Tag Archives: Saturday

Saturday Selections: September, 7th 2019

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5.00 Kempton: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 3f

Very few of these have shown any form to shout about, but the one that seems undervalued in the market is the filly Inclyne – likely undervalued given her slightly more exposed profile.

However she is rather unexposed on the All-Weather, after only one start to date, one she won easily last time out here at Kempton over 12 furlongs.

Granted, that was not an overly strong contest, and the pace was slow as well, but the way she quickened and put matters to bed in the final two furlongs as easy as you like was impressive.

It was a performance that I liked particularly in the context of her Nottingham 3rd place, 3/4 of lengths beaten only in a very hot contest that worked out incredibly strongly in the meantime; proving that was probably true form for her to run to such a level.

Interestingly, despite the fact it was not an overly strong race, Inclyne achieved an 82 topspeed rating last months here at Kempton. That’s pretty decent for this grade as well and no other horse in the field has achieved it yet. Inclyne can run of a 78 handicap mark today, so she may have a bit in hand, actually.

I don’t think the drop in trip is an issue. I can see a well run 11 furlongs to suit. The draw is wider than ideal. But that’s the risk worth to take.

Selection:
10pts win –Inclyne @ 5/1 MB

……….

5.05 Ascot: Class 3 Handicap, 5f

His price continues to drop, and that is not only because of the N/R, I feel: Koditime appears to be incredibly well handicapped having his preferred conditions today, dropping further in the weights as well as in grade.

Only once the 4-year-old raced below class 2 level (apart from maiden company of course) and that was fantastic victory at York over the minimum trip on fast ground last year. Koditime ran to topspeed 93 that day and followed up with another strong runner-up performance at Windsor subsequently, achieving a 95 TS rating.

He was found out in higher grade and has gone backward ever since, despite the use of various headgear. He started this season of a mark of 94 and ran pretty damn well when only two lengths beaten on his seasonal reappearance at York. But he hasn’t kicked on from there which has resulted in his dramatic fall in the handicap mark down to 84 now!

Maybe he lost the appetite for racing, but if there is anything left in him, given he hinted to have retained some ability earlier this season, then he has a massive chance to win today.

Selection:
10pts win – Koditime @ 11.5/1 MB

…….

5.25 Thirsk: Class 3 Handicap, 1m 4f

Connections seem to have found a prime opportunity for Aiya to score finally on turf today. This race isn’t all that strong, albeit it is a class 3 Handicap and the gelding remains a turf maiden, so confidence has to be seen in that context.

But the 4-year-old was a little bit unlucky not get his head in front on grass yet, because he got close at Redcar when beaten by a neck. He hasn’t quite followed up, however, as a result has fallen to a sexy handicap mark of 76.

He ran to topspeed 80 in that mentioned Redcar race and clocked 77 on the All-Weather in the past – so with conditions likely to suit it is easy to why money is coming for this lad.

The trip is the question mark. Yes he has won over 1m 4f already, but it certainly stretches him, particularly if he is keen in the early stages of a race which he has shown more than once in the past. So stepping up from 10 furlongs to 12 furlongs that will be the delicate job David Allen in the saddle to figure out how to manage, as he also has to deal with a less than ideal draw.

Regardless, overall at given prices Aiya is an intriguing runner here.

Selection:
10pts win – Aiya @ 10/1 MB

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Saturday Selections: August, 31st 2019

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5.15 Wolverhampton: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 4f

State Of Affair is a fair favourite here, no doubt. With more improvement to come and having run to topspeed close to his current mark he may well be hard to beat. But he is a short price and has to prove he can translate the same sort of form the the sand.

Proven All-Weather performer Ice Canyon looks dramatically overpriced here, though. He has his third start for a new yard and the hood is back on – which is a definite positive.

His debut for trainer Kevin Frost was pretty decent in a hot contest at Chester earlier this month that looks strong form, even more so given he came off a break.

Returning to a course and distance Ice Canyon has produced an AW career best this winter, when an agonisingly close second of mark of 68, running to topspeed 70 then.

Now 3lb lower than that day, with the hood back on, probably race fit and only a single pound above his last winning mark, he looks potentially well handicapped in a field where not many make any appeal.

Selection:
10pts win – Ice Canyon @ 21/1 MB

Saturday Selections: August, 24th 2019

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5.50 Windsor: Class 4 Handicap, 6f

If you feel the favourite can be beaten here you’re suddenly not with much left. That is an ideal scenario for Iconic Knight, who may look in the grip of the handicapper on first glance, although a second look will reveal an excellent chance.

The 4-year-old gelding finished an excellent runner-up in a big field at York recently. A run to to that sort of form will see him go close. More interested I am in his Goodwood 3rd in June, though. That form worked out tremendously well which gives merit to Iconic Knight’s 80 topspeed finish that day.

He is already a Windsor winner, albeit over 5 furlongs. That piece of form from last year looks strong too. Conditions are fine today. Trip, track, ground – no bother. Given he looks in excellent nick and ran a career best not to far back in a really hot contest provides enough reasons to back Iconic Knight in this race here.

Selection:
10pts win – Iconic Knight @ 13/2 MB

……..

6.50 Windsor: Group 3 Winter Hill Stakes, 1m 2f

A 104 rated 3-year-old taking on older horses – there is an obvious reason why Queen Power is favoured to land the odds here, given also her Newbury victory is a highly respected piece of form.

However, I have to oppose her here. She’ll be meeting some tough nuts to crack. and Windsor can be a funny track. Also: Queen Power, even though dropping back in trip and class to better ground after a disappointing Ribblesdale Stakes will suit, but what#s really bugging me is the fact she is yet to run particularly fast. She may well have the ability but she hasn’t shown it yet. She will have to against opposition that largely has been running fast in the past.

For that reason the obvious selection can only be Matterhorn. He’ll have his preferred turf conditions today: a course that can favour those who set the pace, fast ground and the 10 furlong trip.

He was disappointing the last two starts in higher grade. Dropping down to Group 3 will help big time. He has proven to be a horse that belongs to this level. He also has ran fast on both All-Weather and turf, judged by topspeed figures.

Selection:
10pts win – Matterhorn @ 4.2/1 MB

Saturday Selections: August, 10th 2019

Newmarket Rowley Mile pre-parade ring

3.40 Haydock: Class 4 Handicap, 6f

I usually don’t like backing last time out winners, but make an exception for Fantasy Keeper here. He won really well at Sandown over the shorter 5 furlongs in soft conditions, being really well backed.

A little break since then, now back, moving up to 6f, only 3lb higher in the mark, which could underestimate him today. Fantasy Keeper  loves cut in the ground and then it doesn’t matter if five- or six furlongs.

He ran to a topspeed rating of 83 at Sandown, before that over an additional furlong to 81. So, given he finds ideal conditions today, he looks on a fair handicap mark, potentially being able to pull out a bit more, as he’s had only three starts on soft or heavy going to date, with a win and two placed efforts to his name then.

Selection:
10pts win – Fantasy Keeper  @ 5/1 MB

……..

7.55 Ayr: Class 5 Handicap, 7f

The chips are down for Chaplin Bay today, I feel. He’s backed all day long and that makes perfect sense with conditions sure to suit. He’s somewhat of a 7f specialist, who definitely enjoys cut in the ground and has a 50% place SR over course and distance as well.

He hasn’t been winning for a while, so as a consequence dropped rather dramatically certainly in his turf mark. Down to 50 now, he looks supremely well handicapped in a race like this.

Judged on form this year, he still has appetite for the game and didn’t ran too badly on a number of occasions, actually. One to keep an eye out: he’s got an entry here at Ayr for Monday also.

Selection:
10pts win – Chaplin Bay @ 17/2 MB

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

……

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

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

……..

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

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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

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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