Tag Archives: Lockinge Stakes

Wednesday Selections: August, 1st 2018

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3.35 Goodwood: Group 1 Sussex Stakes, 1m

On the face of it this is not a vintage renewal of the Sussex Stakes. As always the three year old’s hold an advantage thanks to WFA and that’s not different this time. But you can pick big holes into their form today. After all there is little between the top four or five in the betting market, in my mind.

Given that I can discount both Without Parole and Expert Eye purely for price reasons. The latter one returning to a mile seems not ideal despite a recent impressive success over 7f. Without Parole is clearly a fair favourite, however hasn’t beaten allot to this day, if we’re honest. Andre Fabre always needs to be respected but Orbaan has a lot to find. Gustav Klimt isn’t good enough on this level.

Leaves me with a decision who of the older horses is the best bet. Beat The Bank leads the way. Unlucky in the Queen Anne, he ran into trouble in the Summer Mile at the same venue weeks later again, though found a way to get his head in front.

Lord Glitter is closely matched but I feel he had every chance the other day at Ascot, so even at a big price he’s not one I fancy. While I fancy Beat The Bank to do damage today, at prices I think he’s close to what he should be.

Unlike veteran Lightning Spear. Now a seven year but as good as ever, he’s chasing the elusive first Group 1 victory. Today could be the day. He is as good as ever as proven in his two starts this year when a tight runner-up in the Lockinge Stakes and an excellent third in the Queen Anne.

He is an uncomplicated type who is a CD scorerm multiple Stakes winner and seven times placed on the highest level. Lightning Spear is the ultimate pro who will run his race which might be enough to finally get his head in front.

Selection:
10pts win – Lightning Spear @ 12.5/1 MB

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3.55 Redcar: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 2f

Lightly raced Nathanial colt Global Style drops back to 10f here as well as down in a class 5 Handicap. He didn’t look exactly like a truly well handicapped horse the last couple of starts, however had ran well enough all the same and in my eyes those performances looked slightly better than the bare form.

He clearly has a race in him, particularly one like this here, a rather uncompetitive affair, that is for the taking.

He’s not a speedy horse by any means. So pace will be key. You’d be hopeful there is a bit here today. That should allow Global Style to grind his way to the front when it matters.

He clearly is up to his current mark, and potentially a tad better. His third in a good class 3 contest over 12f at Thirsk, behind two good horses, proved it. A fair runner-up over CD back in June saw him only beaten for a turn of foot in the closing stages. Given he’s also an April foal means he may simply needed a bit of time to find his way also.

Selection:
10pts win – Global Style @ 5/1 MB

Saturday Preview: Lockinge Stakes Day

What a finish in the Yorkshire Cup (Group 2) yesterday – nearly four in line going down to the wire with the Queen’s horse Dartmouth getting the better of 2015 St. Ledger heroine Simple Verse – just!

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3.30 Newbury: Group 1 Lockinge Stakes, 1 Mile

The first big clash of the best older milers this season. And what a mouth-watering race in prospect this is. Three 120/+ individuals  head to head – this could go down to the wire!

Or not? All three main contenders – Ribchester, Galileo Gold and Lightning Spear – have to overcome the slight doubts of full race fitness on their seasonal reappearance.

Could that play into the hands of the master that is Aiden O’Brien? Shrewdly he has placed Somehow – a quality filly in her own right – here in the Lockinge. With her sex allowance and fitness assured, she could certainly cause an upset.

Somewhow won twelve days ago a Group 2 at Newmarket – a fifth career success in ten starts – though the jury is still out whether she is a top-notcher.

Dropping down to a mile in soft conditions I can see a scenario unfold where she cruises closely behind Ribchester’s pacemaker, and then from over 3f out takes over with a big move that puts all behind in trouble. With fitness and stamina a given, she could stay on to lead the field all the way over the line.

The 7/1 odds scream value if you believe in the merit of this scenario. I do. But I also have concerns about the fact that Somehow already had three tough races – two in very tough conditions – in the last five weeks. Plus she has to find a bit with the three big guns if ratings are believed.

On ratings there is not a lot between Ribchester, Galileo Gold and Lightning Spear, though. I would still discount David Simcock’s six year old on the basis of the ground that probably does suit him the least. His very best in the past came on fast ground. Plus Lightning Spear is still searching for the elusive first Group 1 victory.

That is different for Ribchester and Galileo Gold. Both have won on the highest level – Galileo Gold even twice. And both have excellent form with cut in the ground.

The score’s equal between the two. On ratings there’s a single pound between them, yet the market has Ribchester a clear 6/4 favourite. Probably on the basis that the son of Iffraaj has still a bit of improvement left.

He might have but he might not. In fact there is only a single career run betwen Ribchester and Galileo Gold.

On balance I would agree that Ribchester is likely to be the better prospect for the season. He looks the type to do better with age and experience, whereas Galileo Gold appears more likely to regress. However at this point in time it is also Galileo Gold’s best chance to win a big race this year, I feel.

Connections will certainly be aware of this. He should be fully wound up, his record as a fresh horse is fine and of all horses in the field he has the best record on soft ground. So given the prices I have to side with Galileo Gold who I would have more like a 5/2 chance in my book.

Selection:
10pts win – Galileo Gold @ 9/2 Bet365

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4.05 Newbury: Class 2 Conditions Stakes, 6 Furlongs

All about Richard Hannon’s Denaar here. He was an easy winner under hands and heels in a Chelmsford maiden on debut a mere twelve days ago over the minimum trip. The step up to 6f should suit very well and the change in conditions – at least on pedigree – is no problem; in fact can be beneficial.

The form of his maiden success looks rock solid through the experienced runner-up who on his penultimate start ran well in a race that threw up a handful of winners as well as a subsequent listed placed individual.

Selection:
10pts win – Denaar @ 15/8 Paddy Power

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5.10 Newbury: Class 2 Handicap, 1 Mile

Big field and an open contest, so at a price I give Grand Inquisitor a chance to find back to some sort of form, now returning to turf with cut in the ground off a dangerous mark.

He moved yards during the winter and hasn’t excelled for new connections on the All-Weather the last two starts over seven furlongs, but it might not be wise to judge him too harshly on those efforts.

Back over the slightly longer trip with conditions he’s proven to handle and only 2lb above his last winning mark I see a fair chance for him returning to form Not to forget he ran some massive races off much higher marks last season and knocked on the door in tough Handicaps of marks around 95.

Selection:
10pts win – Grand Inquisitor @ 18/1 Bet365

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5.35 Newmarket: Class 4 Handicap, 5 Furlongs

Richard Fahey’s Paddy Power slipped dramatically in the handicap mark compared to what the four year old ran of last season. Now down to 75 with the benefit of a fine pipe opener on Newcastle’s All-Weather, the gelding seems well handicapped on return to turf.

His win record is dismal, but he raced of up to 10lb higher in good Handicaps last year has performed more often than with credit – in fact on RPR’s he ran 11 times to ratings above his current mark of 75.

Softish conditions should be no problem, he has some okay form on this type of surface. His sire performs decent enough too, and the dam is a Listed winner on soft ground. Added 3lb apprentice allowance is a little icing on the cake.

Selection:
10pts win – Paddy Power @ 4/1 Bet365

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8.50 Doncaster: Class 4 Handicap, 6 Furlongs

I give handicap debutante Manshood a good chance to outrun his price tag. He’s had five starts in maiden company so far, placed three times, the two times he ran over today’s trip he was in the money running to RPR’s of 72 and 73.

He’s got a fine pipe opener under his belt last month, that should set him up nicely and didn’t sacrifice his potentially lenient opening mark.

Potentially lenient if he improves for his first handicap start in new conditions. Soft ground, though, should suit quite well on pedigree.  Martin Lane was the other day in the saddle, so got to know Manshood, and has the ride today too. Could be an advantage.

Selection: 
10pts win – Manshood @ 14/1 Paddy Power

Preview: Royal Ascot – Queen Anne Stakes

Able Friend - Photo: www.summerhill.co.za
Able Friend – Photo: http://www.summerhill.co.za

Royal Ascot is looming large – my favourite race meeting! It kicks off with the Queen Anne Stakes – my favourite race in the world! Races over one mile always fascinated me. It’s no surprise – my all-time hero is a miler: the almighty Paco Boy. He himself won the Queen Anne back in 2009 in breathtaking style; Richard Hughes sitting off the pace, Paco hard held on the the bridle, produced a devastating turn of foot when finally unleashed. Good, old memories….

The 2015 renewal shapes as a race for the ages. It reminds me a bit of 2010, when wonder mare Goldikova got the better of Paco Boy in a dramatic finish. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see a similarly tight result this time again. Five years later Goldikova’s trainer Freddy Head has another chance to win the big one – this time with Solow, a five year old gelding.

Solow, unbeaten in his last six starts, couldn’t be in better form. He won the Dubai Turf and Prix D’ispahan this year, both times in sensational fashion. It took him a while to win his first Group 1, but he improved dramatically over the last number of month to develop rapidly into a global superstar.

Currently trading 6/4, he is well fancied to land the odds in the Queen Anne. Is he a good thing? He probably is. Although if you want to to find some negative aspects you don’t need to dig too deep.

It’s the very nature of the race which may or rather may not quite suit him. The mile trip on fast ground against top level opposition is a new test for Solow. His recent top performances came over slightly further and he has never raced on anything faster than good. That does not have to be a problem,  but my suspicion is he’ll need certainly a quick pace which ensures the emphasis is more on stamina than on raw speed in order to be seen to full effect here.

Whether we get a good pace or not is hard to say. The race could well turn into a tactical affair. This would potentially count against Solow. Not because he hasn’t a turn of foot or the class, but because he meets a rival who is very likely to possess even more speed, a rival who’s likely to enjoy exactly those kind of conditions: Able Friend.

The joint leader in the World’s Best Racehorse Rankings (on turf), he has bagged four Group 1’s in his unbeaten run of six. He’s thought to be the best miler in the world at the moment – and it is easy to see why: Regular jockey Joao Moreira, merely a passenger on most occasions, usually can start to salute the crowd at Sha Tin from half a furlong out, so authoritative is the manner of Able Friend’s victories.

Arguably his most impressive success came in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup this January this year, when beating a classy field hard on the bridle, despite meeting some in-running trouble.

Able Friend will encounter unusual conditions at Ascot. Not so much the ground, which will suit perfectly – but a straight, stiff mile is completely alien to him. How is he going to cope with it? That’s the big question. He probably won’t mind whatever pace they go. They often go a good clip in Hong Kong’s top class races. He loves to come from the back in a strongly run race, but equally is able to unleash a deadly turn of foot if they crawl.

If Joao Moreira is able to settle the big horse early on and conserve energy for when it really matters, I feel Able Friend could  have too much speed for Solow. Though, this is not a match-race. On can’t rule out recent Lockinge Stakes winner Night Of Thunder.

The 2014 Guineas heroine, found it subsequently tough to win last season, but bounced back to his best when landing the Lockinge Stakes in dramatic fashion. This represents good form, but might not be good enough to beat the big guns. Stable mate Toormore also bounced back to form in the Lockinge. He stayed on to finish second just beaten by a neck that day.

Andre Fabre’s mare Esoterique is a Group 1 winner in France. Quick ground counts against her, so does the overall look of her form. The trio Here Comes When, Cougar Mountain and Glory Awaits would need to find some dramatic improvement to trouble the better fancied horses in this field.

Verdict: This is a fantastic renewal – we’ll going to see two true superstars going head to head. No doubt, the Queen Anne Stakes evolves around the French Solow and Hong Kong’s Able Friend. It’s a duel to savour!

That says Night Of Thunder is a really good horse in his very own right and I could see him adopting positive tactics which might be an advantage in a potentially tactical affair – nonetheless, he lacks the class of the other two. To see anyone else involved would be a shock.

I already hinted that I have a slight preference for Able Friend in the likely fast conditions over a mile – as long as he is able to cope with the Ascot straight mile. But certainly there isn’t much between him and Solow. I have them both in and around 7/4 but the betting has Solow as the clear favourite. So it’s rather easy for me to select Able Friend since his price looks a bit over the top.

Able Friend @ 9/4 Paddy Power – 10pts Win

Preview: Lockinge Stakes

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Almost exactly 365 days ago it was Olympic Glory who scooted clear to land the Lockinge Stakes. He can’t defend his crown today and is much likely to enjoy a tumble in the hay with a lovely filly right now. Though the runner-up Tullius is here….. as a 25/1 long-shot!

That says, this years renewal seems a much stronger race – and that’s not only because we have twice as many runners going to post this time. It’s an ultra-competitive race which shapes as the clash of proven class versus improving contenders. Who’s going to prevail? Let’s find out!

The Favourite: 

Without a shadow of a doubt Night Of Thunder is the horse they all have to beat. He. the 40/1 shock winner of last years 2000 Guineas, now in the blue Godolphin colours, makes his return as a four year old. He wasn’t able to win another race last season, but three placed efforts at the highest level franked the form.

Today we’re going to find out if he has trained on or if he even can improve with age. His camp is quietly confident, expecting a big ride and him to be fit and ready to go. Well, let’s see. He has to be at his best if he wants to prevail in this strong field.

The Contenders:

Smart filly Integral has a good chance on last years form. She was wonderfully progressive, a true star for the Stoute yard. She’s a multiple Group 1 winner and her only poor run came on bottomless ground in her final start last season. If Integral has come well over the winter, then she should go close. Though taking on the boys first time out isn’t an easy task.

The best Irish chance is Custom Cut. His form for the last seven starts reads: 1-8-1-1-1-1-1! Of course he’s a big runner. He won the Sandown Mile last month with a gutsy performance from the front. If you let him dominate a race, he’ll be hard to peg back. Newbury is a different beast though. Not quite a track favouring prominent horses as much as Sandown does.

The once world-class juvenile Toormore is fancied by many to deliver today. As short as 8/1, he a stupid price in my mind. I really liked him as a 2 year old and expected big things in his classic season. However he has been a huge disappointment. To his credit, his 3rd in the QEII, which was his final start last season reads really well – but one shouldn’t forget this was on heavy ground. I don’t think he’s good enough to feature here today.

Marco Botti’s Moohaarib is an intriguing contender. Still not too many miles on the clock and improving all the time. He looked fantastic when he took an Ascot listed event last month. More is required here today, but there is no reason why he couldn’t improve again.

Here Comes When ran out a fine 2nd behind Custom Cut at Sandown on his seasonal reappearance. He’s entitled to progress and Newbury might be a track more suitable for his running style. He’s already a Group 2 winner and therefore clearly a fair contender today.

The Outsiders:

Former Queen Anne runner-up Aljamaaheer did not badly over sprinting trips last year, but it didn’t quite work out as well as hoped. He hasn’t won in almost two years and even when dropped to Listed level found a way to get beaten recently. He’s a frustrating sort, albeit a talented one.

Lightly raced Arod was 2nd in the Dante Stakes last year. The drop in trip to 1m may not be the test he wants. Tulius was runner-up in this very same race 12 months ago. This is much tougher today though and he’s up against it. Albeit he has place credentials once again.

Generally lightly raced Hors De Combat finished second behind Moohaarib recently. A fine performance in its own right but one that’s hardly good enough today. It’s hard to see him able to turn the table with this rival. Multiple Group 3 winning miler Captain Cat deserves his chance but may be just below the level required to feature.

He’s visually a stunner, but at the racetrack his best days are over – Top Notch Tonto is a ‘cult character’ but will be found out for class today. Same goes for Breton Rock, who is more suited to the shorter 7f trip, and Cable Bay, who was bit unlucky at the Curragh recently, but may prefer it a bit shorter either.

The Value Pick:

This is obviously highly subjective and I can imagine how people shaking their heads right now. But I give Ballydoyle’s Cougar Mountain the benefit of the doubt today. He looks a massive 25/1 shot and could potentially have a much better chance then that.

Now here’s why: Cougar Mountain was quite a decent sprinter last year. He finished not far beaten in hot Group 1’s behind top class individuals. That after he got off the the mark in impressive style on his debut at Naas. I believe his lightly raced profile – mind you today is only his sixth career outing – gives every opportunity to see him an improved individual as a four year old. Grown and more mature, there could be easily more to come.

Not only that, but I really liked his comeback run at Leopardstown. He tried the 1m trip for the first time, in desperate conditions that day. Clearly he was never in it to win. Ridden well off the pace, he was in an impossible position turning for home, and was obviously minded by Joseph O’Brien. But as clearly as that, he gets the trip alright. Cougar Mountain finished the race quite nicely, running all the way to the line, even after some slight interferences over 1f out. He quickly found his stride again and kept going.

No doubt, he has trained on. That says it is not a given that he is up to this task today. Much more is needed. But he may well improve to a level that sees him going close. Better ground is sure to suit today and one would expected him to come on for the last run. He looks a massive price in my eyes, with 4 places at 1/4 odds!

Selection: Cougar Mountain at 25/1 Bet365 – 2.5pts e/w