A poor run from selection No Patience at the Curragh on Monday. He didn’t travel, didn’t seem to enjoy the ground, and in hindsight it was a poor selection. Hoping for better today.
The proof is in the pudding, so to speak. And I didn’t take enough note of the proof. No Patience has hardly ever ran well with give in the ground. All his best performances came on decent ground. It was an error of judgement on my side.
I got bamboozled by the sexy handicap mark and the strong visual impression of the most recent run. With that in mind No Patience remains an interesting horse if conditions are right. They weren’t yesterday and nothing annoys me more than money wasted on a poor selection.
Learn from it. Move on. Today is another day.
3.25 Lingfield: Class 4 Handicap, 1 mile
This is a competitive race but I really like the bottom weight The Rain King after his recent eye-catching reappearance at Windsor.
It was his first run since November 2021, in the meantime he underwent a wind operation. He wasn’t fancied as a 22/1 shot, yet was possibly unlucky not win.
The Rain King travelled well enough for a long time but had a bit to do from back of the field 3f out. He looked poised while searching for a gap that didn’t open, though. He finished the strongest with a late run eventually (fastest last 3f splits too), beaten only 1.5 lengths.
This was an encouraging reoccurrence and a return to form for the first time since winning a Galway maiden and subsequently leaving Donnacha O’Brien and Ireland for the Alexandra Dunne yard.
The Rain King was an expensive £250k yearling and clearly has ability. He’s a risky proposition, but still relatively low mileage for a 5-year-old with more to offer if his breathing is truly rectified, which seems to be the case.
A mark of 69 could certainly underestimate his potential. And simply on that most recent run, with a clear passage he would have finished much closer and would be a few pounds higher today, perhaps 6lb if he’d have won.
A good draw today should help The Rain King secure a good position. Whether he acts on the All-Weather remains to be seen and is a question mark with a certain risk attached given he failed to fire in two runs on polytrack in the past.
However, he’s related to a number of winners on the All-Weather. In addition: the jockey booking of Daniel Muscat – who retains the ride from Windsor – is quite eyecatching. He’s got only two rides on the card today having a 29% strike rate over the last two weeks.
It’s bank holiday here in Ireland and I am looking to one of the big Handicaps at the Curragh to sweeten the day with winner.
4.40 Curragh: Apprentice Handicap, 7f
Normally, these competitive Handicaps with tons of runners wouldn’t be quite my cup of tea, I have to admit. However, I can’t look past the potentially well handicapped No Patience here.
He was a massive eye-catcher last month in a similarly hot Handicap at the Curragh, then over 6 furlongs. It was his first run since February and for the John C McConnell yard over a trip possibly a touch too sharp these days.
That race was utter carnage and you could pick out a number of unlucky horses. No Patience showed good early speed, then settled in midfield of the main pack on the stands’ side. He was shuffled back from three furlongs out and boxed in without the option to improve his position until about half a furlong from home when he ran on strongly under an easy ride.
He finished really well, proving his wellbeing and you would hope he can improve from the run now stepping up to an ideal 7 furlongs again.
He’s down to a sexy mark of 59 now, given he won of 65 over 7 furlongs at Dundalk last April, ran a good race in a hot Leopardstown Handicap last September from 11lb higher than he’s rated today, and achieved a 71 topspeed rating in the past.
Apprentice Cillian McConnell claims valuable 4lb – it’s the cherry on the cake. He’s riding really well over the last number of weeks and months, albeit with a limited number of rides lately.
There are a few solid dangers in the field but the biggest danger is no getting a clear run. Drawn in stall one is probably not ideal. Patience will be key. If No Patience gets a run for home, he’ll be a big chance, regardless, I reckon. He’s simply so well handicapped now.
A list of horses that have caught my eye during the last seven days of racing. These individuals look ready to win a race sooner rather than later.
After John 09/04/22 – 2.05 Thirsk:
Travelled in rear of the field. until making excellent progress from three to 2 furlongs from home. Confronted with a wall of horses to pass he has to switch wide, taking the “scenic route” in order to get a clear run.
This move cost time and momentum and by the final furlong marker it’s too late to catch the eventual winner who always travelled isolated away from the field.
It’s fair to assume on a different day After John finishes a whole lot closer to the winner. He’s certainly responded to the change of scenery having moved yards on this first run for Ian Jardine.
He’s down to a handicap mark of 64 and on past form he’s well handicapped, no question. He ran four times to topspeed ratings of 65 or higher and performed well of a mark of 67 in 6f Handicaps last season.
I am hoping the handicapper won’t bee too harsh after this run and leaves him on 64. If that’s the case I reckon After John will be a big runner over 6 furlongs wherever he pops up next.
Andromedas Kingdom + No Patience + Breach + We’re On The Way 10/04/22 – 5.20 Curragh:
This was a wild race with as many hard-luck stories as you want to pick out. I could make the case for more than a handful of horses that ran better than the bare result suggested. But “only” four individuals find their way into the tracker.
Andromedas Kingdom travelled well on the heels of the main bunch on the stands’ side. Having to pass everyone with nowhere to go she was switched to the middle of the track in the hope for greener grass. She made dramatic progress from 2 furlongs out and finished well under hands and heels.
This was her first run in Handicap company also also her comeback run coming off a 251 day break, while having changed yards in the meantime. She is a half-sister to 100 rated sprinter Boundless Power, but I imagine she will improve going up in trip. A mile looks highly possible on pedigree. With more improvement to come a mark of 55 could easily underestimate her.
No Patience raced in midfield of the main pack on the stands’ side for the majority of the race. He was boxed in and couldn’t improve his position until about half a furlong from home when he ran on strongly under an easy ride.
He’s an experienced individual and we know all about him. However, given 6 furlongs is likely on the sharp side these days, I do rate this run as a strong performance.
He’s down to a sexy mark (turf and All-Weather), given he won off 65 over 7 furlongs at Dundalk last April, ran a good race in a hot Leopardstown Handicap last September from 10lb higher than he’s rated today, and achieved a 71 topspeed rating in the past. He looks rejuvenated for having changed yards and is ripe to win back up in trip.
Breach travelled in rear of the main bunch and is another one who had nowhere to go. She also got badly hampered over two furlongs out when running into the back of a horse. She’s switched moments later and finishes easy as you like in eye-catching fashion.
This filly has been hidden. She has raced over wrong trips since her move to Ireland. She almost certainly stays a good deal further. The dam was a 10 furlong winner. Watch out for when she moves up in trip. Her day will come.
We’re On The Way was yet another significant hard-luck story. He had no chance, was multiple times hampered and had any momentum stopped from over two furlongs out. Given a bit of reign in the final furlong he picked up seriously well, though.
He also is one you would think has no business to run over 6 furlongs. He will stay further and should improve going up in trip. Watch out for that. This was his seasonal comeback run which enhances the performance as he was not fancied at all on the day.
He made perfect use of a low draw to chase the early pace and be in a good spot given the nature of the track. He continued to drive forward from three furlongs out and attempted to steal the race from the front turning for home while the fellow pace setter faded away.
He was finally caught with one furlong to go but continued to rally impressively to keep the 3rd spot.
This was a clear return to form and evidence that a recent wind operation has worked. Secret Eagle is down to a solid mark, having ran to topspeed 71 as a juvenile and having been placed of 3lb higher last August (a strong piece of form).
He acts over 5 furlongs as well as 6 furlongs, on softish as well as decent ground. Though, I suspect he’ll need a bit of cut in the ground for the minimum trip.
This filly was already on the #1 2022 list. She caught the eye here once again in a hot race. As mentioned earlier this month I want to see her stepping up in trip before backing her, so I let her run without my money.
Perhaps in that context it was disheartening to see how much she pulled in this 6f contest. Nonetheless, with more experience and a solid pace I maintain that 7 furlongs will be ideal.
Turning for home she was following the eventual winner who kicked on 2 furlongs from home. Ebtsama didn’t quite seem to have the instant change of gear to follow but also found herself boxed in, denied an opportunity to unleash her own challenge.
This could be a blessing in disguise because she may be dropped a couple of pounds by the handicapper for finishing last. She appears seriously well handicapped once stepping up in trip – and if she can relax. Perhaps head gear in some form is an option.
The form of the race looks strong on topspeed ratings. Most horses have ran to their handicap mark too – always a good sign in my book.
He travelled in rear for the first half of the race. Made his move from 3 furlongs out, but crucially toward the far side, away from where the actual race would eventually develop.
He quickened in impressive style – backed up by strong sectionals. But he had to do it all on his own in the closing stages. In the end he was just beaten by two horses on the stands’ side.
He looks like a colt who is progressing as a 3-year-old after showing a lot of promise toward the end of last season as a juvenile. He is lightly enough raced to imagine he can improve again.
He didn’t always got the best of runs the last two starts he was beaten before coming here to Newmarket. All in all, over the 6 furlongs trip he clearly can win off his current handicap mark – granted the handicapper won’t treat him harshly for this effort.
The flat kicks into gear. Here are five three-year-old horses I’m excited to follow throughout the year.
Putting the list together I have been aiming to identify individuals that have shown something significant on debut – visually and on the clock – who can be expected to improve with experience.
Not all of these individuals will go on to achieve great things. The bubble can burst quickly. Hence the list is not to be understood as a “follow to bet” instruction. Circumstances still matter.
However, I am personally intrigued to follow the progress of these horses given the early promise they have shown. No doubt all of them are capable of winning races this year.
Aldous Huxley 3-y-o Colt / John Gosden
90 Topspeed on debut – Soon established himself up with the pace, despite having to travel four wide. Big move to grab the lead halfway through the race as the pace slowed down significantly. Never saw a rival again to land the race hands and heels ridden by 6 ½ lengths beating a bunch of more experienced rivals.
The form is nothing special. However, taking into considerations the obstacles Aldous Huxley had to overcome – including greenness, as was reported by Rob Havlin post-race – this was a fine performance backed up by an excellent FTO topspeed rating.
The overall time looks pretty good in comparison to the Listed Magnolia Stakes over course and distance on the same card. This big, galloping type is a full-brother to a smart Group performer (2022 Al-Maktoum Challenge R2 runner-up Al Nefud).
I reckon a step up to 1m 2f will be ideal next time. He’s got a Dante entry.
84 Topspeed on debut – Impressive winner on sole start in September at Newmarket. Inexperience showed at the start, though, he was quickly up with the pace, travelling on the outside and tracking the leader, racing without cover.
Asked to increase his effort from three furlongs out, Subastar responded well to the urgings of Andrea Atzeni in the saddle. He was firmly in control from two furlongs out and was able to win in dominant style.
This form looks strong and has been multiple times franked. The second, third and fourth have won in the meantime and should to be decent horses in their own right.
Subastar is a May foal and has a big frame to fill. He should have tons of scope, particularly if he steps up in trip, given there is plenty of stamina on the dam side. He got entries for the Epsom- and the Curragh Derby.
87 Topspeed on debut – quite green throughout the race. After a slow start he never seemed to fully grasp the task at hand. Was still capable to win.
They raced hard from 4 furlongs out. New London looked in trouble and flat footed with three furlongs to go. Once he found his stride, though, he galloped relentlessly to close the gap and get up on the line. The final furlong split was more than half a second faster than the vastly more experienced runner-up.
The form doesn’t look overly exciting but the fact he achieved a fast TS rating on debut, overcoming inexperience over a trip potentially on the sharp side, he’s got to be considered an exciting staying prospect.
New London is a big, imposing sort, seemingly a grinder who gallops all day long without possessing a flashy turn of foot. No surprise, given he is out of a Manduro mare and a full-brother to Queen’s Vase (1m 6f) 3rd placed Al Dabaran. 1m 4f looks the minimum for him. He’s got entries in the Dante and Derby.
83 Topspeed on debut – awkward at times, certainly raw when landing a Newmarket maiden over 7 furlongs on debut. After an awkward start he moved rapidly to the front of the field breaking his rivals from the halfway mark with ever increasing sectionals.
Claymore continued to look raw and inexperienced in the closing stages but nothing could get to him. He won easily in the end. The form looks solid thanks to the runner-up.
In the aftermath connections mentioned they gave this lad plenty of time to fill his frame, didn’t rush him as a juvenile, because they expect good things next season.
He’ll have no issues staying 1 mile for sure, even though we may even see the best of him beyond that. He’s got Guineas and Derby entries.
87 tospeed on debut – keen, green and raw, particularly early on. Once pulled to the inside he travelled supremely well and made eye-catching progress through the field.
Still, victory looked rather unlikely two furlongs out. Only when approaching the final furlong marker he finally got a clear run. Once things opened up he never looked back.
Visually stunning. Speed rating matched the visual impression. Sectionals are strong. In addition this was a superb educational ride. The form looks proper having beaten more experiences rivals – the third was a fine 3rd placed finisher behind New London.
Cash was a 100k yearling and subsequently sold for €162k to David Simcock in a Breeze Up Sale. He is likely to stay well beyond the mile trip given the dam won over 1m 6f. Has Dante and Derby entries.
A friendly track with plenty of charm, fine facilities and stunning panoramic views of the Waterford coastline – Tramore is a place where racing feels celebrated.
It’s certainly a place steeped in history: racing at Tramore dates back to the 19th century – at least. While racing in the existing location has taken place since 1912.
History is in the air and you can feel it, smell and hear it when approaching the entrance to the track, with the spectacular coastline standing tall in the background. This isn’t the shiny new Curragh or a renovated Leopardstown. Racing at Tramore feels raw and real.
No surprise, you can sense the age of the place everywhere you go but that doesn’t distract from the fact that the facilities are well maintained. Yes, some wear and tear is visible, which only adds to the charm of the place, though.
The layout of the actual racetrack is interesting. This is a tight, roller-coaster like 7 furlong circuit. It’s up and down, ever turning and I can see how some horses love it while others won’t travel a yard.
This is perfect from a racegoers perspective because you are able watch the horses pretty much the entire race. No big screen needed. You can get a superb look of how the race develops especially once the field races down the hill on the far end of the track before turning for home.
As for filling the empty stomach or quenching the thirst: Tramore simply gets it right, There is lovely bar for pints from the tab. Enough space to sit with screens to follow the racing.
Food options are varied thanks to a fine bistro that offers a variety of fresh food options. There is also a dedicated fish and ship shop at the track. Prices are fair, taking into considerations we’re on a racecourse. It was €15 to get in, a coffee €2.50 and the food is reasonably priced.
Getting around is easy. Parade ring, stands, betting ring and all the other facilities are in close proximity. Despite the age of the racecourse everything here is clean, tidy and as well maintained as can be. Also a big shoutout to all the staff. Every single one had a smile on their face.
A highlight of Tramore’s location is the spectacular scenic view you can get from the parade ring toward the Waterford coastline. You can see the waves crashing on the beach in the background and smell the salt in the air.
The racing on the day of my visit wasn’t spectacular. Maiden Hurdles, low-grade Handicap Chases and a bumper – but it’s the atmosphere that matters. And from that perspective it was a stellar day.
A bumper crowd in attendance marveled in the victories of household names Rachel Blackmore and Paul Townend. Particularly Blackmore’s winning rides were popular with the local crowd.
Perhaps the highlight of the day was the Champions Parade of Cheltenham heroes Honeysuckle – the two-time Champion Hurdle winner, Energumene – the reigning Champion Chaser, and A Plus Tard – the 2022 Gold Cup winner.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when heading for County Waterford. In any case: all expectations where certainly exceeded. Tramore Racecourse is a stunning place to go racing. I loved every minute. It’s pushing hard to become my favourite track in Ireland, I must admit.
The combination of coziness, rural charm and history with scenic views, fine facilities and a lovely atmosphere make this a place where the sport of horse racing feels celebrated.
A list of horses that caught my eye during the last seven days of racing. These individuals look ready to win a race sooner rather than later.
Surrey Territories 30/03/22 – 6.30 Kempton:
The pace slowed dramatically down soon after the start with the field bunching up and a bit of carnage behind the leading pack. Surrey Territories was at a major disadvantage in a position too far back. The winner and runner-up came from close- or up with the pace throughout the race.
Nothing got really involved from behind, the only one finishing strongly was Surrey Territories, thundering down on the outside of the field to claim a courageous 3rd place in the end.
If one is prepared to draw a line through an uncharacteristically poor penultimate run, then Surrey Territories has produced four strong performances this year. His 4th place finish at Wolverhampton in January over 7 furlongs may well be the strongest, with him finishing in impressive style and producing some fast sectionals. That piece of form looks rock solid having been franked subsequently.
A negative aspect to keep in mind is Surrey Territories’s habit to break slowly. But his recent performances suggest to me a win is near. He’s clearly capable of winning off his current mark and has no problems to stay a mile. He’s only raced three times over this trip, so there is potentially some upside.
I would love to see a strong apprentice booked over the 1 mile trip. This would make Surrey Territories a standout chance wherever he goes next.
Artician 30/03/2022 – 7.30 Kempton:
He was unusually fast out of the gates, although soon settled off the pace in a solid run race. He travelled notably well into the home straight but was looking for racing room from 2 furlongs out behind a wall of horses, having to delay his challenge, together with the equally well travelling eventual winner, a 100 rated Listed winner.
Entering the final furlong the eventual winner got an opening to move straight through, whereas Artician had to switch, losing his momentum and having to regain his full effort.
This was a strong performance given the circumstances and opposition. Artician has produced a number of rock solid runs since switching yards and moving over to the UK. After an easy victory over 7 furlongs at Wolverhampton on debut for trainer Simon Dow – albeit against inferior rivals – he was not good enough in a subsequent hot class 2 Handicap over the same CD. When dropped in class four weeks ago he finished a fine 3rd place at Kempton, though, which looks like a good piece of form.
Artician was a highly promising juvenile with placed efforts in the Marble Hill Stakes and Railway Stakes in Ireland. He didn’t quite fulfill that promise, however, now in Handicap company with a significantly lowered mark he seems ready to strike.
I am not fully sold on him over a mile, and envision ideal conditions to be a 7 furlongs handicap below class 2. He seems relatively ground independent on turf and clearly enjoys the All-Weather too.
Active Duty 29/03/22 – 4.35 Navan:
This son of the brilliant Almanzor saw plenty of support in the betting market, although, he was always likely to play second fiddle behind 109 rated and Group 1 placed odds-on favourite Stone Age.
The favourite 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 signs of inexperience, he finished the race in impressive style under a hands and heels ride.
Active Duty was an expensive £260k yearling and at this early stage of his career promises to live up to this lofty price tag. He’s likely to be heavily odds-on wherever he goes next, but beyond that can be an exciting prospect for the season ahead. As an April foal it’s not unlikely to assume that he will improve significantly with time and experience this year.
I also would mention to keep an eye out for the 4th horse Fumata. He looked green and didn’t quite get a clear run in the home straight, but eventually stayed on well enough to suggest there is ability.
He’s related to winners and looks bound to improve once stepping up to 1m 4f – a distance he’s bred for.
Conversant 26/03/22 – 5.21 Curragh:
The seven-year old gelding was quickest out of the gate, using his 5 furlong speed. He joined an isolated small group of six horses on the stands’ side rail, travelling strongly on the bridle to the two furlong marker.
Perhaps he over raced in the early stages – his group was a couple of lengths ahead for the first half of the race as well. He didn’t find much once off the bridle approaching the uphill finish at the Curragh but still managed to finish 8th amongst the second group of finishers behind the first three home.
This was Conversant’s first run since last October after a productive 2021 season. He’s a pound lower rated than his last winning mark from last year when he managed to run twice to a 65 topspeed rating as well.
He can win off his current rating, perhaps a stiff 5 furlong finish like Navan, where he won twice already, with plenty of cut in the ground, will be an ideal scenario. He’s down to a fine mark, but any additional concession from the handicapper will be a huge bonus.
Cold Stare is the obvious eye-catcher as he was travelling sweetly throughout the race. However, trapped behind a wall of horses a gap wouldn’t open in time to get out. He finished easily on the bridle in 6th place in the end.
The 7-year old gelding ran much better on this seasonal reappearance than a 25/1 price tag suggested. Cold Stare has clearly retained all the ability he showed last season when he won twice and also finished 2nd on two occasions. He did so while achieving topspeed ratings of 88 and 91 and caught the eye multiple times.
It is fair to say he’s handicapped close enough to his best. But if he can drop a couple of pounds below a 90 mark again, ideally also moving down in class, he’ll be a big shout in a 6- or 7 furlongs handicap with cut in the ground. A good apprentice on board can only enhance his chances. It’s worth waiting for the right conditions to appear. The wait will be worth it. He’s one to keep any eye on over the next weeks in my book.
Mokaatil isn’t a desperately obvious one at first glance. But this was his first start since October and there was zero expectations for him to run well, judged by odds of 50/1. Even more so over a trip that is not quite his best.
He raced in midfield early on but drifted right to the back of field with three furlongs to go. Instead of flattening out and finishing down the field Mokaatil kept going right to the end for a solid 7th place finish.
In truth, Mokaatil never looked dangerous; yet I quite liked the fight and spirit he showed on a day that was never supposed to be his day anyway. This looked like an excellent pipe opener. This run confirms he’s clearly in good nick after a strong 2021 campaign where he won three times and ran to TS 85 and 80.
He’s already 2lb below his last winning mark but with some additional help from the handicapper, perhaps a return to a mark of 82 and dropped to the minimum trip, he’ll be a big chance, particularly on decent ground. Keep an eye on Mokaatil when these circumstances come together this season.
Desert Land 31/03/22 – 3.50 Lingfield:
First start since a course and distance success in December. He pulled like a train the first part of the race unable to settle in rear of the field. Most likely he ran his race there and then. Even though, jockey Pat Cosgrave never made any attempt to call for an effort while the race developed in front of him from three furlongs out and as a consequence Desert Land was left in no-man’s-land entering the home straight.
If one wants to see it in a positive light then Desert Land was rather tenderly handled in the closing stages and not needlessly knocked about in a finish he had little to gain. One could also have the viewpoint that insufficient attempt was made to obtain the best possible result with the early antics taken as an excuse.
In my view 1 mile is too far for Desert Land in any case. Despite the fact he won over course and distance. It wasn’t the first time he pulled really hard and he got rather lucky in the race he won as a slow early pace resulted in sprint finish playing to his speed – in fairness: as they tend to happen regularly at Lingfield. Regardless, the trip is far from his optimum. His best performances all come over shorter 6 furlongs. Perhaps a fast paced 7 furlongs is fine too these days, too.
Desert Land won of a 66 Handicap mark at Brighton last year over 6 furlongs, and achieved Tospeed ratings of 62 on turf and 68 on the All-Weather. With that in mind he’s down to an attractive mark already. But will be even more so if he drops another couple of pounds combined with moving down in distance. In that context I felt the run here was eye-catching. Because the gelding was clearly minded for a better day to come.
Ebtsama 31/03/22 – 4.10 Lingfield:
Handicap debut for this well bred filly. A £105k yearling and full sister to Group 2 placed Dark Rose, Ebtsama seemingly overcame the widest draw and sluggish start to the race. She travelled much the strongest entering the home straight, looking the likeliest winner. She was clear run denied until it was too late, though. Finally switched to the outside entering the final furlong she ran well to the line but the birds was flown at that point.
She shaped well on her seasonal reappearance over 7 furlongs at Southwell in February where she finished runner-up behind a good winner. I like to see her going up in trip again. Either 7f or a mile – both shouldn’t be a problem on pedigree.
Even though it’s unlikely she’ll hit the heights of her sister, a handicap mark of 75 probably underestimates her ability – that calculation is a simple one: given with a clear run Ebstama would have finished much closer in the Lingfield race, if not even won the race. With improvement likely to come with experience and moving up in the trip she should have a number of pounds in hand, at the very least.
Encouragement can also be taken from last year. As a juvenile Ebtsama showed some smart form in two starts: on debut only 4 lengths down behind the subsequent Lowther Stakes winner and runner-up behind a subsequent Group 3 winner.