Tag Archives: Flat Racing

Sunday Selections: June, 16th 2019

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

It’s been another pretty quiet week – but, with only the second bet of the week (the first one  came yesterday as well and was a major disappointment, mind) the betting bank got a major boost, thanks to Gold Mount’s (SP 16/1) decisive victory in the Grand Cup at York.

To be honest I didn’t expect that after he drifted badly before the off, only minutes before the race available at 20/1. It was clear expectations were low and my worry this might only be a pipe opener seemed reflected in the market. On the other hand, even then, given his class, which I felt stood above the rest in the field, should see him go close.

In the end Gold Mount outclassed his opposition:

…….

2.30 Salisbury: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 4f

A quick one for today – I am missing the good prices as just as I made my decision to back this lad his odds start to tumble. Regardless, he remains one to back here – talking about favourite Robert Fitzroy who’ll take a lot to get beaten today.

He drops in grade after a highly encouraging 1 lengths beaten 4th place finish at Doncaster recently. That is fair form and I expect him to be able to improve for the different ground today.

As he ran to a top speed rating of 66 that day, equivalent of his current handicap mark, any improvement this still fairly lightly raced gelding can find, will likely be good enough to get his head in front today.

The ground conditions are the most likely factor that can have positive impact. Robert Fitzroy is a full-brother to smart filly Bolder Bob who is a multiple winner over this sort of trip with plenty of cut in the ground. Big Bad Bob offspring generally tends to perform well in soft ground conditions anyways.

SDS on board is the cherry on the cake.

Selection:
10pts win – Robert Fitzroy @ 3/1 MB

Advertisements

Saturday Selections: June, 15th 2019

DSC_2237

2.35 Sandown: Class 4 Handicap, 5f

Bahamian Sunrise is 4-2-2 over this course and distance. So if the return to Sandown can re-ignite the fire again, then the 7-year-old has a massive shout. It’s a big if, granted, given he’s been in abysmal form this year so far.

However, a near-career best came only last August at Epsom over 5f in soft ground when only a neck beaten in a hot class 2 Handicap, running to top speed of 80. He’s dropped a long way down the ratings since then, allowed to let go off 67 today.

Eleven times has Bahamian Sunrise ran to top speed ratings of 69+, which shows that he’s incredibly well handicapped today, if any return to some sort of form can be sparked by this course and distance, while the ground is fine.

Selection:
10pts win – Bahamian Sunrise @ 10/1 MB

………

3.00 York: Listed Grand Cup, 1m 6f

Some of these have to prove their worthiness to compete in this class, most have a question to answer on the soft ground. The short priced favourite Mekong acts with cut in the ground and his recent form is compelling, on the other hand he’s yet to run fast enough to warrant such a price tag in my view.

That is mainly down to the fact that Gold Mount (formerly known as Primitivo) looks a major danger, if ready to go after a break and his return from Meydan/Hong Kong.

The gelding was a promising three-year-old a few years ago and was sold to Hong Kong, where he developed into a classy performer over three seasons. His form tailed a bit off in the last season, though a trip to Dubai and the 2 mile Gold Cup proved he is still as good as ever.

Fourth of eight and a good deal beaten behind reigning Melbourne Cup champion Cross Counter, the race clearly didn’t pan out ideally for Gold Mount, who was held up and finished strongly as the only one of those in the back third of the field.

That was a highly encouraging performance that rates the strongest piece of form in this field today, no doubt. Dropping down to listed class, he’s the joint highest rated individual.

The ground will be fine, Gold Mount acts on a soft surface. He’s got an engagement next week at Ascot – that’s the one concern, that today is merely a pipe opener, which may be the reason why he’s as big in the market as he is. It’s worth taking the risk, though.

Selection:
10pts win – Gold Mount @ 13.5/1 MB

……….

3.30 Bath: Class 3 Handicap, 1 mile

Given his current mark, Medieval looks a highly competitive runner in this race: 4lb lower than his last win mark, he also has been placed of even higher than that and ran t top speed ratings of 85+ on four different occasions. So an 82 mark seems sexy.

The trip is usually fine, the ground no bother – in combination, a mile and rain softened ground is a stretch, but possible. Medieval is also in fair form, having finished 3rd the last two times – even though a fair way beaten.

The different applications of headgear this year are a little worrisome, suggesting he may not quite have the same appetite for the game any longer, which may suggest even as good as he appears to be handicapped, he may not be in actual fact. It’s the risk here. One I’m prepared to be taking in a race where little else stands out.

Selection:
10pts win – Medieval @ 13/2 MB

Henry II Stakes Preview

DSC_2305

After a recent Sagaro Stakes success Dee Ex Bee is well fancied to go back to back today. It was his first try over two miles and he passed the test with flying colours. This could be more competitive today, though, so is my feeling.

Obviously his Derby run is the standout performance, however, he hasn’t ran anywhere near that form ever since, and judged on form and ratings what he has produced ever since, he is a good horse, but clearly not a top drawer and also his time wasn’t that impressive last time to suggest he’s dramatically better than the rest of the field here, particularly as he has to give weight away.

Strong cases can be made for the two Mark Johnston runners. My preference is for Austrian School simply on the fact he has more often produced high enough time speed ratings to suggest he is defiantly home in this grade, and probably a better horse than stable mate Making Miracles, who was so impressive in the Chester Cup, having the run of the race, on the other hand.

Austrian School was a long way beaten there as a favourite, but bottomless ground and the way the race turned out, are a fair excuse. He is better judged on his impressive Musselburgh win in April over 1m 6f.

A career best performance on TS and RPR, also backing up the strong runner-up performance of the Mallard Handicap at Doncaster from last autumn, confirming he is that good.

Austrian School deserves a crack at this level and will give the favourite a lot to think about in the closing stages I strongly believe.

Selection:
10pts win – Austrian School @ 11/2 MB

Saturday Selections: May 11th, 2019

DSC_2237

2.20 Nottingham: Class 4 Handicap, 5f

Two really interesting horses here in a field where I find those two at the top of the market remarkably easy to oppose: Hawaam over this CD of his current mark can be a huge runner if cheek-pieces have a positive effect.

The fact he was well fancied the other day and bombed out, plus this new headgear as well as his poor overall strike rate suggest he’s a tricky customer nonetheless, hence I leave him alone – though I’d not be surprised to see him run away with it now.

But a ‘safer bet’ to run his race – and give me a run for my money more importantly – is the smartly named Major Pusey. He’s down to a good mark judged on past performances, given he won of higher ratings on three occasions in his career and ran five times to a TS rating of 79+, posting a 80 TS rating only back in September last season.

He returned over 6f at Windsor recently, wasn’t fancied in the betting and ran quite well up until tiring in the closing stages. The drop to 5f will suit with soft ground ideal, plus dropping down in to class 4 is a major boost to his chances as all but one of his career successes came here.

Selection:
10pts win – Major Pusey @ 8/1

………

2.30 Lingfield: Listed Derby Trial, 1m3½f

No surprise, the Derby trial is quite a poor trial for the race it’s intended to be a trial. None of these will go close in the Derby. Will any of these even line up? Anthony Van Dyck certainly won’t. He’s the class act in this race, mind, but he’ll struggle over this trip in this ground.

The most intriguing of the lot is Cap Francais, who didn’t do himself any favour at Epsom the last time, but stayed on in promising style. Even though, he still only managed runner-up behind a Ballydoyle horse that’ll have no hope in the Derby and is miles down the pecking order.

I think the step up in trip and flatter track will be a huge help and expect him to win, but at 4/1 I’m in n hurry to back him to continue to progress, though.

The one I’m most interested in is the gelding in the field: Ranch Hand. Connections probably didn’t anticipate this lad to turn up in a Derby Trial, but he showed a lot of good signs in his first two starts at Southwell on the fibresand.

Particularly his second run, when he galloped his opposition into the ground is impressive particularly on the clock it looks strong. He also achieved a TS rating of 84. He did that in a lowly novice contest, on only his second career run on the fibresand – no other horse in this field run to such a high TS rating on either of their first career runs.

He has to translate this to turf and to much better class. The pedigree gives hope with the dam having been a fine stayer in her own right. At a massive price Ranch Hand looks a longs-hot with a fair chance to upset the market.

Selection:
10pts win – Ranch Hand @ 30/1 MB

……

3.30 Nottingham: Listed Kilvington Stakes, 6f

On ratings the standout for me is Rock On Baileys who’s ran to career best TS rating of 89 and RPR of 106 which none of her rivals in this field have achieved so far. Whether she can replicate this level of form on her second start for the new yard on soft ground remains to be seen.

On the surface Rock On Baileys seems to be a better All-Weather horse. Certainly her win record says so. But the ratings mentioned above where achieved on turf, they’re generally higher than on the AW in fact.

She ran in hot races on turf, often in handicaps of big weights and did do herself justice on a number of occasions, as when 4th in a hot handicap at Newmarket in October last year; she also won at Chester in the summer over 6f, overcoming trouble.

Her seasonal return at Chelmsford last month looks poor on paper. It needs context, though, as she didn’t get the best of starts and was pushed forward quite hard subsequently to take the lead.

I’d expect Rock On Baileys to come on for the run under her belt and feel the soft ground, albeit that soft an unknown, is intriguing. The times she races with bit of cut in the ground she ran well, and certainly on the dam side is hope for her to take to the ground.

Selection:
10pts win – Rock On Baileys @ 16.5/1 MB

……..

4.40 Nottingham: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 2f

The handicapper gives Music Seeker a real chance to get his head in front for a third career win today. The 5-year-old ran well at Haydock last time in tough conditions, finishing third in better class.

He remains on the same mark, a career-lowest – he’s never ran of anything as low as 73 in a class 5 Handicap before, so that is of obvious interest given Music Seeker ran twice already to TS ratings of 70+ and six times to RPR’s of 80+.

He’s also 3lb lower than his last winning mark, which came last summer in a 10f Handicap at Wetherby, albeit on fast ground. But cut in the ground is no problem as he won a maiden over a mile and did well last time out in desperate conditions.

The slightly better ground (soft – good to soft in places right now) and half a furlong less to go should be in his favour as well. A competent 7lb claimer – the same as in all his last races since a wind op over the winter –  in the saddle is a bonus.

Selection:
10pts win – Music Seeker @ 6/1 MB

…….

5.10 Ascot: Class 4 Handicap, 6f

Ignoring the latest Southwell performance, which can be forgiven because it was a very time at Southwell, Ballyquin is a progressive individual who’ll race of a highly competitive mark today, I feel.

He’s had a light campaign until this winter, surely down to issues, but has been progressive on the All-Weather, winning twice, achieving a career best TS rating of 79 at Chelmsford on his penultimate start.

A return to turf is intriguing. His two runs came with cut in the ground in highly competitive maiden races where he finished an excellent 4th on both occasions.

So, there is a fair assumption to be made he can find more improvement for the return to turf, while already having shown on the All-Weather to be able to run to something close- if not even better than his current handicap mark.

Selection:
10pts win – Ballyquin @ 10/1 MB

First Impressions: The New Curragh

The new Curragh opened its doors for the general public for the first time today. A new era for Irish (flat) racing. A monstrous project in the making for the last four years, associated with a price tag of around €80 million – it’s better be a success!

Whether it’s going to be a long-term success with crowds embracing the new facilities beyond this opening day remains to be seen. Judged by the attendance today the word ‘promising’ may be on the lips of many, though.

I’ve been waiting for this moment for a good few years: finally back at the Curragh! Driving down the N7, get off at exit 12 and there it is, right in front of your eyes, the imposing new grand stand!

Upon arrival my first thought was: WOW! This is spectacular! Stunningly beautiful from an architectural point of view. I didn’t expect it to be that good. No way! After all, this is Ireland where these type of projects rarely go to plan. This project had its own little issues, but the outcome is magnificent – and that is what matters most.

DSC_2625-Pano

What’s good? Great views from the parade ring. Plenty of space. Only short walks between parade ring, betting and the grand stand. First class elevated viewing for the regular racegoer from the stand itself. Everything is shiny, new and gives the impression of classiness.

Opportunity for improvement? Getting your hands on a coffee is a tricky adventure. Long ques for food and drink wherever you go. Maybe I missed them, but there were no mobile coffee vans like they used to exist at the old Curragh.

Food prices are not for the fainthearted. But that’s nothing new. Regular ticket prices are €20. A season ticket is €265 – that’s a whopping €90 more than when I bought one the last time in 2015, the year before construction began. This isn’t a cheap place.

I didn’t go racing at the Curragh during the construction years. I was – quite frankly – pissed off. Holding a season ticket for a number of years, I would have expected some concessions to existing members while racing continued at what was effectively a building site – a decision in itself I didn’t like. It showed a lack of regard for the general racegoer.

Whether the new Curragh will be able to attract on regular basis the sort of crowd that came through the turnstiles today for the more low profile days is a question the future will tell. I’m not so sure, unfortunately.

I hope it does, I really do. This new Curragh deserves it. It’s an amazing place to watch horse racing. It’s the perfect stadium for our equine heroes. Having been to many racecourses around the world I can honestly say the Curragh is right up there with the best.

Now they have to work on service for the general public, think about pricing and any further enhancements that could be made to the raceday experience in order to lure punters to the track more often.

DSC_2609

The Curragh Is Back!

DSC_1401

Finally back at the Curragh! Today is the first official race day at the new Curragh. An expensive project, developed over the last number of years, racing continued at the constructionist side in the meantime.

I didn’t got in those years. Having been a member for a number of years before, I didn’t like the idea of racing to continue during the rebuild. I also didn’t entertain the idea that ticket prices remained static and that no offers were made to existing members during the time.

I may not become a member again, even now that the Curragh is a shiny new place. Prices are simply too high.

Nonetheless I can’t wait to be back today! In fact I hardly could sleep because of excitement and woke early. From photos and videos seen, the new Curragh looks stunning. Here’s hoping the real thing lives up to the promise.

It’s not a day to get carried away betting wise. And my record on Irish races is dismal anyway. I found a few interesting selections, still. So fingers crossed it’ll be a triumphant return to the Curragh of Kildare!

I shall come back with a nice little report and a few snaps tonight.

:::::::::

3.35 Curragh: Group 3 Athasi Stakes, 7f

Hot favourite Happen looks hard to beat if she can improve from a good runner-up performance in the 1000 Guineas trial behind Lady Kaya. Obviously that is the strongest piece of form available, and you would expect her to come on for the run.

However, I strongly believe she will benefit even more from a step up in trip, and that 7 furlongs is plenty sharp enough for her already, particularly if she’d encounter some speedier types.

In truth, there is little in this field to rival her in terms of class. But Dermot Weld’s filly Titanium Sky is clearly the one who could be with further improvement be a big danger.

The grey filly was only seen once last year in a messy Gowran Park maiden where she ran out an excellent 5th given circumstances.

She returned last month at Leopardstown in a 7f maiden which she won in taking style. Always travelling well, she benefited from a strong pace. Nonetheless, it was impresse how she ate up the ground of the leaders in the final two furlongs.

That form already works out well, so the fact Titanium Sky did that so easily suggests she is potentially a Group horse. Dermot Weld said afterwards he certainly hopes to win some blacktype with her, and maybe she can even be an irish 1000 Guineas candidate.

Selection:
10pts win – Titanium Sky @ 10/1 Coral

……..

4.45 Curragh: 45-70 Handicap, 6f

This looks ultra-competitive, as you would expect for a 30 runner strong field. But in truth only few of these appear in with a fair chance of winning.

No doubt the JOB trained Little Clarinet is a fair favourite. Third up after a break, excellent recent form, she is handicapped to win. However, her overall record is off-putting, given a rather skinny price.

More intriguing at given odds is the rather unexposed Clifftop Dancer. The filly had only five starts to date but certainly returned with a bang on her first run finishing an excellent runner-up at Naas last month behind a supremely well handicapped winner.

If she can repeat that effort, possibly improve just a tiny bit, she’ll be a huge runner today. She ran to a TS rating of 65, so upped by 3lb to 67 gives her every opportunity today as ground and trip should be perfect and the testing finish at the Curragh may be ideal.

Selection:
5pts win – Clifftop Dancer @ 12/1 MB

……..

5.20 Curragh: Apprentice Handicap, 7f

Fit For Function comes here on the back of an excellent comeback run at Naas in a big field. He finished 5th, tiering in the closing stages.

Stripping fitter for the run, able to run of the same handicap mark, I feel Fit For Function has a huge opportunity today. He’s not that easy to win with, but has ran plenty of credible races in defeat.

As he was an excellent 2nd here at the Curragh over 6 furlongs last summer of a 6lb higher mark than his current 72 rating, which was a follow-up effort after winning at Listowel a few weeks earlier, then over 6.5f of a 74 mark.

Fit For Function looks well handicapped today, based on that and he also has ran four times to TS ratings of 72+ in his career already, two of those performances came only last year and with his recent comeback run still fresh in mind, there is little reason to fear he’s not as good any more.

Selection:
5pts win – Fit For Function @ 12/1 MB

Monday Selections: May, 6th 2019

DSC_1062

3.10 Windsor: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 3.5f

There is little in this field to shout about. Therefore handicap debutant is appealing of bottom weight. The colt had three runs over a mile or slightly further in order to qualify for a handicap mark.

After a third run, incidentally his seasonal reappearance, last month at Newmarket, he starts proper racing life of a 62 rating. High enough for what Tigerskin has achieved to date, but one has to keep in mind handicapping was always always the route he’s go down to, so educational runs where the main aim to date.

He now steps up dramatically in trip, to the sort of distance this colt should be much more home. He isn’t bred too badly actually and looks to have a more than fair chance to get the 1 mile and 3.5f at Windsor, particularly if the ground continues to dry out further.

Open for improvement, racing of a low weight in a weak contest with conditions likely to suit –  Tigerskin looks a good bet at current odds.

Selection:
10pts win – Tigerskin @ 9/1 PP

……….

3.40 Beverley: Class 5 Handicap, 7.5f

The eight-year-old Abushamah looks a fair favourite and will go close, although his not one I’d trust too much, despite a handy mark. Muatadel will struggle over this extended trip if the rain materialises. Leaves this wide open for anyone to take.

This one could be course and distance scorer Dasheen. He won here of a 4lb higher mark last summer (with 3lb claimer) running close to a career highest reaching a TS rating of 71.

He lost her way a bit since then, so it’s not without risk to back him. But down to a mark of 65 he’s of obvious interest back over this CD with a recent pipe opener under his belt.

Selection:
10pts win – Dasheen @ 10/1 Coral

…….

4.55 Windsor: Novice Stakes, 1 mile

I really like the look of Desert Land. Granted, it’s an unknown how this colt has trained on over the winter, and given he has no fancy entries at this stage, it’s a big question mark how good he can be.

But a few points I find really positive: he was an excellent 4th on debut in a hot Yarmouth maiden last September under a sympathetic hands and heels ride, merely 2½ behind smart winner Royal Meeting, who won subsequently the Group 1 Criterium International, beating subsequent 1000 Guineas champion Hermosa.

He looked like he could have gone much harder in the closing stages if asked to do so. Desert Land is obviously quite well bred and related to a few good winners. He’s also an April foal, so should really start to come into his own now.

The question mark is the trip. There is a lot of speed in his pedigree, although also enough stamina to give a mile a go – also he looked like having no issue with 7f whatsoever in his sole run as a 2-year-old.

Selection:
10pts win – Desert Land @ 5/1 William Hill