Tag Archives: Greenham Stakes

Monday Selection – 18/04/2022

A busy weekend of flat action is behind us. Some exciting prospects were unleased at Newbury in particular. Non more so caught the eye than the return of Perfect Power.

No doubt: it was the performance of the weekend. It was impossible not to be impressed by Perfect Power’s Greenham Stakes victory. Perfect it was. Powerful too! He was a top-class juvenile, so it was even more pleasing to see him having trained on.

Perfect Power has inherited all the blistering speed of his lightning fast dad Ardad, but has the stamina to stretch out over 7 furlongs. He settled well on Saturday and finished strongly.

The run was worth a fine topspeed rating of 97. And he did that as easy as you like, I felt. Christophe Soumillon didn’t have to get too serious: two light flicks of the whip to keep Perfect Power focused in the final 200 yards.

With that in mind, this performance is probably close to equal to his strong Group 1 victories last year (101 and 105 TS respectively).

2000 Guineas – yes or no? I lean toward “no”. He simply shows so much speed. Can he conserve that for an additional furlong? Maybe. You have to run to find it out. It sounds like connections are leaning toward finding it out at Newmarket next month.

Perfect Power is as low as 8/1 for the Guineas. Though, he would have to ride without my money. Over six or seven furlongs, though, he’s gonna be a key player this season, I reckon.

A quick word on All-Weather Champions Day. It took place at Newcastle on Friday. The novelty has worn off, for sure. And Newcastle, albeit a nice and pretty fair track, is visually just not that exciting. The way the races develop is basically all the same.

It didn’t spark my interest this time. Nonetheless, it’s worth reviewing some of the performances. And none more so than the run of Tiber Flow in the 3 Year Old All-Weather Championships Conditions Stakes.

The William Haggas trained colt ran to a 103 topspeed rating without having the clearest of runs. The way he finished – visuals are backed up by incredibly strong sectionals, and the overall race time was faster than the Sprint Championships on the same card too – suggests a huge engine, which will have more to offer when he steps up in trip again.

Tiber Flow is still unexposed and lightly raced – this was only his fourth lifetime start. I am so excited to see what the son of Caravaggio can do next. He looks a Group 1 horse in the making.

I will write in more detail on that particular race and Tiber Flow in the next edition of Eye-Catchers.

………

4.11 Wolverhampton – Class 4 Handicap, 6f

A competitive field of eleven horses, but also one where not too many appear to be well handicapped at all. The one that is down to a rather sexy mark on past form is Chief Little Hawk, though.

He was a big eye-catcher for me at Southwell last time out. As mentioned then, the way he finished in the closing stages from the back of the field in a race dominated by the two pace setters wasn’t what you normally would see from a 40/1 shot.

He wasn’t even hard ridden in the final stages of the race, yet was the third fastest finisher from two furlongs out, according to sectionals – underlying the visual impression.

Since moving yards away from Aiden O’Brien over to Jamie Osborne Chief Little Hawk has rarely been fancied in the betting. He was long odds most of the time, and still managed to finish 4th, only 1.5 lengths beaten as a 50/1 outsider, in a class 2 Handicap at Newmarket of a mark of 94 last August.

He has fallen significantly in the ratings in the meantime. He is now down to an 82 OR and drops down to class 4. He showed some promise on the All-Weather this winter, without ever getting close. But this most recent run is the key sign for me to suggest he’s ripe to win.

Six furlongs looks the ideal trip I believe. Whether Wolverhampton is the ideal track remains to be seen. He can be awkward out of the gates, and I firmly believe you don’t want to be too far behind in a big field around this track.

Nonetheless, there is a bit of positivity in the betting market today, with money coming this morning. Highly capable Saffie Osborne takes the ride and claims valuable 3lb. That should help with defying top weight from a good draw in gate 4.

You can never expect a big run with these type of horses that have fallen from early heights. But I am rather hopeful for a big run because this lad is more likely than not well handicapped.

1opts win – Chief Little Hawk @ 7/1

Lockinge Stakes 2021

There is a special place in my heart for the Lockinge Stakes. The reason is as simple as obvious: Paco Boy.

He’s the one that made me fall in love with flat racing. The most incredible moment of his illustrious career came quite clearly in the 2010 Lockinge Stakes. Visually it was such was such an enormous performance.

Richard Hughes with balls the size of footballs. Paco Boy, overcoming early keenness, still travelling like a dream on the bridle approaching the final furlong marker. Stunning. Beautiful. Unbelievable.

The 2021 renewal of the Lockinge Stakes looks a good one. A competitive one – at least for the minor placings.

Because Palace Pier stands head- and shoulders above the rest of the field. The betting market isn’t wrong when it gives him a 60%+ chance of adding a third Group 1 to his tally.

The four-year-old colt looked as good as ever on his seasonal reappearance last month when making 115 and 116 rated horses look like class 6 handicappers. He left the disappointment of British Champions Day firmly behind. A race he still managed to finish in third place despite losing a shoe.

Palace Pier’s 114 topspeed rating is – not surprisingly – the highest on offer in this field. A performance achieved on heavy ground. Therefore the rain won’t stop him today.

Aiden O’Brien saddles Lope Y Fernandez – the second highest rated horse in the field. Clearly a talented individual, he started the season well with a fine effort in a listed contest at Leopardstown. His overall win record isn’t impressive, though. Yet to win at the highest level, he only found three times the winners enclosure in 13 starts and hasn’t run beyond a 97 topspeed rating. Not good enough.

Progressive Top Rank, a recent Doncaster Mile winner, is six from eight. Not impossible that he can improve again. He’d have to take giant steps to challenge the favourite, though.

Light raced My Oberon is on the up too. The drop to a mile shouldn’t be an issue. The ground is a question mark and the fact remains in six runs he hasn’t been able to achieve an adequate topspeed that in my book is required for this level.

I can only see two horses able to make this a race: Century Dream and Safe Voyage. The latter enjoyed the best year of his career as a seven-year-old in 2020. Three victories, including two Group 2 races and a fine third place in the Group 1 Prix de la Foret.

Even though he won the Boomerang Mile at Leopardstown last autumn, I have a few concerns over the mile trip, particularly in soft conditions.

That won’t be an issue for Century Dream. He posted a career best when winning the Celebration Mile at Goodwood last year where he achieved a 110 topspeed rating. Clearly the more rain the better for him. He wasn’t able to win a Group 1 yet, though ran with plenty of credit in a number of them.

Century Dream shouldn’t be good enough to pose a real danger to Palace Pier. Nobody in this field is. He is, nonetheless, a huge price and overpriced, certainly from ad an each-way proposition. If the price would drift out further for Safe Voyage he also would become a viable each-way alternative.

Nonetheless, it’s impossible look past Palace Pier. He is in a different league to all the others here. Baring a accident, I can’t see him getting beaten here. Will it be as impressive as Paco Boy in 2010? Unlikely.

…………

From a pure betting perspective I have a fundamental interest in the King Charles II Stakes (2:40pm) at Newmarket this afternoon. This looks a intriguing contest. You can’t ignore the impression Bellosa made over course and distance four weeks ago.

At given prices I reckon there is significant juice in the price of the Gosden horse Fundamental. He is beautifully bred and has ran to 92 topspeed rating already when landing a strong contest on the Chelmsford polytrack last month. He followed up with another promising display in the Greenham Stakes.

That performance is much better than the bare form may suggest. Fundamental raced rather uneconomical, making a big move on the outside of the field from six to four furlongs out using a lot of energy and buying ground when it wasn’t really advantageous to so in such an aggressive manner.

Whether 7 furlongs is his trip remains to be seen. But Fundamental has shown enough speed and may enjoy the slower ground here. He’s overpriced at 9/2 and above on the exchanges.

…………….

Preakness Stakes: the second leg of the American Triple Crown tonight. Leaving the doping controversy aside, the question from a racing perspective is: can Medina Sprit follow up?

Fair to say he got the run of the race in the Kentucky Derby. A pretty clear run to grab the lead after the start and unchallenged for the lead throughout. While some of the fancied front-runners didn’t have it so easy. He’s one to take on here, no doubt.

Not much made an impression from off the pace that day. The one who did and clearly caught the eye was Midnight Bourbon. He got badly bumped and squeezed right after the gate opened and had his route to a more advantageous position blocked.

He settled well off the pace, forced wide. Whether it was the smartest ride by rider Mike Smith to give so much ground away is debatable. Perhaps no other ride would have made any difference.

It wasn’t plain sailing to fight for space when turning for home either. Midnight Bourbon showed guts and fought for a gap entering the home straight. The bird was flown at that point, nonetheless he ran on well enough until eased in the final furlong.

His Derby trial performances, while not super impressive, where promising and the form franked. He’s a huge runner in the Preakness this evening from a good draw, in a smaller field and a much better chance to be up with the pace. At 8/1 he’s a good price in my book.

Preview – Greenham Stakes

Newbury Grand stand

No joy today – Jack Steel travelled well for a long time but managed only to finish 3rd in the end. He faded badly after jumping the last. He was quite a drifter in the betting (SP 10/1) before the off as well. I suspect he may need bit further and then it also depends bit on what the handicapper does next. But he’s clearly capable of winning a race. The other two selections didn’t go close at all!

——————

2.50 Newbury: Greenham Stakes (Group 3)

This is a spectacular renewal of the Greenham Stakes! So many promising individuals unified in this one race – it’s simply got the be spectacular. Does that mean there should be a 6/4 favourite? Certainly not! There’s certainly plenty to like about Ivawood, but the price is madness in my mind.

Ivawood was a top class sprinter as a juvenile, a winner of two Group 2’s over six furlongs and an excellent runner-up in the Middle Park Stakes when probably unsuited by the soft ground. With quick conditions to suit here and the step up to 7f possible to work on pedigree, he has a big chance to go really close. But so can a couple of others here too. And as long as he hasn’t tried the trip, you can’t be sure if he can stay and even improve for it.

Personally I’m not the biggest fan of Estidhkaar. He is fine horse and had a good last season, but I expect him to fall short against some really good rivals. There is Belardo for example, the champion two-year old. He won the Dewhurst, though has to prove his class on much quicker ground now. Flaming Spear was a very impressive maiden winner, there is likely more to come from this lightly raced Lope De Vega son.

Aiden O’Brien throws in the Phoenix Stakes winner Dick Whittington. This form has been franked earlier this week by Craven Stakes winner Kool Kompany, who was half a lengths beaten in second by Dick Whittington at the Curragh last August. More is likely to come from this Rip Van Winkle colt, though he failed to get the 7f trip at his only try last year. Toocoolforschool and Muhaarar are both Group 2 winners but looked more home over sprint trips than over seven furlongs when tried last season.

The horse I do really fancy to have a big season is Fanaan. He is part of my Horses To Follow List and I have to admit I’m somewhat baffled by the huge price available. I expected him to be much shorter. Why? Because he was ultra impressive in two starts last year. On his debut he got easily off the mark under hands and heels, but even better was his performance in a Conditions Stakes race at Newmarket. Only three runners that day, but the runner-up is a fair individual in his own right as he’s 104 rated, as well as won subsequently – but was easily beaten by a devastating turn of foot from Fanaan.

The interesting part is that Fanaan, who is obviously very well bred, did all his racing with at least a bit of cut in the ground. However on pedigree he should actually be better on a sound surface. That says he’ll appreciate the quick ground at Newbury and the trip won’t be an issue at all. I believe his chances are underestimated here and he can have a big season.

Fanaan @ 11/1 William Hill – 5pts win