Tag Archives: Postponed

Highland Reel a good thing in Sheema

Now that Cheltenham is well and truly behind us we can start to look forward again. Though not too far. Only to this Saturday. Dubai World Cup Day. The big one on the other side of the planet.

For the moment I only want to focus on the Dubai Sheema Classic though – the Group 1 on turf over 2.400m, now worth a staggering US$ 6 million!

Why am I so keen to get this race “out of the way” this early? Well, it’s because I feel the market does not reflect the true chances of one major contender. That is Highland Reel.

The Aiden O’Brien trained five year old started his stellar four year old campaign in this very same race last season, followed by brilliant victories in the King George and Breeders Cup Turf.

At this point it probably makes sense to check out last years running of the Sheema Classic, a race won by Postponed:

On that evidence – at least visually – Postponed won fair and square, in fact he was quite impressive the way he sprinted away from his rivals in the closing stages.

But that is only half the truth. Do you see how nicely Postponed is covered up throughout, getting an energy saving, inch perfect ride by Andrea Atzeni? Compare that to Highland Reel, the leader pretty much from the start. Hassled along from a draw less than ideal, the Ballydoyle inmate set decent fractions, leading the field nearly until the final furlong, where eventually he faded away, finishing 4th.

Aiden O’Brien has a dismal record in Dubai and sometimes his horses turn out there under cooked. This was clearly not the reason why Highland Reel faded so badly in the end. Evidence is to be found in the sectionals that do underpin the visual impression:

Highland Reel did more than other horse in the race – probably a bit too much too soon – burning vital energy. The pace he went was not sustainable in the end against high class opposition. Maybe in hindsight Ryan Moore would ride the race slightly different.

That’s the past. What’s the future? Postponed will try to defend his crown. He had a decent prep run, though he was overturned at short odds. I don’t read too much into it. He’ll be near as good as ever I would imagine.

And so will Highland Reel, presumably. On ratings there is a mere pound between the two. Though it’s true Postponed had the the upper hand on two occasions. First here in the Sheema and then in last years Juddmonte International.

Third time lucky? Yes, I do think so! With ground and trip certainly to suit Highland Reel, and possibly with a slightly more energy saving ride, there is every chance that he’ll be able to beat Postponed.

Granted, it’s not all about these two, though its’ likely to be a small field with not an awful lot of top class horses in the line-up, which again will suit Highland Reel probably the little bit more.

Former Derby runner-up Jack Hobbs is an intended runner. He made a pleasing comeback in the British Champion Stakes last season. He’s a danger, no doubt. But only two runs since his third in the 2015 BCS – he has not only a bit too find on the ratings, but also can’t be trusted to be fully ready on his seasonal re-appearance.

The Japanese Satano Crown, who beat Highland Reel in Hong Kong in a tight finish back in December, is unlikely to line up. And if he’d be here I’d fancy HR to turn it around, given how agonisingly close he came in the Vase, doing it yet again the hard way. Prize Money, who beat Postponed in his comeback will probably find it tough to repeat this feast.

Irish and Yorkshire Oaks heroine Seventh Heaven is probably the second runner for team Ballydoyle. An intriguing one, who can easily be a big player.I fear her most, because she is a somewhat unknown quantity, given she is still lightly raced enough with potential improvement to come now as a four year old.

Summary: Highland Reel was unlucky not go closer in the Sheema Classic last year. On ratings there is very little between himself and favourite Postponed. A small field where Highland Reel can dominate will be an ideal scenario. At 5/1 he looks overpriced and I’m rather sure he’ll be half the price on Saturday.

Selection:
10pts win – Highland Reel @ 5/1 Betfair SB

Postponed a brilliant International winner!

horse-racing-postponed-andrea-atzeni_3766820

I don’t really feel in the mood to lose too many words about the Juddmonte International after making a fool of myself yesterday, doubting Postponed. Well, hindsight is funny thing, isn’t it?

Nonetheless, credit where credit is due: Postponed is a superstar! I think that is fair to say now, after finally winning a Group 1 over 10 furlongs – and not just a Micky Mouse one – this was quite a decent field.

Andrea Atzeni gave him an excellent ride – for years now Atzeni is one of those no nonsense jockeys, doing more often than not the simple but right things.

He tracked the leaders for most of the time and then pressed the button on Postponed over 3 furlongs – probably slightly earlier than it would be ideal – but it was the right move at the right time. Once hitting top gear, Postponed is always sure to march strongly toward the line.

The form looks legit, given 121 rated Highland Reel ran a stormer, finishing a 1¼ lengths beaten runner-up, with 118 rated Mutakayyek a further lengths behind in third.

On the other hand Wings Of Desire was a total no-show whereas Hawkbill seemingly didn’t act on the fast ground.

————-

Thursday Selections:

3.40 York: Furia Cruzada @ 20/1 Ladbrokes
6.10 Hamilton: Ss Vega @ 4/1 Skybet

Photo: Skysports

Big Race Preview: Juddmonte International

Wings-of-desire

It shouldn’t feel easy to oppose a horse with an ultra impressive record reading something like 11-111 for the last five starts. Even more when those wins came in either Group 1 or 2 company. It shouldn’t be easy…..

But it is! Postponed, red hot favourite to land the Juddmonte International today, developed into a serious world-class horse, no doubt. He’s going to be a prime contender to win an Arc this year,should connections opt to go down this route.

That’s the future – but what about today? Well, I’m leaning wide out of the window – potentially making a fool of myself – nonetheless I have to say Postponed should not be clear cut favourite today. He really shouldn’t!

See it this way: except for a maiden success, Postponed has actually never won below 11 furlongs – in fact all his wins on Group level came over one mile and half a furlong!

He’s not a slow horse. And yes, given his impressive performances lately, it appears that he could well have enough pace to be competitive over 1m 2f – yet he simply hasn’t shown it in the past – or at least it was never good enough to get his head in front.

Now, he looked super impressive in the Coronation Cup at Epsom. Naturally that form should give him a major chance. One the other hand I feel the drop down to 10 furlongs at flat York on fast ground is an entirely different test. He’s meeting some speedier sorts and I suspect he’s get rolling way too late.

So if not Postponed, who then? Well, Globetrotter Highland Reel must play a big role. He is not a flashy superstar by all means, but developed into a consistent top level performer.

He’s excelled over 12 furlongs lately, though I believe he has enough pace to ensure a drop in trip is no big deal. Let’s not forget Highland Reel won the Goodwood Vintage Stakes over seven furlongs as a juvenile, where he produced a stunning turn of foot.

However the most likely winner of the race is Godolphin’s Hawkbill. His Coral Eclipse success, subsequently franked by The Gurkha in the Sussex Stakes, is the strongest piece of form on offer in this field over the 10 furlongs trip.

As a three year old with weight for age advantage he must have a tremendous chance – as long as he acts on fast ground. As a son of Kitten’s Joy you would think he’s got no issues with that.

However looking closer, Kitten’s Joy offspring actually has not been all that successful on fast ground in the UK over the years. Only 9.6% of his daughters and sons won races and even less of those won on fast ground over 10 furlongs.

John Gosden’s Wings of Desire gets another chance today to prove he is a proper Group 1 horse. The Dante Stakes winner and Derby fourth was far from disgraced in second place behind Highland Reel at Royal Ascot but seemed not to get home over 12 furlongs – so dropping him back in trip is a positive.

I feel this is his best chance to win a Group 1 to date. In fact today he really has to show what he’s made of. No excuses. He has to improve a bit, of course, but with conditions very likely to suit, he has every chance to find the bit of improvement needed to challenge hard.

Interesting side note: Wings Of Desire is a son of Pivotal, whose offspring performs incredibly well over this trip and ground at York – a small sample size it is, but a 60% win- and 100% place strike rate in pattern races seems significant.

Anyone else with a chance? Well, you can’t rule out Mutakayyef. He won two on the bounce and tries to bring this form to the highest level now. Dariyan has been disappointing lately, but on his best, could finish in the money.

That says at the prices, I think Wings of Desire is the most compelling bet in the race. I really do expect him to run a huge race.

Selection: Wings Of Desire @ 12/1 Ladbrokes

———-

Best of the Rest:

2.20 Chepstow: Island In The Sky @ 7/4 Skybet
2.30 York: Courage Under Fire @ 7/1 Bet365
2.45 Carlisle: Senator @ 5/6 Skybet
2.55 Chepstow: Hidden Stash @ 11/4 Bet365
3.30 Chepstow: Curriculum @ 11/8 Coral
4.55 York: Kamra @ 16/1 Bet365
7.40 Kempton: Certified @ 9/1 Bet365
8.40 Kempton: Saborido @ 14/1 Bet365

Photo: Britishchampionseries.com/Racingfotos.com