Tag Archives: Saturday

Big Race Preview: Durban July 2018

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South Africa’s most prestigious race intrigues year after year with a a massive field size including at least two handful of runners you can all see playing their part in the outcome of the race. A tricky contest to work out and one where favourites have a hard time.

The winner paid 17/1 or bigger the last three editions alone, and the last two years no single figure priced horses even made it into the money. Tactics pay an important part but the pace angle is one that used to gather little traction in the discussions leading up to the big race in the past, I feel.

Different this time. It’s the discussion topic number one. A muddling affair is feared. That will make life tough for those who come from behind naturally or those who end up in rear due to their wide draw.

It also poses a difficult decision for those jockey sitting on horses who need a proper stamina test but who are drawn wide or who wouldn’t naturally like to be too close to the pace.

Either way, the hot favourite African Night Sky from the powerful Justin Snaith yard may well be the most talented individual in the race but is clearly a price to forget. He stays the trip and had an excellent preparation, however his tendency to miss the break on occasions plus the need to be dropped in will make life incredibly tough for the four-year old gelding.

My eyes are firmly set on his stable mate Made To Conquer, instead. What can go wrong with a name like that?! In seriousness, this supremely talented son of Dynasty has been coming through the ranks, improving bit by bit while showing excellent desire combined with the ability to change gear.

Made To Conquer has been winning four on the trot. Albeit largely in much lower grade. The progressive gelding took his time, though since September last year he won six of his seven starts and showed a step up in class to graded company isn’t a problem when landing the Grade 3 Stirrup Cup off a big weight. Officially only a head between himself and multiple Stakes winner Strathdon, Made To Conquer held the stable mate under a hands and heels ride rather easily.

A step up to the highest level is only the right consequence. Made To Conquer is a staying type. He already won over 2.500 meters. So, dropping down to the 2.200 meters in the July is a slight question mark, particularly in the light of the predicted pace.

That says, despite a wider than ideal draw, it is likely that Jeff Lloyd will make plenty of use of the featherweight and the stamina his mount possesses and march forward early on to be close enough to the pace and take it up if needed. This is as much as he said himself: he ain’t gonna sit around.

If he holds true to this then Made To Conquer will surely be in the right position – which nearly always in the July is closer to the pace than too far off. Lloyd can send him on his way hitting top gear entering the home straight confidently knowing the gelding will stay all day long and clearly relishes having a fight on hands too.

For Jeff Lloyd it would bring an incredibly career in the saddle to a fairytaile ending. The 56 year old has never won the July despite being a six-times South African champion jockey. It’s going to be one last hurray before retirement beckons right after.

Selection:
10pts win – Made To Conquer @ 9/1 Sky

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Saturday Selections: July, 7th 2018

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

Another nice winner today – Saroog did that impressively at Sandown this afternoon, following on from Archimedes’s excellent win on Wednesday. A bit on a roll at the moment…. long may it last after some desperate weeks preceding it.

Eclipse tomorrow. No Masar, but quick turnaround for Saxon Warrior. I think I fancy stable mate Happily, who was desperately unlucky in the Diane. However, only a race to watch at given prices and no bet.

It’s also Durban July day. I’ll have a proper look tomorrow morning. Possibly putting up a selection for South Africa’s most prestigious race later on Saturday. Also to look forward to is the return of Mendelssohn at Belmont in the evening.

……..

2.45 Sandown: Class 3 Handicap, 7f

Open contest that is at the mercy of a progressive horse. Manthoor fits the bill. Still generally lightly raced, he showed promise as a juvenile. Particularly his Kempton runner-up performance in September behind now 90 rated (and NTO winner) Corrosive is excellent form.

He returned last month after having undergone a wind OP over the winter. In a poor maiden he didn’t have trouble winning. That was expected. The manner he did, though, was exciting. Travelling well throughout, quickening nicely on the fast ground and holding his pursuers hands and heels in the closing stages.

The form is franked through subsequent handicap placings by the second and third. An opening mark of 84 isn’t easy task but could underestimate the improvement left in Manthoor who may be able to exert himself even better second up from a break and wind surgery.

Selection:
10pts win – Manthoor @ 10/3 WH

Saturday Selections: June, 16th 2018

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

3.45 Chester: Class 4 Handicap, 5f

Stall 2 at Chester over the minimum trip often leads to the golden highway. So it is a significant boost for Dahik to have start from the top draw. The gelding never lived up to the promise he showed when winning a Novice contest at Bath last year and has moved yards in the meantime.

You can’t say Dahik set the world alight in two starts for new trainer Michael Easterby, although it was at least a fair comeback run on his seasonal debut at Nottingham in early May.

Last time in a hot class 2 handicap he was out of his depth. Dropping back into class 4 while also relieved of a few more pounds off his handicap mark could help him to be competitive here in this race, though.

Ground should suit – his best performances cam on a fast surface. A low weight, a lowly mark off 76 and an eye-catching jockey booking as Phillip Makin rides Chester incredibly well in combination with the excellent draw might be enough to see Dahik run a massive race.

Selection: 
10pts win – Dahik @ 14/1 Sky

Saturday Selections: June, 9th 2018

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

3.30 Catterick: Class 3 Handicap, 7f

His best is behind him, however the handicapper has given 8-year-old Rene Mathis a massive chance of a mark off 87. The gelding hasn’t been firing lately but proved still competitive last season off a good deal higher ratings.

Rene Mathis won a strong Conditions Stakes at Thirsk on fast ground in April 2017, edging out subsequent Group 3 scorer Custom Cut. He also ran out a highly respectable 5th place finish in a hot class 2 Handicap at Leicester subsequently off a 10lb higher mark than his current one.

A good 5lb claimer is on board, plus the advantage of a low draw should ensure Rene Mathis has a cracking chance to win his first race in over a year.

Selection:
10pts win – Rene Mathis @ 12/1 VC

Derby Day Selections: June, 1st 2018

Gleneagles

4.30: Group 1, Epsom Derby, 1m 4f

Guineas winner Saxon Warrior looks rock solid judged on anything he has done so far. I love his physique, the way he goes through his races… everything, really. But from draw 1, which comes with so many complications, at odds-on it’s not a bet for me.

I stick to AOB, though. The forgotten one, it seems, The Pentagon, is drifting out to a massive price this morning. It’s fair to say he hasn’t lived up to reputation of his sensational pedigree yet, and by any means he isn’t flashy if you see him racing.

The Pentagon was a workmanlike winner of a poor Group 3 last season, enhanced his credentials massively with an excellent 3rd place in the Racingpost Trophy eventually, though. The race wasn’t run to his advantage, he was badly positioned and clearly didn’t have the tactical speed when it was paramount to have. Yet he stayed on eye-catchingly.

This season he’s been disappointing given lofty expectations in two starts: a 3rd place in the Derrinstown at Leopardstown was underwhelming to many. Nonetheless, it was a fair effort in a race that was more about speed than stamina.

Fact is, The Pentagon is all about stamina, nothing about speed. He lacks gears and is a grinder.

He’s high class, I believe, regardless. He needs the right test to show his best. The step up in trip and the usually frantic pace of the Derby might be what he needs to be at his very best. From a good draw he is likely to go forward, he might even be tasked with pacemaker duties.

I don’t mind that at all. In fact it should be to his advantage. The cut in the ground won’t be a problem. It might even help. I can see a scenario where he tracks a fast pace and Wayne Lordan pushes the red button turning for home. It’s a long way home from there but this lad stays all day long….

At 50/1 this looks a cracking each-way bet. The better fancied horses might catch him eventually, but he could stay to the line for some fine place money.

Selection:
5pts Each/Way – The Pentagon @ 50/1 WH

…….

2.35 Epsom: Group 3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes, 8.5f

The 1000 Guineas form has worked out really well already, so seventh placed finisher Anna Nerium should find the drop in grade a big help. Already a Group 3 scorer, she has trained on, proving it when winnig the Free Handicap on her seasonal reappearance in great style.

The Guineas was probably a bit too hot, however in lesser grade she remains a big gun given she is a full sister to smart Piping Rock. First time going against older horses, now is the time when the WFA allowance starts to swing into an advantage for the three year old’s, I feel.

Epsom is a different test and it remains to be seen whether she likes it or not. Ground isn’t an issue, on the other hand. On the plus side: her sire Dubawi has a tremendous CD record here.

Selection:
10pts win – Anna Nerium @ 9/2 PP

…..

3.45: Class 2 Handicap, 5 furlongs

The ‘dash’ is often a bit of a lottery. In-running luck plays a big part. So there is always a chance for something big to finish in the money. I feel I can enhance my ‘luck’ by selecting a horse that has potential to outrun his price tag.

Storm Over is the one: he won a soft ground 5f handicap at Catterick in his final race of 2017. A massive performance, running to a 4lb higher time speed rating than his then handicap mark. He’s raised for that effort by only five pounds.

He ran with credit on his seasonal debut in April. He should come on for a sixth placed finish in a race that has worked out tremendously well in the meantime.

Cut in the ground works for him. Question will be the track and in-running luck. If both goes his way I anticipate a massive run by this still pretty lightly raced four year old colt.

Selection:
10pts win – Storm Over @ 22/1 PP

……

5.25 Doncaster + 6.10 Lingfield

Sam Gold for Roger Varian ran well in defeat on his seasonal return in a first handicap. The form looks strong with the winner performing with credit in the Guineas. He drops in class and should be hard to beat.

Sir Mark Prescott has identified an easy target for rapidly improving filly Midnight Blue at Lingfield. She won a minor event at Wolverhampton but should be hard to beat under a penalty with the step up in trip a big plus. From a plum draw she’s likely to be up with the pace.

Selection:
10pts win double – Sam Gold + Midnight Blue @ 3.72/1 VC

Saturday Selections: April, 28th 2018

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

Deep into April and here I was celebrating a winner at Chelmsford… well, it doesn’t really matter where it is as long as “the good thing” gets the head in front. Thursday selection Mancini (13/2) won well in the end, looking like a horse with more to come this year.

It’s been a pretty quiet April in general. The clam before the storm?

……

7.45 Doncaster: Class 4 Handicap, 7f

Trappy affair, open and hard to judge some of these fillies and mares. One of those is Toy Theatre who returns off a 114 days long break.

She didn’t quite excel over the winter on the All-Weather after a largely progressive campaign in 2017. She won twice on turf, including over CD as well as a very competitive class 3 Handicap at Newmarket.

I don’t judge her too harshly on those last efforts on the sand. However, given she has to overcome a career highest mark and a lay-off one might wonder where the improvement is coming from.

It looks obvious to me: Toy Theatre had only 6 starts on turf. Three of those came as a juvenile when she wasn’t supposed to win. The other three came last season, starting with a tough assignment at Chester in a class 3 Handicap where she wasn’t disgraced in 4th place from a wide draw.

The other two times she won, seemingly showing a preference for softish conditions. That aligns with the fact that she was withdrawn due to unsuitable ground when the going turned fast.

Thy Theatre’s Newmarket win looks incredibly strong. The form worked out really well. She won a shade cosily, despite the tight margin, subsequently over CD.

Given that this here will be the softest ground she has ever encountered, showing in the past that this what she might prefer, the fact that she always looked a filly to improve with time and her potential scope for improvement on turf, I feel Toy Theatre is a rather big price in this open field.

Selection:
10pts win – Toy Theatre @ 9/1 WH

Saturday Selections: February, 10th 2018

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4.35 Lingfield: Class 5 Handicap, 6f

Open contest that might see Ed Walker’s reappearing Dream Farr return to form. Walker has an excellent record in these big handicaps for older horses and Dream Farr certainly has a lot going for himself today.

The five year old son of Dream Ahead goes well fresh, he’s proven the last couple of years, but more so is he down to a dangerous handicap mark.

He won off 70 and 74 respectively last season. He ran to time speed ratings of 70 and 77 in these two races, which is a good indicator that he’s likely to be capable of running to this type of mark, if not even a bit better.

Luke Morris takes the ride. That suggests Dream Farr is not here for a public gallop. Morris is one who always tries to win, leading the AW Jockey Championship at the moment, and the Morris/Walker combo has been a pretty successful one in the past, too.

It’s probably fair to believe that Dream Farr could have a couple of pounds in hand today and therefore should go close in this contest.

Selection:
10pts win – Dream Farr @ 9/1 Bet365