Tag Archives: Kempton

Monday Selections: 23rd January 2023

Two lovely winners this week, yet it was a week filled with frustration, nonetheless. Put simply: all too often I was “riding” the wrong horse, or conversely: not riding the right horse.

Saturday epitomised this fact in no uncertain ways: Paddy K – well backed from 7/1 to 9/4 – finished a good runner-up… behind Ustath. Of course. It couldn’t have been any different. The same Ustath I backed 24h earlier, when he finished 2nd.

My mood wasn’t lifted when I saw that Eye Of The Water – another eyecatcher I have been monitoring for the right day for quite some time – won the Wolverhampton opener. Unbacked. Of course.

It’s always good to see work validated, the eyecatchers have been running sensationally well this winter so far. But their victories found their way into my P & L sheet not nearly as often. Decisions, decisions…

Anyway, the latest edition – with 16 largely new entries to the list – can be found here: All-Weather Eyecatchers.

On a different topic: we’re less than a week away from the Cape Met. South Africa’s most important Group 1 race over 10 furlongs. I am fairly sweet on recent G1 Paddock Stakes winner Make It Snappy.

Top-class fillies have a strong record in the race. Make It Snappy’s brave style of racing reminds me of one of my all-time favourite fillies: Igugu! She won the Met 11 years ago, against a backdrop of pre-race worries and during the race when she looked beaten only to come back for more.

Class, guts, all heart: Igugu.

…..

1.50 Kempton: Class 6 Handicap, 1m

Favourite Lordsbridge Girl hasn’t really impressed on speed ratings yet, hence I’m more than happy to take the filly on with a recent eyecatcher, that is 5-year-old gelding Wake Up Harry.

He should have a massive chance up in trip and significantly down in class (he drops from 0-75 into 0-65) after an excellent run over shorter 7 furlongs at Lingfield earlier this month.

That day he was restrained after a path forward was blocked early on, then travelling smoothly off the pace. He was still going well when turning for home, although perhaps turning wider than ideal, before unleashing a solid challenge in the home straight from to furlongs to the final furlong marker. He didn’t quite have the speed to get to leaders and came from too far back, and wasn’t able to sustain his effort in the closing stages.

Nonetheless, he appears to be hitting peak form. He didn’t race over the right trip the last two runs and one can forgive the comeback run after a long break.

He looks all set for being unleashed here tomorrow, though. A mile suits him really well, he’s got a 4-1-2 record but hasn’t ran over it since his final run before a gelding operation back in May 2021.

It’s clear that he was well too highly rated after a promising in maiden and novice races, but is down to a more than fair 65 handicap mark. John Egan comes here for this one ride only, which could be significant, too.

I usually don’t get involved in such a short price, but this gelding should be still quite a bit shorter, in my book.

10pts win – Wake Up Harry @ 11/4

All-Weather Eyecatchers #6

A list of horses that caught my eye during the recent weeks of racing on the All-Weather.

Dark Shot
10/01/23 – 8.30 Southwell:

Poor start from the widest draw meant his race was done and dusted there and then. Crossed to the inside rapidly and keenly. Travelled well subsequently, strong progress against the inside rail as the field turned for home, but effort petered out in the final furlong.

Borderline stays 6 furlongs. No surprise after start from wide draw to see him falter late. Did too much to overcome disadvantage from 4f to 2f. Best All-Weather efforts over the minimum trip, though won over 6f in October off a higher mark.

Slight concern he’s had a few issues at the start lately. Can be hit and miss, these days; no surprise given his age. Looks potentially quite well handicapped if down to 5f from a good draw and a sharp start, though.

Race Replay

Come On Girl
13/01/23 – 1.10 Lingfield:

Awkward start from widest gate, wasn’t an advantage in this field, albeit only five other rivals in it. Dropped to rear, under pressure from three furlongs out, then finished much the fastest from two furlongs out despite turning wide.

Obviously in fine form. Ran to 59 and 60 speed ratings over this CD in November. Not always advantaged by the draw, but often ran well in recent weeks.

Down to last winning mark. Interesting, ideally with a good apprentice on board, otherwise I’d prefer her to drop another couple of pounds, given mares over the winter are always up against it, even if she looks to be in good form.

Race Replay

Hiatus
13/01/23 – 2.40 Lingfield:

Went off hard from the front, seemingly not easy to control, set the world alight in the first half of the race. Was bound to fade badly but managed to hold on for third, albeit hanging in the home straight.

Difficult sort. But this performance is probably strong. Cost only 18k as a yearling, has probably not too much in hand yet, but a drop to 6 furlongs could see him win. Stiff 6f at Newcastle perhaps? I can see 7f with a good draw at Wolverhampton also a possibility, though, especially if the handicapper would be lenient.

Race Replay

Dutugamunu
14/01/23 – 12.35 Lingfield:

Not the sharpest out of the gate, soon moved forward and took quite a grip travelling behind the leaders. Travelled notably well into the home straight but didn’t find much.

He’s a tricky sort who can be a bit slowly away. Didn’t finish his races too well lately. But comes down to seriously low mark now, dropped another 2lb in the meantime, and the way he travelled was noteworthy. Possibly extended too much energy early on.

I would love to see him given another try over 7 furlongs, but have to keep an open mind over a mile as well in the right race.

Race Replay

Holdenhurst
14/01/23 – 3.30 Lingfield:

Moved over quickly from wide draw just to get in front at the entry of the first bend. Led by a couple of lengths and did a lot to get there. Travelled well enough, still ahead at the final furlong marker, before fading badly.

Solid run, better than 10th place finish suggested. Dropped blow OR 50. Still managed some solid speed ratings in the last 12 months; this a return to form in my view. Interesting back at Wolverhampton; even drop to 6f could be interesting.

Race Replay

John O’Groats
15/01/23 – 12.50 Southwell:

Very slowly away from wide draw, in rear, eyecatching progress around the home bend going wide, ran on for second. Appeared to stay on late but his final furlong split is slow.

Quirky sort. Can pull really hard. Ran some intriguing races on turf last year. Lightly enough race but one to monitor for support in the betting and I am only interested once he drops down to 7f.

Race Replay

Aberfoyle
15/01/23 – 1.20 Southwell:

Right on the heels of the leader, travelled strongly, still on the bridle approaching 2f marker, before getting tired. Winner came from off the pace.

Handicap debut, lightly raced, gelded in November. More to come but will need drop to 6 furlongs.

Race Replay

Seagrave Fox
15/01/23 – 1.20 Southwell:

Attempted to make all, led while pestered by horse on his heels. Was going well but quickly faded from 2 furlongs out.

Probably doesn’t stay the trip, given he can exert himself in the early stages. Was his 3yo debut and only 2nd Handicap run. Drop to 6f will be really interesting. One for now, though. Started early as a juvenile and won’t have much scope.

Race Replay

Battle Point
16/01/23 – 7.00 Wolverhampton:

Soon chased the leader, pestered him all the way while pace was really solid. Battled well right to the line before fading late for 3rd.

Off a lay-off, being gelded in the meantime too, strong performance here and inline with lto run that can be significantly marked up; wasn’t fancied here at all.

Still a maiden but clearly down to a good mark, if untouched by the handicapper.

Race Replay

Prince Of Rome
16/01/23 – 7.00 Wolverhampton:

Awkward start from wide draw, bumped into rival, settled off pace, swerved very wide around the bend before moving inside again but being relegated to last. Incredible progress in home straight, finished much the fastest.

Comeback run after a long lay-off. Changed yards in the meantime. Clearly in good nick. Ready to win in right conditions. Monday entry #8 draw not compelling. Wait for a day with a good draw over the minimum trip.

Race Replay

Lady Ursula
17/01/23 – 6.00 Southwell:

Bit awkward away from the gate, ducking left, settled off pace on the outside, never got much cover. Made significant progress halfway through, tried to challenge but bit outpace from 2f out; gutsy and brave ran strongly to the line.

Needs to move up to 6f again. Should have solid chance to stay 7f. Full-sister to modest 75 rated gelding who stays 7f. April foal, may still have some improvement to do. Possibly one for early turf season more than AW.

Race Replay

Galileo Glass
17/01/23 – 7.30 Southwell:

Good start, but restrained at the back of the field. Turned for home in last position, seemed posed for a solid challenge, but didn’t get a clear run, had to switch multiple times. Finished easily.

Lost his form, new yard didn’t bring out any uptick in form yet. But this a clear sign of life. Could be well handicapped on best form. One to monitor if the betting speaks in his favour.

Race Replay

Ornate
17/01/23 – 12.40 Kempton:

Pushed aggressively forward to grab the lead. Always challenged by rival, though. Hot pace, had eventual winner on the stretch, especially around the sharp bend. Tired badly.

Strong run. The old boy can still win. Won off 61 at Chelmsford in October, ran to 63 speed rating there. Will be interesting in less hot race pace wise with good draw over 5f once dropped below 60 in class 6.

Monday entry in class 5 one to sit out.

Race Replay

Tricky Business
20/01/23- 4.23 Southwell

Good progress from the widest draw on the outside of the field to grab the lead soon. Let the field for home ,setting a good pace. Severely under pressure and headed over two furlong out but kept going strongly.

Re-Entry from Eyecatchers #3. Ran well down to 6 furlongs at Newcastle in the meantime, followed up here with a strong effort off lowered mark.

Remains of interest over 6 furlongs, especially if the handicapper leaves him on a 55 OR. has entries over 7f next week. Should be competitive again but I still believe the trip is most likely to far as he will exert too much energy going hard from the front, or else, pulling hard if restraint (despite is sole career win over the trip).

Race Replay

Huberts Dream
21/01/23 – 12.27 Lingfield:

Quickly moved forward, showed good early speed and led enthusiastically. Poured it on from over 3f out and had the field on the stretch, still leading by a couple of lengths approaching the final furlong, before a dramatic collapse.

Did way too much too soon, but impressive how long he kept going strongly. First start as a 3yo, won three juvenile races on the trot prior. Still progressing as a May foal you would expect.

May be too short price, but clearly still capable to win and Handicapper hasn’t much opportunity to hike his mark for this 5/7 finish.

Race Replay

Rebel Redemption
21/03/23 – 6.30 Wolverhampton:

Rushed forward aggressively from the widest draw, got the lead but had plenty of rivals on his heels, some who would often go forward. Led into home straight, and in front to nearly the final furlong before getting tired.

Good run, off a small break, looks to find some form again. Worth to wait for any further reduction in his mark, and when some money in the market. Ran 10 months ago over this CD to 68 speed rating off a 69 mark when he won.

Race Replay

Tuesday Selections: 17th January 2023

8.00 Southwell: Class 6 Handicap, 7f

Surprise Picture should have a cracking chance in this field from the #1 draw back over 7 furlongs. He dropped 6lb since his eye catching run over this trip at Wolverhampton in a hot class 4 contest in November.

That day he was hurried up to move forward from the start, even though heh looked a bit awkward. He tracked the pace, but didn’t received an economical run before finding himself short of room 1f from home when coming with a challenge.

He caught the eye earlier in November, too, when caught wide, and again received a seriously uneconomical ride, and he followed up with another strong run over this CD mid-December. I can forgive the last 6f effort from a wide draw.

He ran multiple times ran to speed ratings of 68+ last year; so down to am mark of 64, having shown good form lately, gives him a superb chance as he drops in grade as well.

10pts win – Surprise Picture @ 10/1

………

8.30 Southwell: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

I am delighted to see Paddy K dropping in trip. It was obvious the last number of times that he just finds a way to get beat if he races beyond this distance. He’s certainly a tricky character, and his winless record tells the tale.

But down in trip, in a race that should suit from a pace scenario, with a good draw, off a career lowest mark, he looks seriously overpriced.

He caught the eye a few times – when seen the last time and only time on the All-Weather over 6 furlongs at Newcastle in October when he fought gamely despite having a far from ideal race.

He ran really well prior to this on his final turf start of the 2022 campaign as well, and followed up with a number of solid runs on the sand over 7 furlongs, before running his possibly strongest race at the end of November at Kempton.

His form has tailed off subsequently, and that’s a concern. But he doesn’t stay a mile and 7 furlongs is a stretch too; especially when he pulls hard and goes hard from the front, as he did the last time. I think, with that in mind, those last two runs can be forgiven.

Now, you don’t want to make constantly excuses for a horse still without a career win after 16 starts. He is a seriously tricky horse. Can pull, can hang, can mess up at the gate, but clearly he also on a good mark, if he can run to anywhere near the level of form he showed toward the end of last year, now down in trip.

I won’t give him any more chances beyond this. 6 furlongs from a good aw with what could be an ideal scenario with Dapper Man possibly giving him a lead; he’ll never find a better chance to get his head in front, ever.

10pts win – Paddy K @ 15.5/1

Sunday Selections: 15th January 2023

A rather quiet week on the betting front: only the one selection on Monday; obviously that went as badly as it could. Nothing stood out worthy of an investment ever since.

That’s okay – the week produced a handful of intriguing eyecatchers that will be on the list in the next version (latest eyecatchers here).

One interest today: a small field, but good race this afternoon on the Southwell Tapeta.

……….

2.20 Southwell: Class 4 Handicap, 7f

Intriguing contest. Quite open, the betting tells the tale. But only one horse seems to be potentially well handicapped. That is Mogok Valley, who caught the eye when last seen.

That day at Kempton over 6 furlongs he enjoyed a solid start, travelled nicely amongst a group of horses tracking the pace, before things started to heat up from over two furlongs out.

His acceleration wasn’t rapid and he had to switch to his right at the 2 furlong pole, and again when approaching the final furlong marker, in order for clear run. He also appeared to be a tiny bit disorganised, and that cost vital momentum.

The winner, who produced a stunning turn of foot from well off the pace against the inside rail, was long gone before Mogok Valley eventually rattled home in good style for a fine runner-up performance.

This was his handicap debut, and rates as a strong follow-up performance from a recent comeback run over the minimum trip one month earlier.

He is still lightly raced – today is going to be his 6th career start only – and is completely unexposed over the new trip. Moving up to 7 furlongs seems a wise move, given how he ran last time and the pedigree is a solid guide as well: Zoffany’s stamina index is 9.4, while the dam, although a sprinter during her racing career, produced a 1m 5f winner already.

If Mogok Valley can improve for the trip he has a good chance to prove a win or two better than his current rating. He steps up in class, though and obviously has to show that he belongs here. He’s yet to run a speed rating that provides this sort of evidence.

The betting is a bit concerning as he’s drifting a bit this morning. In saying that, he’s pushed out to an acceptable price for me now. I am sweet on him, backing the potential improvement after an eye-catching handicap debut last time out.

10pts win – Mogok Valley @ 3/1

All-Weather Eyecatchers #5

A list of horses that caught my eye during the recent weeks of racing on the All-Weather.

Lord Paramount
20/12/22 – 3.55 Southwell:

Moved across from wide draw enthusiastically, probably wasted too much energy fighting for his head early on. Tracked pace four lengths off, going well entering home straight. Looked awkward, then hanging badly from 2 furlongs out. Empty in closing stages.

Won well lto over 7f in Novice company. Would be interesting down in trip, too. Dam did her best over minimum trip. He ran to a 74 speed rating in second career start. Hence opening mark could underestimate him.

Tricky sort. Shown tendency to hang. Still lightly raced and well backed on every occasion. Could be a good deal better than OR 70 if he can get his act together.

Race Replay

The Cola Kid
20/12/22 – 4.30 Southwell:

Moved forward to grab the lead, did a lot in the first three furlongs. Unable to quicken in the home straight, still a solid run, in line with last two performances.

Clearly best over 6 furlongs. Was not expected the last number of times. Comes down to excellent mark. Ran to higher speed ratings last year, and looks capable if on a going day, ideally 6f with a good draw.

Race Replay

Ustath
20/12/22 – 5.00 Southwell:

Off to a quick start, led early on, then as part of duo many lengths ahead of field before fading very badly.

Some return to form, as the enthusiasm for racing is still there. One that’s hard to catch. Comes down to solid mark again. Ran 3x times to speed ratings 54+ last year.

Ran okay nto, but did too much too soon after not starting the sharpest. Ideally would like to see a couple pounds lower in the mark (<62) before getting involved over 6f .

Race Replay

Desert Dream
21/12/22 – 6.30 Wolverhampton:

Was going well for the entire race toward the inside rail, possibly coming with a winning move before badly short of room over 1f out. Got going again. Excellent run.

Consistent 9yo, in the grip of the handicapper right now; still can win, but best speed rating in last half year was only 50. Want to see him down to this handicap mark, too, before getting involved, then over 7 furlongs.

Race Replay

Healing Power
22/12/22 – 11.50 Lingfield:

Lead from the front, albeit pestered by rival throughout. Set good, strong pace early on. Still leading at final furlong, before headed over half a furlong from home. Still managed to hold on for third. Should be strong form, ran to 59 speed rating.

Lenient handicapper dropped him another 2lb. Will be really competitive in similar race over 7f off. Ran tp 64 and 65 speed rating within last half year over this C&D.

Race Replay

O Twenty Boy
22/12/22 – 5.00 Southwell:

Bit outpaced at back of the field on stands’ side from over 2f out. Made nice progress in the final furlong under easy hands and heels, though.

Probably better over 6f, especially now as an 8yo. Ran well a number of times this year, including 4 performances achieving speed ratings of 60+.

Already down to a mark of 60. any further reduction will be interesting, in particular once he goes up in trip again.

Race Replay

Eagle Eyed Freddie
22/12/22 – 6.30 Southwell:

Uncontested lead by a couple of lengths. Set blistering pace, especially in the middle part. Still a few lengths ahead over 1 furlong out but tired rapidly. Huge run, speed rating 58.

Consistent front-runner. NTO performance not so good, should help to get some respite from the handicapper. Anything below OR 55 will be intriguing over a mile with a good draw and not much competition for the lead. A drop to 7f would be incredibly intriguing, too.

Race Replay

Shabs
22/12/22 – 7.00 Southwell:

Tracked pace, travelled much the strongest over 2 furlongs out but found little once again. Same story as lto when he travelled like a winner just to fade badly.

Knocked on the door multiple times but it’s obvious he doesn’t truly stays a mile. Pedigree points toward 6 furlongs, in fact. Will only back him if he drops to 7 furlongs. Then should be a cracking chance, ideally with a good draw. He’s not the sharpest starter.

Ran four times to 50+ speed ratings in the last twelve months, to 51 lto; on a mark of 51 right now, huge chance in the right race.

Race Replay

Proclivity
27/12/22 – 4.30 Wolverhampton:

Restrained at the back of the field travelling seriously well. Stuck in traffic and no chance until late when finishing third under hands and heels.

NTO run over 6f can be ignored as well. Wide draw, travelling on the outside keenly and big drifter on the day. Clearly better than this, and more likely in good nick as well as on a good mark. ideally drops down to 5f as best performances came over minimum trip.

Ran three times to speed ratings 60+ on turf; yet to replicate on the All-Weather. But this performance suggests he’s able to win if the handbrake is off. Has shown ability to move forward in the past as well.

Race Replay

Shark Two One
28/12/22 – 6.25 Newcastle:

Pushing pace on far side, they went a serious pace. Was still right there at the final furlong marker before getting desperately tired. Managed to hold on for 4th place.

Was capable to finish fine runner-up off 80 and running to a 73 speed rating last April. Never been in the same form again, but this was a return to some form, racing off a career lowest mark. Deserves another chance over 6f to see whether he can follow-up.

Race Replay

Billy Dylan
30/12/22 – 5.00 Wolverhampton:

Moved quickly forward and led as part of duo setting good pace. Still ahead as they turned for home before tiring quite badly. Strong race with winner went back-to-back and runner-up in form.

Off small break. Could be bang on next time out, possibly another reduction in his mark. Ideally drops down into 0-50; ran largely in better races this year.

Consistent front-runner over this course and distance. With lower mark and possibly easier race should have every opportunity to go close soon.

Race Replay

Big Bard
31/12/22 – 3.15 Lingfield:

Make good use of #1 gate and moved forward, led the field going solid clip, seemingly really enjoying himself for majority of the race. Tired from 1.5f out, though.

Ran to speed ratings 59 and 60 since September, although on turf, but career best AW SR is 59. Will be on a pretty fair mark soon. Ideally want to see him drop below 60 to become really interested.

He was beaten only by a neck off 60 running to 60 speed rating at Windsor in October with first time headgear (CP); I believe he’s as good on the All-Weather; watch out for application of blinkers potentially and/or drop into 0-60.

Race Replay

Fine Wine
01/01/2023 – 4.56 Southwell:

Quickly out of the gates and led as part of trio by a number of lengths, going a seriously hard pace. Tired badly from over a furlong out and hung to his left, but did best of front-runners holding on for 2nd.

Huge run. Went back to back prior. High mark now, may find it tough in Handicaps. More interesting on Stakes races over minimum trip. kept improving with age and this run confirms he’s as good as his current rating.

Race Replay

Modular Magic
01/01/2023 – 5.26 Southwell:

Led the field, although closely followed. Challenged from two furlongs out, eventually got behind, but stuck to it impressively in the closing stages.

Off a small break, had to carry big weight down in class. Hot race for class 5, though. Should find easier opportunities. On a good mark judged on turf performances in 2022.

Race Replay

Hit Mac
02/01/2023 – 1.53 Lingfield:

Travelled in rear on the outside off the rail, possibly wider than ideal. Moved toward the inside over 2 furlongs out, short of room and momentum stopped around the home bend. Possibly cost him the race.

Unlucky sort. Ran really well but found trouble multiple times over the last weeks. Ran consistently strong speed ratings in line with his mark of 55, 58 and 59.

Put up 2lb in the meantime. Can race more forward than here. Think he is still a win ahead with a clear run, ideally over 6 furlongs.

Race Replay

Smooth Red
02/01/2023 – 5.40 Newcastle:

Got significantly outpaced from halfway on, lost ground, before running on rather well in the final furlong.

Handicap debut off a break and freshly gelded, showed nothing in three starts prior. Should improve, especially up in trip. Looks to be crying out for a return to 6 furlongs. Could be interesting then.

Race Replay

Northern Chancer
02/01/2023 – 5.40 Newcastle:

A tiny step slow off the gate, before quickly moving forward against stands’ side. Led and was fastest over first half of the race but appeared to be hanging throughout. Faded badly in the last two furlongs.

Comeback run and Handicap debut. On a basement mark. Showed enough to suggest he can win a poor race. Family tends to do well on All-Weather. Sire has tremendous record over 5f at Newcastle in Handicaps.

May need to step up tp 6f to be seen to best effect. Headgear possibly needed. Wouldn’t rule out minimum trip with HG applied.

Race Replay

Thomas Equinas
03/01/23 – 2.00 Chelmsford:

Slowly away, quickly pushed forward to bulldoze his way to the front after one furlong. Set what looked a hot pace, and resemble more like an extended 5 furlong sprint, as nobody wanted to really go ahead until he grabbed the lead.

Emptied quickly entering the home straight when put under pressure by dedicated 5f sprinter from 3 furlongs out. Winner eventually came from well off the pace.

Still a maiden after 9 runs, but showed plenty of promise, especially two runs back over this CD when he ran off 57 to speed rating 54. Should get bit more help from handicapper now. Usually moves forward.

Race Replay

Jupiter Express
03/01/23 – 2.00 Chelmsford:

Was quickly out of the gate and briefly led, before rivals took over. Keen in the first half of the race. Didn’t have the pace to match winner and third but ran on well for a 59 speed rating n only his second start on the sand.

Ran an interesting race lto over 5f on debut for the new yard also, then at Wolverhampton after a break. Is still a maiden but knocked on the door a few times and achieved some solid speed ratings.

Want to see him drop below a mark of 60 and race over 6f. Not interested in next weeks 7f entry. Will likely pull too hard.

Race Replay

Another Angel
04/01/23 – 2.50 Newcastle:

Good, quick start, led the field by a couple of lengths setting a seemingly hot pace. Travelled well but eventually caught, headed and quickly beaten over one furlong out.

Doesn’t truly stay beyond the minimum trip (0/13 over 6f). Can be upgraded here and ran better than bare form lto as well. Not getting younger but still capable of running well. Especially interesting down to 5f with any additional help from the handicapper.

Race Replay

Kraken Power
04/01/23 – 3.20 Newcastle:

Travelled smoothly tracking the pace. In a good position over 2 furlongs out, but also in a pocket with no way to really get out. Jockey kept the gelding restraint, pulling back to the rear of the field approaching the final furlong in order to find space. Finished strongly, under hands and heels.

Familiar story. Mostly a similar story to a myriad of previous runs. Obviously ready to win, but needs to have absolutely everything to go right.

Won’t back him on the All-Weather unless he finds a way to drop below a mark of 50. He should be too well handicapped to lose, unless he run backwards. Otherwise wait until turf season, with better opportunities more suitable to his style.

Race Replay

Mogok Valley
04/01/23 – 7.00 Kempton:

Good start, travelled nicely amongst group of horses up with the pace. had to switch 2f out, and again over 1f out in order for clear run, looked bit disorganised, too, lost momentum. Ran on really well.

Handicap debut. Strong follow-up performance from recent comeback over 5f last month. Looks on fair mark but can improve for step up to 7f. Sire stamina index of 9.4, dam, although a sprinter during her racing career, produced 1m 5f winner already.

The Nail Gunner
05/01/23 – 2.15 Wolverhampton:

Grabbed the lead, set solid pace. Was up there for a long time and still fought gamely even after headed in the final furlong. This is strong form, winner and 3rd came from off the pace, and were on going days.

7f is too far, especially off current mark. Is rated right to his best. Ran 64 speed rating over 6f in July. Will be competitive, nonetheless, particularly with a good draw and if not much pace to compete against.

I want him down to 6f again and dropping by a couple of pounds. May need a few runs to get there.

Race Replay

Friends Together
06/01/23 – 6.15 Southwell:

Brilliant start, super quick out of the gates and showed solid early speed, settled well tracking the pace and kicked nicely in the home straight. Tired late.

Was most likely not run on merit in all starts prior. Clearly capable off current mark. April foal with a bit of scope, especially going up to a mile interesting.

Race Replay

Praise Of Shadow
06/01/23 – 8.15 Southwell:

Caught three deep on the outside, close up with the pace from his wide draw. Travelled well into home straight, kept fighting, but slightly hampered in tight race for gaps, before eased; ran home easily.

Put up strong speed rating when winning over CD lto. In line with similar speed ratings in when running really well in defeat. Clearly in superb form.

Possibly a bit too high in the ratings to consider really well handicapped. Drop a couple of pounds and 6f with race to dominate will see him have a big chance once again, though.

Race Replay

Cherryhawk
07/01/23 – 12.35 Lingfield:

Settled in rear, always travelling wide. Switched inside for challenge in the home straight. Ran on nicely, slightly short of room 1f out before going again.

Wasn’t expected in three runs. Should get a low opening mark. Looks one I am only interested if stepping up to 10f. On pedigree a fair possibly, and could unlock improvement. I liked the way she finished and responded late to the jockeys urgings.

Race Replay

Wake Up Harry
07/01/23 – 1.10 Lingfield:

Restrained, travelling smoothly well off the pace. Still going well when turning for home wider than ideal, before unleashing a fine challenge in the home straight. Not quite the speed to get to leaders and came from too far back.

Hasn’t been racing over the right trip the last two runs. Can forgive comeback run after long break too. Clear sign of hitting some form again here, will be interesting if up to a mile.

I’d also be seriously keen to see him up to 10 furlongs again. The two previous tries can be forgiven for various reasons. If he’s turned out in the not too distinct future over 1m-10f he should be a huge runner.

Race Replay

Sun King
07/01/23 – 8.00 Kempton:

Pushed after the start to get into position, travelled a few lengths off pace tracking it throughout, still going okay turning for home, bit flat footed as pace suddenly increased over 2f out; switched inside and ran on well, not knocked about.

Comeback run since Royal Ascot in June, in the meantime gelded and sold out of AOB for GBP120k and now trained in the UK.

Still open to improvement. Well bred and full-brother to some smart mares. Took him a few start to get off the mark. But some strong performances in defeat.

Second in a maiden behind subsequent Futurity runner-up Sissoko. Caught eye at Royal Ascot in hot Golden Gates Stakes when finishing well from the rear of the field over 10 furlongs. Races off the same mark currently. Will improve for the run. A strongly run mile needed, or else a step up to 10 furlongs.

Race Replay

Saturday Selections: 7th January 2023

Sense Of Security ran a lovely race to finish 3rd, about a lengths beaten; ultimately she was way too keen in the early stages. That cost her when it mattered most.

I will leave her alone now, as I believe she will struggle over 6 furlongs to win, and if she doesn’t settle better, will not be much better handicapped than her current mark over 7 furlongs either.

Ustath didn’t have the sharpest of starts, then moved quickly forward and set a pretty fast pace. He was cocked 2 furlongs from home.

I probably would have done better to wait for him to drop a couple of pounds more. In hindsight it’s fair to assume he wasn’t desperately well handicapped off 63 in this race today. The only thing I got right (but can’t buy any bred for) is that the two hot market principles got beaten, as suggested in the preview that they are worth taking on.

Onwards and upwards… we move on to Saturday. And I’m seriously excited. An outstanding day of top-class action awaits at Kenilworth in South Africa: two seriously competitive Grade 2’s and two Grade 1 races, including the mouthwatering King’s Plate, and a certain Christophe Soumillon is also going to be around.

The crème de la crème of South Africa’s older horses is present, as undefeated 3-year-old colt Charles Dickens tries to enhance his status as one, if not the very best colt in a very long time – perhaps, ever? More on that in a seperate post, later.

For now, I’ll focus on the bread and butter on the All-Weather. Not high hopes or expectations, being honest. However, both horses are well capable of outrunning their price tag, if on a going day.

……..

3.30 Lingfield: Class 6 Handicap, 10f

It looks like there could be quite a bit of pace here. In a race where not all of those up there are certain to stay the trip, and very few appear anywhere near well handicapped, it’s set it up for a closer, potentially.

I hope this could be Dashing To You. The gelding seriously caught the eye the last two times, in nearly the same fashion. That’s not entirely positive, because on both occasions he was he slowly away, travelled in rear and had to make up a lot of ground. Which he did in no uncertain terms, meaning he finished best and second best over the last three furlongs in those races.

The step up to 10 furlongs here looks a positive, in my mind. The jury is out whether he truly gets the trip – he is yet to win over this distance. But the pedigree gives hope, and the way he sees out his races, too.

Even though the pace might be hot – for a 10 furlong race – it may still be a bit more comfortable than in the recent races over a mile. He also was much more prominently positioned when racing over 10 furlongs in the past. That’s unlikely to happen here from the #12 gate. He will be ridden for luck, I assume.

In any case, Dashing To You to is clearly well handicapped. This most recent Lingfield effort saw him run to a 56 speed rating. Kindly enough the handicapper dropped him another pound, though. He already has ran 3 times to speed ratings higher than his current mark now.

There are clear question marks and concerns, namely draw, pace and stamina. But there are clear positives too, namely handicap mark, potential improvement for the trip and a slightly slower race as well as lesser opposition she has to face. Worth the risk.

10pts win – Dashing To You @ 15/1

…….

8.30 Kempton: Class 6 Handicap, 1m3f

I am tracking bottom weight Special Times since her eyecatching effort at Leicester in June last year and hope to catch her on the right day for a big effort.

Back in the summer she impressed with a solid speed rating over a trip most likely too sharp. There were additional circumstances that made this run worthy of an upgrade.

The pace was on and she was tracking it closely for most of the race. It became all a bit too hot from three furlongs out but she stuck to the task. She was quite one paced in the closing stages, clearly tired too, when it got tight inside the final furlong as well, but she continued bravely to finish the race in a good manner.

She showed some ability in maiden races before as well, especially catching the the eye the way she travelled at Windsor in May.

Special Times was always likely to be more at home over trips beyond a mile. She is out of a German dam who won over 11.5 furlongs in Germany, sire Time Test with a stamina index of 9f has shown to get horses that stay as far as 1m 4f – so plenty of stamina there to believe she can be competitive up in trip.

She returned after 193 days off the track at Wolverhampton last month over 9.5 furlongs. She ran well for a long time but faded badly in the closing stages, entitled to come on for the run.

Going up to 11 furlongs now, with the run under her belt, in this pretty poor race, I think she must have a big chance if allowed to run on merit.

The Cox yard isn’t going too well, but the application of blinkers is interesting, as she didn’t always look the sharpest, certainly not out of the gate on her comeback run, and seemed to lose focus in the closing stages in other races before, too.

10pts win – Special Times @ 15.5/1

Friday Selections: 6th January 2023

Not the outcome I was hoping for today. Was pretty sweet on both Give A Little Back and Ooh Is It. Unfortunately Ooh Is It missed the break and it was race over there and then. I still believe he’s very much ready to strike. Next time.

A Little Back was an interesting betting story as he was punted down to 5/2 last night, before drifting out all the way 15’s on Betfair minutes before the race, until some late money saw him go off SP 15/2.

He briefly looked like coming with a winning move but couldn’t match the speed of the eventual winner – and supposed gamble – Bondy Power; only managed 3rd place in a photo for second, in the end.

The strange betting pattern aside, I still think, having reviewed the race (keen to see the sectionals, though), he probably ran a bit better than his current mark. He had to make up a bit of ground to the winner, ideally would have been a little closer to tracking the pace, and had an ever so slightly interrupted run in the home straight.

…….

1.45 Kempton: Class 6 Handicap, 7f

Sense Of Security has been in really good form in her last starts. Although I tend to avoid fillies and mares during the winter, as all data points to them underperforming during this period on the All-Weather, this filly ran to near career best speed ratings in her last two runs.

She caught the eye during the flat campaign earlier this year, and entered my list in October when she returned from a wind operation at Kempton over 6 furlongs.

That day she was badly bumped and squeezed right after the start, was keen in the early parts of the race, possibly as a consequence. She made good progress from 3 furlongs out, kicks well in the home straight and found plenty. The winner from the front was not for catching, and well on top, though.

She followed up a fortnight ago at Chelmsford with another huge run, finishing strongly, against the pace bias.

She ran to speed ratings 57 and 58 in those two runs, which means off her 57 handicap mark she is handicapped to go seriously close. The bonus is the step up to 7 furlongs. I believe she always struggles over the shorter trip when the pace is hot.

Obviously as a maiden after 15 runs you never can be quite sure. Also the fact she was a non-runner a few weeks ago is a concern. But I firmly believe that if her wind is okay, she ‘s going to really enjoy this trip and has a tremendous chance.

There is good money coming in the early market already. I hope it’s not a Déjà vu to A Little Back on Thursday. 9/2 would have been nice… I imagine 4’s is gone soon. Hopefully SOS can justify the support. It would be a nice one for confidence too.

Because the shorter priced horses just don’t deliver for me at all. The last time I had a winner at odds below 13/2 was all the way back in July! That’s 36 selections (shortest was 5/2). Autsch.

10pts win – Sense Of Security @ 4/1

………

8.15 Southwell: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

Favourite Praise Of Shaddows looks a rock solid favourite. Judged on his excellent recent win and speed rating achieved he could be still well handicapped, especially as it looks legit thanks to strong performances in defeat in November and December.

However, he won’t get an easy lead here and has to overcome the #10 draw, plus loses the valuable 3lb claim of Grace McEntee. Reason enough for me to looks elsewhere.

Ustath is my natural choice. He would have made it on to the next Eyecatchers list if not for this run before publishing it. His most recent run (to some extend the one before as well) indicated that he’s probably in quite good form.

Last time over this CD he was off to a flying start, led early on, before being joined to push the pace as part of a duo racing a number of lengths ahead of field. Obviously he did way too much too soon and faded badly.

Nonetheless, that was a return to form I believe, as he still managed to finish 5th only 3 lengths beaten in the end, by a winner who was handicapped to win.

The enthusiasm for racing is still there. But he can be one that’s hard to catch. In any case he is down to a solid mark again. He ran 3x times to speed ratings 54+ last year.

In an ideal world I would have loved to see him drop below 53, but let’s not be picky because he’s still good value at current prices in this open race, if one is prepared to take on the two market leaders, especially with a low draw that should enable him to move easily forward.

The other well backed one in the market, Bernard Spierpoint, won a poor race earlier this week. He also was on a recent eyecatcher list, but this race is much hotter and his mark isn’t attractive having to defy a 5lb penalty.

He’s also one likely to be right up with the pace. I hope Ustath can feed of him, drawn right beside him, to relax early, but sit comfortably tracking the pace. That should be the ideal scenario for a big run.

10pts win – Bernard Ustath @ 9/1

Wednesday Selections: 4th January 2023

2023 started with a bang as Toplight won in comfortable style his race at Wolverhampton in the evening.

The 10/1 looked massive in the end; in fact, he went off the 5/2 favourite. 10’s were still widely available in the morning, before the money came in truckloads.

He was obviously on a going day and the race itself couldn’t have worked out any better. I mentioned as much in my preview:

We likely know well in advance of the race whether he’s in it to win it. If he is, the early price should be tremendous value in my book.

In contrast to the smooth run Toplight enjoyed, my second selection – Expert Opinion – didn’t get the race he needed. He was well backed, but was slightly hampered soon after the start, was lit up and looked once again awkward around the bend.

……

1.50 Newcastle: Classified Stakes, 7f

Less than a handful of horses have a realistic chance in this poor Classifified Stakes. One of those is the short priced favourite Inaam. Although, he makes the least appeal of those better fancied runners.

Of course if the money is on you have to take notice, the handbrake may be off and he could improve dramatically. But he’s a 10 year old. Happy to take him on.

Hardy sets the standard thanks to his course and distance win from last October. He’s been poor ever since but will find this horrible race much easier.

Nonetheless, better value as double the price is Lucky Lucky Lucky. I backed him two runs ago at Southwell after he showed glimpses of enthusiasm at Newcastle prior.

This Southwell 7f performance is the strongest most recent and relevant performance in this field and gives him a cracking chance in a much easier contest to land a first victory.

He finished really well that day, not being favoured by his racing position as the race was dominated by those in front of him. He was the only one who really made significant progress from those travelling off the pace.

Possibly ridden too aggressive the next time as a countermeasure, he had no chance to stay a mile at Southwell when last seen, and dropped out badly. I rather judge him on the penultimate effort, as he drops down to 7 furlongs once again.

The pace scenario could work out really nicely for him I feel, not much will get in his way from his #13 draw, and he can get a nice lead into the final two furlongs by those that want to blast from the front.

10pts win – Lucky Lucky Lucky @ 9/1

……..

2.50 Newcastle: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

I am delighted to see Tricky Business dropping down to six furlongs. I hope that is a sign that he is allowed to run on merit, on what will be his second run for the Dalgleish yard.

Last month on his debut for the yard he finished 17 lengths beaten but showed a lot of positive signs, actually. His enthusiasm was evident as he bounced out of the gate happily, rapidly moved forward to grab an uncontested lead, setting pretty good fractions.

He was beaten 2f out and fell completely away in the closing stages. Nothing that ran close to the pace was able to sustain an effort, though; everything came from off the pace .

He had no hope to stay a mile. Even 7 furlongs most likely is a stretch (despite his sole career win over the trip) . 6 furlongs is going to be his optimum.

He drops also significantly in class. From 0-65 into an 0-55. The right trip, lesser rivals, probably not too much other pace to fight off: he’s got to have a much better chance than the price.

Slight concern over the huge weight. Obviously he is top weight. His best performances came off lower weights and he doesn’t look to have the biggest frame from what I can tell. I am prepared to roll the dice, though.

10pts win – Tricky Business @ 12/1

………

5.30 Kempton: Class 6 Handicap, 1m

John The Baptist caught the eye significantly last time out, which represented a return to some sort of form, after finishing in his last nine races either last or at best second last.

In fact since his maiden victory on debut, this was his first proper finish since summer 2021, then still trained in Ireland.

Nonetheless, the December run at this venue, then over 7 furlongs, was noteworthy for a variety of reasons:

He was under a drive early on to get into position, became outpaced from 4f out, lost many positions in the home straight when completely flat footed, until he rallied strongly in the final furlong to finish 4th, somewhere out of nowhere.

He is clearly a difficult sort, as evidence by headgear combination. But back up in trip to a mile, another 2lb lower, and dropping into 0-60 class there aren’t many in this field that appear well handicapped. John The Baptist clearly could be, as the handbrake goes off.

An #11 draw is not ideal, but he should be capable to overcome it and only two or three others want to be on the pace. The price is skinny, just about backable. Wouldn’t want to take a punt much shorter.

10pts win – John The Baptist @ 7/2

……….

8.00 Kempton: Class 5 Handicap, 7f

Lost In Time was one the most impressive eyecatchers this winter, when he finished under light hands and heels ride much the fastest in a hot Handicap at Kempton in November.

That day he reared in the stall and as consequence was slowly away, settled in rear, and had loads to do from off the pace in a race where the pace wasn’t really on. He sliced his way through the field in impressive manner, without being hard ridden and then the last three furlongs fastest of all.

Second run off a break and for a new yard, showing a revival of form. However, the next two runs are a clear concern, especially the latest one, even though that was a somewhat strange race.

Hard to gauge whether he “lost confidence” as the trainer brought forward as explanation lately, or something else. In any case, he’s been dropped another 4lb in the ratings. On past performances he is absolutely well handicapped.

He achieved three 77+ speed ratings, although these date back some time now, but more recently, he ran to 66 and 68 speed ratings, which would give him an excellent shot to win here, if in the same sort of form.

10pts win – Lost In Time @ 14.5/1

Saturday Selections: 31st December 2022

Last day of the soon to be old year. One final chance to find a winner and end an eventual, yet ultimately successful and profitable year on a positive note.

A proper review of the year with stats and key learnings will follow in the coming days – for now, here’s one final selection in the year that is and then was 2022.

……..

2.40 Lingfield: Class 3 Handicap, 1m

Wadacre Grace looks a standout chance in this field, as she’s one of few who’s more than happy to move forward. Simply from a pace scenario she may enjoy the perfect race, but also from a handicapping perspective she makes plenty of appeal.

That may surprise, given I said after backing her last time out, that back then she was beaten fair and square in second place and I was wondering whether I had been too optimistic about the amount of pounds she could be ahead of the handicapper.

However, after analysing the recent Southwell race in more detail, I can only conclude that the initial assessment, that lead to the bet, still holds up strongly today; that is: over a mile against her own sex she is probably well handicapped off a 69 mark, especially with little competition for the lead.

The Southwell performance was strong. From her wider than ideal draw she made swift progress, travelling wide, to grab the lead and head for home going strongly approaching the home straight.

She only went down late in the final furlong, beaten by a filly who tracked the pace in third place throughout. Wadacre Grace, though, albeit slowing markedly from two furlongs out, still slowed the least bar the winner.

The handicapper has been surprisingly lenient, allowing her to race off the same 69 mark. It means she goes off bottom weight here, in a race that looks stronger on paper than last time out, but in reality contains very few rivals that appear anywhere close to be considered well handicapped.

In saying that, all the positive arguments brought forward the last time, remain valid today:

She caught the eye significantly the last two times prior to the Southwell run, in that light the lto performance is highly credible. It also means the 3-year-old filly showed a strong level of form in five of her six runs since successfully returning from a 5 months long break in September.

She kicked it all off with victory on handicap debut at Newcastle over 7 furlongs, despite showing some inexperience, she finished incredibly strongly to get up on the line. It’s been her trademark ever since to find plenty under pressure in the closing stages (with the exception of a subsequent poor run, which she has left behind the next three runs, though).

I love that attitude, less so the way she can start her races. She can be sluggish out of the gate, and quite keen in the early stages of the race. I reckon that cost her victory at Chelmsford, when less pronounced but clearly played a part why she ‘only managed’ third place.

She completely missed the break the next time at Kempton. She benefited from a slow early pace to quickly get back to the field but nonetheless had to spend significantly more energy than everyone else and found herself in the worst position possible, too. She finished like a train, eventually.

She had a better – if not ideal – start the next time She went forward to join the leader pushing a good pace, before dropping into second. Once again, when headed, she found plenty under pressure, especially staying on strongly in the final furlong for 2nd place. That was especially impressive after pushing the pace to finish so well. 

She has only ran to a 64 speed rating to date, although that came in her Newcastle victory in September. I still feel she is better than her current mark, in any case. She remains open for improvement on her tenth career run – as long as she doesn’t mess up at the start.

10pts win – Wadacre Grace @ 9/2

Wednesday Selections: 28th December 2022

4.55 Newcastle: Class 5 Handicap, 7f

Bin Hayyan was a massive eye-catcher when last seen back in November, one few may have missed. It’s a question whether you have the trust that today is the day connections are serious about winning or not.

The early prices are probably more driven by this recent impressive run than anything else. Market moves during the day will tell us what to expect in this rather open and intriguing contest, in any case.

As for Bin Hayyan, he probably showed more to the handicapper than perhaps he should have, in an ideal world, when finishing incredibly strongly last time out. But it’s the reason I am clearly prepared to back at the prices on offer, in the hope he will run on merit.

Back then over the same course and distance he was restrained in rear, which was a disadvantage as the field crawled for the first half of the race. He made eye-catching progress from three furlongs out, travelled seriously strongly, but couldn’t get a clear run until approaching the final furlong. As he found daylight he finished by far the strongest.

He was a big price on the day (SP 25/1), and unusual race tactics were deployed. He was seen to best effect when more prominently ridden in the past.

He is almost certainly better than his current Official Rating of 69. He ran to a 71 speed rating on turf this summer, and has clearly proven his suitability to an All-Weather surface when last seen.

I also would argue his comeback run prior, off a small break, at Kempton, over a mile on his first attempt racing on sand, can be upgraded given the way he was ridden that day, over a trip possibly that stretches his stamina.

This smaller field of eight horses, with a modest pace expected, could suit Bin Hayyan really well, if he can settle closer to the pace. He is drawn close to the most likely pace setter, so should get a lead into the finish, And he has shown to be able to quicken nicely.

10pts win – Bin Hayyan @ 7/2