January ended somewhat in a disaster. Some was down to luck, some was down to poor decision making. I backed poor value and missed out on some huge opportunities at the other end of the spectrum. Minus 35pts to start the year…..
The second half of January was costly. I made nine selections, four were placed (and beaten in somewhat “unlucky circumstances” in some of those) with one winner. If the photo goes Kommetdieding’s way in the Met it’s a handy profit… tight margins.
Due to some small health issues I didn’t have much time to watch a lot of racing lately. Therefore there won’t be a new eyecatchers list at the end of this week (I try to maintain a bi-weekly rhythm if possible).
1.20 Southwell: Class 6 Handicap, 6f
The draw may not look ideal on paper, but I back With Respect to overcome it in this field where not many want to move forward. Also these low to higher draws in 12-runners Handicaps over this CD haven’t been such a dramatic disadvantage as one would normally think they are.
With Respect comes here after two eye-catching runs at Lingfield. started awkwardly on both occasions, which is the key concern today, especially with the #9 draw.
He travelled really well for a long time on both occasions, but fell away in the closing stages. It’s fair to assume he was found out for class and speed in a hot contest the last time. His previous run can be upgraded when he did a lot to get to the front and that piece of form has worked out really well.
He drops down in class. This should be a lot easier. He was smart as a juvenile on his debut running to a 90 speed rating. There must have been issues subsequently, he never reached the same heights subsequently, was gelded and off the track for two years.
It’s fair to hope he’s much fitter now with three solid runs under his belt. Down to a mark of 64 he could be quite well handicapped, as long as he gets it right at the start.
A Met for the ages – South Africa’s premier race over the 2.000m distance is full of star quality: 11 Grade 1 winners line up!
That includes last years first three home, plus the reigning Durban July champion, with the added excitement of top-class 3-year-old contenders taking on their elders.
As exciting as the field is, as underwhelming is the likely pace scenario. Few want to race close up, even fewer are confirmed front-runners. This could turn out to be a muddling affair and makes the analysis of the race tricky.
Make It Snappy: all week the favourite for the race. Ever since she won the Fillies’ Grade 1 Paddock Stakes three weeks ago, beating wonder mare Captain’s Ransom nicely from the front.
She is likely to move forward. She likes to have her own way from the front. The #2 draw is a great help. The trip isn’t a worry, she stays but has shown to have the speed to win Guineas.
The filly will get the ideal trip. She is the prime contender with her ultra-light weight. Fillies have a strong record in this race, too. The only question mark: is she good enough against the big boys?
Her merit rating, if factored in WFA and fillies’ allowance, says she very much is. No doubt, Make It Snappy is the one to beat.
Jet Dark: the second highest rated horse in the race. A class-act, with four Grade 1 victories to his name, he has got stellar form from the mile all the way to the July trip, where finished a fast finishing runner-up last year.
He’s likely to be primed for his final race before heading to stud, although is prep didn’t go totally to plan. Perhaps that was the reason why he only managed to finish 3rd in the King’s Plate earlier this month, a race he won back-to-back the years prior.
In saying that, the King’s Plate was an incredibly competitive renewal, and there was no shame to finish 3rd behind Charles Dickens and shock winner Al Muthana. On the other hand, a 1.5 lengths defeat, may show that he isn’t quite the force he used to be?
Kommetdieding: the defending champion. Won this race ahead of Jet Dark 12 months ago. The ultra-professional, consistent horse, a Durban July winner, will head to stud right after this race as well.
His prep couldn’t have gone much better, one would think. After a pipe opener over 6 furlongs, he ran lovely races in the Green Point Stakes as well as when 4th in the King’s Plate, less than two lengths beaten.
He is a better horse over this 2.000m trip, though, hence it’s noteworthy how well he ran over the shorter distances leading up to this race.
The 5-year-old looks as good as ever. He sets the standard in this field. Even though he hasn’t won since landing the Met last year, he ran mostly to a high level of form.
What’s intriguing about him is the ability to race up with the pace. He has a solid low draw, and is one of the few in this field likely to get the ideal trip. He’ll probably track Make It Snappy all the way, and then it will be a matter of how good the filly is.
Cousin Casey: the other three-year-old in this field. he was an outstanding juvenile, won the Premiers Champions Stakes and has returned in fine form this season, landing a Grade 3, before only finding Charles Dickens too strong in the Cape Guineas.
That performance warrants and upgrade, as he didn’t get an ideal race from a wide draw, and he made his challenge against the inside rail, while not having the clearest of runs.
He could improve for the step up in trip and clearly has the speed to feature strongly. His wide draw and likely racing position off the pace will make life tricky for Grant Van Niekerk, though.
Others Runners: he was 80/1 on the day, three weeks ago in the King#s Plate – is it a mistake to underestimate Al Muthana again? He caused the major upset in the King’s Plate, and is once again a longshot today. In truth, though, this 2.000m trip isn’t his optimum, and he will need luck from his draw.
Reigning Durban July heroine Sparkling Water seems to hit peak form after some solid prep runs. This trip is more what she wants as well. If they go hard up front then she would have a much better chance, though. In a slowly run race she may struggle.
Linebacker was third in the Met last year. he seems to have lost his way a little bit and is hard to fancy if judged on recent form. Rascallion won the Grade 2 Anthonij Rupert Wyne Premier Trophy three weeks ago. The additional furlong may stretch him, but even more than the trip it’s gonna be #17 draw that is a real issue today.
Last years Cape Derby runner-up Universal has only run three times since then. He seems to hit form at the right time, having performed well as a runner-up in the Green-Point Stakes and when less than a lengths behind Rascallion recently.
Veteran Do It Again has been around for a long time. He still runs to a good standard consistently. If his past record is a guide, though, he will struggle over this course and distance.
It’s hard to make a serious case for any other horse in the field. Zapatillas, last years Guineas winner is equally hard to fancy as it last years Cape Derby hero Pomp And Power, who seems to have lost some of his zest.
Christophe Soumillon is riding Golden Ducat from the #1 gate. The 7-year-old is a good deal off his past 128 Merit Rating; certainly on current form. However, if he sits close to the pace, he’s perhaps a surprise place chance.
This is all about the filly Make It Snappy and how much she can improve now that is going to meet the boys – and very much the absolute best of South Africa’s older horses.
She will get the run of the race and with that in mind 7/2 is a fair price. There is some 4/1 on the Exchanges, and that looks a touch over the top, even.
At the same time, this improvement is very much factored into the price. With that in mind, all week I was hoping to get inflated odds for the defending champion Kommetdieding.
His price went only one way all week, hence I was even more delighted to find Starsports offering a generous 6/1. That is about two points bigger than I would have imagined him to be.
Kommetdieding is likely to enjoy a near perfect race too. A good draw, he can sit handily, track the pace, and then from 500m out, will be asked for his effort, which will be as honest as ever. He doesn’t stop, he races hard to the line.
Obviously Wake Up Harry is here, who I was quite keen to back on Monday, before Kempton got cancelled.
I can’t back him here from the #10, though. As my week goes, he probably wins now. He’s good enough and has perhaps the pounds in hand to overcome it, but with a muddling pace scenario it’s not a price I am prepared to back.
Purely a value play with the pace scenario in mind is Adaayinourlife, instead. He won eleven month ago a CD Handicap of similar setup, although that day he had a much wider draw to overcome.
Today he’s got an ideal #2 draw to move forward and grab the lead. There is lack of pace here, and that will play into his cards to use his possibly superior speed, as otherwise the mile trip is right at his limit.
His comeback run at Kempton last month after having been off the track since April was quite pleasing. He found the 7f a bit sharp on the day but run nicely in the home straight.
If he can strip fitter and get the ideal pace scenario he’s seriously overprices; although, with this yard, you just never know whether they run on their merit.
10pts win – Adaayinourlife @ 20/1
1.43 Lingfield: Class 6 Handicap, 6f
Solar Profit has ran much better the last two times than the bare form suggest. He didn’t stay last time out when fading badly, but it was positive to see him start sharply.
That wasn’t the case on his penultimate run over 6 furlongs at Southwell, when poorly away from the gate, left too far off the pace, caught wide and yet he made eye-catching progress from halfway through the race.
That form looks quite strong on paper, too. Therefore this slightly stronger race doesn’t worry me. He’s 3lb lower in his OR now and remains unexposed over this sprint trip.
From the perfect #4 draw, if he gets the start right, he should move forward and be right up with the pace in a race where not too many seem likely to compete for the lead.
This is his third start for the Boughey yard and since being gelded, he should be hitting peak readiness today, with blinkers back on and the apprentice of the minute on board.
10pts win – Solar Profit @ 4/1
7.00 Kempton: Class 4 Handicap, 1m
Very few look interesting from a handicapping point of view in this field, and I suspect the way the race is likely to be run, will disadvantage the vast majority.
One who is likely to go forward and won’t have an issue from his wider than normally ideal draw is Counsel. He doesn’t appear overly well handicapped, and his strike rate is poor, but he warrants upgrading for his recent runs.
He runner-up performance behind Brains looks really solid, and he ran much better than the bare form last time out at Southwell as he did a lot to cross over from an #11 draw to lead.
He shouldn’t need to spend too much energy to get over today. There are not many here who have shown in the pace a consistent eagerness to lead.
Off a mark of 78 he has a bit to find in this class on speed ratings as his sole win a is 7f Novice race from last year at Lingfield. However, he appears to be a better horse on the All-Weather, and potentially on the polytrack surface.
His two Kempton runs can be forgiven. He was held up and not in the race back then. The trip shouldn’t be an issue at all, even though he is yet to win over a mile.
What is a clear positive is the jockey booking. Williams/O’Neill is a potent combo.
I was seriously keen on Healing Power the last time at Wolverhampton. Albeit, that day he finished a disappointing 7th, there is a fair excuse for the below-par run.
Last time, from the #7 draw, the gelding was awkward away hence a step slow, was caught wide early as he moved forward to grab the lead eventually. The race was over there and then for him, as he faded badly in the closing stages.
It was also a strong contest, the winner clearly well handicapped and others have followed up with their own good runs subsequently.
Nonetheless, what made Healing Power a good bet that day remains largely the case why I am prepared to give him another chance here.
He can jump from the #1 gate, is back at his preferred Lingfield where he has a 7-2-3 record and there isn’t too much competition for the lead expected.
The Lingfield run in December remains a strong piece of form, suggesting the 7-year-old is in pretty good form. He is 3lb lower today, down to a mark of 61, which makes him well handicapped, if he can run to the same level of form again, that I believe is not far off his strong summer AW form when he ran twice to strong speed ratings, and won off 60.
10pts win – Healing Power @ 6/1
3.55 Lingfield: Class 5 Handicap, 5f
This looks really competitive with a hot pace but I must give Ooh Is It a chance at the given prices, as he is clearly overpriced, if all is well.
There is a bit money coming, he was available at 16s this morning, but is nibbled at, that gives me a bit more confidence and hope. He missed some recent engagements, so wellbeing is taken at face value.
However, he ran extremely well at the end of last year, seriously caught the eye at Wolverhampton, and wasn’t disgraced when 3rd at Southwell subsequently behind two well handicapped individuals, while it was report that the “gelding had struck into himself on his left fore” during the race.
He missed the break the next time at Wolverhampton, which is unusual. He lost the race there and then.
From a perfect #2 draw today here’s hoping for a good start. A low draw for a prominent/front-running horse is a major advantage over this CD.
Ooh Is It ran to a speed rating of 71 back in November; he’s now down a mark of 66. if he’s healthy and well, he’s certainly quite well handicapped now.
Intriguing contest; I feel Spanish Angel with the apprentice of the moment on board has a strong chance, but veteran Another Angel caught the eye a number of times lately, having run much better than the bare form and has been given a real opportunity by the handicapper.
He hasn’t won in ages, literally. But he also is down to a career lowest mark, over his preferred course an distance where he has a near 50% place record and landed all of his seven career victories.
I quite liked his last three runs, despite having been beaten comprehensively most of the time, though the last time in 0-70 class he was far from disgraced when less than three lengths beaten in field full of in-form rivals.
He drops down to 0-55 and has been dropped 3lb in his handicap mark. That looks quite favourable, given these latest runs, where he showed good early speed, don’t look all that far of his excellent September run, when third over this CD off 61 and running to a 58 speed rating.
No other horse in this race can match a similar speed rating over the last while, and I believe Another Angel isn’t too far of this form, actually. Off this really low 49 rating now, he’s clearly very well handicapped if still in form.
There is some other pace in the race, but AA should have the stands’ side to himself, potentially and won’t need to worry what the lower drawn numbers do.
I have reservations about the jockey: Cam Hardie has a less than 2% strike rate at Newcastle over the last two seasons, although often sits on big prices, but even on fancied runners improve to only about 3%. However, he has been riding this horse the majority of times over the years with a good record.
Two lovely winners this week, yet it was a week filled with frustration, nonetheless. Put simply: all too often I was “riding” the wrong horse, or conversely: not riding the right horse.
Saturday epitomised this fact in no uncertain ways: Paddy K – well backed from 7/1 to 9/4 – finished a good runner-up… behind Ustath. Of course. It couldn’t have been any different. The same Ustath I backed 24h earlier, when he finished 2nd.
My mood wasn’t lifted when I saw that Eye Of The Water – another eyecatcher I have been monitoring for the right day for quite some time – won the Wolverhampton opener. Unbacked. Of course.
It’s always good to see work validated, the eyecatchers have been running sensationally well this winter so far. But their victories found their way into my P & L sheet not nearly as often. Decisions, decisions…
On a different topic: we’re less than a week away from the Cape Met. South Africa’s most important Group 1 race over 10 furlongs. I am fairly sweet on recent G1 Paddock Stakes winner Make It Snappy.
Top-class fillies have a strong record in the race. Make It Snappy’s brave style of racing reminds me of one of my all-time favourite fillies: Igugu! She won the Met 11 years ago, against a backdrop of pre-race worries and during the race when she looked beaten only to come back for more.
Class, guts, all heart: Igugu.
1.50 Kempton: Class 6 Handicap, 1m
Favourite Lordsbridge Girl hasn’t really impressed on speed ratings yet, hence I’m more than happy to take the filly on with a recent eyecatcher, that is 5-year-old gelding Wake Up Harry.
He should have a massive chance up in trip and significantly down in class (he drops from 0-75 into 0-65) after an excellent run over shorter 7 furlongs at Lingfield earlier this month.
That day he was restrained after a path forward was blocked early on, then travelling smoothly off the pace. He was still going well when turning for home, although perhaps turning wider than ideal, before unleashing a solid challenge in the home straight from to furlongs to the final furlong marker. He didn’t quite have the speed to get to leaders and came from too far back, and wasn’t able to sustain his effort in the closing stages.
Nonetheless, he appears to be hitting peak form. He didn’t race over the right trip the last two runs and one can forgive the comeback run after a long break.
He looks all set for being unleashed here tomorrow, though. A mile suits him really well, he’s got a 4-1-2 record but hasn’t ran over it since his final run before a gelding operation back in May 2021.
It’s clear that he was well too highly rated after a promising in maiden and novice races, but is down to a more than fair 65 handicap mark. John Egan comes here for this one ride only, which could be significant, too.
I usually don’t get involved in such a short price, but this gelding should be still quite a bit shorter, in my book.
Two (betting) days in row a winner – Seesawing done it the hard way from the front, but had enough in hand to hold on.
The stiff 6 furlongs at Newcastle suited and his stamina for a bit further clearly helped as t looked a fast pace, especially as he wasn’t the sharpest out of the gate and run a race to the car park before the actual race on the polytrack!
Not quite the same story for Ustath, who led on the stands’ side but wasn’t able to hold on and finished 2nd eventually. A fair performance, but ultimately a bit disappointing that he wasn’t able to prevail in this poor contest as the top rated horse.
3.45 Southwell: Classified Stakes, 6f
I said on Tuesday I wouldn’t give Paddy P another chance beyond the race that took place that evening…. well here we are. It’s truly the last chance my dear friend Paddy K.
He remains a maiden after 17 runs and call me stupid I still very strongly feel he is cherry ripe to win a race. Not much from what I said on Tuesday has changed; in fact, I feel only even stronger after a clearly unfortunate run that saw him finish a 1½ lengths beaten fifth.
It was an eye catching run – yet again – although one that was probably lost in the first furlong rather than in the penultimate one when Paddy P was badly short of room and saw his momentum stopped.
Despite a low draw, jockey PJ McDonald wasn’t decisive enough when the space in and around him tightened only moments after the gate opened. He didn’t push through the rapidly closing gap right in front of him, instead had to settle much further off pace than excepted and surely wanted.
Paddy K didn’t like it. He pulled for his head for the first half of the race. He travelled well into the home straight, though finding himself right beside the eventual winner approaching the two furlong marker.
Again a split-second decision went wrong, as Tathmeen, who went on to win the race, went to the outside while Paddy K stayed in the middle. One got a gap before it was too late, the other only when it was too late.
Eventually, a furlong from home, Paddy K got an opening, and it’s credit to him that he got going again. He didn’t have all that much left in the tank, after the early exertions, though.
He caught the eye a few times in the last weeks and months. Obviously a tricky sort, who needs things to fall his way. However, Tuesday represented only his second opportunity over 6 furlongs on the All-Weather – I feel it’s the ideal scenario for him; so over the same CD here in an even weaker race from a super draw with a favourable pace scenario he is a massive chance.
Ustath is here too. I do like him a little bit more over 6 furlongs these days. He’s a top chance from his low draw and not much competition for the lead. But he’s a short price and the fact he wasn’t able to win on Friday is probably a reflection of the fact that he is not much better than his current mark.
In this poor Classified Stakes race, running to that sort of rating may be good enough. I simply think Paddy K has a bit more scope over this CD and is a much better price. That says I do hope he moves forward to track Ustath. No excuse this time.
It was good to back a winner on Wednesday – Iva Feeling did it really well, as hoped, always nicely positioned from her low draw and she saw out every inch of the mile.
The rare trip over to Dundalk was a profitable one for me – finally positive news on the W front, the third winner for the month; yet, January is nothing to shout about on the P/L sheet.
Not so good was the blatant non-trier Northern Chancer. That’s disappointing to see if you back a horse. But then, that’s the nature of the game I willingly participate in. It’s bound to happen, another time in my favour.
Probably even more disappointing, a disappointment with my own decision making, was backing May Remain. I knew pre-race the pace scenario is against him; was blinded by the mantra chanting in my head “but he’s so well handicapped”.
Maybe he was, and perhaps he’s even more so next time, but the way the race was going to unfold was always going to kill off his chances. This is not hindsight bias because I knew it well enough beforehand, identified this issue and still put the money down. Wanted it too much.
It’s important to be honest with oneself. I can be and know: this was a poor bet. You can’t construct good bets. Only bad ones.
12.50: Classified Stakes, 5f
I must give Ustath another chance. He drops down to the minimum trip, which shouldn’t be an issue, given he’s a multiple course and distance winner.
His most recent run in Handicap company over 6 furlongs earlier this month was disappointing, but the damage was done in the first half of the race, and he also was hanging in the straight.
I go back to the penultimate run, though, that was seriously eyecatching. That level of form, if he could run close to it, will see him hard to beat against poor opposition today.
Ideally he would have a low draw, given those low numbers on the far side are clearly preferred over the 5f at Southwell. But there looks to be little real pace on that side in this race, which means it will probably play out in the middle of the track, so the #9 gate is fine.
10pts win – Ustath @ 9/2
5.15 Newcastle: Class 6 Handicap, 6f
It was an excellent comeback run for Seesawing last month at this venue when 6th after a long break. That form looks quite strong as it has started to work out well.
After an awkward start he moved forward to led toward stands’ side, somewhat isolated there. He seemingly travelled well, before hanging toward the middle of the track from 2 furlongs out; tiering late and losing a few places.
He was entitled to tire, was 330 days off and changed yards in the meantime as well. This run is noteworthy for the strengths of the form and the fact winner and runner-up came from well off the pace, which is no easy task at Newcastle; it gives the form substance, and shows Seesawing ran pretty well from the front.
He’s hopefully fitter today. In any case he’s down to a solid mark that offers opportunities as he’s still lightly raced enough, although also seeking a first career win.
He ran to a speed rating of 63 last year, that ties in nicely with his current mark (minus 3lb claimed by Mark Crehan) and he’s quite unexposed over this sort of trip, especially on the All-Weather and in Handicap company.
I would have liked to see him over 7 furlongs with turn, but the drop to 6 furlongs with a stiff finish as present at Newcastle could be an ideal scenario. There shouldn’t be much competition for the lead and I hope he goes forward, drops his head and will make most of an easy lead.
An unusual one for me: I rarely bet Irish races, certainly not Dundalk. I struggle to trust the form, the races can be chaotic and these usually full fields throw up odd results.
But Iva Feeling has everything going for herself, stepping up to a mile as I hoped she would eventually, and is still a huge price on the exchanges (smarkets especially) – this looks such a superb opportunity tomorrow, everything speaks in her favour, nothing against backing a mare at Dundalk, other than backing a mare at Dundalk…
Anyway, the mare was a huge eyecatcher in early October over 7 furlongs at Dundalk:
That day she missed the break from the widest draw, was right away at massive disadvantage and travelled in rear, also quite wide. She but made excellent progress gradually entering the home straight to finish best from those off the pace.
She is still a quite lightly raced mare for her age with some scope on the sand, especially back over a mile. She is also on a pretty good handicap mark now as her last three runs are prove. She ran better than the bare form at Curragh in her final turf start; she caught the eye at Dundalk and Leopardstown in spring. Her most recent effort over 7 furlongs again was also quite strong.
She started much better, but kept fighting hard to keep up with the pace and not losing position. She ran strongly to the line, achieved a good speed rating and once again looked like she could appreciate a return to a mile.
She never had the chance to tackle a mile off such a low mark. She is drawn in #4, and has the assistance of a good 5lb claimer in the saddle. As much as these races can feel like a lottery sometimes, she looks ready to rock.
10pts win – Iva Feeling @ 6/1
4.25 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Handicap, 6f
May Remain finally drops to 6 furlongs again. It was about time. The last number of runs over 7 furlongs he ran his heart out and performed with plenty of credit in the circumstances, but the trip was literally a furlong too far, as evidence when last seen once again last time out.
Hasn’t looked a winner waiting to happen since joining Ivan Furtado
Obviously the RP analyst and myself have seen different races because for the last four or five runs I thought May Remain looks definitely a winner waiting to happen with the right trip.
He has fallen to a career lowest mark as a consequence. Off 54, over a more adequate trip – all of May Remain’s 6 career wins came over the minimum trip or 6 furlongs – he must be a huge runner in this field.
The one concern is the pace scenario. There could ne too much competition for early speed. His #6 draw isn’t ideal either. But not many appear well handicapped at all, and some may resist the urge to move forward this time.
It’s a gamble, to some extend hope, that he can find quickly a good spot tracking the likely leader in Jupiter Express. he may be caught wide, too, if things go badly.
But I am prepared to go risk, feel he is so well handicapped over this trip.
10pts win – May Remain @ 11/1
7.15 Southwell: Classified Stakes, 6f
Shocking race. But longshot Northern Chancer caught the eye on his handicap debut and is stepping up to 6 furlongs, which should suit, being completely unexposed.
Last time at Newcastle over the minimum trip, he was a tiny step slow off the gate, before quickly moving forward against the stands’ side to lead. He was fastest over first half of the race, setting quite a strong gallop that compared well to other sprint races on the card, contested by older horses.
He appeared to be hanging throughout, though, which is a concern, and faded badly in the last two furlongs. perhaps he was just green and raw, and have learned from this run.
It was his comeback run since August and Handicap debut. He was gelded in the meantime. That may help, so will the step up in trip. I think he showed enough to suggest he can win a poor race. Also: his family tends to do well on All-Weather.
Surprise Picture should have a cracking chance in this field from the #1 draw back over 7 furlongs. He dropped 6lb since his eye catching run over this trip at Wolverhampton in a hot class 4 contest in November.
That day he was hurried up to move forward from the start, even though heh looked a bit awkward. He tracked the pace, but didn’t received an economical run before finding himself short of room 1f from home when coming with a challenge.
He caught the eye earlier in November, too, when caught wide, and again received a seriously uneconomical ride, and he followed up with another strong run over this CD mid-December. I can forgive the last 6f effort from a wide draw.
He ran multiple times ran to speed ratings of 68+ last year; so down to am mark of 64, having shown good form lately, gives him a superb chance as he drops in grade as well.
10pts win – Surprise Picture @ 10/1
8.30 Southwell: Class 6 Handicap, 6f
I am delighted to see Paddy K dropping in trip. It was obvious the last number of times that he just finds a way to get beat if he races beyond this distance. He’s certainly a tricky character, and his winless record tells the tale.
But down in trip, in a race that should suit from a pace scenario, with a good draw, off a career lowest mark, he looks seriously overpriced.
He caught the eye a few times – when seen the last time and only time on the All-Weather over 6 furlongs at Newcastle in October when he fought gamely despite having a far from ideal race.
He ran really well prior to this on his final turf start of the 2022 campaign as well, and followed up with a number of solid runs on the sand over 7 furlongs, before running his possibly strongest race at the end of November at Kempton.
His form has tailed off subsequently, and that’s a concern. But he doesn’t stay a mile and 7 furlongs is a stretch too; especially when he pulls hard and goes hard from the front, as he did the last time. I think, with that in mind, those last two runs can be forgiven.
Now, you don’t want to make constantly excuses for a horse still without a career win after 16 starts. He is a seriously tricky horse. Can pull, can hang, can mess up at the gate, but clearly he also on a good mark, if he can run to anywhere near the level of form he showed toward the end of last year, now down in trip.
I won’t give him any more chances beyond this. 6 furlongs from a good aw with what could be an ideal scenario with Dapper Man possibly giving him a lead; he’ll never find a better chance to get his head in front, ever.