Saturday again, and I come up with the exact same selection as seven days ago! All-Weather, Lingfield…. again. Given it’s the height of the summer and supposedly the flat season this is remarkable. But this was a light week already, as I struggled to find compelling betting opportunities.
The same goes for today. The fast ground at the Curragh deprives me of one opportunity I’d have been excited about otherwise; Shergar Cup isn’t a betting proposition for me.
Saying that, tomorrow is German Oaks day. Really looking forward to the race; there’s oneafilly I can’t wait to see. But more on that later….
5.00 Lingfield: Class 6 Handicap, 1m
Richard P Smith was desperately only a week ago over course and distance when he was way too patiently ridden and never given a chance under a shocking ride by Rob Havlin. He finished strongly, seemingly the best horse in the race. 2lb up for that effort shouldn’t stop him today.
He showed to be most likely ahead of his mark earlier in June on his handicap debut too. There he ran a huge race at Chepstow as he was quite keen early on and was hanging ever so slightly too. He attempted to make all from the front, had the field on the stretch from three furlongs out and found under pressure. He was eventually beaten by a horse from off the pace.
That form looks quite strong already. This race today is a poor contest. He really should be winning this especially as I expect him to be ridden much more positive dropping down to a mile.
Concerns as I write this over the drift in the market. He’s available at bigger prices than what I got and deemed value already.
BoundlessOcean won the Group 3 contest at Leopardstown in fine fashion today. The faith paid off, he was too good for this field. The significant drop in class and distance helped. He was certainly less keen – by his standards – travelled like a dream and won in the manner of a horse with bigger targets on the horizon.
Ustath didn’t quite make it a perfect day. A solid 2nd place, beaten by half a lengths. Went off too fast I reckon and then got into trouble up the stiff Hamilton finish. He’s one to keep an eye on in terms of handicap mark. If the handicapper doesn’t react too harshly then he remains of interest over 6 furlongs on fast ground.
3.18 Newbury: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 4f
Vaynor goes for a hat-trick and I back him to be able to win his third race in a row. The penny has dropped and the gelding looks vastly improved from run to run ever since returning to turf this year.
He won a poor class 6 Handicap over 1m 6f at Bath in early June, although in fine fashion and running to a 4lb better topspeed than his mark then. He followed up in better grade next time at Newmarket, although dropping in trip. He won going away and with a bit in hand, also finishing much the fastest on sectionals over the last three furlongs.
He ran to a 67 topspeed rating off a 67 handicap mark and that looks pretty good given how commanding the performance was. His revised mark of 73 is more than fair and potentially on the lenient side. He could easily have more to offer and can improve again given he was also a May foal and needed time to mature.
Pace seems crucial to him. There should be enough in the race to make it a solid test. But he’s versatile enough to make his own race too. Even though he races against better rivals, there isn’t really another well handicapped individual in the field.
10pts win – Vaynor @ 7/2
7.10 Newmarket: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 4f
Pub Crawl is a horse I am monitoring since the start of the season. His seasonal reappearance at Leicester was eyecatching but it was his subsequent Epsom Handicap debut that got me seriously interested in the 3-year-old gelding.
That day plenty of things went wrong but he finished incredibly strongly once out in the clear giving the impression of potentially being ahead of his mark, especially if going up in trip.
He’s clearly a tricky sort as sluggish starts are his “trademark” and he can find trouble during races as well. He put all those bad traits on show the next two times.
Although he looks regressive and hasn’t gotten any help from the handicapper, he wasn’t disgraced in his last two runs in my view. Those were competitive affairs over ten furlongs and things didn’t go his way.
He now steps up to 12 furlongs. A trip he’s not certain to stay. On the other hand things happen a whole lot slower here and that will suit. It’s not impossible on pedigree and he can run on strongly in the closing stages, which suggests he stays.
Interestingly Pub Crawl has been noted in the Weekender paper Newmarket Gallops section to have worked really well on two occasions since his Sandown flop. He’s got the assistance of excellent 5lb claiming Benoit De La Sayette in the saddle. This is also a wide open contest. He must have a strong chance to get his head in front if he stays.
Ustath is so desperately ready to win a race…. if the ground stays fast. There is some rain on the way, possibly it won’t be enough to turn the ground to slower than the current good to fast, but Hamilton has watered – of course – so you never know.
I feel he clearly needs solid fast ground to be seen to best effect these days, but I take the risk. Ustath has caught the eye a number of times this year, certainly ran better than bare forms suggest even though his ever falling mark would contradict this notion too.
He’s down to a turf mark of 50 now. He’s ran to topspeeds of 50+ a whopping 18 times in his career on all surfaces, and ran to 50 and 58 on the All-Weather earlier this year, suggesting he’s clearly up- if not a good bit better than this revised Official Rating.
He was not best placed two weeks ago at Thirsk, ran with plenty of credit over the minimum trip at Ripon and was badly hampered at Catterick. The stiff Hamilton 6 furlongs should suit perfectly, especially on fast ground.
10pts win – Ustath @ 4/1
7.20 Leopardstown: Group Meld Stakes, 9f
You could make a case for anyone and against anyone in this field. The one that I am prepared to give a chance is Boundless Ocean. He seems underappreciated, even though normally he wouldn’t be a bet for me either.
He’s yet to better an 83 topspeed rating in nine lifetime starts, but there are some mitigating factors, hence I am prepared to give him a pass. This Group 3 event over 9 furlongs looks an ideal test that hopefully sees him run a strong race.
He caught the eye a few times this season. I certainly liked his Derby run better than the 6/8 finish would reveal. He was held up in last position and settled better than in previous races, which is not to say he wasn’t keen at different stages throughout the race, regardless.
He had a lot to do from the back of the field turning for home given the race was won at the frontend. He then made a good looking move from three furlongs out until emptying in the closing stages. The trip as beyond him in any case.
He’s a difficult colt to ride it seems. Can miss the break and often pulls really hard for his head. But he clearly got some talent. I felt he was a bit unlucky in the Gallinule Stakes when short of room at a crucial stage and pulled way too hard over 12 furlongs when runner-up subsequently.
A drop to 9 furlongs seems a wise move especially in this lesser company against some beatable rivals. There are no excuses today. I would hope he’s good enough to book himself another opportunity in higher grade subsequently.
No fifth winner in a row. Sophiesticate got close. Really close. Despite drifting out to 12/1 SP. Beaten a neck in the end after a brave performance. This was probably her best chance to win for the next while.
Mellecamp got off to a quick start, led the field and did simply too much too soon. He ran out of gas from two furlongs out and hang quite badly under pressure too. The 7.5f trip was borderline stamina wise but I maintain hope that he can win a race and is better than this mark, which may be reduced even further now. A stiff 6 furlongs looks ideal.
3.10 Beverley: Class 6 Handicap, 5f
Canaria Prince caught the eye a number of times with some brave front-running performances. In a competitive 20-runner handicap at Thirsk when last seen he produced his usual game effort but didn’t quite last the 6 furlongs as the winner and runner-up came from off the pace.
He bumped into some well-handicapped horses lately too. Especially the close runner-up effort behind Elzaal in May at Carlisle rates strongly in my book.
That’s when he tried the minimum trip for only the second time in his career, and also the last time until now. He had excuses on his final start in 2021, the only other run over five furlongs.
Back in May at Carlisle they came clear of the rest of the field and Canaria Prince showed that he has the speed for 5 furlongs but also has a lovely attitude as he always fights well to the line.
Fast ground, a stiff 5 furlongs at Beverley from a good draw looks an ideal combination. If he runs to same level of form as in recent weeks he’s a solid chance, if he can find a tiny bit of improvement for track and trip then he’s probably hard to beat in a poor field.
The three-year-olds Primo and Chant For More rate the biggest threats. Primo in particular, comes here in great form and may be able to defy a hefty rise in the mark, though isn’t one to trust fully and can mess up at the start.
I imagine Mokaman to jump out the quickest, grabbing the rail and setting a fast pace, with Canaria Prince tracking him. There should be no hard luck story for him at all, the race is set up for him to win.
On a roll. A hat-trick of winners over the last three days. Flotus won the Group 3 Summer Stakes at York in lovely fashion.
It couldn’t have gone any better: the filly broke well, led the field, although others tried to go with her. Halfway through the race I thought she may have done too much too early. But she kept going all the way strongly to the line. She proved the best filly in the race. Class prevailed.
Hard to believe how rapidly and dramatically the tide can turn in this game as long as you make good decisions, believe in your method (IF it’s a solid and proven method) and show consistency in the effort put in day in day out and most importantly the quality of decisions made.
Already five winners in the first week of July, that’s one more than in the entire individual months of April or May. Right now things are flowing, so to speak. But the pendulum can swing as quickly the other way again, I know all too well.
So I’ll try to stick (not always easy) to the Golden Rules regarding emotions: never too high, never too low. Because three losers on Saturday and the world looks a little bit gloomier again.
3.35 Ascot: Group 2 Summer Mile, 1m
A close one: there isn’t much between the main principles in the field on official ratings, RPR’s or topspeed – the outcome will depend on the form on the day, on pace and possibly on who gets first run round the Ascot mile.
Modern News, My Oberon and Perotto met only a fortnight ago at Windsor in a tight finish with not more than ¾ of a lengths between them as My Oberon finished strongly to get up on the line.
I felt that day Perotto could be marked up for his front-running effort when he possibly over-raced a bit in the early stages. I was hugely impressed how he fought back so gamely once headed, even after being slightly hampered over half a furlong from home. He simply didn’t give up.
He’s no star but a rock solid individual, who has sometimes lacked sharpness out of the gates but clearly responded well to front-running tactics the last time. Cheek-pieces added seem a logical move and hopefully help him to be sharp early. A prominent position on fast ground at the round course is an advantage in my book.
He acts well on fast ground, clearly stays a mile as seen when winning a strongly run Britannia last year and should go well. He’s not the likeliest winner, but certainly overpriced while better fancied horses are priced up according to reputation more so than substance, I feel.
Chindit in particular, who looks a wrong favourite. He hasn’t even cracked a 90 topspeed rating in his last six starts.
10pts win – Perotto @ 12/1
4.45 Ascot: Class 3 Handicap, 1m
Washraa is clearly well handicapped on the basis of her seriously impressive Sandringham Stakes run. She travelled like a good thing, looked likely to come with a big challenge over two furlongs out, but clipped heels, stumbled badly and lost every chance, yet finished in impressive style, nonetheless.
Of course it’s hypothetical how much she would have found with a clear run. Though, I’m pretty certain she would have gone seriously close. She can race off the same mark here, which offers a great opportunity to resume the winning habit she showed in two starts before Royal Ascot.
She improved nicely since her seasonal reappearance, hinting talent already as a juvenile and should have too much talent for this slightly easier race than the rivals she encountered at Royal Ascot.
10pts win – Washraa @ 3/1
5.20 Ascot: Class 4 Handicap, 7f
Out From Under is a strong favourite. Only a pound up for his recent very strong Newmarket effort is possibly lenient. At prices I must select the talented filly Tarrabb, though. I reckon she is better than her official rating of 80.
Whether she is already better now, after three career runs, is the key question. She looked raw and very much learning on the job in all her races, nonetheless won really well on debut, wasn’t disgraced when beaten as runner-up subsequently after pulling hard, and lost her race at the gates at Thirsk.
She still very much caught the eye that day in particular, making good progress from the back of the field but not getting a clear run. It’s reasonable to assume she is ahead of her mark. Straight Ascot seven looks an ideal, simple test for the filly.
The race promised so much at the beginning of the week. It has significantly lost in excitement with the loss of some key horses that were expected to run and now go somewhere else for supposedly easier options.
It’s still a good race with six proper thoroughbreds going head to head. Let’s not forget only a few weeks ago Bay Bridge was thought to be the next coming of baby Jesus.
Today he’s a 7/2 shot. I was tempted for a moment when even bigger yesterday afternoon, but can’t get over the fact that his Sandown performance is simply overrated in my view, given the better horses that day weren’t fully tuned up most likely.
Even if taking the performance at face value he achieved a 102 topspeed rating – although it’s not unreasonable to assume he could have ran a bit faster – is far from the best on offer in this field today. He also had every chance at Ascot in my view and failed.
Mishriff is the highest rated horse in the race and a proper star. He’s only returning from a break, though. I doubt the test today, given how the race is likely to pan out, will suit.
Alenquer produced a career best at the Curragh. I rate that performance highly. He could be underestimated today again and probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves. I do wonder about a possibly slow pace for him, though. On fast ground it counts against him.
The two most likely to fight it out in my view are the three-year-olds. Superstar juvenile Native Trail has done little wrong this season . I don’t understand the perception that he is not as good a three-year-old as he was a juvenile when he clearly is. He simply meets stiffer competition this year.
He still impresses me, I must say. His Newmarket performance can be marked up for a variety of reason but he was the best horse in the race in my view and simply unlucky the way the race developed.
He put things right at the Curragh. It wasn’t a flashy performance but he did it in the upmost professional manner. He’s given enough indication to believe a step up in trip can work.
How is the fast ground to suit today? And what about the pace? He can take a bit of time to get going. Not ideal in what shapes like a muddling affair.
It’s the conundrum of the day: pace. Or a lack of it. Who is going to do the donkey work? Most if not all of these want to have something to chase after. This will be a sprint finish.
As unoriginally as it is, the fastest horse is French Derby winner Vadeni. His 109 topspeed rating from Chantilly rates even higher given he was nearly pulled up half a furlong from home.
He’s got a proper turn of foot, can quicken off a slowish pace, and looks a thoroughly uncomplicated ride. The fast ground is the one worry I have. It’s new to him. There’s a significant difference between French good ground (as connections called the PDJC ground) and Sandown fast.
But with the 3-year-old weight allowance in addition to the possibility of more improvement, I can’t look past him, especially at a price that should be probably a point shorter I think.
10pts win – Vadeni @ 9/4
1.50 Sandown: Group 3 Coral Charge, 5f
Equilateral is the a clear top rated choice on any measure for me. The bounce factor is a question mark, however that is already more than reflected in the price. If he’s fine after a huge effort at Royal Ascot and gets a clear run I can’t see him getting beaten.
Equilateral returned from a long lay-off in the King’s Stand Stakes. He travelled beautifully through the race, tracked Nature Strip from over two furlongs out and naturally failed to match the superstar sprinter. He finished a highly credible 5th, though.
That performance was worth a 102 topspeed rating. Just another one in the list of 100+ performances he produced in this career. He looks still strong and fast on the basis of this run and is considerably overpriced.
10pts win – Equilateral @ 11/2
2.25 Sandown: Class 2 Handicap, 1m
It pains me that I can’t back Checkandchallenge because I was really keen on him after his eye-catching Guineas run that was much better than the bare form suggested. I absolutely loved his Newcastle victory too.
At 4/1 on properly fast ground I can’t have him off 108, though. He may be too good and can overcome it, but I have the impression the fast ground won’t be to his advantage.
There is one alternative I have been tracking the whole year already: Trais Fluors. Admittedly the latest Windsor performance has given me pause for thought and I am a little less excited to jump on board. He looked laboured that day. So a clear risk to back when backing him today: what’s his form?
However, the positives outweigh the risks in an open race where he’s certainly handicapped to go close if he finds back to the form previously shown in three runs this season.
He caught the eye on all three of those runs. Desperately unlucky at Thirsk, not a clear passage on his seasonal debut at Newbury before and he made a huge impression from off the pace dominated by those up or closer to it at Redcar, finishing the second half of the race the fastest.
Down to a mark of 85 he’s given a proper chance. He won last summer over course and distance on fast ground off 92. He ran to topspeed 91 that day.
Back at Sandown with De Sousa in the saddle he has a good chance to outrun his price. Whether that’s good enough to win in this hot contest remains to be seen. He needs a bit of “luck” from off the pace. I have him a better shot nonetheless to deliver today.
10pts win – Trais Fluors @ 10/1
6.50 Carlisle: Class 6 Handicap, 5f
Twice Adaay has been knocking on the door a couple of times this season over 6 furlongs. She caught my eye in May at Ripon when she moved forward into a prominent position after slightly sluggish start. She lost her position before the two furlong marker as she got behind a wall of horses. She was short of room over one furlong from home again, but finished well enough and easy on the eye.
The drop to the minimum trip is sure to suit, especially with rain forecast. Her best performances came over five furlongs with cut in the ground, so conditions will be perfect.
She is down to a mark off 55, a single pound above her last (and only) winning mark when she took a 5 furlong contest at Beverley last July. She seems to give her best running also on these slightly tricky specialist tracks, as she possesses good balance and should enjoy Carlisle in the rain.
Having ran to topspeeds of 58 (on fibresand though), 56 and 54 on turf, she is reasonably well handicapped, with 5lb claiming Laura Coughlin offering additional assistance.
10pts win – Twice Adaay @ 8/1
7.00 Nottingham: Class 5 Handicap, 6f
Lightly-raced Bibulous makes plenty of appeal here, even though I envision he might be even better over an additional furlong. I still believe even over 6 furlongs he can be better handicapped than the current mark, and his recent finish at Chepstow is a good indication for this notion.
The June race was his seasonal reappearance after a light campaign as a three-year-old with only three runs including an impressive victory at Kempton over 6 furlongs.
At Chepstow he travelled at the rear of the field after a restrained start. He looked to go pretty well, was eventually switched to the stands’ side over two furlongs out where he started his run home. He didn’t have an instant change of gear but it also appeared he didn’t quite enjoy the undulations and especially downhill portion of the course.
However once balanced he rattled home much the strongest suggesting that there’s more to come on a slightly more conventional straight sprint course. He remains on the same 68 handicap mark, which is more than fair I reckon. He already ran to a 67 topspeed last season. Any improvement will see him hard to beat.