Tag Archives: The Grey Gatsby

Tuesday’s Racing Talk

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SLOW burning day, but no surprise given the Ebor Festival is looming large. Not much caught my eye today with the exception of the story that Jamie Spencer lost the ride on The Grey Gatsby in the Juddmonte International.

“The horse needs a fresh pair of hands” says trainer Kevin Ryan. So Danny Tudhope gets the nod. Tudhope is a bit the man of the hour after his sensational ride in the Arlington Million last Saturday.

Question is: does this jockey change make actually any difference in the big race tomorrow? Probably not. Jamie Spencer, regarded as villain number one of every armchair jockey, has done little wrong when riding The Grey Gatsby.

But you know how it is: changing things for the sake of it can sometimes make you feel better, though how often does it lead to something good? Well, just think about how often football teams change their manager and how often this leads to sustained success…..

Stat of the Day:

35 – James Tate’s win percentage in Handicaps at Wolverhampton in the summer! Delivers an ROI of 94%, and he’s been even better over the last two summers posing an ultra impressive 62.5% place strike rate at this venue!

Interestingly his success rate drops significantly for the rest of the year, so it seems Tate exploits those often less competitive races on the Wolverhampton All-Weather, knowing how to target particularly the low grade handicaps.

His top contender today is filly Mayasa – her chances are boosted by her pedigree, given Iffraaj offspring acts extremely well at the Wolverhampon tapeta.

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Tuesday Selections:

6.30 Wolverhampton: Suffragette City @ 3/1 WH
7.30 Wolverhampton: Mayasa @ 9/4 Ladbrokes
7.40 Leicester: Alnashama @ 5/2 Ladbrokes
9.00 Wolverhampton: Sharp Jack @ 18/1 Coral

Preview: Royal Ascot – Prince Of Wales’s Stakes

The Grey Gatsby

Probably the most intriguing contest at this years Royal Ascot, the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes enjoys the presence of some of the best middle-distance horses from all around the world. A truly fascinating contest to see all these international stars going head to head.

The Favourite

The waiting is over; the eagerly anticipated return of Dermot Weld’s Free Eagle has arrived. Thought to be a potential Derby winner as a juvenile, he had his fair share of problems as a three year old but came back from a year long break on Irish Champions Weekend to win a Group 3 in scintillating style. He ended the season with a fair 3rd place in the British Champion Stakes, when the soft ground was probably against him.

Ascot’s 10 furlong track and fast ground should suit this exciting individual down to the grounds. I can’t wait to see him back on the track. Big things are expected and Mr. Weld has proved in the past to be well able to produce Free Eagle first time out. He is the horse they all have to beat here.

The Domestic Challenge

Last seasons brilliant Irish Champions Stakes winner The Grey Gatsby has been slightly disappointing in two starts this season. While one could say he came up against a superstar at Meydan over a trip slightly too sharp, there weren’t too many excuses for him at the Curragh the next time.

He’ll appreciate the quick ground here but has to produce his brilliant best if he wants to play a prominent role in the outcome of this race. That says it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him bouncing back to his brilliant best with conditions very much to suit.

Already a Royal Ascot winner, Cannock Chase must be respected. He’ll love the ground and the track. You could make some excused for him in his two stars this year, although he doesn’t seem to have physically improved over the winter and my perception is he’ll find it tough against top class older horses.

Western Hymn has been a revelation this year. He proved to cope with quick ground at Sandown when winning the Brigadier Gerard Stakes last month. He’ll need to take another step forward to feature prominently in this race, though. The same goes for The Corsican. An improving sort, but much more is required here.

The Foreign Raiders

The French Ectot was a 6/1 fancy for last years Arc. For all the right reasons. A Group 1 winner over 1m as a juvenile, he stepped up to 1m 4f winning the Prix Niel as a prep for the big one. He was disappointing in the Arc itself and hasn’t been seen since then. That’s a major worry of course, but if he’s fit, healthy and improved, he’s a major player.

The other French horse Gailo Chop has been beaten by Solow on his seasonal reappearance last month. He’s a good middle-distance horse, but has, however, doubts about his ability on this top level as well as on fast ground.

Potentially the most interesting raider from overseas is Australia’s Criterion. His record in Group races is staggering. He won big races from 6 furlongs up to 1m 4f and has been competitive against internationals before. After smashing his opposition in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes over 10 furlongs at Randwick, connections came up with the idea to ship him out for some of the big races in overseas.

First step was Hong Kong. Criterion was far from disgraced in the QEII at Sha Tin, finishing a fine third. He’s now over in England, reportedly has settled well in to his new surroundings and a big run is expected. He’d probably prefer a bit of rain, however his Hong Kong performance proved he can be competitive on quick ground as well.

The Japanese send out Spielberg. He’s a Group 1 winner at home, beat super mare Gentildonna back in November and acts on fast ground. He’s a serious horse & also stays further, though usually seem to take a while to hit top gear and that might find him out around Ascot.

Verdict: Assuming Dermot Weld has worked his magic again, one would think it takes a special horse to beat exciting Free Eagle. If you want to say something negative about him, then it is the form of his Leopardstown win, which isn’t great. Whether he has improved from three to four is another question mark. Nonetheless I am seriously tempted to take the 3/1 on offer as I thought he’d be a bit shorter. But….

…. I find it impossible not to have a bet on Criterion @ 11/1, which is way too big in my book. Fast ground isn’t ideal, but he handles it fine. He has a high cruising speed and is likely to be in the perfect position turning for home, chasing the pace. He’s able to sustain a high tempo for a lengthy period of time and Ascot as a track may suit absolutely perfectly. He’s the value for me.

Criterion @ 11/1 VCbet – 5pts Win

Big Race Preview: Tattersalls Gold Cup

Al Kazeem

Great to see the Tattersalls Gold Cup finally posing a field worthy its top level status – that wasn’t the case in recent years! But this years renewal makes certainly up for the lack of classy contenders over the last couple of seasons.

Top rated The Grey Gatsby was no match for new emerging French star Solow (taking on Cirrus Des Aigles at Longchamp today) in the Dubai Turf back in March but the 9 furlongs trip was probably a bit on the sharp side for him. He wasn’t disgraced finishing second and is expected to come on for the run.

The stiff Curragh uphill finish may well suit this gutsy grinder – on the other hand, it will ensure that any flaws in his stamina are going to be exploited over the 10.5f trip. His only try over further than 10f ended in defeat. Thay may sound a contradicting given that I sad 9f have been potentially too sharp. But it seems that a flat 10 furlongs is the absolute optimum for The Grey Gatsby. 

Nonetheless his heroic Irish Champions Stakes victory is the standout piece of form. No doubt he’s at he head of the market for all the right reasons. He is the horse the others have to beat.

Exactly two years ago it was Al Kazeem who took the scalp of Camelot in this very same race. He went on to win the Coral Eclipse and was initially retired at the end of the 2013 season. He didn’t make it as a stallion in the breeding shed but clearly didn’t lose much of his old ability. He won a French Group 2 back in April and went on to push Cirrus Des Aigles hard in the Group 1 Prix Ganay. That’s very strong form and gives Al Kazeem a very decent shot today!

Progressive Postponed has clearly trained on. He is a big, scopey individual, who impressed on his seasonal reappearance when second in the Gordon Richards Stakes. He’ll relish the stamina test this track and trip will provide, but is it enough?

He seems bit better over further and may need quick ground to be seen to best effect as well. However he has every chance to prove me wrong one this particular perception today. Drying ground is surely a plus.

Dermot Weld’s Fascinating Rock emerged as a lively Derby contender early last season but those dreams didn’t materialize eventually. He was off after two disappointing performances in the English and Irish Derby but looked stronger and more mature first time out at Leopardstown in a Listed race over 1m back in April this year.

He followed up with an impressive display in the Group 3 Mooresbridge Stakes over 10f here at the Curragh. Today is is his toughest test to date but he looks improving as an older horse now and may well be up to it.

Parish Hall finished a fair second behind Fascinating Rock last month. He was clearly second best on the day should be found out for class today. Highly Toxic looks very much up against it in this field.

Verdict: Hard to split the big guns. That’s why I go with Fascinating Rock who seems a bit overpriced. He has to prove that he belongs in this class as well as that he can act on better ground alike. But there is every chance for more improvement from him. The way he put the race to bed last month here at the Curragh impressed me and I don’t think that the ground is a real issue. We’ll find out today if he is a proper Group 1 horse, or maybe just slightly below the level required to mix it with the very best.

Fascinating Rock @ 11/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win