Competitive race but Dandy Dinmont looks potentially the one with the biggest upside. This is a slightly easier race than the one he caught my eye in last time at Beverley.
That day he made good progress throughout travelling notably well for the majority of the race, even though he looked a little bit keen in the first furlong. He had to delay his challenge but eventually made strong progress from 2 furlongs out. It got a bit tight in the final furlong on the inside and he wasn’t knocked about when the race was gone. He also was the only one making a significant impression from off the pace.
It was clear improvement from his seasonal reappearance which was better than the bare form suggest too. He showed a bit of progress as a juvenile but got injured in August and only returned at Doncaster last month after 267 days off the track.
He’s still lightly enough raced and an April foal to think he will progress with time and experience. He should be 100% fit today, is a pound lower than the last time, in an easier race – big chance.
If.… that is a big if: he acts on rain softened ground. With the rain expected to come, the currently fast ground may turn soft. Not sure it’s what he wants. Risk and reward. At given prices I am prepared to run the risk.
Two of my eyecatchers run here but the market clearly speaks in favour of Pop Dancer. That’s the one I preferred looking at the race last night anyway. Secretfact will have another day on turf over fast 5f soon, hopefully.
The money has been coming for Pop Dancer all morning, and even though I missed all the big prices, the move gives me confidence today is the day.
The 5-year-old caught my eye in a wild 5 furlong sprint at Epsom last month which Mokaatil won. The form looks good through the winner and third having run well in the meantime.
That day Pop Dancer was one of those who travelled strongly but didn’t find a gap when needed at a crucial stage of the race. He also fell down the camber late, even though the bird was flown at that time anyway.
Pop Dancer hasn’t set the world alight in the last year or so. Consequently he’s a long way down in the ratings. But I feel this most recent run was much better than the bare result. His previous topspeed ratings give him a great chance of his current 67 mark with his wellbeing confirmed.
He handles the All-Weather, is down in class 5 and has a good draw to attack the race from. I never like to see Luke Morris in the saddle and the stable form is a real concern. But there is more to like today than not about his chance with prices still too big.
10pts win – Pop Dancer @ 9/1
4.20 Musselburgh: Class 6 Handicap, 1m
The favourite remains potentially well handicapped and has been given a big chance by the handicapper to make it two wins from his last three runs. But he has to stretch out over a mile and had already three hard runs in about three weeks.
When Rum Going On won at Musselburgh two back Cobra Kai was big eyecatcher for me. He had a horrible race then, hampered in the early parts of the race and severely lit up, not getting a clear run in the home straight too, yet finishing well in third place given circumstances.
That was an excellent follow-up performance from his solid seasonal reappearance at Newcastle. Cobra Kai is certainly in fine form and appears to be improving.
He tackles the mile for the first time. I have not many worries on pedigree. He should stay and should find improvement for it. The key question is whether he can settle. He may burn out early. My hope is Andrew Mullen goes forward from his good draw and let the gelding find a rhythm.
Despite being a maiden, I have a strong feeling Cobra Kai is quite a bit better than a 49 official rating. If he can improve for the trip as I expect him to do he could make a mockery of this mark.
A busy weekend of flat action is behind us. Some exciting prospects were unleased at Newbury in particular. Non more so caught the eye than the return of Perfect Power.
No doubt: it was the performance of the weekend. It was impossible not to be impressed by Perfect Power’s Greenham Stakes victory. Perfect it was. Powerful too! He was a top-class juvenile, so it was even more pleasing to see him having trained on.
Perfect Power has inherited all the blistering speed of his lightning fast dad Ardad, but has the stamina to stretch out over 7 furlongs. He settled well on Saturday and finished strongly.
The run was worth a fine topspeed rating of 97. And he did that as easy as you like, I felt. Christophe Soumillon didn’t have to get too serious: two light flicks of the whip to keep Perfect Power focused in the final 200 yards.
With that in mind, this performance is probably close to equal to his strong Group 1 victories last year (101 and 105 TS respectively).
2000 Guineas – yes or no? I lean toward “no”. He simply shows so much speed. Can he conserve that for an additional furlong? Maybe. You have to run to find it out. It sounds like connections are leaning toward finding it out at Newmarket next month.
Perfect Power is as low as 8/1 for the Guineas. Though, he would have to ride without my money. Over six or seven furlongs, though, he’s gonna be a key player this season, I reckon.
A quick word on All-Weather Champions Day. It took place at Newcastle on Friday. The novelty has worn off, for sure. And Newcastle, albeit a nice and pretty fair track, is visually just not that exciting. The way the races develop is basically all the same.
It didn’t spark my interest this time. Nonetheless, it’s worth reviewing some of the performances. And none more so than the run of Tiber Flow in the 3 Year Old All-Weather Championships Conditions Stakes.
The William Haggas trained colt ran to a 103 topspeed rating without having the clearest of runs. The way he finished – visuals are backed up by incredibly strong sectionals, and the overall race time was faster than the Sprint Championships on the same card too – suggests a huge engine, which will have more to offer when he steps up in trip again.
Tiber Flow is still unexposed and lightly raced – this was only his fourth lifetime start. I am so excited to see what the son of Caravaggio can do next. He looks a Group 1 horse in the making.
I will write in more detail on that particular race and Tiber Flow in the next edition of Eye-Catchers.
4.11 Wolverhampton – Class 4 Handicap, 6f
A competitive field of eleven horses, but also one where not too many appear to be well handicapped at all. The one that is down to a rather sexy mark on past form is Chief Little Hawk, though.
He was a big eye-catcher for me at Southwell last time out. As mentioned then, the way he finished in the closing stages from the back of the field in a race dominated by the two pace setters wasn’t what you normally would see from a 40/1 shot.
He wasn’t even hard ridden in the final stages of the race, yet was the third fastest finisher from two furlongs out, according to sectionals – underlying the visual impression.
Since moving yards away from Aiden O’Brien over to Jamie Osborne Chief Little Hawk has rarely been fancied in the betting. He was long odds most of the time, and still managed to finish 4th, only 1.5 lengths beaten as a 50/1 outsider, in a class 2 Handicap at Newmarket of a mark of 94 last August.
He has fallen significantly in the ratings in the meantime. He is now down to an 82 OR and drops down to class 4. He showed some promise on the All-Weather this winter, without ever getting close. But this most recent run is the key sign for me to suggest he’s ripe to win.
Six furlongs looks the ideal trip I believe. Whether Wolverhampton is the ideal track remains to be seen. He can be awkward out of the gates, and I firmly believe you don’t want to be too far behind in a big field around this track.
Nonetheless, there is a bit of positivity in the betting market today, with money coming this morning. Highly capable Saffie Osborne takes the ride and claims valuable 3lb. That should help with defying top weight from a good draw in gate 4.
You can never expect a big run with these type of horses that have fallen from early heights. But I am rather hopeful for a big run because this lad is more likely than not well handicapped.
Navarra Princess returns from a break hence it remains to be seen how fit she is today. On the other hand she can’t fall lower in the ratings and given as low as she is (even though running 1lb OOW) she has potentially a better chance than prices suggest to go close.
Interestingly she has an entry for later this week also (“quickfire double?”). Most compelling is the fact she returns to the preferred 7 furlong trip as we as to Chelmsford, where the filly has achieved a career best topspeed rating in the past. She also ran four times to higher TS than her 46 mark she’s racing off today.
The draw isn’t a positive here but was is the return of headgear: Navarra Princess performed really well with a tongue tie in the past (six from eight in the money) which appears to be a significant addition today after it was left off before her break.
10pts win – Navarra Princess @ 13/1 MB
7.00 Chelmsford: Class 6 Handicap, 6f
The likes of Griggy and Invisible Storm are of high interest here, but another filly in the name of Valley Belle appears to have found a superb opportunity to find back to the winning ways.
The 3-year-old is a course and distance winner as her sole career success came here twelve months ago of a 3lb lower mark. I believe she is potentially well handicapped tonight, not necessarily on the basis of that piece of form but the fact she second time up after a break and has fallen to a 52 official rating now.
Valley Belle three best performances on the clock all come here over this CD where she has run to topspeed 54 and 57 (2x). With a low draw to play and attack from tonight I feel she has a massive chance if in the mood, granted she has plenty of miles on the clock for 3-year-old April foal.
It was impossible to get on the early prices but I believe Rickyroadboy is still a superb bet in this race.
With the ground coming up soft it should be perfect over the minimum trip for Rickyroadboy, who’s fitted with a visor for the first time and can be expected to go hard from the front here, which we have seen on Sunday certainly wasn’t a disadvantage over the sprint trips at Hamilton.
That aside, Rickyroadboy is superbly well-handicapped. He started the season of a 13lb higher mark and has sharply fallen after three consequentially poor efforts. That is the nagging doubt, of course, that he showed nothing at all in the last number of weeks. However, earlier this season, he performed rather well.
Certainly in the context of this race and his current handicap rating of 55, given he is 4lb lower than his last winning mark but also ran two times this season to 55+ topspeed ratings (plus an RPR of 70).
With conditions likely to suit, new headgear, potentially a tactical advantage, a field where nothing else really stands out and a lowly handicap mark, Rickyroadboy looks ready for a big run.
Escape The City continues to disappoint when expected to run much better. As evens favourite she was beaten in a small field wen last seen – however, she takes another drop in the mark and also moved down to class 5.
Fast ground and 10 furlongs look like an ideal scenario for her. Now down to a rating of 70 the filly is a full 10lb lower than when she started the season. Largely in hotter races this year she wasn’t beaten all that far, actually, suggesting she has retained some ability.
Last season Escape The City ran four times to topspeed ratings of 70 plus, which means any return to form – although maybe running to that sort of level she ran to in higher grade of higher marks earlier this year may also be good enough – will see her go really close in this race.
Freckles looks the main danger in my book. Having won last time out and having ran to a higher tospeed rating than turned out here under a penalty earlier this year, she remains a lively chance.
But I stick with Escape The City, who appears to have a prime chance to get her head in front today. The jockey booking is the cherry on the cake so to speak, given how strongly Hollie Doyle is riding at the moment.