Tag Archives: Flat Racing

Favourite Horse: Paco Boy

Favourite Horse: over the next weeks I’ll write a series of articles about horses I hold dear to my heart. Let’s start with my all time favourite! 

2008 was the year that my interest in horse racing became serious. In my memories these are the good old days – a time when betting on horses was neither financially rewarding nor sought out to be, although it was a great time of learning something new about the sport every single day.

What coincided with this time, and it probably was one of the main reasons why I became so fascinated by horse racing, was the emergence of a number of legendary horses. To this day I do become a little bit emotional if I hear their names, to be honest.

Possibly not quite in the league of legends, yet the horse I well and truly fell in love with, was in his early days very much doubted whether he could become what he ultimately became: a top class miler. He showed plenty of speed and a dazzling turn of foot but may well be short of the required stamina?

It was exactly this incredible change of gear – the moment when a motionless Richard Hughes pressed the button, when the response was instantaneous – something that was visually so impressive and outlandish, certainly not observed in any other sport I have ever watched – that made me fall in love with Paco Boy.

Paco Boy was a promising juvenile, however he took his career to new heights in his classic year, particularly in the summer and autumn months.

He landed a number of graded races and finished the season with an exciting first Group 1 victory in the Prix de la Foret at Longchamp. It’s a shame Paco Boy didn’t get the chance to run in the 2000 Guineas that year, but at that stage he was still an immature horse with question marks over this stamina.

A year older and wiser, after a disappointing reappearance in Dubai, Paco Boy then proved his class thanks superb victory in the Queen Anne Stakes, when an ice cool Richard Hughes showed his trademark patience, delivering Paco Boy late in the race to produce his own trademark turn of foot.

The partnership of Richard Hughes with a horse like Paco Boy, who needed to be ridden with patience and confidence and delivered late, turned out to be an irresistible combination. It didn’t always go to plan – on the days where it did it turned out to be as spectacular as racing can be.

To this day for me personally the most spectacular, visually exciting and explosive demonstration of an instant acceleration and manifestation of pure class is the one Paco Boy produced in the 2010 Lockinge Stakes:

Richard Hughes completely motionless, with two furlongs to go still sitting behind all his rivals, ever so slightly edging closer while calmly steering Paco Boy through an opening gap; approaching the final furlong marker and everything else around him is hard at work – “Paco Boy is laughing at them”, screams an astonished Richard Hoiles in the original track commentary!

Once asked to win the race Paco Boy puts it to bed in a matter of strides. Mind, this is a Group 1 race!

Extended footage can be found here – including a few shots of an emotional Richard Hannon, who shed a few tears that day and also is quoted saying “I’ve got pictures of him all over the house”!

A career spanning over four seasons – 24 races, 11 victories, 9 in pattern class, three Group Ones, including the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.

On the rating front: Paco Boy ran twelve times to a Tospeed Rating of 100 or higher (six times >110). That is an incredible level of consistency for successive seasons. Not many horses are capable of achieving this. In his prime on fast ground when tracking a decent pace Paco Boy was nearly unbeatable.

Yes, one could potentially point out: “what did he beat?”. The form of is Queen Anne and Lockinge Stakes victories didn’t work out all that great in hindsight. Nonetheless he beat and fought it out with the best of the best among the milers of that era and made some really good horses look rather ordinary.

Ultimately, when do you ever see a horse in a Group 1 contest cantering all over his rivals, hard on the bridle, approaching the final furlong marker? It’s a rare feat and something special.

And not to forget: he chased the almighty mare that is Goldikova on more than one occasion home. I maintain to this day he was the better horse in the 2010 Queen Anne Stakes and Richard Hughes, on that day, left it simply a little bit too late (as a matter of fact Paco Boy recorded a higher Topspeed rating than Goldikova that day).

Put simply: Paco Boy was the most exciting horse I have ever followed as a fan of the sport. He was my first real “love” in the world of horse racing. Although he is closely followed by possibly the greatest racehorse of all time. More on that in the next part of this series.

Saturday Selections: March, 14th 2020

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Cheltenham is over. It didn’t deliver the goods on the betting front as it did in the last years. At the very least it delivered some relieve in the sense some of my selections were successful. Many more ran really well. That’s a big positive after the worst start to any betting year I ever had.

There is a bit a question “would, could, should”. But those type of thoughts rarely lead to anything good.

I got the Gold Cup spot on, though: Al Boum Photo was the one to beat and he had everything you need to go back to back. He didn’t quite have the same dream run through as last year but he had a super sharp Paul Townend in the saddle who made the right decisions in the right moment to ensure ABP endured as little trouble as possible.

He beat Santini in a brilliant finish. In third, my selection, Lostintranslation, ran a massive race. The two possible improvers were good enough to beat the rest of the field, as was my expectation before the race. But they were not quite good enough (yet?) to beat the defending champion.

After the week didn’t start too well for Paul Townend, he finished it off with a week that’ll go down in history. Champion jockey and the man who steered a horse to defend the crown in the Gold Cup. He doesn’t always get it right. But who does? Ruby and AP didn’t. What matters is that Paul Townend got it as right as it gets at the grandest of stages. That makes him a top top class jockey.

I will review Cheltenham tomorrow afternoon on Dublin City FM. Tune in if you like. Beyond that, I gonna struggle on in an attempt to get by betting back on track. Thankfully the flat is around the corner.

………..

6.00 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Handicap, 9.5f

The money is pouring in for Taurean Dancer who returns from a break with a first time visor fitted and Rossa Ryan in the saddle for what is his only ride on the card.

Whether this Taurean Dancer’s optimum trip is a question mark, given his career best topspeed rating came over further. However hes form over shorter as well, having been beaten only by a neck at Kempton over a mile of a much higher rating in the past.

I imagine he’ll be ridden forward in order to set a good pace and use his undoubtedly existing stamina. As he can be keen, this should suit him well in a race that is wide open.

Selection:
10pts win – Taurean Dancer @ 11/1 MB

Friday Selections: March, 6th 2020

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6.00 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Handicap, 7f

It looks this could be the day Street Poet is finally let loose. I have been eyeing this day for a while, ever since the gelding caught the eye very much at Wolverhampton in early January.

Always travelling wide, a bit keen, yet going quite well for an awful long time, he only tiered once turning for home without ever being asked any question whatsoever – he also ran clearly over a trip way too far.

he gradually stepped down in distance ever since. Two more jobs later, here we are back over his preferred 7 furlong trip, with the mark fallen dramatically since he won back to back over this CD last summer.

This race looks wide open and is clearly for the taking. The draw isn’t totally ideal, given Street Poet wants to be rather up with the pace. That’s the risk that if he breaking cleanly he will be in trouble.

First time tongue-tie is an interesting addition as it strengthens the case that today connections mean business.

Selection:
10pts win – Street Poet @ 7/1 MB

Friday Selections: February, 14th 2020

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5.10 Southwell: Class 6 Handicap, 1 mile

Equidae has caught my in all of his last three starts. In my book he ran much better than the bare form of those races suggest. He didn’t receive hard rides in of those, while running well to the line, even if things weren’t in his favour on multiple occasions.

The two Newcastle runs over a mile a visually quite taking, although his latest run here at Southwell over the shorter 7 furlongs trip is equally compelling, as Equidae was mad keen early on, pulling loads of energy away  but still managed to finish a fair 4th.

Another couple of pounds off, he will race off 7lb less than when winning over this course and distance last May. Equidae also matched or battered his current mark on topspeed ratings multiple times.

Cheek-pieces on for the first time may help him to settle a bit better as he has the tendency to race freely.

Selection:
10pts win – Equidae @ 3.6/1 WH

………..

5.45 Southwell: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 3f

Earl Of Bunnacurry has probably the key piece of form with his 3rd over 1m 6f back in December – form that worked out tremendously well. The gelding made most likely too much early on and ultimately didn’t have anything left in the tank when it mattered most.

He changed yards, was largely disappointing in two starts for new connections since, particularly when send off 4/1 on stable debut.

However, back over a possibly suitable trip, at Southwell where he usually runs rather well, with two pounds off his mark and new headgear, I feel Earl Of Bunnacurry is an intriguing runner in a race where there is little to fear.

A return to that December form will see him having a massive chance to get his head in front again.

Selection:
10pts win – Earl Of Bunnacurry @ 8/1 MB

Saturday Selections: January, 25th 2020

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It’s bad. Well and truly horrible, in fact. I’m in the midst of what only can be considered my worst losing run in the last three years. Whatever I touch turns to a solid piece of shit. This January so far has been tough on many fronts – betting is certainly one of them.

My selections are rotten. They either drift and finish last or they get backed and finish down the field regardless. It’s in these times that one can easily wonder: “did I lose it?”. The touch for making good decision, that is.

I hope not. Truth is, the majority of selections I made this month I’d do again. Trust the process….. I do, but a winner would really help the battered morale.

………

6.00 Kempton: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 2f

Even though still a maiden, Thunderoad has been knocking on the door a number of times, none more so than when last seen at Wolverhampton. Travelling always strongly, making nice progress and going much the best turning for home it was merely a matter of putting it to bed.

A move toward the inside rail by Shane Kelly turned out fatal, though, as the gap was rapidly closing and Thunderoad was badly hampered one furlong out, losing his momentum, while the eventual winner had clear passage and kept his momentum.

Thunderoad ran to a topspeed rating of 58, matching his current mark. He has been running to 71 in the past already, so clearly he is potentially better than this. However, now 0 for 17, the 4-year-old keeps finding ways to get beat.

That is a concern. So is the widest draw. Even though, that is less an issue, given he’d be ridden off the pace either way. I don’t like to see that on the All-Weather, usually. But Thunderoad appears to be going so well, second up here after a small break in a very winnable race that here’s hoping today is the day.

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

 

Sunday Selections: January, 19th 2020

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12.50 Lingfield: Class 6 Apprentice Handicap, 1m 6f

Favourite Wanaasah won under an enterprising ride in sensational style recently here at Wolverhampton over a few furlongs longer. She should go well again, albeit, under a 5lb penalty and with most likely not given an uncontested lead things will be more difficult.

I am interested in Mark Johnston’s Grenadier Guard. Clearly a talented individual; clearly one with quirks who’s gone wrong at the same time.

He is tried in a visor for the first time today. I am not pinning solely my hope on that piece of headgear, but it may well help the gelding to focus better. I am inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt that he needed his last two runs after a break potentially; certainly a first start at Southwell is always something to forgive.

He drops down to a mile and six furlongs, which looks a more suitable trip. At the same time Grenadier Guard continues to fall in the mark. He showed promise last summer on turf when running to some good level of form, winning at Haydock and following up with a fine 2nd in a competitive Novices race.

That day he also ran to a 85 topspeed rating which looks believable. Hence there is a bit of talent that is better than a January class 5 Handicap at Wolverhampton. I take the risk and give Grenadier Guard another chance to live somewhat up to last summers promise.

Selection:
10pts win – Grenadier Guard @ 10.5/1 MB

Friday Selections: January, 17th 2019

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4.45 Newcastle: Class 6 Handicap, 1 mile

Destroyer was a non-runner last week. Hopefully he takes his chance today as not much has changed in my interest in him, with this being a weak race once again:

Seven-year-old gelding Destroyer drops down to class 6 with another couple of pounds off his rating and appears certainly well-handicapped if finding some form again.

It’s his second run after a break, so he should strip fitter for the latest – arguably poor – showing over this course and distance last month.

Only four runs back though in September he still finished a fine third only a lengths down at Pontefract of a 67 handicap mark, also matching a 67 topspeed rating, suggesting there is life and enough class to be competitive in a low-grade handicap such as this.

True, Destroyer is without victory on the All-Weather but his career best speed rating was achieved at Kempton (79). He also acts on tapeta as proven when a 1¼ lengths beaten 4th over a mile here in November 2018 of a 13lb higher mark than today.

He may well have enough of racing, as he’s not getting any younger, and his last three efforts are concerning. If back in the same mood at Pontefract, though, he’d have a massive chance.

Selection:
10pts win – Destroyer @ 13/1 MB