Tag Archives: Flat Racing

Monday Quickie at Redcar

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A quick tip for this Monday – Godolphin stable jockey William Buick has only one single ride today and he should make this a successful one. His mount Second Wave reappears after a promising debut win at this course last season. The yard is going really well, so one would assume the colt is probably fit enough for his comeback.

Second Wave is sure to appreciate the trip, which is a step up from his 7f maiden win, where he overcame greenness and stayed on well. He has scope to improve with age as well and meets perfect ground conditions today on his Handicap debut. That says his opening mark could be quite lenient as he is nicely bred and bound to progress – on paper at least.

4.20 Redcar: Second Wave @ 11/10 Ladbrokes – 10pts win

Flat Horses To Follow

The start of the flat season is looming…… the ‘real’ start I mean! Yes, the Doncaster Lincoln is the traditional kick-off, but let’s be honest, the focus is still very much on the jumps – thanks to the all overshadowing Grand National. However you’ll see, time is flying.  A blink of an eye later and horses are already thundering down the Rowley Mile at Newmarket on Guineas weekend!

That is reason enough for me to write down my personal “Flat Horses To Follow List”! I have worked myself through a large list of horses in recent weeks – to be more specific: I’ve been actually assessing the more or less promising two year old colts and geldings of the 2014 season. Based on that, I’ve come up with a 12 To Follow list…..

I know, everyone is coming up with ten to follow these days – that’s why I have twelve horses on my list! … Well, no. To be honest, I just couldn’t endure the pain to cut down the list to ten.

Archangel Raphael – 2 Starts, Aiden O’Brien

This lightly races son of Montjeu was unlucky not to win on debut but made amends at the Galway Festival. He looked pretty green on both starts and was outpaced halfway through but was particularly impressive on his second outing when he had many negative factors to overcome but won in the manner of a talented individual. There’s bit lack of stamina on his dam side, but 1m 2f should be possible for him. Much further looks unlikely.

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Christophermarlowe – 2 Starts, John Gosden

Big, powerful, galloping sort with plenty of scope. Was still very much learning the game in both career starts, but looks to have some raw ability that could propel him into a top class performer. He handled Epsom well enough when winning a Conditions race on his second outing. Looks sure to get 1m 2f, could potentially get the Derby trip as well.

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Chemical Charge – 2 Starts, Ralf Beckett

Made a belated debut in October. Was visually impressive and followed up with minor win on the All-Weather weeks later. Showed a nice  turn of foot on Lingfield’s polytrack. He has a lovely middle-distance pedigree which should ensure he gets better with age and distance.

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Consort – 1 Start, Sir Michael Stoute

Impressive runaway winner of a hot Newmarket maiden last autumn. Produced strong turn of foot from the front but should be suited by stiffer test. Step up in trip should suit. He’s very likely to enjoy a mile and may even develop with time into a top class runner over a bit further. Out off the Guineas though as trainer said he need a bit more time.

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Endless Drama – 1 Start, Ger Lyons

Astonishing debut run late in the season when producing serious change of gear. Very well bred out of a Listed winning mare. Looks to have loads of speed and not sure if he would get a mile, but he has potential to do loads of damage over sprint trips if he fails to show enough stamina for further.

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Fannaan – 2 Starts, John Gosden

Utterly impressive in two career outings. Beat 104 rated individual under hands and heels in soft conditions at Newmarket over 7f on second start. Bred to be top class miler who should be even more suited by quick underfoot conditions. Exciting prospect.

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Full Mast – 3 Starts, Head-Maarek

Already a multiple Group winner in France over seven furlongs  in his short career, including the Group 1 Prix Jean Luc Lagardere (actual winner Gleneagles demoted). Lovely bred and sure to improve with age and distance. Exciting middle-distance prospect.

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Golden Horn – 1 Start, John Gosden

Was slowly away and trailing on debut but produced great run to win in the end. Beat smart runner-up (was 2nd on debut behind subsequent Racingpost Trophy runner-up). He is a half-brother to a 10f Listed winner and is bound to excel over middle-distance trips this season once stepping up in trip.

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Giovanni Canaletto – 2 Starts, Aiden O’Brien

A full-brother to Ruler Of The World, he is obviously very well bred. He has been quite green in his two career starts but finished strongly on debut behind a potentially smart winner. He produced a blistering turn of foot on his 2nd start, despite an awkward head carriage. He will improve with experience and distance.

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Mohaayed – 2 Starts, Kevin Prendergast

Very green on both starts. Completely unaware of what his job is supposed to be on debut. Very impressive winner on second start, beating smart Ballydoyle horse in third. Was looking- and wandering around in closing stages but showed some class. Future seems to be over middle-distance on pedigree.

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Highland Reel – 2 Starts, Aiden O’Brien

Very Green and raw and first two starts. Yet run out impressive 12l winner stepping up to one mile on second outing. Third of that race beat exciting prospect JFK subsequently. He went on to win Group 2 over seven furlongs at Goodwood on his last start in 2014. In a rather slowly run race he produced a blistering turn of foot. He should relish a stiffer test over further on pedigree. To my eyes he looks the real deal if he trains on. Serious Guineas prospect.

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Zawraq – 1 Start, Dermot Weld

Gutsy debut winner against potentially smart Sir Isaac Newton. Showed great attitude to fight back when under pressure. Trainer is very upbeat and rates him as best 3yo in the yard. More to come once stepping up in trip. He should get up to 1m 2f but looks to have enough speed for a crack at the Guineas as well.

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It would have been easy to put a list together with all the super sexy Aiden O’Brien prospects. And boy, he has aplenty on his hands! Equally John Gosden, who seems to have some very strong individuals at his disposal. Now, three horses each have made it into my list nonetheless. But I tried to provide a bit of variety and left out the obvious ones like John F Kennedy or Sir Isaac Newton & Gleneagles.

I suppose, if you nail me down to the ONE horse to follow for 2015 – It would be undoubtedly Highland Reel. I was so impressed with his maiden win, where he was more interested in anything else around him, than the actual job he had to do, yet he pulled clear by 12 lengths…. easily….. effortless.

This speaks volumes. He is a hugely talented individual. Mind you, the third of the mentioned maiden race won subsequently a maiden where he beat none less than John F Kennedy. Okay, it’s fair to say JFK needed the run and was green and of course will be better over further. Yet, it is still telling that such an exciting Ballydoyle prospect was a good deal beaten by a horse that was simply demolished by Highland Reel weeks before. Keep the winning margin always in mind: 12l+!

The son of Galileo stepped up in class almost as effortless weeks later at Glorious Goodwood. He dropped down to seven furlongs, right into a race where the pace wasn’t really on, he pulled hard early on, yet when asked for everything, he produced a blistering turn of foot and the race was over.

Highland Reel is the real deal! Yes, there are extremely positive vibes about Gleneagles, who is a short favourite for the 2.000 Guineas. But no doubt, the value lies with his stable mate. Aiden O’Brien confirmed already that HR will go down the Guineas route. And that make sense. From there he may can step up in trip. Coral Eclipse as the most likeliest next target?

But step by step. He’s 12/1 for the Guineas at the moment, and if he starts on the day indeed, he’ll have a much better chance to win. So I backed him ante-post and nominate him as my selection for the race. Highland Reel will win the Guineas.

Preview – Musselburgh Gold Cup

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An intriguing contest which should turn into a real stamina test. Progressive stayer Handiwork looks to have a big shout with Joe Fanning on board. His ability to handle soft ground and to stay two miles are a key combination today. I feel further improvement is already very much reflected in the short odds, though. Top weight Lady Kashaan goes well with cut in the ground, but the trip stretches her stamina and with a very big weight to overcome, she may struggle here. Usually in attacking mode, Be Perfect must have a serious chance if he handles the ground. But despite drying ground, it remains very much on the slow side, and that is a concern.

Streets Of Newyork was in good nick over hurdles this year already and now back on the flat off a fair mark, he should have a good chance, though his best performances on the flat came over shorter trips. The lightly races Royal Signaller could easily have still more to offer. The trip and ground are slight worries. If he handles both, he’ll  be a big runner. Same applies to Braes Of Lochalsh. First start in handicaps & feather weight are an interesting combination, but he’s completely unproven on ground and trip and could be anything.

From a betting perspective I feel Richard Guest’s runner Precision Strike is a very big price. It remains to be seen if the track plays to his strengths, but the five year old clearly handles ground and trip. He was a really progressive stayer last season, culminating back in October in an excellent success in a 2m Handicap at Haydock. He probably needed his recent outing at Wolverhampton and while he was a long way beaten, one would expect him to be much more competitive today. If he can make enough progress entering the home straight to be not too far of the pace, he will have a big shout in this I feel.

3.25 Musselburgh: Musselburgh Gold Cup
Precision Strike @ 22/1 Bet365 – 5pts win

Preview – Curragh Opener

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I hope your appetite for the start of the Irish flat season is wetted by now and you have had a chance to read my preview for the Irish Lincolnshire – but there is plenty more to come on the opening meeting of the Curragh! There’s some really good Handicaps as well as one intriguing Group 3 on the tab…. so let’s get right into it!

3.10 Curragh: Handicap, 6 furlongs, 3yo plus

Great Minds looks a very short price here. A winner of this very same race last year, he followed up with another big handicap triumph on Guineas weekend, and should relish conditions today. But not only does he have to overcome a lengthy absence, but also a 9lb higher mark. There might be well more to come from him but on prices I believe Focus On Venice makes most appeal in this field. He is still pretty lightly raced and has won on each of his last two seasonal reappearances.

He beat smart Michaelmas on debut in 2013 and won a good Cork Handicap last season, from where he went on to finish a gallant runner-up in Listed company. He was found out for class in Group 3 company subsequently but now dropped into Handicaps as a fresh horse one would think he has a big shout in this race. His mark looks fair and it’s not impossible that there is still more to come from this four year old colt on what is only his sixth start. Only question mark is the heavy ground. He performed well on yielding in the past, so there is an indication that he could be fine.

Focus On Venice @ 13/2 Coral – 5pts win

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3.45 Curragh: Park Express Stakes (Fillies’ Group 3)

Interesting renewal with plenty of possibilities and the heavy overnight rain doesn’t make it any easier to solve the puzzle. Last years runner-up Odeliz is back for another crack and must be a big runner. She has form on soft ground in top class company and the only worry is her habit to find usually one or two too good. This time again?

Aiden O’Brien usually takes a while to get his string going and that certainly is something to keep in mind if assessing the chance of lightly raced filly Easter. However there is plenty to like about her. She looked big and scopy last year, as well as talented with a good attitude when getting off the mark in a Leopardstown maiden towards the end of the year. She should relish the step up to 1m and should handle the ground with plenty of soft ground form on her dam side.

Afternoon Sunlight was an excellent prospect last spring but saw her colours significantly lowered in the second half of last season. If she has improved over the winter, she is in with a good chance, though she has to give weight away. Avenue Gabrial has been progressive last year and showed to handle soft ground. She has two listed wins to her name so far, and while a bit more is required here, she has the right profile do really well.

Alive Alive Oh has never reached the heights one expected in the early days of her career, but a break and first time cheek-pieces may help her to be competitive today. Lightly raced Steip Amach caused a huge upset in the Killavullan Stakes at the end of last season. She could have still more to offer now as a three year old.

Verdict: I usually don’t like backing three year olds against older horses at this early stage of the season, but Easter looked a lovely big, scopy sort, who could have plenty more to come, and she may not be unsuited by todays conditions. The weight for age allowance is a significant bonus and I would have expected to see her right at the head of the market.

Easter @ 4/1 Coral – 5pts win

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The Best Of The Rest: 600k gns yearling The Warrior tries to get off the mark in the 6f maiden. He didn’t live up to his price tag last season but may have more to offer now as a three year old. He should be hard to beat but any flaws may be exploited by the exciting newcomer Mulkeyya. A half-sister to Mustajeeb, she could be a big runner for Dermot Weld.

The Curragh finale is an intriguing one mile maiden with last years Racingpost Tropy fourth Jacobean at the head of the market. This is only his third start and there is surely more to come, but it might not be quite as straightforward as the market predicts. Dermot Weld’s Ashraf looks a very interesting contender, so could be Appeared, who wasn’t far beaten on debut behind Jacobean in a maiden last year.

PREVIEW – 2015 Irish Lincolnshire

Irish Lincolnshire 2014

Last years winner Stuccodor has another crack at the Irish Lincolnshire and tries to defend his crown. He prevailed inan exciting finish twelve month ago and trainer Dermot Weld will be pleased to see the rain arriving right in time. Stuccodor proved gutsy last year and with conditions to suit is one of the main contenders once again. However he has to overcome a massive weight this time, even though this is offset to an extend by a useful claimer in the saddle. Nonetheless this looks a stronger race than last year and it is a big task to win this as the top weight.

The lightly raced Onenightidreamed heads the market and his lightly raced profile gives him a very fair chance to go close off a potentially lenient mark, if he can overcome an almost year long break. Another well fancied horse in single-figure odds is Unsinkable. He won a big Apprentice Handicap at Leopardstown when last seen and could well improve further, but first has to overcome a 11lb hike in the mark. Not an easy task in a classy field as this years one in the Irish Lincolnshire.

A lightly raced contender is certainly You’re Fired as well. Progressive over the last two seasons, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him going close. He’ll relish any drop of rain. But is he good enough? We’ll find out. Veteran Vastonea won the Topaz Mile at the Galway Festival last year and ended last season on a high, when going agonisingly close in the Irish Cambridgeshire of a career highest mark. Boomshackerlacker ran with loads of credit at Meydan’s dirt this winter, but may find this here a big ask off a big weight over a trip he’s never been successful at.

It’s noteworthy that Frederik Tylicki comes over from the UK only to ride Haaf A Sixpence. The six year old gelding was much improved lately when landing a good Southwell Handicap. He may have finally turned the corner and a return to turf right into a big handicap may well suit. He has done remarkably well in those kind of races in the past and is only 2lb above his last turf winning mark, which came in a very strong Newmarket Handicap in autumn 2013.

Defining Year, the second Weld runner in this race, has a poor strike record over the one mile trip, but ran a couple of excellent races in defeat. It has to be noted that he comes down in the weights and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him going close. Aiden o’Brien saddles improving Bishan Bedi. He’s been a good winner on the Dundalk All-Weather, and may have still a bit more to give, but that says he has to improve quite a bit to have a chance.

You always have to respect Kevin Prendergast runners and I feel he has an outstanding chance to go really close with lightly raced Maskoon. The now four year old ran a couple of really nice races last year, has proven track, trip and ground record and may well exploit his Handicap mark. He gets a very nice chance by the handicapper and with the 5lb claim of useful apprentice Gary Paul Halpin in the saddle, he should really be a big runner here.

Another one who may be able to make use of a slipping mark is Third Dimension. He won a good maiden over 1m last year, and ended the season with a very strong effort in a big 10f Handicap at Leopardstown, when he didn’t get the run of the race but made eye-catching progress in the closing stages. With the soft going in his favour, I feel tone mile could be about the right test for him with the likely fast pace sure to suit.

Hasanour was improving all the time last season. A winner at the Galway Festival and subsequently at the Curragh, both times in hot Handicaps, he should have the right tools to run really well, if he is fit on his seasonal debut. He has to overcome a career highest mark, but could be up to it. Aussie Valentine could be a dark horse. Silvestre De Sousa is an interesting jockey booking.

Verdict: Plenty of chances, and I feel that Maskoon could easily outrun his big price tag. He’s allot in his favour. Haaf A Sixpence looks a serious chance as well. He loves these type or races and poses good recent form. He is overpriced in my mind, as well as progressive Third Dimension, who may find an ideal test in the Irish Lincolnshire.

Maskoon @ 16/1 Stan James – 5pts win
Haaf A Sixpence @ 14/1 Betfred – 2.5pts win
Third Dimension @ 20/1 Stan James – 2.5pts win

The Flat is back!

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The flat is back! Finally! Yes, I’m very happy about this. I love flat racing. Though, understandably, there will be also plenty of sad faces today, as this means the jump season is pretty much over. Even though the biggest of them all, the Grand National is still to come!

But personally I really happy to have the flat back, as it means spring is in the air and top class racing is approaching thick and fast! The UK flat season kicks-off with the Lincoln meeting at Doncaster, while we have the Dubai World Cup night at Meydan today. It ain’t much better. I don’t want to bore you to death, dear readers, so i hope you enjoy this quick and snappy betting preview of all the big races….

2.35 Doncaster: Cammidge Trophy (Listed)

Wide open renewal. The ground is drying out and that may catch out a couple of these, particularly last years winner Dinkum Diamond. On the other hand the ground may not be quite quick enough for Naadirr, who I actually like allot, but under a penalty could find this too tough. Astaire will find this easier than the top races he contested in last season. He is a worthy favourite, but not more than a fair price.

As the value here, I fancy the filly Perfect Blessings to go well. Still rather lightly raced, she looked promising in spring last year and may do better now as a four year old than her last two results may suggest. If she is fit today, she could outrun her price with conditions to suit. 1/4 odds EW with Coral looks tasty here.

Perfect Blessings @ 33/1 Coral – 2.5pts EW

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3.45 Doncaster: Lincoln Handicap (Class 2)

The feature race on the opening day of the English flat season – the Lincoln is naturally a race with a big field and plenty of runners with realistic chances. Two lightly raced horses heading the market this year, tough current second favourite GM Hopkins makes more appeal than 13/2 favourite Mange All. If you ignore those two slightly below forms when seen last in the 2014 season – where the soft ground may not have been quite suitable – then Gm Hopkins is a rapidly improving gelding with plenty of scope. Still generally lightly raced, he won a big Newmarket Handicap last summer in the manner of a really good horse.

Strong pace is key to him, but that should be ensured today, and the drying ground is a big bonus. It’s more than fair to assume that he has much more to offer from a mark off 99. If he progresses with age as one would hope and actually expect, then 7/1 could be a bit too big a price.

Another runner I fancy, though a much bigger price, is Baraweez. A very impressive winner of a Premier Handicap on Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown, he was progressive last season as well and could have still more to give. He wwas also a good winner at the Galway Festival, both those big wins came over 7f, but he’s equally good over further, as a strong pace is simply key to him. Interesting that Chris Hayes travelled over to ride two mounts for Brian Ellison on the card, but surly this is the one he’s over for. No doubt, Baraweez is overpriced in my mind at 22/1.

Gm Hopkings @ 7/1 Bet365 – 5pts win
Baraweez @ 22/1 Coral – 5pts win

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2.30 Meydan: Al Quoz Sprint (Group 1)

I might be slightly biased here because I really love South African racing and therefore have all fingers crossed for big runs of South African horses at Meydan today. Although, even from a neutral perspective, one has to say that 14/1 for Via Africa must rate as way too big a price. The filly is the best sprinter in her native country, a multiple Grade 1 winner with loads of pace. She impressed me on her Meydan debut when she showed excellent gate speed and stuck well to the task in the closing stages.

She was entitled to fade away, given the gruelling preparation she had to endure, with all the quarantine measurements taken in regards of South African horses, but she finished well enough. Via Africa should come on allot for this, only the bounce factor is a slight worry. But conditions in her favour, I would expect a big run.

Via Africa @ 14/1 Bet365 – 5pts win

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3.40 Meydan: Dubai Turf (Group 1)

Multiple Group winner Sollow is favourite to land this, though this is his first ever crack at the highest level. In contrast proven Group 1 horse The Grey Gatsby makes more appeal on pure form. He lowered the colours of Australia last year and should be a major contender here. Slight concern is the drop in trip, as he looked to need every inch at Leopardstown.

Euro Charline looks the value against the two well fancied favourites. This filly could easily  have still more to offer. She was super progressive last year as she performed very well during spring in top Group races in the UK and won a 1m Listed contest before she travelled over to the US to land a strong renewal of the Grade 1 Beverly D. Stakes in very taking style. She proved that day what a gutsy, genuine and talented filly she is. She missed the Breeders Cup through injury, but vibes are very positive in recent days about her wellbeing and a big run can be expected.

Euro Charline @ 10/1 Bet365 – 5pts win

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4.15 Meydan: Dubai Sheema Classic (Group 1)

Probably the deepest race on the excellent World Cup card – you could make a case for almost every runner. The Japanese have a very strong hand in this once again. Harp Star was unlucky in the Arc last year, and wasn’t disgraced in two subsequent races back home in very hot company. With Ryan Moore in the saddle, she has every chance. Arc runner-up Flinsthire will relish the conditions, and must rate a big danger. His Hong Kong Vase triumph is a brilliant piece of form, after hitting the crossbar on so many occasions before. However he really needs to have everything falling right into place, as otherwise he will surly run well but without crossing the line first once again.

Main Sequence has been utterly impressive since moving to the US. He deserves plenty of respect. But this rapid improvement could easily be down to medication, and I’m not sure if he can run to the same sort of form outside the US. The one horse I feel is the value here, is the French filly Dolniya. She was very progressive last season, ended the year with a creditable 5th place in the Arc and has scope for further improvement. She beat Flintshire in a prep on the All-Weather over shorter last month and in my mind she doesn’t get the credit she deserves here.

Dolniya @ 7/1 Coral – 5pts win

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Dn’t miss the big race preview of the $10 million Dubai World Cup: Read here! 

Jockeys’ Championship – Does It Still Matter?

By now you may have heard about the changes made in terms of the British Flat Jockeys’ Championship. The general perception is rather negative, though I don’t want to get caught up in the discussion whether these changes make sense or not. My question is rather: Does it still matter? I mean does anyone really care about this championship these days?

No. 

Simple answer from my side. I’m sure not anyone does agree with me, and that is fine. But let me explain: Flat racing has developed very much into a global sport. Opportunities are near and far these days – for horses, trainers, owners and jockeys alike. Be it Hong Kong, Australia or the US – the big ride in a prestigious Group race is just one flight away.

Yes, I’m sure to win the title meant allot to Richard Hughes or Paul Hanagan in recent years. And yes, it is still some achievement to ride thousand races a year and lift the trophy at the end of the season for being ‘the best’. But what is it really worth?

The broader context to this is that the best (or most talented) British jockeys simply aren’t competing for the title these days. Much the opposite. They are frequently on the hunt for opportunities elsewhere. Because of the internationalisation of the sport, the best jockeys have now more than ever the opportunities to ride in big races anywhere in the world. And indeed, that is what they do! The Buick’s, Moore’s and Doyle’s are happy enough to miss a whole day in the office at Pontefract or Windsor, for one single ride in the big Grade 1 at Arlington.

And here’s my point: If the best British jockeys deliberately don’t compete for the title, where is the merit of this championship? Yes, someone will win it in the end, because that is the nature of competition. Someone will have the most winners on the plate at the end of the season. But someone is not the best. And shouldn’t the best compete for a jockey’s championship?

Imagine Bayern Munich wouldn’t compete in the Bundesliga anymore because the big games in the Champions League are so much more important. Yes, someone would still win the Bundesliga. But what would it be worth, without competing against the best? I know, this comparison is quite  simplistic (and, admittedly, unrealistic). Jockeys still compete throughout the season in the UK, even if they don’t go all out for the title. But still, it illustrates my point, doesn’t it?

Long story short: The jockeys’ championship is becoming a pointless competition, it lost its appeal and value. Why? Because the currency of modern flat racing is big wins – and those aren’t necessarily the class 5 Handicaps on a Wednesday evening around Kempton…