Tag Archives: horse racing

Monday Selections: 13th June 2022

It’s Royal Ascot week. Exciting for many reasons, but mostly due to all the international competition. My excitement is slightly tempered nonetheless because on the bread and butter betting front I struggle to back a winner.

Even though the Eyecatchers perform really well, I simply don’t back the ones that win. That can happen. A number of poor decisions haven’t helped and that means I’m on 15 losers on the bounce right now. Today are pure value selections that are low percentage plays not necessarily likely to turn that around.

But I got to believe in the process that served me well for six straight years, not to forget April and May were green months, in fact. So here we go:

2.45 Carlisle: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

I am interested in Stone Circle here for obvious reasons, but I don’t think the fast ground will suit entirely, hence there is zero juice left in his price this morning.

One who looks seriously overpriced is the 6-year-old gelding Sharrabang. He showed some spark the last time at this venue, even though over 5 furlongs.

He was up with the pace early on, disputed the lead as part of a trio. He started to come under pressure from over 2 furlongs out, struggling to keep up the tempo. But he kept going, only to be ever so gently being pushed toward the inside by a rival, finding himself in a tight spot.

As a consequence he was a bit short of room over 1f from home, lost momentum and couldn’t find it again. This should be strong form for this grade in my view.

The minimum trip on fast ground was never to suit entirely, so the fact he ran so well despite the trouble is noteworthy. He needs 6 furlongs, despite a win over 5 furlongs last year – but that came on softish ground – and stays up to 7f on fast ground too and acts well on the All-Weather.

Hence I do think the stiff 6 furlongs at Carlisle suit him down to the grounds, a notion his past form would support. He has come down some way in the mark ever since the victory last May. Yet he also ran well a number of times last season when he achieved topspeeds of 50 and 52, was competitive of marks in the low 50’s and therefore could take advantage of a basement mark with the right conditions I feel.

In terms of conditions I can’t see any reason for excuses. The 3lb claim of Faye McManoman is good value normally and she knows the horse. The #7 isn’t a big deal in my view. I really expect a good run today from Sharrabang despite the massive price.

10pts win – Sharrabang @ 19/1

……….

3.15 Carlisle: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

I was really keen on Marselan the other day at Catterick – which was stupid for the simple fact he never stood a chance from the wide draw and I got blinded by his sensational LTO performance, simply negating the obvious facts of track bias.

It happened what must happen. Marselan was never in the race. It’s one to draw a line through.

Ideally I want to see him over 7 furlongs, no question. So am I about to make the same mistake twice? I don’t think so. Off a 61 mark over a stiff 6 furlongs that requires some stamina in the final third it all play to his strengths today. The #8 draw is nowhere near as big a deal as the wider draw at Catterick was.

Marselan was one of THE eye-catchers of the year so far, for me personally. At Thirsk last months he raced as part of a duo isolated on the stand’s side. The pair was lengths behind the main bunch and had plenty to do with two furlongs to go. Marselan found tons to finish much the strongest to grab 2nd place, the only with a finish speed of over 100%. He also achieved a career best 60 topspeed rating that day.

He returned fresh from a wind operation which seemingly worked. The loss of form last year can most likely be attributed to breathing issues.

He won of 65 and 67 last summer over 7 furlongs. Now down to 61 he’s obviously well handicapped with the breathing issues rectified. Ryan Sexton claims highly valuable 5lb too, the cherry on the cake, so to speak.

10pts win – Marselan @ 11/1

Monday Selections – 6th June 2022

6.15 Windsor: Class 5 Handicap, 5f

With the rain arriving at Windsor turning the going soft Firenze Rosa encounters ideal conditions over the minimum trip today. The handicapper has been kind enough to drop her mark to 53 since her latest – I felt – eye catching run over the same CD.

There she travelled pretty well until about the halfway stage. Was then stuck behind horses. Briefly tracking the initial winner but not getting through on the inside. The inexperienced jockey perhaps wasn’t quite brave enough to take a gap on the stands’ side until very late too.

She was 1lb out of the weights, too. Today is an easier race. She won of a mark of 56 in soft here at Windsor about a year ago and she finished the turf season in October with a really strong runner-up effort of a 57 mark running to a 57 TS rating that day.

The #10 draw will give her every chance to get a clear run on the outside I hope, Mollie Phillips claims valuable 5lb and knows the mare from previous rides.

10pts win – Firenze Rosa @ 14.5

…………

7.30 Pontefract: Class 5 Handicap, 5f

The top three in the market are all vulnerable from their current handicap mark, hence this looks a good opportunity for Van Gerwen to get his head in front as a value alternative.

He was far from disgraced ten days ago over course and distance in a stronger race where he didn’t get an ideal run, only two days after encountering trouble in the closing stages at Ripon that prevented him from potentially winning.

That day he seemed poised for a major move but was repeatedly short of room until nearly the very final moment of the race.

The gives him a real chance having dropped him to a mark of 66. He’s a pound below his latest winning mark with that. He also ran to topspeed 62, 65 and 67 last season. A highly consistent sort, wellbeing confirmed down to a good mark and down to a realistic class.

10pts win – Van Gerwen @ 8.6

Thursday Selections: 2nd June 2022

3.46 Hamilton: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 5f

This isn’t a competitive race as you would expect over this extended trip in this class. You can make a case for the short-priced favourite Haven Lady, but she looks quite high in the ratings now and is opposable.

Ghostly comes down to a good mark again but handicap newcomer Aighear is clearly the most interesting. Off bottom weight she looks ready to strike moving up in trip.

She caught my eye in her last run at Carlisle when finishing at the back of the field, never put into a position to challenge, but travelled quite well through the race over an inadequate 7 furlongs trip.

It’s fair to say she has been buried in her first three starts on the flat after a promising debut in a bumper in March. That particular form looks quite strong thanks to the winner who franked the form significantly. Even that day, possibly not surprisingly on her a debut, Aighear got an education ride and only late was called on to ride for a proper finish.

Her dam was a solid staying handicapper, so stamina is assured, if any further evidence was needed after the debut over 1m 7.5f in a bumper. Any rain will be welcome today. That is the one concern I have that things will still happen too fast today.

But at the same time I’m quite confident that t she is better than a 44 or 46 mark over this sort of trip. The fact she steps up in distance so sharply suggests there is no hiding place today – it’s “D-Day” for her.

10pts win – Aighear @ 4/1

Tuesday Selections – 31st May 2022

Last chance to make some hay in May. Yesterday was a huge disappointment having Lingfield’s races around a bend called off; Captain Claret ran no sort of race later in the afternoon.

5.52 Thirsk: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 4f

Gold Charm caught the eye on handicap debut on the Lingfield polytrack earlier this month. She travelled stylishly into the home straight, but didn’t get the clearest of runs while also giving the impression she wants further.

This opportunity presents itself today. She moves up to 12 furlongs, which looks within her range on pedigree. The opening mark of 73 was no gift from the handicapper – he dropped her merely a single pound in the meantime. But she is quite nicely bred and certainly travelled like a nice horse at Lingfield.

She goes against her own sex today. This race doesn’t look too competitive, the favourite aside who could be well handicapped if she gets her attitude right. She hang the last two times, so it worth taking her on.

The arrival of the rain will be a question mark for many in this field, including my filly. I’m hopeful given Golden Horn’s often handle softish conditions and the dam won on soft.

Marco Ghiani on board looks a positive given he’s got a 20% strike rate for William Knight and 50% place rate.

10pts win – Gold Charm @ 9/2

Monday Selections: 30th May 2022

2.25 Lingfield: Novice Stakes, 1m 1f

Normally this wouldn’t be my type of race but I was very taken with the way Foursome finished on her debut. It was clearly an educational ride and the slow pace didn’t suit her, but she finished pretty much the best under an easy hands and heels ride.

There was good market support for her pre-race – perhaps the Haggas factor. She was alertly out of the gates, but caught wide before settling in rear. While the race developed at the front end, thanks to slow fractions, she became a bit outpaced as the leaders kicked on from over three furlongs out.

She found her feet, though, made good progress from the 2 furlong marker on and moved through a tight gap one furlong from home finishing in fine fashion.

Clearly she needs a better pace and will get into her own when moving up in trip. The additional half a furlong today will certainly suit in that regard.

The race looks for the taking, given the 71 rated Lyrical Lady sets a solid standard but hasn’t set the world alight in six starts. Buick on two-time runner-up Musical Romance is a short priced favourite. Not sure she will truly enjoy this trip, hence worth taking on.

It’s always a risk in these races, whether horses are prepared for handicaps. I feel Foursome will be given every chance to get a win on board today, though.

10pts win – Foursome @ 11/2

………….

4.40 Redcar: Class 6 Handicap, 1m

This could be the day for Captain Claret. I am monitoring him since last summer when he ran a number of times better than the bare form suggested.

He changed yards in the meantime, now with Ruth Carr, he ran twice this year. His return at Redcar over 7 furlongs was an excellent performance when he raced mostly from the front, setting a solid pace and only got caught late in the final furlong.

He couldn’t follow up at Thirsk but there were excuses for the performance. Perhaps a blessing in disguise as a consequence Captain Claret has dropped to a mark off 60 – a career-lowest. If I felt last summer he was capable to run to a 70 rating, then he’s clearly well-handicapped today.

The Ruth Carr yard is in poor form. That’s a definite concern. On the other hand this race is very winnable with questions marks about each and every runner. On the plus side Joanna Mason knows the horse and I hope she can set sensible fractions or track the pace.

There are no concerns over the trip, neither over the ground, even if the rain would arrive.

10pts win – Captain Claret @ 6/1

Saturday Selections: 28th May 2022

3.39 Catterick: Class 6 Handicap, 7f

Marselan should have a good chance to outrun his odds in this open contest. The wide draw is a real concern, given he isn’t a lightning fast starter. But he could be really well handicapped today and may benefit from a red hot pace with many of the rivals keen to be on the front foot.

The 4-year-old was a major eyecatcher last time out. That day he raced as part of a duo isolated on the stands’ side. The pair was lengths behind the main bunch and had plenty to do with two furlongs to go. Marselan found plenty to finish much the strongest to grab 2nd place. He also achieved a career best 60 topspeed rating.

This was the first time after a wind operation. The loss of form last year can most likely be attributed to those issues.

He won of 65 and 67 last summer over 7 furlongs. Now down to 62 he’s obviously well handicapped with the breathing issues rectified. 7furlongs on fast ground could be his optimum – so he’s a play for me today.

10pts win – Marselan @ 10/1

…………..

5.00 Beverley: Class 6 Handicap, 7.5f

Cobra Kai couldn’t have been unluckier at Musselburgh earlier this month when he got a horrible trip in the closing stages yet was only beaten in a photo eventually.

The handicapper was lenient and has added only 2lb to the mark for that massive effort that should have seen him win potentially with a bit in hand, which means he should still be a well handicapped today.

The race comes soon enough, which is a question mark. Otherwise I feel the favourite is worth taking on. The Covex Kid won well on the All-Weather and could improve, but this is a different test under a 6lb penalty today.

Cobra Kai been a somewhat unlucky horse in his career, still a maiden, catching the eye a few times. Before the huge lto run he caught my eye at Musselburgh in April over 7 furlongs when he was hampered early on, lit up as a result and still ran a fine race.

The fast ground poses no problems today, the #1 draw is fine and Buick booked is a major bonus given the poor decision making by Mullen was a key reason for Cobra Kai still being a maiden.

10pts win – Cobra Kai @ 4.8/1

Eyecatchers #9 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 given the right conditions.

Brilliant Blue
20/05/22 – 1.35 Goodwood:

Awkward start but wasn’t help by the isolated #1 draw. Was about to move forward when badly hampered on the inside around the 6 furlong marker. Keen afterwards. Made excellent progress from three furlongs out. Looked like coming with big run before fading.

This was his seasonal reappearance. Possible lack of race fitness and mid-race keenness may have been the contributing factor to a lackluster finish.

Should be better than this. Showed promise as a juvenile in two races in Autumn – 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.

Race Replay

Aeonian
20/05/22 – 3.40 Haydock:

Travelled toward the end of the small field, pretty keen early on, nearly bumped into rival. Slowly run race, eventual first and second – also lto winners – tracked the pace and quickened gradually from three furlongs out. He made good progress on outside once in the clear but couldn’t catch the leaders.

He was also quite heavily sweating on this seasonal reappearance. Given circumstances this was a fine performance against some good and experienced rivals.

Hasn’t been seen since August when winning hot Yarmouth Novice contest overcoming severe greenness. The form looks strong. he could be a smart prospect. May be prohibitive odds next time. Needs monitoring.

Race Replay

Glamorous Express
21/05/22 – 4.35 Goodwood:

Travelling very strongly in rear of the field. Was at a major disadvantage, though. Having to pass the entire field, still last two furlongs from home going well, eventually switched inside the final furlong and finishes easily the best.

Obviously needs step up in trip. Six furlongs should see him improve. Seven furlongs not out of question. Was still green and raw in most races last year. Hence wouldn’t be too harsh on judging his performances beyond the minimum distance in his juvenile campaign.

Won a Novice contest when last seen in 2021 at Bath, battling strongly. A mark of 80 looks fair for the moment, if he can improve for the trip and for race fitness.

Race Replay

Tomfre
21/05/22 – 1.40 York:

Led the field setting solid fractions. Started to come under pressure from over two furlongs out. Headed and eventually lost touch with those that finished in the placings. Stuck gutsily to the task regardless, didn’t fade away.

Strong performance, ran right to form and mark. Was runner-up of 105 OR last May at this track. Comes down to a more realistic marks now, currently 2lb below his last winning mark.

Looks in fine form, this performance confirmed as much. Ideally would love to see a few more pounds off. Needs certainly proper soft ground to be seen to best effect. He’s one to keep monitoring this season for the right circumstances.

Race Replay

Ey Up It’s Maggie
21/05/22 – 2.55 York:

Tracked the early pace, took over the lead halfway through and ran strongly to the line. Only headed and eventually beaten in the final 100 yards.

Really gutsy performance. Highly consistent filly. In the grip of the handicapper. Will always be vulnerable in this class off this mark. A few pounds off, drop in class and proper soft ground over the minimum trip will be really interesting. Wait for it.

Race Replay

Bonus
21/05/22 – 7.15 Lingfield:

Crossed over toward the rails soon after the start and travelled at the end of the midfield group for the most part. Had a lot to do form this position over two furlongs out while the winner enjoyed the perfect run being up with the pace and was also well handicapped. Didn’t have the pace to challenge when gaps opened over a furlong from home but finished well under hands and heels.

He’s still a few pounds above his last winning mark but starts to get some assistance from the handicapper. I feel this run confirmed his wellbeing. Any additional drop in the ratings combined with racing over 7 furlongs on proper soft ground will spark my interest.

Race Replay

La Yakel
22/05/22 – 1.30 Nottingham:

Was away a bit slowly from the widest draw, settled eventually in rear. Still trailed over two furlongs out going very strongly. Didn’t get out for a clear run until about 1.5f from home. Quickened nicely and grabbed third place on the line having been tenderly handled.

This was his debut. He was gelded already back in March but must have some talent. Was a £28,000 foal but changed hands a year later for £120,000 to Shadwell. He will likely improve plenty fold for stepping up to 10 furlongs given his breeding.

The form could be quite useful. The odds-on winner had more experience and tasted success the last time. Given first and second where always prominent and La Yakel made such a good impression from the rear of the field suggest he could be closely matched with the winner. Needs monitoring for the next starts.

Race Replay

Kaasirr
22/05/22 – 3.05 Nottingham:

Travelled well enough in the final third of the field. Looked poised from three out, not clearest of runs from over two furlongs out, in a tight spot. Eventually fades.

I imagine this was a strong race for this class and will work out well in the long-run. He’s got a few solid pieces of form to this name, especially a close runner-up effort behind Al Nafir (who was 2nd behind Cash on debut) last year on his second career start.

His three-year old campaign has been rather disappointing so far. He was fancied in all three races, hang his chances away at Southwell and finished tamely the last two times. I feel a mile is the maximum of his stamina, though.

He comes down to a dangerous mark I reckon. Perhaps some different form of headgear could be interesting. A drop to a mile is key. I would also be interested in 7 furlongs with a bit of ease in the ground.

Race Replay

Orbaan
22/05/22 – 5.05 York:

Settled in rear of the field going well. Travelled much the strongest in the home straight, hard on the bridle, poised to be unleashed for a winning move. Couldn’t get out, though. Repeatedly short of room. No chance whatsoever.

Is an infrequent winner but has ran numerous times really well in defeat. Big run when 5th in last years Lincoln, placed in the summer off a mark off 94 twice.

Now down to a 87 OR, he looks seriously well handicapped if he gets his conditions: a mile at York or Doncaster or generally a relatively flat straight course. He also goes well over 7 furlongs with significant cut in the ground. He looks ready for a big win.

Race Replay

Arab Cinder
23/05/22 – 1.10 Wolverhampton:

Had to overcome the widest draw, outpaced early on and trailed the main body of the field by quite a margin. Made good progress from halfway, in touch turning for home and loomed dangerously. Couldn’t get a clear run, kept inside by rival the entire home straight until dramatic move toward the inside at the final furlong marker.

Would have gone really close with a clear run most likely. This was her Handicap debut and she showed significant improvement from her three qualifying runs.

As a full-sister to a 1m 6f winner who stayed 2 miles, she is likely to get better the further she goes. 7 furlongs is clearly too short therefore it’s noteworthy how well she ran here. The family isn’t overly successful on the ratings front but most win races.

With that in mind I don’t have massive confidence that she can repeat this performance over shorter than 10 furlongs. The pace was likely a big help for her staying on so well. If she moves up in trip I’ll be really interested. One to monitor.

Race Replay

Eddie The Beagle
23/05/22 – 2.20 Leicester:

Outpaced early on, possibly still green, had to be niggled in early parts of the race. Travelled okay into home straight and tried to make progress from back of the field having loads to do. Multiple times stopped and short of room. Ran on a bit late under easy ride.

Seasonal reappearance. Showed bit of progress on second last start last November. Dam won over 1m 4f for the same yard. Would expect this lad to be competitive if he steps up to that sort of distance.

Race Replay

Crownthorpe
24/05/22 – 7.00 Newcastle:

Travelled in rear initially, seemingly not going all that well. Moved into midfield and outpaced over 2 furlong out when the pace increased. Seemed to come with a late move inside the final furlong but badly hampered half a furlong from home. Winner was long gone at that stage though.

He was hampered and short of room on his seasonal reappearance at Redcar, too. Finished the race okayish from the back of the field. The form looks very strong.

Lost form toward the second half of last season. Has fallen significantly in his mark since two subsequent placed efforts in class 2 Hansicaps off 88 and 89 in May and June 2021.

Down to a 74 rating now, he should be really well handicapped in the right conditions. A mile with cut in the ground could be that. He requires a solid pace to be seen to best effect, I feel.

Race Replay

Reckon I’m Hot
24/05/22 – 5.40 Lingfield:

Caught wide from the #11 draw early on, travelled pretty well into the home straight, going better than most, couldn’t find instant acceleration when finding daylight over 1 furlong out. Perhaps ran out of gas too.

Seven furlongs is probably too far. She was quite unlucky not to win over the minimum trip at Lingfield back in February when she looked to have it won, only be caught late on the line.

Subsequently badly hampered at the start at Chelmsford, she ran better than the result suggested, while she bumped into a very well handicapped winner at Wolverhampton.

She looks capable of winning off her current mark. Would quite like to see her over 6 furlongs on turf.

Race Replay

Billy Wedge
24/05/22 – 8.05 Newcastle:

A bit slowly away, settled in rear, although seriously keen early on. Jockey had to take pulls multiple times. Steered from the middle toward the stands’ side and back again over 3f out. Seemed to travel extremely strongly approaching the 2f marker, still hard on the bridle, only then switched to the widest outside. Finished much the strongest.

Possibly unlucky not getting the clearest of runs but also seemingly a rather conservative ride given. Ran really well at Redcar in April on his comeback run after a near year long break.

Couldn’t repeat, although perhaps mitigating factors. This latest performance shows he is still very much capable of winning. On past form potentially well handicapped if the handicapper doesn’t react too harshly. Was Newcastle winner over 6f of a mark off 52, running to topspeed 55 in February 2021.

Best form on the All-Weather and over 7 furlongs. Rating wise not too far behind what he has achieved on turf, though; however, without winning. I don’t see turf as such a big negative with that in mind. But needs careful monitoring of market and jockey booking. Will require proper soft ground if to be considered on turf.

Race Replay

Thrave
25/05/22 – 3.10 Beverley:

Restrained early on and settled in last pace a few lengths off the main body of the field. Good progress from 4 furlongs out on the inside but headway stopped in home straight. Repeatedly short of room right to the end, while looking poised to win the race if a gap would open.

Ran better on two occasions this season since coming back from a break. Looks poised judged on this, though from a handicapping perspective loos matched with best form from last season.

As eyecatching as this performance was I want to see a couple pounds off the mark. Off 65 or lower at a track that doesn’t favour front runners. 7f-1m fine. The shorter distance not on fast ground. Monitor. Engaged this Friday at Pontefract.

Race Replay

Van Gerwen
25/05/22 – 6.25 Ripon:

Travelled in midfield in a compact field. Perhaps a little bit flat footed entering last three furlongs when pace increased. Found some momentum and looked ready for a challenge but was repeatedly short of room until nearly the very final moment of the race.

Probably ran right up to mark and best of his 2021 form. Won off the same mark last October and ran to topspeed 62, 65 and 67. With that in mind he has clearly proven his wellbeing – important for a 9-year-old.

At the same time he is not overly well handicapped right now. Merely handicapped to what he’s capable of running to. It’s worth waiting one or two more runs to see how his mark is going to be (hopefully) reduced. Is engaged Friday, 27th May at Pontefract.

Race Replay

Twice Adaay
25/05/22 – 8.30 Ripon:

Prominent early on, chased the pace in second line. Lost position when racing room became increasingly tight and was short of room at 2 furlongs from home. Had to delay challenge. Met interference at final furlong marker too. Switched toward the inside and moved nicely through a gap to finish well.

Sole win came over 5 furlongs in soft conditions last year of a mark off 54. Ran to topspeed 56 on turf and 58 on firesand. Ran quite well on a number occasions this year. Consistency means she’s in the grip of the handicapper right now.

If she falls below 65 again and over the minimum trip on proper soft ground she’ll be really interesting.

Race Replay

Lady Lavina
26/05/22 – 1.20 Ripon:

Travelled really strongly and like the potential winner for the most parts of the race. Tried to find a gap from over two furlongs out. Short of room until very late when finally space opens up and she finishes really strongly, even though runs into traffic close to the finish once again.

May filly on debut here seemed ready despite drifting out to 20/1. Most likely will benefit from step up in trip to 7 furlongs. One to see where connections go next. May be too obvious to back next time. Worth to keep an eye for when she moves beyond six furlongs.

Race Replay

Field Of Honour
26/05/22 – 3.50 Ripon:

Pulls really hard pretty for the majority of the race. A slow pace didn’t help. Received a good educational ride. As pace leading trio kicks on four from home he’s kept at the rear of the field behind horses. Pulled out 3f from home and makes eye catching progress to about the final furlong marker.

Debut run for this April foal. Quite well bred, likely to be seen to best effect if stepping up to 10 furlongs. needs to learn to settle. Looks to have a bit of talent given the way he travelled in the home straight and make nice progress.

Will not get involved before going handicapping unless stepping up to 10 furlongs. One to monitor for next entries.

Race Replay

Saturday Selections: 21st May 2022

4.48 Musselburgh: Class 6 Handicap, 7f

An uncompetitive race that screams longshot. The favourite Aquamas goes for a hat-trick and may have found a great opportunity but I don’t think he’s overly well handicapped of his revised mark.

From the bottom of the weights – in fact one pound out off the weights – The Retriever makes appeal to me. There are clear risks attached to his chances – his turf form in particular is concerning – but there is a case to be made for him.

The 7-year-old has is on a good stretch of form on the All-Weather. He got almightily close over 7f at Wolverhampton last time out and was only caught late in March over the same CD as well. The form of those two races worked out quite well in the meantime. Especially last month when he grabbed the lead from the widest draw and got only caught on the line rates a big performance

As for his poor turf form: I look for some hope to his penultimate turf run at Catterick back in June 2021 when he was caught wide, always travelling on the outside of the field, but some late headway to finish in 4th place.

I feel conditions today will be just about right at a track that favours the speed horses. He’s got to overcome the widest draw, which is a negative given there is also competition for the lead.

Nonetheless, off a basement mark with the additional assistance of excellent 7lb claimer Aiden Brookes in the saddle The Retriever looks a whole lot more dangerous than the price suggests – granted he’s here to run on merit.

10pts win – The Retriever @ 14.5/1

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