Tag Archives: horse racing

Saturday Selections: 7th May 2022

2.20 Ascot: Listed Buckhounds Stakes, 1m 4f

Can you trust Al Aasy? I can’t. No doubt he is – in theory – the best horse in the race. His official rating and 2021 form is testament to this fact. However, it’s undeniable that his sudden form loss toward the end of last season is a major concern.

Possibly dropping down to Listed level on his seasonal reappearance is an ideal pipe opener to build confidence thanks to a relatively easy assignment. If his enthusiasm is back he’ll win this race running backwards.

At the given prices I absolutely must take him on with all the justified doubts, though. In fairness, this field is light in terms real quality. Third Realm has some nice form in the book and ran multiple times to low topspeed ratings of low 90’s, but never beyond TS 92 and all his form comes with cut in the ground.

The only other one who has ran to topspeed ratings of note is Stowell. He’s an obvious choice at given prices. By no means a sexy individual, one who’s more a grinder than flashy accelerator, but one who offers still some upside as a 4-year-old.

Stowell has match fitness on his side after a solid seasonal reappearance at Newbury last month. He’s a course and distance winner and ran with a lot of credit when third in the Queen’s Vase as Royal Ascot. He ran to TS 94 that day, it’s the second best on offer in this field the favourite aside.

I think he’s fast enough for the 1m 4f trip, especially on Listed level against this sort of opposition – if the potential class act Al Aasy isn’t anywhere near as good as he used to be.

This lad strikes me as a rock solid horse and he’s a overpriced in this field today.

10pts win – Stowell @ 4/1

………..

5.15 Ascot: Class 4 Handicap, 6f

I said after his latest disappointing performance at Wolverhampton to keep faith for the day he returns to turf. – so I’ll stick to my word and continue to have financial interest in Chief Little Hawk.

The gelding messed up at Wolver three weeks ago, though, left the impression that he has more to give if things fall right – once again. But Wolverhampton was never going to be the right track for him. Straight 6 furlongs at Ascot on turf should suit a lot better.

Chief Little Hawk was a big eye-catcher for me at Southwell on his penultimate run. 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 official rating of 80 and runs in a class 4 Handicap on turf for the first time. Given Chief Little Hawk ran to topspeed 83+ on three occasions in the past, I feel he could be really well handicapped.

Obviously this is a massive field, stall 20 is a question mark and the jockey form is poor. But he’s a price I am prepared to run the risk.

10pts win – Chief Little Hawk @ 9.5/1

Monday Selections: 2nd May 2022

It’s bank holiday here in Ireland and I am looking to one of the big Handicaps at the Curragh to sweeten the day with winner.

4.40 Curragh: Apprentice Handicap, 7f

Normally, these competitive Handicaps with tons of runners wouldn’t be quite my cup of tea, I have to admit. However, I can’t look past the potentially well handicapped No Patience here.

He was a massive eye-catcher last month in a similarly hot Handicap at the Curragh, then over 6 furlongs. It was his first run since February and for the John C McConnell yard over a trip possibly a touch too sharp these days.

That race was utter carnage and you could pick out a number of unlucky horses. No Patience showed good early speed, then settled in midfield of the main pack on the stands’ side. He was shuffled back from three furlongs out and boxed in without the option to improve his position until about half a furlong from home when he ran on strongly under an easy ride.

He finished really well, proving his wellbeing and you would hope he can improve from the run now stepping up to an ideal 7 furlongs again.

He’s down to a sexy mark of 59 now, given he won of 65 over 7 furlongs at Dundalk last April, ran a good race in a hot Leopardstown Handicap last September from 11lb higher than he’s rated today, and achieved a 71 topspeed rating in the past. 

Apprentice Cillian McConnell claims valuable 4lb – it’s the cherry on the cake. He’s riding really well over the last number of weeks and months, albeit with a limited number of rides lately.

There are a few solid dangers in the field but the biggest danger is no getting a clear run. Drawn in stall one is probably not ideal. Patience will be key. If No Patience gets a run for home, he’ll be a big chance, regardless, I reckon. He’s simply so well handicapped now.

10pts win – No Patience @ 15/2

Eyecatchers #5 2022

A list of horses that caught my eye during the last seven days of racing. These individuals look ready to win a race sooner rather than later.

Kimngrace
22/04/22: 1.20 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.

She looks a filly open to improvement, possibly more so if stepping up to 6 furlongs again, or perhaps a really stiff five. 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 recently.

It will be interesting to see what the handicapper does. I feel he can’t raise her mark too much . Of her current 78 rating she looks potentially really well handicapped, though.

Race Replay

Devilwala
23/04/22 – 1.20 Ripon:

I admit this requires a bit of imagination and context. Devilwala travelled okayish, always close to the pace, and attempted to make a move from 3 furlongs out as the pace increased. He looked one of the more dangerous horses at this moment in time, was still there for a good finish with a furlong to go, but ran out of gas eventually.

Not unexpectedly. Devilwala doesn’t stay the mile trip. He was 4th in a 2000 Guineas, and overall highly tried in his first two seasons, but his best came over 6f and 7f, like a strong 4th, less than three lengths beaten in the Dewhurst behind St. Mark’s Basilica.

Those days are long gone. He changed yards twice and has been gelded. He’s fallen from a career highest 114 OR to a modest 84 right now. I suspect he’ll be dropped another couple of pounds soon.

That’s the context to this 4th place finish at Ripon. A solid run over a distance that stretched his stamina. It should bring him on for the moment he drops in trip.

I want to see a few more pounds off the mark plus a drop in class to be seriously interested. This day will come in the not too distinct future.

Race Replay

Buckshaw Village
23/04/22 – 5.10 Ripon:

Travelled in midfield initially, then relegated to the rear and switched to the inside, possibly for more cover. Was behind a wall of horses and stuck to the task to stay in touch and looked poised for a challenge. Didn’t get a run through, slightly impeded 1 furlong out. Finished really well under hands and heels.

This was only the second handicap start for the colt and second run after a lackluster but excusable comeback run at Pontefract. He showed promise last season as a juvenile with three placed efforts in maiden & novice company.

This was a great run though, given circumstances, also over the minimum trip. I feel, given the pedigree, and the way he finished here, he’ll absolutely enjoy going back up to 6 furlongs again, or perhaps even attempting 7 furlongs.

He comes down to a workable mark, particularly if he can improve for experience and trip. Buckshaw Village is ready to win. He certainly wants decent ground, though, and wouldn’t be of interest to me if he stays over the minimum trip.

Race Replay

Billian
23/04/22 – 1.30 Haydock:

Breaking slowly put him at a disadvantage right away. He trailed the field but travelled well enough with good progress. Dramatic move to be switched to the wide outside in order to get a clear run. He looked dangerous there but had too much too do and tired in the closing stages.

Still managed to finish the 2nd fastest combined splits for the final three furlongs, just behind the well handicapped After John (3rd place). This form looks really strong and his performance a definite return to form.

He has fallen 17lb in the mark in the last year, and clearly lost his enthusiasm for racing. Breaking poorly has become a habit and he was never once fancied in 2021.

Nonetheless, he’s coming down to a sexy handicap mark now, possibly with even further assistance from the handicapper after this run. Billian has ran six times to topspeed ratings of 60 and higher throughout his career which gives plenty of hope that he can win soon.

One caveat: I have to account for the slow starts and think they are easier to make up in smaller fields. Plus while he appears ground independent I believe his best comes out on decent ground. Only in those circumstances I will be interested in him.

Race Replay

Strawman
23/04/22 – 7.05 Doncaster:

He completely messed up the start and lost a number of lengths early on (have to monitor whether this becomes a habit). Trailed until turning for home when making rapid progress highlighted by blistering sectionals to move into a challenging position. Pays for the effort in the closing stages but also entitled to tire on his first run in 223 days.

This was Strawman’s first “poor” run in a year. He won three races and finished another one second of his four starts last season. And this most recent one is a much stronger performance than the 7 lengths beaten 5/5 result suggests.

In fact this run suggests the handicapper may still not have caught up with him and he can win again as long as it’s 9-10 furlongs on decent ground.

Race Replay

Secretfact
24/04/22 – 2.40 Bath:

Was very alertly out of the gate, travelled strongly in midfield to the 2 furlong marker. Had nowhere to go from there, though, trying different routes. Eventually pushed toward the inside when he runs out of fuel.

The 9-year-old was entitled to get tired on his first start in 2022, but clearly ran much better than the result and price suggested. He has still a lot of enthusiasm for racing.

Down to a mark of 65, which is probably a fairer reflection of his class these days, but a little bit of additional assistance from the handicapper will mean he’s got to be well handicapped over the minimum trip on lightning fast ground.

Side note: He ran at Chepstow on Thursday in the meantime. Same mark, same trip. Fine performance, leading from the front, just to tire in the closing stages and drop to 4th late. He should be ready for a big run next time if conditions suit (5f, fast going).

Race Replay

Sense Of Security
24/04/22 – 4.55 Bath:

Was well away from the gates and travelled in midfield for the majority of the race. She was quite keen too, pulling hard from midway through. Yet she appeared to go easily and strongly turning for home, the jockey taking a pull over 3 furlongs out.

She seemed to travel like the winner, with the only problem how to get a run for home. It didn’t happen until very late when the race was over. She is obviously much better than this result.

Sense Of Security has shown promise last year, was placed over 5.5f at this track in an eye-catching performance. She was a good third at Kempton earlier this month too, having ran to topspeed 61.

With experience she should improve. I feel a drop to 7f wouldn’t be an issue, neither would be a step up in trip out of question given the pedigree. Though, given her tendency to pull hard, a mile is probably the maximum right now.

Race Replay

Dream Composer
24/04/22 – 4.05 Wetherby:

Travelled in last position for most of the race, until turning for home when he attempted to make progress on the wide outside. Wasn’t helped by moving horses in front but also struggled with top-end speed on this fast surface.

Was brave in the final furlong to move through a gap and finished well. Clear improvement on recent poor Pontefract showing, which was a first run after a break, though. Performance is notable for the fact he ran so well here on fast ground even though he’s a much better horse with cut in the ground.

Comes down to a really nice mark having won of 1lb higher last summer and having ran a massive race in a big Ayr Handicap of 7lb higher. Interesting next time whenever on soft ground.

Race Replay

Hodler
25/04/22 – 4.55 Windsor:

Travelled strongly in rear, hard on the bridle approaching the last two furlongs. Stuck behind a wall of horses he’s switched to the inside but that doesn’t make the situation any better. Short of room there until very late when switched even wider.

I really liked how Hodler travelled here. He spotted a hood for the first time. Still pretty lightly raced it’s clear racing him over sprint trips is far from ideal given his pedigree. But potentially required to bring the mark down from what was a stiff opening mark (78).

He will clearly benefit moving up in distance. 10 furlongs looks possible. The fact he has been keen in the past is the obvious question mark for that sort of project. Nonetheless worth waiting for it to happen before backing him.

Race Replay

Homemade Andrea
25/04/22 – 7.55 Windsor:

Settled in rear of the field and travelled much the strongest to the 2 furlong marker, although had to delay her challenge. Once things opened up she dropped away tamely.

The mile trip could be too far for her. The filly’s best is over 7 furlongs which looks more in line with her sire and dam’s sire stamina index too. I imagine she might be best with a bit of cut in the ground as well.

Clearly 13 runs and 1 single win isn’t an overly sexy profile. But she managed to win of a mark of 50 as a juvenile and was a good runner-up of 2lb higher at Lingfield in January, when also running to a 50 topspeed rating, validating this form.

She’s likely to fall another couple of pounds for this run. If dropping back to 7 furlongs she’ll be interesting with a bit of cut in the ground I reckon.

Race Replay

Golden Apollo
25/04/22 – 7.05 Thirsk:

Didn’t have a good start and as a consequence settled in the final third of the field. Travelled okay and looked in with a shot if getting a clear run. He was kept up to the task the entire race but didn’t find a gap. Finished easily and seemingly with something left in the tank.

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, as a results his mark is reduced all the time. He’s down to a good mark already, but any additional help from the handicapper will be welcome. A 6f race of a 75 rating in class 4 could be an optimal scenario.

Race Replay

Northbound
25/04/22 – 20.05 Thirsk:

Keen at different stages of the race, nonetheless travelling smoothly on the inside. Still hard on the bridle over a furlong out, although absolutely no chance to get a run. Gently switched to the middle of the track very late and finished eye-catchingly well in one of the fasted final furlong splits despite being hard held.

He hasn’t won since his juvenile days, but has been competitive and placed numerous times last season, without winning though, and sometimes unlucky.

His mark continues to fall and is down to what makes him a well handicapped individual now. He was placed of 65 and ran to Topspeed 58, 59 and 61 last year. He also has a career best 71 TS rating. 7f fast ground may be ideal.

Race Replay

Golden Melody
26/04/22 – 3.30 Nottingham:

This was a really slow race for the most part resulting in a sprint finish. Golden Melody was disadvantaged by her racing position but made eye-catching progress on the inside from 4 furlongs out against a rapidly increasing pace.

The leaders where not for catching holding all the aces due to the nature of how the race developed, but Golden Melody finished the last four furlongs still much the fastest. It’s speculative but she was probably the best horse in the race on handicapping terms and would have won in different circumstances.

The 4-year-old filly looks quite exposed on paper, given 23 lifetime starts already. However, she was still progressive in a busy campaign last year. Particularly from summer on this March filly was prolific: three wins and a number of quality efforts.

She’s up to a 73 mark now and hasn’t matched that with topspeed yet. However she came close enough with a 69 TS effort in a hot class 2 York Handicap last year. She can improve again as this most recent run suggests. Anything between 9-10 furlongs is probably ideal with relative ground independence.

Race Replay

Kraken Power
26/04/22 – 6.15 Ayr:

Got a bump right after the start and was quite keen in the aftermath. Yet travelled much the best and made a big effort from 3f out to contest the lead on the outside of the field approaching the final furlong marker. Tired in the closing stages.

He possibly paid for a big effort from three to one furlongs out. Despite fading away late, he finished the last three furlongs fast and wasn’t knocked about in the closing stages. This performance is a clear return to form and build nicely on a solid comeback run at Thirsk earlier this month.

He changed yards late last year after obviously losing his way. He hasn’t exactly fired in the first two starts for Jim Goldie but was better than the bare form suggested at Thirsk and really caught my eye here too.

Kraken Power has talent. He was rated as high as 86, was placed in good races of 82 last season, as well as ran to topspeed 82. He’s now down to 70. If this upward trend continues he’ll be a massive chance next time. Both minimum trip and 6 furlongs are fine, although fast ground 6f may be the ideal scenario.

Race Replay

Hathlool
27/04/22 – 1.50 Ascot:

Awkward start, settled in rear travelling notably well. Made eye-catching progress from midway through the race, switching toward the inside looking for a clear run, although there’s also a noticeable lack of urgency from the jockey . He’s short of room one furlong out again and finishes easily under hands and heels.

This was an eye-catching run for a number of reasons and the stewards thought so too, holding an inquiry into the ride. Whatever the lack of in-running luck, in my view the jockey didn’t really try to obtain the best possible position in the race.

Hathlool has been quite progressive over the last half year on both turf and All-Weather, winning three times and running better than the bare form suggested the last two times on turf.

His mark is probably high enough now as he’s not yet run to a topspeed above 58. But I feel once he goes up to 9-10 furlongs again, and drops to 75 or lower he’ll be really interesting.

Perhaps that’s exactly the idea of connections to get him into that type of scenario. He’s got an entry for Beverley over 8.5f on Monday. With his sketchy starting habits and the trip perhaps slightly below his preferred optimum, I can see him not running too well there. That could bring him down to the rating I want to see.

Race Replay

Rocket Dancer
27/04/22 – 5.30 Pontefract:

Had a wide draw to overcome and as a consequence settled in rear, which was a huge disadvantage in a race dominated by those up or close to the pace.

Cut the corner turning for home and then made significant progress against the inside rail to finish 4th, staying on as one of very few from the back of the field.

Clear sign of life for a horse that lost form in the second half of last season. He was still a fine runner-up over this course and distance twelve months earlier of a mark of 62, won subsequently of 64 on the All-Weather. Was well beaten in all other runs then.

Down to a 52 rating now he appears to be supremely well handicapped on past form. This performance gives me the impression he is ready to win soon.

Race Replay

Chant For More
27/04/22 – 7.55 Musselburgh:

The gelding travelled nicely enough on the inside rail behind the leading trio but had to wait for a gap to open. It only really opened up for him very late, over half a furlong from home, he went through bravely and ran on strongly for 3rd place in a tight finish.

This was a significant improvement on his juvenile form. A recent wind operation must have done the trick here. He was a cheap vendor foal but offers some upside as a 3-year-old I feel, given he was an April foal and has scope to get better with experience, now that his wind is okay.

A step up to 6 furlongs would be really interesting in a low-grade race next time.

Race Replay

Perfect Symphony + San Juan
28/04/22 – 4.05 Lingfield:

Despite a solid break from the gates Perfect Symphony got behind soon, perhaps also got a bit tight amongst horses around the first bend (hard to see). Was pushed along from 4 furlongs out and turned home in last position. Thundered home in impressive fashion to finish runner-up eventually.

The 8-year-old has still something to give as evidence by his latest performances. He ran well on a number of occasions over the last weeks and months on the All-Weather. At his age he’s a bit quirky and needs things to fall right, though.

Saying that, a small field sprint over the minimum distance on the All-Weather is certainly a possibility for him to win, particularly of such a low mark he’s fallen to. He was fancied in the betting for the first time in a while here, so I’ll want to monitor the market before backing him.

San Juan had to contend with the widest draw which wasn’t ideal given he has starting issues. Consequently he was slowly away, lost ground early on and played catch-up. Made rapid progress over three furlongs out but turned a bit awkward and wide. Took time to get organised, then rattled home to finish 3rd.

Given the circumstances this was a massive performance. The first furlong aside hampered by the start, he ran incredible sectionals. He was unlucky last time out not getting a clear run 2f out and also losing a shoe.

He’s obviously a horse with issues and one has to account for his habit of starting slowly. Now down to a mark of 48 though, he looks supremely well handicapped even taking those issues into account. He clearly acts well on the All-Weather, but I would love to see him on turf, perhaps with a bit of cut in the ground.

Race Replay

Cobra Kai
28/04/22 – 4.35 Musselburgh

A big keen to get on with the job early on, but totally lit up once hampered over five furlongs out. Was stuck on the inside in a pocket behind the long-term leader and eventual winner, always kept up to work and stuck nicely to the task. Finished well in the closing stages given the circumstances.

He was well fancied here as the favourite after a highly promising seasonal reappearance at Newcastle in March. That day he finished strongly and in contrast to what one would have expected given the price tag.

Still a maiden after eight lifetime starts now, but he looks well capable of winning of his current mark. Ideally runs over 7 furlongs or over a mile, which looks realistic on pedigree. He needs to learn to settle, that’s key, though.

If he does, perhaps with the application of some headgear, he’ll make a mockery of a 49 handicap mark I feel.

Race Replay

Eye-Catchers #4 2022

A list of horses that have caught my eye during the last seven days of racing. These individuals look ready to win a race sooner rather than later.

Tiber Flow
15/04/22 – 3.10 Newcastle:

Slightly impeded at the start, although it may not had a dramatic bearing on the outcome of the race as he has the habit of starting slowly. But as a result of this he found himself settling well off the pace and that, indeed, may have been a disadvantage.

He travelled strongly in the pack but couldn’t quite unleash a clear challenge until two furlongs out. In contrast the eventual winner was always handy and had a clear view at the most crucial stage of the race.

Tiber Flow was slightly switched over a furlong from home to thunder home on the stands’ side and nearly reeled in the winning favourite, who is a 107 rated and vastly more experienced rival.

Visuals and sections as well tell the same story: Tiber Flow was unlucky not to win.

Tiber Flow came here with a progressive profile, but clearly made a dramatic jump, running to a 103 topspeed rating while only rated 94. Surely the handicapper will rectify this gap. That won’t matter because this lad is a Group horse in the making.

How good? We’ll see. Clearly the way he finished here at Newcastle suggests he wants to go back to 7 furlongs, which looks ideal on pedigree too.

Ex Gratia
15/04/22 – 3.30 Lingfield:

From the widest draw she was soon trailing the field, although, different to all her other career runs, she started more alertly this time. Perhaps, the penny starts to drop – albeit slowly.

The race was certainly dominated by the front group with the winner and runner-up always up or close to the pace. The eventual winner kicked away and was way too good, running to an impressive topspeed rating.

In that context, also the horses finishing behind ran to solid TS ratings, giving this form a rock solid look. Ex Gratia never landed a blow, though. But she was in the worst possible position as the pace increased, and also didn’t quite seem to enjoy the sharp home turn.

What caught my eye was how easily she was finishing in the closing stages, though. Passing horses easily and closing to the main bunch without an overly animated Luke Morris in the saddle (especially if one accounts for his normally highly animated and aggressive style of riding).

This filly is obviously a temperamental, backward one. She is already four but only started racing in December. She showed plenty of promise but also plenty of quirks. The way she dismantled her rivals at Southwell – albeit a poor bunch – on her second career start remains a vivid impression.

Connections must have been impressed too as they where throwing her into the deep end at Newcastle against well seasoned high-class sprinters the next time. She faded in the closing stages but wasn’t disgraced.

The handicapper gave her an 80 opening mark which is hard to gauge whether it’s too high or too lenient. My feeling is 6 furlongs is too sharp, despite all the speed in the pedigree – but she is a half-sister to a 10f winner also.

I imagine her rating may drop a couple of pounds and if that is the case I will be interested in her over 7 furlongs. I am not ruling out a mile either. But want to see her at a less sharp track.

Race Replay

Alpha Cru
16/04/22 – 5.15 Nottingham:

From the second widest draw she was hampered early on which meant she couldn’t get close up with the pace, which is the filly’s preferred style of racing. Travelling in rear of the field she made a bit of progress in the home straight but was short of room over 2 furlongs out.

Even with a clear run from that point she wouldn’t have won, given the eventual winner ran away with it here. But it’s reasonable to argue that if things went more here way she would have finished perhaps in the placings. Eventually she finished well enough under hands and heels in my eyes.

Alpha Cru was progressive as a three-year-old last season. She won three times and performed with credit the other two times she raced in 2021. Particularly the final run last year was quite exceptional in my view.

Of her current mark there is not much scope over a mile, however her pedigree and the way she has seen out her races over that trip, gives rise to hope that a step up in trip will bring out additional improvement.

She may drop below a 80 mark now, which, if she goes up to 10 furlongs will be interesting. It’s worth waiting for that and keep tracking her for the day that’ll come probably sooner rather than later.

Race Replay

Ajrad
16/04/22 – 6.00 Lingfield:

Received a bump soon after the start that lit him up. Keen and pulling for much of the race as a consequence, yet travelling much the best approaching the home turn. He’s on the heels of a rival ahead, having to be pulled back, costing momentum.

He takes the shortest route and is brave when going through gaps on the inside finishing the final two furlongs the fastest, but the winner and runner-up had first run and were impossible to catch in the home straight.

He is still a maiden after 13 runs, even though placed on nine occasions. He tends to find misfortune in races, but also doesn’t always help himself when breaking slowly.

He is clearly ripe to win of his current handicap mark, though. Granted the handicapper isn’t harsh after this promising run. He was runner-up of 6lb higher in a class 3 Handicap last summer. A return to turf for a low-grade 7 furlong Handicap will see him with a massive chance.

Race Replay

Pop Dancer
19/04/22 – 1.50 Epsom:

This was a wild finish which could have gone many different ways on the day I feel. Pop Dancer was one of those who travelled strongly but didn’t get the gap when he needed it from two furlongs out. Horses where shifting around and whenever there an opening for a split second it closed as quickly again.

Late on there was space for a challenge but the bird was flown and he wasn’t helped by hanging down the cumber, which meant he finished poorly in the end.

The 5-year-old had a really poor last term, although comes down to a good mark and has shown in the past to be a quality sprinter. His previous topspeed ratings give him a great chance of his current 69 mark, especially as I feel his wellbeing has been confirmed with this run.

Pub Crawl
19/04/22 – 4.30 Epsom:

Travelled in rear always on the inside which would come to bite him in the home straight. When asked to improve his position from 4 furlongs out he made rapid progress but got caught between the leading trio from over 2f out, being slightly short of room and with no other option than to delay his challenge.

He looks a bit flat footed until switched over 1.5 furlongs from home when he hits top gear to thunder home and grab second place.

The way he finished matched the visual impression created three weeks earlier on his seasonal reappearance at Leicester when finishing strongly in the closing stages over 7 furlongs.

There is enough stamina on the dam side to suggest he can stay 10 furlongs. He was hitting the line at Epsom full of running over the 8.5f trip. So I’d be really interested if he steps up in distance and if the handicapper isn’t too harsh, i.e. a hike to 80 and above.

Sandown Classic Trial Preview

Six exciting colts go to post in the Classic Trial at Sandown on Friday. Could we see the 2022 Derby winner?

Goldspur has the strongest form in the book, no doubt. A winner of the Zetland Stakes in October last year followed up with a subsequent 3rd place in a strong Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud.

He ran to topspeed 92 on his second lifetime start at Newmarket and the French form has worked out well: the likes of Stone Age and Buckaroo have returned as three-year-olds in promising style.

The clear concern must be Goldspur’s speed. Even as a juvenile he appeared desperately in need of every inch of the 1m 2f trip. He was also beaten for speed in the closing stages at Saint-Cloud. With that in mind over 10 furlongs on fast ground he looks vulnerable in this field.

River Thames is an interesting alternative. I was quite taken how he won on debut at Punchestown. No surprise, he was a still raw and green and a bit flat footed over three furlongs out, but once called on for full effort he rapidly shifted into top gear and ran down the leaders.

Judged on that visual piece of evidence he should enjoy the step up in trip. Although the pedigree is a little bit less clear on that front. It’ll be interesting to watch.

John Gosden can never be ignored, given his more recent successes in this particular race. His Frankel colt Frantastic was an emphatic winner of a Novice contest at Newcastle when last seen in October. It was visually impressive how he put the race to bed, matched by fast sectionals in the closing stages.

On the other hand it was a slowly run race and the horses behind him low-grade standard – the runner-up is a 72 rated individual after an unsuccessful class 5 Handicap debut. The fact he could quicken off a pedestrian pace in such nice style, while you would hope he can easily step up to 10 furlongs, is a big plus, nonetheless.

Franz Strauss was a winner on debut at Newcastle in December. The form is notable for the fact that it has been seriously franked thanks to third placed Eydon who made such a big impression in the Feilden Stakes last week upon his return.

The son of Golden Horn looks sure to improve for the new trip and seems to be a bit overpriced in a race where the majority of colts are such unknown quantities.

Ralph Beckett will hope Westover can take a step forward for the new trip too. The Frankel colt finished never worse than second in three starts over 1 mile last year. To be competitive in this race he’s got to find improvement, though.

Cash is the one I am most interested in. For obvious reasons. He featured on my 5 To Follow list for 2022 thanks to a stunning debut run in a maiden at Newmarket in October.

Visually that was an incredibly taking run, one that is backed up speed ratings and sectionals. The form looks proper as he overcame greenness when beating more experiences rivals, plus the third placed horse was a fine 3rd placed finisher behind New London too, who himself is now a hot Derby prospect.

He is likely to stay well beyond the mile trip given the dam won over 1m 6f, so the step up in trip is a positive here. A negative could be hold-up tactics. Never ideal at Sandown, even more so in a race where there may a lack of pace.

Summary:

A wide open contest, especially if one is prepared to take on short-priced favourite Goldspur. Charlie Appleby’s colt remains the most likely winner on all known form. However, the other five horses have all significant potential to improve.

At this point in time nobody truly knows which horse has trained on and will be able to fulfill their early promise. I hope it’s going to be Cash. The Grey impressed me on debut so immensely with a debut run that to me appeared out of the ordinary.

The pace is question mark, as is tactics. Yet, I can see a scenario where even in a slowly run race he has the turn of foot to quicken past his rivals. He looks to have all the right tools to be a really good colt.

10pts win – Cash @ 7/1

Eye-Catchers #3 2022

A list of horses that have caught my eye during the last seven days of racing. These individuals look ready to win a race sooner rather than later.

After John
09/04/22 – 2.05 Thirsk:

Travelled in rear of the field. until making excellent progress from three to 2 furlongs from home. Confronted with a wall of horses to pass he has to switch wide, taking the “scenic route” in order to get a clear run.

This move cost time and momentum and by the final furlong marker it’s too late to catch the eventual winner who always travelled isolated away from the field.

It’s fair to assume on a different day After John finishes a whole lot closer to the winner. He’s certainly responded to the change of scenery having moved yards on this first run for Ian Jardine.

He’s down to a handicap mark of 64 and on past form he’s well handicapped, no question. He ran four times to topspeed ratings of 65 or higher and performed well of a mark of 67 in 6f Handicaps last season.

I am hoping the handicapper won’t bee too harsh after this run and leaves him on 64. If that’s the case I reckon After John will be a big runner over 6 furlongs wherever he pops up next.

Race Replay

Andromedas Kingdom + No Patience + Breach + We’re On The Way
10/04/22 – 5.20 Curragh:

This was a wild race with as many hard-luck stories as you want to pick out. I could make the case for more than a handful of horses that ran better than the bare result suggested. But “only” four individuals find their way into the tracker.

Andromedas Kingdom travelled well on the heels of the main bunch on the stands’ side. Having to pass everyone with nowhere to go she was switched to the middle of the track in the hope for greener grass. She made dramatic progress from 2 furlongs out and finished well under hands and heels.

This was her first run in Handicap company also also her comeback run coming off a 251 day break, while having changed yards in the meantime. She is a half-sister to 100 rated sprinter Boundless Power, but I imagine she will improve going up in trip. A mile looks highly possible on pedigree. With more improvement to come a mark of 55 could easily underestimate her.

No Patience raced in midfield of the main pack on the stands’ side for the majority of the race. He was boxed in and couldn’t improve his position until about half a furlong from home when he ran on strongly under an easy ride.

He’s an experienced individual and we know all about him. However, given 6 furlongs is likely on the sharp side these days, I do rate this run as a strong performance.

He’s down to a sexy mark (turf and All-Weather), given he won off 65 over 7 furlongs at Dundalk last April, ran a good race in a hot Leopardstown Handicap last September from 10lb higher than he’s rated today, and achieved a 71 topspeed rating in the past. He looks rejuvenated for having changed yards and is ripe to win back up in trip.

Breach travelled in rear of the main bunch and is another one who had nowhere to go. She also got badly hampered over two furlongs out when running into the back of a horse. She’s switched moments later and finishes easy as you like in eye-catching fashion.

This filly has been hidden. She has raced over wrong trips since her move to Ireland. She almost certainly stays a good deal further. The dam was a 10 furlong winner. Watch out for when she moves up in trip. Her day will come.

We’re On The Way was yet another significant hard-luck story. He had no chance, was multiple times hampered and had any momentum stopped from over two furlongs out. Given a bit of reign in the final furlong he picked up seriously well, though.

He also is one you would think has no business to run over 6 furlongs. He will stay further and should improve going up in trip. Watch out for that. This was his seasonal comeback run which enhances the performance as he was not fancied at all on the day.

Race Replay

Secret Eagle
11/04/22 – 5.50 Pontefract:

He made perfect use of a low draw to chase the early pace and be in a good spot given the nature of the track. He continued to drive forward from three furlongs out and attempted to steal the race from the front turning for home while the fellow pace setter faded away.

He was finally caught with one furlong to go but continued to rally impressively to keep the 3rd spot.

This was a clear return to form and evidence that a recent wind operation has worked. Secret Eagle is down to a solid mark, having ran to topspeed 71 as a juvenile and having been placed of 3lb higher last August (a strong piece of form).

He acts over 5 furlongs as well as 6 furlongs, on softish as well as decent ground. Though, I suspect he’ll need a bit of cut in the ground for the minimum trip.

Race Replay

Ebtsama
12/04/22 – 7.45 Wolverhampton:

This filly was already on the #1 2022 list. She caught the eye here once again in a hot race. As mentioned earlier this month I want to see her stepping up in trip before backing her, so I let her run without my money.

Perhaps in that context it was disheartening to see how much she pulled in this 6f contest. Nonetheless, with more experience and a solid pace I maintain that 7 furlongs will be ideal.

Turning for home she was following the eventual winner who kicked on 2 furlongs from home. Ebtsama didn’t quite seem to have the instant change of gear to follow but also found herself boxed in, denied an opportunity to unleash her own challenge.

This could be a blessing in disguise because she may be dropped a couple of pounds by the handicapper for finishing last. She appears seriously well handicapped once stepping up in trip – and if she can relax. Perhaps head gear in some form is an option.

The form of the race looks strong on topspeed ratings. Most horses have ran to their handicap mark too – always a good sign in my book.

Race Replay

Harry Three
13/04/22 – 1.50 Newmarket:

He travelled in rear for the first half of the race. Made his move from 3 furlongs out, but crucially toward the far side, away from where the actual race would eventually develop.

He quickened in impressive style – backed up by strong sectionals. But he had to do it all on his own in the closing stages. In the end he was just beaten by two horses on the stands’ side.

He looks like a colt who is progressing as a 3-year-old after showing a lot of promise toward the end of last season as a juvenile. He is lightly enough raced to imagine he can improve again.

He didn’t always got the best of runs the last two starts he was beaten before coming here to Newmarket. All in all, over the 6 furlongs trip he clearly can win off his current handicap mark – granted the handicapper won’t treat him harshly for this effort.

Race Replay