Tag Archives: Curragh

Sunday Selections: 11th September 2022

3.55 Doncaster: Group 1 St. Leger, 1m6½f

New London is the right favourite. I’ve followed his season with joy, given he was one of my 5 To Follow for the season as well. He’s gone from strengths to strengths and will have a good chance to win this Classic.

This isn’t a vintage renewal and New London has got the strongest form in the book, plus has beaten some of todays rivals already – therefore it’s easy to see why he is clear at the top of the betting.

It’s hard to argue that his Gordon Stakes victory is a key piece of form that makes him the one to beat today.

Yet, I have some reservations over the combination of trip and ground. New London has got a fair chance to stay, though stamina isn’t a certainty over the Leger trip.

More so, his best performances came on fast ground. While It won’t be bottomless today, there is going to be significant give in ground, nonetheless. The price suggests there are zero worries about either parameter. I have concerns and with that in mind have to oppose him at this short price.

My clear number two on the shortlist is Hoo Ya Mal. A surprise runner-up in the Derby, he was subsequently third behind New London in the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood.

On the surface he was fair and square beaten that day. Nonetheless, in my view he is much more closly matched with the favourite than the final result of that race and the price difference in the betting today suggest.

In the Gordon Stakes Hoo Ya Mal seriously caught my eye, in fact. He improved in fine style from five furlongs out; he made rapid progress in the home straight and hit the front two furlongs from home. Ultimately, he paid the price in the closing stages for this huge but inefficient effort.

Plenty has been made of Hoo Ya Mal’s subsequent and most recent victory in the March Stakes. It was a workmanlike performance, rather than a fleshy effort against inferior rivals workmanlike style. But he showed enough to enhance his reputation in my book: he produced a solid change of gear and proved his stamina.

It was a lovely Leger prep, I feel.. Everything points to a big run today. The trip will suit. The ground is unlikely to pose an issue. Different ground conditions and the additional distance could easily see Hoo Ya Mal turn the table with New London.

He’s also closely matched on topspeed with the Godolphin horse: 107 for Hoo Ya Mal’s Derby run; 108 for new London’s victory at Goodwood.

I struggle to make a serious case for other horses in the race. The “hype horse” Haskoy has to prove her class significantly up in class. Eldar Eldarov could improve back over this sort of trip. But I don’t rate him a better chance than Hoo Ya Mal.

Emily Dickinson looks a huge price, and has a solid each-way chance I feel. She stays the trip, has the pedigree and clearly talent; with ease in the ground she may find a bit of improvement, and that would make her dangerous.

10pts win – Hoo Ya Mal @ 8.6

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1.15 Curragh: Premier Handicap, 6f

Top-weight Power Under must carry a huge weight in this race. The jury is out whether he’s truly as good as his current 110 Official Rating. However, with soft ground sure to suit, I believe in these type of conditions there’s every chance he is that good, and perhaps a few pound better, in fact.

It has to be, if he should go close today. In saying that, if that turns out to be a correct assessment he’ll be a huge runner in this Premier Handicap.

The 4-year-old caught my eye when last seen over this course and distance. He finished third that day but fared best of those up with the pace. The form looks strong, with the winner holding his own in Group races subsequently, and the runner-up winning a Handicap off a big weight.

One can discount his penultimate run in Group 2 class when he welt, but he was strong in the finish landing a Cork Listed sprint. he seems to do well off breaks, so not having run since June isn’t a concern.

Power Under Me has yet to run to a noteworthy topspeed rating. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt though. Today he’s got a super chance: a group horse in a Handicap….

10pts win – Power Under Me @ 10/1

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2.25 Curragh: Group 1 Flying Five, 5f

As intriguing as this contest is, especially with Highfield Princess and her wonderful success story this season, the market overestimates her chances today, I feel.

She may well struggle after all her recent exertions on the deep ground likely encountered up the Curragh straight. She handles the going, no doubt, but I firmly believe the rain does suit A Case Of You much more.

Especially over the minimum trip, as A Case Of You holds the strongest piece of form in these conditions – his Longchamp victory from last October in heavy going, awarded a 114 topspeed rating, gives him an outstanding chance if he can be in the same form today.

He was an excellent runner-up in the Flying Five 12 months ago, before landing the Prix de l’Abbaye in dramatic fashion. He proved that wasn’t a fluke when winning the Al Quoz sprint at Meydan earlier this year.

Since then two lesser performances raise a few question marks. But with conditions sure to suit today, a fresh A Case Of You should be hard to beat.

10pts win – A Case Of You @ 8.4

Preview: Irish Champions Day 2022

Irish Champions Weekend is here. Always a superb two days of top-class racing. Especially Saturday at Lepordstown on a sunny Saturday is probably one of my favourite days for going racing.

I won’t go myself today, unfortunately. But certainly can’t wait to watch the action later on from the comfort of the living room. The sun is shining here where I live, not all that far from Leopardstown. I envy all those lucky folks who can make their way to the track this afternoon.

As for the racing: naturally my eyes are drawn to the Champion Stakes. It looks a fine renewal on paper. Soft ground isn’t ideal, nonetheless the right horse are here to compete. From a betting perspective I also am keen on the subsequent Solonaway Stakes, precisely because the going is soft.

…….

3.45: Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes, 1 mile 2f

French superstar Vadeni is favourite to follow in the footsteps of Almanzor, who won the 2016 edition of the Irish Champion Stakes for Jean-Claude Rouget and Christophe Soumillon.

The 3-year-old colt enjoyed a sensational season to date: runaway winner in the French Derby, and subsequently a dramatic victory in the Eclipse at Sandown.

He enjoyed a break in the meantime and is now back to go and win the long-term target connections set out for the season.

Vadeni’s brilliant ability to change gear in an instant, tactical versatility, ability to handle soft ground and weight allowance he receives from his elders makes him fair favourite in the betting market and also in my book.

Yet, I do wonder whether the soft going may take the sting out of his turn of foot. Yes, he won the French Derby in similar conditions, but he meets much better opposition today and my feeling is he’s a seriously better horse on decent ground.

Also he meets some of the older rivals on worse weight terms than at Sandown. That may not be an issue, as Vadeni should have improved physically too – it’s somewhat nit-picking; you have to be, though. In such a competitive field, when the favourite is such a short price.

This years 2000 Guineas runner-up Luxembourg endured troubled campaign. He missed the Derby and only returned to the track about four weeks ago in a Group 3 at the Curragh. He got the job done, without sparkling, but is expected to come on for the run a lot.

You certainly can bet on seeing a better version of Luxembourg today than in August. Whether it’s going to be enough to win an Irish Champion Stakes is a different matter.

The trip will suit, the ground isn’t ideal but he handles it. Yet, he’s far from outstanding on topspeed, with his career best going back twelve month – 102 in the Beresford Stakes. He’s got a bit to find with most of his rivals today. He could have the ability to do so, mind.

Stable mates Stone Age and Broome are intriguing runners. The feeling is Stone Age has more to offer than what he has shown since landing the Derby Trial over this course and distance back in May.

Broome won at Royal Ascot this summer, was then unlucky when last seen at Saratoga. An easy lead for him would be a dangerous scenario.

Don’t underestimate Alenquer. He was a dramatic winner of what was perhaps the race of the season, the Tattersalls Gold Cup, back in May at the Curragh. He wasn’t disgraced at Sandown in the Eclipse the next time despite finishing last, and comes here fresh.

Grand Prix de Paris winner Onesto provides a second chance for French connections. The drop in trip may not be ideal, but on ground soft it may not be a big deal. He probably can be marked up for his French Derby 6th place finish and seems to improve at the right time of the year.

Underestimate Mishriff at your peril. Now a 5-year-old, he may not be quite as good as he was last season, but he still runs to a seriously high standard. He was arguably the most unfortunate runner-up in the Eclipse back in June. It’s fair to say if the gap doesn’t close for him when it did then, he probably beats Vadeni on the day.

There are valid excuses for his poor subsequent performance in the King George. He’s better judged on his fine runner-up effort behind superstar colt Baaeed in the Juddmonte International Stakes. Mishriff didn’t stand a chance with Baaeed, but who would?

Yet, this second place finish is still the best performance this season by any runner in this Irish Champions Stakes field on ratings: it was worthy of a 111 topspeed rating and 124 Racingpost Rating – both the highest achieved this season.

Soft ground isn’t quite ideal, though. Mishriff’s best performances all come on decent ground. Nonetheless, he handles it. The drop to 10 furlongs is sure to suit.

Selection:

The ground should be the leveler, I feel. There are plenty of reasons to like Vadeni, yet he’s a short enough price in a race with solid alternatives. Fellow French raider Onesto makes plenty of appeal on prices.

But in summary I must give Mishriff the nod. He’s a superb price, given he’s probably the best horse in the race. He showed signs of brilliance and signs of the opposite this season. Let’s hope he can run one more time to his best. His best will be good enough to win.

10pts win – Mishriff @ 5.3

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4.20: Group 2 Solonaway Stakes, 1 mile

Many intriguing contenders here, without a real standout chance in my view. Even though, I feel Boundless Ocean could be too good in this field if he can show his best on the soft ground.

British raider Jadoomi relishes ease in the ground and improved nicely this season, having won two on the bounce, including the Group 2 Celebration Mile at Goodwood when last seen. His best topspeed of 88 doesn’t scream short-price favourite, though.

After 367 days off the track the filly Just Beautiful is back. She was highly progressive as a 3-year-old, won five of her seven career runs and could easily improve to a level good enough to land this race. The question marks of race fitness and ground suitability are off-putting, nonetheless, especially at the current odds.

One who is certain to be seen to his best in these conditions is Raadobarg. I was waiting for him to get another chance in a race with plenty of cut in the ground. He ran better this year than bare form may suggest.

He won two on the bounce at the beginning of the season, was then desperately unlucky in a Listed contest at Longchamp, before finishing well from off the pace in the Celebration Stake at the Curragh when not advantaged by his racing position. He ran a better race than the 5¼ lengths margin behind Boundless Ocean in the Desmond Stakes suggested.

Raadobarg has to improve on ratings to seriously feature. His best 92 topspeed is solid in this field, but no more. However, with the right ground conditions, possibly a positive right from the #1 draw, he could find that bit of extra. If he does he’s quite a bit overpriced.

10pts win – Raadobarg @ 6.8

King George Preview 2022

A small but certainly select field makes this edition of the King George an exciting renewal. Some of the very best older horses meet the leading lights of the 2022 Classic generation.

All eyes are naturally drawn to Westover: an unlucky third in the English Derby and subsequent runaway winner of the Irish Derby. He’s been seriously progressive this season and today is about telling us whether there’s even more to come.

Of course the rematch with Desert Crown was highly anticipated but won’t be happening for quite some time, it seems likely now. That doesn’t distract from the intrigue that surrounds Ralph Beckett’s colt.

The son of Frankel is hard to fault. A progressive sort, he created visually a strong impression at the Curragh when landing the Irish Derby where he also ran to topspeed 100 as easy as you like. He confirmed his strong Derby performance that saw him run to topspeed 106 despite the well documented trouble he encountered in the home straight.

What the Curragh form is worth remains to be seen. And another question mark remains: how does he cope with proper fast ground? Could he be found out for speed on this ground in a race with a possibly muddling pace? He’s a short enough price to find out.

The other three-year-old in the field is English Oaks runner-up Emily Upjohn.

Many will argue she was quite unlucky that day at Epsom. Perhaps she lost the race at the start, although, that is my view, she had every opportunity to win in any case, given the winner Tuesday didn’t enjoy the smoothest of runs either.

Prior to the Oaks the John Gosden trained filly was a runaway winner of Musidora Stakes and won in even more impressive style on her seasonal reappearance at Sandown. If not for the neck beaten effort at Epsom she’d be unbeaten in four career runs.

Yet, in my view she appears to be seriously vulnerable. The fact of the matter is the figures are against her. She ran to topspeeds 95 at York and 97 at Epsom. Circumstances play a role in these figures, yet they tell a story at the same time and Emily Upjohn had opportunities to prove she is top-class on speed ratings as well.

She may well do so today. In fairness, she looks progressing all the time. But she has to take another big step forward today.

Mishriff was certainly an unlucky horse in the Coral Eclipse earlier this month. Short of room at a crucial stage, he finished much the best and was only a neck beaten by brilliant 3-year-old Vadeni. Another day he wins the race.

He is top-rated in this field, up to 5lb clear on official ratings There’s good reason for it. A runner-up in the 2021 edition of the King George, just beaten by excellent Derby winner Adayar, he went on to land the Juddmonte International in great style a few weeks later.

He ran to topspeed 116 and 118 in those two races. He ran 108 at Sandown. there is a slight question mark whether he truly is in love with the 1m 4f trip. Most likely the race today will turn out a test of speed more than pure stamina, so it’s unlikely to be an issue.

Mishriff is the class-act in the field and if he can improve just a tiny bit from Sandown – not impossible, given he came off a break – he’s going to be hard to beat, I reckon.

I love to see Torquator Tasso here. It’s brave by trainer Marcel Weiss to take a chance on ground most likely too fast for last years Arc hero. Weiss also has been quite open in admitting Torquator Tasso won’t be 100% today. Defending his crown in Paris is the ultimate goal.

There are questions marks over the validity of his Arc victory because of the heavy ground that day. He was a shock winner. Nonetheless, he’s a multiple Group 1 winner regardless. Clearly top-class, he deserved to be in this field. As much as I would love to see him do the “Danedream Double” it’s difficult to see.

The two long-shots Pyledriver and Broome are given little chance in the betting. The latter is clearly the more interesting one, in my view. An excellent winner of the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, he ran to topspeed 108 that day – that level of form entitles him to have a fair shot, today, especially on fast ground and his ability to go from the front.

Selection:

The market is tight but still underestimates Mishriff, who is clearly the best horse in the race. If he can run to the level of form he produced last summer in this very race and subsequently at York – and the Eclipse indicates he can – then he is simply too good for the rest in this field.

He has to give weight away to some smart younger horses, but he looks well capable of doing that in my book. On topspeed nothing in this field gets even close to him. I have him around a 5/2 chance as fair price. So there’s still a bit of juice left, albeit not that much.

10pts win – Mishriff @ 10/3

Saturday Selections: 16th July 2022

2.56 Newbury: Group 3 Hackwood Stakes, 6f

Highly competitive affair. Pace will decide the outcome. My conclusion is the race will likely develop towards the lower drawn horses and that means some of the better fancied runners drawn high would need career-best performances to win.

The obvious choice, drawn in #2 is Rohaan, after his tremendous Royal Ascot performance. He has the form, the topspeed and the draw. He may be able to benefit from trailing a fast pace to be unleashed late with a turn of foot. Not sure whether the scenario today will really suit him, though at this track. Those in front may not stop so quickly. He looks a fair price but nothing better.

Chil Chil is really intriguing. Has top form on the book and ran to topspeed 103 two times in a row when last seen in even hotter class. If close to that form after a long break she’s the one to beat, but it’s exactly the long break that put me off.

Happy Romance is in fine form. She’s been running well all year long. Only 2 lengths beaten in the Jubilee Stakes, she couldn’t follow up at Newmarket, but had the worst draw to overcome that day. #10 today isn’t ideal either; no juice left in the price.

I can’t quite trust Minzaal after two solid but not exciting showings this year, especially with his best form coming on slower ground. Man Of Promise needs to step up significantly to feature. Not impossible but do I want to back a 5-year-old sprinter in the hope he suddenly finds 5-10lb on speed ratings? No.

The one I like against the grain is Saint Lawrence. He caught my eye earlier this year on his seasonal return at Newmarket over the minimum trip after a wind operation during his lay-off.

He finished really nicely that day in a race that looks pretty solid form, even though 5 furlongs is clearly way too hot for him. He stayed over this trip the next two times, neither disgraced at Chantilly and certainly not in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.

It was seriously impressive how Saint Lawrence stuck to the task in the final furlong, posting the second fastest final furlong split, even though he looked going backwards from over two furlongs out, given things happened simply too quickly for him.

Fast ground is what he wants and no doubt he’s in top form. Moving up to 6 furlongs is only a positive. I reckon he’s actually best over 7 furlongs, but given his #4 draw, the pace scenario here and good Newbury record I am happy to back him at a big price to outrun the odds.

10pts win – Saint Lawrence @ 17/1

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3.10 Curragh: Group 2 Sapphire Stakes, 5f

The top two in the market should fight this out. Mooneista and Equilateral are the clear stand out horses in the field in my view, even though official ratings would make you believe Castle Star and Cadamosto have equal or better chances to feature.

Castle Star certainly has every right to go close after a strong runner-up performance behind Perfect Power at Royal Ascot. But 5 furlongs could be plenty sharp enough, especially on fast ground after a long break, and after seven career starts his highest topspeed ratings stands at 99. Nothing too exciting.

Cadamosto was 4th in the Commonwealth Cup, had no chance in the July Cup and has an inflated Official Rating in my view. His best topspeed is 88. He could take a step forward, of course. It has to be giant one to land a blow here against the well fancied older sprinters.

Mooneista is a class act. Highly consistent, ran multiple times really well this season already, without getting her head in front. This is easier than at Royal Ascot but her poor strike rate doesn’t make me want to back her at a tight price.

As many others I was fuming on front of the telly when Equilateral got the most horrible run at Sandown a fortnight ago. He’s obviously in excellent form, having ran really well in the King’s Stand Stakes on his seasonal reappearance.

He’s the one to beat today. Ground, track and trip will probably suit. He’s short enough a price given I am not sure whether he’s gonna be held up or tracking the pace today. I feel you are going to struggle coming from off the pace today.

The prices tracks into a direction that says “no hope” but it simply is a silly price on offer for New York City. On any measure he isn’t that far away from the market principles.

He was disappointing as 6/5 favourite in a Group 3 at Naas latest. He didn’t travel overly well, looked perhaps a bit distracted too. He won really well at Navan before that though and ran to topspeed 100 that day.

Blinkers on an drop to the minimum trip on fast ground at the Curragh with the stiff finish should suit perfectly. Wayne Lordan on board is not so much a negative given he’s riding plenty of winners at the moment.

New York City is not a superstar and unlikely to develop into a proper Group 1 sprinter. But this is a wide open race if the two market principles don’t fire.

10pts win – New York City @ 18.5

Thursday Selections: 14th July 2022

2.20 Hamilton: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

Ustath is so desperately ready to win a race…. if the ground stays fast. There is some rain on the way, possibly it won’t be enough to turn the ground to slower than the current good to fast, but Hamilton has watered – of course – so you never know.

I feel he clearly needs solid fast ground to be seen to best effect these days, but I take the risk. Ustath has caught the eye a number of times this year, certainly ran better than bare forms suggest even though his ever falling mark would contradict this notion too.

He’s down to a turf mark of 50 now. He’s ran to topspeeds of 50+ a whopping 18 times in his career on all surfaces, and ran to 50 and 58 on the All-Weather earlier this year, suggesting he’s clearly up- if not a good bit better than this revised Official Rating.

He was not best placed two weeks ago at Thirsk, ran with plenty of credit over the minimum trip at Ripon and was badly hampered at Catterick. The stiff Hamilton 6 furlongs should suit perfectly, especially on fast ground.

10pts win – Ustath @ 4/1

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7.20 Leopardstown: Group Meld Stakes, 9f

You could make a case for anyone and against anyone in this field. The one that I am prepared to give a chance is Boundless Ocean. He seems underappreciated, even though normally he wouldn’t be a bet for me either.

He’s yet to better an 83 topspeed rating in nine lifetime starts, but there are some mitigating factors, hence I am prepared to give him a pass. This Group 3 event over 9 furlongs looks an ideal test that hopefully sees him run a strong race.

He caught the eye a few times this season. I certainly liked his Derby run better than the 6/8 finish would reveal. He was held up in last position and settled better than in previous races, which is not to say he wasn’t keen at different stages throughout the race, regardless.

He had a lot to do from the back of the field turning for home given the race was won at the frontend. He then made a good looking move from three furlongs out until emptying in the closing stages. The trip as beyond him in any case.

He’s a difficult colt to ride it seems. Can miss the break and often pulls really hard for his head. But he clearly got some talent. I felt he was a bit unlucky in the Gallinule Stakes when short of room at a crucial stage and pulled way too hard over 12 furlongs when runner-up subsequently.

A drop to 9 furlongs seems a wise move especially in this lesser company against some beatable rivals. There are no excuses today. I would hope he’s good enough to book himself another opportunity in higher grade subsequently.

10pts win – Boundless Ocean @ 4/1

Sunday Selections: 26th June 2022

5.25 Curragh: Maiden Stakes, 1m 2f

The Aiden O’Brien trained favourite Cougar is unlikely to be anywhere near pattern class, and that throws the race wide open. No doubt I am seriously interested in Active Duty, trained by Ger Lyons – a huge eye-catcher on his racecourse debut back in March.

This son of the brilliant Almanzor saw plenty of support in the betting market on that day, although, he was always likely to play second fiddle behind odds-on favourite Stone Age, who was a couple of months later a highly fancied contender in the Epsom Derby.

Stone Age won from the front giving the form a really solid look, while Active Duty settled well in rear for the majority of the race. Still trailing at the end of the field when turning for home, he soon started to make a big move on the outside once asked for serious effort. Despite showing clear signs of inexperience, he finished the race in impressive style under a hands and heels ride, producing a thunder turn of foot.

Active Duty was an expensive £260k yearling. Right now it doesn’t look like he can live up to this lofty price tag. But he was an April foal, which means it’s a fair possibility he can improve significantly with time and experiencee.

Not to forget this will only be his third career start. For that he drops back to 10 furlongs after a rather disappointing 5th place finish at Navan over 1 mile 5 furlongs. He made a promising looking move from the back of the field swinging around the wide outside turning for home, but the effort petered out. He didn’t appear to stay the trip. That form has worked out rather well already.

The drop in distance should suit I reckon. On pedigree 10 furlongs seem to be the ideal trip. Nonetheless the question mark is why connections felt the need to run him over the longer trip already on his second career start. Perhaps he lacks natural speed.

Although, judged on his debut effort, he seems to possess a turn of foot. Back then he also ran to topspeed 73. Which is pretty solid for a debut performance.

In any case it’s too early to give up on him. This is a winnable race for him. and he looks overpriced.

10pts win – Active Duty @ 6.6

………..

2.35 Greyville: KZN Breeders Mile, 1m

Nexus stands out as a major chance over in Greyville today in a race he should be touching odds-on in my book. He is the only one that combines class, course and distance form and should enjoy the solid pace that I expect to be set here. He also tops the speed ratings by a country mile in these conditions in this field.

He didn’t set the world alight on his return over shorter but the race developed up front anyways and he was always likely to come on. He’s weighted to win this as the second highest rated horse behind top-class sprinter Battle Force who I reckon won’t see out the trip.

Obviously all eyes will be on former champion jockey Piere Strydom who makes his return on Nexus before his ride in the Durban July next Saturday. His fitness is a slight question mark, but on the other hand I’m sure Nexus will be primed to give the champ a taste for victory today.

This wouldn’t be my race and price normally. But with so many question marks about pretty much everyone else in this field, and Nexus having fitness assured, going well on this track, over his ideal distance with the weights in his favours, can’t pass it.

10pts win – Nexus @ 2/1