Tag Archives: Flat Racing

Tuesday Selections: November, 13th 2018

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

6.45 Chelmsford: Class 7 Handicap, 1m 5½f

It could be a tip in itself that Kieran Shoemark comes here for only one ride on the card. He rides Rip Van Winkle son Lumen. The gelding hasn’t shown anything in four lifetime starts but off a super low weight and opening mark on handicap debut in this poor race he looks one of the more likely contenders.

Certainly there could be a bit of improvement, the dam has produced a solid half-brother already; a good draw will a big help in order to settle in a fine spot today also.

Interestingly Lumen has another entry on the weekend at Lingfield in better grade. I take this as a positive nod toward his chances today, as he may be able to run again under a penalty, if successful today.

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

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Saturday Selections: November, 10th 2018

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3.15 Doncaster: Class 2 Handicap, 1m 4f

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday Selections: November, 7th 2018

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WOW! What more can you say??? Quite a bit, actually! So, a few more words on Tuesdays Melbourne Cup: a tremendous victory for Cross Counter. The three-year old came from last to first, producing a tremendous turn of foot at the end of a 3.200 meter long race!

I felt his chances were gone right after the start as Kerrin McEvoy steered his mount to the back of the field – which in hindsight seems a smart move, given the wide draw and the way things worked out as the gates crashed open didn’t really allow him to do anything else that wouldn’t have been even more detrimental to his chances; i.e. rushing forward.

In my race preview I hoped things would pan out slightly different regarding the early parts of the race. Regardless, I couldn’t have been happier with the eventual outcome of the race!

As for the second year running I’ve made a winning selection for the Melbourne Cup – granted, neither last year with Rekindling, nor this year with Cross Counter were those selections particularly thought-provoking.

Let’s be honest: a classy 3yo, with good chances to stay the trip, having ideal ground conditions and a low weight to carry…. the type of race the Melbourne Cup in essence is these days, it wasn’t exactly rocked science to select Cross Counter.

……

2.50 Nottingham: Class 4 Handicap, 5f

Bread and butter today: Show Palace is the one I want to be with. He has dropped to a tasty mark, having produced big performances off much higher ratings in the past, achieving consistently high time speed ratings as well.

Clearly he needs the right conditions: with rain falling, the going may not turn quite soft enough. Nonetheless, good to soft should be okay, even more so off his 74 handicap mark. Hes also in fine order, judged on his latest effort over CD.

He was not ideally positioned on the inside rail, far away from the pace. He finished best of his group, nonetheless – a 5th place that looks good given the form already works out well.

Selection:
10pts win – Show Palace @ 6/1 MB

Preview: 2018 Melbourne Cup

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A cocky headline: “Here’s Your Winner!” – that was it for the Melbourne Cup preview exactly twelve months ago. Oh how good that felt, when half a night of sleep later Rekindling landed the big pot at 14/1!

Now, up until then it had been a solid decade of failed attempts to find the winner in the race that stops a nation. So I can hardly claim of having magic power if it comes to making a winning selection. But sometimes you have this feeling of certainty. You simply know it…. the 6th November of 2017 it was exactly that.

Do I know this time as well? No. Plain and simple.

This year is incredibly competitive. There are a good seven or eight horses on my shortlist. Three from the list I fancy significantly more than the others. And two of them I’m most confident will be in the money, granted they get a run for it.

It certainly isn’t my cup of tea punting the favourite. Less so in the Melbourne Cup. Guess what? Yucatan is my selection. As he’s on the drift throughout the day already, his price finally reached a point where I have to conclude: too big!

I get why there is increased negativity around the once-Derby-fancy. Suddenly the commentary of “it’s been only a single good run” become much louder, as all the experts get their opinions out there with the race approaching ever so slowly. The wide draw has done the rest. Oh, and the ground. Rain is coming. How much? How will it impact the going conditions? Hard to say. This bit of uncertainty doesn’t help.

What is certain: Yucatan never lived up to the 12-1 quotes he received for the Epsom Derby more than a year ago. He never had the chance to do so, missing the big one, but also endured issue after issue ever since. Aiden O’Brien alluded as much in recent days:

“Yucatan was a horse we couldn’t really get 100 per cent right through the whole year.”

In honesty, judging him by this 2018 European form he’s not a Melbourne Cup favourite. A Group 3 success over 1m 2f and a Group 3 third place finish over 1m 4f behind smart Eziyra can be considered decent form, yet it’s far from exciting.

Nonetheless, Yucatan always remained a talented individual, who only would need to get a clear run of form and the right conditions – that what connections always felt. For some horses this day never comes. For Yucatan it did. And boy, it id!

First start in Lloyd Williams colours Down Under at Caulfield in the Herbert Power Stakes  last month: it seemed Yucatan is a different horse to what he was only a few weeks earlier in Europe. Was it the sun? The ground? The change of scenery? Maybe a bit of everything.

The dramatic mid-race-move from the back of the field, while always travelling three wide, to take it up from 3f out, leaving the rest of the field standing still, jockey James McDonald pulling him up with half a furlong to go….  visually this was one of the most stunning performances you’ll ever see in Group company.

The question is, of course, what is it worth? I’d argue it’s worth more than some people want to make us believe.

True, those in second and third are no world beaters. But the third, Prince Of Arran, was a 111 rated individual in the UK, who ran a massive race when runner-up in the Northumberland Plate earlier this year, and who followed up on his third behind Yucatan with a fine victory in a Group 3 at Flemington earlier this week! Dismissing this rival so easily rates as pretty significant in my book.

Significant also the comments by Aiden O’Brien – usually not the type of character who’d give a lot away beyond the “he’s well” mantra. For him it’s rather bullish stating:

“The way it fell, it looked like he was going to really suit the Melbourne Cup but he was too low in the weights, so we he had to win to get in, and we saw what happened. … He looks on a very good mark.”

He looks indeed! A nice weight, not a nice draw, though. Statistics say it’s near impossible to win from gate 23. This year might be different. Pace is drawn close to him and might give him a nice lead to follow early in the race. Obviously you don’t wanna burn too much fuel early on either, given we aren’t sure whether he truly stays the new trip. On the other hand, drifting back into the pack will mean he’d need all the luck in the world – something you surely don’t want to rely on if you’re on the best horse in the field.

In saying that, whether he’ll appreciate the extra furlongs is the main question mark for me. I never looked like he’s crying out for, to be honest. But he’s by Galileo. So there is always a fair chance he does get the distance. So, if his chances aren’t ruined after the start hen I’m fairly confident we will see Yucatan go extremely close in the 2018 Melbourne Cup.
I mentioned at the beginning of this preview that there are two horses I feel extremely positive about. Yucatan is one. Cross Counter is the other one. A lightly raced three-year-old finding his way into the race with the benefit of a featherweight. Where have we heard this story before? Yep, right – Rekindling!

It’d argue this lad is at least as good as last years winner. For a start, he’s achieved the second highest time speed rating of all in this field. Only Cliffs Of Moher bettered this – last year in the Derby. I’m not sure if I trust that particular figure, nor whether COM is able to reproduce anything like it ever again; however, Cross Counter has run to 106 and 107 subsequently in his last two starts. Surely this guy is on the up and still improving, if not already top class.

His Gordon Stakes success at Goodwood over the summer was scintillating; overturned as a short-priced favourite the next time in the Great Voltigeur Stakes, he was staying on strongly to be only beaten by a head eventually. Not a bad race either, given the third, Kew Gardens, followed up with an impressive success in the Doncaster St. Leger!

No doubt, Cross Counter was still learning his craft. He often looked a little bit raw; but he’s approaching his eight lifetime start now – he should have learned plenty.

Trip and draw are the main question marks. He’s also wider drawn than ideal. Hopefully, like with Yucatan, he can get a nice lead by the pace around him to tow him toward the front of the field. Trip wise, of course, you never find out until you run them – in saying that, the way he ran on in the closing stages at York are a positive indicator that the trip might be within his range.

Given his official rating of 114, he isn’t far off the best European raiders already, however his featherweight off eight stone should be a tremendous advantage.

 

So, there we have it: two selections for the race that stops a nation. I’m not as confident as last year. Simply because of the draw situation and because there are few others in the field you have to take quite serious: last years co-favourite Marmelo and Chester Cup hero Magic Circle are dangerous. The main threat, though, should be impressive Ebor winner Muntahaa. He’s top class and will run big if his temperament holds up.

Selection:
10pts win – Yucatan @ 6.2/1 MB
10pts win – Cross Counter @ 8.4/1 MB

Tuesday Selections: October, 9th 2018

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1.20 Brighton: Class 6 Handicap, 5.5f

The usual fast ground at Brighton even in October – this makes it an ideal opportunity for CD winner Archimedes, who landed a similar race this summer on similar ground.

You can draw a line through his last run, also here at Brighton, when he missed completely the break as the hood was removed too late, or so it seemed.

Archimedes is on his hast last winning mark, he 59 rating he’s won of here in early July. He ran well enough in defeat in his subsequent handful of starts and with ideal conditions remains one of the more likely win candidates in this race.

Selection: 
10pts win – Archimedes @ 12/1 PP

………..

2.25 Brighton: Class 5 Nursery, 7f

Handicap debutant Red Armour makes plenty of appeal thanks to a workable opening mark and handy 3lb claim from an apprentice in the saddle, but I feel Nayslayer is the one who clearly underestimated here.

Both in terms of value for his most recent win as well the price on offer – Nayslayer ran a handful of fine races in defeat, before getting off the mark at Chelmsford over 6f last month. That was a strong race, and even though he had an absolute featherweight to shoulder, previous forms proved he is well up to the grade.

That last day he held on strongly, running all the way to the line and beyond, giving the impression and additional furlong may not be the issue. Only a 4lb hike in the mark, this doesn’t look a stronger race and he should be home on turf much the same way.

Selection:
10pts win – Nayslayer @ 6/1 Coral

Monday Selections: October, 1st 2018

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5.45 Kempton: Class 6 Handicap, 7f

This looks like an ideal opportunity for N Over J with top man Jim Crowley on board. The bottom weight has shown to act on the All-Weather already and is here on a tasty mark. He needs a bit of in-running luck, but from a top draw I imagine an aggressive ride to settle close to the pace.

His form is clearly good enough to win this. He’s been a shade unlucky at Epsom two races back what was a stronger contest than this and a repeat of his CD runner-up effort from earlier this year should see N Over J go very close indeed, again.

Selection:
10pts win – N Over J @ 4.9/1 MB

……..

6.00 Bath: Class 6 Handicap, 1m

Silverturnstogold has been good in two starts for his new yard. That’s no surprise to see this three-year-old improve toward the end of the season, given he was a late May foal you can probably draw a line under most of his nine career runs.

He came agonizingly close on his penultimate start to finally get the head in front when edged out close to the line, his latest run was solid, though not exciting, and in saying that it is clear he needs to improve at least a little bit.

Time and age might be what brings out the improvement. Surely this is a race he can win today, regardless. His form is good enough judged on the last two runs and this is a rather uncompetitive affair. Top jockey on board is an added bonus.

Selection:
10pts win – Silverturnstogold @ 5/1 WH

Sunday Selection: September, 2nd 2018

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

4.00 Brighton: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 2f

Lightening Dance and Double Reflection come into this in excellent form. Form that looks solid, also on the clock. So this is an ultra competitive fillies’ handicap, despite only a small field.

The one I feel that’s potentially underestimated is Last Enchantment. She won a shade cozily a 1m contest at Nottingham in May of a mark off 72, running to a RS rating of 75. She hasn’t been disgraced in higher grade and longer trips subsequently, so her last run in July was quite a surprising  disappointment.

She has a wind surgery since then and also dropped a couple of pounds in the mark to a sexy looking 73 – if the wind op does the trick for the Camelot filly.

Last Enchantment is bred for this trip and shouldn’t mind the ground either. Interestingly jockey Charles Bishop has generally a fine record if having only one mount on a given day, but it increased dramatically if that ride is at Brighton.

Selection:
10pts win – Last Enchantment @ 4/1 WH