Tag Archives: Ireland

Preview: Irish 1000 Guineas

Curragh

The Irish 1000 Guineas will rise and fall with the Jessica Harrington trained Albigna. The only top-level winner in the field has the best form in the book and will be hard to beat with natural improvement.

Albigna’s victory in the Prix Marcel Boussac is the strongest form on offer from last year – by far! Not to forget the classy filly was far from disgraced in the Moyglare or the Breeders’ Cup.

In a weak Guineas field there is no denying that she holds all the aces. The equation is a simple one: if the daughter of Zoffany can run to her juvenile form then she is more than likely to run away with the race this evening.

However – and I may repeat myself in all these Guineas previews over the last week – Albigna is an experienced individual, who saw a racecourse for the first time in May last year. There is every possibility that she was simply ahead of her rivals in terms of mind and body.

And given that the Guineas is held a month later than it usually is, there is a danger that others have been able to catch up with time and age on their side. In saying that that I also feel odds around 2/1 are entirely fair, if not even a tad generous.

Aiden O’Brien appears to have weaker hand than usual in the 1000 Guineas. None of his three fillies tasted success on Group level yet – that is rather unusual. But the lightly raced Peaceful may well be the biggest danger to Albigna I feel, as she caught my eye on a number of occasions last year and she could have any amount of improvement to come.

The most intriguing filly in my eyes, though, seems to be completely overlooked: that is the Michael Halford trained Ridenza. She is a huge price in a race that lacks depth.

The one-time raced Sea The Stars daughter is tremendously well bred, given her dam is the 2014 Debutante winner Raydara. She will probably stay further than the Guineas trip but makes appeal over a mile as well, certainly at the current price.

Ridenza lacks experience. She made a winning debut at Leopardstown in a seven furlong maiden last August and was put away ever since, not helped by an injury she sustained.

That piece of form looks strong: the fourth placed Lemista won a Group 3 earlier this year and the 9th of that race, Peaceful, won a Listed contest and is the 3/1 second favouite today.

In fairness, the Aiden O’Brien filly got a very light ride that day and looked to have tons left. Nonetheless it was really positive sign that Ridenza was able to win on debut, overcoming plenty of greenness over a trip that is possibly on the sharp side.

Trainer Michael Halford noted after the race that this was indeed Ridenza’s very first time away from home and even the first time of her tasting turf. He also mentioned that she has plenty of growing to do, which was probably the reason why we didn’t see her again as a juvenile.

He also described her as “a smart filly, very well bred and she’s always shown plenty at home” in addition to being quite hopeful that there is much more to come when she turns three.

Obviously there is a reason why Ridenza is a 18/1 chance today: how has she wintered? Has she trained on? Is she ready to go? is she over the injury? Is the trip potentially too sharp?

But at the same time, given her fantastic pedigree, that points to excellent form over the shorter distances as well, I’m inclined to give her a better chance than the odds suggest.

Selection:
10pts win – Ridenza @ 18/1

……….

Siskin Delight in Irish 2000 Guineas

It was an incredible victory for Siskin in the Irish 2000 Guineas last night. The favourite did it the hard way, having to fight for a gap to get out late and thunder home, beating the Aiden O’Brien “football team”.

If you read my race preview you know I had major doubts about his ability to stay the trip as well as actually being good enough as a three-year-old. He proved all doubters wrong. How well Siskin stayed the Curragh mile and ran strongly to the line, no care in the world for the uphill finish?!

There was a lot of love for Ger Lyons as well. For him it was a very first domestic Classic success. A man who always speaks so well, who is open and honest with the public, it was wonderful to see the man reduced to tears in the post-race interview.

Preview: Irish 2000 Guineas

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The Irish 2000 Guineas shapes as an intriguing contest, albeit a wide open one. Can ante-post favourite Siskin reward trainer Ger Lyons with a first domestic Classic success?

The 2020 renewal of the Irish 2000 Guineas, while intriguing, looks hardly a vintage Classic. There is no proven superstar here today – unlike in the English equivalent a few days ago – and given the delay of the season, the race has become an even trickier puzzle to solve.

More than half the field is trained by one man: Aiden O’Brien. While that isn’t anything new, it remains a sad fact that six of eleven runners come from the same yard in an Irish Classic.

Ante-Post Favourite:

The Ger Lyons trained Siskin is the ante-post favourite ever since he ended 2019 unbeaten. Four starts and four wins as a juvenile, with the highlight clearly a first Group 1 success when landing the Phoenix Stakes in August at the Curragh.

On form he is the horse to beat. However, only a week ago we saw that it’s never an easy task to carry over exceptional juvenile form to a classic season – particularly when achieved over shorter sprint distances – when facing rivals that have caught up physically and mentally.

With that in mind one could ask the very same questions as last week when wondering whether a precocious Pinatubo will be able to continue his incredible superiority.

Siskin started his juvenile campaign in May 2019. He raced four times over six furlongs before being put away for the winter after a final victory in the Phoenix Stakes back in August.

The key questions are obvious: Can Siskin improve? Will he stay additional two furlongs?

As mentioned last week in the English 2000 Guineas analysis, the fact that the Guineas is held much later than usual will have a significant impact on what type of horse it’ll suit. It certainly will give the precocious, early foals less an advantage than it does in any normal year. Siskin falls into this category.

On the stamina question: As a juvenile he never left the comfort of the 6 furlongs distance. That doesn’t mean he can’t stay a mile. However his sire First Defence was quite speedy himself and his offspring tends to perform best over shorter distances as well, with a noticeable decline in performance as they step up to a mile – in general terms.

Siskin’s dam stayed a mile, which is encouraging. So is Simon Rowland’s striding analysis that suggests he has a fair chance to stay the new trip.

Probably my biggest issue with Sisikin is that his form is far less impressive than four wins on the trot would usually suggest. He largely beat the same horses over and over again. Most depressingly, even though he had ample opportunity to run fast, he’s never done it.

A career-best 89 topspeed rating is not up to the standard of a top-class colt. Yes, these ratings aren’t the holy grail and have to be taken in the right context, but in my book they do continue to be a fine predictor of class and future success.

Having said that, I simply have to oppose Siskin as the Irish 2000 Guineas favourite. Mind, this isn’t an overly strong renewal. He has a fair chance to go close if he can find answers to the two key questions.

Aiden O’Brien Contenders:

From the comments AOB has made in recent days it feels like that Armory is Ballydoyle’s #1 here. And you can see why.

This son of Galileo was fast enough to win Group races over 7 furlongs, plus was a good runner-up, albeit a long way beaten, behind Pinatubo in the National Stakes and has already Group 1 form over a mile, when finishing third at Longchamp behind subsequent French 2000 Guineas winner Victor Ludorum.

He’ll likely stay further than the mile and should have a bit more to come once stepping up in trip. He ran already to a career-best topspeed rating of 95 and certainly wouldn’t mind any more rain (it has been raining a fair bit here in Kildare over the last 24 hours, and continues to do so as of writing).

Royal Lytham with first time blinkers is interesting stepping up to a trip that could suit on pedigree. He showed good form as a juvenile, in particular when staying on strongly to win the July at Stakes at Newmarket.

He got within a lengths of Siskin in the Phoenix Stakes when things didn’t quite worked his way. He’s an interesting horse but needs to find improvement as he’s yet to run particularly fast.

It’s hard to see Monarch Of Egypt to land a blow. He has a lot to find even with his stable mates. Fort Myers as a big price is a more compelling each-way contender if one wants to back one. His juvenile form is solid, if not spectacular. He should stay the mile and will appreciate if he ground stays decent.

Vatican City is an unknown quantity. A disappointing debut at Newmarket, followed by a visually impressive success on Dundalk’s All-Weather – what that form is worth is difficult to evaluate. Aiden O’Brien speaks fondly of the colt and he can improve any amount, so to speak.

In my view the most intriguing horse from team Ballydoyle is Lope Y Fernandez, though. He showed good form as a 2-year-old, in particular when a strong runner-up behind Pinatubo at Royal Ascot and he also stayed seven furlongs already.

He is a full brother to Al Hayyah who competed well in listed company up to the 1m 2f distance and his dam is a Listed placed miler.

Lope Y Fernandez has ran twice to 90+ topspeed ratings already, including a 95 rating, which is joint-best in this field. Although that is still a bit off a proper Group 1 winning horse, he looked like one in the making when winning the Round Tower Stakes at the Curragh in excellent style, proving himself to be in a different league to the rest of the field in the Group 3 contest.

Also Running:

The unexposed Sinawann stayed a mile well last year already. He looks interesting given the clear indication that he’ll be a much better three-year-old. The son of Kingman will need to improve quite a bit if he wants to emulate his prominent father, but it’s not impossible that he does.

Jim Bolger’s colt Fiscal Rules lacks experience. It has be pointed out, though, that his runner-up debut behind Wichita reads really well, given how well the Aiden O’Brien trained ran at Newmarket last week. Yet, it’s a tall ask to be pitched right into a Classic with only a single start under his belt.

Also quite unexposed is the Jessica Harrington trained Free Solo. A fine winner on his second start last July, he hasn’t been seen yet. The yard is going strongly, so that is a positive. But it’s total guesswork whether this son of Showcasing is good enough to land a blow.

The Verdict:

Only one horse I am really interested in from a betting perspective: Lope Y Fernandez. The fact that he is an April foal who showed quite strong form as a juvenile already while giving the impression he may need a step up in trip to be seen to best effect, I have reasonable hope that he can find the required improvement to be a major player in the 2000 Guineas.

With that in mind he appears to be a bit overpriced for all that there are so many question marks over the other market principles.

Selection:
10pts win – Lope Y Fernandez @ 5/1 VC

Racing is Back!

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Racing is back! At least in the UK. We here in Ireland have to wait for another week.

Although it was only sand racing, having full fields at Newcastle this afternoon was certainly welcome… compared to none at all over the last while. Plus it’s only two more days until racing on green, lush turf returns as well.

It’s gonna be a packed schedule with top class racing over the next couple of weeks also. Those Classics are coming thick and fast right, left and center. France and Germany with their Guineas races today. Others will follow soon. Exciting times!

Looking back on the first day of the flat season 2020 I have mixed feelings, nonetheless. One the plus side I’ve also got an intriguing eye-catcher for the tracker for those readers who make it to end of my ramblings.

Racingpost is Poor Value

The sport I love is back: great! The print edition of the Racingpost is back: great! Not so great: one would have thought the editors had plenty of time to think about how to improve their product for when it returns to the shelves in a bid to entice prospective customers to buy a paper that comes with a whopping price tag of €4.20.

I’m afraid there was nothing in the “Bumper Edition” of the Racingpost that inspired me to pay such a steep price for something that would end in the recycle bin only half a day later.

Racing back in the UK. Top class races in France and Germany – there was plenty to cover. Yet the paper felt thin on actual, valuable content.

An interview with Lester Piggott on his remarkable career. That’s alright – I’ve got all respect for the man and his story – though, it’s hardly anything original these days. You can find plenty of similar interviews and articles with him for free (in fact RP published some under the “PR Classics” banner only recently).

A stable tour of Richard Hannon’s. Plus the usual tipsters and some race previews. Add racecards. That’s it.

In the day of online and mobile where everything is a swipe away all the time, publishers face an uphill battle, particularly with a niche print product such as the Racingpost. If you produce a paper that in essence has not changed in two decades and offers little real incentive to buy because of a lack of original content then you’ll struggle even more so.

I really wanted to buy the Racingpost this morning. Really wanted it. But a hefty €4.20 for what you get is simply no value for money. I’m not saying there is no value. Of course there is. For some people more than for others. But is it worth the price? I don’t think so. And that’s a shame.

More Data Please

I have thoroughly enjoyed dipping my toes into Hong Kong racing over the last weeks. Doing so, what becomes blatantly obvious – now that racing returns to more familiar places – what sets their product apart from ours here.

Hong Kong racing is all about providing relevant information, a myriad on data and a level of transparency with the aim of improving customer experience. Data that is freely available and easily accessible to all punters and racing fans alike for them to analyse- and better understand what- and why certain things happen in a race.

Free replays in excellent quality with different angles to chose from. Sectional times as well as every little detail on all the horses – be it their racing weight, injury history, or track work. Heck, even rather accurate Speed maps are produced.

Given the importance of racing for Hong Kong as the HKJC is the largest taxpayer there, this makes perfect sense, of course: if you want punters to come racing and gambling you need to provide an enticing product that people can believe in due to its transparent nature.

Granted there are only two tracks in Hong Kong, a small horse population and fewer variables. That makes it a lot easier to track all these things. It’s unrealistic to copy everything Hong Kong does and bring it over to the UK or Ireland. Still, more can be done and lessons can be learned from Hong Kong if racing over here wants to appeal to new and younger generations.

People these days are much more familiar with looking at- and using data. Many of us do it for work in some form or another. Not only for work, though. In a betting environment think about sports like football, hockey, basketball and so on that offer tons of data – from simple to “advanced stats”. Often available for free, easily accessible. Quite like it’s the case in Hong Kong for their racing product.

For UK and Irish racing data is expensive to get hands on (Flatstats, Proform….) and racing media tends to speak in plain and banal language anyway, as if the general punter would be too stupid to understand anything that goes beyond the numbers associated with naked form.

Baby steps are being made, though. Sectionals and stride data start to become more readily available for certain tracks. This really provides great insights into how races are run and why horses finished a certain way. This has to become a universal thing, though. It’s 2020 not 1985.

Newcastle Eye-Catcher

Ghadbbaan – Race 1 – 7th place: One could easily overlook this well beaten 4-year-old gelding. However this was a fairly decent seasonal reappearance, given he was drawn in gate one, which can be a negative for horses who already have starting issues. So it was no surprise to Ghadbbaan walking out of the gate. Hoe was then firmly driven forward to chase the lead.

He surly did much more than ideal in those early stages of the race and tired over two furlongs out to finish side by side with the pre-race favourite. That’s not the whole story, though.

He switched yards over the winter and was gelded, after two low-key efforts as a juvenile. He didn’t fulfill the hopes connections once had when in care of Michael Stoute.

However, Ghadbbaan is quite nicely bred, although clearly looks to have a future beyond a mile. He is a full-brother to smart 103 rated Listed 1m 2f winner Sound Of Cannons out of a Listed placed- and 1m2f winning mare  and by French Derby winner Intello.

Today was only his first handicap start. A fair pipe opener. Once Ghadbbaan steps up in trip he should improve readily and be able to exploit his current 64 Official Rating.

Friday Selections: December, 20th 2019

Postulation

7.00 Wolverhampton: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 6f

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!

Selection:
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.

Selection:
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.

Selection:
10pts win – Monsieur Piquer @ 10/1 MB

Friday Selection: November, 29th 2019

Dundalk All-Weather

6.45 Dundalk: Handicap, 6 furlongs

Currently a reserve, so remains to be seen whether he actually gets in, Aloysius Lilius looks a highly competitive chance in this field if he would get a chance to run. Noteworthy he also got an entry for Lingfield on Saturday.

Aloysius Lilius dropped to a tasty handicap mark but can’t be really faulted given he ran some fine races this year on turf when going close on a couple of occasions over the minimum trip.

His first attempt to tackle the All-Weather was highly promising here at Dundalk a fortnight ago. A wide draw was a big disadvantage and receiving a heavy bump right after the start didn’t do him any favours. This was a wild race, he was at the back of the field and didn’t receive the clearest of runs, but finished strongly on the outside in the final furlong.

He stays on the same 66 OR. Interesting: Aloysius Lilius ran twice to 67+ topspeed in his career, including in his penultimate run. So with a much better draw here, and potentially enjoying the step up to 6 furlongs (he’s a half-brother to a 6f winner on the All-Weather) I feel there is a strong case for this 3-year-old having a major chance if getting in.

Otherwise, Lingfield one day later may well be another opportunity and you’ll read about it here.

Selection:
10pts win – Aloysius Lilius @ 28/1 MB

Sunday Selections: November, 17th 2019

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1.15 Cheltenham: Cross County Chase, 3m 6f

Tricky affair that leaves the door wide open for a big price to win. Neither market leader appeals today: ground possibly against Kingswell Theatre and return from a break with bigger fish to fry later the season for French Urgent De Gregaine.

I find the other Emmanuel Clayeux runner Diesel D’Allier the most interesting one: A three times Cross-Country winner in France, still only a six-year-old with more to come potentially, particularly over this longer trip, he’ll love the ground and has potentially a nice weight to play with here.

His last two starts have been slightly disappointing, but he comes here fit at the very least to “test the waters”, according to Clayeux, with an eye on a return to Cheltenham later the season if he takes to the test.

Selection:
10pts win – Diesel D’Allier  @ 15/1 MB

………

3.00 Cheltenham: Greatwood Handicap Hurdle, 2m½f

Quel Destin looks to be a potential Champion Hurdle candidate hence I feel, even though it’s a tough ask for a four-year-old to shoulder 11-12, his opening mark of 149 may not stop him.

He won a tough contest over course and distance last month – a career best – and clearly thrives over the old course at Cheltenham, also having no trouble with the soft underfoot conditions whatsoever.

he showed plenty of promise last season already, including multiple graded victories and a fine 5th in the Triumph Hurdle.

Selection:
10pts win – Quel Destin @ 7/1 MB

………

1.40 Punchestown: Handicap Hurdle, 2m

After a number of poor performances Scheu Time drops to a tasty mark. The six-year-old likely needed his seasonal reappearance last months and was keen enough to forgive him.

He ended last season poorly, however. Although he showed promise before that, culminating in a strong performance at Aintree clocking a 124 topspeed rating, a career highest performance.

He drops down to a 117 rating now, which I believe gives Scheu Time a big chance to go close if in the mood today. Well riding 5lb claimer Kevin Brouder is booked for the ride.

Selection:
10pts win – Scheu Time @ 10.5/1 MB

Friday Selection: November, 15th 2019

Postulation

8.45 Dundalk: Handicap, 6 furlongs

Quite an interesting contest and I like nearly a handful, in fact, though, most of them I decide to monitor today and hope the handicapper might be lenient so they become hot property next time.

The one I do fancy today to run really well is Comhghairdeas. The gelding has fallen to an Official Rating of 47 now, after starting year on a 24lb higher handicap mark. He was largely well beaten throughout the season, albeit showed a little bit of hope when 5th at Listowel in December and sixth here at Dundalk in his most recent start.

It is also noteworthy Comhghairdeas achieved a 51 topspeed rating at Limerick back in June, on what his second run after coming off a near year long break. Before that break he was highly competitive of marks in the 70’s up to winning off 80. And he ran eleven times to topspeed 51+ in his career.

So if any life is left in Comhghairdeas then he could be handicapped to go close today, particularly as he drops down to 6f, which is a more suitable distance than the 7f from last month.

That most recent performance is a much better one than the bare form suggests, though. Comhghairdeas  finished sixth, 5 lengths beaten in a competitive race – the form has been franked in the meantime. He travelled really well for long, didn’t quite get the clearest of runs in the closing stages but more likely also didn’t quite get home over the 7 furlong trip.

Now another 2lb lower, down to a more suitable trip, a fair 7lb claimer on board and decent draw to play with, I feel Comhghairdeas can outrun his price tag, that is already coming down significantly anyway.

Selection:
10pts win – Comhghairdeas @ 17/1 WH

 

Friday Selections: November, 8th 2019

Iron Major Dundalk

6.35 Newcastle: Class 6 Handicap, 1 mile

Back after a little break, Lucky Violet appears a compelling alternative to the market principles in an open race that lacks standout chances.

The seven-year-old isn’t the force of the past, however arrives off a career lowest handicap mark on either turf or All-Weather. He is still searching for a maiden victory on the sand, though, only had eight starts, all of a higher marks and only three over his preferred mile trip.

Lucky Violet showed that there is still life when running well earlier this year on turf – a number of placed efforts at Ayr at Hamilton off 64 and 65 ratings in higher class.

Down in class 6 back on the All-Weather, his mark a lowly 49 rating, given he ran to much higher topspeed ratings in the past, in fact he did so in 2019, albeit on turf, but also a 51 TS performance last November at this venue, suggest he could go well today.

Selection:
10pts win – Lucky Violet @ 23/1 MB

………

6.45 Dundalk: 45-65 Handicap, 7 furlongs

If Crest Of A Wave can bounce back after a recent below part effort she is in with a big chance of her current mark. That is a substantial if, given she remains a maiden after twelve starts. Equally there is plenty to like about her chance today.

For one, she ran well in her other two Dundalk starts this autumn, when not beaten far and in fact finishing a good third place last month. She is two pounds lower today, which is a career lowest for her.

Crest Of A Wave showed promise on the All-Weather earlier this year already, when finishing runner-up and 4th on two subsequent occasions. She ran to topspeed ratings of 50 and 59 back then, suggesting there is opportunity for her today with a good draw and lowly 47 handicap mark to play with.

Selection:
10pts win – Crest Of A Wave @ 16/1 MB

Sunday Selections: October, 13th 2019

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3.15 Curragh: Listed Testimonial Stakes, 6f

There is little to expect from the 3-year-old individuals in this field, hence we can focus on the older horses right away, that makes it much less competitive race overall. Clear top of the list is obviously Make A Challenge, after his impressive 5f romp here at the Curragh.

Ground and tip won’t be a worry, but as he is going up in class he has to progress again…. or not. This is a weak listed contest, hence he is the right favourite and will be hard to beat.

But if one can beat him I feel it will be the undervalued Urban Beat. He was 4th and well beaten behind Make A Challenge in the aforementioned Curragh race, however, given circumstances ran a massive race.

He clearly was disadvantaged by the draw and pace, most importantly, but a clear best from the low drawn horses, therefore one can upgrade his run.

The soft ground today won’t be an issue – he’s won twice on heavy ground; but the step up to 6 furlongs is one that can bring him much closer to the favourite today as I feel that is his optimum trip. Drawn close to the pace Urban Beat should get the perfect race, and as one of only very few in this field he has already ran to a 90+ topspeed rating in the past – 2 times, in fact – which means he’s a huge price in this poor field, in my book.

Selection:
10pts win – Urban Beat @ 15/2 WH

………

3.50 Curragh: Handicap, 6 furlongs

Medicine Jack looks handicapped to go really close today, after proving his well being at Navan over the minimum trip only four days ago, when he was probably unlucky to bump into a well-handicapped winner who got first run.

Stepping up to 6f will suit, so does the soft ground and the pace he’ll find around himself to track. The gelding has fallen a long way in his handicap mark, from a 101 at the beginning of the season to 80!

Despite this deep fall, Medicine Jack has a number of decent runs in the book this year; such as two over course and distance in big fields this summer.

This is a much easier contest than those handicaps, and given he has ran to 80 plus topspeed ratings in the past, I am hopeful that with preferred conditions today he can get his head in front again.

Selection:
10pts win – Medicine Jack @ 5/1 MB

Friday Selections: September, 20th 2019

Postulation

7.20 Newcastle: Class 5 Handicap, 7f

Decent race for this class, and favourite Chaplin Bay, who’d made me a happy boy a number of times in the past, is a strong favourite. But it’s Mostahel who really makes strong appeal on his return to Tapeta.

His career has certainly not developed as one would have envisioned when he demolished a field of maidens at Wolverhampton back in spring 2017, even though he followed up with a strong handicap performance at Newmarket, ever since then the now 5-year-old gelding has been falling down off a cliff.

Clearly this lad has had his fair share of issues, endured twice long absences from racing and has changed yards but on the plus side is potentially on a sexy handicap mark and may not yet be finished, given he’s been rather lightly raced for his age.

There was clear signs of a return to some sort of form when Mostahel finished a strong third – albeit in a messy race – at Redcar two starts back. He pulled pretty hard early on over the 7f trip and then didn’t get a run until finally in the clear over a furlong out. He finished strongly, suggesting victory is imminent.

Mostahel didn’t kick on the next time, dropped to 6 furlongs when upped in class, though that was a hot contest and he ran okay, I felt.

Now back over 7 furlongs, with a strong pace likely, only his second ever start on the All-Weather, the sole one was the demolition job at Wolverhampton, he makes plenty of appeal of a mark of 68, given as a juvenile he ran to topspeed ratings of 79 on turf and 86 on the Wolverhampton Tapeta. He’s not that good these days, obviously. But doesn’t have to be to land this contest.

Selection:
10pts win – Mostahel @ 11/2 MB

……….

8.20 Newcastle: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

Fard is a fair favourite but nothing more. The case of Groupie is much more intriguing for her return to the All-Weather, after a number of respectable efforts this year, all the while she keeps falling in the official ratings.

Clearly the mare is now on a dangerous handicap mark, given she has ran nine times in her career to topspeed ratings of 52 and higher, plus did so this season already and caught the eye when last seen on the All-Weather at Wolverhampton in August.

That form is a key piece I feel. Even though over an additional furlong, it was a stronger race than this today, Groupie travelled really well but didn’t get a run until entering the home straight when the bird was flown with first and second, in fact also the third, all enjoying first run.

She finished a fair 4th nonetheless, best of those from the ones off the pace. She did so off a 59 handicap mark. One can clearly see how she’d gone much closer with a clear run and 8lb less on the back.

The drop to 6 furlongs isn’t an issue. The fair straight at Newcastle should suit. Big run expected.

Selection:
10pts win – Groupie @ 10.5/1 MB

………

6.00 Dundalk: Handicap, 1 mile

Speculative and unlikely to happen, but should Masalai get in here as third reserve he’d have a big chance to go pretty close of a big price. Otherwise he’s one to stick into the tracker for another day.

Masalai is a course and distance specialist who has won of a 63 handicap mark earlier this year, while also having ran four times to topspeed 57+ over CD. Therefore it is rather obvious that currently down to a 56 handicap mark the 5-year-old is potentially well in here.

He hasn’t excelled during the turf season in three starts, so a lightly campaign in the last few months should ensure he’s fresh and ready for a big run.

Selection:
10pts win – Masalai @ 12/1 MB / Edit: ***NR***

……..

6.30 Dundak: Handicap, 1 mile

The draw is a big negative, but Dubai Rainbow appears to be so well handicapped today that I take the risk. It also helps knowing the filly usually breaks smartly.

Despite strong performance at Bellwestown when last seen in July, the handicapper has dropped her 3lb. She was a beaten favourite that day but it was a messy finish, not unusual for that track, and a good 3rd place finish was rather encouraging, proving her fallen mark will see her get her head in front soon.

Dubai Rainbow returns to the All-Weather now, where her career best performances came in two starts – a win in a claimer, and a strong 3rd place in Handicap company last autumn. That day she raced off a 70 handicap mark and ran to a 70 topspeed rating.

With excellent Oisin Orr on board today I’m hopeful she can break well and overcome the wide draw. If that’s the case she’ll go close of a mark of 59.

Selection:
10pts win – Dubai Rainbow @ 9/2 MB