Tag Archives: Ireland

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

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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

Saturday Selections: September, 14th 2019

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3.40 Leopardstown: Group 3 Stakes, 1m 4f

I probably should know better: backing an Aiden O’Brien horse coming back from a lay-off. But by all accounts, if the rumblings are anywhere near true that Mount Everest was considered a proper Derby contender, and if judged by his entries for the rest of the season, he’ll need to show something significant today in order to go on those dates in a few weeks time.

Aiden O’Brien has played down expectations. That’s only fair. And surely Mount Everest won’t be at 100% today. It’s a gamble and you never know how far in their preparation these horses are coming off a long injury break, and whether they ever come back to their best, and in this case whether this particular individual has trained on over the winter.

However, this Group 3 is such a lackluster contest that I am prepared to back the “potential” today. Very few in this field have achieved a topspeed rating over 90 to date. Those that have can be discounted for a variety of reason of trip or ground or legitimacy of that particular posting – in my book at least.

The favourit Buckhurst, despite having three career wins to his name, has never ran faster than 67. The main dangers I actually see in the race are Norway, who has proven to be a rock solid horse and has achieved a career best when last seen, plus long-shot and stable mate Blenheim Palace, who could easily outrun his massive price tag and is a compelling each-way candidate.

But at given odds, Mount Everest is clearly of major interest. When last seen twelve month ago in the Bresford Stakes, he finished second in a tight finish behind Japan, having Sovereign more than three lengths behind. That form looks incredibly strong in hindsight and a topspeed of 94 achieved that day is credible.

No doubt this is the strongest piece of form in this race. Given Mount Everest is a May foal, one would have expected him to be a much better 3-year-old, so it’s plausible that improvement is to come with Mount Everest maturing. How much of that he’ll show today is the question mark.

On the other hand, given a long break and injury to overcome he may never fulfill this potential. He may not be ready to go today either. AOB’s record with those returning isn’t all that strong either. I am prepared to take the game in this particular race, though.

Selection:
10pts win – Mount Everest @ 4/1 MB

……….

4.50 Leopardstown: G2 Boomerang Stakes, 1m

The 6/4 for Lancaster House can only be described as a silly price. Possibly my judgement looks silly in a few hours time, though? I’m puzzled, regardless, because I feel Richard Fahey’s Space Traveller should be a much shorter price than he is.

The 3-year-old colt will need to things to pan out right given his running style, that is a clear concern for me, given that it can prove difficult to peg prominent horses back at Leopardstown if the pace isn’t overly strong.

It’s a risk I take, simply because Space Traveller has overwhelmingly the strongest form in the book. His Royal Ascot success is a tremendous piece of form, given how the race has worked out ever since, and a 106 topspeed rating he achieved that day looks all the more real for it.

Space Traveller stayed 9 furlongs three weeks ago at Haydock, when less than a lengths beaten in a highly competitive of the Strensall Stakes.

Ground and trip will suit today. A good pace looks likely. Now it’s up to WJ Lee to time it right. If he does, Space Traveller should be the one they all see the back of at the finish line.

Selection:
10pts win – Space Traveller @ 11/2 MB

Friday Selections: August, 16th 2019

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2.25 Newbury: Class 4 Handicap, 1 mile

Medieval is a tricky sort who can make a mess of his chances in a race. But he’s down to a really attractive handicap mark, as was evident when he finished 2nd at Brighton a week ago.

That is a performance you can upgrade as he finished strongest of those that were prominent, while the winner and third came from a long way back, taking full advantage of a generous pace. It didn’t help that Medieval also appeared to hang in the closing stages, which he tends to do frequently.

Nonetheless, he is only 1lb higher for this effort, still well below his last wining mark, while he also ran multiple times to much higher topspeed ratings in the past. With soft ground sure to suit, and the mile trip no issue, I feel in this race today he has a prime chance to get his head in front again.

Selection:
10pts win – Medieval @ 6/1 MB

………

8.20 Curragh: Handicap, 6 furlongs

A lot of rain over night here in Kildare, the ground will be soft and make for tough conditions. Makes this one an even more open race. I think this cries out for a long-shot to upset the market.

The one I am most interested in is Blyton. He hasn’t really kicked on as a 3-year-old since moving to Ireland, however he drops to a pretty low mark for what he has achieved as a juvenile as well as going down to a more suitable trip.

Also quite important: Blyton has good form with cut in the ground, so should not mind the rain whatsoever. In fact the combination of lowered mark, perfect ground and suitable trip can see him being competitive today.

He also achieved topspeed ratings of 80 and 84 last season, suggesting he is capable of running to a level of form required to win here. First time blinkers are an interesting addition, possibly sharpen him up, dropping from a 8.5 furlongs as when last seen at Galway.

Selection:
10pts win – Blyton @ 33/1 MB

Friday Selections: August, 9th 2019

Wet Dundalk Polytrack

Is it winter yet? A nice winner on Newcastle’s’s tapeta last night + the majority of my selections for today come from the Chelmsford polytrack! Who needs grass, anyway? Let’s rip the turf off the tracks and have a lovely fibresand surface everywhere…… alright, now I’m day dreaming, so let’s talk horses…..

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5.35 Haydock: Class 6 Handicap, 5f

Who’s the least bad horse in this race? Tough question. One thing is certain: Springwood Drive is a silly price. I may eat my words in half an hour, saying that, but seriously, even though she has good form in the book, she also has work to do to show she is better than what she has shown so far.

Same goes for Sarasota Bay, dropping down to 5f, she at least has match her current OR in terms of TS, but the sharper trip is a worry for me.

Intriguing is the 4-year-old Red Allure. She has work to do against her younger rivals, but there is clear indication she is knocking heavily on the door now. This filly has been a little bit unlucky so to speak. She was heavily bumped at Doncaster when seemingly finding her second wind earlier this season plus a few issues in the starting gates didn’t make life easier.

However, her latest effort in better class is a clear standout piece of form. She showed pace despite having a few issues at the start again, and she showed a lovely attitude battling hard to the line. It seems cut in the ground is what she needs and she gets it today over same course and distance once more.

Red Allure ran to a 51 topspeed rating that day too. So now of an official rating of 50 with a 7lb claimer in the saddle she should go well today.

Selections:
10pts win – Red Allure @ 8/1 MB

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7.30 Chelmsford: Class 3 Handicap, 5f

Tomily won three races in quick succession in July, until bombing out in soft ground in a very hot York handicap only three days after winning at Catterick. I think that is a piece of form to forgive.

Now back on the All-Weather and racing over the minimum trip, I feel Tomily remains of high interest and could potentially be well handicapped, in fact. That is down to the fact that he is down to his lowest All-Weather mark for quite some time. He may not quite be as good as he once was, but recent form suggests he remains a good horse, with appetite for the game.

Given Tomily  has ran to topspeed ratings of 87+ on six occasions on all surfaces throughout his career, most recently last months, it’s fair to assume, now down to an official rating of 87, he could have a bit in hand, if not enough to run to hid current mark will already be enough to win a race where little else appears to be well handicapped.

Having the added bonus of Jim Crowley in the saddle plus a good draw to operate from I feel he is overpriced in this field.

Selection:
10pts win – Tomily @ 6/1 MB

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8.35 Curragh: Handicap, 1 Mile

With rain and wind lashing against the windows for the last few hours now with not let up to be expected any time soon, the ground at Curragh will be pretty soft come race time.

There aren’t that many really suited by conditions, nor appear many well handicapped. But this years Irish Lincoln runner-up Trading Point could fall into both categories. He’s has form on fast ground but crucially his career best came at Naas with plenty of cut in the ground this March.

He finished an excellent second in a race that has provided twelve winning performances subsequently. Trading Point hasn’t been able to kick on since then, but has raced in hot contests and was not disgraced when 5 lengths beaten at Galway most recently.

Down to a 87 mark, 2lb lower than in the Lincoln, plus he has already ran to a topspeed rating of 87 this year, now with top man Colin Keane in the saddle, there could be a big performance on the cards today.

Selection: 
10pts win- Trading Point @ 7/1 MB

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9.10 Chelmsford: Class 6 Handicap, 2m

The worst for the last or the lucky last? This a shocking race. But that’s okay with me. I love them all equally. This one is intriguing to some extend though. Barca and Beau Night meet again after a recent tussle over the shorter 1m 6f trip. Barca should be the one who gets the better of the two this time round.

However, both will need to settle for minor placings because it’s the five-year-old gelding Lazarus who has a major shout tonight.

He’s been a winner at this track in the past, albeit over 10 furlongs. He has fallen steadily in his handicap rating, now below 50 which looks significant for his chances. Lazarus has been running to higher topspeed ratings in the past and his most recent effort at Nottingham over 1m 6f was a clear revival. He stayed on quite strongly, suggesting a step up to 2 miles will suit.

Given this longer trip and the switch to the All-Weather, a surface he tends to prefer a little bit more with his lowly mark, I feel Lazarus has a cracking chance to win this race.

Selection:
10pts win – Lazarus @ 14/1 MB

Sunday Selections: August, 4th 2019

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2.00 Chester: Class 4 Nursery, 5f

Rarely do I get involved with juveniles, but I feel this race is for the taking, given the favourite has to deal with a stiff opening mark given by what he has shown in three starts so far, and the second favourite is certainly not well handicapped.

But the filly Shammah appears to be massively underestimated based on two below part efforts lately, however on unsuitably fast ground.

She looked potentially smart winning a novice contest at Windsor in June, though. Which is pretty strong form judged through the 3rd placed horse Hubert, who subsequently was only half a lengths beaten behind smart Homespin.

Shammah’s Windsor performance earned her a topspeed 79 rating, which came on good to soft. She’s dropped below that mark in handicapping terms, now on an official rating of 78. So from that perspective, given she also has a top draw today, finds conditions she likely enjoys, there is potentially more to come and she can easily be well in.

It’s important to note that more rain is on its way to Chester and Shammah’s dam has shown her best certainly with cut in the ground. Despite plenty of stamina in the pedigree, Shammah appears to break sharply, so she ma well be able to utilize the plum draw and her superior stamina, in a bid to go hard from the front today.

Selection:
10pts win – Shammah @ 5/1 MB

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3.55 Galway: Premier Handicap, 7f

another rarity: a bet on Irish flat racing! But, again, I feel pretty strong about a horse today, even though it’s the madness of Galway. Quickly turned out again, albeit slightly different circumstances, Rufus King looks sure to outrun his price.

He was a fine 4th on Tuesday here but ran out of gas in the closing stages over a trip stretching him as well as from a wider than ideal draw, which meant he had to do a little bit more than he’d want to have done in the early part of the race.

Today Rufus King drops down to 7 furlongs, is drawn in stall four and remains on a tasty handicap mark. He’s hasn’t won of this or similar ratings lately, however ran with plenty of credit, not only at Galway, but also of a pound higher in an ultra competitive handicap at Ripon last month.

Certainly he is on a handicap mark he’s sure to have a good chance of winning, granted he ran to higher topspeed ratings in the past a few times as well.

Selection:
10pts win – Rufus King @ 13/2 MB

Preview: Irish 2000 Guineas 2019

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Finally we get the race we wanted: Too Darn Hot vs. Magna Grecia: meant to happen at Newmarket, now taking place at the new Curragh. A match made in heaven?

Probably not. I’m firmly against the chances of Too Darn Hot. All the hype over the winter has evaporated after injuries forced him to miss his early assignments and a recent defeat in the Dante Stakes have connections revert back to a mile.

For a horse that had issues earlier this year, to go back-to-back so quickly, after stretching out to a trip beyond the comfort zone, now travelling over to Ireland, going back to a mile, right up into Group 1 class – there are a lot of arguments against Too Darn Hot.

Certainly at a short price, despite seeing him on the drift that still has him around a 40-45% chance, I can not have him at all.

The market has it spot on, Magna Grecia is the righteous favourite and I have him pretty much a slightly better than 50% chance – so current odds are more than fair.

The English 2000 Guineas champ has – at least in my mind – stamped his authority firmly on the mile division with the Newmarket victory. The much talked about draw bias was more like a pace bias. After all, Magna Grecia won well in the end, and it appeared to me that in any circumstance he would have been the best horse in the race. 

It was his first start in 2019 and he can only improve going forward, is my reckoning. He ran to a time speed rating of 105 that day, in line with previously achieved 102 and 107.

The Newmarket third Skardu remains of high interest. I was sweet on his chances back then. I still like the colt. However he has to find more improvement, which isn’t unlikely given his lightly raced profile, but running subsequently to TS ratings of 90 and 92 is, even though progressive, not quite what’s required here today, I feel.

At around 7/1 he is a fair chance, but nothing more, hence not a bet for me. As I try to refrain from backing below 3/1 usually, I’ll also swerve the notion of “buying money” with Magna Grecia.

The next in line in this Irish 2000 Guineas field are all minority chances. So, anything else with a realistic chance of going close?

Well, the one that I am intrigued by, and always been since his juvenile season, and am delighted to see him here as I would have been interested if he would have lined up at Newmarket, is at a whopping price the other Ballydoyle runner Mohwak.

He’s one that was thought to be a Derby horse. And you could argue that still holds true as he needed a mile to win as a juvenile and ran on well at Chester in the Dee Stakes recently, which is a fine Derby trial in its own right.

Still, in mind stuck is the vision of how he won the Royal Lodge Stakes in rather cozily fashion last season – over a mile on fast ground. He achieved a TS rating of 104 that day – which is close enough to those ratings the two market principles have achieved.

Mohawk seasonal reappearance at Chester earlier this month, when second behind a stable mate who enjoyed the run of the race, in desperate conditions, was an excellent performance, given the circumstances.

I feel, though, the return to a sound surface will see him improve leaps an bounds. And also now fit from his first run in 2019, I can see this son of the almighty Galileo show much more than anything we’ve seen to date.

The mile trip look sharp enough, most likely. The stiff uphill finish of the Curragh can suit, on the other hand.

Whether he is good enough over this trip to battle it out with Magna Grecia remains to be seen. At prices I firmly believe Mohawk is massively undervalued in both win and place market.

Selection:
4pts win – Mohawk @ 27/1 MB
6pts place – Mohawk @ 4/1 MB