Tag Archives: November

Breeders’s Cup Turf 2022 Preview

8.40 Keeneland (USA): Grade 1; 1m 4f

This renewal of the Breeders’ Cup Turf doesn’t appear to have the same quality as in previous years. As a consequence it’s wide open. A full field, a tight track and likely fast ground will make for an exciting race, though.

Two horses trained by Charlie Appleby head the betting market. Nations Pride is currently favoured – one can see why. The 3-year-old colt enjoyed a highly successful season, winning four races, and lately went back-to-back in Grade 1 company in the US.

Nations Pride only got beaten this year in the Epsom Derby and in the Belmont Derby when an unlucky runner-up . At the same time he clearly proved versatility, a preference for fast ground and the ability to sit handy and quicken nicely when asked to change gear.

Those are all characteristics that do enhance his chances. He’s a fair favourite in my view. But also beatable. Nations Pride is no superstar.

Otherwise he wouldn’t have been running in the US so often this season. This US form isn’t always easy to quantify, but almost never on par with European top-level competition.

Nations Pride’s European form is solid but hard to be too excited about. Also: in six starts outside the US his career-best speed rating is a modest 89 figure, dating back to his sole run at Meydan.

A #7 gate isn’t ideal here. He may have to spend quite a bit of energy if the aim is a prominent racing position. Otherwise he may be too far back in the field. He’s not always a sharp starter, either. It’s a tricky situation for William Buick in the saddle. At 11/4 I give Nations pride a miss.

Stable mate Rebel’s Romance comes here in red hot form. He landed the two most important Group 1 races in Germany lately, doing so in fine style, as he got the better of German Derby winner Samarko along the way – personally I really rate the German colt.

Unbeaten in his last four starts, he stays the trip and is fine on fast ground. However, his career-best on the rating front dates back to last year, at Meydan; how the recent soft ground form from Germany truly translates to Keeneland is a bit of a question mark. I have some doubts.

A year ago Mishriff would likely have been a red hot favourite in this race. This time he’s a 6/1 shot. Unlucky in the Coral Eclipse at the start of his season, he never looked the same horse again.

Drawn in #11, blinkers on for the first time in his career; this me strike as a somewhat desperate move. I struggle to find him attractive in these circumstances.

Broome has a good draw, in comparison. The six-year-old continues to run well at the highest level. He was an impressive winner of the Hardwick Stakes at Royal Ascot, and wasn’t disgraced in the Arc when last seen on unsuitable ground.

He’ll be a solid place chance if he doesn’t miss the break, which he’s now done a couple of times.

It’s difficult for me to properly assess the form of the home squad. The mare War Like Goddess looked pretty good – although, not brilliant – when landing the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic four weeks ago. She’s likely to be up with the pace from the #2 gate. Hence must rate a competitive chance.

Nonetheless, for betting purposes I’ll stick with the horses I know well enough to make a proper assessment.

With that in mind, the one that I was thinking about all week for this race was the other Aiden O’Brien runner, Stone Age. In truth: generally I am not a massive fan of him, opposed him at every opportunity this year.

However, I have come to the conclusion that he’s going to be a huge runner against this opposition in these circumstances, and certainly appears to be significantly overpriced.

Stone Age has a lovely draw to attack the race from. He’s Ryan Moore’s choice, who knows him well. The 3-year-old colt likes to race bang up with the pace, and can also make it all, as often seen this season. From the #3 gate he’ll be right there towards the front of the race.

I’m pretty sure if you sit more than four lengths off the pace with three furlongs to go your chances are doomed in this race. Stone Age will be right in the mix. He’s not the best horse in the race. But he may well be the one most favoured by circumstances.

He’s been to the US twice this year. On both occasions he ran with plenty of credit, as he had to overcome wide draws. Both Saratoga- and Belmont Derby runs can be upgraded. So can be his last two performances at the highest level against top-class opposition in the Irish- and British Champions Stakes.

He led the field in those races, possibly did too much too soon, but wasn’t all that far beaten in the end, in either instance. I believe he will enjoy the better ground at Keeneland – in combination with the track and his draw, it’s a real positive. And this is a much easier race than the rivals he countered the last two times.

Let’s not forget Stone Age was once a highly fancied Derby shot. Obviously, he’s not that good. Certainly I never thought he was. His speed ratings are consistently not good enough to be considered a proper Group 1 horse in Europe, too.

Yet, here I am: strongly fancying Stone Age. He’s got a proper chance for Group 1 glory in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. This race will suit him more than most in the field. He has the stamina, the finishing kick, the draw and won’t mind the ground.

10pts win – Stone Age @ 9/1

Friday Selections: 4th November 2022

It was two on the bounce on Tuesday when Captain Vallo won at Southwell with a bit of authority in the closing stages. A rare sight over the last weeks… well, even months: not only one winner, but two, on the same day!

It helps seriously with the P/L sheet that looked brutal after the recent losing run. Although, what always helps is also putting it all into a historical context. My betting records tells a story: every year I struggle massively in autumn, October is always red, September often too. Perhaps something to review for the future.

That future is about ten months down the line. The immediate future sees the return of the Breeders’ Cup. I wouldn’t say I am a massive fan. Not really of the Friday card, and certainly not of the dirt races. But the turf races on Saturday are usually quite intriguing.

Currently I’ll probably have only one bet in mind for this Saturday. I’ve got a bit more work to do on the races, though. Prior to top-class action at Keeneland, it’s all about more mundane things, like sand racing at Newcastle. Selections as follows below.

I don’t want to leave unmentioned the queen of the mile, Goldikova, when talking about the Breeders’ Cup. The mighty mare was so good over there in 2009, when she the landed the Turf Mile. A wide draw, sitting far off the pace, second last turning for home… no bother. One of my favourite BC moments. What a star she was.

…………….

3.05 Newcastle: Class 6 Handicap, 1m

The right conditions are present for Twistaline, who caught the eye at Wolverhampton in no uncertain terms the last time. That day she travelled in rear, seemed to struggle from 4f out before running home in quite sensational style, finishing the last three furlongs much the fastest, without being asked for everything.

Granted that was a poor race, but this Newcastle content is even worse. She drops into a 0-55 Handicap, her mark down to 54 as she lost another 2lb in the meantime, and she steps up to the straight mile which will be an ideal scenario for her on the All-Weather.

I don’t really like to back horses that have to come from off the pace on the sand, least a filly. But over a mile at Newcastle hold-up horses perform strongly. This will suit her, and her patchy starting habits won’t matter nearly as much as it is a clear disadvantage at sharp Wolverhampton.

Twistaline showed quite solid form on this modest level on the All-Weather earlier this year. She ran to consistent speed ratings of 50, 51 and 53.

She is clearly in that sort of form, perhaps even better, given the way she finished last time out.

I was initially worried about the jockey booking. Jason Watson isn’t riding any winners of late. But he’s been sitting on 20/1 shots on average. If further examined for his record with trainer Appleby, things look much brighter.

10pts win – Twistaline @ 11/2

………

5.45 Newcastle: Class 5 Handicap, 6f

I must give Pockley another chance. He was unlucky not to finish closer than 3rd last time over this CD and that form has worked out seriously well in the meantime.

That day he travelled in midfield, but was quite keen for the first part of the race. He didn’t get a clear passage at a crucial stage when the pace increased and the eventual winner got first run. He kicked on well from 2 furlongs out, but was reportedly hanging soon after.

Surprisingly, the handicapper has dropped him another pound. Down to a career lowest mark, even though he caught the eye on turf this year too, he moves up slightly in class – this is an 0-75 vs 0-70 the last time; as a consequence he’s got a low weight with the additional of 5lb claiming Mark Winn again. I feel there are only two or three other properly competitive horses in the field, so it’s not a strong race.

This could be well set up for him too: he’s got pace around him to follow right from his #5 draw. That should in theory tow him nicely into it, if he doesn’t miss the break, which he can, and which is the only real risk attached in my view.

The other question mark is the form of the Linda Perratt yard – 2/50, 0/12 over the last four weeks. But I rate Pockley’s chance so highly that I (stupidly?) ignore this.

10pts win – Pockley @ 4/1

Tuesday Selections: 1st November 2022

It’s a new day, it’s a new dawn…. I am very, very happy this morning. Gold Trip landed the Melbourne Cup, giving me a much needed 21/1 winner!

This was the best possible start to November, after the most horrible number of weeks in the last while on the punting front.

It couldn’t have gone much smoother for the top-weight: a relaxed start, he settled well, and then brilliantly maneuvered through the field by jockey Mark Zahra, to be in the perfect position entering the home straight.

Gold Trip quickened nicely, and stayed on strongly all the way to the line. I mentioned beforehand that he’s the class horse in my view – and so it proved. Thankfully, once in a while things do work out the way envisioned.

At least it did for Gold Trip. Stockman ran a huge race to finish 8th, after encountering plenty of trouble around the home turn. He was never given a real chance to challenge.

No complaints, though. It doesn’t happen often that I back a winner these days, let alone a 20/1+ winner. A much needed booster for the P/L sheet.

…………

5.00 Southwell: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

Captain Vallo drops down to class 6 with another 2lb off his back. He is seriously well handicapped if anywhere near the form he showed on turf this season when he got his conditions.

I look back especially to his Redcar run three back, where he nearly got his head in front off 68. He ran to speed ratings in the 60’s a number of times this year, including to 68 and 69.

I don’t think he’s a lesser horse on the All-Weather. In fact, his record is 6-1-2 and his career best speed rating was achieved at Newcastle.

The jockey booking and form of the yard isn’t a confidence booster, but I hope he’s on a going day and can take advantage of running in poor contest that’s there for the taking off 7lb lower than his last winning mark.

A lot of money has been coming for him this morning too. I missed the big prices. But he’s still good value if there’s no handbrake on.

10pts win – Captain Vallo @ 7/1

Melbourne Cup 2022 Preview

The race that stops A nation suffers from a lack of international runners this year. Consequently this is a comparatively weak edition of the Melbourne Cup.

And yet, it’s still the one race that I’m so excited about that I get up 3am in the morning during the week – voluntarily – to watch it live: every year the first Tuesday in November; and so it’s going to be in about six hours from now.

The Melbourne Cup is a race that has been kind to me on the betting front, too. Right now I could do with a bit of kindness from the betting gods, anyway. It’s a new day, it’s a new dawn….

In any case, the 2022 edition of the Melbourne looks wide open – if you are prepared to take on the red hot favourite Deauville Legend.

Best price 3.7 at the time of writing, he’s a seriously short price and widely expected to become the first favourite to win the race since Fiorente in 2013.

The James Ferguson trained gelding certainly looks to posses all the right attributes for the Cup: he can travel through his races, can kick and shouldn’t find the distance an issue. There’s enough stamina in his pedigree and the race won’t be ran at a frantic pace, one would think, either.

He’s a full-brother to Sea La Rosa, a Group 1 winning mare in deep ground over 14 furlongs. With the ground likely turning soft, given there’s plenty of rain expected throughout the day at Melbourne, the indications are positive toward the likelihood that he does act on the ground.

There’s very little not to like about Deauville Legend, actually. Except the price. He’s just such a short price, in a race with twenty plus other horses, where you need a bit of luck to get the breaks at the right time.

Also: yes, he is more likely than not to act on the soft ground. But all his turf form came on decent to fast ground. He’s unproven on anything slower. That has to be a small question mark at the very least. Enough for me at this short price to look somewhere else.

The other international runner Without A Friend is of interest, too. Especially since he’s three times the price of Deauville Legend in the betting.

The five-year-old gelding won the Silver Cup at York in brilliant style in July, skipped the Ebor in favour of a prep run at Newmarket – a solid runner-up performance there – before heading Down Under.

He’s rated to go close, with a good weight and has ran to solid enough speed ratings over the last two years to see him go close. How will he cope with the hustle and bustle that he’ll encounter at Flemington? Connections opt for ear-plugs pre-race.

The fact he often raced in small fields, and tends to be keen over the longer trips, is a serious concern. If he gets worked up too early he will struggle to get home in the soft ground. I feel there are better alternatives to back in the field.

Hoo Ya Mal, now based in Australia with Gai Waterhouse, was regressive ever since his huge Derby run. He makes little appeal to me.

The best chances for the home team seem to evolve especially around those horses that ran well in the Caufield Cup and Cox Plate in the last fortnight.

Montefilia got a troubled run but finished much the best from the back of the field. She loves it soft and could come with a big run late, if she gets the extra distance. It’s a big if in my book, as she will need luck for a clear run.

That goes for a number of horses. Another mare often favourably mentioned by the locals is Duais. She came from off the pace at Caufield as well and seems to be tracking in the right direction lately, getting better with each run this year. The trip in combination with ground is a question mark, but she could be peaking at the right time. I like her at a big price, more so than Montefilia, that’s for sure.

Knights Order is a strong front-runner and impressed in the Caulfield Cup. Already a Group 1 winner over two miles, he also acts on the ground. He’s got the widest draw and will have to work a bit to get to the lead. That’s far from ideal.

I loved the run of Realm Of Flowers in the Metropolitan where she hit the line incredibly strong, indication she wants to go further. She’s an intriguing mare and definitely will love the soft ground. Stamina for the 2 miles look a given and she’s got a good draw for a relaxed start.

She will need a bit of luck for a gap to open on the inside turning for home, though. If it does happen, she is a great chance to run away with it off a really low weight.

She is a backable price but I have a major concern that puts me off: she missed her most recent engagement, which is a bit of a worry. is she 100%?

2019 Melbourne Cup hero Vow And Declare ran well in the Caufield Cup. Probably this is beyond him these days, but he can feature in the money. The same can’t be said about surprise 2020 Epsom Derby winner Serpentine. He’s improved for blinkers lately, but has a lot to find and should struggle from a #23 gate.

Talking of formerly trained classy European horses: 2020 Arc 4th Gold Trip has to carry top weight. The winner of only a single race in 15 career starts hasn’t set the world alight in Australia since moving there last year. The locals think 57.5kg is a lot to carry, and it probably is.

But: he looks like to really get going lately. He was an agonisingly close runner-up in the Caufield Cup (see video above), having raced less efficient than the eventual winner. And he got a highly trouble passage in the Cox Plate when last seen- Some of that was his own making as he jumped badly with first-time blinkers – yet finished nicely on the eye and can be upgraded for the run.

He’s clearly the class act in the field. Not only because of his Arc performance – which is probably too long ago now to really count as recent form anyway – but he followed up next season with 2nd and 3rd place finishes in the Group 1’s prix Ganay and Grand Prix de St. Cloud.

He only had five start in Australia since his permanent move, improving with each run and he clearly enjoys rain softened ground. The more rain the better, in fact.

The trip is a question mark. But his class, tactical speed and change of gear should see him being really competitive in my view, especially as the #14 draw gives jockey Mark Zahra plenty of options to find a good position.

At an even bigger price one of the home team caught my eye: Stockman. Connections were quite bullish, and I can clearly see why. Ignore his most recent 8th place finish; it was an obvious prep run and the gelding ran on nicely under an easy hands and heels ride.

The two preceding performances were of serious note, though. Two back he won the St. Leger Stakes over 2600m at Randwick is fine style, making an impressive move from over 600m out. He was always in charge in the home straight.

Two weeks earlier he was only 1¼ lengths beaten in 4th in the Group 1 Metropolitan Handicap, finishing strongly yet again, even though not getting the clearest of runs from 400m out.

He’s 1.5kg better off on the weights with Realm Of Flowers today in comparison, who was a strong third that day. That’s noteworthy, given I rate her chance highly, as mentioned before.

Crucially, he loves soft ground. In fact, it’s key to his chances. Therefore, the more rain the better. He also got a good draw to move forward from, so has a lot going his way.

I believe his price is driven by his disappointing run in the Sydney Cup – his only try over 2 miles. He was quite fancied that day, but had too much to do from a wide draw and the back of the field. He’s clearly better than that, as he’s shown more often than not in recent weeks.

Summary:

If all goes to plan, Deauville Legend could be too good in this field. He has the form, the speed ratings, the stamina and possibly the ground versatility. But he’s an awfully short price. Unbackable for me.

The mare Realm Of Flowers is next likeliest winner in my book. 12/1 looks even a good price. But the worry whether she is 100% puts me off, because there are two strong alternatives at bigger prices.

Stockman is seriously underappreciated in the betting market, especially with every additional drop of rain to benefit his chances. He’s got form and a solid chance to stay the trip.

Top weight Gold Trip is undervalued because of his poor strike rate. But he’s the class act in this field, has improved with each run and will love the ground.

5pts win – Stockman @ 30/1
5pts win – Gold Trip @ 21/1

Saturday Selections: November, 30th 2019

Kilimanjaro goes clear

1.05 Lingfield: Class 5 Handicap, 6f

As suggested yesterday in my Dundalk preview, Aloysius Lilius found it difficult to make it in to the race as a reserve, but he would eventually rock up 24h later at Lingfield. So here we are, the three-year-old is running today.

What held true merely a day ago is still very much the case today – however it has to be said this class 5 Handicap is probably more competitive than the Dundalk race last night. On the other hand, as competitive as it appears on the surface, most fancied runners fall away when checking whether they are well handicapped. Aloysius Lilius remains a proper chance, though:

Aloysius Lilius dropped to a tasty handicap mark but can’t be really faulted given he ran some fine races this year on turf when going close on a couple of occasions over the minimum trip.

His first attempt to tackle the All-Weather was highly promising  at Dundalk a fortnight ago. A wide draw was a big disadvantage and receiving a heavy bump right after the start didn’t do him any favours. This was a wild race, he was at the back of the field and didn’t receive the clearest of runs, but finished strongly on the outside in the final furlong.

He stays on the same 66 OR. Interesting: Aloysius Lilius ran twice to 67+ topspeed in his career, including in his penultimate run. So with a much better draw here, and potentially enjoying the step up to 6 furlongs (he’s a half-brother to a 6f winner on the All-Weather).

Aloysius Lilius dropped to a tasty handicap mark but can’t be really faulted given he ran some fine races this year on turf when going close on a couple of occasions over the minimum trip.

His first attempt to tackle the All-Weather was highly promising here at Dundalk a fortnight ago. A wide draw was a big disadvantage and receiving a heavy bump right after the start didn’t do him any favours. This was a wild race, he was at the back of the field and didn’t receive the clearest of runs, but finished strongly on the outside in the final furlong.

He stays on the same 66 OR. Interesting: Aloysius Lilius ran twice to 67+ topspeed in his career, including in his penultimate run. So with a much better draw here, and potentially enjoying the step up to 6 furlongs (he’s a half-brother to a 6f winner on the All-Weather).

Selection:
10pts win – Aloysius Lilius @ 7/1 MB

……….

1.40 Lingfield: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

Favourite Papa Delta has an impressive record and is likely to run his race, having every chance to win, but he is handicapped to his best form at the same time.

On the other hand The Lacemaker has been pretty consistent the last while, having also ran to topspeed ratings of 59 and 56 in her last four starts but gets a fair chance by the handicapper nonetheless.

Down to a mark of 56 now, she came damn close only seven days ago at this venue, albeit over 7 furlongs, where she tired only inside the final 200 yards after having done a lot from a wide draw, cutting across, leading and setting decent fractions.

Coming down in trip again in a smaller field, off her current mark with those recent performances in the book that are confirmed by the clock, The Lacemaker is clearly handicapped to win today.

Seletion:
10pts win – The Lacemaker @ 6/1 MB

Friday Selection: November, 29th 2019

Dundalk All-Weather

6.45 Dundalk: Handicap, 6 furlongs

Currently a reserve, so remains to be seen whether he actually gets in, Aloysius Lilius looks a highly competitive chance in this field if he would get a chance to run. Noteworthy he also got an entry for Lingfield on Saturday.

Aloysius Lilius dropped to a tasty handicap mark but can’t be really faulted given he ran some fine races this year on turf when going close on a couple of occasions over the minimum trip.

His first attempt to tackle the All-Weather was highly promising here at Dundalk a fortnight ago. A wide draw was a big disadvantage and receiving a heavy bump right after the start didn’t do him any favours. This was a wild race, he was at the back of the field and didn’t receive the clearest of runs, but finished strongly on the outside in the final furlong.

He stays on the same 66 OR. Interesting: Aloysius Lilius ran twice to 67+ topspeed in his career, including in his penultimate run. So with a much better draw here, and potentially enjoying the step up to 6 furlongs (he’s a half-brother to a 6f winner on the All-Weather) I feel there is a strong case for this 3-year-old having a major chance if getting in.

Otherwise, Lingfield one day later may well be another opportunity and you’ll read about it here.

Selection:
10pts win – Aloysius Lilius @ 28/1 MB