Tag Archives: Minding

Blockbuster Monday

Blockbuster Monday: The Group 1 Prix Ganay at St. Cloud is the headline act, but no doubt most eyes will be glued to the action at Naas.

The County Kildare course has picked up another high quality card thanks to the Curragh redevelopment tomorrow with the highlight no doubt the Mooresbridge Stakes where we gonna see wonder mare Minding back in action!

We know how good she is and therefore even more intriguing could be the return of stable mate Johannes Vermeer. Back after a half year long lay-off – he also had only one run last season – the winner of the 2015 Criterium International is an exciting prospect for the class of the older horses.

Betting wise, though, my eyes turn to Beverley in England. Not an overly exciting card there, however I really fancy one horse over there quite a bit….


4.50 Beverley: Class 4 Handicap, 8.5f

There is every chance that the top two in the betting are both on marks underestimating their true class, however Carnageo is a better price and I prefer him given I liked his seasonal reappearance at Doncaster earlier this month. allot

Carnageo won three times last season, though he only got up by narrow margins the last two, still it’s fair to say he improved extremely well during his three year old campaign. His final performance at Nottingham over 8.5f given the form delivered five individual winners subsequently and the runner-up is now 8lb higher rated.

Probably stretching his stamina to the max, Carnegeo travelled well at Doncaster three weeks ago and seemingly came with a big challenge from three furlongs out, however he hit a wall inside the final furlong and was eventually eased.

The drop down to 8.5f should suit and with race fitness ensured he might still be able to pull out a bit more. Only the faster than ideal ground is a real question mark for me.

10pts win – Carnegeo @ 9/2 William Hill

British Champions Day or the end of the flat

Ascot Grand Stand, by Florian Christoph

British Champions Day is synonymous with the end of the flat season – hard to believe but the end of 2016 renewal is nearly upon us! It certainly passed me in the blink of an eye – or so it felt!

Honestly, I never really got into it. I missed out on many big days. Was just too busy with other stuff. I went to the Curragh just twice. Which is a crying shame.

Take simply: I never got emotionally involved in this season at all.

It didn’t help – I guess – my betting was brutal the first half of the season, slightly improved in the second half, though without ever coming close to making something like a profit.

Gotta to get going in the All-Weather season again, which usually works quite well if I put in the time and the effort. It’s something I enjoy. But for one last time, let’s have a look at those races of British flat season that do stand out.

Thoughts and selections are below – follow them may lead to bankruptcy. So do it on your own responsibility:

2.00 Ascot: Don’t Touch E/W @ 66/1 Coral (1/5, 5places)

Wide open race and Don’t Touch is surely not a prime chance in this competitive race, given he has yet to prove his class beyond listed level. Nonetheless he’s a speedy sort with an impressive record over six furlongs and if the first time blinkers can edge out a bit of improvement then he is in with a shout to content for the placing at least.

2.35 Ascot: Zhukova @ 5/1 Bet365

Potentially a minefield this race, but Dermot Weld’s filly has the right profile to win it.
Still not too many miles on the clock, lightly raced this year while unbeaten in 2016, she usually is not too far off the pace which I feel could be crucial today.

3.10 Ascot: Hit It A Bomb @ 25/1 Ladbrokes

Hasn’t hit the heights of last season in  two starts since his return, but may improve from those two runs and the light season could be an advantage today if he is still as good as he promised to be as a juvenile. Conditions should suit him. Of course he has a bit to find on form and the ratings with the likes of Minding and Galileo Gold.

However one shouldn’t forget they have had a hard and long season that started quite early as well, so they may well run not to their true form today. A bit improvement from HIAB and a bit regression from the key contenders, and the 25/1 looks a huge price.

3.45 Ascot: Jack Hobbs @ 14/1 Ladbrokes

It’s probably a stupid bet trusting a horse that has been pulled up when last seen over half a year ago, running after a long lay-off in a race as deep as this is. But regardless, I feel the price is too big. In theory Jack Hobbs should be getting better the older he gets.

Now more mature after a summer off, John Gosden can get his horses ready first time out and Jack Hobbs won FTO in the past – I like the fact that he should be in the right spot when they turning for home, given he is usually right up with the pace, so does not need in-running luck, which will inevitably play a role today for some of the more fancied runners.

4.05 Catterick: Machine Learning @ 5/1 Bet365

Fine winner on penultimate start, probably should have won under penalty the next time. Still on a fair mark and now heading to Catterick for the first time. Michael Bell has an excellent record here, even better with those he brings here for their first run at this odd track. Fine Apprentice is booked, trainer and jockey enjoy some success together – from bottom weight Machine Learning must have a big chance.

Epsom Review: Minding The Gap

A historic day for Irish trainer Dermot Weld, who celebrated a first Derby success thanks to his brilliant Sea The Stars colt Harzand, who followed in the footsteps of his prominent daddy, who himself now sired a first Epsom Derby winner!

It was not a trouble free preparation, though. In fact it was touch and go in the morning whether Harzand would take his chance in the most famous flat race and the ultimate call was actually with Pat Smullen cantering down to the start! He went into the starting gate, thankfully, as we know the outcome by now.

Under a masterful ride by jockey Pat Smullen – also for him a first Epsom Derby success – the inexperienced colt was patiently guided through the field; Smullen settled him in a good position somewhere in midfield and rode with a cool head when gaps didn’t open up immediately in the home straight.

Harzand ultimately fend off a late surge by favourite US Army Ranger. He dug deep and found another gear when it really mattered. Given all the foot problems beforehand, it was a brilliant performance!

And The Ranger, whom I’ve been so keen on? Finished runner-up with plenty of credit. He clearly proved to be a classy individual. However it didn’t go to plan for him. Ever so slightly, yet decisively, he missed the break and didn’t seem to travel particularly well early on, subsequently lost every chance to be in a decent position. In a race where small margins can be the deciding factor about victory and defeat this was surely a tough ask to overcome.

Good Ryan, Bad Ryan?

After the less than ideal start, Jockey Ryan Moore took it easy on US Army Ranger, settled in rear, relaxed the horse and let him find his rhythm. Commentator Richard Hoiles called it during the race: “Us Army Ranger is given time” – which was the only real option in my mind. He was still third last turning for home but Moore gradually edged to the outer of the field to get a run. Gaps didn’t open for him and only inside three furlongs Ranger finally got into the clear.

Winner Harzand was already flown towards home at this stage, still Ranger produced a stunning change of gear and loomed large with 200 yards to go. But the big effort to make up so much ground in such a short space of time showed its effect and he ran out of gas in the final furlong.

Ryan Moore has come under scrutiny for his ride on US Army Ranger. As often in this game, opinions are divided. In my view this was a class ride by the world’s best jockey. He proved, despite defeat, why he’s simply the best. In difficult circumstances he gave his mount the best possible chance to finish as close as possible. Not always is a winning ride a good one and a losing ride a bad one.

Sure, it wasn’t the game plan to travel as far back as second or third last for large parts of the race. But inexperienced Ranger didn’t help the cause when he bottled the start. What other option did Moore haven than let the horse find his stride, relax him and try to preserve as much energy as possible? Hustling him up to make up ground would have been detrimental to Ranger’s chance, in my mind.

The fact that gaps didn’t open up when Moore (and I as a punter) would have wanted it is not his fault. These things happen in racing. Imagine the gap would open up over 4f out though – Ranger cruises through it, and maybe wins the race. You know what happens then? Moore’s going to be the hero!

It wasn’t to be. The gap didn’t open, Moore had to delay and ask Ranger for an almighty effort when the road was finally clear. In the end it was all a bit too much for US Army Ranger who still finished second – what is in fact credit to his class and the one of his rider.

In the end inexperience cost him, and for that reason it’s fair to say the best horse on the day won. Harzand was more professional, mastered the difficult test Epsom provides and is without a doubt a really good winner of the world’s most famous flat race.

Minding and the Beauty of Racing

These last two days were yet again a wonderful reminder why I personally love flat racing so much. Yes, it was a disappointment not to back the winner  in the Derby with US Army Ranger, still I enjoyed the coverage, the races leading up to the big one, Postponed’s brilliant success in the Coronation Cup, the joy and emotions on Weld & Smullen’s faces after they won their first Derby….

However it was Friday’s performance by Minding in the Oaks that is the standout of the two days – she simply blew me away! When I saw her overcoming all the trouble in the Oaks, when I saw her blistering turn of foot, changing gears so smoothly like Formula 1 cars usually do, her wonderful attitude and enthusiasm – it was something else!

The speed, the beauty, the power, the elegance – it’s what flat racing is all about and it’s epitomized in this dramatically good looking and at the same time incredibly talented filly Minding. Her Oaks performance was one of those special racing moments you have to see to believe.

And no, I didn’t back her. It has nothing to do with money whatsoever. I’m just grateful for having witnessed her performance for the pure love of the sport. And on that front isn’t it  wonderful to know our sport is yet again blessed  with brilliant talents like Minding, Harzand and US Army Ranger? I love it!

Photo Credit to citizen.co.za

Preview: 1000 Guineas

Before a detailed look into the 1000 Guineas, let’s have a quick word about the first classic of the 2016 flat season. One could probably say the 2000 Guineas didn’t finish the way many would have foreseen it. Even though, hailing my own judgement, I called out Galileo Gold as a big runner as long as he handles the track. He clearly did!

Now, I still didn’t selected him to win, but that’s okay because as the world’s biggest Paco Boy fan I just get a thrill out of it solely on the emotional side of things. My beloved all-time favourite horse finally got his first Group 1 winner on the board as a sire. He stands for a small fee at Highclere Stud these days – this will hopefully see him getting some classy mares in the future.

Back to the 2000 Guineas winner, Galileo Gold. He didn’t have it all that easy from his draw, but Frankie gave him a peach of a ride. The horse travelled like a dream throughout and quickened in taking style. You got to be impressed! Next stop Derby? Maybe. Connections believe he could stay the much longer trip

I’m not in the same camp yet, have to see it to believe it. Let’s not forget Paco Boy himself was a star miler, but probably got the trip only because of the patience of his rider, Richard Hughes. In my book he was always a 7 furlong specialist, stretched out to the mile.

The red hot favourite Air Force Blue was brutally disappointing. “Probably overtrained” was the explanation from Aiden O’Brien. Maybe he simply didn’t trained on at all? I’ll give him another chance because in all fairness, when I saw him at the Curragh earlier this year, he looked like a bigger, stronger horse, ready to do some damage in top class company this year.

I loved the run of stable companion Air Vice Marshal. He ran a heck of a race and I expect him to come on dramatically for the run. Once he gets quicker ground I can see him definitely being up to win a big race this year.


Preview: 1000 Gunieas

It’s the fillies’ turn today. The ground has dried out further – we’ve got genuinely good conditions at Newmarket. Again it’s a red-hot favourite from the Ballydoyle camp greeting from the top of the market: Minding.

And rightly so. On her two year old form you can’t oppose her. You can’t! A two-times Group 1 winner, ready to go on any ground, proven to get the trip as well as handling the Rowley Mile. A big, scopey filly, she looked super at the Curragh at the end of March too.

But we’ve seen it only 24h ago, that all can count for nothing. The performance today is what matters. And we don’t know whether she has improved over the winter until we see her showing it on the race track. Also, with these fillies, things are less straightforward than with the colts. I got to oppose her given her super short price-tag, even though I readily admit I may look foolish in a couple hours time.

What else’s in the race? 15 other fillies! A big field, and look no further for exciting opposition than Mark Johnston’s Lumiere. Winner of the Chevely Park Stakes, she’s got talent and speed but should also prove to have enough stamina to get the mile. Only thing is, her dam hasn’t produced anything of note yet.

Aiden O’Brien’s second and third string aren’t taken lightly. Ballydoyle – the filly – took longer than expected to hit full stride last season but finished the year on a high note landing a big Group 1 in France. She looked not quite as good as Minding when the two meat in the Moyglare, but it’s far from impossible that she’s able to turn the form around.

What I don’t like, and I said the same about Air Force Blue yesterday, is the tongue-tie, applied for the first time. There is often a reason for this, and it can be an indicator for some sort of a breathing problem. Doesn’t have to be, but can be and I’d be cautious.

Alice Springs is the least fancied of Aiden’s, though I like her allot! She was busy in the second half of 2015, a bit an unlucky runner-up in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf but clearly talented, scopey frame and there wasn’t much wrong with her return earlier this month; a fair third at Leopardstown in a Guineas trial. In fact it looked a lovely pipe opener in my eyes.

That day, on bottomless ground, it was difficult to make up ground from behind so the bird was flown early on but Alice Springs stayed on nicely. The mile trip doesn’t pose any concern, but the good ground is something she’ll definitely like.

Nell Gwyn winner Nathra is an exciting prospect. She has a run under her belt, has clearly trained on and is open to further improvement. Plus I really loved the way she cruised through the field in the Nell Gwyn, gliding through like a hot knife through butter. But you wonder whether a hotly contested mile is a bit too far for her stamina wise?

The Nell Gwynn looks a key trial nonetheless. Robanne stayed on late in third after being pretty badly outpaced from over three furlongs out. She gives the impression of a filly crying out for a trip. Mix And Mingle was right there too, finished 4th but looked outpaced as well and very much laboured. Both don’t strike me as Guineas winners.

Jim Bolger had plenty of placed runners but no winners for quite some time now. He’s due to win one pretty soon. Can Turret Rocks be the one? She was a smart juvenile – winner of the Group 2 Marry Hill and runner-up to Ballydoyle in the Prix Marcel Boussac. Her current rating puts her right in the mix here, although she’s certainly not a flashy type.

Whether French raider Midweek can transfer her best to drying Newmarket ground is debatable. I’d be concerned. Her best form came on very soft ground up until now. The same goes for Jet Setting. A fine winner of the Irish 1000 Guineas trial, though on heavy ground. Her only other win also came on a very deep surface.

I should mention speedy Zoffany daughter Illuminate. Already a multiple Group winner over 6f, she wasn’t disgraced at the Breeders Cup when stepping up to a mile. That day she seemed to hit a wall in the closing stages and I find it hard to see her getting the trip.

Verdict: On last years form it’s hard to look past Minding. But she is short enough to take her on, particularly with equally exciting stable mate Alice Springs, who certainly overpriced at around 20’s.

I do like Nathra a lot, though the drying ground and step up in trip is a concern and making a second selection here against the hot favourite I prefer the Bolger filly Turret Rocks. She probably gets further in time and seems very much one paced, but at the same time she’s tough and genuine and can outrun her price tag of 25/1.