Tag Archives: Flat Racing

Sunday Selections: April, 21st 2019

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

Junoesque (5/1) was punted of the boards last night at Brighton – thankfully she emerged as the winner of the final race on the card – this time, unlike on Friday, it was the ‘lucky last’! That’s been two nice winners this week – all in for a hat-trick?

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5.15 Southwell: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

Without a win in 17 starts, Captain Dion may finally found the ideal opportunity to get his head in front again. The grey changed yards earlier this year and ran with plenty of promise on his two starts since returning to the track.

A pipe opener at Newcastle over 7f, followed by a strong 3rd place finish in a competitive Handicap here over course and distance – that piece of form looks particularly strong as it has worked really well already.

It was a first run on Southwell’s fibresand that day, Captain Dion didn’t seem to mind it at all, in fact looks a sort likely to be pretty effective. The handicapper has been lenient, Captain Dion dropped another pound, down to 59. He’s also dropping down in class today.

There may a be a bit of improvement to come for Captain Dion’s second run on fibresand – his sire has quite an excellent record here. The jockey/trainer combo of 3lb laiming Gabriele Malune and Ivan Furtado is a strong one – it’s also Malune’s only ride today.

Selection:
10pts win – Captain Dion @ 6/1 MB

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Saturday Selections: April, 20th 2019

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Good Friday could have been a great Friday if Landing Night wouldn’t have been beaten in a tight finish in the ‘unlucky last’ at Newcastle. Thankfully Matterhorn got me out of jail (7/1) what would have been otherwise a painful day.

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4.45 Brighton: Class 5 Handicap, 6f

This is a competitive race; I can make good cases for half of them, so backing the favourite doesn’t seem wise. Still, already a course and distance winner off 3lb higher in similarly fast conditions last year, could be supremely well handicapped.

The 4-year-old, despite a poor overall record, ran to a TS rating of 70 when winning here last year; the form looks solid enough to believe it was a true running. He had a good seasonal comeback run an the All-Weather lately, so fitness is assured.

Interesting jockey booking with young Cieren Fallon on board, who’s worth every pound of his 7lb claim as he proved with worthiness on the All-Weather this year already.

Selection:
10pts win – Swissal @ 7/2 MB

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7.50 Brighton: Class 6 Handicap, 1 mile

Twice a course and distance scorer, Junoesque returns to her happy hunting ground. Those were her only victories to date, they came here last season on fast ground as well. She’s pretty much the same mark, give or take a pound, and proved in the past to be capable of running to a bit higher than that.

In fact Junoesque ran to a TS rating of 58 on both occasions when winning here at Brighton, as well as to 54 in another race – suggesting, if conditions are right, she as good, if not even a little bit better than her current 55 rating.

Fitness has to be trusted on her seasonal reappearance. But this looks an ideal opportunity to get another win on the board.

Selection:
10pts win – Junoesque @ 5/1 MB

Good Friday Selections – April, 19th 2019

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As the sun shows up more often these days, the garden becomes a more frequented place to spend time in and the general mood lifts, one could get easily overexcited. I am quite excited, in fact!

It’s not often I do fancy so many horses in a single day; having a handful of bets bears the danger of possibly given in to emotion rather than rationality. Fancying someone doesn’t equal loving someone. So, not every fancy is a quality bet.

I hope I used my head to identify some quality selections for this ‘Super Friday’, regardless. Could be a massive day, could be a brutal day…. we shall see. It’s the long-term that matters, of course. There’re days when it still would be nice to get a reward for the shift put in.

Either way, let’s enjoy the superb ‘Good Friday’ racing!

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3.20 Newcastle: Listed Burradon Stakes, 1m

Before I went to bed last night I was all over Daarik. I loved his last two runs, the sudden turn of foot he produced, his classy pedigree and Jim Crowley’s Newcastle record in spring time – but I was sleepy, so deferred decision.

Good decision! I’m now all over Magic J. Hence I discarded Daarik. The doubts I had over him became too big to punt him at around 7/2:

Physically he doesn’t seem to have improved much over the winter, the fact he started his juvenile season rather early – which makes sense as a February foal – suggests he was potentially precocious last year, though injury prevented him from running during the good months of the year. And he’s done nothing on the clock, despite those two visually impressive victories.

Magic J in contrast – same as Darrik, also with an entry for the 2000 Guineas (both Newmarket & Curragh) – looked physically strong, open for plenty of improvement in his only start last year. He won a poor maiden over 6f at Yarmouth but did that in excellent style.

This colt cost nearly a million US$ as a yearling, which is logical, given his incredibly sexy pedigree. Connections stated he’s been working well at home, see him still as a potential Guineas horse, though the mile is the question mark as he shows plenty of speed.

Pedigree wise the mile looks more than only a possibility. The All-Weather looks also rather certain to suit. This isn’t on the surface a particularly deep Listed race in my mind also.

The one thing against him, beside stamina and fitness questions, is the draw. He may not be ideally drawn on the outside. But Magic J is as good as I believe he could be, he’ll overcome it no bother.

Selection:
10pts win – Magic J @ 9/2 MB

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 3.30 Bath: Class 2 Handicap, 1 mile

Not sure whether today is the day, but if he’s given a fair chance I can see Sea Fox outrunning a massive price-tag. The 5-year-old has dropped to a wonderful mark and will act on fast ground as well as stays a mile.

His mark has fallen, and he such a massive long-shot today, because recent performances weren’t up to scratch – on paper at least. One shouldn’t forget he won three times last year of marks of 85 and 89 twice. So, now down to 84, given he also ran to TS ratings of 84 and 86 in the past, suggests he can be weighted to go close.

I rate some of his more recent AW performances higher than credit seems to be given. Even though he finished last and seemed a bit lackluster when last seen at Lingfield, on the clock he finished as good as anyone in the race, and in none of his last five runs was he beaten by more than 3¼.

It’s a long-shot, yes, but if Sea Fix can find back some sort of form, now back on turf, off a handy mark, he’ll be a danger to everyone in this race.

Selection:
10pts win – Sea Fox @ 55/1 MB/PP/Sky

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3.40 Lingfield: 3 Year Old AW Championships, 6f

First time blinkered and the aid of a perfect draw, this test looks tailor made for Quiet Endeavour, who was running well lately, even though the form book doesn’t quite tell the story how well.

The gelding won four on the track last season and was quite precocious, so there is always a question how that translates into a 3yo season. A disappointing seasonal reappearance aside, his last two runs were excellent.

He attempted to make all on both occasions, but found 7f at Lingfield clearly too far as, while leading the field to the final furlong marker, he ran completely out of gas. He went to France for the Montenica Stakes over 6.5f.

Quiet Endeavour was hurried up early on in order to overcome a wide draw and before the first turn he got the lead. He travelled well, but again, was passed in the final furlong running empty.

The drop to sharp 6f at a speedy track as Lingfield is, will surely help. The blinkers should keep him focused in the closing stages hopefully.

Selection:
10pts win – Quiet Endeavour @ 12/1 Coral

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4.15 Lingfield: AW Middle Distance Champs, 1m 2f 

Taking on the 1/3 favourite doesn’t seem wise but I do it nonetheless. It’s an easy decision as I feel there isn’t as much between Wissahickon and second favourite Matterhorn.

True, Wissahickon couldn’t have been more impressive on the AW this year, matching, at least visually, the impressive Cambridgeshire performance at the end of last season. A 10-8-1 record speaks for itself, anyway.

Matterhorn was nearly equally impressive, posting a 9-6-2 record and five of his last six starts. Excuses can be made for a recent below par effort at Kempton, when he got locked up in a battle for the lead and made way too much too early.

The comparision on the numbers between Matterhorn and Wissahickon is interesting. The later ones best TS rating is 94, with a top RPR of 119 (on the AW), whereas Matterhorn posted a top TS rating of 100 and RPR of 118. Sure, the numbers have to be seen in the right context and there is always the question how relevant career best performances are for the “now”.

However, both horses are still rather low mileage, hence could also improve. Matterhorn, though, had one career run less and also was a late April foal (Wissahickon (February).

That all may not make any difference, but it’s reason enough for me to conclude that the horse I fancy should be shorter in the betting and the short odds-on favourite a little bit bigger than he is right now.

Selection:
10pts win – Matterhorn @ 7/1 MB

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4.55 Newcastle: Class 4 Handicap, 5 furlongs

Landing Night may not have won since having a wind surgery in autumn, but he ran consistently well in more than a handful of starts – in fact he was beaten at most by 3¼ lengths in his last seven starts.

Despite some excellent efforts in defeat, Landing Night  has fallen to a mark of 72, which is 5lb below his last AW winning mark. He also ran to a TS rating of 74, a second highest (career high 79) in November – so not too long ago, suggesting he’s well capable of running to- if not a bit better of his current rating.

The now 7-year-old isn’t getting any younger, and he isn’t a frequent winner anyway, so everything needs to fall right. If he can to the form he showed in early winter, though, he’s supremely well handicapped today.

Selection:
10pts win – Landing Night @ 9/1 PP

Wednesday Selections: April, 17th 2019

Balty Boys

Craven Stakes Day. Excellent racing at HQ today, as was the case yesterday as well. Qabala was impressive the way she won the Nell Qwyn Stakes. She looks like a horse ready-made for the Rowley Mile.

But the biggest lasting impressing was created in the opening maiden that saw Maqsad and Twist’n Shake fight out a dramatic battle to the line, as well as finishing a long way before the rest. Both fillies look exciting prospects for the season ahead.

Betting wise, I’m not really interested in Newmarket today. But Beverly offers an intriguing card, if not quite the same quality. The handicaps are interesting puzzles to solve for those who are into that sort of thing.

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4.00 Beverly: Class 4 Handicap, 7.5f

This is a pretty competitive and open race but I feel my selection Jackamundo can have a big say if in it to win it. He’s a big drifter this morning which is a concern, though there are plenty of positives as well.

Jackamundo looks the type to improve as a 3-year-old after a fair juvenile campaign, culminating in victory on handicap debut. Visually it was quite an impressive performance when he showed adversity to find a way through the field and get his head in front late, but early enough to win by a quarter of a lengths.

Gelded over the winter, his seasonal comeback run at Musselburgh was fair when the market expected him to run really well, though excuses can be made for a 6th place finish in a race where things didn’t quite pan out for him.

The slightly further trip today is sure to suit, the fast ground appears ideal as well, though the draw isn’t ideal and whether his racing style suits Beverly remains to be seen. A mark off 72 is realistic and offers opportunity, on the other hand.

Selection:
10pts win – Jackamundo @ 18/1 MB

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5.10 Beverly: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 4f

It still pains me thinking back to the 22nd February when Gendarme as my 25/1 selection was beaten by a nose on the line. Can he make amends as an equally whopping price today?

The 4-year-old gelding looks hopeless judged by an 11-0-1 record. But as mentioned back then, it still applies very much today:

the majority of his runs on the All-Weather over the winter were quite promising, as he wasn’t too far beaten on most occasions, and those forms, to large extend have worked out well.

The most recent run at Lingfield, when attempting to follow up from his runner-up performance, albeit only finishing 7th and nearly seven lengths beaten, he was right there for a long time, setting a good pace from the front against hot opposition – for that class.

Given Gendarme he has ran to consistent RPR’s around his current mark and achieved a significantly higher career highest TS rating less than a year ago on turf, a return to this surface could bring out some improvement also. I feel there is a win just around the corner – hopefully today is the day.

Selection:
10pts win – Gendarme @ 21/1 MB

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6.10 Beverly: Class 5 Handicap, 8.5 furlongs

Still a maiden, though, Kylie Rules is one of the more unlucky ones. The filly has changed yards recently and goes to post first time for Ruth Carr today which is also her seasonal return.

The filly has dropped to a really handy mark if fit and ready to go today. She’s ran well fresh in the past, so that isn’t necessarily a worry. Kylie Rules also achieved a TS rating of 72 and RPR of 72 last season, suggesting a mark of 60 is well within her realms.

Her career-best came over the 8.5f trip last season at Hamilton – albeit on soft ground, though she ran perfectly fine on much fast ground as well. This looks like an ideal opportunity today to finally get off the mark.

Selection:
10pts win – Kylie Rules @ 10/1 PP

Winx The Great – But Not The Greatest

 

“Beep, Beep, Beep……” The alarm rings at half past five in the morning – on a Saturday. Autsch!

35 minutes to go until the gates crash open on the other side of the globe: Winx, the Australian wonder mare, is about to bring the house down at Sydney’s Randwick racecourse.

It’s her final final race – number 43, in a career that’s spanning over six years. Quite an astonishing longevity for a horse competing at the highest level of the sport. Even more astonishing: Winx hasn’t lost in 32 consecutive starts.

She’s not letting this one slip – consecutive victory #33. From the widest draw she settles in sixth position, travelling beautifully. The pace isn’t particularly hot, but jockey Hugh Bowman has nothing to fear: three furlongs out he allows Winx to stride on, she’s got to turn four wide, no bother. Once entering the home straight, the star mare hits top gear and sprints home in emphatic fashion.

Impressive: a 25th Group 1 success – no horse won more. Ever. Same goes for the astronomical amount of price money she’s amassed throughout her stellar career.

It was worth getting up early for this wonderful moment of racing history. Winx, now retired, will live on in our memories as one of the great champions of our sport. What she has done, again and again, over such a long period of time – given we know how fragile these creatures are – is simply astonishing.

The Debate: “The Greatest We’ve Ever Seen” ?

Racing fans across the globe arguing for some time about the true merit of her victories. Whether Winx is one of the best – if not even the best ever – or whether she’s merely avoided real competition hence she can’t be “a great”…. the debate is pretty black and white in many quarters.

True, Winx took on the same horses on many occasions. She’s beaten poor Hartnell eight times and Happy Clapper eleven times. We know the competition beyond sprinting trips isn’t quite as deep in Australia as it is in Europe.

Nonetheless, the saying goes: you can only beat what’s put in front of you. And the way she’s done it, backing her performances up on the clock as well, has been pretty sensational.

One number stands out for me: 76 – it’s the number of Group 1 winners she has beaten in her races. It’s hard to argue Winx is not top-class. She is! And with supreme class come expectations that sometimes stay unfulfilled. For example the hope to see her travelling over to Royal Ascot.

I’ve no problem with that. Personally for me it doesn’t diminish her achievements. Seeing them in the right context is vital, though. Because, as mentioned before, the debate tends to be black and white, while the reality rarely is.

In the 2018 Timeform Global Rankings Winx (133) took second place behind Cracksman (134) – there is little evidence to support the notion she’d been worse than that – but also not much better than that – this year. This isn’t a knock on the mighty mare. Winx is a true star of our sport. So is Arc winner Cracksman – greats of their time. But neither is in the category of “the greatest of all time”.

Seeing it this way is a fair and balanced reflection on the achievements of this brilliant mare, in my eyes. It’s what she is – or was; a brilliant, classy and incredibly sound horse, competing at the top level over a variety of trips; outstanding in her part of the world, reigning over any rival who tried to take the crown off her.

Oh so many wonderful moments for the sport of horse racing. Isn’t that what it’s all about? The special bond between horse and human, showing in the affection of the general public for the mare, none more so today at Royal Randwick, where it was – of course – a sellout crowd, and even outside of the racecourse hundreds lined up on the streets lurking through the fences, only to get a glimpse of Winx.

Let’s not argue about good or bad, black and white, best or worst – let’s celebrate the final chapter of a great career of a great mare – Winx, you’re a champion.

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Photo Credit: 7HorseRacing

Saturday Selections: April, 13th 2019

Newbury racecourse

3.05 Thirsk: Class 5 Handicap, 6 furlongs

Obviously a wide open contest but I can make a reasonably strong case for Prestbury Park, who has left the Johnston yard and wouldn’t be first one to improve for a change of scenery.

Now with Paul Midgley, Prestbury Park also has undergone a wind surgery lately, which may well be of further help to the not talentless 4-year-old gelding.

He lost his form in the latter half of last season, after finishing a strong runner-up in July at Epsom, he’s now a full ten pounds lower in his handicap, but it’s noteworthy he was able to finish second off 90 back in October 2017.

Prestbury Park is yet to win in Handicap company, though, he ran five times to TS ratings above 72 throughout his career, a lifetime high of 82, suggesting if he’s somehow got back into the mood for the game, he’ll be potentially well in here.

The wide draw isn’t ideal, particularly with loads of pace drawn in lower numbers. It’s a risk worth taking given the big price tag. It’s noteworthy also that Midgley and jockey Kevin Scott have an excellent record when teaming up.

Selection:
10pts win – Prestbury Park @ 16/1 PP

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5.00 Newbury: Maiden Stakes, 1m 3f

John Gosden’s Planissimo looks a strong contender, as the odds suggest – he ran to a TS rating of 71 on debut at Chelmsford, which is quite decent. However, newcomer Space Walk is the one I’m keen on here.

Always a risk with horses you’ve never seen. However, Space Walk is supremely well bred – all his relatives has won, in fact he is a full-brother to stakes winners Recorder and Call To Mind.

Space Walk has a Derby entry as well, and the fact he’s started over 1m 3f suggests he’s here not only for the education, but also to get things rolling on a more serious note.

Galileo offspring have a tremendous record here at Newbury generally, even more so over this sort of trip.

Selection:
10pts win – Space Walk @ 3/1

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5.35 Newbury: Class 3 Handicap, 1m 2f

New Show ran an almighty race in a hot handicap when last seen in 2018. Inexperience cost him dearly that day but to be in it for as long as he was, not finishing too badly, was impressive.

That Goodwood race has worked out tremendously well and judged by that a mark of 87 could well underestimate New Show, if he can improve as a 4-year-old with age and experience. As a late April foal, with low mileage, you do hope there is more to come.

He’s been gelded in the meantime, has Jamie Spencer on board and connections seem to have found a nice opportunity to kick things off in 2019. Of course it’s a competitive race with 19 starters, but I feel the 11 draw will give Spencer every chance to keep things simple and to find a clear passage – which is that’s needed.

Selection:
10pts win – New Show @  8/1 MB

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6.30 Wolverhampton: Class 5 Handicap, 5f

Ideally there’d be an additional furlong to go today, still Cappananty Con is exquisitely weighted and can be able to get a win over the minimum trip under his belt.

He’s been placed over CD twice before this winter – he ran to a TS rating of 68 and RPR of 80 at Wolverhampton in January – and has kept his form quite well ever since. Nonetheless he’s been dropped 5lb in the handicap mark, down to a 70 rating now.

The additional 3lb claim of Joshua Bryan should prove handy as well. The draw may be wider than ideal, on the other hand.

Selection:
10pts win – Cappananty Con @ 8/1 MB

Friday Selections: April, 12th 2019

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

3.40 Newbury: Class 2 Handicap, 7 furlongs

This looks quite a volatile race judged by the intense market moves. No surprise, though – early season, three-year-olds returning to the track after a winter break, soft ground and a 7 furlong trip. Sounds a bit like the makeup for a good lottery game.

Two individuals appear to be severely overpriced, in my book, however. That is firstly the David Evans trained Lihou from the bottom of the weights. One who started his career early as a juvenile in March last year, he showed some fine form early in the season, but kept following on with other strong runs in autumn as well.

He ran to a TS rating of 81 when runner-up at Chester in a Conditions Stakes over the minimum trip, but seemed to have no issue with staying 7f when runner-up here at Newbury in September at his first and only try very a trip that far – he did so off 4lb higher than today.

Second time over this trip, of a seemingly fair mark, Lihou could well be able to outrun his price tag.

Same can be said for front-running Sparklealot. A progressive sort last year, he won three times, including over 7f on soft ground when last seen.

A 7lb hike in the mark will mean he’ll need to find a bit more improvement, but given this colt ran to a TS rating of 83 that day, there may well be more to come.

Selection:
5pts win – Sparklealot @ 25/1 MB
5pts win – Lihou @ 25/1 MB