Tag Archives: Thursday

Thursday Selections: May, 9th 2019

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The opening day of Chester’s May Festival was intriguing thanks to – surprisingly – clear-cut winning performances in the two features, the Chester Vase and the Cheshire Oaks: Mehdaayih ran away with the race for the fillies, having ran only three weeks ago in a class 4 handicap at Chelmsford.

Her change of gear entering the home straight was a joy to watch. She’s obviously a very good filly. I would say she also benefited very from the way the race was run and got an excellent ride while also the breaks when needed.

Arguably even more impressive to my eyes was Sir Dragonet, who took the Vase home in scintillating fashion. This son of Camelot only made his racecourse debut a fortnight ago as a 14/1 chance in a Tipperary maiden coming to Chester with this single maiden win to his name. Inexperience showed as he didn’t travel particularly well, at some point he seemed slightly detached from the field.

But he found a devastating turn of foot once let loose. Most exciting for me was to see a horse being asked for a move on the outside over 3 furlongs out, and then, while anyone else is hard working come back on the bridle with less than 2 furlongs to go – you just don’t see that very often!

Surely Sir Dragonet has to be supplemented for the Derby? He looks the real deal on the basis of that performance. Which was the perfect follow-up to Tipperary where he won hard on the bridle in the manner of an exciting colt.

But of course, conditions may played a role as well and ideally you want to see it again before believing he’s a favourite for Epsom – the ante-post market he is now leading! On the other hand 5/1 (best price with firms who may lay you €2 if you’re lucky)  could look big in a few weeks time.

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3.00 Chester: Class 2 Handicap, 7.5f

I feel Lincoln Park is the one they all have to beat here with conditions likely to get softer as the days goes on. The Kyllachy colt is ideally drawn to attack today, which will suit him perfectly.

He has shown form on awkward tracks like Pontefract and appeared to be progressive last autumn on rain softened ground landing back-to-back handicaps, while improving his official mark in line with career best RPR’s and TS ratings, including running to TS 87 when winning at Haydock.

He was disappointing in his next two starts, but you could also argue he had excuses both times. Certainly he should improve having a run under his belt now, and dropping down a mark of 85, given he ran to a higher time speed rating already. He’ll need to show that again, of course, now as a 3-year-old.

However, his seasonal reappearance at Musselburgh was a fair performance, finishing 3rd over a fast mile, with the form looking strong as the winner went back-to-back in the meantime.

A softer surface and slight drop in trip at a track favouring his running style, there’ll be no excuses today. Lincoln Park meets ideal conditions and I expect a huge run.

Selection:
10pts win – Lincoln Park @ 11/2 MB

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Thursday Selections: May, 2nd 2019

Ruby Walsh

It’s all over – Ruby Walsh has retired. Immediately after landing the Punchestown Gold Cup, delivering Kemboy under a typically ice cool ride, the 39-year-old announced the end to his long and esteemed career in the saddle.

I guess it doesn’t come entirely as a surprise, given rumours were making rounds in the last few weeks – even though, only a few days ago, on the back of the Irish Grand National, Ruby said he’s not done yet. Indeed, he wasn’t… not quite yet, at least.

To be honest, watching him celebrating exuberantly, and sometimes – or so it seemed to my eyes – taking the atmosphere in a bit more pronounced than in the past, indicated that something is coming to an end.

So, the man that will be forever associated with some of the biggest legends of our sport has left the scene. He did it in one piece. It’s the most important thing. Ruby, as far as I can judge from observing him on the racetracks of Ireland over the years, as well as on TV, has always conducted himself with great dignity, humility and a “down to earth” attitude.

Racing will be poorer without him in the saddle, though, I imagine we’ll see him becoming a regular face on TV as a pundit.

………

2.45 Musselburgh: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 4.5f

A truly uncompetitive contest that should go to Kajaki who is ideally suited to this track, trip and likely ground, with the rain arriving probably even more so.

The gelding likes to be up with the pace, if not even attempting to make all. Clearly an advantage at Musselburgh in my book. He had a good comeback run at Pontefract recently and drops down to a handy mark.

Kajaki has won of 79 in the past and ran competitively of a mark as high as 84 last year. So down to 74 now the 6-year-old seems weighted to win.

Selection:
10pts win – Kajaki @ 5/2 MB

…….

3.15 Musselburgh: Class 6 Handicap, 5f

You can confidently take on the market principles in this contest. None looks particularly well handicapped. That leaves this race wide open and I think handicap debutant Brahma Kamal is interesting with Joe Fanning in the saddle.

The son of Equiano couldn’t have gotten a much lower opening mark, so I assume he’ll be ready to race today. He drops back to the minimum trip, which should suit as on his seasonal debut at Newcastle in February racing over 7f he broke well but was mad keen as well.

He’s not badly bred, out of a fair sprinting mare, while Equiano’s tend to do well when dropping in trip, particularly over the minimum trip.

Selection:
10pts win – Brahma Kamal @ 9/1 MB

…….

3.50 Musselburgh: Class 6 Handicap, 7f

Anything points to a big run for Be Bold today. He’s had a few fair runs on the All-Weather leading up to today, but he’s a much better horse on turf. Down to a sexy mark, given he won last year in spring of 54 and ran to TS 57, now on 51, he looks ripe for another victory.

David Allen in the saddle, even more so here at Musselburgh, appears to be a significant jockey booking as well as trainer and jockey have a strong record together.

Selection:
10pts win – Be Bold @ 11/1 MB

Thursday Selections: April,18th 2019

Second Step

Besides having a runaway winner in Kylie Rules (10/1) at Beverley yesterday, I absolutely loved the debut win of UAE Jewel in the Wood Ditton. You take note if they back a newcomer in an early-season maiden at HQ as if  defeat is out of question – and boy, defeat was out of question!

Judged purely on the visuals the TV screen is giving away, this son of Dubawi looks physically impressive. The way he lengthened away so easily from the field in the final furlong left me with my mouth a little wider open than usual, as well.

UAE Jewel is an April foal, so you would think age is on his side and he can only improve with any passion week. He certainly looks an exciting prospect and I can’t wait to see him next time out, most likely at Newmarket again, in the Newmarket Stakes on Guineas weekend, then over 10 furlongs.

……..

2.50 Ripon: Class 5 Handicap, 6 furlongs

This looks like an ultra-competitive race for a low-grade handicap on a random Thursday in Spring. You can make cases for a number of these, and as a result some are heavily overpriced in my book.

The most compelling case can be made for recent Irish recruit Dancing Mountain. If she’s in here to take her chances and not to run the mark down (drifting in the market) – which she may not need to I feel as she looks a strong contender already – then, from a good draw, she can outrun his massive price tag.

Dancing Mountain will have her second start in the UK since moving from Johnny Murtagh to the Roger Fell yard. Her debut run off a break at Newcastle wasn’t anything the shout about; if anything it served as a pipe opener.

However, now down to a handicap mark of 60, judged by juvenile form in Ireland, and the fact she’s an April foal, I think there is potential upside. She won a competitive Naas handicap over 5.5f last autumn, running to a TS rating of 61 that day.

Subsequent performances are rated well in my book, as Dancing Mountain’s 5th and 4th in her next two starts at Fairyhouse and Cork look pretty decent form, given she is now rated 8lb lower as well.

Selection:
10pts win – Dancing Mountain @ 28/1 MB

……….

3.25 Ripon: Class 4 Handicap, 6 furlongs

The draw isn’t ideal, nonetheless Paddy Power looks supremely well handicapped on past form. He will not even at his best to be highly competitive, given the 6-year-old is now down a mark of 75, which was the lowest mark he’s won off throughout his career.

The gelding won a competitive York handicap off 5lb higher last summer and was an excellent 4th in a hot class 2 Handicap over course and distance when having to overcome a less than ideal draw also.

I like the fact Paddy Power already has a run under his belt this season, albeit on the All-Weather. He should strip fit and ready for a big run today, and has shown in the past to have sufficient gate speed to find himself in a good spot.

Selection:
10pts win – Paddy Power @ 5/1 Coral

…….

5.45 Ripon: Class 4 Apprentice Handicap, 5f

Ideal conditions for front-running Bowson Fred who also has a good draw to content with most likely. He’s also dropped to a dangerous mark – even though not quite the force of the past – last season the 7-year-old still managed to run to a TS rating of 86, backing it up with another 78 performance later the year.

A recent runner-up performance on the All-Weather, followed by a wind OP, should set Bowson Fred up for a big run today. He’s got a valuable 3lb claimer on board as well – an advantage that Josh Quinn has already ridden the gelding in the last handful of starts.

Selection:
10pts win – Bowson Fred @ 6/1 MB

Cheltenham Festival 2019 – Thursday Selections

Cheltenham Festival

2.10: Grade 3 Pertemps Final, 3 mile

The Pertemps Qualifier at Leopardstown over Christmas could be the key to this race: Favourite Sire Du Berlais qualify under a shrewd ride and looks perfectly laid out for this race – but he is a shocking price.

The first three of this particular race are of a lot of interest to me. The winner Cuneo made a big impression with his excellent attitude in the closing stages. He was still green, quite raw, travelling wide throughout, but made nice headway with three out, hit the front turning for home and found plenty under pressure.

He ran once more in another hot contest, though the fast ground wasn’t quite to his liking, so was the the way the race was ran. He looks bound to improve for the stiffer test at Cheltenham.

One had to be impressed with Walk To Freedom also, the way he finished late was eye-catching. Nonetheless I liked the performance of Thermistocles equally, and he’s a better price. He also is one who is still learning his trade quite obviously.

Thermistocles travelled strongly, throughout, maybe saw daylight a little bit to early after jumping the second last and just got beaten in a tight finish. He was 3rd in a Maiden Hurdle behind Dortmund Park last year, which reads good form and he has steadily improved ever since.

Selection:
5pts win – Thermistocles @ 16/1 MB
5pts win – Cuneo @ 16/1 MB

…….

2.50: Grade 1 Ryanair Chase: 2m 5f

Everyone keeps saying this is such a strong renewal – stronger than last year, most certainly. But is it really? More runners, yes. But more runners doesn’t always equate for more quality.

At the top of the market we have last season’s star novice Footpad. His reputation took a massive tumble this season when beaten in two starts. In truth, we were probably fooled by the impressive visuals: his jumping at speed looked simply stunning!

Form wise those achievements are less than stunning. Particularly in open company against the best in this division those runs don’t compare as impressively. With softer ground sure to suit it’s not impossible to see him improve, but stepping up to this longer trip is a concern on the other hand.

His prominent racing style should suit the nature of the Ryanair, on the positive side. So, with the ground for his liking and giving him the benefit of the doubt to stay the trip at Cheltenham, Footpad remains one the more likelier contenders. At 7/2 that is an awful lot of trust you have to have, though.

Last years winner Balko Des Flos has never after or ever before ran to the level he did this one magical day in March 2018. Suspicion is that simply everything went pinch perfect for him in this race twelve months ago. The pace, the ground, the ride from supreme Davy Russell. Not again – I’m pretty sure.

Road To Respect would be better running in the Gold Cup now that he settles better. I doubt he has the speed required in this field. Frodon is interesting. But he’s on the go for a while and I wonder: how much more can he improve? He may not have to but was well beaten in this last year.

There’s plenty of support for Monalee. In fact he’s touch and go for market leader at the moment of writing. It makes sense. This intermediate trip will most likely be his optimum. He ran well this season and has still relatively few miles on the clock, compared to some others.

On pure form I don’t think he should be up there, though; I find the hype unwarranted. That says, he could be the most solid choice – meaning, Monalee is likely to run a rock solid race. There is a case to be made that it’ll be enough to land the Ryanair this year.

The somewhat ‘forgotten horse’ is former champ Un De Sceaux. A lot is made of his age. True, and 11-year-old now, how much longer can he keep producing the goods? He was beaten in this race last year fair and square.

However, it was obvious he lost the race in the middle part when he made way too much, way too early. He set it up perfectly for Balko Des Flos. There’s the risk the same happens again. We know UDS. Once lit up he goes. No stopping.

On the other hand, as pretty much the only one in this line-up, he keeps producing the goods indeed. Certainly on the ratings front, everything he’s done this last season or in this single run this season – a highly credible 2nd behind Altior – is pretty much in line with his best, or close to.

By that standard there is no doubt Un De Sceaux is the best horse in the race. One last hurrah for the popular gelding. Ground will be perfect for him I reckon. He gets the trip.

He won here before – even though, judged on RPR’s he’s never produced his best at Cheltenham, which is the one niggling concern, more than his age, to be honest.

Selection:
10pts win – Un De Sceaux @ 5/1 MB

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3.30: Stayer’s Hurdle, 3 miles

On the surface Paisley Park is hard to oppose. He’s the right favourite, has the right form in the book and has clearly a good chance to put unbeaten run of four successfully to the line. But at odds of 6/4, with at least one viable alternative in the line-up, I happily oppose him.

Horses beaten in this race the year before have a dreadful record when they return. Nine-year-old horses upwards have a dreadful record also. But trends are there to be broken and Supasundae may well have returned as a winner if not for bumping into smart 2017 Albert Bartlett champion Penhill.

Supasundae travelled incredibly well throughout the race in ground conditions probably not to dissimilar to what he’ll encounter on Thursday and clearly stayed the trip without a problem – in fact without Penhill we would say he stormed up the hill, leaving the third placed Wholestone 5 lengths behind.

Trained by Jessica Harrington, Supasundae is a rare sort as he is so versatile to be good enough to compete in either a Champion- or a Stayer’s Hurdle.  In fact he is an Irish Champion Hurdle winner already but has been placed in multiple Staying Hurdle races as well as having landed the Coral Cup in 2017.

This season saw him clash with the brilliant Apple’s Jade multiple times. He was chasing in vane but shouldn’t be judged too harshly on that because the fact is he was runner-up in all his three start this season, all in Grade 1 company.

To round it up, I love the quote and bullishness of Robbie Power as he says:
“The English are ranting and raving about Paisley Park but he’s only beaten West Approach who I’ve ridden and is a very, very ordinary horse. Barry Geraghty rode in the race that Paisley Park won at Cheltenham and he came in and said that Penhill and Supasundae will eat him up.”

Selection:
10pts win – Supasundae @ 8/1 WH

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4.10: G3 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate, 2m4½f

Very excited about this one: Eamon An Cnoic looks ready to rumble! The 8-year-old ticks all the boxes: an improving sort, coming here in nice form. Already ran well at this course and has Festival experience. Right level of experience, acts on the ground and trip and is trained by Martin Pipe who has a super record in this particular race.

Eamon An Cnoic travelled well for a long time in the Ultima twelve months ago, although the whole experience and 3m 1f trip was a bit too much in the end.

He returned to Cheltenham in November, running with plenty of credit in the ultra competitive Gold Cup Handicap Chase.

Eamon An Cnoic had a wind OP in the meantime, returns from that and a little break at Chepstow over sharp 2 miles. He travelled powerfully and produced a nice turn of foot to win which ensured he made the cut for the Brown Advisory.

Only 7lb higher over a longer and more suitable trip, with soft ground no worry, I feel Eamon An Cnoic is the answer to the puzzle.

Selection:
10pts win – Eamon An Cnoic @ 16/1 PP

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4.50: Grade 2 Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, 2m1f

Short priced favourite Epatante is already a French NHF Grade 1 winner but has only done what was expected in a couple of hurdle starts since switching to Nicky Henderson. She’s open to more improvement, particularly on softer going, but at given odds is easy to take on.

Particularly if you have such a strong opponent in Posh Trish. This classy looking individual has quite a physical presence and has clearly the best form in the book when beating Indefatigable at Taunton. According to TS and RPR’s still is by far the strongest piece of form on offer.

Posh Trish is still pretty raw and learning her trade, but with soft ground likely to suit her as well, and the fact she is already been to Cheltenham in the past, when she won a listed bumper, means that she should be a lot closer in the betting to Epatante than she currently is.

The Taunton form is interesting also because the runner-up Indefatigable ran a mighty race too. She made a mistake at the last, so we don’t know how much closer she could have got, but she went on to follow-up with another strong performance nearly collaring much more experienced – and 4th in the Mares Hurdle on Tuesday – Lady Buttons on the line.

Indefatigable has only won once and has to prove her ability to act on proper soft ground. At a big price I have a little saver on her as I feel she is well capable to outran this massive price tag.

Selection:
6.5pts win – Posh Trish @ 6/1 Coral
3.5pts win – Indefatigable @ 33/1 WH

Thursday Selections: February, 21st 2019

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4.10 Southwell: Class 4 Handicap, 6 furlongs

Despite returning from a longer break, top weight Zylan looks an intriguing contender here given his excellent course record. The seven year old is four from five here and two from two over CD.

His last success came last summer of a 3lb lower mark. Effectively 5lb higher today, given the same apprentice is on board and claims two pound less these days. That was a strong effort though, giving the impression Zylan could still have a lot more to offer over CD.

Returning from a break is no red flag at all. His record fresh is quite excellent as he did the last two seasons over the minimum trip here at Southwell, when he won and was a fine runner-up respectively.

Selection:
10pts win – Zylan @ 7/1 MB

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5.20 Southwell: Class 6 Handicap, 5 furlongs

The favourite Gorgeous General looks hard to beat for obvious reasons, but in truth his record over the minimum trip isn’t that impressive to not take him on, particularly with a strong alternative.

Kyllukey has ran well on his return to the track first time out for the Wallis yard. He was fancied that day, so expected to perform. He now returns to Southwell, he’s only had a single start here a few years ago but seemingly took well to the fibresand.

He’s fallen significantly in the ratings over the last while, nonetheless he ran with credit more often than not. A race like this, that could suit, plus the additional aid of a fair 5lb claimer on board, should give him a prime chance today.

Selection:
10pts win – Kyllukey @ 6/1 MB

Thursday Selections: January, 31st 2019

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A 50/1 second yesterday, yet what does it matter – at the moment they simply don’t get their head in front. What a rotten run. Tough start to the year, now the final day of the month, what started out as a fine January, has turned into a nightmare. But then, it’s the game of patience and cool heads….

…….

4.05 Newcastle: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 4.5f 

Lopes Dancer dropping down to his preferred trip as well as down in to class 5 should see him having a tremendous chance getting back to the winning ways. He was a CD winner of a mark of 75 in higher grade in the past, so down to a 72 rating now offers an opportunity.

Key piece of form in mind is his December runner-up effort over course and distance in higher grade. An excellent performance up with a fast pace, he fend off everyone, bar the late charging Loud And Clear, who went on to win another race subsequently.

Lopes Dancer did that of 71, so given on most other days he is the winner of that race, the one additional pound today doesn’t make a difference as this is also an easier race.

Selection:
10pts win – Lopes Dancer @ 9/2 MB

Thursday Selections: January, 24th 2019

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2.55 Southwell: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 4f

Michael Appleby has a 22% strike rate in handicaps at Southwell with horses running for the first time for him, so that makes High Command an interesting contender.

The latest performances are concerning, though. A long beaten 5/2 four of five in claimer at Wolverhampton is the latest of below-par performances. One has to bank on Appleby’s magic hands.

On the other hand, what also could lead to a change in fortunes is the return to the Southwell fibresand. High Command is 2/2 here, including a CD success and dropped 2lb lelow his last winning mark.

From a good draw, a horse who likes to go forward, he may use his stamina to stretch the field and make use of the good mark, if rejuvenated by the change of yard.

Selection:
10pts win – High Command @ 7/1 MB

…….

6.25 Chelmsford: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

New headgear combination for Fink Hill. How that works remains to be seen. He’s drifting in the market, so that’s a negative. He also has an engagement in a couple of days, which is interesting. So is that jockey Charles Bishop comes here for this one ride only, which is a positive.

Since winning a 5f sprint at Southwell in hands of Bishop, Fink Hill has been on a downward curve. A subsequent 6th, 3l beaten at Wolverhampton under a penalty was still a fair effort, but he was a long way down the field the next three times.

A return to this course and distance is interesting: arguably his best career performance came here in a few years ago, when 3rd of a mark of 70, running to a TS rating of 61.

So, dropping down to a mark of 60 over this CD in a weakish class 6 Handicap a return to form isn’t out of question today.

Selection:
10pts win – Fink Hill @ 22/1 MB