Thrave shaped really well a number of times ever since being rather unlucky at Beverley in May. He ran well on three subsequent occasions, and his most recent run at this track over the shorter 7 furlongs suggested he’s ready to win.
That day he found himself in a tight spot and squeezed out soon after the start, then relegated to the rear of the field. He weaved his way through as the only one truly coming from off the pace, and finished much the strongest.
He’s clearly well capable of winning off 65 over a mile, particularly in this slightly easier race. He goes really well over this course and distance, having gone close off 3lb higher last September, running to topspeed 67 too then.
10pts win – Thrave @ 9/1
3.55 Doncaster: 1m 6.5f
Interesting little race that should be a solid stamina test given the pace chart. I think that will really suit handicap debutant Havaila who ran really well earlier this month in a strong maiden over 12 furlongs.
He was quite green in his first two career runs but showed more professionalism at Salisbury. He’s not one who does things quickly, though. Nonetheless he stuck to the task nicely behind two solid horses in first and second.
He ran to topspeed 75 that day, so his opening mark of 76 provides a good opportunity if he can progress for experience and distance.
The step up to this new trip will surely suit. The visuals are backed up by the pedigree as he’s out of Waila who was a smart mare over 12-14 furlongs.
10pts win – Havaila @ 3/1
8.20 Newcastle: Class 6 Handicap, 7f
By Your Side could still be well handicapped after recent turf exploits now back on the All-Weather, but the drop to 7 furlongs is a concern. Hence a proper alternative is Key Look who shaped the last time at Catterick like a winner in the making.
That day Key Look was one of the slower starters, settled in rear, travelled pretty okay, but had still only one rival behind turning for home.
She made excellent progress on the inside in the home straight until short of room about 1.5 furlongs from home. As a consequence she lost momentum, had to regain full effort, which she didn’t quite manage, but also wasn’t ask to do so. Yet finished nicely under hands and heels giving impression there was more left in the tank.
She ran well a number of times in defeat in recent weeks. Now a pound below her last winning mark she makes plenty of appeal, especially as her last victory came over the Newcastle CD. Having a solid 5lb claimer in the saddle is an added bonus.
Those at the top of the market have to defy career-highest marks while bottom-weight Brilliant Blue has been dropped 2lb since his eye-catching run over course and distance a few weeks ago.
That day he had an awkward start but wasn’t help by the isolated #1 draw. He was about to move forward when hampered on the inside around the 6 furlong marker and subsequently quite keen.
I thought he made excellent progress from three furlongs out and looked like he’d have a big say in the finish, until fading away. That was his seasonal reappearance. Possible lack of race fitness and mid-race keenness may have been the contributing factor to a lackluster finish.
There is a solid chance he’s better than that run and has a bit to offer off a 76 mark. He showed promise as a juvenile in two races in Autumn – the form worked out well as he finished around some higher rated individuals – before flopping on the All-Weather.
The mile trip shouldn’t be an issue on pedigree. Tongue tie is on for the first time. A combination of that with added race fitness and potentially the better ground helpful too can see him go close.
On paper this years Oaks looks not a brilliant renewal, albeit a wide open one, with plenty of potential improvers for the Oaks distance. With that in mind I struggle to warm to short-priced favourite Emily Upjohn.
I understand why she’s well fancied today. Her Musidora victory was impressive. As a daughter of Sea The Stars she appears more than likely to stay the trip and it’s equally reasonable to assume she can improve for her fourth career run.
But she has to. The York performance was only worth a 95 topspeed rating. Solid but doesn’t scream 13/8 favourite. She may well take this crucial next step and can progress to the level the market generally assumes she’ll be capable of running to.
At the same time this can be said about a number of other fillies in this field full of likely improvers. Whether that’s Cheshire Oaks winner Thoughts Of June (quite appropriately named), stable mate Tuesday – a full-sister to 2016 Oaks heroine Minding, or Trial Stakes winner Nashwa. I could make a case for half the field.
But the two fillies that caught my eye more than anybody else – and I can’t split them – are Concert Hall and the only Godolphin entry With The Moonlight.
It’s no surprise that a full-sister to previous Oaks winner Was should feature highly on any short-list. Hence I am seriously surprised to see Concert Hall available at incredibly generous odds – I feel.
I was interested in her for the Irish 2000 Guineas, but it turned out the drop in trip didn’t really suit her. She didn’t posses the speed needed and got badly outpaced from over three furlongs out. But, crucially, she ran on strongly to finish 3rd eventually.
Perhaps it wasn’t the deepest Guineas field, nonetheless, the fact she was able to finish so strongly over an inadequate trip is noteworthy. Aiden O’Brien mentioned beforehand the filly thrives on racing and the Curragh outing would be a stepping stone towards Epsom.
In that light it’s even more significant that she won on her seasonal reappearance at Navan in the Listed Salsabil Stakes – form that looks rock solid. She gave the impression that she wouldn’t mind an additional couple of furlongs that day.
Therefore the Oaks trip looks a good match. Whether she handles the track is a different matter. She clearly has Oaks written all over and with a solid draw should be up there when it matters in my view.
With The Moonlight isn’t quite as clear-cut if it comes to stamina for the Oaks distance. Her pedigree points more towards middle-distance 10 furlongs. And yet, the way she finished at Newmarket was so impressive, giving the impression she could stretch out to 12 furlongs. And certainly giving the impression of a seriously talented filly.
I loved everything about that performance. It’s noteworthy also for the fact because that day she achieved the fasted topspeed rating on offer in the Oaks field.
Whether she can translate this speed to Epsom is the key question. As a full-sister to Group 1 winning Dream Castle she will certainly have the class. Her striding patterns, as far as available to me, give the indication that she has a fair chance to see out the trip, though.
Perhaps she will be ridden with a little bit more restraint today than at Newmarket. If she settles well, it should give William Buick plenty of options how to ride the race, given she possesses a lot of cruising speed, that is crucial at Epsom in my view.
Both fillies, With The Moonlight and Concert Hall appear seriously overpriced in the market in my book.
5pts win – With the Moonlight @ 14/1 5pts win – Concert Hall @ 13.5/1
7.16 Doncaster: Class 4 Handicap, 6f
This looks like the ideal race I had in mind for Golden Apollo to get his head in front again. Since his eye catching run at Thirsk he ran another fine race at York in a big handicap over 7 furlongs where he got badly hampered.
He drops down to 6 furlongs, is three pounds lower in the mark than at Thirsk and runs in a wide open class 4 contest. The favourite may well be on the up and could be able to defy his increased mark – Golden Apollo is at this stage of his career vulnerable to any unexposed improving sort.
But at the same time he’s dangerously well handicapped in my view, given his wellbeing is confirmed.
The golden years are obviously behind the 8-year-old but he still performed of marks in the 80s last year and also ran to topspeed 84 when runner-up in a hot Redcar Handicap.
He’s been a shade unlucky a number times too in the meantime, including the last two; as a results his mark is reduced all the time. This looks an ideal opportunity to strike.
10pts win – Golden Apollo @ 9/1
7.37 Goodwood: Class 3 Handicap, 6f
I was very taken with Kimngrace the last time at Sandown when she was seriously unlucky over the minimum trip. Today she steps up to 6 furlongs, which should be the perfect distance for this exciting and potentially well handicapped filly.
At Sandown after a steadied start she settled in rear of the field. She made some smooth progress from over three furlongs out but was stuck behind a bunch of horses and a clear passage denied until very late. She finished well when a bit of racing room opened up in the closing stages.
The winner made all from the front, the runner-up and third raced close to the pace too. Given these circumstances this was a big run on what was Kimngrace’s seasonal reappearance. The form is seriously strong as well.
She looks a filly open to considerable improvement, possibly more so now stepping up to 6 furlongs again. When last seen in 2021 she won a Maiden race at Haydock over 6f and looked at home over the trip. That particular form worked out well with the runner-up having ran a huge race in the Fred Darling Stakes this season.
10pts win – Kimngrace @ 10/3
7.51 Doncaster: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 4f
Gibside has caught the eye a number of times this year. He’s certainly a tricky sort, can be temperamental, gets upset in the stall and looks a horse doing things in his own time.
There was good money all day for him last time out at Ripon when he stepped up to 12 furlongs for the first time – a trip that he should appreciate.
He ran really well over shorter 10 furlongs on two occasions at Beverley previously, when things didn’t go his way and he ran better than the bare result suggested.
The same can be said about this most recent Ripon run. Of course at some point you’re not unlucky but it’s more what you truly are. Nonetheless, I feel Gibside deserves another chance.
He was unruly in the starting gate, slowly away, trailed the field and raced generally highly inefficient with a move at the halfway stage costing vital energy and another huge move turning for home from 4 furlongs out on the wide outside.
He paid for it in the final three furlongs, yet finished in 3rd eventually. Coming from so far back was a huge disadvantage. The runner-up led the field, the winner raced in midfield.
I feel a more conventional, flat track like Doncaster will suit this big, rangy gelding much more than Beverley, or even Ripon. No excuses today. I must stress though he is on the drift this morning – at the same time it ensures a seriously good price, if he is in it to win it today.
10pts win – Gibside @ 6.8/1
Added after initial post – 12.30:
3.10 Group 1 Coronation Cup, 1m 4f
High Definition has drifted into a serious price to the point I feel he’s so far overpriced I have to add him as a bet today. By no means is he’s a 11/2+ shot in this field.
No question that if on song Pyledriver is the one to beat. A consistent top-class horse, the defending champion which saw him achieve a career best here last year. He ran well at Meydan when last seen. If he’s close to the form he showed twelve months ago he’s probably hard to beat.
I can’t have Manobo around 2/1 at all. He is lightly raced and open to considerable improvement. On the other hand he’s clearly shown to need a trip to be seen to best effect. Dropping back to 1m 4f is a major question mark for me.
Hukum has only once in his career ran to a topspeed rating of 100. That dates back to 2020, or nine runs. It would need some of the others to misfire for him to win.
High Definition backs up quickly. That is my major concern. He has been a disappointing horse ever since showing so much promise as a juvenile. But the level of form he produced last time out at the Curragh in the Tattersalles Cup is right up there with the best of Pyledriver.
He got a superb ride that day, and clearly that has to be taken into account as a source of the improvement. Nonetheless, he made it a true test going from the front and was just beaten in the dying strides in a top-class field.
He ran to topspeed 108 at that day. I feel it’s a genuine performance. If he can show this level of form today he has a major chance.
At given prices he’s clearly overpriced with ground ad trip not really being a worry in my view.
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.
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.
10pts win – Earl Of Bunnacurry @ 8/1 MB
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.
Dragon Mountain steps up in trip here; he’s yet to prove his stamina beyond 12 furlongs fully, but after his latest excellent run over 1m 4f, staying strongly to the line, he is not without hope.
The gelding has also come down significantly in his handicap mark since his last victory dating back to September 2018 over 10 furlongs. Down to 63 now, having ran three times to higher tospeed ratings in the past, he appears to be weighted to go close, if he stays the additional two furlongs today.
He was a fine 3rd early this month at this course over 1m 4f, travelling strongly, just to be beaten by a well-handicapped winner. 2lb for that effort, with the visuals implying the longer trip can work, he’s clearly a prime candidate today.
On top of that fine jockey Callum Rodriguez comes here for this one ride only, which seems significant as trainer and jockey enjoy a 29% strike rate (59% place) at Wolverhampton!
10pts win – Dragon Mountain @ 4/1 MB
8.30 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Handicap, 9.5f
Kirby on board in these type of races is a huge bonus his booking appears significant for the chances of promising Clem A. The 3-year-old stayed on well after a little break when returning to the track here at Wolverhampton over a bit shorter, suggesting the step up in distance isn’t impossible for him to enjoy, albeit on pedigree it is a slight question mark.
Down to a 63 handicap mark, Clem A is of obvious appeal, given he won off 62 on turf this season, running to TS 63 that day also. With more experience and the trip potentially bringing out a bit more improvement, he can win a rather poor contest.
10pts win – Clem A@ 9/2 MB
8.15 Dundalk: Handicap, 1m 2.5f
There are two potentially well handicapped individuals in this field in my view: Ragtime Red loves this CD and is on a good mark, but has a poor draw and will need luck from off the pace.
Monsieur Piquer is the other one and clearly in with a big shout, if the handbrake is off: he finished an excellent runner-up over 1m 4f earlier this month here. He pulled hard for the first two furlongs, yet travelled strongly into the straight and led over a furlong out briefly.
The drop to this shorter distance should suit and a good draw will help to be in a position to challenge turning for home. Monsieur Piquer is still a maiden after 15 starts but now down to a 50 official mark and having shown enough speed to achieve a 56 topspeed rating suggests to me he’ll hardly find a better opportunity to get his head in front.