Tag Archives: Turf

Saturday Selections: November, 2nd 2019

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Friday night started in the worst possible way: me looking like an idiot. Here I am backing a short priced favourite for the first time in ages, touting the horse as the proverbial “good thing” that will go on to win the 2000 Guineas. Yeah, that worked out well….

The winner of the Futurity Stakes is a good horse, make no mistake. He already ran twice to 99 topspeed ratings before last night, is an April foal and clearly is consistent on a high level as another 97 TS performance showed last night.

I continue to retain some faith in Kinross, nonetheless. He was pretty keen early on and once again starting issues made life tricky. Hopefully Ralph Beckett can sort this behaviour out over the winter as I firmly belief the time to shine for this colt is as a 3-year-old.

Before moving on to selections for Breeders Cup Saturday, let me say I’m properly grateful to Jose Ortiz: he gave Structor a superb tactical ride. I needed that winner badly. Particularly as Vive La Difference finished strongly once more but found trouble – obviously – at Newcastle earlier.

I have to admit in my head I was counting the money when I saw the splits and certainly when Sweet Melania turned for home in the Juvenile Fillies Turf…. shame she couldn’t quite hold on. Anyway, plenty on the menu on Super Saturday as well!

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7.30 Chelmsford: Class 6 Handicap, 1 mile

Big chance for Cashel to get back to winning ways: already a course and distance winner, he has fallen to a super sexy handicap mark, having won of allot higher in the past and having run to topspeed ratings of 59+ three times this year alone! So, now down to 58 he is rather obviously well handicapped.

In my view he clearly proved this point when last seen at Kempton. Cashel had a strange break, nearly lost the jockey and was always trailing the field which isn’t his ideal style. He ran on well to finish third in what was an unusually competitive contest with form that stands the test of time already.

The 1lb drop in his mark since is a nice little bonus in combination with the 3lb claim of Theodore Ladd in the saddle. First time CP will hopefully help early on the race – the draw is bad, and he’ll need to be quick out of the blocks.

If Cashel does he’ll be hard to beat tonight.

Selection:
10pts win – Cashel @ 9/2 MB

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6.17 Santa Anita: G2 Twilight Derby, 1m 1f

Tricky affair and most market principles have raced each other without conclusive outcomes in the past. I think, however, one who still seems underappreciated is Tapit colt Kingly.

He remains pretty lightly raced and certainly unexposed on turf. On the other hand he showed plenty of promise in three starts on the lush green, much in line with his excellent pedigree.

He showed early promise in spring landing the Listed California Derby at Golden Gates polytrack but couldn’t bring his best to the dirt subsequently. Since the switch to turf he won a grade 3 at Del Mar, beating current favourite Neptune Storm. A 4th and 5th place finish subsequently look questionable but are exceptional pieces of form judged by circumstances.

He was lit up the next time in the Del Mar Derby, bumped right after start by the horse beside him in a bid to overcome the widest draw. He stormed to the lead soon after and that’s where the damage was done. He was less than two lengths beaten in the end.

Next time at Santa Anita, stepping up to open company, he led again, setting off way too fast, going hard all out and nearly led gate to wire in fact, only to be swept by late by the elder horses.

A wide draw doesn’t make things easy today, but there aren’t too many who are likely to compete hard for the lead, so I think he can overcome that.

If Mario Gutierrez can minimize the amount of fuel to be burned in this early phase of the race I think there is a massive chance Kingly will be hard to beg back as he stays the trip, will get a clear run, while some of the other market principles will have to hope for have to weave through traffic.

Selection:
10pts win – Kingly @ 6/1 BF

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8.54 Santa Anita: G1 BC Filly & Mare Turf, 1m 2f

It may look foolish to oppose Sistercharlie, given her incredible record. Even more so as I really struggle to fancy the Euro opposition. However, the one who seems to have come back to life and has run to a career best only recently, backing up other good performances from earlier this year is 2018 1000 Guineas winner Billesdon Brook.

She is completely unexposed over this sort of trip, bar one try in the Nassau last year, which was an odd race to some extend and the filly potentially not at her best anyway. Her pedigree however gives her quite a decent chance of staying the distance.

Particularly with conditions she’ll appreciate. I hope Sean Levey is not afraid to utilize the excellent draw and moves instead of settling off the pace, where Billesdon Brook would only find herself around a number of other European contenders who all will be compromising their respective chances.

After a number of disappointing efforts following her superb Newmarket success last spring somehow the 4-year-old found back to her best this summer, winning three times, runner-up another time, starting in Listed company getting confidence back seemingly, all the way up to landing the Sun Chariot – which was a career best judged by tospeed, as she ran to 103, bettering her Guineas best of 101 – she also ran weeks early to 96 in Oak Tree Stakes at Goodwood.

What this shows: Billesdon Brook is in the form of her life! Obvious question is whether she can hold it and bring it to Santa Anita. If she can she has a much better chance to go really close today than the big odds suggest. She also gets the added boost of running first time on lasix.

Selection:
10pts win – Billesdon Brook @ 14/1 MB

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8.20 Santa Anita: Grade 1 BC Mile Turf, 1 mile

I don’t think the fast ground and turns over this sharp mile will suit Circus Maximus. Two other Europeans I like a lot instead are Space Traveller for one – but the fact he usually settles off the pace plus the small issue of not racing on Lasix is enough to put me off.

The other one is Hey Gaman. This is a consistent horse, running to a high standards usually, if he gets his conditions. So throw the recent soft ground performances out of the window. Leaving those aside,  he won two contests in Listed and Group 3 company and was runner-up in two more hot Group 2 races, all over 7 furlongs.

He achieved topspeed ratings of 99, 100 and 105 in three subsequent races this season. That is quite a high standard I argue not many in this Breeders Cup Mile field have achieved. Furthermore he has the racing style you want for your horse at this track.

Add to that the fact he gets first time Lasix and you have a massive chance. Negative: the draw. However, maybe not as much a negative potentially as this race could turn into affair with little early pace to shout about. Hey Gaman usually breaks well so he should be able to make it over fairly quickly I feel.

The step up to a mile on this lightning fast ground is no issue either. There is enough stamina in pedigree, he is a full-brother to a winner over a mile and himself has some fair form over the trip too.

Selection:
10pts win – Hey Gaman @ 18/1 WH

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11.40 Santa Anita: G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf, 1m 4f

Bricks And Mortar and vulnerable over this trip. AVD has gone backwards since the Derby. Something else may spring a surprise from the front, but I feel eerily confident Old Persian will be able to cover all moves.

He’s not quite superstar status, however he certainly is a high class individual with comparatively low mileage this season, coming here potentially fresher than others.

He’s won the Northern Dancer comfortably when last seen, so had a perfect prep while having ran to topspeed ratings of 110 in the past plus to 104 at Meydan earlier this year, he looks to have the making of what should be the favourite in the race.

The draw isn’t ideal and is my main worry that Buick will “slot in” too far off the pace. I hope he is smart and brave enough to go forward, without being suicidal, and not let the pace go too far away.

If the pilot gets the tactics right then the horse will deliver with everything sure to suit: track, trip, ground.

Selection:
10pts win – Old Persian @ 4/1 PP

Monday Selections: September, 23rd 2019

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4.45 Hamilton: Class 5 Handicap, 5f

It was impossible to get on the early prices but I believe Rickyroadboy is still a superb bet in this race.

With the ground coming up soft it should be perfect over the minimum trip for Rickyroadboy, who’s fitted with a visor for the first time and can be expected to go hard from the front here, which we have seen on Sunday certainly wasn’t a disadvantage over the sprint trips at Hamilton.

That aside, Rickyroadboy is superbly well-handicapped. He started the season of a 13lb higher mark and has sharply fallen after three consequentially poor efforts. That is the nagging doubt, of course, that he showed nothing at all in the last number of weeks. However, earlier this season, he performed rather well.

Certainly in the context of this race and his current handicap rating of 55, given he is 4lb lower than his last winning mark but also ran two times this season to 55+ topspeed ratings (plus an RPR of 70).

With conditions likely to suit, new headgear, potentially a tactical advantage, a field where nothing else really stands out and a lowly handicap mark, Rickyroadboy looks ready for a big run.

Selection:
10pts win – Rickyroadboy @ 17/2 MB

 

Sunday Selections: September, 22nd 2019

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2.00 Hamilton: Class 5 Handicap, 6f

JJ Feane may have found a superb opportunity for one of his horses across the pond once again. He’s got a 25% win- and 50% place record with his horses running in UK handicaps over the last number of years. This is poor race which looks a big chance for Fugacious to get his head in front.

The gelding is fitted with first time head-gear, which may bring out a bit of improvement. If it does then he should have too much on his plate for the locals, I reckon. As an April foal he was always likely to get better with time, but he already showed plenty of promise – for this lowly level – this summer.

His Curragh 4th in a highly competitive handicap over 6 furlongs – form that has worked out well since then – is the standout piece of form in this race. Off a 68 handicap mark he finished strongly, only 1¼ lengths beaten, running to a topspeed rating of 65, which is believable.

He followed up with another fine performance at Gowran Park stepping up an additional furlong, though a mile at competitive Galway and a drop to the minum distance didn’t quite saw him to best effect.

Fugacious should, however, enjoy the 6 furlongs with cut in the ground today. The 3lb claim of Harrison Shaw, who has already ridden a winner for this yard, is an additional bonus.

Selection:
10pts win – Fugacious @ 5.4/1 MB

……..

3.00 Hamilton: Class 6 Handicap, 5 furlongs

If David’s Beauty can find back to form she’ll be a big runner in this poor race. She has been going close twice this season already, most notably when beaten on the line at Chepstow in June.

That day she ran to a career best, in fact, achieving a 59 topspeed rating. Watching the race it’s easy to see why. On the widest outside away from pace she had a lot going against herself from that perspective, but the mare rallied strongly and only got beaten by a strongly finishing horse on the other side she couldn’t see in her blinkers while already for quite a bit in front.

She followed up with another strong performance a few weeks later at Carlisle with a half lengths beaten third. However, David’s Beauty’s last three runs were poor. As a consequence she has fallen in her handicap mark down to 55, which is a pound lower than that massive Chepstow run.

Given she has achieved seven times throughout her career topspeed ratings of 55 and higher, and ran to a career best earlier this year, it is believable that she can turn her form around again. If so she’s the one to beat here.

Selection:
10pts win – David’s Beauty @ 11.5/1 MB

Thursday Selections: September, 19th 2019

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3.00 Ayr: Class 5 Handicap, 1 Mile

Despite a big field this race is a rather uncompetitive one with only few appearing to be anywhere near what you’d describe as well-handicapped. There is no doubt, that when on a going day, Vive La Difference is surely one who is well-handicapped, though.

The 5-year-old gelding has been struggling to find his best for a while, certainly starting slowly on pretty much every occasion doesn’t help. At the same time a few performances have been promising this year, when not far beaten in competitive races at Wetherby or Ripon earlier this season.

Vive La Difference has fallen quite a bit in his handicap mark, now 10lb lower than he started the season. He ran twice in his career to topspeed ratings of higher than 70, and a number of times around his current handicap mark of 68, including this year.

That gives hope that today of a near career lowest mark he can run a big race with conditions sure to suit, particularly if first time blinkers can help sharpen him up at the beginning of the race.

Selection:
10pts win – Vive La Difference @ 11.5/1 MB

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3.10 Pontefract: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 2f

I was keen on Aiya the last time at Thirsk. Things didn’t pan out as hoped, but the gelding conveniently dropped another 3lb in the mark and also to a more suitable 1m 2f trip, I believe.

Most what I talked about in my analysis leading up to the Thirsk race still holds true today:

The 4-year-old was a little bit unlucky not get his head in front on grass yet, because he got close at Redcar when beaten by a neck back in May.  He ran to topspeed 80 in that mentioned Redcar race and clocked 77 on the All-Weather in the past.

With conditions likely to suit – fast ground and 10f delivered his career best of an 80 ORR and a TS 80 – and a decent draw, there is no reason why Aiya shouldn’t run a massive race today.

Selection:
10pts win – Aiya @ 10/1 MB

Wednesday Selections: September, 18th 2019

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

1.50 Sandown: Class 5 Handicap, 5f

Leo Minor has fallen a long way in his handicap mark since finishing 2nd at Leicester twelve months ago off a 89 mark and running to a 88 topspeed rating that day.

The gelding hasn’t come close ever since but hasn’t ran so badly as the dramatic 22lb drop in OR suggest, in my mind.

The lowered mark and grades he raced in have seen Leo Minor produce a number of fair performances this season, as when last seen of his current 67 rating, a decent runner-up at Bath.

He also ran to a 68 topspeed rating this summer already, backing it up with near similar TS ratings this season a a number of occasions, suggesting he is weighted to win soon of his current handicap mark.

A first time tongue tie is tried today. Possibly that’ll help. Certainly the booking of 3lb top apprentice Cieren Fallon helps. From the plum draw he hopefully can steer Leo Minor to a prominent position grabbing the rail leading to victory this afternoon.

Selection:
10pts win – Leo Minor @ 17/2 MB

Sunday Selections: September, 15th 2019

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3. 45 Ffos Las: Class 5 Handicap, 1m

This is quite a competitive little race, to be honest. However, it looks a hot mess pace wise and could be set up for a filly or mare who needs it fast to produce some sort of strong staying finish.

I feel this could finally be the day of Accomplice, who has been running really well this season, finishing in the money a number of times, without quite getting there. It’s not so much her ability alone as more the fact she really needs things to fall right, given her running style.

Her last two runs she already looked poised, having fallen to a seriously low handicap mark. Her runs were eye-catching, but she had too much to do both times. Last time out was the clearest of signs, though, that she is ready to win. She trailed the field, but stayed on strongly, weaving through the field, only beaten by three-year-olds in first and second eventually.

Accomplice is now down to an official mark of 54. That is seven pounds lower than she started the turf season and 12lb lower than she started the year, including All-Weather! She won last year a handicap off 66, and achieved seven times already a topspeed rating of 54 plus.

Ground and trip are fine today, the simple test of Ffos Las is sure to suit. A smaller field, likely with a good pace, going against her own sex of a career lowest mark – Accomplice has a prime chance.

Selection:
10pts win – Accomplice @ 8/1 MB

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3.55 Bath: Class 2 Handicap, 5.5f

Competitive only on the surface, and a race, due to ground and course configuration, that requires in-running luck, but I can easily strike out more than half the field on the simple question: well handicapped?

Big Lachie is one who needs all the luck in the world, given he is drawn low, has a habit of starting slowly and therefore will need gaps to open. But that is offset by the simple fact the 5-year-old is tremendously well handicapped.

He has no issues with the firm ground, which is an important factor on lighting fast bath turf today. He has the speed to win over the minimum trip but can stretch out for an additional furlong, no bother. He’s been in good form all year long and has won already of his current 71 handicap mark here at Bath over 5 furlongs earlier this year.

I feel the handicapper has overreacted a little bit in the mean time and has given Big Lachie a massive chance, dropping him down to 71 again – we’ll take it, of course!

He has won last year twice off 75 and has ran nine times in his career to topspeed ratings of 71 plus. He ran this year to TS 75 when he won here back in June, in fact!

He may lose the race right at the start or won’t get the breaks needed – but if he does, he’ll likely be hard to beat. And if no today, there’ll be a tomorrow, certainly.

Selection:
10pts win – Big Lachie @ 15/2 MB

Saturday Selections: September, 14th 2019

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3.40 Leopardstown: Group 3 Stakes, 1m 4f

I probably should know better: backing an Aiden O’Brien horse coming back from a lay-off. But by all accounts, if the rumblings are anywhere near true that Mount Everest was considered a proper Derby contender, and if judged by his entries for the rest of the season, he’ll need to show something significant today in order to go on those dates in a few weeks time.

Aiden O’Brien has played down expectations. That’s only fair. And surely Mount Everest won’t be at 100% today. It’s a gamble and you never know how far in their preparation these horses are coming off a long injury break, and whether they ever come back to their best, and in this case whether this particular individual has trained on over the winter.

However, this Group 3 is such a lackluster contest that I am prepared to back the “potential” today. Very few in this field have achieved a topspeed rating over 90 to date. Those that have can be discounted for a variety of reason of trip or ground or legitimacy of that particular posting – in my book at least.

The favourit Buckhurst, despite having three career wins to his name, has never ran faster than 67. The main dangers I actually see in the race are Norway, who has proven to be a rock solid horse and has achieved a career best when last seen, plus long-shot and stable mate Blenheim Palace, who could easily outrun his massive price tag and is a compelling each-way candidate.

But at given odds, Mount Everest is clearly of major interest. When last seen twelve month ago in the Bresford Stakes, he finished second in a tight finish behind Japan, having Sovereign more than three lengths behind. That form looks incredibly strong in hindsight and a topspeed of 94 achieved that day is credible.

No doubt this is the strongest piece of form in this race. Given Mount Everest is a May foal, one would have expected him to be a much better 3-year-old, so it’s plausible that improvement is to come with Mount Everest maturing. How much of that he’ll show today is the question mark.

On the other hand, given a long break and injury to overcome he may never fulfill this potential. He may not be ready to go today either. AOB’s record with those returning isn’t all that strong either. I am prepared to take the game in this particular race, though.

Selection:
10pts win – Mount Everest @ 4/1 MB

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4.50 Leopardstown: G2 Boomerang Stakes, 1m

The 6/4 for Lancaster House can only be described as a silly price. Possibly my judgement looks silly in a few hours time, though? I’m puzzled, regardless, because I feel Richard Fahey’s Space Traveller should be a much shorter price than he is.

The 3-year-old colt will need to things to pan out right given his running style, that is a clear concern for me, given that it can prove difficult to peg prominent horses back at Leopardstown if the pace isn’t overly strong.

It’s a risk I take, simply because Space Traveller has overwhelmingly the strongest form in the book. His Royal Ascot success is a tremendous piece of form, given how the race has worked out ever since, and a 106 topspeed rating he achieved that day looks all the more real for it.

Space Traveller stayed 9 furlongs three weeks ago at Haydock, when less than a lengths beaten in a highly competitive of the Strensall Stakes.

Ground and trip will suit today. A good pace looks likely. Now it’s up to WJ Lee to time it right. If he does, Space Traveller should be the one they all see the back of at the finish line.

Selection:
10pts win – Space Traveller @ 11/2 MB