Tag Archives: Doncaster

Saturday Selections: St. Leger Day 2017

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1.30 Chester: Class 4 Handicap, 5f

This type of race in this type of conditions won’t suit many in this field, but favourite Show Palace has a prime chance to bounce back to form. He already won three times this year and loves the mud plus looks still to have a bit more to offer with the right conditions.

Franny Norton in the saddle is another bonus, while the positive draw enhances his chances even further.

Selection: 
10pts win – Show Palace @ 3/1 Skybet

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2.40 Chester: Listed Stand Cup Stakes, 1m 4f 

Group 3 winning Duretto proves popular with punters though the well exposed and less sexy Soldier In Action is a better bet in my book. He thrives in tough conditions like the ones to expect at Chester today and stays all day long.

He didn’t land a blow in the Ebor, however won a tough handicap the same month of a mark off 106. So he’s clearly a smart operator. Rated within three pounds of Duretto, match fitness might prove and advantage for Mark Johnston’s inmate, I believe.

Selection:
10ts win – Soldier In Action @ 11/4 Paddy Power

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3.35 Doncaster: Group 1 St. Leger, 1m 6.5f

This years St. Leger shapes as an intriguing contest with five, six horses closely matched on ratings. No doubt, Irish Derby winner Capri warrants plenty of respect, though the ever improving Crystal Ocean, Stradivarius, Defoe and the filly Coronet all real chances to improve again with a big shout over the Leger trip.

However is the forgotten horse in the race another Ballydoyle runner? Venice Beach doesn’t get any love leading up to the race, even though he has some excellent form in the book too.

Sure, he looks short of top class over a mile and a quarter, however he shapes like a grinder who’s crying out for the trip. Watch back the Grand Prix de Paris, where he looked outpaced and beaten in the home straight. Yet he fought back gamely, found more and more and finished an excellent third.

At York in the Voltigeur he wasn’t a match for Cracksman. But he finished a clear second of some decent individuals. It might turn out that he simply is not a Group 1 animal, that says the trip and ground in combination make him a big danger to anyone in this field, I feel.

Selection:
10pts win – Venice Beach @ 14/1 Bet365

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5.15 Musselburgh: Class 3 Handicap, 1m 6f

I’ve been keen on Dominating the last time at York in the Melrose Handicap, though he flopped that day. We can draw a line through that I feel, though, given it was a very hot race. This is easier and it remains the fact that Irish St. Leger winner Jukebox Jury has an outstanding record with his first crop of three year old’s in Britain.

Contributing towards this has been the Mark Johnston trained Dominating himself, as he has won already three times this year, including over the 1m 6f trip and at Musselburgh.

I don’t think conditions will be an issue for him, in case the rain arrives. He didn’t perform the one time he raced on soft ground, but on pedigree it looks fine and he’s a different horse now, I believe.

Selection:
10pts win – Dominating @ 9/2 Bet365

Sunday Selections – 20th August 2017

2000 Guineas Field going to post

Brilliant Saturday, two winners from five selections paid off handsomely! Impressive 7/1 Ripon winner Sole Mission was the highlight, but Alfarris drifting out to 4/1 and still landing the hot 4.45 Handicap at Doncaster was also quite enjoyable to watch. It’s been really a super week! Hopefully it can be concluded with a final winner today!

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4.35 Pontefract: Class 3 Handicap, 1m

Eagle Creek has to be trusted to have fully recovered from his injury that led to a dismal performance at Newmarket and it remains unclear how good he really is. A mark of 95 could still underestimate him but for what we know about him at this point in time looks plenty stiff enough.

A smarter choice given prices is Lomu in my book. Unbeaten on turf and the one time beaten in his four career starts on the AW he still ran well in quite a hot race.

He is improving all the time, won cosily at Ayr when seen last – a performance better than the bare form suggests. He was extremely keen early on, didn’t have quite a clear passage in the home straight and still won going away.

Stepping up in trip to 1m is not a concern on pedigree. He’s certainly every chance to get it, no doubt. I’m more concerned about his keenness. He may have run his race before it really starts. Also his hold-up style at track that favours strong front-runners with the main rival being one of those potentially is dangerous.

Nonetheless it is worth a crack as Lomu appears to be open to any amount of improvement tackling the new trip. He gets a bit more mature as well as hopefully with experience settles better.

Selection:
10pts win – Lomu @ 11/4 Bet365

Saturday Selections – 19th August 2017

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Great Sound made my Friday. Superb win, different class in his race. Shame that Dreaming Time faded badly in the home straight when seemingly travelling well for most of the time. Owen The Law was a non-runner.

Big weekend ahead – I may shove my ass down to the Curragh on Sunday in fact – however Saturday looms large with a tremendous amount of great racing. Winx already kicked us off with a special performance in the Warwick Stakes this morning over in Australia, Arrogate will follow tonight, whereas there are some compelling Stakes races on offer in the UK and Ireland.

However I set my sights, as so often, on the slightly lower end of the class scale. Here we go!

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3.15 Ripon: Class 2 Handicap, 6f

Big and wide open sprint handicap, I feel Right Touch with Franny Norton on board is a massive price to give a bit of a chance here. He is down to his last winning mark, and while ideally the ground would be a bit softer, he does run well on genuine good ground.

He’s been not setting the world alight this season yet, mostly campaigned over 7f. The drop down to 6f should suit him, though, and given he is a also a course winner means at 25’s it is worth a nibble.

Selection:
10pts win – Right Touch @ 25/1 Bet365

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4.05 Newbury: Maiden Stakes , 1m 4f

Those with experience haven’t achieved an awful lot I feel, so to give a newcomer a chance isn’t that big a deal. John Gosden’s Gns750k yearling with the slightly unflattering name Erdogan, is a super interesting newcomer, one we have waited a long time to see.

A son of Frankel out of the superb Dar Re Mi who already has produced noticeable stakes performers no less so with So Mi Dar, Erdogan boosts the most magnificent pedigree.

Whether he is ready to go we will find out today, but given we’re midway through the season with some big targets on the horizon, one would think he has to run well today in order to have a chance to compete in the big stake races in autumn.

Selection:
10pts win – Erdogan @ 7/2 Coral

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4.40 Newbury: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 2f

Black Bolt bolted up on his second career start in a Kempton maiden back in December. Not seen since fitness is taken on trust.

However he has the pedigree to do well as a three year old and should enjoy the step up in trip to 10f. His sire Cape Cross has a significant record in softish conditions at this track too.

An opening mark of 82 in a race where the main rivals are seemingly older horses could be lenient.

Selection:
10pts win – Black Bolt @ 13/2 William Hill

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4.45 Doncaster: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 2f

Bidding for a hat-trick, Barwell can easily find still a bit more and is very dangerous here, however I’m firmly in the Alfarris camp. The Shamardal son is still lightly raced and has improved with each run after landing an All-Weather maiden earlier this year.

His runner-up performance at Chelmsford in May rates strongly with the form book and his subsequent run at Ascot in a hot class 2 Handicap is equally a strong performance. He was carried to the left by the eventual winner over 2f out but more importantly looked disorganized which meant he could not finish closer than 4th.

Head-gear applied for the first time should help in this case, he also drops back to suitable 10f and quite a bit in class. He could have too much on his plate for this lot I feel.

Selection:
10pts win – Alfarris @ 10/3 Bet365

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5.35 Ripon: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 4f

Chocolate Box looks ready to strike and may regret betting against him, however Sole Mission is equally a sporting chance, however a better price and has already proven he can get his head in front.

So he did at Carlisle on his penultimate start in excellent fashion. Things did not quite work out the next time however we can probably draw a line through that run and give him another chance.

He has been improving this season which one would expect from a very late May foal. Being a hold up horse is something i usually feel not totally comfortable betting on, however his sire Sea The Stars boots a tremendous record at this track.

Selection: 
10pts win – Sole Mission @ 7/1 Bet365

Saturday Preview: Lockinge Stakes Day

What a finish in the Yorkshire Cup (Group 2) yesterday – nearly four in line going down to the wire with the Queen’s horse Dartmouth getting the better of 2015 St. Ledger heroine Simple Verse – just!

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3.30 Newbury: Group 1 Lockinge Stakes, 1 Mile

The first big clash of the best older milers this season. And what a mouth-watering race in prospect this is. Three 120/+ individuals  head to head – this could go down to the wire!

Or not? All three main contenders – Ribchester, Galileo Gold and Lightning Spear – have to overcome the slight doubts of full race fitness on their seasonal reappearance.

Could that play into the hands of the master that is Aiden O’Brien? Shrewdly he has placed Somehow – a quality filly in her own right – here in the Lockinge. With her sex allowance and fitness assured, she could certainly cause an upset.

Somewhow won twelve days ago a Group 2 at Newmarket – a fifth career success in ten starts – though the jury is still out whether she is a top-notcher.

Dropping down to a mile in soft conditions I can see a scenario unfold where she cruises closely behind Ribchester’s pacemaker, and then from over 3f out takes over with a big move that puts all behind in trouble. With fitness and stamina a given, she could stay on to lead the field all the way over the line.

The 7/1 odds scream value if you believe in the merit of this scenario. I do. But I also have concerns about the fact that Somehow already had three tough races – two in very tough conditions – in the last five weeks. Plus she has to find a bit with the three big guns if ratings are believed.

On ratings there is not a lot between Ribchester, Galileo Gold and Lightning Spear, though. I would still discount David Simcock’s six year old on the basis of the ground that probably does suit him the least. His very best in the past came on fast ground. Plus Lightning Spear is still searching for the elusive first Group 1 victory.

That is different for Ribchester and Galileo Gold. Both have won on the highest level – Galileo Gold even twice. And both have excellent form with cut in the ground.

The score’s equal between the two. On ratings there’s a single pound between them, yet the market has Ribchester a clear 6/4 favourite. Probably on the basis that the son of Iffraaj has still a bit of improvement left.

He might have but he might not. In fact there is only a single career run betwen Ribchester and Galileo Gold.

On balance I would agree that Ribchester is likely to be the better prospect for the season. He looks the type to do better with age and experience, whereas Galileo Gold appears more likely to regress. However at this point in time it is also Galileo Gold’s best chance to win a big race this year, I feel.

Connections will certainly be aware of this. He should be fully wound up, his record as a fresh horse is fine and of all horses in the field he has the best record on soft ground. So given the prices I have to side with Galileo Gold who I would have more like a 5/2 chance in my book.

Selection:
10pts win – Galileo Gold @ 9/2 Bet365

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4.05 Newbury: Class 2 Conditions Stakes, 6 Furlongs

All about Richard Hannon’s Denaar here. He was an easy winner under hands and heels in a Chelmsford maiden on debut a mere twelve days ago over the minimum trip. The step up to 6f should suit very well and the change in conditions – at least on pedigree – is no problem; in fact can be beneficial.

The form of his maiden success looks rock solid through the experienced runner-up who on his penultimate start ran well in a race that threw up a handful of winners as well as a subsequent listed placed individual.

Selection:
10pts win – Denaar @ 15/8 Paddy Power

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5.10 Newbury: Class 2 Handicap, 1 Mile

Big field and an open contest, so at a price I give Grand Inquisitor a chance to find back to some sort of form, now returning to turf with cut in the ground off a dangerous mark.

He moved yards during the winter and hasn’t excelled for new connections on the All-Weather the last two starts over seven furlongs, but it might not be wise to judge him too harshly on those efforts.

Back over the slightly longer trip with conditions he’s proven to handle and only 2lb above his last winning mark I see a fair chance for him returning to form Not to forget he ran some massive races off much higher marks last season and knocked on the door in tough Handicaps of marks around 95.

Selection:
10pts win – Grand Inquisitor @ 18/1 Bet365

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5.35 Newmarket: Class 4 Handicap, 5 Furlongs

Richard Fahey’s Paddy Power slipped dramatically in the handicap mark compared to what the four year old ran of last season. Now down to 75 with the benefit of a fine pipe opener on Newcastle’s All-Weather, the gelding seems well handicapped on return to turf.

His win record is dismal, but he raced of up to 10lb higher in good Handicaps last year has performed more often than with credit – in fact on RPR’s he ran 11 times to ratings above his current mark of 75.

Softish conditions should be no problem, he has some okay form on this type of surface. His sire performs decent enough too, and the dam is a Listed winner on soft ground. Added 3lb apprentice allowance is a little icing on the cake.

Selection:
10pts win – Paddy Power @ 4/1 Bet365

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8.50 Doncaster: Class 4 Handicap, 6 Furlongs

I give handicap debutante Manshood a good chance to outrun his price tag. He’s had five starts in maiden company so far, placed three times, the two times he ran over today’s trip he was in the money running to RPR’s of 72 and 73.

He’s got a fine pipe opener under his belt last month, that should set him up nicely and didn’t sacrifice his potentially lenient opening mark.

Potentially lenient if he improves for his first handicap start in new conditions. Soft ground, though, should suit quite well on pedigree.  Martin Lane was the other day in the saddle, so got to know Manshood, and has the ride today too. Could be an advantage.

Selection: 
10pts win – Manshood @ 14/1 Paddy Power

Guineas Weekend Preview

Guineas weekend has firmly arrived – the first Classics of the new flat season nearly upon us…. time is flying – studying the four miler at Cheltenham feels like yesterday!

But it’s great. I love flat racing. I love Newmarket, I love Guineas weekend. It’s when dreams are still dreamed, when the summer starts to make its presence felt and the mind gets fully focused on the flat and all those good looking, fast horses that now emerge on a near daily basis.

My allegiance in the 2000 Guineas is not a secret. I shouted it from the roof for weeks: Al Wukair will give hot favourite Churchill plenty to think about. I stick to my guns and nothing has changed my opinion – I’d be surprised if the French horse doesn’t go close.

Sunday – 1000 Guineas:

Not until last night I made up my mind up on the fillies’ equivalent. Because let’s face it, this is quite an open contest. Yes, another Aiden O’Brien inmate says ‘HI’ from the top of the betting, but  you got to be a brave man to back Rhododendron for what seems quite a skinny price.

With fillies you never know whether they have trained on, whether they are still in love with the game or whether they have set their mind on other things in life. That aside, we haven’t seen Rhododendron since last season, whereas we have seen a number of other intriguing contenders already racing in the last weeks, proving they have trained on.

Also even if you do believe strongly in her juvenile form, it’s probably fair to say that it does tie in with a handful of other runners in the field, and it’s not like that she ran all of them down in the manner of a far superior individual.

Nonetheless it appears that the Irish have a very strong hand in the 1000 Guineas on Sunday, Aiden O’Brien in particular – not only because of Rhododendron.

Big market mover in recent days was stable mate Winter, and you can easily see why. It was a huge run in the 1000 Guineas trial at Leopardstown from her. She had a wider than ideal trip throughout, yet nearly beat stable mate Hydrangea who in contrast had the run of the race from the front.

They grey has plenty of scope and is clearly talented. However the good prices are long gone. Is Hydrangea better value, given she won the trial? Yes, possibly. A good filly, a willing partner for whoever jockey sits atop, a filly that has a fair chance, though she is far from flashy and you wonder whether she can improve from Leopardstown.

The Leopardstown form has been franked in no uncertain terms by third placed Rehana in the meantime – that enhances the chances of Winter and Hydrangea, no doubt. Rehana has been impressive in the Group 3 Athasi Stakes at Naas last weekend.

IMO this piece of form, the Leopardstown Trial, is therefore key in determining the winner of the 1000 Guineas. In saying that the filly that came fourth that day is clearly the one of most interest to me.

Intricately providing young Joseph his first Classic winner? What a story that would be. She is still a whopping price, which puzzles me, particularly because the vibes from the yard seem positive.

Anyway, Leopardstown was clearly an occasion where  the main aim was to get a run under her belt. Still she ran a perfectly fine race. She raced off the pace which wasn’t ideal in this particular contest, but she travelled well enough through the race and eventually finished less than 2 lengths beaten, without getting a hard ride at all.

It should put her right for when it really matters. Lest we forget, Intricately already is a Group 1 winner! She beat Hydrangea in a tight finish in the Moyglare last season – Rhododendron was nearly two lengths back in third.

The one mile trip won’t be an issue for her. Yes, she was disappointing at Santa Anita, but that was right at the end of the season. You could draw from that performance that quick ground is a slight concern, though. However in terms of stamina, I don’t worry too much. She looks a filly that cries out for an extra furlong.

In summary, Intricately looks a big price – too big. She has the right profile, is well bred for the job, has race fitness on her side and is clearly classy given she is a Group 1 winner – so Intricately @ 18/1 is my selection for the 1000 Guineas.

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5.00 Goodwood: Class 5 Handicap, 10f

Duchess Of Fife looks an intriguing contender for a red hot yard. The filly was pretty raw with plenty to learn in all her three maiden runs last season, however as an April foal she should have scope to improve this season. She has quite a big frame to fill too, so a winter may have done her the world of good.

A hood is applied for the first time, so she does try the 10f trip. Her maiden form looks solid rating wise, giving her every chance of an opening mark of 65. She will need to find improvement for the distance, headgear and maturity, but if she does make a step forward she should go very close here.

Selection:
10pts win – Duchess Of Fife @ 9/1 Bet365

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6.50 Doncaster: Class 2 Handicap, 7f

Bottom weight Aardwolf is a very interesting contender after an excellent comeback run on the back of a gelding op during the winter. With his WFA allowance and prominent racing style he could steel the race.

Nonetheless a safer pick is Gallipoli who looks certain to progress after a classy victory at Leicester last moth. The four year old is still quite lightly raced and had only three starts over this 7f trip, with legitimate excuses the first two starts over this trip where didn’t quite perform too well.

Gallipoli has course form – he got off the mark on debut here over 5f on fast ground. So conditions are sure to suit him. Hopefully there will be enough pace, as it seems not too many want to go forward. However he showed in the past to be able to track the pace and change gear.

Selection:
10pts win – Gallipoli @ 10/3 William Hill

Saturday Tips

4.40 Leicester: Class 5 Handicap, 7f

I was quite keen on Favourite Royal ten days ago at Wolverhampton but felt she might need the run, so didn’t back her then. Her fast finishing runner-up performance was incredibly eye-catching that day, though, indicating this filly has wintered well and is well able to win a race of her current mark.

She was a very green and raw filly as a juvenile, with a bit of learning and filling of her frame to do. Now as a three year old you would hope that she can still improve a bit and I feel the 2lb added to her rating on the back of the last run might not stop her in a race that should suit.

The bounce factor is a question mark but given she has not a lot of running under her belt yet, this lightly raced filly seems likely to be well handicapped.

Selection:
10pts win – Favourite Royal @ 11/2 PP

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6.50 Wolverhampton: Class 5 Handicap, 9.5f

Drago seemingly enjoys this track and the unique trip given he has quite a good record around Wolverhampton. He looks improved since fitted with a hood: his last four performances when wearing it were all very decent enough, and he’s only 3lb higher than when winning over course and distance back in November last year.

He already has a run under his belt this season; arguably a pipe opener in a seller. I feel there is a genuine chance that he can still improve a bit over this CD and having a decent 7lb claimer in the saddle should be an advantage.

Selection:
10pts win – Drago @ 9/1 Bet365

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7.05 Doncaster: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 4f

Top weight Mr Davies seems to have a tough task assigned on his handicap debut with 9st 9lb to carry, however this completely unexposed gelding could be on a lenient opening mark either.

He got two runs in quick succession as a juvenile, was then put away and reappeared four weeks ago four weeks ago here at Doncaster over 10.5f in a maiden. From the widest draw he pushed forward, travelled well throughout but was entitled to get tired in the final furlong.

Despite never finishing in the money in three maiden runs his RPR suggest those performances are close to in line with his opening mark. It is reasonable to imagine that this big, scopey gelding can improve for his pipe opener and the step up to 12f for the first time.

Selection:
10pts win – Mr Davies @ 11/2 PP

Preview: Lincoln Handicap

Leicester Racecourse home straight

One week after the Irish flat season kicked off with a bang, it’s now time for the neighbours across the pond to open the gates to their traditional Lincoln meeting held at Doncaster. So let’s have a look at the main event of the day:

Classy Yuften greets from the top of the betting market. A relatively short priced favourite at around 10/3 with most firms. A case can be made easily why he is well fancied.

Yuften made a fine return to the race track last month in a Listed event at Wolverhampton finishing a narrowly beaten third. He clearly is in good nick and looks ripped to follow on from where left off in 2016 when he landed the Balmoral Handicap at Ascot on British Champions Day.

An only four pounds higher handicap mark today with conditions sure to suit – he’s a huge chance. BUT this is the Lincoln! A race that cause often upsets. In fact 7 of the last 10 winners started at double figure odds!

That must bring second favourite Donncha into play. A 10/1 chance at the moment – that illustrates fittingly how open this race is, if the second! favourite is a double figure price. The six year old horse is an ultra-consistent sort and was an excellent runner-up in the Spring Mile last year. Jamie Spencer in the saddle indicates another big run is on the cards.

The improving On This Is Us for the Richard Hannon team with Ryan Moore taking the ride is back in the UK after a stint at Meydan over the winter months where he performed not too badly. He can go well.

However the two Fahey runners are the ones that do intrigue me most personally:

There is Third Time Lucky  – one who looks sure to relish this test. He performs well in big-field handicaps and won’t mind whatever juice is left in the ground. He’s also race fit and in form, as recent results on the All-Weather prove.

Due to a recent win he has to carry a penalty but this is pretty much cancelled out due to the 7lb claimer in the saddle. Young Connor Murtagh looks quite useful, indeed. I do really like his calm riding style which should be of benefit  in the Lincoln.

The younger and less exposed Dolphin Vista receives the assistance of Paul Hanagan and runs of near bottom weight. There might still be a bit improvement left in this son of Zoffany and I’m sure he’s ready to run a big race after on his seasonal reappearance.

He stays further and has a career highest mark to overcome but this is only his ninth handicap start, now as a four year old, if he can return to the form of his penultimate run when a winner of a 10f handicap at Beverly, he’s a big chance I firmly belief, given he’ll most likely will be ridden positively close to the leas so he can make his stamina count.

From the bigger prices I think you can make a good case for You’re Fired (40/1) to be competitive. He often runs well in these type of races and has fitness on his side.

Selection:
5pts win – Third Time Lucky @ 16/1 Unibet
5pts win – Dolphin Vista @ 14/1 Bet365