Tag Archives: Newbury

Saturday Selections – 19th August 2017

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Great Sound made my Friday. Superb win, different class in his race. Shame that Dreaming Time faded badly in the home straight when seemingly travelling well for most of the time. Owen The Law was a non-runner.

Big weekend ahead – I may shove my ass down to the Curragh on Sunday in fact – however Saturday looms large with a tremendous amount of great racing. Winx already kicked us off with a special performance in the Warwick Stakes this morning over in Australia, Arrogate will follow tonight, whereas there are some compelling Stakes races on offer in the UK and Ireland.

However I set my sights, as so often, on the slightly lower end of the class scale. Here we go!

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3.15 Ripon: Class 2 Handicap, 6f

Big and wide open sprint handicap, I feel Right Touch with Franny Norton on board is a massive price to give a bit of a chance here. He is down to his last winning mark, and while ideally the ground would be a bit softer, he does run well on genuine good ground.

He’s been not setting the world alight this season yet, mostly campaigned over 7f. The drop down to 6f should suit him, though, and given he is a also a course winner means at 25’s it is worth a nibble.

Selection:
10pts win – Right Touch @ 25/1 Bet365

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4.05 Newbury: Maiden Stakes , 1m 4f

Those with experience haven’t achieved an awful lot I feel, so to give a newcomer a chance isn’t that big a deal. John Gosden’s Gns750k yearling with the slightly unflattering name Erdogan, is a super interesting newcomer, one we have waited a long time to see.

A son of Frankel out of the superb Dar Re Mi who already has produced noticeable stakes performers no less so with So Mi Dar, Erdogan boosts the most magnificent pedigree.

Whether he is ready to go we will find out today, but given we’re midway through the season with some big targets on the horizon, one would think he has to run well today in order to have a chance to compete in the big stake races in autumn.

Selection:
10pts win – Erdogan @ 7/2 Coral

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4.40 Newbury: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 2f

Black Bolt bolted up on his second career start in a Kempton maiden back in December. Not seen since fitness is taken on trust.

However he has the pedigree to do well as a three year old and should enjoy the step up in trip to 10f. His sire Cape Cross has a significant record in softish conditions at this track too.

An opening mark of 82 in a race where the main rivals are seemingly older horses could be lenient.

Selection:
10pts win – Black Bolt @ 13/2 William Hill

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4.45 Doncaster: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 2f

Bidding for a hat-trick, Barwell can easily find still a bit more and is very dangerous here, however I’m firmly in the Alfarris camp. The Shamardal son is still lightly raced and has improved with each run after landing an All-Weather maiden earlier this year.

His runner-up performance at Chelmsford in May rates strongly with the form book and his subsequent run at Ascot in a hot class 2 Handicap is equally a strong performance. He was carried to the left by the eventual winner over 2f out but more importantly looked disorganized which meant he could not finish closer than 4th.

Head-gear applied for the first time should help in this case, he also drops back to suitable 10f and quite a bit in class. He could have too much on his plate for this lot I feel.

Selection:
10pts win – Alfarris @ 10/3 Bet365

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5.35 Ripon: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 4f

Chocolate Box looks ready to strike and may regret betting against him, however Sole Mission is equally a sporting chance, however a better price and has already proven he can get his head in front.

So he did at Carlisle on his penultimate start in excellent fashion. Things did not quite work out the next time however we can probably draw a line through that run and give him another chance.

He has been improving this season which one would expect from a very late May foal. Being a hold up horse is something i usually feel not totally comfortable betting on, however his sire Sea The Stars boots a tremendous record at this track.

Selection: 
10pts win – Sole Mission @ 7/1 Bet365

Friday Selection: 18th August 2017

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No luck on Thursday. Beaten in second but certainly fair and square by a better horse was Call Me Grumpy, whereas Grand Myla never got a chance from her position and was hardly touched by Ryan Moore and looked more like a ride where winning was not necessarily the main thing on his mind.

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1.20 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Nursery, 5f

Poor race that is open for an upset. Owen The Law is an interesting All-Weather debutante, who has the pedigree to improve a good bit for the switch to this surface being a half-brother to a fair AW performer in Bazguy and his sire Equianio boosting a strong record with juveniles over the minimum trip at Wolverhampton.

First time visored, also dropping in trip, class and mark, with his latest form looking slightly better than the bare results suggests given it has been franked multiple times by horses around Owen The Law, I believe he can run a big race for a big price.

Selection:
10pts win – Owen The Law @ 18/1 Bet365

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3.10 Newbury: Class 3 Handicap, 1m 5f

Great Sound is one of two three year olds in this field but certainly the more promising one of the two. He is still very lightly raced and showed plenty of greenness in his two career starts to date.

He made a habit of breaking badly, which might be less a problem in the race today, stepping up another couple of furlongs which on pedigree does not look unlikely to suit.

He won on debut when giving his rider a hard time but eventually motored home in impressive style. He followed up with a third place albeit a good way beaten on handicap debut what looked a hot race with the impressive winner franking the form subsequently.

Great Sounds looks one who has still much more to give on his only third career start, he remains on the same mark which appears fair and the new trip can work in his favour.

Selection: 
10pts win – Great Sound @ 3/1 Bet365

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4.30 Wolverhampton, Class 5 Handicap, 9.5f

James Tate usually does incredibly well with his starters at Wolverhampton during this time of the year. So it looks significant that he pitches new recruit Dreaming Time into this wide open looking Handicap.

The filly is now in his care after leaving Hugo Palmer for whom she won a maiden at Lingfield but result wise disappointed on handicap debut at Chelmsford. However things didn’t go her way that day and it was a very hot race.

Back after a break for the new trainer she drops 4lb as well as two classes. So this should be much easier and the step up in trip to 9.5f seems a smart move. If she is race fit she must have a better chance than her price suggests to go close here.

Selection:
10pts win – Dreaming Time @ 10/1 Bet365

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

Crystal Ocean – a Derby contender?

It’s been quite an excellent week – another one, I dare to say – as Dakota Gold went in at 12/1 and did so in fine fashion. Enjoy as long as it lasts…. desperate times may be around the corner at any given point as the past has taught.

Betting aside, it’s bee a huge day for racing. The jumps still feature big time, despite May only days away. The Scottish National was on the cards today, and one I fancied allot for Aintree, who then fell at the very first fence, made amends here and made it back to back victories in the Scottish equivalent: Vicente!

At Newbury we saw a potential 2000 Guineas contender – a serious one, most likely. Barney Rot looks a brute of a horse and overcame inexperience to score readily in the Greenham Stakes for his daddy Exelebration who himself was runner-up in this race who then went on to win the German Guineas subsequently.

Bareny Rot, though, will run at Newmarket and must be a serious contender if he turns up healthy. He’s now a mere 6/1 chance and should be ready for a step up to the 1 mile trip. That says I remain firmly in the Al Wukair camp, of course!

We may saw a different Classics contender at Nottingham: in the 6.30 Maiden the well fancied Sea The Stars colt Crystal Ocean impressed me with an easy victory in what appeared not a bad race at all. But he did it so nicely, all hands and heels. A bright future lies ahead?

Possibly. He is certainly bred to be a really good horse. Crystal Ocean is closely related to the excellent Crystal Capella and the Derby trial might be next on the agenda now that’ll give us a better idea of how good he really is.

It’s noteworthy that Crystal Ocean is trained by shrewd Sir Michael Stoute who certainly knows how to get one ready for the big day. With a muddy Derby picture at this point in time I’ll do have a small nibble at 40’s – he may not run, but if he does, this price could easily look incredibly big.

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4.55 Navan: Class 1 Handicap, 1m 2f

Prendergast’s Althiba is one who looks ready to step up and take advantage of a fair looking mark after a fine placed effort on her seasonal debut. However I feel the top weight Massif Central could easily do the same but offers much better value at a huge price.

Massif Central ran pretty well in maiden company, achieving mid-80 RPR’s that make his handicap mark appear fair. However on handicap debut which was also his seasonal comeback he started awkwardly and was soon relegated to the back of the field. He didn’t really look comfortable throughout and turning widest didn’t help either.

He still ran better than the bare form suggests, though this looked more like a pipe opener than anything else. On the other hand he seems physically improved. A fine, biggish, scopey colt, who now steps up to 10f for the first time.

Not a given that he stays the trip, but there is a fair chance he does and if that turns out to be true than it is not unreasonable to believe he can improve for his second seasonal run too. If same happens then he could be a bit better than his current rating. Also this is an easier race than the other day plus the better ground should suit.

With a top jockey in the saddle I feel connections expect a big run from this Arcano son – at 12’s he seems quite a bit overpriced in an open race.

Selection:
10pts win – Massif Central @ 12/1 Paddy Power

Rachel Alexandra – Filly for the Ages

CONGRATULATIONS! Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta – two of racing’s most spectacular equine superstars of the past –  have been inducted into racing’s hall of fame (to be precise: the ‘National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga’).

These two female racehorses, both at the peak of their craft in the one memorable year of 2009, never actually met at the race track, yet their stories are so closely intertwined as both captured the imagination of racing fans across the globe at the very same time.

Unfortunately the eagerly anticipated duel of the two greats never materialised – never at a race track at least. Now, there’s a saying, though, you’re either in one or the other camp; a Rachel fanboy/girl or a Zenyatta fanboy/girl… it’s the ever ongoing discussion, the human battle of arguments for and against: who’s been the better one?

You can’t have not an opinion. To say “ah well both are great horses” doesn’t cut it. So here’s my view on it.

The short answer is: there can’t be a doubt Rachel Alexandra was the better horse!

The long answer is: it’s not so easy. Zenyatta won plenty of races, won in awesome style and landed the Breeders Cup Classic – and take nothing away from her – she was an outstanding race horse.

Yet, if it comes to sheer brilliance, resilience, determination, will power and of course the all important looks – Rachel wins hands down!

2009: it was her year: Unbeaten in eight races, five Grade 1’s, beaten the boys in the Preakness, Haskell, and Woodward as a three year old filly – this unparalleled campaign is probably only matched by all-time legend Sea The Stars!

I can’t state enough that this is only my opinion. In this debate, I guess, there is no right and wrong.

And I totally accept others in their view, claiming Zenyatta’s longevity of a career spanning over 20 races, with 19 victories, most of them in Grade 1 company, only marred by an agonisingly close defeat on the very last day of her career, give her the nod – and I agree, this was an outstanding career from an outstanding horse….

…. yet purely from an emotional point of view I never quite warmed up to her in the same way as I did to Rachel Alexandra. And isn’t that what racing is about? Beside everything else of course. But it’s not all about the betting, and the dream of making some bob on the nags – no, it’s also the sheer beauty of the sport when you witness these special creatures producing special moments.

This special moment – when I fell in love with Rachel Alexandra – it was the first May of 2009, a hot summers day. It’s was been only a bit more than a year that I followed closely the sport of horse racing and back then I was still living in Germany.

Still, I remember it vividly, sitting in front of the laptop, the grainy Racebets stream open – there was this ridiculously short priced favourite in the big race so I threw some Euros on Flying Spur, the second favourite.

Not the wisest investment. Soon it become clear why there was this one filly, called Rachel Alexandra, three to one on in the betting – she slaughtered the field!

She turns for home and Calvin Borel glimpses over his shoulder, the rest of the field is labouring hard but his filly’s still hard on the bridle…. and then…. the ‘WOW’ moment I’ll never forget…..

Still hard held, with every ease in the world she finds another gear, suddenly, so smoothly, she puts the whole world between herself and the rest of the field. WOOOOWW!!!

Horses are special – Rachel Alexandra is extra special. She went on to produce more memorable moments the same year. In the Woodward, the Preakness and the Haskell, then against the boys, fighting through some gruelling finishes she came out always on top.

It took a toll on her. The next season she clearly wasn’t the same. But who can begrudge her? She’s done it all, she showed the world how good she is, Rachel had nothing to prove. She gave us enormous pleasure – to ask her for even more would be greedy.

And so she retired, as the one filly that I’ll keep close to my heart as a racing fan forever and ever.

I want to end this piece with a recommendation to sit back, relax and enjoy this wonderful video below, showing all her big wins – it still gives me chills, even after watching it probably a hundred times by now. Rachel Alexandra: a filly for the ages!

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Saturday Selections:

3.20 Newmarket: Fashaak @ 20/1 Coral
2.30 Newbury: Frankuus @ 4/1 Skybet

Photo: Copyright Daily News

Preview: Hennessy Gold Cup

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3.00 Newbury: Hennessy Gold Cup (Grade 3 Handicap)

It’s great to see Bobs Worth back as a contender for a big race. His prep over hurdles when beating Simonsing was encouraging but I find it hard to trust him to back it up stepping up to 3m plus in a much tougher race.

Ante-post favourite Saphir Du Rheu has top credentials. His trainer knows what it takes to win the race. The six year old could still be on the up and looked striving on his seasonal debut. That says 11-12 is a tough ask and it needs a special performance.

I struggle to see why Smad Place is as short as he is, as in my mind he will struggle in a deep race like this off a big weight. If In Doubt has still not too many miles on the clock for a seven year; he could bounce back given he’s on a handy mark.

Ned Stark and The Young Master will enjoy this test of stamina in soft conditions. Both have fair credentials and could still have a bit more to offer.

Seemingly not too much love from the punters gets last years Hennessy runner-up Houblon Des Obeaux. True, his seasonal return late in October wasn’t all too encouraging, but also not completely off putting, given another crack at the Hennessy was always the target.

He was a fine second behind subsequent Grand National winner Many Clouds but is one pound lower rated today. If in the same sort of form he must have a big chance given he backed this run up with two other strong performances subsequently.

Houblon Des Obeaux @ 14/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win

Newbury Preview: St Simon Stakes

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2.25 Newbury: St Simon Stakes (Group 3), 1m 4f

Hard to put much face into any of the nine horses – although Romsdal, judged on his placed efforts, would be an obvious pick. But his strike rate is poor, and the fact that he only won on the Kempton All-Weather and never really excelled in similar races like this today means he is one to oppose.

Favourite filly Koora is a likeable, lightly raced sort with room for further improvement. But given what she has done so far it’s impossible to see any value in her 5/2 price tag.

I like Rawaki from the older horses. He has a profile to do well here, if in the right mood. You definitely can’t rule out progressive three year old filly Melodious either, though she has to prove that she can win on this level over a trip that far.

The most intriguing contender, and clearly the one with the most scope for improvement, is three times raced Moderah. She comes into this race as a relatively fresh individual, having only two starts this season. She made a big impression when getting off the mark last month in a Leicester maiden. Travelling all over her modest rivals, finding plenty when given a tiny bit of reign in the final furlong.

Obviously she has it all to prove, stepping up dramatically in trip. But with the fair chance of improvement this seemingly talented individual makes loads of appeal to me. In the context of the race I believe she is too big a price.

Moderah @ 6/1 Bet365 – 5pts Win