Tag Archives: June

Friday Selections: 17th June 2022

8.15 Goodwood: Class 4 Handicap, 1m

Those at the top of the market have to defy career-highest marks while bottom-weight Brilliant Blue has been dropped 2lb since his eye-catching run over course and distance a few weeks ago.

That day he had an awkward start but wasn’t help by the isolated #1 draw. He was about to move forward when hampered on the inside around the 6 furlong marker and subsequently quite keen.

I thought he made excellent progress from three furlongs out and looked like he’d have a big say in the finish, until fading away. That was his seasonal reappearance. Possible lack of race fitness and mid-race keenness may have been the contributing factor to a lackluster finish.

There is a solid chance he’s better than that run and has a bit to offer off a 76 mark. He showed promise as a juvenile in two races in Autumn – the 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. Tongue tie is on for the first time. A combination of that with added race fitness and potentially the better ground helpful too can see him go close.

10pts win – Brilliant Blue @ 9/1

Royal Ascot Selections – 15th June 2022

3.40: Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, 1m 2f

This is going to be the coronation of Bay Bridge, right? It feels like it, reading all the previews and various opinion pieces this morning – the Sir Michael Stoute trained colt only has to turn up, do a lap of honour in the pre-parade ring and Group 1 glory is his.

Now, who am I to dare and say I know better than fabulous experts like Simon Rowlands who is quite strong about Bay Bridge in his piece. No question about it, Bay Bridge is a potential superstar.

His Brigadier Gerard victory by five lengths easy as you like – awarded a 102 topspeed rating; he could have ran faster that day, if he would been asked to do so. These are the signs of potential superstar. No denying.

But from a betting perspective I have to be cynical and try to see if there are any holes to be found in the odds-on shot. And there certainly are.

For one: Bay Bridge steps up to Group 1 company for the first time. He hasn’t been to Ascot before, certainly not encountered a unique atmosphere as the Royal Ascot meeting provides, and whether he truly can be at his very best on proper fast ground remains to be seen.

These are only small question marks. And I am pushing it hard to find faults. Nonetheless, this edition of the POW – albeit small in field size – is highly competitive. And I feel there is value in the market behind Bay Bridge.

The Japanese Derby- and Sheema Classic winner Shahryar is proven top-class. Perhaps more so over the 1m 4f trip, which makes him vulnerable on fast ground in small field, potentially. Regardless, he’s one to respect.

The only filly in the race, Grand Glory, looked strong in two starts this spring. Fast ground is a question mark, but she clearly performs really well over 10 furlongs.

Lord North ran a fine race in defeat at the Curragh recently. The Tattersalls Gold Cup was an ultra-competitive affair and he ran to topspeed 104, not too far off a 107 rated performance when winning the Dubai Turf in March, or a 104 when runner-up in the Winter Derby, and also not far off his career best 110, suggesting he’s still running close to his best form at the age of six.

Undoubtedly the main rival for Bay Bridge I see in Joseph O’Brien’s State Of Rest, though. He’s had a number of tough races this year already, and that’s a question mark. Most recently at the Curragh when finishing one better than Lord North. But connections say the colt thrives on racing and is a hardy sort. He clearly must be, if you read through his form.

In my view he enhanced his reputation with the third place effort in the Tattersalls Gold Cup. He travelled much the best approaching the home straight, perhaps was asked a little bit too late for full effort, though. That gave the eventual winner Alenquer an advantage. State Of Rest finished the last three furlongs fastest and on another day wins the race, I believe.

The 4-year-old seriously impressed me on different occasions. His Saratoga Derby victory last year, doing it in a canter, despite having to overcome some trouble; his gusty Cox Plate success. The brilliant win at Longchamp in the Prix Ganay six weeks ago.

And he looks still improving. Topspeed 102 at Longchamp, 107 at the Curragh. Yes, this isn’t always a totally accurate reflection of performance, but it’s one I do trust to the most part.

With that in mind State Of Rest sets a high standard that Bay Bridge first has to run to. Not to forget that State Of Rest is probably at his best on fast ground. Exactly what he encounters today.

Therefore at given prices I can’t miss out on backing the proper Group 1 horse against a favourite where all potential improvement is more than factored into the price already – before we have truly seen it delivered on the race course.

10pts win – State Of Rest @ 8.4

………..

4.20: Group 2 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes, 1m

It was impossible not be totally in awe with the way Bashkirova won at Ascot. She didn’t have the perfect race but found a way to win. Despite hanging a bit she kicked clear in the closing stages in impressive style, running to a 108 topspeed rating.

She improved nicely from an excellent seasonal reappearance at Goodwood, when a close runner-up after a fine juvenile campaign that saw her win three of four starts. She look still improving and I reckon might enjoy this more conventional track even more so than Epsom.

Backing up so quickly is always a concern, but if she runs to the same level of form she’s hard to beat today, I firmly believe. Thanks to that Epsom performance she owns the fastest topspeed in the field, by quite a bit. The competition in this Group 2 contest today is solid but not frightening.

Saffron Beach carries a penalty and never ran to anything better than topspeed 90. She’s a Group 1 winner and ran with credit at Meydan. I don’t see the appeal at current odds, though.

Mother Earth is hard to trust these days. Primo Bacio hasn’t won since impressing at York last May, but never looked able to bring that sport of form to the next level subsequently.

German raider Novemba has obvious claims judged by her Coronation Cup performance from last year. Her runner-up effort behind Real World last October is also noteworthy. She was desperately disappointing on her return three weeks ago though. Sibila Spain perhaps wants a longer trip, especially on fast ground.

Everything brings me back to Bashkirova. Perhaps beside the quick turnaround, the wide draw is another slight concern as well as potentially a lack of pace, unless Novema and Saffron Beach do the donkey work. Nonetheless, she looks a cut above these.

10pts win – Bashkirova @ 3/1

Tuesday Selections: 14th June 2022

4.20 Ascot: Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes, 1m

Possibly the race of the week? Some exciting prospects go head to head, no more so than 2000 Guineas winner Coroebus. That form is the gold standard for obvious reasons.

It’s hard to pick a negative looking at the son of Dubawi. He won really well at Newmarket, confirmed the hype and clearly is high class as 107 topspeed rating backed up that day.

At this point in time, though, it’s not impossible that one or two others in this field can improve to the same sort of level. It’s from that perspective I feel he can be taken on at odds-on.

For me the obvious choice – and seriously overpriced – is recent German 2000 Guineas winner Maljoom. He overcame a sluggish start, having to make up a lot of ground in the home straight; the eventual runner-up got first run. But he found plenty under pressure, and the phrase “powered home” is quite fitting, eventually winning perhaps a shade cosily.

That was only his third career start. He won all three of them. He clearly improved with each run. There is every chance he can improve again.

A concern is his poor starting habit. Getting too far behind today will kill his chances I reckon. This is a big field and I doubt he’ll get a trouble free run if turning for home last. At the same time he’s got tactical speed and hopefully learns with experience.

Another concern is that this is his fourth race since his debut at the end of March. Both points are relevant question marks but risks worth taking at the prices.

10pts win – Maljoom @ 16

…………

6.45 Beverley: Class 5 Handicap, 8.5f

Monsieur Jumbo drops down to class 5 and headgear is finally applied. This looks an ideal opportunity for the 3-year-old to strike. He’s obviously quite a tricky sort to handle but there is hope with cheek-pieces he can improve, as well as for the trip he’s still unexposed.

It the time of the year when the younger horses tend to take over and dominate against the older. And this big boy shouldn’t have an issue against those older horses in this race.

He caught my eye two back at Wolverhampton messing up at the starting gate as so often, but rattling home in impressive style. He also finished strongly the other day at Nottingham when moving up to 8.5 furlongs, suggesting the trip is no bother.

The jockey on board is an obvious concern, likely low on confidence, having as poor a strike rate as I have with my selections this month.

Tangled is the obvious danger. He really caught the eye the last time too; now down to a sexy mark. I hope he’s one for another day. I feel the additional half furlong doesn’t quite suit him. But he’s seriously well handicapped on past form.

Of course as my form goes, I missed the big prices at around 8/1 this morning. Too late…. still what’s on offer represents value (in my book).

10pts win – Monsieur Jumbo @ 6.5

………..

8.15 Beverley: Class 6 Handicap, 8.5f

Highlight Reel has shown enough this year to suggest he can win a poor class 6 Handicap. He ran with plenty of credit in recent weeks, especially at Wetherby, when he was quite unlucky not to finish closer.

He wasn’t disgraced the next two times, he confirmed his wellbeing at Redcar with a solid front-running performance twelve days ago,

He won of a mark of 47 over 10 furlongs last year, running to topspeed 50. I would argue these most recent performances are reason enough to believe he’s capable to run to a similar level of form.

The 8.5 furlong trip is no concern, he won over 7 furlongs and can stretch out over 1m 2f too. He’s got a good draw and won at this course before. The 5lb claim of Jony Peate is highly valuable.

10pts win – Highlight Reel @ 10.5

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

Sunday Selections: 12th June 2022

2.40 Salisbury: Class 5 Handicap, 7f

Meydan Rose looked potentially smart when winning a maiden comfortably last summer. She followed up with an excellent run behind a subsequent Group 3 placed filly. She was badly outpaced over 6f on her final start on fast ground but finished much the strongest indicating she wants to go up in trip.

This chance came earlier this month on her seasonal reappearance. That day she was bumped at the start, as a consequence lit up and seriously keen early on. Yet she travelled strongly approaching two furlongs from home, chasing the lead, but also a bit tight for room, had to be switched to the outside and produced a nice change of gear while doing so.

She didn’t find enough and slightly flattened out, beaten for pace by the early leaders who enjoyed an advantage from the front. She was also entitled to tire for her seasonal debut and the early keenness.

This was a strong 3-year-old debut for the filly. The 7f trip isn’t a problem on the evidence of that run. She looks to have plenty more to offer of a mark off 73. Slight concerns over track and trip given a wide draw but I feel this is an easier race than last time and she is probably well handicapped. It’s David Eagan’s only ride too.

10pts win – Meydan Rose @ 9.4

…………..

5.35 Salisbury: Class 6 Handicap, 12f

Eddie The Beagle ran much better than a 66/1 shot last month at Leicester on his seasonal reappearance. He was outpaced early on, had to be niggled in the early parts of the race as the raced in the rea of the field.

He found his feet eventually and looked to be going okay in the home straight, poised for a challenge three furlongs out, when the door shut multiple times and he couldn’t get a run until very late. Finished strongly with second fastest final furlong split despite not being asked for full effort.

That was his seasonal reappearance. He was seriously eye-catching over a mile at Kempton last November too., although he was always likely to improve for age, experience and certainly a trip.

The step up to to 12 furlongs should be key to unlock improvement. His dam won over 1m 4f for the same yard, in fact. I feel he is potentially well handicapped today and can get off the mark in a winnable race.

10pts win – Eddie The Beagle @ 8.2

Saturday Selections: 11th June 2022

6.15 Leicester: Class 4 Handicap, 7f

Small field and interesting from a pace angle, this class 4 Handicap looks a weak race nonetheless. Most if not all of these could have a claim to grab the lead, or at the very least follow it closely. How will this pan out?

Two from my eyecatcher list are running, with Ex Gratia preferred in the market over Devilwala.

The filly caught my eye at Lingfield on the All-Weather and subsequently ran a good race when second on Lingfield’s turf course. Ultimately she didn’t have excuses the last time and off the same mark I don’t think she is anything better than handicapped to her best form. That can be good enough in this weak race today, but her temperamental issues are off putting too.

Devilwala is clearly the one I am most interested from a price perspective, though. Whether today is the day remains to be seen. The jockey booking isn’t inspiring. But there are a number of things I like that make be believe he’s got a better than one in ten chance to win today given he’s down to a really sexy handicap mark.

He came to my attention at Ripon in April when he ran a lot better than the bare result suggested, in my view. He clearly didn’t stay the mile and the opposition was too hot most likely, anyway.

The next three times he races against even hotter competition and stood no chance, although the last time at Chester I felt he didn’t get the best of runs and he could have finished closer.

If I believe this to be true then I must firmly believe he’s a proper chance today, given he drops in class off 5lb lower in the Official Rating running over what’s most likely his optimum trip.

Obviously Devilwala has fallen a long way from the previous heights of being rated 113 and finishing only 2¾ behind St. Mark’s Basilica in the Dewhurst. Obviously there is every chance that he’s gone. But I felt he showed enough this year to assume he still has some appetite for the game.

10pts win – Devilwala @ 10/1

……….

3.40 York: Class 2 Handicap, 6f

This is a ultra-competitive sprint Handicap and I can make the case for more than a handful to be in with a realistic shout. Plenty of potential improvers and loads of strong LTO form on offer.

Yet my eye is drawn to Vintage Clarets, one who’s not shown anything on paper this year so far. He’s far from a likely winner, nonetheless I feel you won’t find many days a better 22/1 shot.

If one looks what’s underpinning his 2022 form then he’s performed with more credit than those naked results would tell. For one he’s raced in hot races three times, the last time over course and distance against older horses. A seriously tough assignment. He was too keen early on and faded away in the closing stages but long time was right in the mix.

At Chester he ran actually quite a good race in unsuitable conditions, even clocking the fasted split for the penultimate furlong. He’s nine pounds lower in the mark than when he started the season at Newmarket – off 87 I think he’s dangerous given he showed enough the last two times to suggest there’s life.

Obviously as an early peaking juvenile last year, third in the Coventry, only 2 lengths down in the highly competitive Super Sprint, one has to take it with a pinch of salt as this often doesn’t translate to 3-year-old form.

But crucially Vintage Clarets will have his preferred fast ground today for the first time this year. He’s likely to have a pace to chase from his draw, which might help him to settle better and tow him into the closing stages with a shot.

Others may improve past him, have better form and he may simply be nowhere near as good an older horse as he was a juvenile. At 22s it’s low risk high reward given at this point in time he looks a horse capable of running to mark in the low 90s in ideal conditions.

10pts win – Vintage Clarets @ 22/1

………..

6.45 Leicester: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 4f

Beryl Burton is a very obvious choice in this and I have her about a 6/4 chance, rather than the generous odds on offer. The favourite Haven Lady is clearly progressing nicely on turf over this trip and may have more to offer, but simply hasn’t run overly fast yet, hence she’s vulnerable in my book.

Contrasting that with Beryl Burton who was seriously unlucky last time out over ten furlongs, she ran to topspeed 56 that day. For a neck beaten 2nd place she is up two pounds but should be well able to defy it with a clear run and for possible improvement over the additional distance.

She doesn’t have a sexy profile with one single victory in 13 lifetime starts, but she knocked on the door a number of times and her pedigree suggests 12 furlongs is well within range, a trip she’s completely unexposed.

Nine days ago at Redcar she was held up and travelled well, making excellent progress in the home straight, but ultimately didn’t get a run at a crucial stage, while the eventual winner, still well handicapped Rocket Dancer, got first run. She got out with a furlong to go and finished much the strongest.

The obvious question marks today aren’t whether she is good enough to win off 56 – she clearly is, and neither is it a mater of stamina, I believe. however she can have a tendency to be keen early on and that can be fatal over the additional distance.

I hope there’s enough pace on with the obvious leaders Haven Lady and Eagle One. It’s a small enough field, which at least should minimise any danger of meeting trouble.

10pts win – Beryl Burton @ 5/2

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

Epsom Derby 2022 Preview

2022 is a unique edition of the Derby as there is not a single Group 1 winner in the field. With that in mind the race is a wide open contest and the betting deceptive.

In fairness, that’s probably one of the phrases I (too?) often use. Perhaps it’s down to a simply tendency of mine to take on short-priced favourites. However, I truly feel this Derby is a wide open contest. A huge upset isn’t out of question. One only has to look back at the previous years to find that a long-shot winner isn’t something out of the ordinary, anyway.

That’s not to say Desert Crown – 2/1 favourite at the time of writing – won’t turn out the be the best horse in the race. He could be a superstar in the making.

The fact he won the Dante in impressive style on what was only his second career run and seasonal reappearance, despite uneasiness in the market beforehand, rates as significant in my book.

Will he stay? It’s widely assumed he does. As a son of Nathanial he should posses plenty of stamina. The way he kept going and hit the line in the Date suggests he got every chance to stay the Derby trip.

I’ve got concerns, regardless. Green Desert as the dam’s sire. Yes, some of the dam’s offspring stayed 1m 4f. Nonetheless it’s far from certain Desert Crown truly want’s the trip.

Not to glance over the fact he’s also a highly inexperienced horse, hasn’t encountered anything close to the test Epsom provides, the rain is unlikely to be of any help to him either, and we have a large field with 16 other horses all competing for positions and a clear run once they leave Tattenham Corner behind.

Yet, I’ve come slowly around to the believe he is most likely the most talented colt in the Derby field – once we look back in a few years time. In the context of today and everything that comes with it I have to oppose him at the given price, though. I have him more a 7/2 shot than the 2/1-9/4 on offer this morning.

Aiden O’Brien won the Oaks on Friday and he could do the double today. Stone Age is widely assumed to be his prime chance in the Derby. The Leopardstown Derby Trial winner has got his head in front twice this year after failing to do so as a juvenile in five starts.

He was visually impressive at Leopardstown, although his overall profile doesn’t scream Derby winner to me. Topspeed underlines this notion. He ran to 88 and 91 in those races this year. He has to improve significantly. Not a price to back.

Frankie Dettori’s mount Piz Badile enhanced his Derby claims with victory in the Ballysax. The impression he gave that day was he will stay all day long given how strongly he rallied in the home straight. He may well do. An 81 career best topspeed rating (71 in the Ballysax) means he’s got to improve significantly, though. I’m not convinced he will improve so dramatically for the trip.

The incredibly impressive winner of the Newmarket Stakes was Nations Pride. Godolpin’s first string and choice of William Buick today. He’s an obvious improver on his sixth career run having progressed with each run to date. My concern is the trip, once again. The line through his dam out of Oasis Dream doesn’t scream stamina in abundance.

From the other two Godolphin runners – Nahaani and Walk Of Stars – the latter is the one I would prefer. Last years Derby winning rider is on board Nahaani, but the colt doesn’t appear to have enough class I believe.

Walk Of Stars could have the class, though. Runner-up in the Lingfield Derby trial, he ran to topspeed 99 that day; he’s is still very much learning his trade. Stamina won’t be an issue. I expect him to improve for his fifth career run, the additional half furlong and possibly the emphasis on stamina today, depending how the race pans out. He is a big price at 16/1+. The track is a serious question mark, on the other hand and that makes me waver.

Star Of India won the Dee Stakes at Chester. He ran to topspeed 99 that day. Whatever the ground today, I don’t have too much concern about it, neither over track and trip. But how much more can he improve? The family hasn’t been top-class to the most part yet. He’s a full-brother to S J Tourbillon, these day an ordinary handicapper in Hong Kong.

It’s the question of the day: how much can these horses improve? You can’t be too sure about any of the fancied horses that they have it in them to progress to the level required to land the Derby in the ground, over this trip at this track.

In truth that’s only natural for three-year-old colts. My issue is the potential improvement is taken for granted in the betting for the likes of Desert Crown and Stone Age. I’m much more cynical in only believing what I’m seeing.

Which leaves me with Changingoftheguard. He has been on my mind ever since winning the Chester Vase in brilliant style. Sure, the form can be knocked for its small and rather uncompetitive field on soft ground. The favourite didn’t fire and left the race to win for the Aiden O’Brien trained colt.

Nonetheless, Changingoftheguard did it the “hard way”. Ryan Moore went to the front and pushed on right from the start. The son of Galileo galloped the others into submission. And he didn’t stop in the home straight. He just kept going all the way to the line.

He achieved a 106 topspeed rating for the Chester performance – a strong marker and the best on offer in the field today. With that in mind Changingoftheguard has delivered on multiple fronts unlike many of his rivals today.

However, he’s all stamina and vulnerable if the Derby would become a test of speed rather than stamina. But Wayne Lordan – not the most inspired jockey booking – has a say in how the race pans out. From his double-figure draw he can move forward and dictate, if he wants to. He won’t need to worry about stamina.

The application of cheek pieces is added bonus. This has worked wonders for Aiden O’Brien trained colts in this race before. It can help bring out additional improvement in Changingoftheguard too.

Therefore I feel the prices available, with the ground unlikely to be too fast, are way over the top. Any further rain beyond what hit Epsom this morning already will be a big help. And that’s why this lad is going to be hard to pass once in front.

10pts win – Changingoftheguard @ 10/1

Eyecatchers #10 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.

Wooders Dream
27/05/22 – 1.35 Brighton:

Tracked the pace in a good position, started to move at the cutaway on the inside rail but was kept in by the front-running and eventual winning horse right to the end. Possibly would have won with a clear run.

Only the second handicap start. One can ignore the 7f performance earlier this month. 6 furlongs, ideally on fast ground, will see the best of her.

She ran to topspeed 59 here. Closely matched with her 61 official rating. Given she could have won with a clear run and additional improvement far from impossible she could possibly have a few pounds in hand. Nonetheless I wait until she drops below a 60 rating when she meets optimum conditions.

Race Replay

Igotatext
27/05/22 – 3.05 Chepstow:

Traveled at the back of the field, outpaced from three furlongs out, looked bit awkward in the final two furlongs, most likely didn’t enjoy this track but ran on quite well.

Trip too sharp. Needs 6 furlongs. Wouldn’t rule out that he gets 7 furlongs if they ever tried. Was an expensive £165,000 purchase in summer 2020 after an exciting debut win but has never fulfilled the promise. Changed hands for merely £11k earlier this year. This was the debut for the Adrian Wintle yard.

He won twice up until now, on the All-Weather and turf, running to topspeeds of 65, 68 and 69. I’d be interested when he goes back up in trip and ideally see a reduction of the mark below 68 plus a drop in grade. A return to All-Weather would be also interesting.

Race Replay

Sharrabang
27/05/22 – 2.20 Carlisle:

Was up with the pace early on, disputed lead as part of a trio. Started to lose position from 2 furlongs out as race heated up, but also got pushed inside by rival horse and squeezed. Bit short of room over 1f from home again, lost momentum and couldn’t find it again. This should be strong form for this grade.

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

Has fallen significantly in his mark but may recapture some form now. Ran well a number of times last season. Ran top topspeed 50 and 52, was competitive of marks in the low 50’s and could take advantage of a 46 rating with the right conditions now.

Race Replay

End Zone
27/05/22 – 6.30 Pontefract:

Prominent from good draw, chased the pace. In a good position turning for home but looked bit flat footed 1.5 furlongs from home. Short of room at the final furlong marker. Lost momentum. Impressive how he regained it to finish strongly in third.

Seemingly finding back some solid form. This was a strong performance I believe. He comes down again to a mark he can win from. Has ran to topspeed 71 on turf but best form comes on the All-Weather.

Would like to see him back on the sand, especially if his mark slips to 70 or lower. He ran topspeed 74 and 77 back in November and this most recent run suggests he is not far off that level right now. Ran at Thirsk in the meantime this week – 11/12 finish.

Race Replay

Tar Heel
27/05/22 – 9.00 Pontefract:

Never looked comfortable here at Ponti. Hang to the left badly on multiple occasions throughout the race, including in the home straight which meant he couldn’t land a blow.

Obviously had issues as his significant fall in the ratings demonstrate. However, he looked to be better than the bare form here.

Clearly needs a straight track and cut in the ground. Won in Ireland and produced solid runs over minimum trip and 6 furlongs in those conditions.

Massive performance last time out at Ayr off big weight in class 6 over 6 furlongs in soft conditions, getting a bump right after the start and racing inefficiently without cover on the outside away from the rail for the most part, finishing 2nd miles clear of the rest.

Will need monitoring for his mark and conditions. Worth to wait for the right day.

Race Replay

Music Society
28/05/22 – 4.05 Haydock:

Tracked the fast pace, started move from 2.5 furlongs out, took lead and kicked on over 1.5 furlongs from home. Got a gap on the field but tired inside the final 100 yards and was caught by two runners finishing strongly from off the pace.

This was huge performance given the solid pace he tracked and the big move from about halfway onwards. proper sign of life after three poor showings this season.

Down to excellent mark again. Won off 79 last June, running to topspeed 83. Clearly close to that form. A slightly less aggressive ride will see him more than capable of winning. Has form on soft but ideally I like to see decent ground, 6 furlongs and a track where his usual more prominent racing style holds up well. Perhaps a drop in class can be beneficial too.

Race Replay

Key Look
28/05/22 – 3.39 Catterick:

One of the slower starters, settled in rear, travelling okay, but still only one rival behind turning for home. Made excellent progress on the inside in the home straight until short of room 15 furlongs from home: lost momentum, had to regain full effort. Finished nicely under hands and heels giving impression there was more left in the tank.

Ran well a number of times in defeat in recent weeks. Down to her last winning mark off 60 which came in her final start in 2021 after a season of fine progress.

Ran to topspeed 62 on the All-Weather and 59 on turf last year. Looks in fine form, but ideally will get some additional assistance from the handicapper before getting involved. 58 or lower and certainly a good draw if racing around a turn.

Race Replay

Libertus + Lord Gorgeous
30/05/22 – 4.30 Lingfield:

Libertus saw his path forward blocked early on, as a consequence boxed in on the inside. Travelled much the best but had to delay his move. Sharply switched to the middle of the track for a clear run, giving ground away to the eventual winner who had first run.

Handicap debut – probably wins another day. A mark off 67 looks potentially underestimating him; granted the handicapper doesn’t react harshly after this fine effort.

Full-brother to solid Lajatico. Probably best suited to decent or fast ground. A drop to the minimum trip wouldn’t be an issue I reckon.

Lord Gorgeous was awkwardly away as so often. He was caught wide without a lot of cover and away from the rail where the eventual winner who always travelled prominently came from. he travelled very strongly to 1.5 furlongs from home until fading in the closing stages.

The way he travelled here you’d have never guessed he was 80/1. He’s got obvious temperamental issues. However he has talent as he showed as a juvenile. Clearly lost his way and the switch of yards and to the UK hasn’t really helped yet.

However, there was a glimmer of hope form wise when 3rd at Wolverhampton in February. He’s one to monitor for market and jockey booking any time he races over the minimum trip. He’s capable of winning over 5 furlongs, on the All-Weather or on turf, possibly with a bit of ease in the ground.

Race Replay

Pure Dreamer
30/05/22 – 6.10 Windsor:

Quite badly hampered early on, nonetheless travelled smoothly. Had to wait for racing room, moved into the open approaching the final furlong and got upside the long-term leader. Eventually won it a shade cozily in my view.

This was his third win on the bounce. Still ran to topspeed 83 off a 80 mark here, despite not having a perfect race and despite the trip potentially on the sharp side. Has more to offer if moving up in trip. Would love to see him over a mile.

Looks a galloping type with a significant stride lengths. Would imagine he doesn’t want it any faster than good. Need to see what a the handicapper does after this but could be a mid-90 horse over a mile.

Race Replay

Raydoun
01/06/22 – 6.05 Ripon:

Slowly away, as a consequence trailed the field. Tried to make progress from over two furlongs out, having to pass the entire field. Didn’t find a clear run through, short of room on multiple occasions. Finished nicely under hands and heels.

Unlucky last time out too when bumped at the start and hampered in the middle of the race. Can find trouble due to his racing style. Tends to be slowly away from the gate.

Looks exposed on the surface of his form but clearly in form to win. Won off 66, excellent runner-up off 69 running to topspeed 67. Any assistance from the handicapper will be very welcome, though. Probably doesn’t want it fast. I’d be really intrigued on good to soft.

Race Replay

Nibras Again
01/06/22 – 8.10 Ripon:

Travelled strongly throughout, still on the bridle approaching the final furlong marker. Badly squeezed at that moment, continued to be short of room with little room to maneuver right to the end, and just as he tries to go through the tiniest of gaps in the last 100 yards the door shuts again.

Seasonal reappearance after a break since October. Ran well of marks in the 70s last season, was beaten a neck and shoulder off 73 and 75. Down to a mark of 69 now, he looks weighted to win.

His very best comes on proper fast ground over the minimum trip. Even though e’s an eight-year old now, he clearly retains an appetite for sprinting.

Race Replay

Stone Circle
31/05/22 – 5.29 Yarmouth:

Travelled very strongly approaching the two furlong marker. Lacked an instant kick and tired gradually, finishing 3rd. Possibly disappointing after it looked he’d come with a winning move.

Seven furlongs with ease in the ground perhaps stretches his stamina. Plus he possibly did too much in the early sections of the race. This was nonetheless a clear return to form after he fell a long way in the mark over the last year, having ran to topspeed 57 here.

He’s rated 60 now, a long way below his best and certainly better than that if on song. Showed glimpses last season still; should be highly competitive if dropping down to 6 furlongs again with a bit of cut in the ground. I definitely want to see the word “soft” in the going description.

Race Replay

Special Times
02/06/22 – 2.45 Leicester:

Chased the pace for most of the race. Outpaced from three furlongs out but stuck to the task. Was one paced when a bit tight around half a furlong out, finished solid enough where those from back of the field dominated the placings.

Showed a bit of ability in maiden races and caught the eye the way she travelled lto, but clearly trips were too short and was saved for Handicaps. Should improve for a step up in trip to 10 furlongs. The Dam won over 11.5 furlongs in Germany.

Race Replay

Oaks Friday Selections: 3rd June 2022

4.30: Group 1 Epsom Oaks, 1m 4f

On paper this years Oaks looks not a brilliant renewal, albeit a wide open one, with plenty of potential improvers for the Oaks distance. With that in mind I struggle to warm to short-priced favourite Emily Upjohn.

I understand why she’s well fancied today. Her Musidora victory was impressive. As a daughter of Sea The Stars she appears more than likely to stay the trip and it’s equally reasonable to assume she can improve for her fourth career run.

But she has to. The York performance was only worth a 95 topspeed rating. Solid but doesn’t scream 13/8 favourite. She may well take this crucial next step and can progress to the level the market generally assumes she’ll be capable of running to.

At the same time this can be said about a number of other fillies in this field full of likely improvers. Whether that’s Cheshire Oaks winner Thoughts Of June (quite appropriately named), stable mate Tuesday – a full-sister to 2016 Oaks heroine Minding, or Trial Stakes winner Nashwa. I could make a case for half the field.

But the two fillies that caught my eye more than anybody else – and I can’t split them – are Concert Hall and the only Godolphin entry With The Moonlight.

It’s no surprise that a full-sister to previous Oaks winner Was should feature highly on any short-list. Hence I am seriously surprised to see Concert Hall available at incredibly generous odds – I feel.

I was interested in her for the Irish 2000 Guineas, but it turned out the drop in trip didn’t really suit her. She didn’t posses the speed needed and got badly outpaced from over three furlongs out. But, crucially, she ran on strongly to finish 3rd eventually.

Perhaps it wasn’t the deepest Guineas field, nonetheless, the fact she was able to finish so strongly over an inadequate trip is noteworthy. Aiden O’Brien mentioned beforehand the filly thrives on racing and the Curragh outing would be a stepping stone towards Epsom.

In that light it’s even more significant that she won on her seasonal reappearance at Navan in the Listed Salsabil Stakes – form that looks rock solid. She gave the impression that she wouldn’t mind an additional couple of furlongs that day.

Therefore the Oaks trip looks a good match. Whether she handles the track is a different matter. She clearly has Oaks written all over and with a solid draw should be up there when it matters in my view.

With The Moonlight isn’t quite as clear-cut if it comes to stamina for the Oaks distance. Her pedigree points more towards middle-distance 10 furlongs. And yet, the way she finished at Newmarket was so impressive, giving the impression she could stretch out to 12 furlongs. And certainly giving the impression of a seriously talented filly.

I loved everything about that performance. It’s noteworthy also for the fact because that day she achieved the fasted topspeed rating on offer in the Oaks field.

Whether she can translate this speed to Epsom is the key question. As a full-sister to Group 1 winning Dream Castle she will certainly have the class. Her striding patterns, as far as available to me, give the indication that she has a fair chance to see out the trip, though.

Perhaps she will be ridden with a little bit more restraint today than at Newmarket. If she settles well, it should give William Buick plenty of options how to ride the race, given she possesses a lot of cruising speed, that is crucial at Epsom in my view.

Both fillies, With The Moonlight and Concert Hall appear seriously overpriced in the market in my book.

5pts win – With the Moonlight @ 14/1
5pts win – Concert Hall @ 13.5/1

……………

7.16 Doncaster: Class 4 Handicap, 6f

This looks like the ideal race I had in mind for Golden Apollo to get his head in front again. Since his eye catching run at Thirsk he ran another fine race at York in a big handicap over 7 furlongs where he got badly hampered.

He drops down to 6 furlongs, is three pounds lower in the mark than at Thirsk and runs in a wide open class 4 contest. The favourite may well be on the up and could be able to defy his increased mark – Golden Apollo is at this stage of his career vulnerable to any unexposed improving sort.

But at the same time he’s dangerously well handicapped in my view, given his wellbeing is confirmed.

The golden years are obviously behind the 8-year-old but he still performed of marks in the 80s last year and also ran to topspeed 84 when runner-up in a hot Redcar Handicap.

He’s been a shade unlucky a number times too in the meantime, including the last two; as a results his mark is reduced all the time. This looks an ideal opportunity to strike.

10pts win – Golden Apollo @ 9/1

……….

7.37 Goodwood: Class 3 Handicap, 6f

I was very taken with Kimngrace the last time at Sandown when she was seriously unlucky over the minimum trip. Today she steps up to 6 furlongs, which should be the perfect distance for this exciting and potentially well handicapped filly.

At Sandown after a steadied start she settled in rear of the field. She made some smooth progress from over three furlongs out but was stuck behind a bunch of horses and a clear passage denied until very late. She finished well when a bit of racing room opened up in the closing stages.

The winner made all from the front, the runner-up and third raced close to the pace too. Given these circumstances this was a big run on what was Kimngrace’s seasonal reappearance. The form is seriously strong as well.

She looks a filly open to considerable improvement, possibly more so now stepping up to 6 furlongs again. When last seen in 2021 she won a Maiden race at Haydock over 6f and looked at home over the trip. That particular form worked out well with the runner-up having ran a huge race in the Fred Darling Stakes this season.

10pts win – Kimngrace @ 10/3

………

7.51 Doncaster: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 4f

Gibside has caught the eye a number of times this year. He’s certainly a tricky sort, can be temperamental, gets upset in the stall and looks a horse doing things in his own time.

There was good money all day for him last time out at Ripon when he stepped up to 12 furlongs for the first time – a trip that he should appreciate.

He ran really well over shorter 10 furlongs on two occasions at Beverley previously, when things didn’t go his way and he ran better than the bare result suggested.

The same can be said about this most recent Ripon run. Of course at some point you’re not unlucky but it’s more what you truly are. Nonetheless, I feel Gibside deserves another chance.

He was unruly in the starting gate, slowly away, trailed the field and raced generally highly inefficient with a move at the halfway stage costing vital energy and another huge move turning for home from 4 furlongs out on the wide outside.

He paid for it in the final three furlongs, yet finished in 3rd eventually. Coming from so far back was a huge disadvantage. The runner-up led the field, the winner raced in midfield.

I feel a more conventional, flat track like Doncaster will suit this big, rangy gelding much more than Beverley, or even Ripon. No excuses today. I must stress though he is on the drift this morning – at the same time it ensures a seriously good price, if he is in it to win it today.

10pts win – Gibside @ 6.8/1

……….

Added after initial post – 12.30:

3.10 Group 1 Coronation Cup, 1m 4f

High Definition has drifted into a serious price to the point I feel he’s so far overpriced I have to add him as a bet today. By no means is he’s a 11/2+ shot in this field.

No question that if on song Pyledriver is the one to beat. A consistent top-class horse, the defending champion which saw him achieve a career best here last year. He ran well at Meydan when last seen. If he’s close to the form he showed twelve months ago he’s probably hard to beat.

I can’t have Manobo around 2/1 at all. He is lightly raced and open to considerable improvement. On the other hand he’s clearly shown to need a trip to be seen to best effect. Dropping back to 1m 4f is a major question mark for me.

Hukum has only once in his career ran to a topspeed rating of 100. That dates back to 2020, or nine runs. It would need some of the others to misfire for him to win.

High Definition backs up quickly. That is my major concern. He has been a disappointing horse ever since showing so much promise as a juvenile. But the level of form he produced last time out at the Curragh in the Tattersalles Cup is right up there with the best of Pyledriver.

He got a superb ride that day, and clearly that has to be taken into account as a source of the improvement. Nonetheless, he made it a true test going from the front and was just beaten in the dying strides in a top-class field.

He ran to topspeed 108 at that day. I feel it’s a genuine performance. If he can show this level of form today he has a major chance.

At given prices he’s clearly overpriced with ground ad trip not really being a worry in my view.

10pts win – High Definition @ 5.8/1