Belsito makes a lot of appeal as he moves up in trip again. Over the minimum trip he seemed to be taken off his feet at crucial stages of races, but he always showed great attitude in the final stages of his last two runs especially, while also showing solid early speed at the same time.
That says, on his seasonal reappearance at Musselburgh he fell out of the gate, before he overcame that awkward start quickly, moved forward rapidly to lead after the first furlong even. He did way too much to get there and ran really well in those circumstances overall.
He followed up next time at Redcar when he set a strong pace and fought gamely to finish third eventually.
He’s a full-brother to a Group 3 winning miler, so going up to 6 furlongs should be a positive.
He tried it twice early in his career, without success, but he had valid excuses on those days, I think.
10pts win – Belsito @ 9/2
4.40 Thirsk: Class 6 Handicap, 6f
Stalingrad is cherry ripe I feel, yet on fast ground I’m not sure I want to trust this 22 race maiden here as the favourite in the betting.
Trust is needed to back Dream Together as well after a recent breathing issue and wind op.
He certainly looked amiss after a weak finish when last seen at Haydock, after he actually travelled quite well on stands’ side there for a long time, which was potentially not ideal being high drawn in this race, as he was racing away from where the pace developed.
He travelled strongly to 2f out before his effort petered out and we now know why that is. If the recent operation has rectified any issues he’ll be a huge chance.
He could easily get a perfect position closer to the stands’ rail and dominate the race from there in a field where not to many want to move forward.
He’s another 2lb down and well-handicapped now based on the fact that he ran pretty well most of the time in recent weeks. Also he achieved speed ratings last season that if he can run somewhere close to those here today – now that he’s hopefully healthy again – makes him a stand out horse from a handicapping perspective.
10pts win – Dream Together @ 5/1
7.00 Goodwood: Class 5 Handicap, 7f
Yellow Lion was a serious eyecatcher at Newmarket when last seen and looks the one to beat if he can run to the same level of form.
He drops in class, but perhaps even more importantly he drops in trip. He didn’t seem to stay a mile at Newmarket. However, he travelled sweetly for a very long time, in a manner of a talented horse. He did so without cover on the outside of the field as well.
The colt showed good early pace and fine cruising speed before he dropped out quickly from 1.5f out and doing so without having an ideal race and against solid opposition.
That was his handicap debut, he’s lost 2lb off his opening mark in the meantime, so has been given a real opportunity by the handicapper.
The way he travelled gives the impression that he may enjoy proper fast ground. I could envision that he may even would enjoy the drop to 6f, but 7f is certainly worth a go here.
10pts win – Yellow Lion @ 4/1
7.20 Haydock: Class 4 Handicap, 6f
Cuban Breeze ran a lovely race earlier this week at Wolverhampton when 2nd behind one who was potentially well-handicapped on old form, and who got the run of the race from the front.
This here is easier. A fillies’ 0-80; Cuban Breeze is clearly in excellent form as evidence of her last two runs. Wolverhampton was a strong performance, so was her Windsor run prior.
She made too much there from the front in deep ground conditions but confirmed some of the positive signs she showed in most of her more recent runs.
She’s now 4lb lower than her last winning mark, which cam off 85 over 6f on fast ground last August.
The fact that visually she made good impressions in recent weeks but also that she ran to a 79 speed rating at Kempton at the end of April points to the suggestion that she’s in strong form, ready to win.
10pts win – Cuban Breeze @ 4/1
7.55 Haydock: Class 5 Handicap, 6f
Batchelor Boy could be seriously overpriced in this field where many have questions not answer, not least on the handicapping front.
The gelding showed signs of form the last two runs, since coming back from a break. He bumped into a well-handicapped one on his seasonal reappearance and ran a tremendous race from the front the last time at Brighton over 7 furlongs.
He flew down the first half of the race, was over a full second faster to the 3f marker than the eventual winner. He gradually tired but was game to the line.
The drop to 6f is sure to suit, so does the fast ground. Haydock as a more conventional track is intriguing, as most of his racing has been done at Brighton.
It’s a concern that he hasn’t run a significant speed rating in over two years, but I give him the benefit of the doubt given that most recent strong performance have suggested he’s in the same form as when winning races in the last two years.
First time visor looks intriguing, too. He won in first-time blinkers in the past.
With Respect was a huge eyecatcher the last two times as he appears to be in superb form.
Two starts ago at Salisbury he was heavily bumped by a rival as they jumped out of the gates, as he wasn’t helped by his own awkwardness, either. He then travelled strongly against the inside rail, made good progress and would have probably won, I presume, if he would have got a clear run.
He only got out late, switched, found momentum again and finished strongly. He ran to a 70 speed rating equal to his mark on the day and he makes plenty of appeal off 2lb higher the next time on turf. However, he ran at Kempton’s polytrack instead, a fortnight ago, over 7 furlongs.
He was disadvantaged from the #10 draw right from the start, and didn’t help the matter getting away from it awkwardly. He settled well off the pace, travelled a bit keenly, especially around the bend, but made tremendous progress from 3f out.
He finished best over the final three furlongs, but had too much do to get into a position to challenge, hence he wasn’t able to quite sustain his effort.
He’s yet to win over 7 furlongs and there’s a fair question mark looming over his ability to stay the trip. However, he showed in the past that he can finish very strongly over 6 furlongs, even on deep ground, so it’s worth a chance.
I think off 67 he’s potentially well-handicapped in this class, if he gets home and can get a clear run. The better draw should be a help, and there’s not much competition in this field that gives the impression to be well-handicapped.
In this big field getting a run may be the biggest challenge, in fact. He’s allowed to run off 5lb lower than his current turf mark and to me seems as good on sand as on turf.
10pts win – With Respect @ 13/2
8.45 Ripon: Class 5 Handicap, 5f
Albegone must have a major chance as he drops down in class and has a good draw to get a position close to the the inside rail, after he ran a huge race last time out at Carlisle.
There he set a hot pace from the front and travelled strongly until getting understandably quite tired from over 1f out to finish 4th eventually as he got swamped late.
That should be good form I reckon. The way he travelled for so long was eyecatching. He’s clearly down to a very fine mark as the handicapper dropped him another 2lb.
Even though he’s best with ease in the ground, he’s competitive on fast ground too. After two placed efforts from three runs over this course and distance in the past, a victory looks a strong possibility here.
A list of horses that caught my eye during the recent weeks of racing. Find all previous eyecatchers here.
Lil Guff 22/05/23 – 5.00 Windsor:
Settled in rear against the inside rail, before gradually moving over to the other side, travelling well, but not getting a run through over one furlong out, when she tried to progress on the widest outside, with a shifting rival not helping to get clear passage there either.
Finished a fine 3rd. Fast ground, minimum trip not ideal. All best career performances over 6 furlongs, and enjoys less lively ground too. Down to a good mark, won off 76 and 82 last summer.
A 76 speed rating here and 79 speed rating in April suggest she’s in the same form now. Ideally want to see her up in trip, though.
Sluggish start, recovered and went forward to lead at a red hot pace. Found plenty under pressure and only late beaten by two from off the pace.
Good speed rating, which is believable. Ran to near similar speed rating a month earlier on the All-Weather. Definitely in good form but has issues and the hood didn’t seem to help. Would stay a mile if he could settle.
Jury is out how much he’s got in hand these days, but worth another try over 7 furlongs as he has been dropped 2lb by the handicapper for this fine effort.
Caught seriously wide from #14 draw. Did a lot to cross over and get into a position where she tracked the hot pace. Some progress in the home straight before getting tired and also hampered 1f out.
Ran better than bare form lto on Handicap debut as well. Not ridden with intend to obtain best result last two times. The game is in the name…. down to 50 now interesting, if handbrake is off, especially with any support in the betting.
Travelled like a dream in midfield, well covered. Came through strongly, hard on the bridle, going through a gap over 2 furlongs out. Was eventually outkicked and not had the speed to go with the winner but ran on well.
Has the pedigree to improve beyond six furlongs. Will be of serious interest up in trip if she can settle. Has won and ran well over sprint trips already. The way she travelles suggests there’s talent better than a 78 OR.
Forced to settle off the pace the way the race developed. Was going well but had to wait for room as no gap opened late. Finished best in the final furlong.
Clear return to form after some lesser efforts on the All-Weather. Did well on the sand during winter, though. Down to sexy mark and not out of it on turf either, despite 0/5 record. Never expected in those runs but clearly handles fast ground.
Quickly restraint in rear of the field against the inside rail. Was going pretty well but progress stopped as he was stuck behind a wall of horses, short of room and hampered from two furlongs until late before in the clear inside the final furlong and finished nicely.
Only slowly drops in the mark. Effective over a variety of sprint trips and acts on nearly all ground. Not tremendously well-handicapped but placed off higher and may not be far off a big run if allowed to run on merit.
Swerved to his left out of the gate then settled in midfield. Travelled strongly on the bridle over 2f out behind horses but had to wait for room and switch to the inside for a run. Finished best.
Started the first two furlongs & finished the final furlong faster than the the first two home (fastest final furlong). May not truly stay 1m and would ideally drop to 7f. Lightly raced, good speed rating here as well.
Tracked the pace against the inside rail for most of the race until the two groups merged. He found himself shot of room multiple times and only late was able to get properly into the clear to finish strongly.
Strong form. Ran to 80 speed rating. Seemed to enjoy the decent ground and has responded for blinkers the last two. Showed promise as a juvenile. Clearly better than what he has shown up to now.
If he’s kept in handicap company he’ll be well-handicapped. Move up in trip is certainly preferable.
Travelled in midfield, not going smoothly, niggled along, possibly found the pace over 7f on fastish ground too hot. Kept going well, though. Not clear run over 2f out and slightly hampered over 1f out.
Handicap debut and should be better than this. Decent speed rating. Should move up in trip again and dangerous off 87 on decent ground.
His chances were compromised from the wide draw. He didn’t get in to find cover and as a consequence always travelled three wide, mostly without cover, off the pace. Travelled well and made good progress from over 3f out before getting tired in the final furlong.
May not quite stay a mile. 7f most likely ideal. Impressive win as a juvenile. High enough mark but deserves chance over 7f. He usually can go forward. Deserves chance in easier race.
Off to a good start, tracked pace keenly early on. Travelled well enough before he became a bit flat footed over 2 furlongs out as the sedate pace increased. Lost ground but stamina kicked in and he flew home the final furlong.
Could enjoy moving up in trip if the pace is solid. Smart prospect and may be underestimated because his profile isn’t that sexy, especially after his Dubai flop.
Flew down the first half of the race, was over a full second faster to the 3f marker than the eventual winner. Gradually tired but was game to the line.
Bumped into a well-handicapped one on seasonal reappearance lto. Can get home but more often than not 7f is a stretch, probably best over 6f. down to solid mark and clearly in form a pound below his last winning mark.
Set off very fast, going sprinter pace the first few furlongs, as part of a duo. Kept going well, still ahead 1f out, swamped late. huge run and return to form. down to sexy mark, judged on last season.
Should be strong form. Winner was well-handicapped. Would be most interesting for drop to 7f, even though he stays further, a mile with little pace competition could also be interesting.
Tracked the pace on far side, quite prominently ridden. Travelled well to 2f out but couldn’t quite keep up the effort in the closing stages. Did best of those low drawn, which is often a disadvantage over this CD.
Career-best on speed ratings, as low as that is. 7f on fast ground ideal and interesting in a similarly poor race when she has a good draw.
Dwelt and awkward out of the gate. Settled in midfield, bumped into rival before the first turn. Made progress and found a route through to challenge, though the winner was long gone. Ran on well.
Confirmed lto promise. Down to fine mark. Best on decent ground (ideally no worse than yielding), so could be intriguing on a more conventional track if the dry spell continues. However, can have issues at the gate.
A finish dominated by those ridden with restraint. Which was somewhat surprising, because they didn’t go too hard in the first half of the race, with a finishing speed of 116% for the winner, Auguste Rodin (the par for the Derby distance at Epsom is around 111%) not quite telling the tale, perhaps.
King Of Steel raced the closest to the pace from those who made any impact in the closing stages. He travelled pretty well in midfield and kicked on strongly from over 3f out, before being outstayed in the final furlong by the Aiden O’Brien trained colt.
White Birch came from very far back and made great progress on the outside in the home straight. He’s an obvious eyecatcher in that sense. However, there a couple of others who interest me more for the future.
Sprewell is probably the one who left the biggest impression on me. I was certainly not overly keen on him beforehand, but he certainly confirmed his huge talent in the Derby.
It was his fifth career start, but the first time going over the Derby trip. He looked still a bit keen and perhaps green at various stages of the race, hence the fact he finished so well in 4th, without ever appearing with a shot of winning, truth told, is noteworthy.
He found himself short of room at a crucial stage of the race over 2.5f out, though. Subsequently he got badly unbalanced, yet found his momentum quickly again and ran on before his stamina ran out in the final furlong.
Fast ground clearly wasn’t an issue. But the Derby trip may stretch his stamina, especially in a properly run race. However, he has shown his class over 10 furlongs already. That looks his trip. He’s one I’ll track.
Waipiro endured a disaster run. he dwelt, was then caught behind a wall of horses, trailed the field and had to come around wide for a run.
He made excellent progress from 4f out around Tattenham Corner, before his effort fizzled out from 2f out. He probably didn’t get the trip. Though, I thought the confirmed the promise he showed at Newmarket and at Lingfield.
Whether he’s a genuine Group 1 horse remains to be seen. He could be underestimated if he drops down to 10 furlongs, though.
Artistic Star ran a race of two halves, so to speak. Initially I was disappointed with his run. I backed him, and thought he would do much better than a 11 lengths beaten 7th place.
However, he ran a race full of promise. After a solid start he didn’t travel well, niggled at various stages. Perhaps inexperience in such a big, tight field was to blame.
Three furlongs from home he was relegated to last even, before the penny seemed to drop and he motored home in the 4rd fastest final 3f split to pass many tired horses.
He’ll have learned plenty and remains at this stage an exciting prospect after two excellent career performances prior where he ran strong speed ratings for an inexperienced horse.
Whether he’s Group 1 class remains to be seen. His siblings were smart horses but not quite top-notchers. He looks to stay the Derby distance, much like they did, though.
Stay Smart did well to win at Ayr as he held on by a head. He was all out after setting a seriously hot pace and showed great attitude to get home at 3/1 SP.
Rule 4 hurt me here, though. Yet, I was relived. A winner, and any losses minimized for the day, no matter what.
Cuban Breeze was the one I fancied most to provide a second winner. He finished a gallant second but didn’t have enough early speed to get to the lead which went Aberama Gold’s way who went wire to to wire, instead. Perhaps I was too optimistic about Cuban Breeze’s early pace against another seriously fast starter.
Late Arrival never stood a chance from his draw and perhaps I should have seen that coming. I glanced too quickly over this major negative. Hopefully he can come good the next time.
Folk Star finished 3rd but never looked like winning. She didn’t get a run at a crucial stage and didn’t have the change of gear from off the pace. My Mate Mike was withdrawn after he broke through the gate.
3.30 Leicester: Class 4 Handicap, 7f
Is Makeen too obvious to be true? Only the blind could have missed the hugely eyecatching performance at Newmarket last month.
He traveled strongly behind a wall of horses for much of the race. Waited for room until very late when switched to the inside and ran on easily for third with the fastest final furlong split.
It was a near career-best effort without a clear run. What is clear: the gelding is in peak form. In saying that, he wouldn’t be obviously well-handicapped on ratings.
But it seems clear that 7 furlongs on fast ground could be an ideal scenario for him. He didn’t have many chances of this sort, yet. Is there some improvement left in these conditions? Possibly.
In any case, he should be not left on a mark off 80 after that last run. The 3lb claim of Ryan Sexton is the cherry on the cake in a race where there isn’t too much to fear in terms of rivals to beat, even though he moves up in to 0-85.
10pts win Makeen @ 7/2
5.30 Lingfield: Class 6 Handicap, 7f
Regal Glory returns to what may well be her optimum trip and track and looks ready to strike thanks to a lowered mark and a good draw to find a handy position in the field.
The filly caught numerous times the eye in the last few weeks and months. She achieved an excellent 57 speed rating off a 51 mark in November over this CD. She followed up with a couple of strong efforts, especially the February 3rd place here once again caught my eye.
Her subsequent runs were better than the bare form, but it’s her latest run over 6f here at Lingfield only five days ago that may rate as her strongest yet.
From a wide draw she travelled in rear, made strong progress on the wide outside, turned wide and yet finished strongly.
She drops to a 50 OR now – she won off the same mark last November over this course and distance – has the #4 draw to attack the race from, over 7 furlongs at Lingfield. Huge chance to add a second CD success to her name.
Gutsy Eponina at Nottingham. She made all and kept going and going to win well (5/1 SP). After drawing a blank on Saturday this was needed. Unfortunately there was no additional winner to be added on Sunday.
Greatgadian was beaten by the draw. No chance from his position as he settled at the back of the field and had to quicken from well off the pace in a sprint finish. A great effort to finish 3rd, though.
Continuous was a major disappointment in the Prix Du Jockey Club. He didn’t have any excuses, though. He was in a good position, got there easily and simply wasn’t good enough on the day.
A good first June week. Three winners. Too good to be true? On to Monday… I’m always am nervous when having so many bets in a single day as on this Monday. But they were all significant eyecatchers and appear overpriced.
If one goes in all is well, happy days. If they all get beaten, a realistic prospect, it’s getting ugly quickly. Joy and despair are can be separated by inches in this game.
4.00 Thirsk: Class 5 Handicap, 6f
Hail Sezer was a huge eyecatcher last time out and hasn’t been too harshly penalised for a nose beaten 2nd place. He’s clearly in fine form and should run a huge race.
At prices I must go with Late Arrival, though, who caught the eye the last time at Pontefract, as he followed on from a hugely encouraging seasonal reappearance at Haydock.
Ten days ago at Pontefract over 5 furlongs he had a quick start, tracked the pace but came under pressure from over 2f out and seemed to go backwards before coming back and staying well to the line.
Another strong performance and form behind a very strong winner. He’s better over 6 furlongs, though, especially on fast ground.
Therefore moving back up in trip, while dropping into an easier grade, he’s dangerous after having been eased another pound. He ran to 70 and 71 speed ratings last season and looks in similar form, clearly ready for another big performance off 69.
10pts win – Late Arrival 15/2
4.15 Ayr: Class 6 Handicap, 5f
Stay Smart ran a huge race on Saturday at Musselburgh. He was bumped at the start quite badly, and had to play catch-up as a consequence. He travelled wide on the outside where he made tremendous progress to challenge the leader, but understandably tired in the final furlong to fall back.
He confirmed the promise shown over this course and distance last month when he raced from the front and also achieved a good speed rating, the best in over 1.5 years. That performance warranted an upgrade too, in my book:
He moved quickly forward and led the field at a good pace. He travelled well and found plenty for pressure from 2f out. Ultimately he was only beaten inside the final furlong by two ridden with more restraint.
Stay Smart had a tough time since losing his form in early 2022. He changed yards, tumbled down the weights and has been gelded and had a wind operation. He appears to be in excellent shape now, though, and looks the one to beat with a clear run.
10pts win – Stay Smart @ 7/2
4.30 Thirsk: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 4f
Obviously Lady Rascal is of interest as she moves up in trip. 1m 4f will suit her really well. She got off the mark in fine style over ten furlongs recently after a strong handicap debut.
She is one of my Handicappers to follow this year, but so is Folk Star. Lady Rascal could be well-handicapped today, yet on prices Folk Star makes plenty of appeal (for the moment, money is coming already) as she makes her handicap debut and moves up right away to the correct trip for her.
She had two lovely runs of educational matter as a juvenile where she looked much better than the bare results. She was never asked a question, yet finished nicely, especially at Yarmouth.
Her seasonal reappearance in April over a mile in deep ground can be safely ignored form wise. The 1m trip, also possibly ground was not right and it counted simply as a pipe opener. With that she qualified for a mark off 64 and that could underestimate her as she moves up significantly in trip.
Folk Star is a May foal and has plenty of scope to improve, especially as she moves up in distance. She’s beautifully bred, with plenty of stamina on dam side; the mare improved with time as well.
Le Have offspring improves with age too. His 3yo’s have a 21% strike rate overall (A/E 1.2) in Handicaps. Not sure whether the track and fast ground will suit, but let’s find out.
10pts win – Folk Star @ 4/1
5.45 Windsor: Class 5 Handicap, 6f
Big R is the one to beat. Most likely I wasn’t the only one who wanted to hit something really hard after he finished a desperately unlucky second last Saturday.
He’s only 1lb higher and has a massive shout. Again, at given prices, it’s another eyecatcher I’ll side with, though.
My Mate Mike moved quickly forward to lead at Salisbury when last seen as he dropped down to 6 furlongs. He showed solid early speed and clearly did too much in the first half of the race. I thought he did really well to hold on for third.
That was a strong race and form for the level of race. There were multiple lto winners and horses in strong form in the field.
As he gets another chance over 6 furlongs here having been dropped 1lb as well I feel this lightly raced gelding could be underestimated.
10pts win – My Mate Mike @ 9/1
7.30 Wolverhampton: Class 4 Handicap, 6f
Hot and competitive race with a solid pace certain. You can make a case for many, though, off 81 Cuban Breeze appears tremendously well-handicapped, especially as she ran pretty well when last see at Windsor.
She made too much there from the front in deep conditions but confirmed some of the positive signs he showed in most of her more recent runs.
She drops down to class 4 and lost another 2lb, with that she 4lb lower than her last winning mark, albeit that came on turf. Cuban Breeze is as good on the All-Weather, though.
She enjoys this course and distance, although perhaps 6 furlongs is the absolute maximum of her stamina. That’s a worry in a fast race here.
On the other hand, I feel from her #3 draw, despite plenty of potential pace pressure, her early speed could see her establish a lead and she could go all the way then.
A disappointing Saturday. Gioia Cieca and Stay Smart finished 2nd, after they briefly appeared to go one better. Ultimately, both beaten fair and square.
Madame Fenella ran no race after missing the break and both Waipiro and Artistic Star had practically no chance from their position at the back of the field in the Derby.
3.05 Chantilly: Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club, 1m 2.5f
Of course I must back Continuous here. He’s one of my 3-year-olds to follow and certainly one of the more intriguing ones. And how could it be any different with his pedigree.
A son of Japanese sire Heart’s Cry – who was a winner of the Sheema Classic in 2006 – out of Fluff, which was down to pure chance because the mare was supposed to be covered by Deep Impact, who sadly passed away right before she arrived in Japan.
Continues is the only son of Heart’s Cry actively racing in the UK and Ireland (possibly Europe) right now. His sire is well known for stamina in Japan, having sired Japan Cup winners and other multiple international top-class horses over middle-distance.
He won well at the Curragh over 7 furlongs when he made all on his racecourse debut as he kicked on over 2 furlongs out to achieve an 80 speed rating as well, which confirmed he’s possibly a smart one.
Continuous went on to win a Group 3 at Saint-Cloud over a mile. A gutsy performance in a slowly run race that didn’t suit him. I loved the attitude he showed in those first two career runs.
He made his seasonal reappearance in a hot Dante Stakes at York where he ran a lovely race. There were some questions over his fitness: he was supposed to start much earlier, but Aiden O’Brien is on the record that he needed time.
The money came right before the off and he travelled strongly, made good progress in the home straight and finished a good 3rd. He ran to a 99 speed rating. Solid enough, and he’ll have a cracking chance to land a Group 1 if he can, as one would expect, can improve for the rn.
There’s clearly more to come, especially as he didn’t have an ideal first half of the year. It’s all the more impressive that he ran so well in the Dante.
He strikes me as a relentless galloper, who shouldn’t have too many issues at Chantilly, given his #1. If he can move forward to track the pace, he could be in an ideal position to strike. The trip isn’t a worry at all after he showed stamina at York.
10pts win – Continuous @ 4/1
3.15 Nottingham: Class 5 Handicap, 8.5f
Something was clearly amiss with Eponina the last time. She was well backed but beaten way too early to make sense, especially after she showed a different face at Beverley less than a fortnight earlier.
Perhaps that race came too soon in deep ground at Leicester. She had three weeks to recover and returns to Nottingham where she is a multiple CD winner, also has done it on fast ground, and she came agonisingly close to add a third CD success last June in a similar Fillies’ race, however off 6lb higher.
She’s down to 64 now. That’s still not a ton in hand judged on all her more recent efforts. But she ran to consistently solid speed ratings in two of her last three runs, to suggest she’s still close enough to last summers form.
There is little other pace to fear here, so she may be able to stride on. If allowed a soft lead she should have enough in hand to win.
10pts win – Eponina @ 11/2
3.45 Nottingham: Class 2 Handicap, 8.5f
Greatgadian dropped down an intriguing 96 mark on the back of a disappointing effort at Newmarket – on paper disappointing, at least.
I thought he ran a huge race against the pace and draw bias in that race, as nothing from the far side featured in the finish. He also was short of room over two furlongs out, after travelling strongly, ensuring he had zero chance.
He clearly confirmed the promise shown in the Lincoln, as well as over the winter on the All-Weather. Especially his Lincoln run was eyecatching as well, as he had to make a huge effort on the wide outside of the field.
The better going this time should suit, so does the 8.5f trip. Greatgadian’s sole turf victory came over this course and distance at Nottingham on fast ground back in summer 2021.
Even though his record reads better on the sand, his record on grass is good as well. He ran two excellent races in hot Handicap company at Ascot, including a 98 speed rating off a 101 mark in the Shergar Cup mile.
The wide draw is a small concern here. But ground, trip and track are perfect. This looks a winnable race off a 96 mark.
Good start to June: Flying Secret got there just in time as he caught he long-time leader.
It was a confident, patient ride by Charlie Bishop, who didn’t panic when the leader established a healthy advantage. The on-screen sectionals said it was a red hot pace, so the front-runner was always going to tire badly, eventually.
The 8/1 SP was no good to me, as always. I felt 11/2 was big value if he is allowed to run on merit, and so it proved to be. Happy enough.
It could have been a super day. Victors Dream was only beaten in a photo. He didn’t have any excuses, though, and every chance to win. It’s always unfortunate to lose in a photo, but these things tend to even itself out over time.
2.50 Carlisle: Class 6 Handicap, 6f
Two I like here: Stormy Pearl is sure to do better in this easier race on fast ground. So should Capofan, who is too well-handicapped to leave unbacked as he drops in trip.
Hence she’s the one I go for, as Stormy Pearl may have another day in her when she’s better to catch.
Capofan was a serious eyecatcher three weeks ago Musselburgh where she took quite a grip for the majority of the race. She clearly did way too much, especially around the home bend.
Nonetheless she made a huge move from 4f out to get to the leaders challenge them in the home straight, before she fell away in the closing stages.
She’s still a maiden and not one to trust too much, as she didn’t achieve a good speed rating yet. However, she seems to cry out for a drop in trip and decent ground should suit as well.
I feel she’s dangerous off a career-lowest mark an may found the ideal opportunity to get off the mark.
10pts win – Capofan @ 10/1
3.25 Carlisle: Class 6 Handicap, 6f
I backed Azaim the last time which was an incredibly disappointing run when he was beaten before the race got hot. I’m prepared to forgive the performance because Catterick is a specialist track and the application of the hood seemed to backfire as well.
He gets another chance over 6 furlongs, though, which I think is ideal, especially based on his eyecatching run at Musselburgh last month where heshowed plenty of speed in the middle of the race but fell away rapidly from over 2f out.
He can be sluggish at the start, which he was last time but also at Musselburgh. With the difference at Musselburgh he was able to overcome it and then set a red hot pace, before he tired badly. At Catterick he never stood a chance, in contrast.
Musselburgh was also a hot race with first and second probably quite well-handicapped. Hence the performance warranted an upgrade.
He doesn’t stay 7 furlongs, and neither did he have a chance to get home in the majority of his recent races. Still lightly enough raced, he’s an intriguing runner over 6f, though, especially with new headgear to provide a spark, potentially.
10pts win Azaim @ 11/1
3.35 Chepstow: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 4f
A poor contest and that’s the reason why Dundory appears to be the default favourite as the clear form horse. But all his best form comes with cut in the ground. Fast ground and Chepstow is different gravy.
The same could be argued for Age Of Sail, who ran well on the All-Weather when last seen and who has plenty of soft ground form in his pedigree.
However, at least we know for sure he does act on decent to fast ground as he was placed multiple times in these conditions last season, although never on quite as fast ground as expected here.
In any case, he’s one of my older Handicappers to follow this season and I waited patiently for his return to turf. I liked his two runs this year at Lingfield:
He was outpaced on his season reappearance in a sprint finish travelling off the pace, but he finished best in the final furlong, actually. Up to 1m 5f the next time with a visor applied, he tried to steel it from the front but tired badly in the closing stages for third place.
A slight drop back to 12 furlongs looks fine for this son of Frankel, although there is plenty of stamina present in his pedigree. The visor is retained and he may be able to dominate here once again. Off a 73 mark he looks potentially well-handicapped in this race back on turf. He caught the eye a few times last season already.
Imperial Khan won his race in fine style at Beverley on Wednesday. A no-nonsense ride by Laura Coughlin this time gave the gelding a very first career win.
Soul Seeker, in contrast, emptied quickly and was pretty disappointing, he was also a drifter in the betting beforehand. And yet, if you would have put a gun to my head, he’d have been my NAP today.
No complaints: it was a positive ending to May, no matter what.
170pts profit, 8 winners, 32% ROI.
Third green months in a row. After a shaky start to the 2023 the P/L sheet shows a healthy profit: 470pts.
I changed tack slightly in May: going more aggressively after selections, backing in the work done through the eyecatchers and showing a little less restraint in always waiting for the absolute perfect conditions for the horses I want to back.
53 selections later and a green months means that has worked. Only on the surface, though. Ultimately, I relied on a big price to come in to save the day… or the month, so to speak.
Finding the right balance will decide over success and failure for the rest of the year. I have to reign it in a little bit, without going back to that ultra-conservative approach of the past, which worked, but didn’t capitalise on all the effort that goes into the eyecatchers in first place.
As always it’s a constant process of optimisation. Shaping and re-shaping the process. Learning from the experience of others and being open to new ideas.
The details on all selections can be found as always in the Betting P&L.
3.12 Lingfield: Class 6 Handicap, 5f
Victors Dream was somewhat unfortunate a week ago at Wolverhampton and should be able to make amends off a similar mark here.
That day he had to overcome the widest draw and settled in rear, both a disadvantage in that race. He travelled strongly into the home straight, though had too much to do against front-running winner and also had give ground away all the time.
He finished much the best and achieved a strong 58 speed rating on what was his handicap debut. It was a significant improvement on everything he had done in three starts prior.
In any case, the gelding looks clearly ready to win off a 60 mark, especially with a low draw to attack the race from as he also drops into a slightly easier race.
10pts win – Victors Dream @ 3/1
5.00 Yarmouth: Class 5 Handicap, 7f
How often can a horse catch the eye before you have to conclude he’s just not a genuine type? Let’s find out because Flying Secret is one of those notorious horses that attracts the comment “Eyecatcher” frequently.
It’s fair to say it was another eye-catching run on his seasonal reappearance at Chelmsford last month. He clearly wasn’t there to win but showed plenty enough to suggest he’s in shape.
The only surprise was see him run over 7 furlongs there. It’s a trip I believe is going to prove his optimum when the handbrake is off. He tried a number of times over 6 furlongs last season, when he was sometimes caught out for speed, other times bumped into well-handicapped rivals.
Whether he’s here to try remains to be seen. The Yard has a poor spell and Charles Bishop even gets odds-on shots beaten at the moment.
But if he’s here to win then I think off 71 on fast ground in class 5 over 7f he’s at least a solid win ahead of the handicapper. This is easier than most races he ran so well in over the last twelve month also.
May seems to peter out in a disappointing way. Nogo’s Dream finished last. Lokada checked out pretty early too. Disappointing as surprising. Spartan Fighter a solid 2nd but ultimately not good enough either.
Four of last eight selections placed reads better than it is. No win, and most placed horses didn’t get too close. Given, I rated those chances highly and they were short enough prices I may have been slightly too aggressive and been not critically enough evaluating their chances.
One for the post-mortem to be done for this month, another time.
2.10 Beverley: Class 6 Handicap, 5f
Imperial Khan was arguably unlucky about a fortnight ago at Catterick. A first career win was right take for the taking.
He was in the right spot, tracked the pace throughout and looked like coming with a big challenge from 2f out. However, the jockey kept waiting and waiting to go for it, only riding hands and heels. Suddenly it was too late, things became too tight in the final furlong and the horse was squeezed out.
With a clear run he would have gone seriously close. Has been dropped 1lb in the meantime. Now down to a career-lowest mark he of obvious interest, even in this slightly tougher race – tougher on paper at least.
Obviously the gelding is still a maiden after 15 runs so once can’t make too many excuses. I’m prepared to give him this chance as the low draw should suit, a good pace to track will help to settle and the fast ground likely to suit as his career-best performance came last July on fast five at Hamilton.
10pts win – Imperial Khan @ 5/1
2.20 Hamilton: Class 5 Handicap, 5f
Soul Seeker looks supremely well-handicapped today as he returns to a course and distance he likes on his preferred fast ground.
His two comeback runs after a proper winter break were solid, even though he doesn’t seem to enjoy the sand at all; I was taken by his second run at Beverley last month, though, in conditions far from ideal for him.
He moved quickly forward and crossed over to the far rail, where he led the field, although pressured all the way. He battled solidly before fading badly in the final furlong.
That’s strong form in general, and the run can be upgraded given it came on Softish ground. No doubt, he’s a different horse on better ground.
The last time he enjoyed a fast 5f furlongs was last August when he finished a strong runner-up at Haydock off 77, ran to a 78 speed rating, which was a 78 back-to-back SR performance, preceding a 77. He’s clearly a different animal on decent ground.
He didn’t get going on the All-Weather subsequently, toward the end of last year – those poor showings, coupled with the recent return on turf which the handicapper didn’t rate, he’s now down to a superb mark, 1lb lower than his most recent W.
Spartan Fighter returns to turf off a 10lb lower mark than his current All-Weather rating. He ran with plenty of credit on the sand in recent weeks and is potent on turf as well, so he could be quite well-handicapped today.
He drops to 6 furlongs as well, which is more his trip than when last seen over 7f at Wolverhampton. There he also had to overcome the widest draw and did a lot to get to the front. It was no surprise to see him fading from 2f out.
There’s no doubt he outran his odds more often than not in his last handful or so runs. He caught the eye in no uncertain terms at Newcastle in March when 4th in a hot race. He travelled pretty well, made good progress on the outside and only dropped away late in the day.
He wasn’t as good next time, but it was a strange run, and looked back to decent form in the aforementioned Wolverhampton race.
He also drops in class today and looks seriously dangerous on ground and trip to suit. The 5lb claim of his rider should be useful as well. Obviously he didn’t have many opportunities on grass in the last twelve month, and there is a question as to why that’s the case.
Though, past turf speed ratings give him a huge chance here off his 56 rating in this contest.
10pts win – Spartan Fighter @ 6/1
6.45 Tipperary: Handicap, 5f
Lokada was a strong runner-up at Naas behind Harry’s Hill three weeks ago. She meets this rival, who was seriously well-handicapped then, on better terms today and also may not have to fight the draw bias as was the case at Naas.
That day she was prominent on the far side, while Harry’s Hill enjoyed the advantage of racing against the stands’ side. She travelled strongly, possibly going best and ran on strongly up the hill to get up late for 2nd place to win his group.
He’s 2lb higher today, which is a fair hike by Irish standards. She also ran to 70 speed rating at Naas and an impressive 81 on the AW last year.
The Naas form should be strong and there’s every chance the relatively lightly filly can continue to progress, as her last two runs can be upgraded – Naas, as mentioned, but also her run prior at Dundalk warranted an upgrade.
10pts win – Lokada @ 7/2
8.10 Lingfield: Class 5 Handicap, 6f
Nogo’s Dream drops in class and should find this much easier than the last two times at Newmarket and Ascot. The fast ground is a slight question mark, but you would hope he acts on it.
In any case he looks a progressive sort. He won a maiden over the minimum trip at Wolverhampton in March and caught the eye the next time at Newmarket.
He travelled strongly, made smooth progress from 3f out, on the bridle, went on to press the lead approaching the final furlong but got badly tired eventually.
Perhaps didn’t get home over the stiff 7f. And the same could be possibly said the last time at Ascot. In deep ground 6f maybe stretched him a little it too much.
This race is easier. 6f on decent ground should help. He looks underestimated off his 77 handicap mark as the handicapper raised him only by a single pound for those last two strong efforts.