Tag Archives: Saturday

Saturday Selections: July, 20th 2019

Newbury racecourse

3.00 Newbury: Group 3 Hackwood Stakes, 6f

Fantastic renewal – you can make a case for more than half in the field, predominantly I have high on my shortlist the well backed Donjuan Triumphant, who will enjoy conditions, as well as the two 3-year-old s Khadeem and Oxted. Plus, probably a fair favourite, The Tin Man.

He’s a short price and you can see why. With cut in the ground, he takes a significant drop in class and has a high strike rate. Is he still the force of old, though? Maybe. But this is a super deep race and I can easily oppose him.

On prices, the one I like most now is last years runner-up Projection. He hasn’t shown the same level of form in two runs this year, but I like the fact he comes here with low mileage this season and he ran better than the bare results suggest in the Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.

He also drops in grade and will love the underfoot conditions today. There is a slight question mark whether all is well with him, given he dropped out tamely the last two races. A tongue tie is applied now. That is concerning, at the same time intriguing.

If the tongue tie does have any positive impact, it is easy to see Projection making a 16/1 price tag look foolish in the closing stages. So, there is risk attached here, but at given odds I’m prepared to take it.

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

…….

5.00 Newmarket: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 2f

I really like the look of both Durrell and Ironclad. Both met at Chelmsford recently and fought out first and second. Durrell had the upper hand that day and he is a fine prospect, though I wonder whether he will turn out to be a much better horse on the All-Weather.

Ironclad in contrast, who ran to a topspeed rating of 83 at Chemsford, has already proven his effectifness on turf, as he landed a minor race at Beverly in the meantime. That’s not form to shout about, and Ironclad still appeared plenty green enough, but it was probably a good learning experience.

This April foal is obviously well bred and through his pedigree offers plenty of upside, having every chance to be a better horse than an 81 rated handicapper. This imposing lad could be well handicapped of this opening mark I feel.

Selection:
10pts win – Ironclad @ 4/1 MB

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5.15 Ripon: Class 5 Handicap, 6f

Two I’m keen on here from the lower end of the betting market: Alqaab stepping up to 6 furlongs for the first time is one of these. He’s a 4-year-old, so has to give weight away. But he’s a compelling horse over the new trip after a pretty decent effort over the minimum distance at Doncaster lately.

That was a super hot contest, and the fact he finished close enough, also posting a 61 topspeed rating, but has fallen to a 60 handicap mark now, is intriguing. He ran well in a couple of Novice races also, but now on a potentially good handicap mark, he can go well in this open contest.

The other one is the filly Sophia Maria in first time blinkers. She drops in trip, which should suit. She has some fine performances already in the book actually, finishing in the money on three occasions over 5- and 6 furlongs.

She also drops to a potentially tasty mark of 62 now, given she matched a 62 TS rating on her final start as juvenile already. There might be a bit more to come from her over this distance in handicap company I feel. Interesting jockey booking with Andrew Elliott, who has a superb record when having only one ride at Ripon in the Summer season!

Selections:
5pts win – Sophia Maria @ 21/1 MB
5pts win – Alqaab @ 17/1 WH

……

7.00 Haydock: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 2f

Quick turnaround for Indomeneo, who ran well here at Haydock only 24 hours ago. He looked a little bit awkward in a race where he tracked a hot pace over a mile.

Upped to 10 furlongs, which looks fine on drying ground, a trip, even though he has a poor strike rate, he posted a career best topspeed rating in the past, won’t be an issue I reckon.

Indomeneo as fallen down to a sexy mark, having ran well of around ten pounds higher last season and is now 9lb lower than his last winning mark.

An excellent 3lb claimer is in the saddle – significantly it is Connor Murtagh’s only ride today.

Selection:
10pts win – Indomeneo @ 11/2 MB

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Preview: Irish Derby 2019

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Hello there, it’s Irish Derby Day! Let me tell you: this is an exciting day! Why? Well, the excitement really comes from all angles. Sure, we have the classy racing and the race itself – the Derby, off at 5.20pm – which shapes like a red hot renewal. But probably even more so, I feel, it’s a day when the new Curragh has the chance to delight.

Properly tested for the first time, it’ll be quite exciting to see how this unfolds: tested in a sense of how do facilities hold up when a large crowd is in attendance. Tested in a sense whether a large crowd actually materialise in first place. Attendance figures for Thursday and Friday were low. That was to be expected. Derby Saturday, on the other hand, has always seen a healthy crowd over the years.

Now that the new Curragh is firmly established, the weather – hopefully – balmy and dry in the afternoon, there really is no excuse for not attracting a solid double figure crowd today.

Curragh officials haven’t been particularly outgoing with their own expectations: 6-10.000 is what they are hoping for, officially. I’m sure behind close doors they’d be disappointed if there’ll be not in access of 10.000 in attendance today.

Tickets were €23 if you bought online in advance – that’s a cracking offer, to be fair. I’ve been critical of the Curragh and its pricing policy in the past. Likely will be in the future again. But this is a sensational offer. 23 bucks for what’s going to be an outstanding day of racing action at a modern, top-class venue – unbeatable!

The racing itself, as said there earlier, I feel strong about as well: the Derby aside, which I’ll preview in detail below, the supporting races hold up. Competitive handicaps that certainly offer value, plus some strong stakes races, particularly the intriguing renewal of the Railway Stakes – truth told I’m as keen driving down the N7 to the Curragh as haven’t been for a long time!

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5.20 Curragh: Irish Derby, 1m 4f

An exciting re-match looms large at the Curragh this afternoon as the 2019 Epsom Derby winner, runner-up and close 4th meet again. In those circumstances it doesn’t really matter that five of the eight starters belong to the same yard. This is all about Anthony Van Dyck vs. Madhmoon vs. Broome!

Can Anthony Van Dyck do the Derby double? I’ve never been the biggest fan of his: I opposed him in the Lingfield Derby Trial and even more so for the Epsom Classic. How dare I doubt a Galileo?!

Truth told, Anthony Van Dyck is rock solid – I’ve to concede. He already was a rock solid contender for the Derby. He’s even more so today. Because: he’s done it again and again, particularly taking all the relevant metrics into account: he’s ran three times to topspeed ratings of 100+ and he matched a 110+ RPR on four occasions also. He clearly is rather decent.

Hence the main characteristics of Anthony Van Dyck are “solid” and “consistent”. He usually runs as well, if not better, than expected – leaving a disappointing debut and Breeder’s Cup effort aside. You can also see why it’s difficult for people – like myself – to warm to him and (maybe) give him the full credit he probably deserves: this colt is as unsexy a Derby winner as I can remember for quite some time!

Now, perception aside, as alluded earlier, on ratings (and reputation, given he is the reigning Epsom Derby champ), Anthony Van Dyck is a firm favourite today. Undoubtedly. On the other hand: A 5/4 chance – really? I don’t think so. Sorry. I’ve got to oppose this lad once more.

Reasons are rather obvious: yes, on ratings he tops the field. But he’s not miles ahead of Madhmoon and Broome. He’s consistent, running to the same sort of form over and over again – if any of his main rivals can find any bit of improvement, he’s in trouble because as solid as AVD is, it appears unlikely he’s one with any additional upside.

And the Epsom race itself: Anthony Van Dyck looked a beaten horse two furlong out. He seemed to take full advantage of an opening with less than two furlongs to go, his jockey making a superb decision in the moment of the heat, maneuvering AVD out, sizing the opportunity for a clear passage.

AVD responded strongly and probably profited from the fact that he avoided the ding-dong battle that happened to his right side. The others didn’t quite see or notice him I suspect- they were locked up in their own little battle – while Anthony Van Dyck was too far able to finish his own race with the guidance of the rail.

Well, that’s my interpretation, at least. Anthony Van Dyck is a really good horse, no doubt. He’s certainly no world beater either. Even though he comes out on top in the ratings, his career highest top speed rating is nothing to shout about. If you’d run the Epsom Derby ten times from the moment the field turns for home you’ll probably get a different outcome any time – Anthony Van Dyck wouldn’t be as ‘lucky’ again, I suspect.

Okay, so we have that out of the way, which begs the question: who wins the 2019 Irish Derby? Obviously it would be an emotional victory if Madhmoon could land the big price for his veteran trainer Kevin Prendergast.

Madhmoon travelled much the best over three furlongs out in the Epsom race – travelling surprisingly well, because I have to admit –  I was wrong in doubting this lad to be good enough and/or stay the Derby distance. He duly did!

You can argue Madhmoon was a little bit unlucky, as he travelled so well, but had a rough passage from the three furlong marker on, having to fight for his position, squeezing through gaps, possibly lit up as a consequence – still he fought gamely to the line, and in our hypothetical game of running the race ten times again from the moment the field turns for home, you’d have to give Madhmoon a strong chance to come out on top a number of times.

Two issues I have with Madhmoon, though: despite the fact he is rather lightly, which may see him to progress further, he also had a number of opportunities to run fast already. He didn’t take these chances to run fast. A career highest topspeed rating of 99 – achieved in the Derby – is poor for a supposedly class act.

Further to this: my suspicion is Madhmoon will always show his best on a fast surface. With the rain we’ve got here in county Kildare over the last 15 hours or so, the ground may ride a bit too tacky for him.

While I fo see his potential for additional improvement, I also feel this is already reflected in his odds: 5/2. I can not make a case where I see him a better chance than that, at all.

Before moving to my preferred selection, a quick glance further down the market, to the outsiders in this field: realistically none of the long-shots should have a say here. You could make a case – with a bit of imagination certainly – for Norway to bounce back. At 50’s he’d be a decent each-way shout. But he’s 33’s in the betting. Which is only fair.

Truth told: none of the long-shots is good enough. Of course, it can happen from time to time that a pace setter proves difficult to peg back, particularly at the Curragh. Still, I struggle to make out a viable each-way alternative at given prices.

So, that leaves Broome as the one for me. The negative first: what I said about Madhmoon can be copied and placed here to count against Broome as well: for a supposedly class horse he’s yet to run particularly fast. A TS rating of 97 and an RPR of 117 – he needs to improve today.

Can he? I think if one of this trio is able to break out and move significantly forward it’s him. The reason for this is a simple one: he looked a fair prospect as a juvenile, but was always sure to show his best as a 3-year-old stepping up in trip. And so he did: Broome won the Ballysax and Derby Trial at Leopardstown in fine style, without breaking sweat.

On Derby day Broome was one of the more unlucky sorts. Not massively hampered or anything of that sort, but he was always travelling wider than ideal, covering extra distance and turning quite wide for home as well.

Taking that into account as well as the visual impression of him staying on strongly in the final furlong plus the fact he was beaten by a close margin and hitting the line with full momentum, potentially winning if the race is a few yards longer, is enough for me to believe Broome is the one with the most upside today.

There is a good chance he’s a dour stayer who prefers the Leger trip. On the other hand, with the bit of rain that’s falling, hopefully a strong pace and a stiff uphill finish at the Curragh, I strongly feel the conditions are right for him to shine.

Selection:
10pts win – Broome @ 10/3 PP

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The rest of the Curragh card: I don’t fancy anything as much as that I would back them at my usual stake. I placed some accumulators win and each/way (the bigger priced ones) to keep me entertained for the other races. That includes’s: 

1.45: Twenty Minutes; 2.20 Beckford; 2.55: Old Glory; 3.30: Global Giant; 4.05: King’s Field; 4.40: Fort Myers; 6.00: Mutadaffeq  

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2.35 Chester: Class 3 Handicap, 5f

This is a highly competitive race, but I feel the horse at the bottom of the market is grossly underappreciated, as Wild Eric now drops to the minimum trip for the first time, which I believe will suit this pacey front-runner down to the grounds.

The 3-year-old is already course winner, albeit over a furlong further; he’s been disappointing in three starts this year, but now drops below the 80 rating barrier that sees him racing off a feather weight in this race today.

Wild Eric ran to topspeed 84 last season. If the trip revitalizes him and he can come close to that he’ll be hard to beat today from a top draw, I firmly believe.

Selection:
10pts win – Wild Eric @ 15/2 MB

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7.30 Doncaster: Class 4 Handicap, 6f

He’s yet to show any sort of that form that saw him become a mid-90 rated sprinter as a three-year-old, but now dropping to to a handy mark as well as dropping to a class 4 Handicap, Roundhay Park appears ripe for a big run today.

Even though he hasn’t been in the money in four starts this year, I’d argue his 6th place finish at York in an ultra-competitive race back in May shows there remains plenty of ability and appetite for the game.

The good ground will suit at Doncaster today and this is a much easier race than anything he’s encountered this season so far. A mark of 85 with a good 5lb claimer in the saddle will see him go close.

Selection:
10pts win – Roundhay Park @ 13/2 MB

Saturday Selections: June, 15th 2019

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2.35 Sandown: Class 4 Handicap, 5f

Bahamian Sunrise is 4-2-2 over this course and distance. So if the return to Sandown can re-ignite the fire again, then the 7-year-old has a massive shout. It’s a big if, granted, given he’s been in abysmal form this year so far.

However, a near-career best came only last August at Epsom over 5f in soft ground when only a neck beaten in a hot class 2 Handicap, running to top speed of 80. He’s dropped a long way down the ratings since then, allowed to let go off 67 today.

Eleven times has Bahamian Sunrise ran to top speed ratings of 69+, which shows that he’s incredibly well handicapped today, if any return to some sort of form can be sparked by this course and distance, while the ground is fine.

Selection:
10pts win – Bahamian Sunrise @ 10/1 MB

………

3.00 York: Listed Grand Cup, 1m 6f

Some of these have to prove their worthiness to compete in this class, most have a question to answer on the soft ground. The short priced favourite Mekong acts with cut in the ground and his recent form is compelling, on the other hand he’s yet to run fast enough to warrant such a price tag in my view.

That is mainly down to the fact that Gold Mount (formerly known as Primitivo) looks a major danger, if ready to go after a break and his return from Meydan/Hong Kong.

The gelding was a promising three-year-old a few years ago and was sold to Hong Kong, where he developed into a classy performer over three seasons. His form tailed a bit off in the last season, though a trip to Dubai and the 2 mile Gold Cup proved he is still as good as ever.

Fourth of eight and a good deal beaten behind reigning Melbourne Cup champion Cross Counter, the race clearly didn’t pan out ideally for Gold Mount, who was held up and finished strongly as the only one of those in the back third of the field.

That was a highly encouraging performance that rates the strongest piece of form in this field today, no doubt. Dropping down to listed class, he’s the joint highest rated individual.

The ground will be fine, Gold Mount acts on a soft surface. He’s got an engagement next week at Ascot – that’s the one concern, that today is merely a pipe opener, which may be the reason why he’s as big in the market as he is. It’s worth taking the risk, though.

Selection:
10pts win – Gold Mount @ 13.5/1 MB

……….

3.30 Bath: Class 3 Handicap, 1 mile

Given his current mark, Medieval looks a highly competitive runner in this race: 4lb lower than his last win mark, he also has been placed of even higher than that and ran t top speed ratings of 85+ on four different occasions. So an 82 mark seems sexy.

The trip is usually fine, the ground no bother – in combination, a mile and rain softened ground is a stretch, but possible. Medieval is also in fair form, having finished 3rd the last two times – even though a fair way beaten.

The different applications of headgear this year are a little worrisome, suggesting he may not quite have the same appetite for the game any longer, which may suggest even as good as he appears to be handicapped, he may not be in actual fact. It’s the risk here. One I’m prepared to be taking in a race where little else stands out.

Selection:
10pts win – Medieval @ 13/2 MB

Saturday Selections: June, 8th 2019

Leicester Racecourse home straight

2.25 Haydock: Group 3 Pinnacle Stakes, 1m 4f

Odds-on favourite True Self is the right lady on top of the market but at the same time the confidence in her making the step up to group class overvalues what she has done so far. Her career best topspeed rating of 91 gives her a good chance, no doubt. But she is vulnerable to more talented individual.

There is only one other individual in this race likely to be more talented: Pilaster. A frustrating sort, on official ratings she has 6lb to find with True Self. However, she ran to topspeed ratings of 104 and 91 last season and is already a Group 2 winner.

The drop in trip with the slower ground in combination can suit. Her sire Nathanial has an excellent record with his offspring on soft ground. Whether she handles the heavy ground, though, remains to be seen.

I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt to find back to form here today in what looks a winnable race as long as she acts on the ground.

Selection:
10pts win – Pilaster @ 17/2 MB

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4.20 Beverley: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 2f

Judged on this years form he’s going to struggle, however the drop in grade coupled with a good draw and ground to suit may see Indomeneo find back to form.

The 4-year-old has been busy this year already and showed a bit of spark on his seasonal return, though didn’t follow-up. As a consequence he has dropped to a career lowest handicap mark, while also dropping into a class 5 handicap.

That should help Indomeneo to run better than he brought to the track in his recent starts. Taking last year into account, he certainly looks to have a major chance, as he won off 82 over 10 furlongs and was an excellent runner-up over this trip in October when also ran to a joint career highest top speed rating.

Given Indomeneo has ran multiple times to top speed ratings of 77 and higher, he is an obvious danger if he’s still got some appetite for the game. Drawn in 3 should be a big advantage to be in the right position right from the start here.

Selection:
10pts win – Indomeneo @ 13/1 MB

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8.30 Chepstow: Class 5 Handicap, 5f

The soft conditions will suit Union Rose perfectly and can ensure he’ll pull out a bit more than when seen finishing in the money three of the last four times of a similar mark.

The seven-year-old has a 100% place record at this course as well as distance, although is quite a few pounds above his last wining mark; but he’s won of much higher in the past and interestingly his highest rated performances came on genuinely soft ground – Union Rose didn’t have many chances to run in these type of conditions for quite some time now.

Given he acted well at Chepstow before, now with ideal conditions, he can find the needed improvement in order to get his head in front.

 Selection:
10pts win – Union Rose @ 13/2 MB

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9.00 Chepstow: Class 6 Handicap, 5f

It remains to be seen how much ability and speed is there over the minimum distance, however on slow ground, I feel Sovereign State could take advantage of a slipping mark and break his maiden tag.

He showed a bit of promise in a couple of starts, without ever getting close. This is a big lad, he may needed time, and looks likely to improve with age.

His best performance came over 5f on soft ground, though, which makes him an interesting candidate in a really poor race, where it wouldn’t surprise to see this low mileage lad improve enough to be competitive.

Selection:
10pts win – Sovereign State @ 8/1 WH

Saturday Selections: June, 1st 2019

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Read my Derby Preview Here

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4.00 Musselburgh: Listed Fillies’ Stakes, 7f

There is not a lot of depth in this race. Favourite Red Starlight is solid, but nothing more. The forecast favourite Indian Blessing has been drifting all day long. I remain interested in the 5-year-old mare nonetheless.

The ground is the main question mark for me. It may be too soft for her, given her best form is on a faster surface. On the other hand she ran well in a Listed contest in France a couple of years ago with cut in the ground.

The trip looks sure to suit, given Indian Blessing is a winner over 7 furlongs – albeit on the All-Weather – and has been placed a couple of times as well.

She is clearly setting the standard in this race as the highest rated individual who is also a Group 3 winner already. Indian Blessing did perform well in a few graded contests in the US last season – so I do hope her poor seasonal reappearance at the Curragh last month will bring her on quite a bit.

If Indian Blessing runs to to form she’s the one to beat, no doubt. So, even though there are a few doubts, at given prices I’m with her.

Selection:
10pts win – Indian Blessing @ 6/1 MB

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4.55 Musselburgh: Class 3 Handicap, 5f

Requinto Dawn has dropped to a tasty mark largely due to poor showings this season. However, he ran rather eye-catchingly last time out at Redcar, after dwelling in the starting gates, he finished seemingly with a bit in the tank with the pack without ever getting any serious questions asked by the jockey.

The handicapper has given him a major chance now, taking another 3lb off the mark, which leaves Requinto Dawn a whopping 12lb lower than his last winning mark!

He proved competitive of marks in the high 80’s last summer, so with this recent run appearing as if there’s still some life left, Requinto Dawn could be tremendously well in today, also having the added bonus of a fair 5lb claimer in the saddle.

The ground shouldn’t be an issue. His career highest time-speed rating came on soft going. In fact, the bit of cut in the ground may help to slow down things a little bit and put more emphasis on stamina, which will suit, given Requinto Dawn stays further than the minimum trip.

Selection:
10pts win – Requinto Dawn @ 7.8/1 MB

Saturday Selections: May, 25th 2019

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2.35 York: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 4f

On last season form Ad Libitum is an obvious chance here today, now with a run under his belt, he’ll strip fitter I reckon. With that in mind, his reappearance at Thirsk a fortnight ago is one I happily excuse.

Ad Libitum won twice last year and ran well in defeat a number of times as well. Most importantly is he was able to match his current handicap mark twice in terms of time speed ratings, running to 74 and 76, as well as winning of a 77 handicap a 12f a class 4 handicap at Ripon.

He certainly enjoys fast ground, posting a 25% strike rate and having been placed in four out of eight starts.

Selection:
10pts win – Ad Libitum @ 9/1 MB

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2.55 Chester: Class 2 Handicap, 7.5f

Super competitive race: more than half the field in with a fair shout. At the bigger prices bottom weight Arcanada makes a lot of appeal, though, even though he hasn’t won on turf for a number of years now.

Nonetheless, his overall form profile looks still highly competitive, and the surface isn’t an issue. More the fact that he found life tough in hot races, racing of high marks.

Arcanada has now dropped to a tasty mark of 88 – on turf alone he has ran to TS ratings of 90+ on five occasions throughout his career and he matched a 89 TS rating last December winning a Listed contest on the All-Weather.

The 6-year-old is a course specialist also, having a 50% strike rate here. His draw is wider than ideal for his running style, but with a visor fitted for the first time and a good 5lb claimer on board I hope he can bounce out of the gates and then hold on for the lead.

Selection:
10pts win – Arcanada @ 25/1 MB

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6.50 Salisbury: Class 5 Maiden Stakes, 6f

It’s a small sample size, but Kyllachy offspring have a fabulous record in Salisbury maiden races over the years. His offspring generally performs well here, particularly the 3-year-olds.

That is the reason why I am interested in his daughter Twilighting in this particular race. She amplifies the sire angle with an encouraging debut run herself coincidentally.

A fortnight ago at Lingfield she didn’t have the best of starts, was subsequently badly outpaced but found her rhytm from 4f out and looked suddently threatening over 2f out. The early effort to catch up took its tool eventually, but she ran pretty well in these circumstances until the final furlong marker.

The fast ground looks sure to suit today with a good jockey in the saddle, Twilighting could be well capable outrunning her price tag.

Selection:
6pts win – Twilighting @ 22/1 MB

Edit: This has been absolutely smashed in the betting since writing the post, is now joint second favourite! 

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7.20 Salisbury: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 6f

Airton looks ready for a big run on his return to the flat for the first time since October. He clearly thrives over fast ground and stays this distance without an issue.

He won of his current mark a similar contest over 2 miles at Catterick last Summer – a piece of form that looks strong.

Over this sort of trip and ground Airton has achieved multiple 80+ RPR’s as well as having run to a career best TS rating of 79, which he also achieved on the All-Weather. As he ran to a 83 RPR when winning the last time, which isn’t that long ago, it suggests with the right conditions, of his current mark Airton can be a big runner in this class and type of race.

Having fine Finley Marsh on board claiming 3lb is the cherry on the cake, I feel.

Selection:
10pts win – Airton @ 7/2 PP

Saturday Selections: May 11th, 2019

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2.20 Nottingham: Class 4 Handicap, 5f

Two really interesting horses here in a field where I find those two at the top of the market remarkably easy to oppose: Hawaam over this CD of his current mark can be a huge runner if cheek-pieces have a positive effect.

The fact he was well fancied the other day and bombed out, plus this new headgear as well as his poor overall strike rate suggest he’s a tricky customer nonetheless, hence I leave him alone – though I’d not be surprised to see him run away with it now.

But a ‘safer bet’ to run his race – and give me a run for my money more importantly – is the smartly named Major Pusey. He’s down to a good mark judged on past performances, given he won of higher ratings on three occasions in his career and ran five times to a TS rating of 79+, posting a 80 TS rating only back in September last season.

He returned over 6f at Windsor recently, wasn’t fancied in the betting and ran quite well up until tiring in the closing stages. The drop to 5f will suit with soft ground ideal, plus dropping down in to class 4 is a major boost to his chances as all but one of his career successes came here.

Selection:
10pts win – Major Pusey @ 8/1

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2.30 Lingfield: Listed Derby Trial, 1m3½f

No surprise, the Derby trial is quite a poor trial for the race it’s intended to be a trial. None of these will go close in the Derby. Will any of these even line up? Anthony Van Dyck certainly won’t. He’s the class act in this race, mind, but he’ll struggle over this trip in this ground.

The most intriguing of the lot is Cap Francais, who didn’t do himself any favour at Epsom the last time, but stayed on in promising style. Even though, he still only managed runner-up behind a Ballydoyle horse that’ll have no hope in the Derby and is miles down the pecking order.

I think the step up in trip and flatter track will be a huge help and expect him to win, but at 4/1 I’m in n hurry to back him to continue to progress, though.

The one I’m most interested in is the gelding in the field: Ranch Hand. Connections probably didn’t anticipate this lad to turn up in a Derby Trial, but he showed a lot of good signs in his first two starts at Southwell on the fibresand.

Particularly his second run, when he galloped his opposition into the ground is impressive particularly on the clock it looks strong. He also achieved a TS rating of 84. He did that in a lowly novice contest, on only his second career run on the fibresand – no other horse in this field run to such a high TS rating on either of their first career runs.

He has to translate this to turf and to much better class. The pedigree gives hope with the dam having been a fine stayer in her own right. At a massive price Ranch Hand looks a longs-hot with a fair chance to upset the market.

Selection:
10pts win – Ranch Hand @ 30/1 MB

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3.30 Nottingham: Listed Kilvington Stakes, 6f

On ratings the standout for me is Rock On Baileys who’s ran to career best TS rating of 89 and RPR of 106 which none of her rivals in this field have achieved so far. Whether she can replicate this level of form on her second start for the new yard on soft ground remains to be seen.

On the surface Rock On Baileys seems to be a better All-Weather horse. Certainly her win record says so. But the ratings mentioned above where achieved on turf, they’re generally higher than on the AW in fact.

She ran in hot races on turf, often in handicaps of big weights and did do herself justice on a number of occasions, as when 4th in a hot handicap at Newmarket in October last year; she also won at Chester in the summer over 6f, overcoming trouble.

Her seasonal return at Chelmsford last month looks poor on paper. It needs context, though, as she didn’t get the best of starts and was pushed forward quite hard subsequently to take the lead.

I’d expect Rock On Baileys to come on for the run under her belt and feel the soft ground, albeit that soft an unknown, is intriguing. The times she races with bit of cut in the ground she ran well, and certainly on the dam side is hope for her to take to the ground.

Selection:
10pts win – Rock On Baileys @ 16.5/1 MB

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4.40 Nottingham: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 2f

The handicapper gives Music Seeker a real chance to get his head in front for a third career win today. The 5-year-old ran well at Haydock last time in tough conditions, finishing third in better class.

He remains on the same mark, a career-lowest – he’s never ran of anything as low as 73 in a class 5 Handicap before, so that is of obvious interest given Music Seeker ran twice already to TS ratings of 70+ and six times to RPR’s of 80+.

He’s also 3lb lower than his last winning mark, which came last summer in a 10f Handicap at Wetherby, albeit on fast ground. But cut in the ground is no problem as he won a maiden over a mile and did well last time out in desperate conditions.

The slightly better ground (soft – good to soft in places right now) and half a furlong less to go should be in his favour as well. A competent 7lb claimer – the same as in all his last races since a wind op over the winter –  in the saddle is a bonus.

Selection:
10pts win – Music Seeker @ 6/1 MB

…….

5.10 Ascot: Class 4 Handicap, 6f

Ignoring the latest Southwell performance, which can be forgiven because it was a very time at Southwell, Ballyquin is a progressive individual who’ll race of a highly competitive mark today, I feel.

He’s had a light campaign until this winter, surely down to issues, but has been progressive on the All-Weather, winning twice, achieving a career best TS rating of 79 at Chelmsford on his penultimate start.

A return to turf is intriguing. His two runs came with cut in the ground in highly competitive maiden races where he finished an excellent 4th on both occasions.

So, there is a fair assumption to be made he can find more improvement for the return to turf, while already having shown on the All-Weather to be able to run to something close- if not even better than his current handicap mark.

Selection:
10pts win – Ballyquin @ 10/1 MB