Tag Archives: Found

Preview: Royal Ascot – Friday Selections

Home Of The Brave

King Edward VII Stakes (Group 2)

Ol’ Man River is hugely talented but something has been amiss this year; tongue-strap is fitted now. He looked like as horse with breathing problems, so this gear can help sometimes. But I’m concerned, and not prepared to back him at short odds.

Favourite Stravagante was seriously well handicapped at Epsom, steps up in Grade here and has surely more to offer. Not so sure, though, whether he really wants this trip. Ballydoyle’s second string Father Christmas is seriously well bred but not for 12f. That says he looked slow over shorter. Festive Affair and Balios may not appreciate the step up in trip. Magic Dancer should have the stamina but also has loads to find on form.

I give John Gosden’s Mr Singh another chance. He looked potentially smart when winning a hot Handicap at Newbury. Subsequently disappointing at Goodwood, which was a strange race. He was green that day, and the form looks good with the winner a subsequent Derby third. He needs pace and fast ground. Second point is given, first one unclear. Trip looks fine.

Mr Singh @ 12/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win 

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Commonwealth Cup (Group 1)

Couple of fascinating runners here. Obviously speedy Hootenanny is well fancied. Won at Royal Ascot last year and proved to stay a mile at the Breeders Cup. How good he’s coming back as a three year old dropping back in trip, we’ll see. His prep run against very poor opposition didn’t tell us anything. Tongue tied for the first time, I’d be slightly concerned.

Another clash between Anthem Alexander and Tiggy Wiggy. Both with good form this year. I feel the Hannon filly is the slightly better one. Her 1000 Guineas run is a massive performance, given the sectionals she clocked. She might be fighting with Hootenanny for the lead though. Let’s see how that works out.

I restrict myself to one bet in this race and that has to be Home Of The Brave. Mentioned him as an unlikely eye-catcher after the 2000 Guineas. He failed to stay the mile which is no surprise given his pedigree but ran with loads of credit. He confirmed his excellent Listed success over 7f on his seasonal reapperance when he clocked a very fast time. He run the last three furlongs in hand stopped 33.80s and did that easily – this lad has serious speed!

Drawn towards the rail in box two, have to wait and see how it pans out with so much pace on the other side. But I’ve no concerns about the in trip and think there is a huge performance due.

Home Of The Brave @ 18/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win

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Coronation Stakes (Fillies’ Group 1)

People makes excuses for Found; a bit too many for my liking. This is tougher than the Irish Guineas in my mind and she is a silly price in my book.

The French filly Ervedya was a second behind her last year in a big Group 1, but ridden differently now and more mature, I’m sure she’s the better one. She won the French 1000 Guineas in utterly impressive style. Ground is the issue, though. Nothing in her form nor pedigree suggests that she wants it fast.

That’s the opposite for Bolger’s Lucida. Her runner-up effort in the 1000 Guineas was a monster performance. She fell out out of the gates but travelled well, made a bit too much too early and therefore hit the front too early. Nonetheless she went just down to Legatissimo, no disgrace to finish 2nd, well clear of the rest of the field. The winner in contrast had the run of the race, covered all the time, with gaps opening at the right time.

The sectionals confirmed how strong Lucida’s run was. On another day when things are not working to the textbook for the winner, she’s going to prevail easily. If she can follow on from the Guineas, here with conditions to suit, she’s hard to beat.

Lucida @ 7/2 Ladbrokes – 5pts Win

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Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes (Class 2 Handicap)

Dabadiyan is a huge price and rightly so judged on his recent form – but less than 12 month ago he was still able to be competitive in Listed company. Before that he had a rather decent stint at Meydan. He was competitive in Handicaps of big marks and even finished with loads of credit in two Group 2’s.

Quick ground and 12f seems ideal for him judged on his best. A mark of 100 looks still high enough but if he can find back to form he’s able to run a race. I expect him to overcome his draw and to be very prominent. Since he stays a bit further as well he might be still there when others are really hurt. He might as well finish stone last.

Dabadiyan @ 66/1 Ladbrokes – 2.5pts E/W

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Queen’s Vase (Listed)

Very hard to know who’s going to stay this trip, However I’m pretty certain that Star Rider won’t lack the stamina for 2 miles; she might however lack class. But lightly raced she is, done well to win a Chelmsford maiden over 13.5f, found the drop in trip not what she needs at Goodwood subsequently. On rating she has loads to find, but there is stamina all over her pedigree.

Star Rider @ 66/1 Ladbrokes – 2.5pts E/W

Talking Points Irish Guineas Weekend

Gleneagles is “The Best Miler Ever” 

On the verge of the Irish 2000 Guineas Aiden O’Brien seemed to become overwhelmed by his emotions. He ennobled Gleneagles, hailing him as “the best miler we have ever had”. That is some achievement in its own right, especially given the amount of classy horses passing through his hands year in year out.

This statement came just minutes after Gleneagles completed the 2000 Guineas double. He had to fight hard for it and it was a much closer finish than at Newmarket, where absolutely everything went to plan. This time, Gleneagles, boxed in on the rails, had to show an awful lot of class to win. He did exactly that.

But does it make him the best ever? Well, who am I to object his handlers experienced opinion. He, who has seen it all! Though, one could get the feeling that Aiden uses the term “best ever” a bit too loosely these days. Anyway, Gleneagles is certainly a very good colt. A true miler. A world-class miler.

Pearl Secret Lands A Big One

Sprint races can sometimes be a bit like lotto: Draw a number or throw a pin and wherever it lands that’s the horse to win. Admittedly, now I’m cynical. Yet there is some truth in it! These big sprint races are so much down to day form, it doesn’t always honour the actual form book. Run the same race ten times and you’ll almost certainly get ten different results.

So happened in the Temple Stakes at Haydock on Saturday. Pearl Secret was a slightly surprising winner of the Group 2 sprint. Yes, he was runner-up in the very same race last year, but back then on bottomless ground and before Saturday he only managed to win at Listed- or Conditions Stakes level. Now he has “a big one” on his CV!

Pearl Secret was followed home by Jack Dexter, who hasn’t won since November 2013, and 40/1 shot Wind Fire. Favourite Hot Streak finished sixth, but in truth never landed a blow. So much about the Lotto theory

Jim Bolger The Magician

Round Two
Round Two

The County Kilkenny handler had it spot on: he knew his main contender for the 1000 Guineas wasn’t a miler. So he employed two pace makers, to ensure there would be no dawdling around. The good, consistent pace helped Pleascach in a way to relax but also to offset her lack of tactical speed and instead have a race with emphasize on stamina. It worked to perfection.

Pleascach took up the lead from two furlongs out and stayed strongly to line, fending off all challengers, including the one of red hot favourite Found. The stiff uphill finish at the Curragh clearly suited her cause too.

The next Jim Bolger star is already lined up. His Round Two won the Listed Marble Hill Stakes in comprehensive style at the Curragh on Saturday, overcoming question marks about his speed over the minimum trip as well as a wider than ideal draw. The Teofilo son can only get better with time and distance. He seems the ideal favourite for the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot next month.

Found Is No World-Beater

Hot Irish 1000 Guineas Favourite Found wasn’t able to land the odds in Sunday’s big race and instead had to settle for second. She didn’t get the clearest of runs as she was in a pocket over 2f out. The eventual winner, Bolger’s Pleascach, got first run and fend off Found’s charge gamely in the closing stages.

In the aftermath not everyone thought the best horse won – and I tend to agree to an extend – yes, Found was slightly unlucky, but that says she got out into the clear at the two furlong marker and had all the time in the world to make up the ground. She didn’t quicken rapidly enough, though, needed almost a full furlong to hit top gear. She clearly is no world-beater. At least not over the mile trip.

Compare her run to the one of Gleneagles in the 2000 Guineas – he had even less time to finish off his race once in the clear. But he did it in the manner of a true mile champion. He found a way to win, quickened when it mattered.

Nonetheless, Found’s Guineas performance is encouraging. She’ll be better over further. It may turn out that 1m 2f is her optimum, but the Oaks distance is very much possible and she now goes to Epsom as one of the favourites.

Endless Drama A Chaser In The Making

Endless Drama
Endless Drama

Just kidding. But you’ll laugh, there was more than one person suggesting the idea of giving him a spin over the big fences. And you can see why. He is a very big boy, indeed! I was slightly overwhelmed when this huge thing passed me in the parade ring for the first time.

I mean, there you have all these good looking three year olds walking around, very much looking like three year olds should look like. And then suddenly you have this monster of a horse walking towards you – is this still the Curragh or already Aintree? Guineas or Grand National Day?

In my 2000 Guineas preview I voiced slight disappointment to see Endless Drama running over 1m yet again. He didn’t look like staying thus far in two previous attempts over 6f+. On pedigree he seems a rather dubious stayer too. Add all the early speed he usually shows and you could easily come to the conclusion that he is actually a sprinter.

On Saturday, though, different tactics and better ground seemed to work wonders. He finished the Guineas well enough to suggest he can be a good miler. A close second behind Gleneagles is surly a very strong piece of form. Yet, I’d love to see him over six furlongs. I think he could be a force over that sort of trip.

Al Kazeem’s Second Spring

It’s never been straightforward for him. Al Kazeem lost almost his entire Classic season, but came back stronger than ever the following season, when he beat Camelot in the 2013 Tattersalls Gold Cup. That’s now exactly two years ago. He went on to land the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes and Coral Eclipse the same year and was subsequently retired to stud as potentially hot property for all the lovely fillies in the world.

Didn’t work out in the breeding shed. He was soon back in training and after a couple of respectable efforts he finally muscled his way to another heroic Group 1 victory – Sunday at the Curragh, beating some serious opposition in the Tattersalls Gold Cup.

He’s the kind of horse you won’t find enough of in flat racing. But these classy veterans are what the sport is craving for. Fans want to follow horses over more than one or two season. What is part and parcel in jump racing, is much more difficult at the top end of the game on the flat. So it’s great to see Al Kazeem, a seven year old now, as good and happy as ever!

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Photo Gallery – Irish 2000 Guineas

Curragh Big Race Preview: Irish 1000 Guineas

Joseph O'Brien
Found is the talking horse of the week. Rumours circulating that she’s heading for the Epsom Derby if she does well today. We’ll see how much merit these talks have but for now the sights are set on the big race on home soil. She is the overwhelmingly short favourite to land yet another Irish 1000 Guineas for Ballydoyle and Aiden O’Brien, and no doubt she has all the right credentials.

Still lightly raced, but impressive as a juvenile, she was far from disgraced in her seasonal comeback run, albeit punters who backed her were less pleased when she finished only second in the 7f Athasi Stakes.

She faces some stiff competition from the own stable though. Kissed By Angels looked a big baby on her Limerick debut but clearly raised to the occasion when landing the 1000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown on only her second ever outing. The merit of the race is debatable, her performance isn’t.

Despite racing wide, this wonderfully bred Lillie Langtry daugther produced a tremendous change of gear almost effortless from three to two furlongs and scooted clear in horrendous conditions. Better ground should be appreciated today.

One time raced Joailliere is another one to feel a bit excited about. She has only won a poor maiden at Gowran Park on her sole career start, but the way she did it was simply sensational. She clearly looks a pattern performer in the making, has to overcome a lack of experience today, though. That says, in care of Dermot Weld, you would expect her to be ready for the big day.

Vibes around Bocca Baciata have been positive. Jessica Haarrington has clearly a lively Guineas contender on her hands, despite the fact that this experienced filly – today marks her fifth start – has already won over 10f. She won the Listed Salsabil Stakes which is very strong form. It remains to be seen how she handles the drop in trip.

Jim Bolger’s Pleascach was runner-up behind Bocca Baciata at Navan and subsequently won a Group 3 over 10f by eight lengths. She is clearly smart, but has also to deal with the sharper trip. Unlike Raydara, who is already a Group 2 winner, albeit over 7f. She makes her seasonal debut and tries the mile trip for the first time. Hard to know what to expect, as the ground may not quite be fast enough for her.

Malabar was a fair fourth in the English 1000 Guineas, but was still a long way beaten and didn’t have many excuses. More is needed today. Jack Naylor was a good third behind Found in the Group 1 Marcel Boussac at Longchamp last year. If she is fit first time out she could be a very interesting runner.

The rest of the field is very much up against it. However I wouldn’t be surprised if the third Aiden O’Brien inmate Qualify could improve dramatically from her poor Newmarket showing.

Verdict: The favourite Found is the class act and obviously the one to beat, but very short in the betting, given that it is not clear if she is as good a three year old as she was a juvenile. Others may have stepped up their game too, and the opposition from stable mate Kissed By Angels looks significant. With the recent experience behind, she is expected to know much more what the game is all about and she is open to any kind of improvement. She is the value in the race.

Kissed By Angels @ 7/1 Coral – 5pts Win

Preview: Athasi Stakes

DSC_0681

Bank holiday Monday in the UK and Ireland. Some good racing on offer and the sun is out here in Dublin – could be the make-up of a really nice day. So let’s try to find some winners, shall we? I’m intrigued particularly by the Curragh card, where Found, the long-term 1.000 Guineas favourite, is going to start her three year old campaign while missing the assignment in the big race yesterday.

There is also a hot little Listed race on offer, with favourite Endless Drama one of my Horses To Follow. That says with heavy conditions at HQ, I leave him alone as he is short enough in the betting. These kind of conditions can throw up funny results from time…..

3.15 Curragh: Athasi Stakes (Group 3; 7f)

Highly regarded Ballydoyle inmate Found was a top class juvenile last season. She progressed nicely from winning a maiden, to finish a fine third in the Moyglare Stud Stakes, ending the year eventually on the highest possible note with a commanding success in the Group 1 Marcel Boussac at Longchamp.

Without the shadow of a doubt Found is the class act in this field today. However, she has had problems during her preparations for the Newmarket 1.000 Guineas, reportedly hasn’t been well, missed work and missed subsequently the big race. Started off in this somewhat lesser event now, she is entitled to win if fully wound up.

On the other side the drop down to 7f isn’t sure to suit entirely, and the heavy ground is something completely new to her. I believe that today is more like a prep race for her – Give her a good day out, if she wins it’s a bonus, but it is more important to get a run in. Bigger targets looming large on the horizon.

Dermot Weld’s debutant winner Shahzeena is thought to be her most feared rival. She won well a maiden in heavy conditions at Leopardstown, so is ground proven. But she needed every inch of the 1m trip and could be found out for speed over the shorter distance here, despite the slow ground conditions.

Alive Alive Oh has never fulfilled what she promised to be earlier in her career. Nonetheless the drop in trip plus blinkers fitted is interesting today. Says she has had so many chances, it’s more likely that she falls short once again. Lightly raced Stellar Glow is an interesting runner. She should improve as a three year old but probably needs further to be seen to best effect.

I used to be a fan of Avenue Gabrial last year. She was a fine maiden winner at the Curragh and was a fair fourth in the Irish 1.000 Guineas. Her 3rd place in the Guineas Trial on heavy ground entitles her to be considered today. Though I’ve to admit she always looked more like a miler to my eyes.

However she should come on for her seasonal reappearance, where she was a big disappointment. However she handles the ground conditions, has form over the trip and I imagine connections revert her back to more positive tactics today. At 14/1, Avenue Gabrial seems overpriced.

Lightly raced three year old Off Limits ran pretty well on her seasonal reappearance in a hot little Conditions Race at Cork last month. This looks a strong piece of form given that the winner went on to win the Group 3 Ballysax Stakes, while the runner-up won subsequently a really good race at Dundalk.

So, a 2½ lengths defeat in third place doesn’t look too shabby, given the fact that she got a very light ride that day. Off Limits travelled actually all over them until the 2f marker and initially quickened nicely on heavy ground but just got a bit tired in the end. The drop to 7f looks fine on that evidence and she clearly handles soft conditions.

As a juvenile she raced twice. She started off with a fine fourth place in a pretty good maiden and followed up to get off the mark at Leopardstown, where she produced a nice turn of foot from off the pace. Both forms came with cut in the ground.

Obviously Off Limits has plenty to find on ratings. She will need to take another step forward to be in with a shout here. But everything is pointing towards her being able to do exactly that. Not to forget that trainer David Wachman is usually doing really well with fillies (not only because of yesterday’s 1.000 Guineas success). All in all I believe Off Limits can be a big runner today.

Summery: If Found is fully fit and well and handles the ground, she won’t be beaten. But it’s worth to take her on. The Weld filly has the potential to progress. But the two overpriced individuals in this field Avenue Gabrial and Off Limits. In a seven runner-race, with a short favourite rather easily to oppose, those two individuals make plenty of appeal as 14/1 and 20/1 shots.

Off Limits @ 20/1 Bet35 – 5pts Win
Avenue Gabrial @ 14/1 Sportingbet – 5pts win