Tag Archives: eyecatcher

Thursday Selections: 2nd February 2023

January ended somewhat in a disaster. Some was down to luck, some was down to poor decision making. I backed poor value and missed out on some huge opportunities at the other end of the spectrum. Minus 35pts to start the year…..

The second half of January was costly. I made nine selections, four were placed (and beaten in somewhat “unlucky circumstances” in some of those) with one winner. If the photo goes Kommetdieding’s way in the Met it’s a handy profit… tight margins.

Due to some small health issues I didn’t have much time to watch a lot of racing lately. Therefore there won’t be a new eyecatchers list at the end of this week (I try to maintain a bi-weekly rhythm if possible).

……………

1.20 Southwell: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

The draw may not look ideal on paper, but I back With Respect to overcome it in this field where not many want to move forward. Also these low to higher draws in 12-runners Handicaps over this CD haven’t been such a dramatic disadvantage as one would normally think they are.

With Respect comes here after two eye-catching runs at Lingfield. started awkwardly on both occasions, which is the key concern today, especially with the #9 draw.

He travelled really well for a long time on both occasions, but fell away in the closing stages. It’s fair to assume he was found out for class and speed in a hot contest the last time. His previous run can be upgraded when he did a lot to get to the front and that piece of form has worked out really well.

He drops down in class. This should be a lot easier. He was smart as a juvenile on his debut running to a 90 speed rating. There must have been issues subsequently, he never reached the same heights subsequently, was gelded and off the track for two years.

It’s fair to hope he’s much fitter now with three solid runs under his belt. Down to a mark of 64 he could be quite well handicapped, as long as he gets it right at the start.

10pts win – With Respect @ 6/1

Friday Selections: 27th January 2023

12.45 Lingfield: Class 6 Apprentice Handicap, 7f

I was seriously keen on Healing Power the last time at Wolverhampton. Albeit, that day he finished a disappointing 7th, there is a fair excuse for the below-par run.

Last time, from the #7 draw, the gelding was awkward away hence a step slow, was caught wide early as he moved forward to grab the lead eventually. The race was over there and then for him, as he faded badly in the closing stages.

It was also a strong contest, the winner clearly well handicapped and others have followed up with their own good runs subsequently.

Nonetheless, what made Healing Power a good bet that day remains largely the case why I am prepared to give him another chance here.

He can jump from the #1 gate, is back at his preferred Lingfield where he has a 7-2-3 record and there isn’t too much competition for the lead expected.

The Lingfield run in December remains a strong piece of form, suggesting the 7-year-old is in pretty good form. He is 3lb lower today, down to a mark of 61, which makes him well handicapped, if he can run to the same level of form again, that I believe is not far off his strong summer AW form when he ran twice to strong speed ratings, and won off 60.

10pts win – Healing Power @ 6/1

……….

3.55 Lingfield: Class 5 Handicap, 5f

This looks really competitive with a hot pace but I must give Ooh Is It a chance at the given prices, as he is clearly overpriced, if all is well.

There is a bit money coming, he was available at 16s this morning, but is nibbled at, that gives me a bit more confidence and hope. He missed some recent engagements, so wellbeing is taken at face value.

However, he ran extremely well at the end of last year, seriously caught the eye at Wolverhampton, and wasn’t disgraced when 3rd at Southwell subsequently behind two well handicapped individuals, while it was report that the “gelding had struck into himself on his left fore” during the race.

He missed the break the next time at Wolverhampton, which is unusual. He lost the race there and then.

From a perfect #2 draw today here’s hoping for a good start. A low draw for a prominent/front-running horse is a major advantage over this CD.

Ooh Is It ran to a speed rating of 71 back in November; he’s now down a mark of 66. if he’s healthy and well, he’s certainly quite well handicapped now.

10pts win – Ooh Is It @ 10/1

Thursday Selections: 26th January 2023

7.00 Newcastle: Class 6 Handicap, 5f

Intriguing contest; I feel Spanish Angel with the apprentice of the moment on board has a strong chance, but veteran Another Angel caught the eye a number of times lately, having run much better than the bare form and has been given a real opportunity by the handicapper.

He hasn’t won in ages, literally. But he also is down to a career lowest mark, over his preferred course an distance where he has a near 50% place record and landed all of his seven career victories.

I quite liked his last three runs, despite having been beaten comprehensively most of the time, though the last time in 0-70 class he was far from disgraced when less than three lengths beaten in field full of in-form rivals.

He drops down to 0-55 and has been dropped 3lb in his handicap mark. That looks quite favourable, given these latest runs, where he showed good early speed, don’t look all that far of his excellent September run, when third over this CD off 61 and running to a 58 speed rating.

No other horse in this race can match a similar speed rating over the last while, and I believe Another Angel isn’t too far of this form, actually. Off this really low 49 rating now, he’s clearly very well handicapped if still in form.

There is some other pace in the race, but AA should have the stands’ side to himself, potentially and won’t need to worry what the lower drawn numbers do.

I have reservations about the jockey: Cam Hardie has a less than 2% strike rate at Newcastle over the last two seasons, although often sits on big prices, but even on fancied runners improve to only about 3%. However, he has been riding this horse the majority of times over the years with a good record.

10pts win – Another Angel @ 11/1

Monday Selections: 23rd January 2023

Two lovely winners this week, yet it was a week filled with frustration, nonetheless. Put simply: all too often I was “riding” the wrong horse, or conversely: not riding the right horse.

Saturday epitomised this fact in no uncertain ways: Paddy K – well backed from 7/1 to 9/4 – finished a good runner-up… behind Ustath. Of course. It couldn’t have been any different. The same Ustath I backed 24h earlier, when he finished 2nd.

My mood wasn’t lifted when I saw that Eye Of The Water – another eyecatcher I have been monitoring for the right day for quite some time – won the Wolverhampton opener. Unbacked. Of course.

It’s always good to see work validated, the eyecatchers have been running sensationally well this winter so far. But their victories found their way into my P & L sheet not nearly as often. Decisions, decisions…

Anyway, the latest edition – with 16 largely new entries to the list – can be found here: All-Weather Eyecatchers.

On a different topic: we’re less than a week away from the Cape Met. South Africa’s most important Group 1 race over 10 furlongs. I am fairly sweet on recent G1 Paddock Stakes winner Make It Snappy.

Top-class fillies have a strong record in the race. Make It Snappy’s brave style of racing reminds me of one of my all-time favourite fillies: Igugu! She won the Met 11 years ago, against a backdrop of pre-race worries and during the race when she looked beaten only to come back for more.

Class, guts, all heart: Igugu.

…..

1.50 Kempton: Class 6 Handicap, 1m

Favourite Lordsbridge Girl hasn’t really impressed on speed ratings yet, hence I’m more than happy to take the filly on with a recent eyecatcher, that is 5-year-old gelding Wake Up Harry.

He should have a massive chance up in trip and significantly down in class (he drops from 0-75 into 0-65) after an excellent run over shorter 7 furlongs at Lingfield earlier this month.

That day he was restrained after a path forward was blocked early on, then travelling smoothly off the pace. He was still going well when turning for home, although perhaps turning wider than ideal, before unleashing a solid challenge in the home straight from to furlongs to the final furlong marker. He didn’t quite have the speed to get to leaders and came from too far back, and wasn’t able to sustain his effort in the closing stages.

Nonetheless, he appears to be hitting peak form. He didn’t race over the right trip the last two runs and one can forgive the comeback run after a long break.

He looks all set for being unleashed here tomorrow, though. A mile suits him really well, he’s got a 4-1-2 record but hasn’t ran over it since his final run before a gelding operation back in May 2021.

It’s clear that he was well too highly rated after a promising in maiden and novice races, but is down to a more than fair 65 handicap mark. John Egan comes here for this one ride only, which could be significant, too.

I usually don’t get involved in such a short price, but this gelding should be still quite a bit shorter, in my book.

10pts win – Wake Up Harry @ 11/4

Wednesday Selections: 18th January 2023

3.10 Dundalk: 4yo+ Handicap, 1m

An unusual one for me: I rarely bet Irish races, certainly not Dundalk. I struggle to trust the form, the races can be chaotic and these usually full fields throw up odd results.

But Iva Feeling has everything going for herself, stepping up to a mile as I hoped she would eventually, and is still a huge price on the exchanges (smarkets especially) – this looks such a superb opportunity tomorrow, everything speaks in her favour, nothing against backing a mare at Dundalk, other than backing a mare at Dundalk…

Anyway, the mare was a huge eyecatcher in early October over 7 furlongs at Dundalk:

That day she missed the break from the widest draw, was right away at massive disadvantage and travelled in rear, also quite wide. She but made excellent progress gradually entering the home straight to finish best from those off the pace.

She is still a quite lightly raced mare for her age with some scope on the sand, especially back over a mile. She is also on a pretty good handicap mark now as her last three runs are prove. She ran better than the bare form at Curragh in her final turf start; she caught the eye at Dundalk and Leopardstown in spring. Her most recent effort over 7 furlongs again was also quite strong.

She started much better, but kept fighting hard to keep up with the pace and not losing position. She ran strongly to the line, achieved a good speed rating and once again looked like she could appreciate a return to a mile.

She never had the chance to tackle a mile off such a low mark. She is drawn in #4, and has the assistance of a good 5lb claimer in the saddle. As much as these races can feel like a lottery sometimes, she looks ready to rock.

10pts win – Iva Feeling @ 6/1

…….

4.25 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

May Remain finally drops to 6 furlongs again. It was about time. The last number of runs over 7 furlongs he ran his heart out and performed with plenty of credit in the circumstances, but the trip was literally a furlong too far, as evidence when last seen once again last time out.

Hasn’t looked a winner waiting to happen since joining Ivan Furtado

Racingpost Spotlight

Obviously the RP analyst and myself have seen different races because for the last four or five runs I thought May Remain looks definitely a winner waiting to happen with the right trip.

He has fallen to a career lowest mark as a consequence. Off 54, over a more adequate trip – all of May Remain’s 6 career wins came over the minimum trip or 6 furlongs – he must be a huge runner in this field.

The one concern is the pace scenario. There could ne too much competition for early speed. His #6 draw isn’t ideal either. But not many appear well handicapped at all, and some may resist the urge to move forward this time.

It’s a gamble, to some extend hope, that he can find quickly a good spot tracking the likely leader in Jupiter Express. he may be caught wide, too, if things go badly.

But I am prepared to go risk, feel he is so well handicapped over this trip.

10pts win – May Remain @ 11/1

…….

7.15 Southwell: Classified Stakes, 6f

Shocking race. But longshot Northern Chancer caught the eye on his handicap debut and is stepping up to 6 furlongs, which should suit, being completely unexposed.

Last time at Newcastle over the minimum trip, he was a tiny step slow off the gate, before quickly moving forward against the stands’ side to lead. He was fastest over first half of the race, setting quite a strong gallop that compared well to other sprint races on the card, contested by older horses.

He appeared to be hanging throughout, though, which is a concern, and faded badly in the last two furlongs. perhaps he was just green and raw, and have learned from this run.

It was his comeback run since August and Handicap debut. He was gelded in the meantime. That may help, so will the step up in trip. I think he showed enough to suggest he can win a poor race. Also: his family tends to do well on All-Weather.

10pts win – Northern Chancer @ 11.5/1

Tuesday Selections: 17th January 2023

8.00 Southwell: Class 6 Handicap, 7f

Surprise Picture should have a cracking chance in this field from the #1 draw back over 7 furlongs. He dropped 6lb since his eye catching run over this trip at Wolverhampton in a hot class 4 contest in November.

That day he was hurried up to move forward from the start, even though heh looked a bit awkward. He tracked the pace, but didn’t received an economical run before finding himself short of room 1f from home when coming with a challenge.

He caught the eye earlier in November, too, when caught wide, and again received a seriously uneconomical ride, and he followed up with another strong run over this CD mid-December. I can forgive the last 6f effort from a wide draw.

He ran multiple times ran to speed ratings of 68+ last year; so down to am mark of 64, having shown good form lately, gives him a superb chance as he drops in grade as well.

10pts win – Surprise Picture @ 10/1

………

8.30 Southwell: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

I am delighted to see Paddy K dropping in trip. It was obvious the last number of times that he just finds a way to get beat if he races beyond this distance. He’s certainly a tricky character, and his winless record tells the tale.

But down in trip, in a race that should suit from a pace scenario, with a good draw, off a career lowest mark, he looks seriously overpriced.

He caught the eye a few times – when seen the last time and only time on the All-Weather over 6 furlongs at Newcastle in October when he fought gamely despite having a far from ideal race.

He ran really well prior to this on his final turf start of the 2022 campaign as well, and followed up with a number of solid runs on the sand over 7 furlongs, before running his possibly strongest race at the end of November at Kempton.

His form has tailed off subsequently, and that’s a concern. But he doesn’t stay a mile and 7 furlongs is a stretch too; especially when he pulls hard and goes hard from the front, as he did the last time. I think, with that in mind, those last two runs can be forgiven.

Now, you don’t want to make constantly excuses for a horse still without a career win after 16 starts. He is a seriously tricky horse. Can pull, can hang, can mess up at the gate, but clearly he also on a good mark, if he can run to anywhere near the level of form he showed toward the end of last year, now down in trip.

I won’t give him any more chances beyond this. 6 furlongs from a good aw with what could be an ideal scenario with Dapper Man possibly giving him a lead; he’ll never find a better chance to get his head in front, ever.

10pts win – Paddy K @ 15.5/1

Monday Selections: 9th January 2023

5.30 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Apprentice Handicap, 7f

I’ve got three running from the latest Eyecatcher list. Not ideal. Thankfully I’ve got clear conditions set out for Jupiter Express and Desert Dream, and they aren’t met here.

They should still be fancied runners. In contrast, few in this field I regard as serious contenders. But knowing this race isn’t ideal for either Jupiter Express nor Desert Dream means they aren’t value for the win, in my view.

That leaves Healing Power. This looks a perfect opportunity for the 7-year-old gelding, in comparison. Let’s first review his most recent effort, that got him an entry on the eyecatchers:

Three weeks ago at Lingfield, he lead from the front, albeit pestered by a rival throughout. He set a good, even pace throughout. He was still leading at the final furlong marker, before headed over half a furlong from home by the eventual winner and runner-up, who came from off the pace. He managed to hold on for third eventually.

I believe this is strong form – on an individual level, because speed ratings confirmed an excellent figure of 59; form wise – because winner and second ran to higher than- or equal speed figures to their handicap mark. The winner went back-to-back and followed up with another strong 2nd place afterwards again.

The handicapper has been surprisingly friendly, having dropped Healing Power by 2lb for this strong performance, that at very least was very much in line with his then current rating, actually.

Off 62, in the right race, Healing Power will be handicapped to win in my view. He ran to 64 and 65 speed ratings within the last half year over 7 furlongs on the All-Weather, and this lto effort confirms his excellent current form.

Is this the right race? Yes and no. It’s not because this is Wolverhampton, Tapeta. His best sand performances all came at either Lingfield or Chelmsford on the polytrack. He also has to overcome a wider than ideal draw in #7. The Furtado yard has a poor spell right now, is 0/16 in the last fortnight.

But the positives outweigh all the negatives. He only raced three times on the Tapeta, was placed once in a hot class 5 contest, with the other two runs came over 6 furlongs and a mile, neither an ideal trip, off higher marks as well.

In class 6 over 7 furlongs he’s 1/5 and placed in 3 more, all those runs with Elle-May Croot in the saddle, who is on board here once again, and who maintains her 7lb claim even in this Apprentice race – with that she has a positive weight advantage to some other apprentices in this field, if they would meet in an ordinary Handicap, in fact.

The draw isn’t ideal, yes; thankfully Healing Power is a quick starter and there isn’t too many horses who are likely to charge forward in this field. The only one is Jupiter Express, who is likely to pull for his head over this trip, but at the same time will give Healing Express a nice focus point, something like a lead horse, who will be setting a fast pace that will suit him help to settle, as otherwise he’s known to pull early, as well.

The yard ran a bit better than the bare form suggest. In the last week 3/6 were placed, while the average SP was in the range of 23/1 for all runners in the last 14 days. Context is key, hence, if talking about the form of a yard.

In summary, Healing Power should have a cracking chance and perhaps should be considered the favourite to win the race, in my view.

The prices on the exchanges are total bonkers for the moment (and you can get on a proper stake; there is even bigger available, but I got the price I got). Of course, you never know in these races. There might be a reason for that. But the price doesn’t put me off at all; I doubt at this stage anybody knows who’s going to be on a going day here.

10pts win – Healing Power @ 10/1

All-Weather Eyecatchers #5

A list of horses that caught my eye during the recent weeks of racing on the All-Weather.

Lord Paramount
20/12/22 – 3.55 Southwell:

Moved across from wide draw enthusiastically, probably wasted too much energy fighting for his head early on. Tracked pace four lengths off, going well entering home straight. Looked awkward, then hanging badly from 2 furlongs out. Empty in closing stages.

Won well lto over 7f in Novice company. Would be interesting down in trip, too. Dam did her best over minimum trip. He ran to a 74 speed rating in second career start. Hence opening mark could underestimate him.

Tricky sort. Shown tendency to hang. Still lightly raced and well backed on every occasion. Could be a good deal better than OR 70 if he can get his act together.

Race Replay

The Cola Kid
20/12/22 – 4.30 Southwell:

Moved forward to grab the lead, did a lot in the first three furlongs. Unable to quicken in the home straight, still a solid run, in line with last two performances.

Clearly best over 6 furlongs. Was not expected the last number of times. Comes down to excellent mark. Ran to higher speed ratings last year, and looks capable if on a going day, ideally 6f with a good draw.

Race Replay

Ustath
20/12/22 – 5.00 Southwell:

Off to a quick start, led early on, then as part of duo many lengths ahead of field before fading very badly.

Some return to form, as the enthusiasm for racing is still there. One that’s hard to catch. Comes down to solid mark again. Ran 3x times to speed ratings 54+ last year.

Ran okay nto, but did too much too soon after not starting the sharpest. Ideally would like to see a couple pounds lower in the mark (<62) before getting involved over 6f .

Race Replay

Desert Dream
21/12/22 – 6.30 Wolverhampton:

Was going well for the entire race toward the inside rail, possibly coming with a winning move before badly short of room over 1f out. Got going again. Excellent run.

Consistent 9yo, in the grip of the handicapper right now; still can win, but best speed rating in last half year was only 50. Want to see him down to this handicap mark, too, before getting involved, then over 7 furlongs.

Race Replay

Healing Power
22/12/22 – 11.50 Lingfield:

Lead from the front, albeit pestered by rival throughout. Set good, strong pace early on. Still leading at final furlong, before headed over half a furlong from home. Still managed to hold on for third. Should be strong form, ran to 59 speed rating.

Lenient handicapper dropped him another 2lb. Will be really competitive in similar race over 7f off. Ran tp 64 and 65 speed rating within last half year over this C&D.

Race Replay

O Twenty Boy
22/12/22 – 5.00 Southwell:

Bit outpaced at back of the field on stands’ side from over 2f out. Made nice progress in the final furlong under easy hands and heels, though.

Probably better over 6f, especially now as an 8yo. Ran well a number of times this year, including 4 performances achieving speed ratings of 60+.

Already down to a mark of 60. any further reduction will be interesting, in particular once he goes up in trip again.

Race Replay

Eagle Eyed Freddie
22/12/22 – 6.30 Southwell:

Uncontested lead by a couple of lengths. Set blistering pace, especially in the middle part. Still a few lengths ahead over 1 furlong out but tired rapidly. Huge run, speed rating 58.

Consistent front-runner. NTO performance not so good, should help to get some respite from the handicapper. Anything below OR 55 will be intriguing over a mile with a good draw and not much competition for the lead. A drop to 7f would be incredibly intriguing, too.

Race Replay

Shabs
22/12/22 – 7.00 Southwell:

Tracked pace, travelled much the strongest over 2 furlongs out but found little once again. Same story as lto when he travelled like a winner just to fade badly.

Knocked on the door multiple times but it’s obvious he doesn’t truly stays a mile. Pedigree points toward 6 furlongs, in fact. Will only back him if he drops to 7 furlongs. Then should be a cracking chance, ideally with a good draw. He’s not the sharpest starter.

Ran four times to 50+ speed ratings in the last twelve months, to 51 lto; on a mark of 51 right now, huge chance in the right race.

Race Replay

Proclivity
27/12/22 – 4.30 Wolverhampton:

Restrained at the back of the field travelling seriously well. Stuck in traffic and no chance until late when finishing third under hands and heels.

NTO run over 6f can be ignored as well. Wide draw, travelling on the outside keenly and big drifter on the day. Clearly better than this, and more likely in good nick as well as on a good mark. ideally drops down to 5f as best performances came over minimum trip.

Ran three times to speed ratings 60+ on turf; yet to replicate on the All-Weather. But this performance suggests he’s able to win if the handbrake is off. Has shown ability to move forward in the past as well.

Race Replay

Shark Two One
28/12/22 – 6.25 Newcastle:

Pushing pace on far side, they went a serious pace. Was still right there at the final furlong marker before getting desperately tired. Managed to hold on for 4th place.

Was capable to finish fine runner-up off 80 and running to a 73 speed rating last April. Never been in the same form again, but this was a return to some form, racing off a career lowest mark. Deserves another chance over 6f to see whether he can follow-up.

Race Replay

Billy Dylan
30/12/22 – 5.00 Wolverhampton:

Moved quickly forward and led as part of duo setting good pace. Still ahead as they turned for home before tiring quite badly. Strong race with winner went back-to-back and runner-up in form.

Off small break. Could be bang on next time out, possibly another reduction in his mark. Ideally drops down into 0-50; ran largely in better races this year.

Consistent front-runner over this course and distance. With lower mark and possibly easier race should have every opportunity to go close soon.

Race Replay

Big Bard
31/12/22 – 3.15 Lingfield:

Make good use of #1 gate and moved forward, led the field going solid clip, seemingly really enjoying himself for majority of the race. Tired from 1.5f out, though.

Ran to speed ratings 59 and 60 since September, although on turf, but career best AW SR is 59. Will be on a pretty fair mark soon. Ideally want to see him drop below 60 to become really interested.

He was beaten only by a neck off 60 running to 60 speed rating at Windsor in October with first time headgear (CP); I believe he’s as good on the All-Weather; watch out for application of blinkers potentially and/or drop into 0-60.

Race Replay

Fine Wine
01/01/2023 – 4.56 Southwell:

Quickly out of the gates and led as part of trio by a number of lengths, going a seriously hard pace. Tired badly from over a furlong out and hung to his left, but did best of front-runners holding on for 2nd.

Huge run. Went back to back prior. High mark now, may find it tough in Handicaps. More interesting on Stakes races over minimum trip. kept improving with age and this run confirms he’s as good as his current rating.

Race Replay

Modular Magic
01/01/2023 – 5.26 Southwell:

Led the field, although closely followed. Challenged from two furlongs out, eventually got behind, but stuck to it impressively in the closing stages.

Off a small break, had to carry big weight down in class. Hot race for class 5, though. Should find easier opportunities. On a good mark judged on turf performances in 2022.

Race Replay

Hit Mac
02/01/2023 – 1.53 Lingfield:

Travelled in rear on the outside off the rail, possibly wider than ideal. Moved toward the inside over 2 furlongs out, short of room and momentum stopped around the home bend. Possibly cost him the race.

Unlucky sort. Ran really well but found trouble multiple times over the last weeks. Ran consistently strong speed ratings in line with his mark of 55, 58 and 59.

Put up 2lb in the meantime. Can race more forward than here. Think he is still a win ahead with a clear run, ideally over 6 furlongs.

Race Replay

Smooth Red
02/01/2023 – 5.40 Newcastle:

Got significantly outpaced from halfway on, lost ground, before running on rather well in the final furlong.

Handicap debut off a break and freshly gelded, showed nothing in three starts prior. Should improve, especially up in trip. Looks to be crying out for a return to 6 furlongs. Could be interesting then.

Race Replay

Northern Chancer
02/01/2023 – 5.40 Newcastle:

A tiny step slow off the gate, before quickly moving forward against stands’ side. Led and was fastest over first half of the race but appeared to be hanging throughout. Faded badly in the last two furlongs.

Comeback run and Handicap debut. On a basement mark. Showed enough to suggest he can win a poor race. Family tends to do well on All-Weather. Sire has tremendous record over 5f at Newcastle in Handicaps.

May need to step up tp 6f to be seen to best effect. Headgear possibly needed. Wouldn’t rule out minimum trip with HG applied.

Race Replay

Thomas Equinas
03/01/23 – 2.00 Chelmsford:

Slowly away, quickly pushed forward to bulldoze his way to the front after one furlong. Set what looked a hot pace, and resemble more like an extended 5 furlong sprint, as nobody wanted to really go ahead until he grabbed the lead.

Emptied quickly entering the home straight when put under pressure by dedicated 5f sprinter from 3 furlongs out. Winner eventually came from well off the pace.

Still a maiden after 9 runs, but showed plenty of promise, especially two runs back over this CD when he ran off 57 to speed rating 54. Should get bit more help from handicapper now. Usually moves forward.

Race Replay

Jupiter Express
03/01/23 – 2.00 Chelmsford:

Was quickly out of the gate and briefly led, before rivals took over. Keen in the first half of the race. Didn’t have the pace to match winner and third but ran on well for a 59 speed rating n only his second start on the sand.

Ran an interesting race lto over 5f on debut for the new yard also, then at Wolverhampton after a break. Is still a maiden but knocked on the door a few times and achieved some solid speed ratings.

Want to see him drop below a mark of 60 and race over 6f. Not interested in next weeks 7f entry. Will likely pull too hard.

Race Replay

Another Angel
04/01/23 – 2.50 Newcastle:

Good, quick start, led the field by a couple of lengths setting a seemingly hot pace. Travelled well but eventually caught, headed and quickly beaten over one furlong out.

Doesn’t truly stay beyond the minimum trip (0/13 over 6f). Can be upgraded here and ran better than bare form lto as well. Not getting younger but still capable of running well. Especially interesting down to 5f with any additional help from the handicapper.

Race Replay

Kraken Power
04/01/23 – 3.20 Newcastle:

Travelled smoothly tracking the pace. In a good position over 2 furlongs out, but also in a pocket with no way to really get out. Jockey kept the gelding restraint, pulling back to the rear of the field approaching the final furlong in order to find space. Finished strongly, under hands and heels.

Familiar story. Mostly a similar story to a myriad of previous runs. Obviously ready to win, but needs to have absolutely everything to go right.

Won’t back him on the All-Weather unless he finds a way to drop below a mark of 50. He should be too well handicapped to lose, unless he run backwards. Otherwise wait until turf season, with better opportunities more suitable to his style.

Race Replay

Mogok Valley
04/01/23 – 7.00 Kempton:

Good start, travelled nicely amongst group of horses up with the pace. had to switch 2f out, and again over 1f out in order for clear run, looked bit disorganised, too, lost momentum. Ran on really well.

Handicap debut. Strong follow-up performance from recent comeback over 5f last month. Looks on fair mark but can improve for step up to 7f. Sire stamina index of 9.4, dam, although a sprinter during her racing career, produced 1m 5f winner already.

The Nail Gunner
05/01/23 – 2.15 Wolverhampton:

Grabbed the lead, set solid pace. Was up there for a long time and still fought gamely even after headed in the final furlong. This is strong form, winner and 3rd came from off the pace, and were on going days.

7f is too far, especially off current mark. Is rated right to his best. Ran 64 speed rating over 6f in July. Will be competitive, nonetheless, particularly with a good draw and if not much pace to compete against.

I want him down to 6f again and dropping by a couple of pounds. May need a few runs to get there.

Race Replay

Friends Together
06/01/23 – 6.15 Southwell:

Brilliant start, super quick out of the gates and showed solid early speed, settled well tracking the pace and kicked nicely in the home straight. Tired late.

Was most likely not run on merit in all starts prior. Clearly capable off current mark. April foal with a bit of scope, especially going up to a mile interesting.

Race Replay

Praise Of Shadow
06/01/23 – 8.15 Southwell:

Caught three deep on the outside, close up with the pace from his wide draw. Travelled well into home straight, kept fighting, but slightly hampered in tight race for gaps, before eased; ran home easily.

Put up strong speed rating when winning over CD lto. In line with similar speed ratings in when running really well in defeat. Clearly in superb form.

Possibly a bit too high in the ratings to consider really well handicapped. Drop a couple of pounds and 6f with race to dominate will see him have a big chance once again, though.

Race Replay

Cherryhawk
07/01/23 – 12.35 Lingfield:

Settled in rear, always travelling wide. Switched inside for challenge in the home straight. Ran on nicely, slightly short of room 1f out before going again.

Wasn’t expected in three runs. Should get a low opening mark. Looks one I am only interested if stepping up to 10f. On pedigree a fair possibly, and could unlock improvement. I liked the way she finished and responded late to the jockeys urgings.

Race Replay

Wake Up Harry
07/01/23 – 1.10 Lingfield:

Restrained, travelling smoothly well off the pace. Still going well when turning for home wider than ideal, before unleashing a fine challenge in the home straight. Not quite the speed to get to leaders and came from too far back.

Hasn’t been racing over the right trip the last two runs. Can forgive comeback run after long break too. Clear sign of hitting some form again here, will be interesting if up to a mile.

I’d also be seriously keen to see him up to 10 furlongs again. The two previous tries can be forgiven for various reasons. If he’s turned out in the not too distinct future over 1m-10f he should be a huge runner.

Race Replay

Sun King
07/01/23 – 8.00 Kempton:

Pushed after the start to get into position, travelled a few lengths off pace tracking it throughout, still going okay turning for home, bit flat footed as pace suddenly increased over 2f out; switched inside and ran on well, not knocked about.

Comeback run since Royal Ascot in June, in the meantime gelded and sold out of AOB for GBP120k and now trained in the UK.

Still open to improvement. Well bred and full-brother to some smart mares. Took him a few start to get off the mark. But some strong performances in defeat.

Second in a maiden behind subsequent Futurity runner-up Sissoko. Caught eye at Royal Ascot in hot Golden Gates Stakes when finishing well from the rear of the field over 10 furlongs. Races off the same mark currently. Will improve for the run. A strongly run mile needed, or else a step up to 10 furlongs.

Race Replay

Saturday Selections: 7th January 2023

Sense Of Security ran a lovely race to finish 3rd, about a lengths beaten; ultimately she was way too keen in the early stages. That cost her when it mattered most.

I will leave her alone now, as I believe she will struggle over 6 furlongs to win, and if she doesn’t settle better, will not be much better handicapped than her current mark over 7 furlongs either.

Ustath didn’t have the sharpest of starts, then moved quickly forward and set a pretty fast pace. He was cocked 2 furlongs from home.

I probably would have done better to wait for him to drop a couple of pounds more. In hindsight it’s fair to assume he wasn’t desperately well handicapped off 63 in this race today. The only thing I got right (but can’t buy any bred for) is that the two hot market principles got beaten, as suggested in the preview that they are worth taking on.

Onwards and upwards… we move on to Saturday. And I’m seriously excited. An outstanding day of top-class action awaits at Kenilworth in South Africa: two seriously competitive Grade 2’s and two Grade 1 races, including the mouthwatering King’s Plate, and a certain Christophe Soumillon is also going to be around.

The crème de la crème of South Africa’s older horses is present, as undefeated 3-year-old colt Charles Dickens tries to enhance his status as one, if not the very best colt in a very long time – perhaps, ever? More on that in a seperate post, later.

For now, I’ll focus on the bread and butter on the All-Weather. Not high hopes or expectations, being honest. However, both horses are well capable of outrunning their price tag, if on a going day.

……..

3.30 Lingfield: Class 6 Handicap, 10f

It looks like there could be quite a bit of pace here. In a race where not all of those up there are certain to stay the trip, and very few appear anywhere near well handicapped, it’s set it up for a closer, potentially.

I hope this could be Dashing To You. The gelding seriously caught the eye the last two times, in nearly the same fashion. That’s not entirely positive, because on both occasions he was he slowly away, travelled in rear and had to make up a lot of ground. Which he did in no uncertain terms, meaning he finished best and second best over the last three furlongs in those races.

The step up to 10 furlongs here looks a positive, in my mind. The jury is out whether he truly gets the trip – he is yet to win over this distance. But the pedigree gives hope, and the way he sees out his races, too.

Even though the pace might be hot – for a 10 furlong race – it may still be a bit more comfortable than in the recent races over a mile. He also was much more prominently positioned when racing over 10 furlongs in the past. That’s unlikely to happen here from the #12 gate. He will be ridden for luck, I assume.

In any case, Dashing To You to is clearly well handicapped. This most recent Lingfield effort saw him run to a 56 speed rating. Kindly enough the handicapper dropped him another pound, though. He already has ran 3 times to speed ratings higher than his current mark now.

There are clear question marks and concerns, namely draw, pace and stamina. But there are clear positives too, namely handicap mark, potential improvement for the trip and a slightly slower race as well as lesser opposition she has to face. Worth the risk.

10pts win – Dashing To You @ 15/1

…….

8.30 Kempton: Class 6 Handicap, 1m3f

I am tracking bottom weight Special Times since her eyecatching effort at Leicester in June last year and hope to catch her on the right day for a big effort.

Back in the summer she impressed with a solid speed rating over a trip most likely too sharp. There were additional circumstances that made this run worthy of an upgrade.

The pace was on and she was tracking it closely for most of the race. It became all a bit too hot from three furlongs out but she stuck to the task. She was quite one paced in the closing stages, clearly tired too, when it got tight inside the final furlong as well, but she continued bravely to finish the race in a good manner.

She showed some ability in maiden races before as well, especially catching the the eye the way she travelled at Windsor in May.

Special Times was always likely to be more at home over trips beyond a mile. She is out of a German dam who won over 11.5 furlongs in Germany, sire Time Test with a stamina index of 9f has shown to get horses that stay as far as 1m 4f – so plenty of stamina there to believe she can be competitive up in trip.

She returned after 193 days off the track at Wolverhampton last month over 9.5 furlongs. She ran well for a long time but faded badly in the closing stages, entitled to come on for the run.

Going up to 11 furlongs now, with the run under her belt, in this pretty poor race, I think she must have a big chance if allowed to run on merit.

The Cox yard isn’t going too well, but the application of blinkers is interesting, as she didn’t always look the sharpest, certainly not out of the gate on her comeback run, and seemed to lose focus in the closing stages in other races before, too.

10pts win – Special Times @ 15.5/1

Thursday Selections: 5th January 2023

2.15 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Handicap, 7f

Is this the day for Give A Little Back? it was rather obvious how was not ridden to best effect the last few times, so to speak.

Whether the money that saw his price quickly collapse from 9’s down to 5/2 remains to be seen. A few quick can shift these early markets. In any case neither 5/2 nor 9/1 were quite right. Though, I reckon, the shorter price is closer to the truth. He’s come back to a backable price in the meantime, thankfully.

Give A Little Back drops down in class, another 3lb lighter after a suicidal run at Southwell when last seen. He went off way too hard from his wide draw to lead the field for home. No surprise to see him drop away badly in the closing stages, but it was noteworthy how long he was able to stay right in the mix.

He was a massive eyecatcher prior to this as well. That day he was slowly away from his wide draw, trailing and outpaced halfway through, before making serious progress from over 3f out, finished a clear second best, without being asked to fully extend and handled rather tenderly.

It’s fair to assume that he could be better than his current 65 rating on the basis of those performances. He also showed bit of talent when a fine 3rd in a Wolverhampton maiden over 7 furlongs in May; 1.5l behind first and second who are 81 and 83 rated these days.

The projection is for little pace in the race. I hope Charles Bishop moves forward from the #6 draw. He shouldn’t have any issues getting into a nice position.

I wasn’t initially sure whether I want to back him, whether I truly believe this is the day to let him go and run on merit. But the fact is he must be in quite fine form, the way he ran the last two times. This looks an ideal opportunity to strike.

10pts win – Give A Little Back @ 7/2

……….

3.45 Wolverhampton: Class 5 Handicap, 5f

Seriously competitive race with a bunch of these horses presenting themselves in fine form lately. It should be a fast and furious race.

Pace and a good handy position are usually what decides the races over the minimum trip at Wolverhampton. It’s all about racing as economical as possible as close to or with the pace as possible.

While I could make a positive case for about five runners, the one that ticks pretty much every box is Ooh Is It. He did so a few weeks ago at Southwell as well, when I backed him as he dropped down to 5 furlongs agter a seriously eye-catching effort over 6f at Wolverhampton in November.

I cautiously optimistic that he’d have too much in hand to win the Southwell race. Therefore it was a bit disappointing that he only finished 3rd, over six lengths beaten. He ran well, but well below expectations at the same time, given he ran t a 71 speed rating last time out.

Thankfully the post-race comments revealed the likely cause for his tame finish:

“Vet said gelding had struck into himself on his left fore”

Of course it’s diffult to know whether that truly was the cause and whether the horse is 100% again. I’ll take the risk because everything said leading up to the race still holds true – in fact the handicapper has dropped Ooh Is It another pound, to a mark of 67. He should be tremendously well handicapped now over 5 furlongs.

As mentioned the last time, the November performance over 6 furlongs here at Wolverhampton was a brilliant performance and the one that needs recalling:

That day he started quickly and set the world alight in the first half of the race. No surprise to see him tire rather badly from 3f out. Nonetheless, he still held a 1 lengths advantage at the final furlong marker.

That was seriously strong form. The winner was well handicapped and caught the eye before. Three horses won subsequently already. Ooh Is It ran to a near career-best 71 speed rating as well – in comparison to his current mark that’s seriously intriguing.

The fact he ran so well over 6 furlongs, a trip I believe he doesn’t truly stay, was especially noteworthy. He ran three times to speed ratings 70+, all his best performances over 5 furlongs, in fact.

Clearly he’s rated to win now, especially with a good draw to attack the race from. Others want to move forward too, but have a wider draw to overcome.

This is a seriously competitive race, though, as mentioned before. He could be well handicapped and still finds one or two too good. But as I got my full stake matched at 5/1 (Smarkets) I know this is a tremendous value bet, whatever happens on the day. Having the assistance of 5lb claiming Jordan Williams is simply the cherry on the cake.

10pts win – Ooh Is It @ 5/1