Tag Archives: UK

Thursday Selections: December 26th 2019

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

Merry Christmas to all readers of this site! Hope you are having a wonderful time surrounded by family and friends.

I am in the middle of my very own winter “break”, with overseas travel as well as spending Christmas at home in Germany. A busy year, an even busier few weeks…. but now it’s certainly time to sit back and relax for a few days at the very least.

Nonetheless, I can’t help but have a quick look at what’s going on in the world of racing. I have no real interest in the jump races today – not from a betting perspective at least. Thankfully the Tapeta track at Wolverhampton is open for business….

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4.25 Wolverhampton: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 4f 

Favourite Renardeau looks to be too high in the mark now after his two victories on the bounce. A better case can be made for Dream Magic who was so impressive over course and distance when last seen, who also matched his revised handicap mark on topspeed that day.

However it was clearly a career best and you have to wonder if that one run should overshadow the evidence of a gelding who has been seen 30 times before and only once ran to anything remotely close to that level of form before. He can go close again, and one can argue at 7/1 is a fair price to find out, but I am more inclined to give the runner-up of aforementioned Wolverhampton contest a big chance here today.

Bottom weight Fayetta is still a maiden after 19 starts and was well beaten in second place at Wolverhampton behind Dream Magic. On the other hand there is a significant turnaround in the weights today, in favour of the filly. She ran at Southwell in the meantime, didn’t follow on from the good form shown at Wolverhampton, though.

Possibly down to the fibresand, now back on Tapeta will be more suitable. On this surface she has achieved topspeed ratings of 61 and 67 this year over the 12 furlong trip. So now down to a 61 official rating the case can be made for Fayetta having a prime chance taking advantage of a slipping mark.

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

Monday Selections: August, 19th 2019

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

6.40 Windsor: Class 4 Handicap, 5f

Harry Hurricane steps back into more suitable territory after being outclassed at Goodwood. Given he had been a non-runner on a vet’s cert and a poor showing at Bath before that he’s got some questions to answer – but the majority of his performances earlier this season have been good and to quite a high standard.

In fact, he achieved twice a topspeed rating of 79+ this season already. So, now down to a mark of 79, with a further 5lb claim of highly useful apprentice Cieren Fallon, he looks ripe for a big run.

Granted, Harry Hurricane isn’t a frequent winner and hasn’t done so since the 2016 season. But I feel this track, his racing style, an uninspiring field or rivals to beat, a supr dangerous handicap mark and a classy apprentice in the saddle are a winning combination, as long as he’s right.

Selection:
10pts win – Harry Hurricane @ 13/2 WH

Friday Selections: August, 16th 2019

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2.25 Newbury: Class 4 Handicap, 1 mile

Medieval is a tricky sort who can make a mess of his chances in a race. But he’s down to a really attractive handicap mark, as was evident when he finished 2nd at Brighton a week ago.

That is a performance you can upgrade as he finished strongest of those that were prominent, while the winner and third came from a long way back, taking full advantage of a generous pace. It didn’t help that Medieval also appeared to hang in the closing stages, which he tends to do frequently.

Nonetheless, he is only 1lb higher for this effort, still well below his last wining mark, while he also ran multiple times to much higher topspeed ratings in the past. With soft ground sure to suit, and the mile trip no issue, I feel in this race today he has a prime chance to get his head in front again.

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

………

8.20 Curragh: Handicap, 6 furlongs

A lot of rain over night here in Kildare, the ground will be soft and make for tough conditions. Makes this one an even more open race. I think this cries out for a long-shot to upset the market.

The one I am most interested in is Blyton. He hasn’t really kicked on as a 3-year-old since moving to Ireland, however he drops to a pretty low mark for what he has achieved as a juvenile as well as going down to a more suitable trip.

Also quite important: Blyton has good form with cut in the ground, so should not mind the rain whatsoever. In fact the combination of lowered mark, perfect ground and suitable trip can see him being competitive today.

He also achieved topspeed ratings of 80 and 84 last season, suggesting he is capable of running to a level of form required to win here. First time blinkers are an interesting addition, possibly sharpen him up, dropping from a 8.5 furlongs as when last seen at Galway.

Selection:
10pts win – Blyton @ 33/1 MB

Saturday Selections: August, 10th 2019

Newmarket Rowley Mile pre-parade ring

3.40 Haydock: Class 4 Handicap, 6f

I usually don’t like backing last time out winners, but make an exception for Fantasy Keeper here. He won really well at Sandown over the shorter 5 furlongs in soft conditions, being really well backed.

A little break since then, now back, moving up to 6f, only 3lb higher in the mark, which could underestimate him today. Fantasy Keeper  loves cut in the ground and then it doesn’t matter if five- or six furlongs.

He ran to a topspeed rating of 83 at Sandown, before that over an additional furlong to 81. So, given he finds ideal conditions today, he looks on a fair handicap mark, potentially being able to pull out a bit more, as he’s had only three starts on soft or heavy going to date, with a win and two placed efforts to his name then.

Selection:
10pts win – Fantasy Keeper  @ 5/1 MB

……..

7.55 Ayr: Class 5 Handicap, 7f

The chips are down for Chaplin Bay today, I feel. He’s backed all day long and that makes perfect sense with conditions sure to suit. He’s somewhat of a 7f specialist, who definitely enjoys cut in the ground and has a 50% place SR over course and distance as well.

He hasn’t been winning for a while, so as a consequence dropped rather dramatically certainly in his turf mark. Down to 50 now, he looks supremely well handicapped in a race like this.

Judged on form this year, he still has appetite for the game and didn’t ran too badly on a number of occasions, actually. One to keep an eye out: he’s got an entry here at Ayr for Monday also.

Selection:
10pts win – Chaplin Bay @ 17/2 MB

Wednesday Selections: August, 7th 2019

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8.15 Yarmouth: Class 5 Fillies’ Handicap, 7f

Still a turf maiden, but down to really dangerous handicap mark is Roman Spinner. She is a three times winner on the All-Weather and also has been in the money four times on turf already, doing so of higher marks than her current official rating.

She also ran multiple times to relatively high topspeed ratings compared to current handicap mark, suggesting she is now knocking heavily on the door.

The same suggests Roman Spinner’s most recent performance, when runner-up in strong four-runner contest at Chepstow last month where she finished strongly but was probably not advantaged by the pace scenario.

She drops another pound, down to a rating of 71 now. Conditions are sure to suit and a big run is very much on the cards today.

Selection:
10pts win – Roman Spinner @ 7/1 MB

Sunday Selections: August, 4th 2019

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2.00 Chester: Class 4 Nursery, 5f

Rarely do I get involved with juveniles, but I feel this race is for the taking, given the favourite has to deal with a stiff opening mark given by what he has shown in three starts so far, and the second favourite is certainly not well handicapped.

But the filly Shammah appears to be massively underestimated based on two below part efforts lately, however on unsuitably fast ground.

She looked potentially smart winning a novice contest at Windsor in June, though. Which is pretty strong form judged through the 3rd placed horse Hubert, who subsequently was only half a lengths beaten behind smart Homespin.

Shammah’s Windsor performance earned her a topspeed 79 rating, which came on good to soft. She’s dropped below that mark in handicapping terms, now on an official rating of 78. So from that perspective, given she also has a top draw today, finds conditions she likely enjoys, there is potentially more to come and she can easily be well in.

It’s important to note that more rain is on its way to Chester and Shammah’s dam has shown her best certainly with cut in the ground. Despite plenty of stamina in the pedigree, Shammah appears to break sharply, so she ma well be able to utilize the plum draw and her superior stamina, in a bid to go hard from the front today.

Selection:
10pts win – Shammah @ 5/1 MB

……..

3.55 Galway: Premier Handicap, 7f

another rarity: a bet on Irish flat racing! But, again, I feel pretty strong about a horse today, even though it’s the madness of Galway. Quickly turned out again, albeit slightly different circumstances, Rufus King looks sure to outrun his price.

He was a fine 4th on Tuesday here but ran out of gas in the closing stages over a trip stretching him as well as from a wider than ideal draw, which meant he had to do a little bit more than he’d want to have done in the early part of the race.

Today Rufus King drops down to 7 furlongs, is drawn in stall four and remains on a tasty handicap mark. He’s hasn’t won of this or similar ratings lately, however ran with plenty of credit, not only at Galway, but also of a pound higher in an ultra competitive handicap at Ripon last month.

Certainly he is on a handicap mark he’s sure to have a good chance of winning, granted he ran to higher topspeed ratings in the past a few times as well.

Selection:
10pts win – Rufus King @ 13/2 MB

Henry II Stakes Preview

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After a recent Sagaro Stakes success Dee Ex Bee is well fancied to go back to back today. It was his first try over two miles and he passed the test with flying colours. This could be more competitive today, though, so is my feeling.

Obviously his Derby run is the standout performance, however, he hasn’t ran anywhere near that form ever since, and judged on form and ratings what he has produced ever since, he is a good horse, but clearly not a top drawer and also his time wasn’t that impressive last time to suggest he’s dramatically better than the rest of the field here, particularly as he has to give weight away.

Strong cases can be made for the two Mark Johnston runners. My preference is for Austrian School simply on the fact he has more often produced high enough time speed ratings to suggest he is defiantly home in this grade, and probably a better horse than stable mate Making Miracles, who was so impressive in the Chester Cup, having the run of the race, on the other hand.

Austrian School was a long way beaten there as a favourite, but bottomless ground and the way the race turned out, are a fair excuse. He is better judged on his impressive Musselburgh win in April over 1m 6f.

A career best performance on TS and RPR, also backing up the strong runner-up performance of the Mallard Handicap at Doncaster from last autumn, confirming he is that good.

Austrian School deserves a crack at this level and will give the favourite a lot to think about in the closing stages I strongly believe.

Selection:
10pts win – Austrian School @ 11/2 MB

Preview: 2000 Guineas 2019

Newmarket Rowley Mile tight finish

Let’s get this out of the way right away: Ten Sovereigns will not stay. He’ll be a super exciting sprinter for the season to come, though.

Now that we’re clear on this rather important piece of the 2019 2000 Guineas puzzle, let’s focus on finding the winner of the race. I’ve three horses on my short-list.

The second Aiden O’Brien trained colt isn’t on the list: Magna Grecia is rock solid, mind. But I give him a pass at 7/2, as with fast conditions expected at the Rowley Mile today, I feel he’ll likely appreciate an additional couple of furlongs.

The other well fancied Irish runner Madhmoon is intriguing. You could argue it’s a tip in itself Kevin Prendergast sends his star colt over to Newmarket. He’s not doing it very often. His record in the UK is dismal, but one can be forgiving because the average SP’s of his UK runners tell its own story of outcome vs. expectations.

Madhmoon will surely improve for the better ground today. He’ll improve having a run under his belt. He’ll improve stepping up in trip again. Yet I’m not fully on board ad don’t quite feel excited about his chances.

In truth, he probably didn’t beat all that much in the Champions Juvenile Stakes last August. He also ran, despite looking imperious that day, only to a TS rating of 78. As a key piece of form, this isn’t enough for me to invest.

I’ll do happily invest – and could be called a hypocrite calling Madhmoon form average – in Skardu. Recency bias? Am I still “wowed” by his incredible (visually at least) seasonal reappearance in the Craven Stakes? Possibly.

Nonetheless, I do like a multiple course and distance winner, who looked scintillating on return over the Guineas CD, who has clearly proven to have trained on over the winter.

Skardu’s turn of foot is a thing of beauty. He produced a superb debut performance over 7f at Newmarket last September, leaving a subsequent UAE Derby winner standing still. You would hope there is much, much more to come. Only two runs on the clock, an April foal who’s shown an appreciation for fast ground also. I’m hugely excited!

The only thing I am slightly worried is whether he’ll get a clear run and gets going soon enough, if this would turn into something of a sprint finish, given his racing style.

I’ve got a small saver on a massive long-shot: Emaraaty Ana. The betting says there’s no hope. And the market could be right. But could also underestimate this lad. He was a late May foal, but showed sparkle as a juvenile regardless, landing the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes, a Group 2, at Newbury last August.

That was over 6 furlongs. a trip rather on the sharp side one would think given his pedigree. It was no surprise to see him taken off his feat in the Middle Park Stakes subsequently.

Emaraaty Ana is bred to stay a mile, in fact to improve for the step up in trip. He is related to a couple of winners over the 1 mile trip. He’s proven to act on fast ground and ran a career best TS rating not dissimilar to what most other leading contenders in this field have achieved to date. Age is on his side, I feel – one way or another he’ll be ‘one to follow’ this year.

Selections:
9tps win – Skardu @ 9/1 MB
1pts win – Emaraaty Ana @ 139/1 MB

Sunday Selections: April, 28th 2019

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

5.40 Salisbury: Class 6 Lady Amateur Handicap, 7f

Normally this isn’t my type of race and I’m not sure if I’m comfortable watching it later on; but I dearly hope Miss Imogen Mathias won’t fall off Winklemann, who has a cracking chance otherwise.

The Italian import hasn’t exactly taken British racing by storm. As a consequence he remains a maiden in this sphere and tumbles down the weights. Down to a mark of 59, the son of Rip Van Winkle has shown glimmers of hope here and there in the past, though, of much bigger marks and in better races.

He was an agonisingly close second at Windsor last summer off 70, running to a TS rating of 69 that day; the form looks rock solid, so does a 4th place finish in September at the same place when even 3lb higher.

Winklemann also seems to be racing himself into a bit of form, judged by a good runner-up performance at Chelmsford at the end of March, even though he couldn’t quite kick on from there days later at Southwell, when receiving a shocking ride by Miss Mathias.

Dropping down to 7f on fast ground, with a good draw to play with – granted he doesn’t bottle the start, which he can from time to time – Winklemann has a big chance to run well in a poor contest.

Selection:
10pts win – Winklemann @ 13/1 MB

…….

5.55 Wetherby: Class 6 Handicap, 5.5f

Two selections in this open contest for me: the mare Dandilion dropped to a handy mark as well as finding herself back in a class 6 handicap on the turf. She’s right home here and 5lb below her last winning mark.

She had a wind operation last autumn and subsequently ran well in two starts on the All-Weather earlier this year. Her return to the turf at Pontefract recently after a two months long break was merely a pipe opener and I happily draw a line under that poor performance.

Ground will be fine, the trip may stretch her a little bit, but given she is so well handicapped on past form, running five times to a higher TS rating than her current mark, I hope the additional 110y won’t be an issue today.

The other one potentially well in here is Roaring Rory. He’s got form over both 5- and 6 furlongs, and will enjoy any further drying of the ground.

Racing off 3lb lower than his last winning mark, and 5lb lower than his last turf winning mark, with good 3lb claimer Jamie Gormley in the saddle, he can run a big race, given he achieved a TS rating higher than his current handicap mark on seven occasions already.

A recent pipe opener at Thirsk after a little break  was a fair performance in a big field. Though, I do expect him to come on quite a bit for it today.

Selection:
5pts win – Roaring Rory – 14/1 Coral
5pts win – Dandilion @ 17/1 MB

Safety First: Grand National still a Great Race!

Every year at this exact time the same debate: no – I don’t mean the one the hypocrites from PETA try to stir up; I mean the fiery debate around the challenge – or perceived lack of it – the Grand National provides for horses and jockeys these days.

There seems to be an ever increasing, certainly rather vocal minority of racing fans, that do feel the Grand National has been reduced to a “glorified hurdle”, a race that’s not “what it used to be” and not all that tough to win any more – in summary: the “welfare brigade” has changed the Grand National beyond recognition to a point where it doesn’t provide sufficient spectacle.

Let this sink in: the fact fallers have been greatly reduced in the last number of years – and with that casualties avoided completely up until this year – is cited as a reason to conclude the Grand National has lost its appeal as a spectacle.

Guess what? Nearly 10 million tuned in on Saturday to ITV’s coverage of the Grand National –  peak audience was up by more than a million viewers compared to last year. Sure, those numbers – as always with viewing figures – can’t be taken at face value, but they are a fair indication for the fact that the audience for the Grand National isn’t turned off by the perceived “lack of spectacle”. Much the opposite, it seems.

Racegoers didn’t mind either: a sell-out 50.000 crowd flooded through the gates on Saturday.

Let’s get the most important point straight – from my perspective anyway: yes, the Grand National has changed. Fences have have been altered. They are easier to jump, more forgiving and the race has become much safer for horse and rider. Those in charge of the sport – often slated recently, and more often than not rightly so – made drastic decisions after the infamous 2012 Grand National.

Those safety changes have had the desired outcome: only one fatality (Up For Review, 2019), plus 84% of fences have produced the same or lower rate of fallers/unseated/brought downs since then. Also only seven fallers/unseateds/brought downs in yesterday’s Grand National was one of the smallest numbers ever.

This is good news! The race has become safer. But has it taken away from the spectacle? Absolutely not! Not in my view.

I’m still looking forward to the Grand National every single year. I still rate it as the pinnacle of jump racing. I still adore all those 40 horses and jockeys for their bravery and skills.

And I firmly believe the Grand National remains a fabulous test: a distance of 4 miles & 2 furlongs (6.907 km) & 30 fences of different heights to be negotiated – no exactly a walk in the park.

Mind you, even though the race is safer and slightly “less of a challenge”, it stills is a tough race to complete. Despite all safety measures of recent times, there was one casualty -and less than half the field finished the race on Saturday. So, it clearly isn’t without its challenges, still.

And that brings me to Tiger Roll. The fact he’s completed back-to-back victories in 2019 and not in 1979 doesn’t make it less a remarkable achievement. It IS a remarkable achievement!

I didn’t back the little horse. But as soon as was clear none of my selections wouldn’t get near winning, I was roaring the Tiger home. What a true champion he is. A safer National it might be, but the fact remains it is a tough race to win, let alone do it twice – even in this day and age. Tiger Roll is the king of National Hunt racing!