Tag Archives: Doncaster

Saturday Selections: November, 10th 2018

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3.15 Doncaster: Class 2 Handicap, 1m 4f

The November Handicap, one final big one in the soon to be closed chapter that was the 2018 flat season.

It feels like nearly everything Charlie Appleby touches turns to gold these days. Can he wrap up this superb week for him with a success here? I certainly think so! His inmate Wolf Country comes here relatively fresh compared to most others after a recent pleasing return to the track.

That was last month at Goodwood in a competitive race – the form has already started to work out well. Wolf Country was a fine runner-up, leading for most parts of the race. It has to be said he was advantaged by the fact that a he wasn’t hampered by a fallen horse behind him. Most of the field was. So the performance is to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Still, he travelled well, set a good pace and looked comfortable in atrocious conditions, leaving his only other UK start in 2018 well behind, when he last of 15 at Newmarket in May.

His only other piece of form this year came at Meydan. A fine 4th place finish in a pretty strong handicap – he was leading until 300m out against Group class performers.

Things haven’t quite gone the way conditions would surely have hoped for Wolf Country. A Listed winner at three, a creditable and not far beaten 5th in the Dante – he is a talented lad and since being gelded those two of three runs have been very promising.

A mark off 98 gives him a fair chance here today – he could be a better than that. The soft ground conditions are certainly a positive. The wide draw not necessarily for a front-runner. Regardless, I have him down as the favourite here if he can improve from his recent comeback run.

Selection:
10pts win – Wolf Country @ 8.8/1 MB

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Big Race Preview: St. Leger 2018

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A wide open St. Leger – I’m saying that despite the betting telling a different story. It’s a foolish price for John Gosden’s clearly exciting filly Lah Ti Dar. But so exciting to believe 7/4 is the right price? Surely not. Not for a filly that, albeit totally unexposed, has yet to run to a time speed rating of 100 or more.

She may well be the one to beat here, she may well be proving her class and stamina today – at this incredibly short price I rather look elsewhere.

I have not to look far. My eyes set firmly on what Aiden O’Brien brings to the table. And that is so much more than Kew Gardens. He’s clearly a classy individual. He should enjoy the Leger trip. But can he improve again? Does he even have to? Probably not. He’s setting the standard here, in my mind.

But he’s well exposed. We know what we get. And that may or may not be good enough. At given prices it’s nothing more than fair. And the fact team Ballydoyle brings a handful of runners here doesn’t scream confidence in Kew Gardens.

Two other runners have caught my eye. Not for the first time this is The Pentagon. A promising juvenile last year, he also showed continued promise earlier this year; I quite liked his 3rd placed finish in the Derrinstown Derby Trial and subsequently saw him as a fair each-way chance in the Derby.

He was a long way beaten that day eventually, though that run was better than the bare form may suggest. He’s been beaten in the Irish Derby and the Great Voltiger subsequently – but both runs showed there is some class. Particularly his Curragh performance, where he made a lot of ground from the back of the field is interesting.

Stepping up in trip could suit. The Pentagon has no turn of foot, he’s more of a grinder, I feel. That may well suit the Leger and he can outran his big price tag.

So can be stable mate Southern France. Less exposed and a huge individual in physical presence, his return from a small break in the Irish St. Leger Trial last month was hugely promising.

He clearly wasn’t well placed trailing the field and had a lot of ground to make up in the home straight. Which he did pretty easily. He wasn’t beaten up to finish closer to those in front of him who also either set the pace or rode close to it for most parts of the race. It was a lovely prep for the big one, I feel.

Selections:
5pts Win – The Pentagon @ 26/1 MB
5pts Win – Southern France @ 17/1 MB

Saturday Selections: August, 16th 2018

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1.45 Doncaster: Class 5 Handicap, 7f

Musharrif had a super busy campaign over the last few weeks. Eventually this will catch up with him. He’s been running consistently well, nonetheless. He came close to win a couple of times too. He dropped to a handy 68 mark regardless.

He is clearly capable of winning off this type of mark. He did it in the past on three occasions and ran 13 times over his career to time speed ratings of 86 and higher.

The interesting fact is the step up to 7f. He solely raced over the minimum trip lately. However, he’s a distance winner, in fact, was placed another time and ran well in a third 7f contest also. So he should be fine to stay the trip, particularly fast ground.

Selection:
10pts win – Musharrif @ 9/2 MB

……..

5.35 Newmarket: Class 4 Handicap, 7f

Not that his comeback run has set the world alight but Thechildren’strust is the obvious choice in a race of rather exposed types as he is the handicap debutant with only three starts to his name also stepping up in trip.

He ran pretty well in two starts last season, winning first time out at Goodwood and finishing third subsequently in another fair race. Both forms looks competitive and judged by what the horse around him did since then his opening mark off 81 looks fair.

Thechildren’strust seasonal reappearance dampens the the euphoria, though. Third at Salisbury last month in what looks an ordinary contest, he never looked comfortable and the form hasn’t been franked whatsoever yet.

However, it might have been the firm ground that was unsuitable. It won’t be quick as lightning quick today. The step up to 7f should suit on pedigree. All together he’s the one who has potential to find a bit of improvement today on Hector Crouch’s only ride of the day.

Selection:
10pts win – Thechildren’strust @ 11/2 Sky

…….

7.40 Chepstow: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 4f

As big the field is as poor the race is. That’s a tremendous chance for top weight Desert Cross to continue his fine run of form. He’s won two of his three starts this year and ran well in defeat the other day at Bath.

His winning forms work out rather well. So does already the third place at Bath from last months as the runner-up won next time out. Desert Cross was simply not well positioned and couldn’t peg back the two leaders on lightning quick ground.

This is a career highest mark today to defy. I feel in the context of the race he’s a good chance to to do so. Jonjo O’Neill has a sublime record with his flat handicappers at Chepstow also.

Selection:
10pts win – Desert Cross @ 7/1 MB

Thursday Selections: July, 12th 2018

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

5.45 Doncaster: Class 5 Handicap, 7f

Acadian Angel has been largely disappointing this season after largely promising efforts as a three year old last year. As a result she has tumbled down the weights to what looks a dangerous mark.

She returns to a place she’s won before over the same distance and ground conditions. While she hasn’t been knocking on the door lately, digging a bit deeper her form seems not too bad, in fact. She ran to time speed ratings in and around her current mark.

In addition a visor has been applied for the first time, that may eke out some improvement. Certainly having Silvestre De Sousa on board is an added bonus.

Selection:
10pts win – Acadian Angel @ 10/3 Coral

Derby Day Selections: June, 1st 2018

Gleneagles

4.30: Group 1, Epsom Derby, 1m 4f

Guineas winner Saxon Warrior looks rock solid judged on anything he has done so far. I love his physique, the way he goes through his races… everything, really. But from draw 1, which comes with so many complications, at odds-on it’s not a bet for me.

I stick to AOB, though. The forgotten one, it seems, The Pentagon, is drifting out to a massive price this morning. It’s fair to say he hasn’t lived up to reputation of his sensational pedigree yet, and by any means he isn’t flashy if you see him racing.

The Pentagon was a workmanlike winner of a poor Group 3 last season, enhanced his credentials massively with an excellent 3rd place in the Racingpost Trophy eventually, though. The race wasn’t run to his advantage, he was badly positioned and clearly didn’t have the tactical speed when it was paramount to have. Yet he stayed on eye-catchingly.

This season he’s been disappointing given lofty expectations in two starts: a 3rd place in the Derrinstown at Leopardstown was underwhelming to many. Nonetheless, it was a fair effort in a race that was more about speed than stamina.

Fact is, The Pentagon is all about stamina, nothing about speed. He lacks gears and is a grinder.

He’s high class, I believe, regardless. He needs the right test to show his best. The step up in trip and the usually frantic pace of the Derby might be what he needs to be at his very best. From a good draw he is likely to go forward, he might even be tasked with pacemaker duties.

I don’t mind that at all. In fact it should be to his advantage. The cut in the ground won’t be a problem. It might even help. I can see a scenario where he tracks a fast pace and Wayne Lordan pushes the red button turning for home. It’s a long way home from there but this lad stays all day long….

At 50/1 this looks a cracking each-way bet. The better fancied horses might catch him eventually, but he could stay to the line for some fine place money.

Selection:
5pts Each/Way – The Pentagon @ 50/1 WH

…….

2.35 Epsom: Group 3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes, 8.5f

The 1000 Guineas form has worked out really well already, so seventh placed finisher Anna Nerium should find the drop in grade a big help. Already a Group 3 scorer, she has trained on, proving it when winnig the Free Handicap on her seasonal reappearance in great style.

The Guineas was probably a bit too hot, however in lesser grade she remains a big gun given she is a full sister to smart Piping Rock. First time going against older horses, now is the time when the WFA allowance starts to swing into an advantage for the three year old’s, I feel.

Epsom is a different test and it remains to be seen whether she likes it or not. Ground isn’t an issue, on the other hand. On the plus side: her sire Dubawi has a tremendous CD record here.

Selection:
10pts win – Anna Nerium @ 9/2 PP

…..

3.45: Class 2 Handicap, 5 furlongs

The ‘dash’ is often a bit of a lottery. In-running luck plays a big part. So there is always a chance for something big to finish in the money. I feel I can enhance my ‘luck’ by selecting a horse that has potential to outrun his price tag.

Storm Over is the one: he won a soft ground 5f handicap at Catterick in his final race of 2017. A massive performance, running to a 4lb higher time speed rating than his then handicap mark. He’s raised for that effort by only five pounds.

He ran with credit on his seasonal debut in April. He should come on for a sixth placed finish in a race that has worked out tremendously well in the meantime.

Cut in the ground works for him. Question will be the track and in-running luck. If both goes his way I anticipate a massive run by this still pretty lightly raced four year old colt.

Selection:
10pts win – Storm Over @ 22/1 PP

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5.25 Doncaster + 6.10 Lingfield

Sam Gold for Roger Varian ran well in defeat on his seasonal return in a first handicap. The form looks strong with the winner performing with credit in the Guineas. He drops in class and should be hard to beat.

Sir Mark Prescott has identified an easy target for rapidly improving filly Midnight Blue at Lingfield. She won a minor event at Wolverhampton but should be hard to beat under a penalty with the step up in trip a big plus. From a plum draw she’s likely to be up with the pace.

Selection:
10pts win double – Sam Gold + Midnight Blue @ 3.72/1 VC

Friday Selections: June, 1st 2018

Curragh

4.30 Epsom: English Oaks, 1m 4f

This looks an intriguing renewal of the Oaks. With soft ground on offer, the race is thrown wide open and cases can be made for- or against anyone in this field.

Guineas fourth Wild Illusion is a fair favourite and she’s probably got a decent chance to follow-on from the Fillies’ Classic as I feel she’s got a decent chance to stay the new trip. The price is rotten, though.

From the market principles Magic Wand is the one I prefer, no question. I liked what she did at Chester and she should have plenty of improvement left. The ground is a slight question.

My money runs with one of the outsiders of the field: Ejtyah. She is inexperienced and had only two starts. That isn’t ideal. She looked raw and green on debut at Chelmsford toward the end of last year and was still very much learning her trade in the Musidora last month.

That was her seasonal debut, she is entitled to come on a fair bit for the run. A good performance that was, finishing third, on ground possibly too firm for her when she was probably shy of full fitness as well.

Ejtyah should have learned plenty that day – she has to, though. Now stepping up to the Derby distance looks a big bonus and so could be the softish ground. Frankel has a remarkable record on soft ground (+12f) with his offspring, actually, so from that perspective it isn’t a negative.

Connections also believe a fast surface isn’t the best for her as she was withdrawn from the Lingfield Oaks Trial for ground reasons.

No doubt, Ejtyah isn’t the likeliest winner. She has quite a bit to find with the market principles on pure form. She may not find enough to go close. That says, she is entitled to improve quite a bit for her seasonal reappearance run, for experience, the trip and potentially the ground.

All of that makes her a compelling bet at a massive price in an open Oaks.

Selection:
10pts win – Ejtyah @ 20/1 WH

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8.40 Doncaster: Class 5 Fillies’ Handicap, 1m 2f

Favourite Maid Up is rock solid and one I do like allot. However, given prices, I do fancy even more long-shot Girls Talk.

You can totally discount her recent Beverly run – a wide draw, she ended up four wide nearly for the entire time of the race and she simply had no chance. Look at what she done before and it gets interesting.

Her seasonal comeback run at Lingfield, albeit 5th and three lengths beaten, is quite a good one. She crossed over from a her draw to lead the field until the final furlong marker when eventually fading away in the closing stages. Given it was her first race since October she was entitled to get tired.

The sectionals aren’t anything special, nonetheless, the fact she led a pretty decent field for that type of race in commanding style for as long as she did from her then 5lb higher mark than the current one, is intriguing. The form of that race works out pretty well, so I rate this performance highly.

She showed flashes as a juvenile, particularly in her second start; however, as an April foal she is due to be a much better horse with experience and age.

Down to a rating off 62, stepping up to 10f for the first time, she seems overpriced, as on pedigree the trip looks very much possible.

Selection:
10pts win – Girls Talk @ 25/1 VC

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9.10 Doncaster: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 4f

Handicap debutant Moon Of Baroda looks ripe for a massive run. He showed glimpses of potential in Novice and Maiden company. Now going handicapping, while stepping up to 12f on ground likely to suit, this son of Dubawi is in with a big shout in this race.

Still a colt, connections give him every chance to develop. He didn’t run as a juvenile last year, only made his debut this winter. His future is clearly over longer trips, so stepping up to the longer 1m 4f is a big plus.

Moon Of Baroda hails from a good family, and Dubawi’s stats for three year old handicappers over 12 furlongs are off the charts! Blinkers are fitted for the first time too, hopefully sharpen him up.

Selection:
10pts win – Moon Of Baroda @ 11/2 PP

Saturday Selections: May, 5th 2018

Gleneagles

3.35 Newmarket: 2000 Guineas, 1 mile

You can’t deny the fact he has been massively disappointing in his last two runs, however, there were very valid excuses for Expert Eye to finish last in the Dewhurst when a warm favourite to land it, as well as when a slightly underwhelming runner-up in the Greenham a fortnight ago.

Regardless, Expert Eye possesses tons of talent as he proved in the Vintage Stakes last summer – a Group 2 event he took with so much ease only the really good ones are capable of.

No doubt, his chances hinge on him settling early on. We have seen Expert Eye pulling his chances away before, and if we see the same here, him pulling the arms off Andrea Atzeni over the first few furlongs then his race is over before it really started.

That’s the reason why Expert Eye is as big a price as he is. Still too big, as I trust Sir Michael to teach the horse how to settle and his seasonal debut run should help in that regard as well.

Selection:
10pts win – Expert Eye @ 12/1 VC

…….

6.20 Doncaster: Class 3 Handicap, 1 mile

Some interesting horses at the top of the market, though I do prefer the chance of bottom weight Chingachgook. A son of Eclipse winner Al Kazeem (wonderful memories, I was at Sandown that day to see him romp home), in five career starts he has shown plenty of potential.

After few fine performances on the All-Weather over the winter he made his handicap debut at Newcastle in February – the only time he bombed out up until now. Switched to turf for the first time at the end of March at Musselburgh, Chingachgook returned to form.

In bottomless ground conditions he didn’t have an ideal break from the widest draw and found himself for most parts of the race in the uncomfortable position chasing the pack. That’s never good at Musselburgh, particularly in those type of conditions.

Chingachgook also didn’t get the clearest of runs through the field and the bird was flown once he was in the clear. Still, he ran on well to finish a good second, doing anything as the only horse from those held up. The form has been franked by the winner and fourth subsequently.

Same handicap mark, slightly better ground, upped in grade, however having the chance to race off a featherweight – Chingachgook should be able to outrun his price tag. Whether that is enough to beat the better fancied market principles remains to be seen.

Selection:
10pts win – Chingachgook @ 9/1 WH