ride by Chris Hayes. Hard luck for  Mr Adjudicator and Hansian Prince who both travelled well behind but got hampered multiple times. Both could go well the next time.

DSC_4896
Gino Severini lands the Madrid Handicap

The big disappointment was Jim Bolger’s Vociferous Marina. Sharing favouritism in betting market in the morning she drifted badly to 11/1 on course before the off and ran rotten as the moves in the betting suggested. Judged on last season she is clearly better than this and the run might be best to forget.

English raider Czabo proved hard to pass in the Group 3 Park Express Stakes. A listed winner over a mile as a juvenile, she took the scalp off favourite Somehow in a scrappy finish for the Mick Channon team.

One would expect Aiden O’Brien’s runner-up to come on for the run and be a force in pattern races this season. She looked nice in the parade ring before the race and has clearly wintered well.

Fourth placed Queen Anne’s Lace looked at one point last season potentially smart, she seems to have a habit of travelling powerfully through the race only to find remarkably little under pressure. It was the same story here and it might be interesting to see her fitted with headgear.

DSC_4965
Even the little ones didn’t want to miss the Park Express Stakes

The highlight of the day – the Irish Lincolsnhire – shaped as competitive as always. Previous winner Onenightidreamed and two times runner-up Aussie Valentine tried their luck again. Dermot Weld’s lightly raced Sikandarabad was punted off the boards. The English came over with 94 rated Spring Offensive.

In the end it was the rather unlikely victory of Brandan Brackan who produced a career best to win of the second highest weight in the field. In fact this was the first time the now eight year old has won a race in spring. If Ger Lyons would train the winner, then, according the betting, stable companion Sea Wolf was expected deliver the goods. The 5/1 chance finished a 3 lengths beaten third – a superb result for the Lyons team overall!

And Aussie Valentine? Brides maid yet again! Yes, would you believe it? Runner-up in 2015, in 2016 and now in 2017! Some achievement for Paul Deegan’s inmate. But will he ever get over the line?

The concluding 1m maiden was taken by Aiden O’Brien with two times raced Galileo son Orderofthegarter. The three year old colt couldn’t have been more impressive, romping home by 11 lengths! It’ll be interesting if he can produce that sort of form on better ground too. Given his dam won a really good conditions race on fast ground one would think he can.

….

Photo Gallery – Naas 26th March 2017:

DSC_4916
G3 Park Express Stakes winner Czabo

Photos in this article all © FLorian Christoph

The Flat is Back!

Here it is, the first flat meeting of the 2017 Irish flat season! Sun is shining – what a surprise! Ground at Naas after a week of rain is still soft to heavy as the racecourse tweeted this morning. It should be a fantastic day and I’ll be driving down to the county Kildare venue later on.

My main bet of the day is in the Irish Lincoln: Aussie Valentine at 8/1 e/w, already played this a while ago and feeling confident he’s hard to keep out of the money at least. Runner-up the last two seasons when the eventual winners were seemingly very well handicapped, he gets in off a very handy mark this time, 5lb lower than last year and loves the ground.

The first two maidens are quite difficult to solve, I let them run without the burden of my money on their shoulders in the first, but think Invincible Ryker (4/1) is sets a fair standard in the second one through his form from last season behind a subsequent Group placed horse. He also handles soft ground and can improve this year.

The sprint handicap might go to one of those lightly raced sorts at the top of the market. With price in mind I fancy a nibble on Dalgleish’s raider Dark Defender who at least likes the ground and has a favourable draw off an okay mark. at 16’s it seems worth a try.

The Madrid Handicap is intriguing: smart 2yo form meets race fitness. I stick with potential class and do like despite top weight Bolger’s Vociferous Marina (4/1) allot. At second time asking she got off the mark in a competitive Curragh maiden in softish conditions last year and did that in brilliant style. There’s Oaks talks so she’s clearly thought to be a smart girl.

Ger Lyons’s Hansian Prince looks worth a small saver at 14’s.He won a Limerick maiden over 7f in desperate conditions last season and produced a stunning turn of foot. A mark off 82 seems reasonable to play with.

Somehow looks hard to beat in the G3 Park Express but Aiden’s rarely fit this time in year and his Dubai runners were a big disappointment I prefer the look of Weld’s 3yo Queen Anne’s Lace (7/1). Not easy against older horses to run this early in the year but she is better than hare bare form suggests, she travels strongly and will relish the ground.

Good luck everybody and enjoy the racing!

Sunday Blues & Keatley Monday

Leicester Racecourse

THE good: two winners @ 4/1 and 2/1 today. The bad: Air Force Blue is finished. The champion two year old of 2015 finished an eleven lengths beaten last in the Group 3 Phoenix Sprint Stakes….

There is obviously more amiss with him than team Ballydoyle may have wanted us to believe. It’s not a matter of not having trained on. Even if that might well be a factor, it can’t be the reason for one of the most dominant juveniles in recent history suddenly looking like a 30 rated claimer around Southwell on a dreary January afternoon.

I don’t understand it. That is for sure. I felt the drop in trip in the July Cup yielded in some promise, actually, given he travelled really well for a long time. But today? No explanation.

Another question remains unanswered, for the moment at least: retire him or give him a break and try to figure out what’s wrong in the hope he’ll save some of his badly damaged reputation later the year? Well, in my humble opinion the right decision is to send him off to stud. A tumble in the hay with some lovely mares – he may well thrive in the new job….

No surprise in the Phoenix Stakes. Aiden ‘Brien’s Coventry Stakes winner Caravaggio landed the odds without the slightest of problems. The son of Scat Daddy, now unbeaten in four starts, looks a proper racehorse (mind you, Air Force Blue did at this point in time 12 month ago too)!

———–

Monday Selections:

Riding the Adrian Keatley bandwagon at Ayr tomorrow – his runners, as so often, don’t make much appeal on paper, but his record at the Scottish track speaks for itself. Also his record with horses fitted with headgear, like a visor or tongue tie, or with apprentice Robin Dolan on board.

Also hoping Dragon Pulse can continue his early promise as a freshmen sire. There are some positives to find in a, admittedly, small sample size of his runners on the All-Weather. The majority of those, showing tremendous early speed.

2.45 Wolverhampton: Newport Place @ 14/1 Ladbrokes
2.30 Ayr: Buzz Boy @ 7/1 WH
4.00 Ayr: Jingle Jangle @ 8/1 Bet365
4.45 Wolverhampton: Coronation Day @ 11/2 WH
5.35 Ayr: Dea Dia @ 4/1 Ladbrokes
630 Ffos Las: Desdichado @ 10/1 Skybet
8.20 Windsor: Cosmic Sun @ 4/1 Ladbrokes

Morning Update: Cosmic Sun is N/R
Miday Update: Added Ffos Las selection

AiR Force Blue Redemption Day

DSC_1730

Not often you see a horse cruising hard on the bridle entering the final furlong in a Grade 1 on the dirt, particularly if they flew around the track right from the start – yet Frosted did!

He posted one of the most impressive performances of the season, following on from an equally ultra impressive victory in Metropolitan Handicap back in June.

If you didn’t see the race, staged last night at beautiful Saratoga, here’s a chance to catch up:


Hayley Turner you beauty! The multiple Group 1 winning formerly leading female rider in the UK looked healthy and happy at yesterday’s Shergar Cup – which in itself was great to see; no doubt her ride in the Shergar Cup Mile was THE highlight of the day.

Super cool, with (virtual) balls of steel, did she rode Early Morning to victory – and given she hasn’t ridden much since her retirement, she looked still quite strong in the saddle. Well done!

———-

4.05 Phoenix Stakes: Air Force Blue @ 11/8 Skybet

Yes, you got to be a brave man to put any amount of faith in fallen Ballydoyle star Air Force Blue. BUT he wins this – hands down!

Why? Well, it’s obvious that everything he showed as a three year old is so far below anything he showed as a juvenile – therefore it might be fair to assume he simply didn’t train on. On the other hand to my eyes it seemed more like he had some issues bugging him him early on the year plus it becomes clear he doesn’t last the mile trip.

On the positive side of things: when dropped to 6 furlongs in the July Cup you could see a glimpse of last seasons class. “What???” Some will say now. Air Force Blue beaten by feckin’ seven lengths that day!

That’s right, though look closely, as he travelled like a dream for a very long time albeit didn’t get the breaks he needed when it really mattered….. I know I’m making excuses plenty will think… but….

…..Air Force Blue drops down to Group 3 level today right in to a field he simply HAS to dominate, particularly with good ground sure to suit. He’s by far the highest rated individual in this race. Combined with his weight for age allowance he is virtually unbeatable.

So, no excuses today. None! If he fades badly today then we get an answer the question whether there is an underlying problem… potentially breathing (*think loud*). Until then I give him the benefit of the doubt and say 11/8 is monster value!

———

The Best from the Rest:

2.20 Chelmsford: Migan Lily @ 3/1 Skybet
2.30 Leicester: Zeinhom @ 10/3 Skybet
4.50 Chelmsford: Stamford Raffles @ 15/2 WH
5.20 Chelmsford: Not Your Call @ 2/1 VC

Curragh Opener – Review

And they’re off! The 2016 Irish flat season is under way and it started with an excellent card and some promising performances on Sunday. Here’s a quick round-up of the day and some photos – Find a complete photo gallery here.

Promising Kick-Off: The first race of the new year was a 5f maiden, won by Mister Trader who made all and quickened nicely. Could be a nice type for the early 2yo races but he may not necessarily turn out to be best of this lot.

Callender in third travelled eye-catchingly well off the pace and had loads to do from his position, he wasn’t knocked over but finished with plenty of promise given first and second were the pace setters. He’s extremely well bred and could develop into a nice sprinter.

DSC_0974
Cosy Club

A mentioning also for Cosy Club, the first So You Think son we’ve seen at a racetrack in Europe I believe.

Considering that the 5f trip is probably way too short, he travelled well enough actually, though it was obvious that he wasn’t quick enough when the pace quickened over 2f out.Subsequently he didn’t get the best of runs but also appeared to be green. It was a good debut nonetheless and he should improve once he steps up in trip.

New Star fo Bolger? The 6f maiden was won by an interesting Bolger newcomer in Stenographer. He cost $450.000 as a yearling and impressed physically as a big and scopey type. He was badly outpaced in the middle part of the race but stayed on strongly to get up on the line eventually.

He obviously needs further, given the visual evidence here in combination with his pedigree given he’s  son of Distorted Humor and out of a Sadler’s Wells mare. Jim Bolger likes to introduce good ones at this very first meeting, so Stenographer is clearly one for the notebooks.

DSC_1064
Stenographer

Upset the Group 3 Park Express Stakes: Nobody gave a toss about Queen Blossom. She was unfancied in the betting – though in my preview I called her out as a 20/1 value shot for the race – and travelled in rear of the field for most parts of the race.

Favourite Devonshire looked to have things his own way entering the final two furlongs, but then Queen Blossom worked her way through the field and made a fight out of it. The three year old filly eventually piped Devonshire on the line to land the big price. Surprising in a sense, but it has to be said in her two starts as a juvenile last year she already appeared to have some potential. It remains to be seen whether this was a fluke or if she can build on it, whereas runner-up Devonsire continues to find ways to get beaten over one mile.

Irish Guineas for Awtaad: There was some talk about the son of Cape Cross over the winter after he impressed in two starts as a juvenile. Then, a massive drift in the betting before the off of the Madrid Handicap on Sunday was a major worry. Did he not train on?

There was nothing to worry as the top weight made light work of his rivals in what looked a pretty good and deep race beforehand. He was simply too good for this lot, despite possibly still a bit light of fitness, as connections mentioned afterwards.

Awtaad really impressed me with the way he kicked clear against a good bunch of three year old’s and confirmed what I saw in the parade ring before. He looked a nice, athletic and scopey type. According to his trainer the Irish 2000 Guineas is the plan.

Sruthan’s Lincoln Romp: I didn’t fancy him, feeling a mile in soft ground with a big weight on his shoulders in a deep field may just stretch him, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Sruthan in hands of Chris Hayes, slaughtered his rivals in the Irish Lincoln. Two furlongs out and you could count your chickens if you backed him, Hayes sat motionless in the saddle.

DSC_1560
Sruthan romps home

Once the button was pressed, Sruthan stepped up a gear and romped home by 4 and half lengths to win the feature of day one. 11/4 favourite Ashraf finished down the field but was found to be wrong afterwards. It’s best to ignore this performance and to give him the benefit of the doubt. He could still develop into a a very good horse.

Intriguing 1m Maiden: The final race on the card shaped as quite a good race on paper and turned out to be exactly that. The winner Embiran looked extremely promising on his sole start in 2015, when he was unlucky not to beat a subsequent listed winner. He didn’t encounter any problems this time. He travelled like a dream until Smullen said “Go” – in a matter of strides the son of Sharmadal put the race to bed.

He’s nicely bred out of Group 3 winning mare Emiyna, and Dermot Weld said it shouldn’t be a problem to drop back to 7f for a bid of black-type in the Tetrarch Stakes in May.

The runner-up Stellar Mass makes a habit of bumping into the “one too good”. He was a one lengths beaten 4th in the Group 2 Beresford Stakes last season but still remains a maiden. He travelled very strongly here but was simply beaten by a better horse on the day. That says the son of Sea The Stars appears to have strengthen up over the winter and is not a lost cause.

DSC_1625.jpg
Claudio Monteverdi

Eye-catcher of the day was Claudio Monteverdi. Aiden O’Brien’s inmate was well backed but met considerable in-running trouble at a crucial stage. Once in the clear he thundered home to finish an excellent fourth.

He finished similarly promising on his sole run last year and is one of the most exciting prospects for the new season. A full-brother to super filly Lush Lashes, he’s a a candidate for the Derby, no doubt. You can find far worse 40/1 ante-post shots.

I expect him to come on an awful lot for this pipe opener and look massively forward to seeing him next time because the more I watch the replay from Sunday, the better it gets.

Cook Islands a potential star: Another one for O’Brien I really look forward to see racing is Cook Islands. I loved what I saw from him in his two starts last year and he did impress me when working at the Curragh on Sunday. He looks to have strengthen up over the winter, is very athletic, though a bit a tricky character all the same.

Whether or not is was significant, but Pat Smullen was on board for the workout and you’d may want to think for a reason; and if it’s only for a feedback from one of the best in the business. Cook Islands may turn out to more like a French Derby type, one who could really excel over 10 furlongs.

DSC_1860
Cook Island

All photos credit Florian Christoph