Tag Archives: Newmarket

A Weekend To Remember

What a roller-coaster week. Culminating in an emotional and dramatic weekend that included a 16/1 winning selection for the 1000 Guineas as well as a winner in the Kentucky Derby that was no winner half an hour later and a superstar on the other side of the globe far too few people have heard of yet!

Throw in a couple of unlucky 2nd places and a 2000 Guineas result that left me wonder “what if” and you’ve certainly got a few days to remember!

2000 Guineas: What Draw Bias?!

Horses loading for the first Classic of the 2019 flat season, a last few words from Johnny Murtagh on ITV: he’s now leaning toward Magna Grecia based on his observation of the existence of a draw bias in favour of the stands-side.

A few minutes later Twitter was running hot as Magna Grecia passed the line in front of everyone else, indeed. The colt trained by Aiden O’Brien – of course – won the battle of his small group on the stand-side, far away from the rest of the field, comfortably. And because his side was always ahead throughout the race he won the 2000 Guineas rather comfortably in the end.

My selection Skardu ran a massive race and finished 3rd, winning the race in his much larger group. I guess, ideally we wouldn’t have this discussion now and instead we’d have seen a “fair” race. But this is racing. Happened in the past. Will happen again.

Whether there was a draw bias I am not so sure. Most likely there was a pace bias, though. And this had the most profound impact on the outcome of the race. This is certainly something that occurs any given day. If you’re drawn close to the pace and you follow it you always have a better chance of winning than not.

Smarter people will be able to explain all the exact reasons behind it in greater detail than I can or want right now. But that is a racing fact.

On balance I believe – at least over 1 mile – there is little between Magna Grecia and Skardu, and possibly Madhmoon. Will we see a re-match at the Curragh in a few weeks time? Magna Grecia is bound for the first Irish Classic. Wouldn’t it be nice to see these three meet there again? I’d love to see that!

Derby Delight Turns Sour

I live for these big races. The anticipation building over the whole day leading up to the moment when the gates crash open – pure excitement!

Normally I’m neither too high nor too low watching bred and butter racing, regardless of betting, the winning or the losing. Big races get my blood flowing, though.

Getting up at 3am in the morning for the Melbourne Cup? No bother. I can’t sleep anyway because of all the butterflies in my stomach!

The Kentucky Derby is one of my favourite races of the entire year. The occasion, build-up and atmosphere transported thanks to the outstanding NBC coverage is simply stunning.

No different this Saturday night. I was cheering home my selection Maximum Security with passion – surely the neighbours enjoyed it too – pumping the first in the air as the colt crossed the line ahead of everyone else. And who wouldn’t? A 9/1 winner in the Kentucky Derby is something to shout about!

Then the dreaded words: “objection lodged…. hold on to your tickets”. What follows are replay after replay dissecting ever aspect of the final three furlongs of the 145 Kentucky Derby. It was obvious Maximum Security was the best horse in the race. The runner-up Country House had no right to be upset with the result. He wasn’t impeded at all!

But it was also obvious Maximum Security impeded other horses when shifting around when turning home. It could resulted in a pretty bad situation on a different day.

Taking that into consideration I can understand the disqualification. And given the strict US rules it probably was the right call in the end.

On the other hand, whether it is truly a fair call to take the race away from the horse that was quite clearly the best one in the race, because of shifting around in an incredibly tight situation, racing on the limit at the end of a tough contest, doing so on a sloppy surface….

After all these are animals, not robots who run straight on rails as if they’d be pre-programmed machines.

It all happens so fast, there are 150.000 people screaming, horses and riders fighting for space, whips flying around…. it’s racing, not chess. These things happen in the sport and the question that needs to be raised in these type of situations is: did the winner got an unfair advantage and did the runner-up lost because of this situation?

The answer is unequivocal NO in this instance.

Ultimately I feel Maximum Security should have kept the race. What a fairytale it would have been. A horse thought to be so bad he started his career in a $16k claimer, going to win the Kentucky Derby…..

The Best Ever? 

South Africa as produced a lot of fantastic race horses over the years. The likes of Variety Club or Igugu come to my mind, in particular. But there is a new kid on the block and he could be the best there ever was in South Africa – some already suggest!

Well, one thing is for sure: Hawwaam is an incredibly exciting colt, with a turn of foot you rarely see produced in such stunning manner. How he races away from his rivals in the closing stages, like it’s the easiest thing in the world, is nothing short of breathtaking.

I took note for the first time – and was immensely impressed –  when Hawwaam stepped into Grade 1 company for the first time in the SA Classic earlier this year as he arguably exploded in the final furlong putting a handful of lengths between himself and the rest in a matter of strides.

He followed up on Saturday in the Grade 1 Champions Challenge when stepping up to the 10 furlongs distance and he couldn’t have been more impressive. How often do you see a horse in a top-level contest travelling hard on the bridle approaching the final furlong and then shooting clear under hands and heels? This horse is special:

On to the Durban July now? He surly will go off a warm favourite. And only luck or the lack of can stop him there I reckon.

How great would it be to see this superstar travel the world?! And what a shame that it remains so difficult for South African horses to travel. In turn it means far too few people get to know these classy horses that race on the other side of the globe.

Wayne Lordan Defies the Stats

He was 1 for 42 rides in the UK for Aiden O’Brien and his mounts went off a 25/1 average SP – Wayne Lordan couldn’t have been an unlikelier hero in the 1000 Guineas today – at least judged by the numbers.

Riding the least fancied of the Ballydoyle string once more, Hermosa was a largely ignored runner coming into the race. You could back her at 20/1+ this morning.

I missed those massive prices, but still got 16s with only a few hours to go to the race when making her my sole selection for the 1000 Guineas.

All credit to Wayne Lordan, though. What superb ride: incredibly brave, at the same time keeping it simple, bouncing the filly out of the stalls sending her straight to the lead, knowing Hermosa would likely stay all day and night long.

And she did! She was gutsy, stuck to her guns when challenged and won well in the end. A supremely well bred filly, adds another big race success to her superstar family, given she is a full-sister to Group 1 winners Hydrangea and The United States.

It brings a hectic week to an end. I had 30 bets. Way too many. I go carried away on Monday in particular but was bailed out by New Show at Windsor, thankfully. 4 winners & 120pts profit this week – the highlight obviously Hermosa.

A week of what would have been. 10 placed horses, multiple of those beaten in tight finishes on the line. A winner in the Kentucky Derby that was taken away half an hour later.

Well…. onwards and upwards. 

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Sunday Selections: May, 5th 2019

Newmarket Rowley Mile False Rail

Read my 1000 Guineas Preview Here

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2.20 Newmarket: Group 2 Dahlia Stakes, 1m 1f

It’s a small field but it looks as wide open a race as some of those 16 runners + handicaps! Seriously, in my book Veracious is super skinny price. On ratings and form there is not much between ay of these, give and take two or three pounds, which can easily swing depending on how the race develops.

On time-speed ratings it’s the undervalued Nyaleti who comes out on top. Obviously, whether she’ll ever again run to 102 remains to be seen, but fact remains only Billesdon Brook is the other filly in the race having run to 100+, while the favourite’s best rating reads 95. Same goes for RPR’s where there is little between the market principles.

I’m firmly in the Nyaleti camp here, hoping she is ready to go. I feel the additional furlong will be beneficial to her. Form wise she is right up there. Runner-up when last seen in an Italian Group 1, placed in the Grade 1 QEII – when badly hampered turning for home – at Keeneland – the winner followed up with another Grade 1 since then as well – while having won the German 1000 Guineas last season.

Nyaleti has a big chance to land another pattern race today, with conditions no issue and a small field where I bank on Joe Fanning to get the pace right to suit his mount most.

Selection:
10pts win – Nyaleti @ 7/1 MB

…….

5.35 Gowran Park: 45-65 Handicap, 1 mile

All The Mollies has been knocking on the door lately, having ran like a horse handicapped to win if things only go a nudge more her way. Her two recent efforts at Dundalk can be upgraded to due to circumstances, while her mark has been left unchanged, which in turn gives her a big chance today returning to the turf.

The mare made an eye-catching reappearance on the All-Weather last months – clearly a tricky customer, she didn’t start to well and found herself squeezed for room halfway through the race, losing momentum for a second or so. Once in the clear she ran on well.

Improved with a run under her belt, All The Mollies set the early pace the next time, probably doing too much too early subsequently chasing the pace maker. The fact she fought on in gutsy style to go down only half a lengths beaten in the end rates highly in my book.

All The Mollies has been running to TS ratings of 56 twice in her career already, and returns to turf with a 9lb lower mark then she started last season, when she ran out a fine 4th place, only 2¼ lengths beaten in a Roscommon handicap of a 59 rating.

Her best efforts come with cut in the ground, so the softish going at Gowran Park today will suit.

Selection:
10pts win – All The Mollies @ 11/2 MB

Preview: 1000 Guineas 2019

Gleneagles

Year after year the 1000 Guineas appears to be a tricky puzzle to solve. In truth, I never have been able to connect all the pieces in a successful way. It’s one of those classics I’ll always get wrong.

I guess it simply turns out to be pretty tricky to predict the progress these fillies make over the winter and when – if – how much improvement they can find. Hence I take a swing at a bigger price today once more.

The filly I do quite like is Hermosa. She seems quite far down the pecking order, judged by jockey bookings and odds. Wayne Lordan is a fine jockey but clearly not one who’s riding the best of Aiden O’Brien’s string. 1 for 42 rides in the UK, an average SP of 25/1. The odds are clearly against this to change today.

Obviously I have zero insight in to what the filly shows at home. However, I hope, the fact Ballydoyle even brings Hermosa over to Newmarket counts as a vote of confidence that she has wintered well.

She comes here without a prep run. That doesn’t have to be an issue, as Saturday’s 2000 Guineas proved once more. Judged purely by juvenile form, Hermosa is not far behind the market principles, though, which in turns means her current price tag is well over the top.

This daughter of Galileo was a late May foal, so you would hope for improvement with age and time. Regardless, she proved a smart 2-year-old already:

3rd in the Moyglare Stud Stakes, she went on to win a Naas Group 3 in nice style, was then a good runner-up behind Idriessa – a leading fancy today – in the bet365 Mile here at Nemwarket, and finished 2018 with a superb runner-up effort in the Criterium International over 7 furlongs, racing the boys. 

Her career best time speed rating (93) and RPR (110) do not leave her with a lot to find to the leading fancies in the 1000 Guineas – any improvement on that will see her go close, if she is ready to run.

Selection:
10pts win – Hermosa @ 16/1 MB

Saturday Selections: May, 4th 2019

Twilight Son

Read my 2000 Guineas Preview Here

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2.30 Thirsk: Class 4 Handicap, 6f

I was keen on Paddy Power the last time at Ripon; although he didn’t win, he ran with credit in a hot contest that looks rock solid form. He dropped another pound since then – not that this will make a huge difference, but it means he’s fallen below his lowest winning mark now.

Paddy Power’s form is showing a downward trend in general, no doubt; I still believe he retains enough ability to win of his current mark. Let’s not forget he won a competitive York handicap of a 6lb higher mark-  and was an excellent 4th in a hot class 2 Handicap subsequently last summer.

Selection:
10pts win – Paddy Power @ 15/2 MB

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2.40 Goodwood: Class 2 Handicap, 7f

This looks competitive in nature, though I find few of these with any secrets left for the handicapper. Slightly different story for the filly Whitefountainfairy, who we haven’t seen all that often in handicap company and who looks on a tasty mark, returning to the turf.

She looked a promising juvenile and continued to do so as 3-year-old, although on the surface she may have been a little bit disappointing as her rise in pattern company didn’t continue. However, Whitefountainfairy wasn’t disgraced in some hot races regardless, running well of high marks in ultra competitive handicaps.

She returned on the All-Weather in March from her winter break, and finishing strongly in superb 6f contest at Kempton, that has worked out incredibly well form wise. Well backed at Chelmsford the next time, she didn’t quite live up to the price tag.

Returning to turf and a course and distance Whitefountainfairy has achieved a career best as a juvenile, down to a mark of 87 with a good 3lb claimer on board who has only this one ride today – Whitefountainfairy should run a huge race.

Selection:
10pts win – Whitefountainfairy @ 9/1 MB

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3.40 Thirsk: Class 5 Handicap, 7f

I struggle to split Knowing Glance and Exchequer, and that’s not only because them being drawn so closely to each other or because of their respective odds being similar. So I don’t even attempt it. One of these two will win, if the wide draw doesn’t catch them out.

Big if, but both horses appear supremely well handicapped. Exchequer for a start hasn’t won on turf yet and appears to be a much better All-Weather horse. This notion is slightly skewed by efforts in unsuitable conditions.

Checking his record for fast ground, Exchequer’s record still doesn’t show a victory, but three excellent efforts, including to 3rd placed efforts, in hot class 3 handicaps. Those forms date back a few years – which means, he hasn’t been running on his most suitable turf conditions for a long time.

Exchequer does today. Of a 20lb lower turf mark than his current All-Weather rating. He performed with plenty of credit of a 89 mark on the All-Weather throughout the winter. His claims are blindingly obvious today, even more so dropping down to class 5 as well.

They are pretty much as obvious for Richard Fahey’s Knowing Glance. He won on his seasonal reappearance a class 5 Handicap of his current mark last year, running to a 71 TS rating that day – the form has worked out well.

Knowing Glance remains relatively low mileage. He couldn’t quite kick on from his Carlisle success, but performed with credit in better class a couple of times in autumn.

Given he seems to run well fresh, drops down to class 5 again, with fast ground and trip sure to suit, down to his last winning mark, with a fine 5lb claimer on board, he looks sure to go well.

Selections:
5pts win – Knowing Glance @ 13/2 MB
5pts win – Exchequer @ 13/2 MB

Preview: 2000 Guineas 2019

Newmarket Rowley Mile tight finish

Let’s get this out of the way right away: Ten Sovereigns will not stay. He’ll be a super exciting sprinter for the season to come, though.

Now that we’re clear on this rather important piece of the 2019 2000 Guineas puzzle, let’s focus on finding the winner of the race. I’ve three horses on my short-list.

The second Aiden O’Brien trained colt isn’t on the list: Magna Grecia is rock solid, mind. But I give him a pass at 7/2, as with fast conditions expected at the Rowley Mile today, I feel he’ll likely appreciate an additional couple of furlongs.

The other well fancied Irish runner Madhmoon is intriguing. You could argue it’s a tip in itself Kevin Prendergast sends his star colt over to Newmarket. He’s not doing it very often. His record in the UK is dismal, but one can be forgiving because the average SP’s of his UK runners tell its own story of outcome vs. expectations.

Madhmoon will surely improve for the better ground today. He’ll improve having a run under his belt. He’ll improve stepping up in trip again. Yet I’m not fully on board ad don’t quite feel excited about his chances.

In truth, he probably didn’t beat all that much in the Champions Juvenile Stakes last August. He also ran, despite looking imperious that day, only to a TS rating of 78. As a key piece of form, this isn’t enough for me to invest.

I’ll do happily invest – and could be called a hypocrite calling Madhmoon form average – in Skardu. Recency bias? Am I still “wowed” by his incredible (visually at least) seasonal reappearance in the Craven Stakes? Possibly.

Nonetheless, I do like a multiple course and distance winner, who looked scintillating on return over the Guineas CD, who has clearly proven to have trained on over the winter.

Skardu’s turn of foot is a thing of beauty. He produced a superb debut performance over 7f at Newmarket last September, leaving a subsequent UAE Derby winner standing still. You would hope there is much, much more to come. Only two runs on the clock, an April foal who’s shown an appreciation for fast ground also. I’m hugely excited!

The only thing I am slightly worried is whether he’ll get a clear run and gets going soon enough, if this would turn into something of a sprint finish, given his racing style.

I’ve got a small saver on a massive long-shot: Emaraaty Ana. The betting says there’s no hope. And the market could be right. But could also underestimate this lad. He was a late May foal, but showed sparkle as a juvenile regardless, landing the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes, a Group 2, at Newbury last August.

That was over 6 furlongs. a trip rather on the sharp side one would think given his pedigree. It was no surprise to see him taken off his feat in the Middle Park Stakes subsequently.

Emaraaty Ana is bred to stay a mile, in fact to improve for the step up in trip. He is related to a couple of winners over the 1 mile trip. He’s proven to act on fast ground and ran a career best TS rating not dissimilar to what most other leading contenders in this field have achieved to date. Age is on his side, I feel – one way or another he’ll be ‘one to follow’ this year.

Selections:
9tps win – Skardu @ 9/1 MB
1pts win – Emaraaty Ana @ 139/1 MB

Thursday Selections: April,18th 2019

Second Step

Besides having a runaway winner in Kylie Rules (10/1) at Beverley yesterday, I absolutely loved the debut win of UAE Jewel in the Wood Ditton. You take note if they back a newcomer in an early-season maiden at HQ as if  defeat is out of question – and boy, defeat was out of question!

Judged purely on the visuals the TV screen is giving away, this son of Dubawi looks physically impressive. The way he lengthened away so easily from the field in the final furlong left me with my mouth a little wider open than usual, as well.

UAE Jewel is an April foal, so you would think age is on his side and he can only improve with any passion week. He certainly looks an exciting prospect and I can’t wait to see him next time out, most likely at Newmarket again, in the Newmarket Stakes on Guineas weekend, then over 10 furlongs.

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2.50 Ripon: Class 5 Handicap, 6 furlongs

This looks like an ultra-competitive race for a low-grade handicap on a random Thursday in Spring. You can make cases for a number of these, and as a result some are heavily overpriced in my book.

The most compelling case can be made for recent Irish recruit Dancing Mountain. If she’s in here to take her chances and not to run the mark down (drifting in the market) – which she may not need to I feel as she looks a strong contender already – then, from a good draw, she can outrun his massive price tag.

Dancing Mountain will have her second start in the UK since moving from Johnny Murtagh to the Roger Fell yard. Her debut run off a break at Newcastle wasn’t anything the shout about; if anything it served as a pipe opener.

However, now down to a handicap mark of 60, judged by juvenile form in Ireland, and the fact she’s an April foal, I think there is potential upside. She won a competitive Naas handicap over 5.5f last autumn, running to a TS rating of 61 that day.

Subsequent performances are rated well in my book, as Dancing Mountain’s 5th and 4th in her next two starts at Fairyhouse and Cork look pretty decent form, given she is now rated 8lb lower as well.

Selection:
10pts win – Dancing Mountain @ 28/1 MB

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3.25 Ripon: Class 4 Handicap, 6 furlongs

The draw isn’t ideal, nonetheless Paddy Power looks supremely well handicapped on past form. He will not even at his best to be highly competitive, given the 6-year-old is now down a mark of 75, which was the lowest mark he’s won off throughout his career.

The gelding won a competitive York handicap off 5lb higher last summer and was an excellent 4th in a hot class 2 Handicap over course and distance when having to overcome a less than ideal draw also.

I like the fact Paddy Power already has a run under his belt this season, albeit on the All-Weather. He should strip fit and ready for a big run today, and has shown in the past to have sufficient gate speed to find himself in a good spot.

Selection:
10pts win – Paddy Power @ 5/1 Coral

…….

5.45 Ripon: Class 4 Apprentice Handicap, 5f

Ideal conditions for front-running Bowson Fred who also has a good draw to content with most likely. He’s also dropped to a dangerous mark – even though not quite the force of the past – last season the 7-year-old still managed to run to a TS rating of 86, backing it up with another 78 performance later the year.

A recent runner-up performance on the All-Weather, followed by a wind OP, should set Bowson Fred up for a big run today. He’s got a valuable 3lb claimer on board as well – an advantage that Josh Quinn has already ridden the gelding in the last handful of starts.

Selection:
10pts win – Bowson Fred @ 6/1 MB

Wednesday Selections: April, 17th 2019

Balty Boys

Craven Stakes Day. Excellent racing at HQ today, as was the case yesterday as well. Qabala was impressive the way she won the Nell Qwyn Stakes. She looks like a horse ready-made for the Rowley Mile.

But the biggest lasting impressing was created in the opening maiden that saw Maqsad and Twist’n Shake fight out a dramatic battle to the line, as well as finishing a long way before the rest. Both fillies look exciting prospects for the season ahead.

Betting wise, I’m not really interested in Newmarket today. But Beverly offers an intriguing card, if not quite the same quality. The handicaps are interesting puzzles to solve for those who are into that sort of thing.

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4.00 Beverly: Class 4 Handicap, 7.5f

This is a pretty competitive and open race but I feel my selection Jackamundo can have a big say if in it to win it. He’s a big drifter this morning which is a concern, though there are plenty of positives as well.

Jackamundo looks the type to improve as a 3-year-old after a fair juvenile campaign, culminating in victory on handicap debut. Visually it was quite an impressive performance when he showed adversity to find a way through the field and get his head in front late, but early enough to win by a quarter of a lengths.

Gelded over the winter, his seasonal comeback run at Musselburgh was fair when the market expected him to run really well, though excuses can be made for a 6th place finish in a race where things didn’t quite pan out for him.

The slightly further trip today is sure to suit, the fast ground appears ideal as well, though the draw isn’t ideal and whether his racing style suits Beverly remains to be seen. A mark off 72 is realistic and offers opportunity, on the other hand.

Selection:
10pts win – Jackamundo @ 18/1 MB

………

5.10 Beverly: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 4f

It still pains me thinking back to the 22nd February when Gendarme as my 25/1 selection was beaten by a nose on the line. Can he make amends as an equally whopping price today?

The 4-year-old gelding looks hopeless judged by an 11-0-1 record. But as mentioned back then, it still applies very much today:

the majority of his runs on the All-Weather over the winter were quite promising, as he wasn’t too far beaten on most occasions, and those forms, to large extend have worked out well.

The most recent run at Lingfield, when attempting to follow up from his runner-up performance, albeit only finishing 7th and nearly seven lengths beaten, he was right there for a long time, setting a good pace from the front against hot opposition – for that class.

Given Gendarme he has ran to consistent RPR’s around his current mark and achieved a significantly higher career highest TS rating less than a year ago on turf, a return to this surface could bring out some improvement also. I feel there is a win just around the corner – hopefully today is the day.

Selection:
10pts win – Gendarme @ 21/1 MB

…..

6.10 Beverly: Class 5 Handicap, 8.5 furlongs

Still a maiden, though, Kylie Rules is one of the more unlucky ones. The filly has changed yards recently and goes to post first time for Ruth Carr today which is also her seasonal return.

The filly has dropped to a really handy mark if fit and ready to go today. She’s ran well fresh in the past, so that isn’t necessarily a worry. Kylie Rules also achieved a TS rating of 72 and RPR of 72 last season, suggesting a mark of 60 is well within her realms.

Her career-best came over the 8.5f trip last season at Hamilton – albeit on soft ground, though she ran perfectly fine on much fast ground as well. This looks like an ideal opportunity today to finally get off the mark.

Selection:
10pts win – Kylie Rules @ 10/1 PP