Tag Archives: May

Flat Eyecatchers 2023: #3

A list of horses that caught my eye during the recent weeks of racing. Find all previous lists here.

Thaki
08/05/23 – 8.45 Newcastle:

Drawn away from the pace, awkward start, trailed and had a wall of horses to pass over two furlongs out. Picked his way through to field as he quickened nicely, before getting quite tired in the final furlong.

Ran well prior at Ayr as well in a good race where the winner was well-handicapped. Not the best starter. Won off 67 on the All-Weather and a neck beaten off 65 back in March. Ran well nto in hot class 4 race as well, but possibly not quite up to that level.

Down to 63 on a good mark. Has scope on turf, especially on decent ground placed 4 of 6 and may be underestimated there without a W on turf yet, though.

Race Replay

Ticket To Alaska
08/05/23 – 5.20 Southwell:

Crossed over quickly from a wide draw to lead, although always pestered and pressured. Travelled well but ultimately beaten by a well-handicapped winner from off the pace.

Two good runs since return from a break. Showed promise as a juvenile, ran to 63 speed rating. Doubtful that he stays beyond 7 furlongs. Full-brother did his best work over 6f and won over the minimum trip as well.

Possibly scope for some improvement if he drops in trip, on fast ground on turf. In other circumstances probably found his ceiling.

Race Replay

Basholo
08/05/23 – 2.25 Ayr:

Led the field on far side. Was going well until 2f out, under pressure fought gamely all the way to the line, just tired in the closing stages.

Down to career-lowest mark. Bit unlucky lto. In excellent form. Poor record 1/20. Probably best over 5f, but 6f on fast ground not impossible.

Didn’t get home over 6f at stiff Hamilton when seen next time after going hard following a hot pace.

Race Replay

Winforglory
13/05/23 – 1.50 Lingfield:

Tracked hot early pace. Did way too much too soon and also quite keen. Impressive how he was still able to kick on and challenge for the win, less than two lengths beaten in 3rd eventually.

Bit unfortunate lto at Chelmsford. Strong run there too. Ran 75 speed rating here, which was also a hot race for the grade. May not stay a mile, but looks clearly capable to win off current mark and should be some pounds better.

Race Replay

Swiss Pride
13/05/23 – 4.10 Lingfield:

Settled off the pace, which was a disadvantage. Had loads to do 3f out and finished wide. Came home much the strongest, the only one who ran sub 12s the final furlong.

Must be in good form now. Down to sexy mark. Would be really interesting on fast turf as he may be underestimated there due to his record. However he runs well in those conditions, now 11lb lower than when last seen on turf.

Race Replay

Malham Tarn Cove
13/05/23 – 6.40 Leicester:

Travelled quite well for a long time. Solid progress from 2f out, challenged the long-term leader. Got pretty tired in the final furlong.

Probably strong form and run due to the winner and second. Left on the same mark. Interesting on better ground. Dam did all her best work on soft but sire was tp-class on fast. He doesn’t seem to have a high knee action.

If the ground can bring out improvement he’ll be well-handicapped. Wouldn’t rule out a drop in trip either.

Race Replay

Azure Angel
15/05/23 – 7.05 Windsor:

Tracked the honest pace. Travelled strongly and good progress to hit the front over one furlong out. Tired in the closing stages.

Comeback run. Probably needed it. Also may prefer better ground. Very impressive when last seen as a juvenile. Clocked strong speed rating. 6f may be her optimum.

Race Replay

Imperial Khan
15/05/23 – 2.50 Catterick:

Tracked the pace throughout. Was going well and looked like coming with a big challenge from 2f out. Jockey seemed to keep waiting and waiting before asking for all, riding hands and heels. Suddenly it was too late as things became really tight in the final furlong and the horse was squeezed out.

With a clear run would have gone seriously close. Has been dropped 2lb in the meantime. Down to a career-lowest and obvious interest the next time.

Race Replay

John Kirkup
15/05/23 – 4.20 Catterick:

Tracked leaders against the inside rail where it became a bit tight around the bend which impeded him somewhat. Kept up to his work but didn’t find a gap to go through.

Third run off a break. Clearly in form. Down to excellent mark. Ran fine speed ratings last autumn. 5f with cut in the ground ideal, but stays 6f and acts on better ground as well.

Ran well nto in the meantime but conditions not totally to suit and bumped into a well-handicapped winner.

Race Replay

The Muffin Man
16/05/23 – 6.00 Wetherby:

Not the sharpest at the start from a wide draw, a bit impeded soon after. Outpaced early on, travelled well of the pace. Good progress in the home straight although not the clearest run until late.

Clearly needs to move up to 1m as pedigree suggests as well. Ran twice the trip before and was unfortunate. Still lightly raced.

Race Replay

Golden Rainbow
16/05/23 – 7.30 Wetherby:

Tracked the pace closely in second place. Challenged leader from over 2f out and possibly ahead at final furlong marker. Horses from further back got the better of him eventually. Strong run and probably strong form.

Had wind operation prior. Down to good 63 mark and can win in possibly slightly less competitive race. Better over 5f and may prefer AW surface but didn’t have too many opportunity over the minimum trip on fast ground, which bay be ideal.

Race Replay

Hail Sezer
16/05/23 – 7.30 Wetherby:

Travelled notably well in midfield. Strong progress in the home straight but was stuck behind horses in front of him. Switched to the inside over 1f out and ran on well.

Can’t be too harshly assessed by the handicapper for this. Not unexposed but won two of his last four and arguably unlucky here in strong race. Clearly able to win off 71, ideally 6f on fast ground.

Race Replay

Bluebell Time
16/05/23 – 2.40 Chepstow:

Tracked the leader closely and eventually made strong move from over 2f out to grab the lead. Only beaten late by horses from further back and more ridden toward the centre/stands’ side.

Strong run and probably good form. Down another 2lb since then. Well-handicapped over the minimum trip now on anything not fast; bonus a bit of cut in the ground.

Race Replay

Makeen
18/05/23 – 6.55 Newmarket:

Traveled strongly behind a wall of horses for much of the race. Waited for room until very late when switched to the inside and ran on easily for third.

Near career-best effort without a clear run. Clearly in peak form. Otherwise not obviously well-handicapped. But interesting if turned out within the next two weeks, ideally on fast ground.

Probably 7f ideal and is then pretty ground independent, but clearly stays a mile too, especially on fast ground if the pace isn’t all out. If he doesn’t return soon under ideal conditions soon, one to keep in mind to see if he can drop a couple of pounds and wait for the money to arrive.

Race Replay

My Mate Mike
18/05/23 – 3.10 Salisbury:

Moved quickly forward to lead, setting a hot pace. Clearly did too much in the first half of the race. Did well to hold on for third.

Strong race and form. Multiple lto winners and horses in strong form in the field. has been given an opportunity by the handicapper as dropped 1lb subsequently. Lightly raced and deserves a chance over 6f.

Race Replay

Red Allure
19/05/23 – 6.15 Hamilton:

Move forward from the outside draw to push the pace. Was there until very late in the day.

Perhaps slightly flattered by the way the race developed but it wasn’t an advantage on the day to go from the low gates. Clear return to form. Dropped a pound for this. Chance given over minimum trip and all ground.

Race Replay

Yellow Lion
20/05/23 – 2.05 Newmarket:

Bit keen early on, travelled strongly throughout but without cover on the outside. Good progress from 3f out to just hit the front over one furlong from home. Tired rapidly.

Handicap debut. Probably needs drop to 6f. Didn’t have many chances on decent ground yet which may be ideal for him.

Race Replay

Monday Selections: 29th May 2023

No joy on the betting front on Saturday. Can’t fault the effort of any horse I backed. They all ran well, ultimately didn’t quite have the good fortune when needed in their races. Happens.

Regardless of the outcome of the Irish 2000 Guineas from a betting perspective, I still loved the day out at the Curragh on Saturday. My dad was with me, he’s over from Germany for a few days.

He’s no racing fan, but enjoyed it as well, and was certainly delighted to collect a few €€€ from his Each-Way punt on Hi Royal.

The Curragh can be a miserable place when the wind sweeds through it. On the other hand when the sun is out it can be a place of pure magic, as it was on Saturday.

Lovely vibe, happy people, great racing…. and a pint of Guineas for €5.90 is nearly a bargain these days. Do those in charge finally get the hang of things?

The Curragh is a lovely place to shoot racing as well. It’s one of the joys of Irish racing if your a photographer you get unparalleled access to the equine stars. Compare that to the UK where they take your camera away at the entrance….

Two other things I can’t leave unmentioned: The Grade 1 Daily News 2000 took place in South Africa on Saturday. My selection Cousin Casey got a bit of a rough race. I was left wondering “what if”.

Closer to the truth is, possibly, that brilliant winner See It Again was too strong in any case. He won it extremely well, no matter what. “Striker” once again pure class in the saddle. The 3-year-old will shoot to the top of the betting for the Durban July now.

The German 2000 Guineas takes place at Cologne this afternoon. This appears to be a poor edition. Two English raiders head the market and it’s fair to say they wouldn’t have the faintest of hopes to land a Group 1 in the UK or Ireland.

Sadly, the home team isn’t particularly strong. It’s stamina that German bred horses are known for, so this isn’t the biggest surprise. Nonetheless, if British 96 and 92 rated colts are expected to fight this out it’s simply not a good look.

………..

5.40 Redcar: Class 6 Handicap, 10f

Bollin Margaret looks a rock solid favourite having a good record over 10f on fast ground, having slipped to a good mark and having ran to a fine speed rating recently.

At the same time in over 1.5 years she never achieved a 60+ speed rating, and that makes her still somewhat vulnerable to something else in this field.

In truth, there’s not much in this field. But Streetscape is the lightly raced improver who could have too much to offer on his third handicap run, back on turf and most likely ideal fast ground.

He caught the eye last two times, his only runs in 2023, on the All-Weather, back in March.

On Handicap debut and his seasonal debut at Newcastle I liked the way he travelled when tracking the pace, as he made a nice move to challenged leaders to eventually hit the front soon after. he was gutsy all the way to the line but beaten by a winner and second from rear of the field who possessed a stronger turn of foot.

The next time at Southwell the slow pace didn’t suit him either. He as badly outpaced from three furlongs out but once again showed a superb attitude when he battled back to grab third on the line.

It may be that his optimum is a fast mile on a stiff track. However, on pedigree 10 furlongs seem a pretty realistic option. The way he finished his last two races gives plenty of hope, that’s for sure.

How much he has in hand remains to be seen. As he drops in grade as well, into 0-60, of his 59 mark, in these conditions, he should be a solid W ahead of the handicapper, I feel.

10pts win – Streetscape @ 11/2

Saturday Selections: 27th May 2023

Back-to-back winners: Ventura Express won his race at Pontefract quite comfortably. Everything worked to absolute perfection – that’s not always the case: superb ride, hugged the rail, saved ground, kicked on 2f out and game over.

He was well backed all day too, went off 7/2. So I got a great price, although a little lower than originally thought as I only realised in the morning my full stake wasn’t matched as initially thought it did. Topped up and ended up closer to 7s, which is still lovely.

On to Saturday: it’s Irish 2000 Guineas day. I love this day and will make may way down the N7 to the Curragh, of course. This is usually when Ireland is at its most beautiful – warm, and sunny, everything is blossoming. Plenty of hope is in the air right before the first Classic of the Irish flat season as well.

It’s also another Grade 1 day over in South Africa. One of the premier contests for 3-year-old middle-distance horses shapes as a cracker of a race (potential selection in the morning when there is a market for me to back, to be added here).

I also must say the amount of racing this Saturday – and quite frankly most of the days during the week as well – is simply overwhelming. I struggle to keep up and it takes a bit the joy out of it.

I love turf racing, but enjoy the somewhat quieter pace of the All-Weather season more, as sad as that sounds. The latest news from the reshaped fixture list in the UK doesn’t provide much hope that this is to change anytime soon.

………

2.12 Greyville: Grade 1 Daily News 2000, 1m 2f

A hot renewal of the key race for the middle-stance three-year-olds in South Africa. The right horses are here to the most part.

See It Again is a pretty short-priced favourite, and you can see why. He was a 40/1 shock winner in the Cape Derby and followed up nicely in the WSB Guineas earlier this month when he ran on well after getting badly outpaced over three furlongs out.

The step up to 2000m will surely suit and he’s clearly the one to beat, simply given the fact he beat Charles Dickens at Kenilworth, who’s the benchmark every three-year-old is measured against this year, and because he finished so strongly when last seen over a trip a bit on the sharp side.

But he’s a tricky horse as well. One who has to be ridden in a specific way. He wears blinkers for a reason and can race sluggishly. I wouldn’t want to trust him at short odds.

Without Question runs in the same colours and was a good third in the Derby, where he faltered late after pushing the pace. He went on to win a Grade 3 over a mile on his comeback run when last seen, doing so against older horses.

He’s clearly talented and may get the run of the race from close to the pace here.

Cousin Casey is probably the most interesting horse here. A son of 2013 Daily News winner Vercingetorix, he was a brilliant 2-year-old and has done well in his 3yo campaign as well, against seriously tough opposition.

After landing a Grade 2 over a mile on his seasonal reappearance he went on to ran a huge race as runner-up behind Charles Dickens in the Cape Guineas. That pushed him near the top of the market for South Africa’s Premier all-age open middle-distance Grade 1, the Met.

From a wide draw he was caught wide, was pulling hard without cover and eventually pulled his way to the front. He only went down late in the day behind the countries best horses, for a strong 5th place. A huge run.

He got a well-deserved break afterwards, before returning with a fine tune-up race at Greyville, before a solid 4th in the WSB Guineas behind Charles Dickens.

That day he made huge progress from the back of the field on the outside from 4f out. he clearly did too much there, going upside with Charles Dickens and fast finishing See It Again. He paid for those exertions, eventually.

Going up in trip isn’t a worry. He should stay the distance on pedigree and the Met run gives plenty of hope. However, he can pull hard as well, and that’s the main worry.

I believe he’s the best horse in the race, though, if he can get his act together. His Met run is clearly the strongest form in the race, this is his third run after a beak, the one he’s had as the target for a while, he should be at his peak now. With that in mind the odds are generous.

10pts win – Cousin Casey @ 4/1

……..

3.05 Curragh: Listed Orby Stakes, 1m4f

Sionnach Eile looked last season like one very much capable of stepping up listed level when he won back-to-back Handicaps in July. He had a long break since then, and with that in mind the recent Cork comeback run can be ignored.

Nonetheless, he travelled pretty well for a long time before getting pretty tired eventually. You would hope he strips fitter here, and one would think connections have had this contest in mind for a while.

He moves up in trip, which is sure to suit, given he won over twice over 1m 4f+, including the hot Guinness Handicap at Galway when last seen off 94.

That was a clear career-best effort as he achieved a superb 97 speed rating, which gives him an excellent chance in this type of race here, if he could run to the same level of form.

The pace could be muddling, but no bother, Sionnach Eile can move forward and could be hard to catch if allowed to stride on.

10pts win – Sionnach Eile @ 5/1

………

3.40 Curragh: Group 1 Irish 2000 Guineas, 1m

A sub-standard edition of the first Classic of the Irish Flat season. This seems to evolve around the British raiders for once because Aiden O’Brien’s horses are a surprisingly poor bunch, certainly judged on what they have done up until now.

Proud And Regal is the one exception, as he’s a Group 1 winner from his juvenile season. However, a mile on decent ground is a completely different test to a mile on heavy going in France at the end of a 2-year-old campaign.

Paddington is Ryan Moore’s choice. He won a Listed trial at Leopardstown after winning a hot Handicap on his seasonal comeback. He’s got potential, though, given he hasn’t run any significant speed rating yet, does appear to be well below Group 1 standard.

It’s fair to say Royal Scotsman enhanced his credentials in no uncertain terms in the English 2000 Guineas earlier this month. He ran on well for 3rd place despite showing early keenness, which can’t have helped.

He’s got a huge engine, as we knew from his excellent juvenile campaign as well. No doubt he does stay the trip and the slight uphill finish at the Curragh will be to his advantage.

For all that, he’s a short price, perhaps fairly so, but his tendency to pull hard is a question mark in a race where the pace may not be red hot.

The obvious for me, although I’m certainly biased as well, is Hi Royal. He was one of those 3-year-old colts I flagged in my 3yo to follow piece before the start of the season.

He certainly confirmed the promise shown as a juvenile when he finished a brilliant runner-up at Newmarket in the English 2000 Guineas. For the most part he even looked like the winner, until hanging a potential Classic success in the final furlong away.

Hi Royal has an engine, a turn of foot and does stay beyond a mile probably. He should enjoy the galloping Curragh and the uphill finish to the line.

Somewhat of a question mark is the likely fastish ground, though. The Guineas was on officially soft ground. His sole career victory came with plenty of cut in the ground.

What gives hope is his debut run, when an excellent third in a hot maiden on fast ground. However, he seems to hit the ground hard and the fact he is probably at his best once he moves up to 10 furlongs is a concern.

Nonetheless, he’s the most solid choice and slightly overpriced, given he has proven his class already, settled well, travelles well and has plenty of upside.

10pts win – Hi Royal @ 11/2

………

4.10 Haydock: Class 5 Handicap, 6f

This is a wide open contest on paper, but I feel Big R is potentially hard to beat if he acts on the fast ground.

He was a huge eyecatcher on his seasonal reappearance and handicap debut last time at Salisbury, and despite the massive effort, he has been eased by a pound in the meantime. That won’t make too much of a difference as he’s already extremely well-handicapped off 70, most likely.

At Salisbury he was at a disadvantage from the #8 gate right away. He was caught wide and without cover early on, before settling at the back of the field. hen then made rapid progress on outside from the halfway stage to challenge the leaders over 1f out, before getting tired and beaten by those with better draws and closer to the pace.

It rates a huge performance against the pace and track bias. He showed good early speed last year as well, suggesting sprinting is his game. He may stay 7f on pedigree, but 6f appears to be ideal.

Big R was a cheap yearling, so is not one who has tons of scope, probably. Nonetheless, judged on this most recent run he looks clearly better than a 69 Official Rating.

10pts win – Big R @ 4/1

………

4.55 Goodwood: Class 4 Handicap, 5f

Huberts Dream looks dramatically overpriced if he’s good to go here. He’s got a good draw to attack the rail and stretch the field, while he may well enjoy the better ground which he didn’t get in those turf starts when expected to run well.

Certainly one can ignore the recent Chester run in deep ground from a #10 draw and he also lost a shoe. He ran with plenty of credit at Lingfield prior in a seriously competitive Handicap.

To continue to run over the minimum trip seems a good idea. He showed signs of severe keenness over 6 furlongs in the past, but at the same time showed that early speed is his biggest asset.

He won well on the All-Weather during the winter notching up a hat-trick of wins achieving multiple speed ratings in the 70s. He’s dangerous here if allowed to run on merit.

10pts win – Huberts Dream @ 22.5/1

…….

Friday Selections: 26th May 2023

Lezardrieux was a nice winner today, despite a drift out to 7/1 SP. He was ridden with a lot of positivity and held on gamely.

I wish the other selections would have ridden with the same positivity. It wasn’t to be, and those horses were all bitterly disappointing. It’s quite an up and down this month.

…….

8.55 Pontefract: Class 4 Handicap, 5f

If allowed to run on merit Ventura Express simply wins this? I certainly think so. A course and distance winner, he drops down to his preferred trip, on ideal ground and a track he enjoys off a good mark.

He was a huge eyecatcher last time at Wolverhampton over 6 furlongs, when he was smartly away but soon restrained from his wide draw. He travelled strongly but was certainly not ridden in a way to obtain the best finish. He still ran on well once asked inside the final furlong.

This looked a horse clearly in strong form. He ran a career best speed rating only a few weeks earlier. He also won last summer off 80 at Beverley.

He’s not dramatically well handicapped off 79 right now but judged on speed ratings is the class act in the race given he meets ideal conditions here.

I have a small question mark over the fact that he hasn’t been since since the end of March and a possibly lack of pace. But this isn’t a strong race, he drops in grade as well and I simply hope he can drop his head tracking whoever is going to do the donkey work in the end. His low draw offers every possibility.

10pts win – Ventura Express @ 15/2

Thursday Selections: 25th May 2023

2.40 Catterick: Class 6 Handicap, 5f

Birdie Bowers finally gets his conditions and he should be capable of much better than the price suggest. On turf he clearly needs better ground to be seen to best effect, and he gets it here.

The majority of his last runs were quite good and noteworthy, especially those on turf in softish conditions, including this course and distance, when he also ran a solid speed rating.

He confirmed his well-being with a good effort in competitive Handicap at Newcastle where 6f and the stiff finish were stretching him too much after going a strong pace as well.

He continues to fall in the ratings, can race now off 2lb lower than his last winning mark, when he won at Beverley on decent ground last August off 51.

10pts win – Birdie Bowers @ 12/1

…….

3.40 Catterick: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

Favourite Ghost Lights is obvious interest as one of my eyecatchers. However, I feel he is better over 7 furlongs and is short enough a price to take on, with that in mind.

Azaim is another one who caught the eye – last time out at Musselburgh: after a sluggish first furlong he pushed forward to lead at a seriously fast pace, certainly in the first half of the race, before he fell away rapidly from over 2f out.

This was also a hot race with first and second very well-handicapped, hence the performance warrants an upgrade.

He doesn’t stay 7 furlongs, and neither did he have a chance to get home in the majority of his recent races. Still lightly enough raced, he’s an intriguing runner as he drops down to 6f.

10pts win – Azaim @ 9/1

…….

4.10 Catterick: Class 6 Handicap 6f

I’m interested in Captain Kirkup after his recent run but probably these aren’t his ideal conditions, so worth to wait for another day. However Lezardrieux showed great form the last two runs and has a strong chance here.

On his penultimate run at Newcastle he went really hard from the front, set a strong pace and travelled strongly. he was challenged from 2f out but remained in front until fading late.

It was a strong race with a good speed rating and it was noteworthy that he was able to follow up next time at Catterick with another strong run .

He was rather unfortunate as it was quite tight around the first bend and he was repeatedly short of room in the home straight, though.

This is a hot enough contest, but he’s got a good draw and is clearly in excellent form, ready to win.

10pts win – Lezardrieux @ 11/2

…….

7.52 Chelmsford: Class 6 Handicap, 7f

Love Destiny has been running better in recent weeks than the bare form would tell. He caught the eye at Kempton in March the way he stayed on after being seemingly beaten and I thought he travelled seriously well last time over this CD before going backwards.

He dropped dramatically in the weights and finds himself in a race today that could be set up perfectly for him. There isn’t much pace to compete with, so Atzeni could move quickly forward to try and steel it.

With first-time blinkers applied over Love Destiny’s preferred course and distance – he’s two from three here – he looks seriously overpriced.

10pts win – Love Destiny @ 11/1

Tuesday Selections: 23rd May 2023

2.23 Brighton: Class 6 Handicap, 5.5f

I can easily rule out the vast majority of this field on price or conditions. But I do end up with my two eyecatchers left – Master Sully and I’m Mable – and struggle to develop any preference.

Both geldings are completely wrong prices here in my view and I feel they both have better chances to win the race than their prices would tell. Hence this calls for the rare measure that I split my stake.

Both lads have their quirks, and that’s the reason why they find themselves in this poor 0-55 contest. I’m Mable is top-rated, and clearly better than this grade, if on a going day.

He drops in grade here, and has shown significant improvement in his latest runs, suggesting he’s in strong form and ready for a big run.

I loved his latest Lingfield effort when he travelled strongly on the bridle as he approached the home straight but went widest and lost ground. He cam home strongly.

He was somewhat unfortunate on his penultimate run as well. He can make a mess at the gate, though. And 5.5f in combination with rattling fast ground is a bit of a question mark given his best turf form comes over 5f on soft. But he has shown to handle these conditions, and I can see him finish strongly from off the pace.

Master Sully is not a talented individual but he’s a bit better than a 46 rating. He won a Conditions Stakes in January and followed up with a number of solid efforts in defeat.

His last three runs all caught the eye for numerous reasons, suggesting he is in good form. A switch to turf may do the trick. He’s still rather lightly raced on turf, but ran pretty well on three occasions last season from 5-6f on a variety of ground conditions.

His best turf effort cam on fast ground and he was a bit unlucky over this CD last September. He can have his own issues at the gate, but if gets away alright I reckon he should be a solid victory ahead of his turf mark right now.

5pts win – Master Sully @ 9/1
5pts win – I’m Mable @ 8/1

……..

3.40 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Handicap, 7f

Mudlahhim  sets high enough standard for this grade after latest impressive 3rd place effort over this same course and distance, less than two weeks ago.

If he has recovered from that huge performance, he’s certain to go close as he ran to an excellent 59 speed rating in line with his current mark.

He moved quickly forward to establish a solid lead and set a decent pace. I quite liked that he was able to kick on from halfway through the race, before gradually tiering from 2f out, beaten by a well-handicapped winner in the closing stages.

He must be in strong form, as evidence a number of times prior in this sort of grade. He didn’t land a blow in a class 5 at Southwell, but also his 3rd place three runs back over 8.5f rates a strong performance.

He shouldn’t face too much pace pressure here. If they allow him to establish a soft lead he’d be hard to get back to.

10pts win – Mudlahhim @ 11/2

Monday Selections: 22nd May 2023

3.10 Carlisle: Class 4 Handicap, 6f

Straits Of Moyle looks to have found a great opportunity to return to the winning ways. He ran extremely well a fortnight ago when third in a hot contest at Thirsk.

That day he was right up with the pretty hot pace, always racing in prominent position. Was going notably well 2f out and found plenty for pressure. Only went down late behind two well handicapped horses and the winner came from off the pace.

This should be quite strong form. He’s clearly in good nick. He also ran a career best speed rating on All-Weather earlier this year, although is much better on turf.

Off his 72 mark he seems quite well handicapped as he was left untouched by the handicapper after that recent run.

He ran to 74+ speed ratings twice in his career, including a career-best 79 last summer. Track and ground won’t worry him as a course and distance winner on fast ground.

Papa Cocktail is the obvious danger. Won the last two, looks in exceptional form and achieved strong speed ratings. On the other hand he went up another 7lb and may not get the fast pace he needs to be seen to best effect today.

Hence I’m prepared to back SOM, despite skinny enough odds in this race.

10pts win – Straits Of Moyle @ 5/2

Sunday Selections: 21st May 2023

Any winning day is a good day. I wasn’t happy with my decisions on Friday. Much happier on Saturday. Bertinelli won the ultra-competitive Gold Cup Heritage Handicap and makes it a profitable day.

He travelled well, though it took him a while to hit top gear and he grinded it out more than it was a flashy victory. He was probably a bit fortunate as well due to the misfortune of others in the race.

No complaints. The 13/2 and bits do for me on a day where the rest didn’t deliver, yet I can’t fault the selections and decision-making process.

Not sure what happened to Waseen. He was well-backed, but never seemed to be happy in his race and was beaten before it got hot in the race. Gullane One fell away quickly as well.

Mobashr was a huge drifter, out to 25/1 SP (44 BSP), but looked briefly threatening on the outside over 1 furlong out, before falling away.

Ultimately, it was a good week, no matter what. Three winners. A green month looks a given now, which is the most important thing.

One for tomorrow, bit earlier ready to post than usual. Full stake on. And I’m off to London for a quick day trip…

………

5.25 Ripon: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

As he drops down in class and may enjoy the decent ground over the straight 6 furlongs, Hardy Angel looks a rather big price as he was inexplicably dropped a pound by the handicapper as well for his last effort, that saw him finish a strong 3rd at Pontefract.

That day he overcame the widest draw quickly to move forward and press the lead all the way. He raced wide and without cover throughout.

He never seem to travel overly well, but he had to give ground away and fought hard to stay toward the front of the race. He hit the front with less than two furlongs to go, although, in truth, was already a tired horse at that point.

Eventually he was passed for good by two horses that were ridden with more restraint. It also was reported afterwards that the saddle slipped in the closing stages.

Winner and runner-up have given the form strong merit in the meantime, with their subsequent performances.

Clearly, Hardy Angel improved from his first seasonal outing, and especially for the better ground. Off a 64 mark he looks well capable to win a race of this nature. This is much easier, even though some of the lightly raced rivals are difficult to assess properly at this stage.

10pts win – Hardy Angel @ 13/2

Saturday Selections: 20th May 2023

Friday was frustrating: having a handful of bets (as today again…) is rare and makes me feel nervy, simply because I feel it’s difficult to find value in that many races on a single day.

That proved to be a correct assertion. I backed some poor value. But I also left some great value unbacked. Two eyecatchers I left unbacked won comprehensively (Aurora Dawn & Mostabshir), while the ones I backed were to some extend unfortunate, but also sometimes simply not good bets. Hindsight…

To back short odds there needs to be good reason for me. There were some good reasons, but equally enough against it: I wanted Lady Rascal too much, and ultimately she struggled in a sprint finish over a trip possibly still a bit short of her optimum. Poor selection.

Basholo was a poor choice as well. He was never going to get home over the trip at Hamilton. It’s poor decisions that eat profit. Those you make and those you don’t make.

Gioia Cieca had a troubled passage. Didn’t seem to travel particularly well either. Spanish Angel ran a fine race. If drawn closer to the rail he probably wins it. Shows, though, he didn’t have as much in hand as I thought he has, also.

After two subsequent days with big winners this week I’m certainly back in reality. It must have rattled me so much I forgot to press the “Publish” button for this post last night….

……

3.00 Newbury: Class 2 Handicap, 1m 2f

This isn’t your typical handicap – multiple horses have claims to be quite a bitt better than that. Exoplanet, Royal Rhyme and Desert Hero look exciting prospects.

I have to stick with Bertinelli, though. He seems somewhat underappreciated here. Possibly because he got beaten on his seasonal reappearance. However, that looks decent form given he was beaten by a subsequent Dee Stakes runner-up.

He is one of my Horses to Follow, and I firmly believe he’s got the potential to be a quite a decent colt this year, although perhaps, not the Derby contender, as envisioned.

In saying that, one may underestimate him if purely judged on the lack of perceived impressiveness of his sole victory as a juvenile or his seasonal reappearance last month.

His maiden victory came on his second and final start as a juvenile, when he battled hard to land a Dundalk maiden. He won by a neck, but the performance warrants an upgrade because the jockey reported that the colt got struck into behind and that had a major impact on how he ran.

With that in mind the Dundalk run was a fine follow-up on his eye-catching debut that came at Leopardstown where finished an excellent second place behind smart winner Peking Opera, while he didn’t enjoy quite a clear run from 2f out. He also achieved a promising 74 speed rating.

Bertinelli was also reported to be rather weak and had a lot of growing to do last year, which puts these two performances into even better perspective.

Apparently he had wintered really well and had been working nicely before hitting a slight setback suffering from a stone bruise. That may also be a reason why he wasn’t able to sustain his effort at Cork on his seasonal reappearance.

You would hope he could improve having that run under his belt. If he does, there is a fair case to be made that he’s better than a 99 official Rating. Though, others have similar claims. He could have something in hand and still get beaten. At the prices I’m happy to find it it.

10pts win – Bertinelli @ 13/2

……….

4.10 Newbury: Class 2 Handicap, 1m

Wanees is one I have been quite keen on before the season and he may have found a good opportunity to score, despite the nature of the race.

Very few are well-handicapped in this field. Wanees, on the other hand, could easily be ahead of his mark as a potential group horse in the making.

He was a seriously progressive three-year-old in 2022. It was especially impressive the way he won his final race at Haydock last year. He pulled hard early on, yet won with authority in the end.

That was his second victory in 2022, after he won in spring another hot class 2 Handicap. He ran a great race at Royal Ascot subsequently, with his only poor showing coming at Goodwood, where he had valid excuses, though.

Same can be said for his seasonal reappearance in the Lincoln last month. The heavy ground didn’t suit and he was eased as soon as it became apparent that he wouldn’t be able to land a blow.

Off a 96 mark I feel he has got the potential to win with more improvement likely as he becomes more mature with age. He should have options to move up in trip if he settles better, also.

10pts win – Wanees @ 13/2

…….

4.52 Thirsk: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

The nature of the race screams “wide open”, for obvious reasons. The two I’m most interested in a drawn at the opposite ends: Yazaman and and Gullane One.

Both ran in the same race last time out and warranted an upgrade of their respective performances. Yazaman most likely will need a lot of luck, while Gullane One could enjoy the run of the race. Hence he’s the one I’m prepared to back in this large field.

Last time he led his group on the far side and set a good pace. He ran strongly to the line and was only beaten by one from off the pace and the leader of the stands’ side. I believe that’s quite strong form through winner and the runner-up.

Running against the stands side this time, from the #20 gate, he should have the rail to guide him all the way to the line. He can jump and shouldn’t be too far off the pace, most likely tracking closely Two Summers from #18.

This step up to 6f should suit, so should the decent ground. He ran some solid speed ratings within the last year, as he won off 55 and ran to a 57 speed rating. This most recent run suggests he’s probably not far off that form now.

10pts win – Gullane One @ 11/2

……..

5.25 Thirsk: Class 5 Handicap, 1m

It’s been a while that Mobashr caught my eye when he finished a good third in a hot class 4 Handicap at Wolverhampton in December when he ran to an excellent 80 speed rating.

Since then he ran well in a competitive class 3 Handicap at Chelmsford off a break and then showed his worst side as he missed the break badly at Kempton.

He’s a tricky sort but looks well-in as he drops in class and returns to turf. Mobashr remains lightly raced on turf and has won over a mile on decent already.

He’s got to carry a big weight off 77 here, though, and can be keen over this trip. The hood is back on to give him every chance to settle, and hopefully he doesn’t miss the break. Usually if he starts well he’s up with the pace, which can be ideal from the #1 draw here at this track as well.

This isn’t the strongest class 5 Handicaps, either. If in the mood, and allowed to run on merit, he must have a much better chance to win than current prices.

10pts win – Mobashr @ 13.5/1

Friday Selections: 19th May 2023

Another winner on Thursday: Lord Rapscallion ran home strongly to win at a whopping 16/1 SP (26.5 BSP)!

Scratching my head why he went of this huge price because I felt he was a rather obviously well-handicapped horse in this field (saying it in hindsight is an easy as equally beautiful thing).

Obviously, the huge SP is totally meaningless for my personal P&L. Which is totally fine. 9/1 is a lovely price, and I can only evaluate the price on offer to me at the time of backing the horse.

Continuous ran a lovely race in the Dante. Money came right before the off. He was backed down to 6/1. Travelled strongly, made good progress and finished a good 3rd. More to come.

Friday looks ominous. It’s a rare occasion when I have four (most likely five – one to be added in the morning, couldn’t get matched what I wanted yet) bets on a single day. Especially two of those at odds below 3/1. It could be a brilliant day…. but it could be one that sees me hand some of that lovely profit right back.

………

4.55 Newbury: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 2f

Two eyecatchers run here, both unexposed: Cherryhawk possibly ran too well on handicap debut recently; although, there is more to come, especially on better ground and with race fitness now assured.

There’s plenty more unexposed form in this field, but even at skinny odds I think there is a better chance than the price suggests that Lady Rascal is better than her opening mark.

She’s one of my 3-year-old Handicappers to follow for the season and that hasn’t changed after her two runs this season. Those were qualifying runs and she was always expected to be better once she moves up in trip.

Whether 10 furlongs is quite long enough, given her full-brother stayed much further, remains to be seen. She has an entry for 1m 3.5f next week, so there is that option.

However, off 67 she could have too much in hand for this opposition over this trip. I liked her seasonal reappearance at Wolverhampton over 9.5f when she was probably in need of it. One can ignore her next run at Newmarket over a mile. She was never touched and that constituted a public gallop.

The better ground and step up in trip should suit, though. She has a nice draw as well. You never quite know how these unexposed types develop, but on the surface there is little to fear from her rivals.

Given she was a £270k yearling back in 2021 there’s every chance she could be seriously underestimated by the handicapper on her handicap debut here.

10pts win – Lady Rascal @ 11/4

…….

4.45 York: Class 4 Handicap, 7f

Gioia Cieca has found back to form since a break in which he was gelded and underwent a wind operation. Prior to this he finished a long way beaten on five consecutive occasions after a strong runner-up effort last April.

Back last month at Musselburgh, off for 235 days, he caught the eye for the way he finished after a less than ideal way the race developed for him from the start.

He was desperately unlucky next time over the same course and distance and that performances warranted an upgrade as the one before, especially as both runs came on softish ground.

No doubt Gioia Cieca is a better horse on decent ground. His two best career performances can on fast ground over 7 furlongs. Therefore the ground should be ideal, as long as the rain forecast doesn’t result in a deluge.

10pts win – Gioia Cieca @ 8/1

……..

6.15 Hamilton: Class 6 Handicap, 5f

Spanish Angel is so dramatically well handicapped, he really should win this…. if he can get up the hill at Hamilton. Mews House also looks dangerous off the same mark as his recent close 2nd place finish, but he may prefer a bit of rain.

In contrast, Spanish Angel will hope the rain stays away and it rides as decent ground, which looks likely right now. That will see him improve a number of pounds on his recent strong performances.

He just failed in a three-way finish at Chelmsford last week, when runner-up behind a well-handicapped winner. Prior that he caught the eye thanks to a huge performance at Catterick on softish ground.

The widest draw was probably a disadvantage that day, nonetheless he made strong progress from 3f out against the stands’ rail and finished best of his group there.

He confirmed the strong AW form that he was in all winter. He seems to be on a lenient turf mark compared to his AW mark, because there’s no way that 10lb worse. He certainly isn’t, judged on judged on speed ratings.

10pts win – Spanish Angel @ 5/2

………..

8.26 Hamilton: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

If this would be a furlong shorter I’d have supreme confidence that Basholo is going to win. The additional furlong and the stiff finish make me doubtful.

I have been weighing up the pros and cons all day and ultimately feel at given prices she is worth a bet in this race.

Not much else is hear to fear. Macho pride, the obvious one candidate to spoil the party, of course. Otherwise, Basholo herself is her biggest danger.

The filly has tons of speed and she showed it last time at Ayr. She burned through the first couple of furlongs and tired understandably. Nonetheless, I was impressed with her attitude to fight all the way to the line.

This is an easier race and she continues to race off a career-lowest mark. The likely decent ground is what she wants, and if Zak Wheatley can set slightly more conservative fractions early on she should have a decent chance to stay all the way to the line.

10pts win – Basholo @ 6/1