Tag Archives: Turf

Saturday Selections: July, 20th 2019

Newbury racecourse

3.00 Newbury: Group 3 Hackwood Stakes, 6f

Fantastic renewal – you can make a case for more than half in the field, predominantly I have high on my shortlist the well backed Donjuan Triumphant, who will enjoy conditions, as well as the two 3-year-old s Khadeem and Oxted. Plus, probably a fair favourite, The Tin Man.

He’s a short price and you can see why. With cut in the ground, he takes a significant drop in class and has a high strike rate. Is he still the force of old, though? Maybe. But this is a super deep race and I can easily oppose him.

On prices, the one I like most now is last years runner-up Projection. He hasn’t shown the same level of form in two runs this year, but I like the fact he comes here with low mileage this season and he ran better than the bare results suggest in the Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.

He also drops in grade and will love the underfoot conditions today. There is a slight question mark whether all is well with him, given he dropped out tamely the last two races. A tongue tie is applied now. That is concerning, at the same time intriguing.

If the tongue tie does have any positive impact, it is easy to see Projection making a 16/1 price tag look foolish in the closing stages. So, there is risk attached here, but at given odds I’m prepared to take it.

Selection:
10pts win – Projection @ 16/1 MB

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5.00 Newmarket: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 2f

I really like the look of both Durrell and Ironclad. Both met at Chelmsford recently and fought out first and second. Durrell had the upper hand that day and he is a fine prospect, though I wonder whether he will turn out to be a much better horse on the All-Weather.

Ironclad in contrast, who ran to a topspeed rating of 83 at Chemsford, has already proven his effectifness on turf, as he landed a minor race at Beverly in the meantime. That’s not form to shout about, and Ironclad still appeared plenty green enough, but it was probably a good learning experience.

This April foal is obviously well bred and through his pedigree offers plenty of upside, having every chance to be a better horse than an 81 rated handicapper. This imposing lad could be well handicapped of this opening mark I feel.

Selection:
10pts win – Ironclad @ 4/1 MB

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5.15 Ripon: Class 5 Handicap, 6f

Two I’m keen on here from the lower end of the betting market: Alqaab stepping up to 6 furlongs for the first time is one of these. He’s a 4-year-old, so has to give weight away. But he’s a compelling horse over the new trip after a pretty decent effort over the minimum distance at Doncaster lately.

That was a super hot contest, and the fact he finished close enough, also posting a 61 topspeed rating, but has fallen to a 60 handicap mark now, is intriguing. He ran well in a couple of Novice races also, but now on a potentially good handicap mark, he can go well in this open contest.

The other one is the filly Sophia Maria in first time blinkers. She drops in trip, which should suit. She has some fine performances already in the book actually, finishing in the money on three occasions over 5- and 6 furlongs.

She also drops to a potentially tasty mark of 62 now, given she matched a 62 TS rating on her final start as juvenile already. There might be a bit more to come from her over this distance in handicap company I feel. Interesting jockey booking with Andrew Elliott, who has a superb record when having only one ride at Ripon in the Summer season!

Selections:
5pts win – Sophia Maria @ 21/1 MB
5pts win – Alqaab @ 17/1 WH

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7.00 Haydock: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 2f

Quick turnaround for Indomeneo, who ran well here at Haydock only 24 hours ago. He looked a little bit awkward in a race where he tracked a hot pace over a mile.

Upped to 10 furlongs, which looks fine on drying ground, a trip, even though he has a poor strike rate, he posted a career best topspeed rating in the past, won’t be an issue I reckon.

Indomeneo as fallen down to a sexy mark, having ran well of around ten pounds higher last season and is now 9lb lower than his last winning mark.

An excellent 3lb claimer is in the saddle – significantly it is Connor Murtagh’s only ride today.

Selection:
10pts win – Indomeneo @ 11/2 MB

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Saturday Selections: June, 1st 2019

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Read my Derby Preview Here

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4.00 Musselburgh: Listed Fillies’ Stakes, 7f

There is not a lot of depth in this race. Favourite Red Starlight is solid, but nothing more. The forecast favourite Indian Blessing has been drifting all day long. I remain interested in the 5-year-old mare nonetheless.

The ground is the main question mark for me. It may be too soft for her, given her best form is on a faster surface. On the other hand she ran well in a Listed contest in France a couple of years ago with cut in the ground.

The trip looks sure to suit, given Indian Blessing is a winner over 7 furlongs – albeit on the All-Weather – and has been placed a couple of times as well.

She is clearly setting the standard in this race as the highest rated individual who is also a Group 3 winner already. Indian Blessing did perform well in a few graded contests in the US last season – so I do hope her poor seasonal reappearance at the Curragh last month will bring her on quite a bit.

If Indian Blessing runs to to form she’s the one to beat, no doubt. So, even though there are a few doubts, at given prices I’m with her.

Selection:
10pts win – Indian Blessing @ 6/1 MB

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4.55 Musselburgh: Class 3 Handicap, 5f

Requinto Dawn has dropped to a tasty mark largely due to poor showings this season. However, he ran rather eye-catchingly last time out at Redcar, after dwelling in the starting gates, he finished seemingly with a bit in the tank with the pack without ever getting any serious questions asked by the jockey.

The handicapper has given him a major chance now, taking another 3lb off the mark, which leaves Requinto Dawn a whopping 12lb lower than his last winning mark!

He proved competitive of marks in the high 80’s last summer, so with this recent run appearing as if there’s still some life left, Requinto Dawn could be tremendously well in today, also having the added bonus of a fair 5lb claimer in the saddle.

The ground shouldn’t be an issue. His career highest time-speed rating came on soft going. In fact, the bit of cut in the ground may help to slow down things a little bit and put more emphasis on stamina, which will suit, given Requinto Dawn stays further than the minimum trip.

Selection:
10pts win – Requinto Dawn @ 7.8/1 MB

Saturday Selections: May 11th, 2019

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2.20 Nottingham: Class 4 Handicap, 5f

Two really interesting horses here in a field where I find those two at the top of the market remarkably easy to oppose: Hawaam over this CD of his current mark can be a huge runner if cheek-pieces have a positive effect.

The fact he was well fancied the other day and bombed out, plus this new headgear as well as his poor overall strike rate suggest he’s a tricky customer nonetheless, hence I leave him alone – though I’d not be surprised to see him run away with it now.

But a ‘safer bet’ to run his race – and give me a run for my money more importantly – is the smartly named Major Pusey. He’s down to a good mark judged on past performances, given he won of higher ratings on three occasions in his career and ran five times to a TS rating of 79+, posting a 80 TS rating only back in September last season.

He returned over 6f at Windsor recently, wasn’t fancied in the betting and ran quite well up until tiring in the closing stages. The drop to 5f will suit with soft ground ideal, plus dropping down in to class 4 is a major boost to his chances as all but one of his career successes came here.

Selection:
10pts win – Major Pusey @ 8/1

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2.30 Lingfield: Listed Derby Trial, 1m3½f

No surprise, the Derby trial is quite a poor trial for the race it’s intended to be a trial. None of these will go close in the Derby. Will any of these even line up? Anthony Van Dyck certainly won’t. He’s the class act in this race, mind, but he’ll struggle over this trip in this ground.

The most intriguing of the lot is Cap Francais, who didn’t do himself any favour at Epsom the last time, but stayed on in promising style. Even though, he still only managed runner-up behind a Ballydoyle horse that’ll have no hope in the Derby and is miles down the pecking order.

I think the step up in trip and flatter track will be a huge help and expect him to win, but at 4/1 I’m in n hurry to back him to continue to progress, though.

The one I’m most interested in is the gelding in the field: Ranch Hand. Connections probably didn’t anticipate this lad to turn up in a Derby Trial, but he showed a lot of good signs in his first two starts at Southwell on the fibresand.

Particularly his second run, when he galloped his opposition into the ground is impressive particularly on the clock it looks strong. He also achieved a TS rating of 84. He did that in a lowly novice contest, on only his second career run on the fibresand – no other horse in this field run to such a high TS rating on either of their first career runs.

He has to translate this to turf and to much better class. The pedigree gives hope with the dam having been a fine stayer in her own right. At a massive price Ranch Hand looks a longs-hot with a fair chance to upset the market.

Selection:
10pts win – Ranch Hand @ 30/1 MB

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3.30 Nottingham: Listed Kilvington Stakes, 6f

On ratings the standout for me is Rock On Baileys who’s ran to career best TS rating of 89 and RPR of 106 which none of her rivals in this field have achieved so far. Whether she can replicate this level of form on her second start for the new yard on soft ground remains to be seen.

On the surface Rock On Baileys seems to be a better All-Weather horse. Certainly her win record says so. But the ratings mentioned above where achieved on turf, they’re generally higher than on the AW in fact.

She ran in hot races on turf, often in handicaps of big weights and did do herself justice on a number of occasions, as when 4th in a hot handicap at Newmarket in October last year; she also won at Chester in the summer over 6f, overcoming trouble.

Her seasonal return at Chelmsford last month looks poor on paper. It needs context, though, as she didn’t get the best of starts and was pushed forward quite hard subsequently to take the lead.

I’d expect Rock On Baileys to come on for the run under her belt and feel the soft ground, albeit that soft an unknown, is intriguing. The times she races with bit of cut in the ground she ran well, and certainly on the dam side is hope for her to take to the ground.

Selection:
10pts win – Rock On Baileys @ 16.5/1 MB

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4.40 Nottingham: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 2f

The handicapper gives Music Seeker a real chance to get his head in front for a third career win today. The 5-year-old ran well at Haydock last time in tough conditions, finishing third in better class.

He remains on the same mark, a career-lowest – he’s never ran of anything as low as 73 in a class 5 Handicap before, so that is of obvious interest given Music Seeker ran twice already to TS ratings of 70+ and six times to RPR’s of 80+.

He’s also 3lb lower than his last winning mark, which came last summer in a 10f Handicap at Wetherby, albeit on fast ground. But cut in the ground is no problem as he won a maiden over a mile and did well last time out in desperate conditions.

The slightly better ground (soft – good to soft in places right now) and half a furlong less to go should be in his favour as well. A competent 7lb claimer – the same as in all his last races since a wind op over the winter –  in the saddle is a bonus.

Selection:
10pts win – Music Seeker @ 6/1 MB

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5.10 Ascot: Class 4 Handicap, 6f

Ignoring the latest Southwell performance, which can be forgiven because it was a very time at Southwell, Ballyquin is a progressive individual who’ll race of a highly competitive mark today, I feel.

He’s had a light campaign until this winter, surely down to issues, but has been progressive on the All-Weather, winning twice, achieving a career best TS rating of 79 at Chelmsford on his penultimate start.

A return to turf is intriguing. His two runs came with cut in the ground in highly competitive maiden races where he finished an excellent 4th on both occasions.

So, there is a fair assumption to be made he can find more improvement for the return to turf, while already having shown on the All-Weather to be able to run to something close- if not even better than his current handicap mark.

Selection:
10pts win – Ballyquin @ 10/1 MB

First Impressions: The New Curragh

The new Curragh opened its doors for the general public for the first time today. A new era for Irish (flat) racing. A monstrous project in the making for the last four years, associated with a price tag of around €80 million – it’s better be a success!

Whether it’s going to be a long-term success with crowds embracing the new facilities beyond this opening day remains to be seen. Judged by the attendance today the word ‘promising’ may be on the lips of many, though.

I’ve been waiting for this moment for a good few years: finally back at the Curragh! Driving down the N7, get off at exit 12 and there it is, right in front of your eyes, the imposing new grand stand!

Upon arrival my first thought was: WOW! This is spectacular! Stunningly beautiful from an architectural point of view. I didn’t expect it to be that good. No way! After all, this is Ireland where these type of projects rarely go to plan. This project had its own little issues, but the outcome is magnificent – and that is what matters most.

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What’s good? Great views from the parade ring. Plenty of space. Only short walks between parade ring, betting and the grand stand. First class elevated viewing for the regular racegoer from the stand itself. Everything is shiny, new and gives the impression of classiness.

Opportunity for improvement? Getting your hands on a coffee is a tricky adventure. Long ques for food and drink wherever you go. Maybe I missed them, but there were no mobile coffee vans like they used to exist at the old Curragh.

Food prices are not for the fainthearted. But that’s nothing new. Regular ticket prices are €20. A season ticket is €265 – that’s a whopping €90 more than when I bought one the last time in 2015, the year before construction began. This isn’t a cheap place.

I didn’t go racing at the Curragh during the construction years. I was – quite frankly – pissed off. Holding a season ticket for a number of years, I would have expected some concessions to existing members while racing continued at what was effectively a building site – a decision in itself I didn’t like. It showed a lack of regard for the general racegoer.

Whether the new Curragh will be able to attract on regular basis the sort of crowd that came through the turnstiles today for the more low profile days is a question the future will tell. I’m not so sure, unfortunately.

I hope it does, I really do. This new Curragh deserves it. It’s an amazing place to watch horse racing. It’s the perfect stadium for our equine heroes. Having been to many racecourses around the world I can honestly say the Curragh is right up there with the best.

Now they have to work on service for the general public, think about pricing and any further enhancements that could be made to the raceday experience in order to lure punters to the track more often.

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Monday Selections: May, 6th 2019

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3.10 Windsor: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 3.5f

There is little in this field to shout about. Therefore handicap debutant is appealing of bottom weight. The colt had three runs over a mile or slightly further in order to qualify for a handicap mark.

After a third run, incidentally his seasonal reappearance, last month at Newmarket, he starts proper racing life of a 62 rating. High enough for what Tigerskin has achieved to date, but one has to keep in mind handicapping was always always the route he’s go down to, so educational runs where the main aim to date.

He now steps up dramatically in trip, to the sort of distance this colt should be much more home. He isn’t bred too badly actually and looks to have a more than fair chance to get the 1 mile and 3.5f at Windsor, particularly if the ground continues to dry out further.

Open for improvement, racing of a low weight in a weak contest with conditions likely to suit –  Tigerskin looks a good bet at current odds.

Selection:
10pts win – Tigerskin @ 9/1 PP

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3.40 Beverley: Class 5 Handicap, 7.5f

The eight-year-old Abushamah looks a fair favourite and will go close, although his not one I’d trust too much, despite a handy mark. Muatadel will struggle over this extended trip if the rain materialises. Leaves this wide open for anyone to take.

This one could be course and distance scorer Dasheen. He won here of a 4lb higher mark last summer (with 3lb claimer) running close to a career highest reaching a TS rating of 71.

He lost her way a bit since then, so it’s not without risk to back him. But down to a mark of 65 he’s of obvious interest back over this CD with a recent pipe opener under his belt.

Selection:
10pts win – Dasheen @ 10/1 Coral

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4.55 Windsor: Novice Stakes, 1 mile

I really like the look of Desert Land. Granted, it’s an unknown how this colt has trained on over the winter, and given he has no fancy entries at this stage, it’s a big question mark how good he can be.

But a few points I find really positive: he was an excellent 4th on debut in a hot Yarmouth maiden last September under a sympathetic hands and heels ride, merely 2½ behind smart winner Royal Meeting, who won subsequently the Group 1 Criterium International, beating subsequent 1000 Guineas champion Hermosa.

He looked like he could have gone much harder in the closing stages if asked to do so. Desert Land is obviously quite well bred and related to a few good winners. He’s also an April foal, so should really start to come into his own now.

The question mark is the trip. There is a lot of speed in his pedigree, although also enough stamina to give a mile a go – also he looked like having no issue with 7f whatsoever in his sole run as a 2-year-old.

Selection:
10pts win – Desert Land @ 5/1 William Hill

Sunday Selections: May, 5th 2019

Newmarket Rowley Mile False Rail

Read my 1000 Guineas Preview Here

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2.20 Newmarket: Group 2 Dahlia Stakes, 1m 1f

It’s a small field but it looks as wide open a race as some of those 16 runners + handicaps! Seriously, in my book Veracious is super skinny price. On ratings and form there is not much between ay of these, give and take two or three pounds, which can easily swing depending on how the race develops.

On time-speed ratings it’s the undervalued Nyaleti who comes out on top. Obviously, whether she’ll ever again run to 102 remains to be seen, but fact remains only Billesdon Brook is the other filly in the race having run to 100+, while the favourite’s best rating reads 95. Same goes for RPR’s where there is little between the market principles.

I’m firmly in the Nyaleti camp here, hoping she is ready to go. I feel the additional furlong will be beneficial to her. Form wise she is right up there. Runner-up when last seen in an Italian Group 1, placed in the Grade 1 QEII – when badly hampered turning for home – at Keeneland – the winner followed up with another Grade 1 since then as well – while having won the German 1000 Guineas last season.

Nyaleti has a big chance to land another pattern race today, with conditions no issue and a small field where I bank on Joe Fanning to get the pace right to suit his mount most.

Selection:
10pts win – Nyaleti @ 7/1 MB

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5.35 Gowran Park: 45-65 Handicap, 1 mile

All The Mollies has been knocking on the door lately, having ran like a horse handicapped to win if things only go a nudge more her way. Her two recent efforts at Dundalk can be upgraded to due to circumstances, while her mark has been left unchanged, which in turn gives her a big chance today returning to the turf.

The mare made an eye-catching reappearance on the All-Weather last months – clearly a tricky customer, she didn’t start to well and found herself squeezed for room halfway through the race, losing momentum for a second or so. Once in the clear she ran on well.

Improved with a run under her belt, All The Mollies set the early pace the next time, probably doing too much too early subsequently chasing the pace maker. The fact she fought on in gutsy style to go down only half a lengths beaten in the end rates highly in my book.

All The Mollies has been running to TS ratings of 56 twice in her career already, and returns to turf with a 9lb lower mark then she started last season, when she ran out a fine 4th place, only 2¼ lengths beaten in a Roscommon handicap of a 59 rating.

Her best efforts come with cut in the ground, so the softish going at Gowran Park today will suit.

Selection:
10pts win – All The Mollies @ 11/2 MB

Preview: 1000 Guineas 2019

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Year after year the 1000 Guineas appears to be a tricky puzzle to solve. In truth, I never have been able to connect all the pieces in a successful way. It’s one of those classics I’ll always get wrong.

I guess it simply turns out to be pretty tricky to predict the progress these fillies make over the winter and when – if – how much improvement they can find. Hence I take a swing at a bigger price today once more.

The filly I do quite like is Hermosa. She seems quite far down the pecking order, judged by jockey bookings and odds. Wayne Lordan is a fine jockey but clearly not one who’s riding the best of Aiden O’Brien’s string. 1 for 42 rides in the UK, an average SP of 25/1. The odds are clearly against this to change today.

Obviously I have zero insight in to what the filly shows at home. However, I hope, the fact Ballydoyle even brings Hermosa over to Newmarket counts as a vote of confidence that she has wintered well.

She comes here without a prep run. That doesn’t have to be an issue, as Saturday’s 2000 Guineas proved once more. Judged purely by juvenile form, Hermosa is not far behind the market principles, though, which in turns means her current price tag is well over the top.

This daughter of Galileo was a late May foal, so you would hope for improvement with age and time. Regardless, she proved a smart 2-year-old already:

3rd in the Moyglare Stud Stakes, she went on to win a Naas Group 3 in nice style, was then a good runner-up behind Idriessa – a leading fancy today – in the bet365 Mile here at Nemwarket, and finished 2018 with a superb runner-up effort in the Criterium International over 7 furlongs, racing the boys. 

Her career best time speed rating (93) and RPR (110) do not leave her with a lot to find to the leading fancies in the 1000 Guineas – any improvement on that will see her go close, if she is ready to run.

Selection:
10pts win – Hermosa @ 16/1 MB