Tag Archives: Sandown

Wednesday Selections: 20th July 2022

7.08 Sandown: Class 5 Handicap, 7f

Autumn Festival is an obvious choice off the same mark as when going agonisingly close over half a furlong further last time out, hence is possibly the right favourite. But odds-on? No, that not.

Down to 7 furlongs on fastish ground doesn’t look ideal given he won over a mile on soft ground, while his career best topspeed rating doesn’t say he’s well handicapped at all.

I am really interested in the filly Sense Of Security – again. I backed her at Leicester in May off her current same mark when she came home strongly to finish 2nd. There were reasons to mark her up for that performance, and it confirmed the promise she showed earlier the year, especially at Bath when seriously catching the eye.

She didn’t enjoyed softish ground subsequently and when last seen lost a shoe and was reportedly heavily in season, so it’s another performance with legitimate excuses.

The handicapper doesn’t take a chance with her, nonetheless off 63 she looks still capable of winning a race like this. Her Bath and Leicester runs gave the impression she can be a bit better than this Official Rating.

If the ground stays fast she certainly must got a prime chance in this field. If the new combination of headgear helps her to focus a bit better she will almost certainly be better than the mark. The track should suit her running style.

10pts win – Sense Of Security @ 11/1

Saturday Selections: 2nd July 2022

3.35 Sandown: Eclipse Stakes, 1m 2f

The race promised so much at the beginning of the week. It has significantly lost in excitement with the loss of some key horses that were expected to run and now go somewhere else for supposedly easier options.

It’s still a good race with six proper thoroughbreds going head to head. Let’s not forget only a few weeks ago Bay Bridge was thought to be the next coming of baby Jesus.

Today he’s a 7/2 shot. I was tempted for a moment when even bigger yesterday afternoon, but can’t get over the fact that his Sandown performance is simply overrated in my view, given the better horses that day weren’t fully tuned up most likely.

Even if taking the performance at face value he achieved a 102 topspeed rating – although it’s not unreasonable to assume he could have ran a bit faster – is far from the best on offer in this field today. He also had every chance at Ascot in my view and failed.

Mishriff is the highest rated horse in the race and a proper star. He’s only returning from a break, though. I doubt the test today, given how the race is likely to pan out, will suit.

Alenquer produced a career best at the Curragh. I rate that performance highly. He could be underestimated today again and probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves. I do wonder about a possibly slow pace for him, though. On fast ground it counts against him.

The two most likely to fight it out in my view are the three-year-olds. Superstar juvenile Native Trail has done little wrong this season . I don’t understand the perception that he is not as good a three-year-old as he was a juvenile when he clearly is. He simply meets stiffer competition this year.

He still impresses me, I must say. His Newmarket performance can be marked up for a variety of reason but he was the best horse in the race in my view and simply unlucky the way the race developed.

He put things right at the Curragh. It wasn’t a flashy performance but he did it in the upmost professional manner. He’s given enough indication to believe a step up in trip can work.

How is the fast ground to suit today? And what about the pace? He can take a bit of time to get going. Not ideal in what shapes like a muddling affair.

It’s the conundrum of the day: pace. Or a lack of it. Who is going to do the donkey work? Most if not all of these want to have something to chase after. This will be a sprint finish.

As unoriginally as it is, the fastest horse is French Derby winner Vadeni. His 109 topspeed rating from Chantilly rates even higher given he was nearly pulled up half a furlong from home.

He’s got a proper turn of foot, can quicken off a slowish pace, and looks a thoroughly uncomplicated ride. The fast ground is the one worry I have. It’s new to him. There’s a significant difference between French good ground (as connections called the PDJC ground) and Sandown fast.

But with the 3-year-old weight allowance in addition to the possibility of more improvement, I can’t look past him, especially at a price that should be probably a point shorter I think.

10pts win – Vadeni @ 9/4

………….

1.50 Sandown: Group 3 Coral Charge, 5f

Equilateral is the a clear top rated choice on any measure for me. The bounce factor is a question mark, however that is already more than reflected in the price. If he’s fine after a huge effort at Royal Ascot and gets a clear run I can’t see him getting beaten.

Equilateral returned from a long lay-off in the King’s Stand Stakes. He travelled beautifully through the race, tracked Nature Strip from over two furlongs out and naturally failed to match the superstar sprinter. He finished a highly credible 5th, though.

That performance was worth a 102 topspeed rating. Just another one in the list of 100+ performances he produced in this career. He looks still strong and fast on the basis of this run and is considerably overpriced.

10pts win – Equilateral @ 11/2

……….

2.25 Sandown: Class 2 Handicap, 1m

It pains me that I can’t back Checkandchallenge  because I was really keen on him after his eye-catching Guineas run that was much better than the bare form suggested. I absolutely loved his Newcastle victory too.

At 4/1 on properly fast ground I can’t have him off 108, though. He may be too good and can overcome it, but I have the impression the fast ground won’t be to his advantage.

There is one alternative I have been tracking the whole year already: Trais Fluors. Admittedly the latest Windsor performance has given me pause for thought and I am a little less excited to jump on board. He looked laboured that day. So a clear risk to back when backing him today: what’s his form?

However, the positives outweigh the risks in an open race where he’s certainly handicapped to go close if he finds back to the form previously shown in three runs this season.

He caught the eye on all three of those runs. Desperately unlucky at Thirsk, not a clear passage on his seasonal debut at Newbury before and he made a huge impression from off the pace dominated by those up or closer to it at Redcar, finishing the second half of the race the fastest.

Down to a mark of 85 he’s given a proper chance. He won last summer over course and distance on fast ground off 92. He ran to topspeed 91 that day.

Back at Sandown with De Sousa in the saddle he has a good chance to outrun his price. Whether that’s good enough to win in this hot contest remains to be seen. He needs a bit of “luck” from off the pace. I have him a better shot nonetheless to deliver today.

10pts win – Trais Fluors @ 10/1

……….

6.50 Carlisle: Class 6 Handicap, 5f

Twice Adaay has been knocking on the door a couple of times this season over 6 furlongs. She caught my eye in May at Ripon when she moved forward into a prominent position after slightly sluggish start. She lost her position before the two furlong marker as she got behind a wall of horses. She was short of room over one furlong from home again, but finished well enough and easy on the eye.

The drop to the minimum trip is sure to suit, especially with rain forecast. Her best performances came over five furlongs with cut in the ground, so conditions will be perfect.

She is down to a mark off 55, a single pound above her last (and only) winning mark when she took a 5 furlong contest at Beverley last July. She seems to give her best running also on these slightly tricky specialist tracks, as she possesses good balance and should enjoy Carlisle in the rain.

Having ran to topspeeds of 58 (on fibresand though), 56 and 54 on turf, she is reasonably well handicapped, with 5lb claiming Laura Coughlin offering additional assistance.

10pts win – Twice Adaay @ 8/1

………….

7.00 Nottingham: Class 5 Handicap, 6f

Lightly-raced Bibulous makes plenty of appeal here, even though I envision he might be even better over an additional furlong. I still believe even over 6 furlongs he can be better handicapped than the current mark, and his recent finish at Chepstow is a good indication for this notion.

The June race was his seasonal reappearance after a light campaign as a three-year-old with only three runs including an impressive victory at Kempton over 6 furlongs.

At Chepstow he travelled at the rear of the field after a restrained start. He looked to go pretty well, was eventually switched to the stands’ side over two furlongs out where he started his run home. He didn’t have an instant change of gear but it also appeared he didn’t quite enjoy the undulations and especially downhill portion of the course.

However once balanced he rattled home much the strongest suggesting that there’s more to come on a slightly more conventional straight sprint course. He remains on the same 68 handicap mark, which is more than fair I reckon. He already ran to a 67 topspeed last season. Any improvement will see him hard to beat.

10pts win – Bibulous @ 5/1

Eyecatchers #9 2022

A list of horses that caught my eye during the last seven days of racing. These individuals look ready to win a race sooner rather than later given the right conditions.

Brilliant Blue
20/05/22 – 1.35 Goodwood:

Awkward start but wasn’t help by the isolated #1 draw. Was about to move forward when badly hampered on the inside around the 6 furlong marker. Keen afterwards. Made excellent progress from three furlongs out. Looked like coming with big run before fading.

This was his seasonal reappearance. Possible lack of race fitness and mid-race keenness may have been the contributing factor to a lackluster finish.

Should be better than this. Showed promise as a juvenile in two races in Autumn – form worked out well as he finished around some higher rated individuals – before flopping on the All-Weather. The mile trip shouldn’t be an issue on pedigree.

Race Replay

Aeonian
20/05/22 – 3.40 Haydock:

Travelled toward the end of the small field, pretty keen early on, nearly bumped into rival. Slowly run race, eventual first and second – also lto winners – tracked the pace and quickened gradually from three furlongs out. He made good progress on outside once in the clear but couldn’t catch the leaders.

He was also quite heavily sweating on this seasonal reappearance. Given circumstances this was a fine performance against some good and experienced rivals.

Hasn’t been seen since August when winning hot Yarmouth Novice contest overcoming severe greenness. The form looks strong. he could be a smart prospect. May be prohibitive odds next time. Needs monitoring.

Race Replay

Glamorous Express
21/05/22 – 4.35 Goodwood:

Travelling very strongly in rear of the field. Was at a major disadvantage, though. Having to pass the entire field, still last two furlongs from home going well, eventually switched inside the final furlong and finishes easily the best.

Obviously needs step up in trip. Six furlongs should see him improve. Seven furlongs not out of question. Was still green and raw in most races last year. Hence wouldn’t be too harsh on judging his performances beyond the minimum distance in his juvenile campaign.

Won a Novice contest when last seen in 2021 at Bath, battling strongly. A mark of 80 looks fair for the moment, if he can improve for the trip and for race fitness.

Race Replay

Tomfre
21/05/22 – 1.40 York:

Led the field setting solid fractions. Started to come under pressure from over two furlongs out. Headed and eventually lost touch with those that finished in the placings. Stuck gutsily to the task regardless, didn’t fade away.

Strong performance, ran right to form and mark. Was runner-up of 105 OR last May at this track. Comes down to a more realistic marks now, currently 2lb below his last winning mark.

Looks in fine form, this performance confirmed as much. Ideally would love to see a few more pounds off. Needs certainly proper soft ground to be seen to best effect. He’s one to keep monitoring this season for the right circumstances.

Race Replay

Ey Up It’s Maggie
21/05/22 – 2.55 York:

Tracked the early pace, took over the lead halfway through and ran strongly to the line. Only headed and eventually beaten in the final 100 yards.

Really gutsy performance. Highly consistent filly. In the grip of the handicapper. Will always be vulnerable in this class off this mark. A few pounds off, drop in class and proper soft ground over the minimum trip will be really interesting. Wait for it.

Race Replay

Bonus
21/05/22 – 7.15 Lingfield:

Crossed over toward the rails soon after the start and travelled at the end of the midfield group for the most part. Had a lot to do form this position over two furlongs out while the winner enjoyed the perfect run being up with the pace and was also well handicapped. Didn’t have the pace to challenge when gaps opened over a furlong from home but finished well under hands and heels.

He’s still a few pounds above his last winning mark but starts to get some assistance from the handicapper. I feel this run confirmed his wellbeing. Any additional drop in the ratings combined with racing over 7 furlongs on proper soft ground will spark my interest.

Race Replay

La Yakel
22/05/22 – 1.30 Nottingham:

Was away a bit slowly from the widest draw, settled eventually in rear. Still trailed over two furlongs out going very strongly. Didn’t get out for a clear run until about 1.5f from home. Quickened nicely and grabbed third place on the line having been tenderly handled.

This was his debut. He was gelded already back in March but must have some talent. Was a £28,000 foal but changed hands a year later for £120,000 to Shadwell. He will likely improve plenty fold for stepping up to 10 furlongs given his breeding.

The form could be quite useful. The odds-on winner had more experience and tasted success the last time. Given first and second where always prominent and La Yakel made such a good impression from the rear of the field suggest he could be closely matched with the winner. Needs monitoring for the next starts.

Race Replay

Kaasirr
22/05/22 – 3.05 Nottingham:

Travelled well enough in the final third of the field. Looked poised from three out, not clearest of runs from over two furlongs out, in a tight spot. Eventually fades.

I imagine this was a strong race for this class and will work out well in the long-run. He’s got a few solid pieces of form to this name, especially a close runner-up effort behind Al Nafir (who was 2nd behind Cash on debut) last year on his second career start.

His three-year old campaign has been rather disappointing so far. He was fancied in all three races, hang his chances away at Southwell and finished tamely the last two times. I feel a mile is the maximum of his stamina, though.

He comes down to a dangerous mark I reckon. Perhaps some different form of headgear could be interesting. A drop to a mile is key. I would also be interested in 7 furlongs with a bit of ease in the ground.

Race Replay

Orbaan
22/05/22 – 5.05 York:

Settled in rear of the field going well. Travelled much the strongest in the home straight, hard on the bridle, poised to be unleashed for a winning move. Couldn’t get out, though. Repeatedly short of room. No chance whatsoever.

Is an infrequent winner but has ran numerous times really well in defeat. Big run when 5th in last years Lincoln, placed in the summer off a mark off 94 twice.

Now down to a 87 OR, he looks seriously well handicapped if he gets his conditions: a mile at York or Doncaster or generally a relatively flat straight course. He also goes well over 7 furlongs with significant cut in the ground. He looks ready for a big win.

Race Replay

Arab Cinder
23/05/22 – 1.10 Wolverhampton:

Had to overcome the widest draw, outpaced early on and trailed the main body of the field by quite a margin. Made good progress from halfway, in touch turning for home and loomed dangerously. Couldn’t get a clear run, kept inside by rival the entire home straight until dramatic move toward the inside at the final furlong marker.

Would have gone really close with a clear run most likely. This was her Handicap debut and she showed significant improvement from her three qualifying runs.

As a full-sister to a 1m 6f winner who stayed 2 miles, she is likely to get better the further she goes. 7 furlongs is clearly too short therefore it’s noteworthy how well she ran here. The family isn’t overly successful on the ratings front but most win races.

With that in mind I don’t have massive confidence that she can repeat this performance over shorter than 10 furlongs. The pace was likely a big help for her staying on so well. If she moves up in trip I’ll be really interested. One to monitor.

Race Replay

Eddie The Beagle
23/05/22 – 2.20 Leicester:

Outpaced early on, possibly still green, had to be niggled in early parts of the race. Travelled okay into home straight and tried to make progress from back of the field having loads to do. Multiple times stopped and short of room. Ran on a bit late under easy ride.

Seasonal reappearance. Showed bit of progress on second last start last November. Dam won over 1m 4f for the same yard. Would expect this lad to be competitive if he steps up to that sort of distance.

Race Replay

Crownthorpe
24/05/22 – 7.00 Newcastle:

Travelled in rear initially, seemingly not going all that well. Moved into midfield and outpaced over 2 furlong out when the pace increased. Seemed to come with a late move inside the final furlong but badly hampered half a furlong from home. Winner was long gone at that stage though.

He was hampered and short of room on his seasonal reappearance at Redcar, too. Finished the race okayish from the back of the field. The form looks very strong.

Lost form toward the second half of last season. Has fallen significantly in his mark since two subsequent placed efforts in class 2 Hansicaps off 88 and 89 in May and June 2021.

Down to a 74 rating now, he should be really well handicapped in the right conditions. A mile with cut in the ground could be that. He requires a solid pace to be seen to best effect, I feel.

Race Replay

Reckon I’m Hot
24/05/22 – 5.40 Lingfield:

Caught wide from the #11 draw early on, travelled pretty well into the home straight, going better than most, couldn’t find instant acceleration when finding daylight over 1 furlong out. Perhaps ran out of gas too.

Seven furlongs is probably too far. She was quite unlucky not to win over the minimum trip at Lingfield back in February when she looked to have it won, only be caught late on the line.

Subsequently badly hampered at the start at Chelmsford, she ran better than the result suggested, while she bumped into a very well handicapped winner at Wolverhampton.

She looks capable of winning off her current mark. Would quite like to see her over 6 furlongs on turf.

Race Replay

Billy Wedge
24/05/22 – 8.05 Newcastle:

A bit slowly away, settled in rear, although seriously keen early on. Jockey had to take pulls multiple times. Steered from the middle toward the stands’ side and back again over 3f out. Seemed to travel extremely strongly approaching the 2f marker, still hard on the bridle, only then switched to the widest outside. Finished much the strongest.

Possibly unlucky not getting the clearest of runs but also seemingly a rather conservative ride given. Ran really well at Redcar in April on his comeback run after a near year long break.

Couldn’t repeat, although perhaps mitigating factors. This latest performance shows he is still very much capable of winning. On past form potentially well handicapped if the handicapper doesn’t react too harshly. Was Newcastle winner over 6f of a mark off 52, running to topspeed 55 in February 2021.

Best form on the All-Weather and over 7 furlongs. Rating wise not too far behind what he has achieved on turf, though; however, without winning. I don’t see turf as such a big negative with that in mind. But needs careful monitoring of market and jockey booking. Will require proper soft ground if to be considered on turf.

Race Replay

Thrave
25/05/22 – 3.10 Beverley:

Restrained early on and settled in last pace a few lengths off the main body of the field. Good progress from 4 furlongs out on the inside but headway stopped in home straight. Repeatedly short of room right to the end, while looking poised to win the race if a gap would open.

Ran better on two occasions this season since coming back from a break. Looks poised judged on this, though from a handicapping perspective loos matched with best form from last season.

As eyecatching as this performance was I want to see a couple pounds off the mark. Off 65 or lower at a track that doesn’t favour front runners. 7f-1m fine. The shorter distance not on fast ground. Monitor. Engaged this Friday at Pontefract.

Race Replay

Van Gerwen
25/05/22 – 6.25 Ripon:

Travelled in midfield in a compact field. Perhaps a little bit flat footed entering last three furlongs when pace increased. Found some momentum and looked ready for a challenge but was repeatedly short of room until nearly the very final moment of the race.

Probably ran right up to mark and best of his 2021 form. Won off the same mark last October and ran to topspeed 62, 65 and 67. With that in mind he has clearly proven his wellbeing – important for a 9-year-old.

At the same time he is not overly well handicapped right now. Merely handicapped to what he’s capable of running to. It’s worth waiting one or two more runs to see how his mark is going to be (hopefully) reduced. Is engaged Friday, 27th May at Pontefract.

Race Replay

Twice Adaay
25/05/22 – 8.30 Ripon:

Prominent early on, chased the pace in second line. Lost position when racing room became increasingly tight and was short of room at 2 furlongs from home. Had to delay challenge. Met interference at final furlong marker too. Switched toward the inside and moved nicely through a gap to finish well.

Sole win came over 5 furlongs in soft conditions last year of a mark off 54. Ran to topspeed 56 on turf and 58 on firesand. Ran quite well on a number occasions this year. Consistency means she’s in the grip of the handicapper right now.

If she falls below 65 again and over the minimum trip on proper soft ground she’ll be really interesting.

Race Replay

Lady Lavina
26/05/22 – 1.20 Ripon:

Travelled really strongly and like the potential winner for the most parts of the race. Tried to find a gap from over two furlongs out. Short of room until very late when finally space opens up and she finishes really strongly, even though runs into traffic close to the finish once again.

May filly on debut here seemed ready despite drifting out to 20/1. Most likely will benefit from step up in trip to 7 furlongs. One to see where connections go next. May be too obvious to back next time. Worth to keep an eye for when she moves beyond six furlongs.

Race Replay

Field Of Honour
26/05/22 – 3.50 Ripon:

Pulls really hard pretty for the majority of the race. A slow pace didn’t help. Received a good educational ride. As pace leading trio kicks on four from home he’s kept at the rear of the field behind horses. Pulled out 3f from home and makes eye catching progress to about the final furlong marker.

Debut run for this April foal. Quite well bred, likely to be seen to best effect if stepping up to 10 furlongs. needs to learn to settle. Looks to have a bit of talent given the way he travelled in the home straight and make nice progress.

Will not get involved before going handicapping unless stepping up to 10 furlongs. One to monitor for next entries.

Race Replay

Eyecatchers #5 2022

A list of horses that caught my eye during the last seven days of racing. These individuals look ready to win a race sooner rather than later.

Kimngrace
22/04/22: 1.20 Sandown:

After a steadied start she settled in rear of the field. She made some smooth progress from over three furlongs out but was stuck behind a bunch of horses and a clear passage denied until very late. She finished well when a bit of racing room opened up in the closing stages.

The winner made all from the front, the runner-up and third raced close to the pace too. Given these circumstances this was a big run on what was Kimngrace’s seasonal reappearance.

She looks a filly open to improvement, possibly more so if stepping up to 6 furlongs again, or perhaps a really stiff five. When last seen in 2021 she won a Maiden race at Haydock over 6f and looked at home over the trip. That particular form worked out well with the runner-up having ran a huge race in the Fred Darling Stakes recently.

It will be interesting to see what the handicapper does. I feel he can’t raise her mark too much . Of her current 78 rating she looks potentially really well handicapped, though.

Race Replay

Devilwala
23/04/22 – 1.20 Ripon:

I admit this requires a bit of imagination and context. Devilwala travelled okayish, always close to the pace, and attempted to make a move from 3 furlongs out as the pace increased. He looked one of the more dangerous horses at this moment in time, was still there for a good finish with a furlong to go, but ran out of gas eventually.

Not unexpectedly. Devilwala doesn’t stay the mile trip. He was 4th in a 2000 Guineas, and overall highly tried in his first two seasons, but his best came over 6f and 7f, like a strong 4th, less than three lengths beaten in the Dewhurst behind St. Mark’s Basilica.

Those days are long gone. He changed yards twice and has been gelded. He’s fallen from a career highest 114 OR to a modest 84 right now. I suspect he’ll be dropped another couple of pounds soon.

That’s the context to this 4th place finish at Ripon. A solid run over a distance that stretched his stamina. It should bring him on for the moment he drops in trip.

I want to see a few more pounds off the mark plus a drop in class to be seriously interested. This day will come in the not too distinct future.

Race Replay

Buckshaw Village
23/04/22 – 5.10 Ripon:

Travelled in midfield initially, then relegated to the rear and switched to the inside, possibly for more cover. Was behind a wall of horses and stuck to the task to stay in touch and looked poised for a challenge. Didn’t get a run through, slightly impeded 1 furlong out. Finished really well under hands and heels.

This was only the second handicap start for the colt and second run after a lackluster but excusable comeback run at Pontefract. He showed promise last season as a juvenile with three placed efforts in maiden & novice company.

This was a great run though, given circumstances, also over the minimum trip. I feel, given the pedigree, and the way he finished here, he’ll absolutely enjoy going back up to 6 furlongs again, or perhaps even attempting 7 furlongs.

He comes down to a workable mark, particularly if he can improve for experience and trip. Buckshaw Village is ready to win. He certainly wants decent ground, though, and wouldn’t be of interest to me if he stays over the minimum trip.

Race Replay

Billian
23/04/22 – 1.30 Haydock:

Breaking slowly put him at a disadvantage right away. He trailed the field but travelled well enough with good progress. Dramatic move to be switched to the wide outside in order to get a clear run. He looked dangerous there but had too much too do and tired in the closing stages.

Still managed to finish the 2nd fastest combined splits for the final three furlongs, just behind the well handicapped After John (3rd place). This form looks really strong and his performance a definite return to form.

He has fallen 17lb in the mark in the last year, and clearly lost his enthusiasm for racing. Breaking poorly has become a habit and he was never once fancied in 2021.

Nonetheless, he’s coming down to a sexy handicap mark now, possibly with even further assistance from the handicapper after this run. Billian has ran six times to topspeed ratings of 60 and higher throughout his career which gives plenty of hope that he can win soon.

One caveat: I have to account for the slow starts and think they are easier to make up in smaller fields. Plus while he appears ground independent I believe his best comes out on decent ground. Only in those circumstances I will be interested in him.

Race Replay

Strawman
23/04/22 – 7.05 Doncaster:

He completely messed up the start and lost a number of lengths early on (have to monitor whether this becomes a habit). Trailed until turning for home when making rapid progress highlighted by blistering sectionals to move into a challenging position. Pays for the effort in the closing stages but also entitled to tire on his first run in 223 days.

This was Strawman’s first “poor” run in a year. He won three races and finished another one second of his four starts last season. And this most recent one is a much stronger performance than the 7 lengths beaten 5/5 result suggests.

In fact this run suggests the handicapper may still not have caught up with him and he can win again as long as it’s 9-10 furlongs on decent ground.

Race Replay

Secretfact
24/04/22 – 2.40 Bath:

Was very alertly out of the gate, travelled strongly in midfield to the 2 furlong marker. Had nowhere to go from there, though, trying different routes. Eventually pushed toward the inside when he runs out of fuel.

The 9-year-old was entitled to get tired on his first start in 2022, but clearly ran much better than the result and price suggested. He has still a lot of enthusiasm for racing.

Down to a mark of 65, which is probably a fairer reflection of his class these days, but a little bit of additional assistance from the handicapper will mean he’s got to be well handicapped over the minimum trip on lightning fast ground.

Side note: He ran at Chepstow on Thursday in the meantime. Same mark, same trip. Fine performance, leading from the front, just to tire in the closing stages and drop to 4th late. He should be ready for a big run next time if conditions suit (5f, fast going).

Race Replay

Sense Of Security
24/04/22 – 4.55 Bath:

Was well away from the gates and travelled in midfield for the majority of the race. She was quite keen too, pulling hard from midway through. Yet she appeared to go easily and strongly turning for home, the jockey taking a pull over 3 furlongs out.

She seemed to travel like the winner, with the only problem how to get a run for home. It didn’t happen until very late when the race was over. She is obviously much better than this result.

Sense Of Security has shown promise last year, was placed over 5.5f at this track in an eye-catching performance. She was a good third at Kempton earlier this month too, having ran to topspeed 61.

With experience she should improve. I feel a drop to 7f wouldn’t be an issue, neither would be a step up in trip out of question given the pedigree. Though, given her tendency to pull hard, a mile is probably the maximum right now.

Race Replay

Dream Composer
24/04/22 – 4.05 Wetherby:

Travelled in last position for most of the race, until turning for home when he attempted to make progress on the wide outside. Wasn’t helped by moving horses in front but also struggled with top-end speed on this fast surface.

Was brave in the final furlong to move through a gap and finished well. Clear improvement on recent poor Pontefract showing, which was a first run after a break, though. Performance is notable for the fact he ran so well here on fast ground even though he’s a much better horse with cut in the ground.

Comes down to a really nice mark having won of 1lb higher last summer and having ran a massive race in a big Ayr Handicap of 7lb higher. Interesting next time whenever on soft ground.

Race Replay

Hodler
25/04/22 – 4.55 Windsor:

Travelled strongly in rear, hard on the bridle approaching the last two furlongs. Stuck behind a wall of horses he’s switched to the inside but that doesn’t make the situation any better. Short of room there until very late when switched even wider.

I really liked how Hodler travelled here. He spotted a hood for the first time. Still pretty lightly raced it’s clear racing him over sprint trips is far from ideal given his pedigree. But potentially required to bring the mark down from what was a stiff opening mark (78).

He will clearly benefit moving up in distance. 10 furlongs looks possible. The fact he has been keen in the past is the obvious question mark for that sort of project. Nonetheless worth waiting for it to happen before backing him.

Race Replay

Homemade Andrea
25/04/22 – 7.55 Windsor:

Settled in rear of the field and travelled much the strongest to the 2 furlong marker, although had to delay her challenge. Once things opened up she dropped away tamely.

The mile trip could be too far for her. The filly’s best is over 7 furlongs which looks more in line with her sire and dam’s sire stamina index too. I imagine she might be best with a bit of cut in the ground as well.

Clearly 13 runs and 1 single win isn’t an overly sexy profile. But she managed to win of a mark of 50 as a juvenile and was a good runner-up of 2lb higher at Lingfield in January, when also running to a 50 topspeed rating, validating this form.

She’s likely to fall another couple of pounds for this run. If dropping back to 7 furlongs she’ll be interesting with a bit of cut in the ground I reckon.

Race Replay

Golden Apollo
25/04/22 – 7.05 Thirsk:

Didn’t have a good start and as a consequence settled in the final third of the field. Travelled okay and looked in with a shot if getting a clear run. He was kept up to the task the entire race but didn’t find a gap. Finished easily and seemingly with something left in the tank.

The golden years are obviously behind the 8-year-old but he still performed of marks in the 80s last year and also ran to topspeed 84 when runner-up in a hot Redcar Handicap.

He’s been a shade unlucky a number times too in the meantime, as a results his mark is reduced all the time. He’s down to a good mark already, but any additional help from the handicapper will be welcome. A 6f race of a 75 rating in class 4 could be an optimal scenario.

Race Replay

Northbound
25/04/22 – 20.05 Thirsk:

Keen at different stages of the race, nonetheless travelling smoothly on the inside. Still hard on the bridle over a furlong out, although absolutely no chance to get a run. Gently switched to the middle of the track very late and finished eye-catchingly well in one of the fasted final furlong splits despite being hard held.

He hasn’t won since his juvenile days, but has been competitive and placed numerous times last season, without winning though, and sometimes unlucky.

His mark continues to fall and is down to what makes him a well handicapped individual now. He was placed of 65 and ran to Topspeed 58, 59 and 61 last year. He also has a career best 71 TS rating. 7f fast ground may be ideal.

Race Replay

Golden Melody
26/04/22 – 3.30 Nottingham:

This was a really slow race for the most part resulting in a sprint finish. Golden Melody was disadvantaged by her racing position but made eye-catching progress on the inside from 4 furlongs out against a rapidly increasing pace.

The leaders where not for catching holding all the aces due to the nature of how the race developed, but Golden Melody finished the last four furlongs still much the fastest. It’s speculative but she was probably the best horse in the race on handicapping terms and would have won in different circumstances.

The 4-year-old filly looks quite exposed on paper, given 23 lifetime starts already. However, she was still progressive in a busy campaign last year. Particularly from summer on this March filly was prolific: three wins and a number of quality efforts.

She’s up to a 73 mark now and hasn’t matched that with topspeed yet. However she came close enough with a 69 TS effort in a hot class 2 York Handicap last year. She can improve again as this most recent run suggests. Anything between 9-10 furlongs is probably ideal with relative ground independence.

Race Replay

Kraken Power
26/04/22 – 6.15 Ayr:

Got a bump right after the start and was quite keen in the aftermath. Yet travelled much the best and made a big effort from 3f out to contest the lead on the outside of the field approaching the final furlong marker. Tired in the closing stages.

He possibly paid for a big effort from three to one furlongs out. Despite fading away late, he finished the last three furlongs fast and wasn’t knocked about in the closing stages. This performance is a clear return to form and build nicely on a solid comeback run at Thirsk earlier this month.

He changed yards late last year after obviously losing his way. He hasn’t exactly fired in the first two starts for Jim Goldie but was better than the bare form suggested at Thirsk and really caught my eye here too.

Kraken Power has talent. He was rated as high as 86, was placed in good races of 82 last season, as well as ran to topspeed 82. He’s now down to 70. If this upward trend continues he’ll be a massive chance next time. Both minimum trip and 6 furlongs are fine, although fast ground 6f may be the ideal scenario.

Race Replay

Hathlool
27/04/22 – 1.50 Ascot:

Awkward start, settled in rear travelling notably well. Made eye-catching progress from midway through the race, switching toward the inside looking for a clear run, although there’s also a noticeable lack of urgency from the jockey . He’s short of room one furlong out again and finishes easily under hands and heels.

This was an eye-catching run for a number of reasons and the stewards thought so too, holding an inquiry into the ride. Whatever the lack of in-running luck, in my view the jockey didn’t really try to obtain the best possible position in the race.

Hathlool has been quite progressive over the last half year on both turf and All-Weather, winning three times and running better than the bare form suggested the last two times on turf.

His mark is probably high enough now as he’s not yet run to a topspeed above 58. But I feel once he goes up to 9-10 furlongs again, and drops to 75 or lower he’ll be really interesting.

Perhaps that’s exactly the idea of connections to get him into that type of scenario. He’s got an entry for Beverley over 8.5f on Monday. With his sketchy starting habits and the trip perhaps slightly below his preferred optimum, I can see him not running too well there. That could bring him down to the rating I want to see.

Race Replay

Rocket Dancer
27/04/22 – 5.30 Pontefract:

Had a wide draw to overcome and as a consequence settled in rear, which was a huge disadvantage in a race dominated by those up or close to the pace.

Cut the corner turning for home and then made significant progress against the inside rail to finish 4th, staying on as one of very few from the back of the field.

Clear sign of life for a horse that lost form in the second half of last season. He was still a fine runner-up over this course and distance twelve months earlier of a mark of 62, won subsequently of 64 on the All-Weather. Was well beaten in all other runs then.

Down to a 52 rating now he appears to be supremely well handicapped on past form. This performance gives me the impression he is ready to win soon.

Race Replay

Chant For More
27/04/22 – 7.55 Musselburgh:

The gelding travelled nicely enough on the inside rail behind the leading trio but had to wait for a gap to open. It only really opened up for him very late, over half a furlong from home, he went through bravely and ran on strongly for 3rd place in a tight finish.

This was a significant improvement on his juvenile form. A recent wind operation must have done the trick here. He was a cheap vendor foal but offers some upside as a 3-year-old I feel, given he was an April foal and has scope to get better with experience, now that his wind is okay.

A step up to 6 furlongs would be really interesting in a low-grade race next time.

Race Replay

Perfect Symphony + San Juan
28/04/22 – 4.05 Lingfield:

Despite a solid break from the gates Perfect Symphony got behind soon, perhaps also got a bit tight amongst horses around the first bend (hard to see). Was pushed along from 4 furlongs out and turned home in last position. Thundered home in impressive fashion to finish runner-up eventually.

The 8-year-old has still something to give as evidence by his latest performances. He ran well on a number of occasions over the last weeks and months on the All-Weather. At his age he’s a bit quirky and needs things to fall right, though.

Saying that, a small field sprint over the minimum distance on the All-Weather is certainly a possibility for him to win, particularly of such a low mark he’s fallen to. He was fancied in the betting for the first time in a while here, so I’ll want to monitor the market before backing him.

San Juan had to contend with the widest draw which wasn’t ideal given he has starting issues. Consequently he was slowly away, lost ground early on and played catch-up. Made rapid progress over three furlongs out but turned a bit awkward and wide. Took time to get organised, then rattled home to finish 3rd.

Given the circumstances this was a massive performance. The first furlong aside hampered by the start, he ran incredible sectionals. He was unlucky last time out not getting a clear run 2f out and also losing a shoe.

He’s obviously a horse with issues and one has to account for his habit of starting slowly. Now down to a mark of 48 though, he looks supremely well handicapped even taking those issues into account. He clearly acts well on the All-Weather, but I would love to see him on turf, perhaps with a bit of cut in the ground.

Race Replay

Cobra Kai
28/04/22 – 4.35 Musselburgh

A big keen to get on with the job early on, but totally lit up once hampered over five furlongs out. Was stuck on the inside in a pocket behind the long-term leader and eventual winner, always kept up to work and stuck nicely to the task. Finished well in the closing stages given the circumstances.

He was well fancied here as the favourite after a highly promising seasonal reappearance at Newcastle in March. That day he finished strongly and in contrast to what one would have expected given the price tag.

Still a maiden after eight lifetime starts now, but he looks well capable of winning of his current mark. Ideally runs over 7 furlongs or over a mile, which looks realistic on pedigree. He needs to learn to settle, that’s key, though.

If he does, perhaps with the application of some headgear, he’ll make a mockery of a 49 handicap mark I feel.

Race Replay

Sandown Classic Trial Preview

Six exciting colts go to post in the Classic Trial at Sandown on Friday. Could we see the 2022 Derby winner?

Goldspur has the strongest form in the book, no doubt. A winner of the Zetland Stakes in October last year followed up with a subsequent 3rd place in a strong Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud.

He ran to topspeed 92 on his second lifetime start at Newmarket and the French form has worked out well: the likes of Stone Age and Buckaroo have returned as three-year-olds in promising style.

The clear concern must be Goldspur’s speed. Even as a juvenile he appeared desperately in need of every inch of the 1m 2f trip. He was also beaten for speed in the closing stages at Saint-Cloud. With that in mind over 10 furlongs on fast ground he looks vulnerable in this field.

River Thames is an interesting alternative. I was quite taken how he won on debut at Punchestown. No surprise, he was a still raw and green and a bit flat footed over three furlongs out, but once called on for full effort he rapidly shifted into top gear and ran down the leaders.

Judged on that visual piece of evidence he should enjoy the step up in trip. Although the pedigree is a little bit less clear on that front. It’ll be interesting to watch.

John Gosden can never be ignored, given his more recent successes in this particular race. His Frankel colt Frantastic was an emphatic winner of a Novice contest at Newcastle when last seen in October. It was visually impressive how he put the race to bed, matched by fast sectionals in the closing stages.

On the other hand it was a slowly run race and the horses behind him low-grade standard – the runner-up is a 72 rated individual after an unsuccessful class 5 Handicap debut. The fact he could quicken off a pedestrian pace in such nice style, while you would hope he can easily step up to 10 furlongs, is a big plus, nonetheless.

Franz Strauss was a winner on debut at Newcastle in December. The form is notable for the fact that it has been seriously franked thanks to third placed Eydon who made such a big impression in the Feilden Stakes last week upon his return.

The son of Golden Horn looks sure to improve for the new trip and seems to be a bit overpriced in a race where the majority of colts are such unknown quantities.

Ralph Beckett will hope Westover can take a step forward for the new trip too. The Frankel colt finished never worse than second in three starts over 1 mile last year. To be competitive in this race he’s got to find improvement, though.

Cash is the one I am most interested in. For obvious reasons. He featured on my 5 To Follow list for 2022 thanks to a stunning debut run in a maiden at Newmarket in October.

Visually that was an incredibly taking run, one that is backed up speed ratings and sectionals. The form looks proper as he overcame greenness when beating more experiences rivals, plus the third placed horse was a fine 3rd placed finisher behind New London too, who himself is now a hot Derby prospect.

He is likely to stay well beyond the mile trip given the dam won over 1m 6f, so the step up in trip is a positive here. A negative could be hold-up tactics. Never ideal at Sandown, even more so in a race where there may a lack of pace.

Summary:

A wide open contest, especially if one is prepared to take on short-priced favourite Goldspur. Charlie Appleby’s colt remains the most likely winner on all known form. However, the other five horses have all significant potential to improve.

At this point in time nobody truly knows which horse has trained on and will be able to fulfill their early promise. I hope it’s going to be Cash. The Grey impressed me on debut so immensely with a debut run that to me appeared out of the ordinary.

The pace is question mark, as is tactics. Yet, I can see a scenario where even in a slowly run race he has the turn of foot to quicken past his rivals. He looks to have all the right tools to be a really good colt.

10pts win – Cash @ 7/1

Coral-Eclipse 2021

Only four runners. Yet the 2021 edition of the Coral Eclipse could easily turn out to be the race of the season. Three colts rated over 120 and the combined class of nine Group 1 victories!

Top rated Addeybb is back on home soil after yet another successful raid on the other side of the world, where he landed the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick in Australia.

It was a dramatic finish as he never gave up in first-time blinkers, answering the challenges from all sides to defend his crown.

The 7-year-old also won the British Champion Stakes in brilliant style last year. There are no signs of him slowing down anytime soon.

The only potential question mark – and that is being overly picky – is whether the ground is soft enough for Addeybb to produce his very best – which certainly will be required this afternoon.

Mishriff was a long way beaten in the 2020 British Champion Stakes, though I feel you can excuse that performance. Particularly given the fact the the four-year-old has only enhanced his claims ever since thanks to some brilliant victories on the international stage.

He got it done on dirt against strong US competition and followed up on turf in the Sheema Classic success at Meydan earlier this year. Mishriff, one could argue, is perhaps the best horse in the world right now.

The 2020 French Derby winner has shown an incredible versatility and ground independence, therefore won’t mind whatever way the ground this afternoon at Sandown.

Ballydoyle’s hopes rest on a single horse: French Guineas and Derby winner St Mark’s Basilica. Last years Dewhurst winner delivered a first Prix du Jockey Club for trainer Aiden O’Brien last month. Visually it was super impressive performance – although the strengths of the form could be questions.

Nonetheless, he clearly enjoyed the step up in trip that day as he travelled all over the field, still very much on the bridle two furlongs from home, and put the race to bed in a matter of strides then.

St Mark’s Basilica achieved a 106 topspeed rating at Chantilly that day, a career best that is also closely matched with the 107 rating Mishriff was awarded for his Sheema Classic victory.

Roger Varian’s colt El Drama completes the four-runner field. But it’s hard to see the Dee Stakes winner landing a blow against the big guns, given he has at least 11lb to find with them on official ratings.

In conclusion:
There is little to chose between the trio of St Mark’s Basilica, Mishriff and Adeybb. What tilts the scale in favour of the three-year-old St Mark’s Basilica -at least in my mind – is the 10lb weight-for-age allowance.

There is a good reason why it’s there. Yet, the Aiden O’Brien trained colt is certainly top-class and this significant weight allowance is a rather huge help against his elders. Hence, St Mark’s Basilica is my selection to win the 2021 Coral-Eclipse.