Tag Archives: Saturday

Saturday Selections: January, 19th 2019

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1.25 Lingfield: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 2f

Super competitive race; there is the unknown quantity of Irish recruit Sheberghan. Hard to know what to get from him. Short favourite Forbidden Planet looks ready to defy a 9lb penalty after an impressive DC win when last seen.

And yet, conditions today pointing toward Emenem, who’s somewhat underappreciated in the market here.

The 5 year old comes from a break, but runs well fresh, usually. He also returns to the scene of his best efforts. He’s 4-2-2 over course and distance and achieved his two highest RPR’s – 99 – over the 10f trip at Lingfield.

The most recent of those, nearly a year ago in a hot class 3 Handicap, when runner-up of a mark off 93, is arguably the best piece of form in this field in my book. Emenem is down to 84 now after a string of underwhelming performances.

Underwhelming only by this high standard set. So, he looks potentially well in here – he will most likely enjoy this small field as his record proves, which he may be able to dominate or at least sit tight behind the pace. Emenem should be in the perfect spot to challenge when it matters most.

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

…….

3.40 Lingfield: Class 5 Handicap, 6 furlongs

The market leaders appear strong but are beatable all the same. I am happy to take them on with Big Time Maybe who’s fresh off a wind OP and drops to a sexy mark.

Fitness is a question mark after the break and whether the wind issue has been rectified. The way he dropped out of races showed he had a problem there obviously. If the OP has done any good, then Big Time Maybe could be supremely well handicapped here judged on past performance.

He’s ran a handful of times to much higher time speed ratings than his current handicap mark and achieved many times much higher RPR’s too. Mostly over 5f, however he ran only 3x over 6f on the AW when odds suggested he wasn’t there to win.

In this small field the race could be run to suit him the most. Master Kirby is in the saddle. So well worth the risk that is undoubtedly attached with Big Time Maybe, who on the other hand could also have way too much in hand for this lot.

 Selection:
10pts win – Big Time Maybe @ 6/1 MB

…….

7.45 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 4f

Iley Boy has been running well lately. He took advantage of a slipping mark at Kempton but couldn’t follow up subsequently. However, I felt his last two runs were better than the bare form suggests.

It is probably true he’s a better horse at Kempton, still he travelled pretty well over CD the last two times here; particularly the most recent effort when 4th behind Apex Predator is a strong piece of form where his performance has to be upgraded due to the fact he didn’t quite get the best of runs.

A mark of 56 leaves little wriggle room most likely, but he’s handicapped to go close. He’s got an excellent draw tonight and Joey Haynes, who rode Iley Boy to victory at Kempton also, comes here for this one ride only.

Selection:
10pts win – Iley Boy @ 11/1 MB

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Saturday Selections: January, 5th 2019

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1.45 Lingfield: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 4f

Only three horses that realistically appear to be handicapped to go close here in my book: the short priced favourite, only his second AW start could defy the slight rise in the weights for his winning debut in autumn with a first tongue tie applied this time.

Trallee Hills is dropping down to a rather manageable mark if he could translate his turf form to the sand. Certainly Nylon Speed is the more interesting individual, but no value at given prices.

Really the most compelling case can be made for top weight Dutch Uncle. He changed yards over the summer after a pretty decent – albeit winless – winter campaign, mostly at Lingfield over 10f, finishing 3 out of 6 times in the money in much more competitive races than this one here.

A run to blow the cobwebs away on his Olly Murphy Debut, was followed by a much improved display in an Apprentice Seller at the end of last month. Obviously he was well entitled to win that one.

He did it in style, hard on the bridle. Judged through the runner-up this form looks good and proves Dutch Uncle is as good as ever, certainly on nearly the same level of form as last winter.

That is good, because he stays over 12f at Lingfield, a trip he’s not been racing often over, but he’s got a 2:1-2 record over. The most recent outing wasn’t the fastest race, but the way he saw it out incredibly strongly, accelerating easily without breaking sweat in the final two furlongs suggesting this could be his ideal trip round Lingfield, a place he always performs well at.

Dutch Uncle doesn’t need to improve to win this, he simply needs to run to his mark – which, he is well capable of seemingly.

Selection:
10pts win – Dutch Uncle @ 7/1 VC

…….

5.15 Kempton: Class 6 Handicap, 1 mile

More often than not I get it wrong when saying it – of course, this is horse racing, it’s hard to be overly confident – but I’m excited as heck because I feel Blue Harmony could be supremely well handicapped in this race!

The equation is a simple one: the filly has been dropped dramatically in her handicap mark, mainly on the basis of a string of poor showings which – in my view – came on the back of marks too high as a result of her maiden win and a couple of subsequent decent handicap efforts. It took a while to get the weight down.

But now, second third for a new yard after a bit of a break, she drops to a more realistic distance plus got another few pounds off thanks her most recent 7th place finish at Wolverhampton.

Looking back at race, for the first time of a rather realistic mark, but probably a trip still too far, things didn’t go to plan early on when the inexperienced apprentice jockey removed the hood way too late, the filly bumped into a couple of horses and was lit up.

She dropped over the next furlongs back in the field, finding herself turning wider than ideal for home and when attempting to make a run, she lost her footing, stumbling, losing all momentum.

She still managed to finish 7th in quite a hot contest – the form has worked out rather well for that type of low grade race.

Now down to a mark of 53, one has to remember Blue Harmony has been running to a TS 69 rating in the past and to RPR’s over 53 on on six out of nine occasions on the All-Weather.

Even more significantly she gets the assistance of competent 5lb claimer Megan Nicholls and has the additional aid of a good draw. The price on offer is way over the top I feel given how well this filly could be handicapped.

Selection:
10pts win – Blue Harmoney @ 15/1 VC/PP

Fighting Fifth Hurdle Preview

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2.05 Newcastle: Fighting Fifth Hurdle, 2m½f

Feels odds throwing my hat into the ring at a race at Newcastle that isn’t run on the sand…. as much as I love watching the spectacle that is jump racing, betting wise it’s no good to me – at least on a day to day basis.

Today isn’t an ordinary day, though. It’s the Fighting Fifth, the first huge Grade 1 of the season that gets the pulls raising. All the hot Champion Hurdle contenders are here – an early-season clash that’ll give us an indication if Samcro can justify the hype, after two runs that saw him a faller and then a beaten odds-on favourite.

I think, on that evidence, given the short price today again, I’m certainly inclined to take him on. Sure, the 6-year-old will come on for his recent run, but somehow that performance lacked the usual zest you would associate with Samcro, and looked more concerning to my eyes than simply being a pleasing pipe opener yielding in plenty of improvement. We shall see….

There is no doubt Buveur D’air is the one they all have to beat. He’s the defending champion in both the Champion- and the Fighting Fifth Hurdle. He’s the one who ran to the highest time speed rating of all of these, by a country mile.

Granted, this is an important early-season target, I bet Buveur D’air will not be fully wound up today. A Champion Hurdle hat-trick is the main objective. March is a long way from here.

I’ also intrigued by the “routine wind op” he has undergone during the summer. Is there really such thing as a “routine operation”? Possibly. I don’t know enough about it. Nonetheless, it puts enough doubts in my mind, compared with the bigger fish to fry for Buveur D’air later the season, to oppose him at short odds.

The obvious alternative is Summerville Boy. The reigning Supreme champ, also on his seasonal debut, obviously – with his own question marks. Around trip – too sharp? Ground – not soft enough? Talent – good enough?

He was an impressive winner at the Festival for obvious reasons, but the fact he seems to have issues with concentration, in a race that’ll likely be about speed and accurate jumping, whereas he strikes me more like a grinder, is a big question mark. Will he be ready for today? I bet so! If you want to gauge how Summerville Boy measures up against the top guns you got to be ready for the fight today.

Connections are pretty bullish. On the evidence on form and ratings he has plenty to find to Buveur D’air, but not a lot to Samcro – in fact his all-time best TS is a pound better than Samcro’s. Whether that’s of significance, is up for debate. Certainly, on evidence, the six-year-old has plenty scope for improvement, if he gets his act together in the later stages of the race.

Given my doubts about pretty much any of the main principles in the race, and not having a lot of confidence in the other two in the field, at given prices Summerville Boy looks a superb bet.

I feel this race is more important for him than for the favourite. I believe, at this stage, he’s likely as good as Samcro. There are plenty of positives vibes around him as well – so I allow myself a crack at this hugely exciting renewal of the Fighting Fifth Hurdle!

Selection:
10pts win – Summerville Boy @ 6/1 MB

……..

5.15 Wolverhampton: Novice Stakes, 5f

Vee Man Ten looks a decent colt after showing promise in two starts on turf earlier this year. He looked like winning on debut at Beverly but was squeezed out eventually to finish third while only ridden hands and heels – this form looks strong judged through the winner in particular, but also the runner-up.

He blasted out of the gates at Haydock less than two weeks later, setting a brutal pace that wasn’t sustainable, particularly over 6 furlongs. However, the early speed he showed was impressive.

Now the bit wiser, first time on the All-Weather and dropping to 5f, it could be third time lucky. On pedigree this should suit, his sire has a fine record on the sand over the minimum trip, particularly with juveniles.

Vee Man Ten has a hood fitted for the first time, which may not be a disadvantage, a good draw and jockey KT O’Neill making his way here for this one ride only – strong chance.

Selection:
10pts win – Vee Man Ten @ 4/1 Sky

Saturday Selections: November, 24th 2018

Wet Dundalk Polytrack

12.50 Lingfield: Class 6 Handicap, 7f

Despite a winless record of 0 for 15, Jeopardy John dropps to an intriguing mark here. This is a competitive race, so a tough assignment on that front, but off 59, judged by past performances, this 3yo gelding has a shout.

He was placed off 69 in the past, and on turf off 71 earlier this year. He also ran to TS rating of 63 and 64 on turf and AW. A recent 3rd place finish at Kempton was a solid performance, suggesting he isn’t too far away from going really close.

Another pound off the mark today and a step up to 7f – a trip that should be close to his optimum on pedigree.

Selection:
10pts win – Jeopardy John @ 17/1 MB

…..

2.00 Lingfield: Novice Stakes, 6f

The odds-on favourite looks to have a lot going for herself: an impressive winner on debut, she will be hard to beat. However, time wise she didn’t do a lot that day and as we head into winter, fillies are generally vulnerable.

Newcomer No Nonsense is out of a juvenile A–Weather winner and has a good draw to play with on debut. Gerald Mosse is unlikely to come to Lingfield for a nice day out with the family on what is his sole ride.

Mosse and Elsworth have a 3 for 5 record on the All-Weather this season – so you bet the colt is ready to go on day on day.

Selection:
10pts win – No Nonsense @ 12/1 MB

Saturday Selections: November, 10th 2018

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3.15 Doncaster: Class 2 Handicap, 1m 4f

The November Handicap, one final big one in the soon to be closed chapter that was the 2018 flat season.

It feels like nearly everything Charlie Appleby touches turns to gold these days. Can he wrap up this superb week for him with a success here? I certainly think so! His inmate Wolf Country comes here relatively fresh compared to most others after a recent pleasing return to the track.

That was last month at Goodwood in a competitive race – the form has already started to work out well. Wolf Country was a fine runner-up, leading for most parts of the race. It has to be said he was advantaged by the fact that a he wasn’t hampered by a fallen horse behind him. Most of the field was. So the performance is to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Still, he travelled well, set a good pace and looked comfortable in atrocious conditions, leaving his only other UK start in 2018 well behind, when he last of 15 at Newmarket in May.

His only other piece of form this year came at Meydan. A fine 4th place finish in a pretty strong handicap – he was leading until 300m out against Group class performers.

Things haven’t quite gone the way conditions would surely have hoped for Wolf Country. A Listed winner at three, a creditable and not far beaten 5th in the Dante – he is a talented lad and since being gelded those two of three runs have been very promising.

A mark off 98 gives him a fair chance here today – he could be a better than that. The soft ground conditions are certainly a positive. The wide draw not necessarily for a front-runner. Regardless, I have him down as the favourite here if he can improve from his recent comeback run.

Selection:
10pts win – Wolf Country @ 8.8/1 MB

Preview: Dewhurst Stakes 2018

Newmarket Rowley Mile tight finish

Odds-on favourite Too Darn Hot couldn’t have been more impressive in his three career starts. Winning the Champagne Stakes thanks to a deadly turn of foot without making it even remotely look hard work was quite something. He’s hard to oppose on that basis.

On the other hand, analyzing a a metric that I personally hold dearly – time speed ratings – the achievements of those lining up today turn this renewal of the Dewhurst into a more open race than one would have thought, if purely checking the betting market and assessing the left-hand column of the racecard.

Best TS Rating to date: 
Too Darn Hot – 106
Mohawk – 104
Anthony Van Dyck – 103
Advertise – 100

Obviously you can’t take this at face value. There is more to racing and performance. Particularly with these unexposed juveniles, performances can fluctuate, improvement can be sudden and unexpected, also TS ratings depend on circumstances.

Nonetheless, this is an interesting additional layer to interpret performance to date. Certainly what this shows is that TDH is likely to be the best horse in the race on what he’s achieved on the clock to date – but only by a slim margin.

For me the takeaway here is the urge to assess the two O’Brien horses, who ran to career best 103- and 104 TS rating last time out. Anthony Van Dyck’s National Stakes performance certainly rates highly. He’s expected to improve for it and he should make it a race for the favourite. He looks useful type who can progress into a top class individual next year.

In saying that, at given prices, his stable mate Mohawk clearly is a much more interesting individual. Five starts already, he didn’t look anywhere near top level when comprehensively beaten in the Futurity- and National Stakes subsequently.

However, this son of Galileo looked still raw and green to some extend those days. On the other hand, as a January foal, he should be rather forward by now. And he finally turned good last month at Newmarket in the Royal Lodge Stakes.

He looked bigger and better than ever. Granted, it was probably not the strongest of Group 2’s ever ran at HQ, it was still an impressive performance visually, as Mohawk quickened nicely in the closing stages to win a shade cozily. The fact that the visual impression is backed up by the TS rating gives me confidence that this lad has learned and improved, indeed.

The Royal Lodge was over a mile. Dropping back to 7 furlongs, a trip Mohawk was outran in Group company already, isn’t ideal. The rain is coming though, should take the fast out of the ground potentially, and may help to make this race more of a stamina test.

That’s a lot of “could be” and “if’s” to hope for – in saying that, as I am trying to make a case for a 25/1 shot, that’s rather expected. The likely outcome is that Mohawk, with Wayne Lordan in the saddle – which isn’t exactly a vote of confidence – won’t be good enough.

Regardless, the price is too big in a race where we can not predict how these juveniles have progressed since we saw them the last time. Given Mohawk appears to be making significant steps in the right direction I feel he’s got a chance to be competitive today.

Selection:
10pts win – Mohawk @ 25/1 PP

Saturday Selections: October, 6th 2018

Wet Dundalk Polytrack

7.45 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Handicap, 9.5f

When a long-standing maiden heads the market you know it got to be a poor race. This is, indeed, as poor as it gets. Perfect regarding conditions I’m looking for, as handicap debutant Boston Party ticks a lot of boxes to make him a decent chance to improve enough to be competitive compared to what he’s shown in three starts to date.

You can draw a line under those performances; it was handicapping for him all day long and he wasn’t beaten up in any of his races. However, stepping up in trip is interesting, particularly on his All-Weather debut – both look suitable on pedigree.

The opening mark is stiff enough, however from a top draw in a poor race as this he can overcome it. Sire Declaration Of War has an outstanding record with three-year-old colts on the sand to date, so this is clearly noteworthy.

Selection:
10pts win – Boston Party @ 6/1 PP