I said in my preview my hope for Winklemann is that Miss Imogen Mathias won’t fall off. She didn’t. But she also couldn’t have given the poor horse a worse ride. Winklemann finished a close third in the end. So did Roaring Rory, who stayed on from a long way back in his race.
No complaint, though: I knew the dangers of backing a horse in an Amateur race. And maybe it wouldn’t have mattered if a different jockey would have steered Winklemann home. It’s easy to point out a seemingly weak ride while sitting comfortably in the chair myself, of course.
I was massively impressed with Pink Dogwood at Navan today. The ante-post favourite for the Epsom Oaks proved too strong for her rivals in the listed Salsabil Stakes over 10f. She showed a lovely attitude under a hands and heels ride and looks to have wintered well from a physical standpoint as well.
She’s been cut from 6/1 to 7/2 in the meantime. I’m not the man for ante-post wagers these days, so will not touch it. But I think she’ll be hard to beat if getting to Epsom healthy.
On to Monday – there’s plenty of flat action both on the All-Weather as well as on the green lush grass! Still, I’m a little bit surprised to have found nearly two hands full of selections…. whether that’s a good or a bad sign remains to be seen.
2.10 Southwell: Class 6 Handicap, 7f
Smashing Lass is the only winner in this field – a poor line-up with a few unexposed sorts, but generally one where the filly stands out. She won a seller last year and also was a decent runner-up at Newcastle twice.
A recent seasonal reappearance was surely nothing more than a pipe opener and big improvement is expected from that run. She has dropped to a 55 handicap mark, while she already ran to a TS rating of 59 and 54 in the past.
So improvement is possible, also as she was an April foal and may get better with age. First time Southwell is always a risk, but her sire has an excellent fibresand record. Interestingly, it’s Shane Gray’s only ride on the card.
10pts win – Smashing Lass @ 9/1 PP
2.20 Newcastle: Class 6 Handicap, 6f
The favourite is clearly opposable given his super skinny price. I’m keen on Rantan, even though the draw may not be an advantage with the pace more drawn toward the other side.
Nonetheless, I feel this lad has been campaigned with this race potentially in mind. He had two pipe openers over the minimum trip. Last time out here at Newcastle he finished quite nicely showing a bit of spark in the closing stages, while it was obvious he needs further.
He drops in class but is stepped up in trip. He slipped to an incredibly dangerous mark as well, judged by last seasons performances in particular.
10pts win – Rantan @ 15/1 MB
3.45 Southwell: Class 5 Handicap, 1 mile
Dropping in class here and further down in the ratings, Me Too Nagasaki may finally found a race to fulfill expectations. He was well backed since joining the Stuart Williams yard, and though running with credit most of the time, he never looked like winning.
Surely the now 5-year-old isn’t the force of the past, but down to a mark of 75 he looks very dangerous, particularly down in a class 5 Handicap. It’s his second time on the fibresand – even though well beaten in January, he looked like taking to it until falling away after travelling widest of all throughout in a hot class 3 Handicap coming off a long lay-off.
This here looks a very winnable race – if he can finish off his race. The way he dropped out lately is slightly concerning, in truth. But he’s the class act in this field, so I give Me Too Nagasaki the benefit of the doubt as he is potentially well handicapped.
10pts win – Me Too Nagasaki @ 13/2 PP
4.15 Southwell: Class 5 Handicap, 6f
This is an ultra-competitive race. Margins could be decisive, so being drawn wider than ideal is a negative. Nonetheless I feel Big Brave Bob has a tremendous chance first time out for a new yard if race fit.
It’s likely hell be race fit given Big Brave Bob returns to the place of his biggest- and sole success: the 6f at Southwell. He won here last year in taking style, even if the tight margin tells a different story. He clearly looked like an individual who’d strive on the fibresand.
He followed up with a number of good performances of higher marks in good races – particularly his follow-up effort at Bath is super strong form; but also all his last runs on the AW are solid.
He left the Hannon yard over the winter, and has also dropped down to a mark of 70. With a fair 5lb claimer in the saddle, back on the fibresand, I think there is a good chance Big Brave Bob has too much on his plate for the rest of this field.
10pts win – Big Brave Bob @ 6/1 MB
4.25 Newcastle: Class 3 Handicap, 1 mile
Ballard Down looks underappreciated in this race. Since changing yards he has ran well on two occasions, particularly an unlucky 3rd place finish behind Mr. Scaramanga rates a strong piece of form.
He’s clearly a tricky sort, but Newcastle’s straight mile suits him. Down to a 91 mark now, I feel he looks poised for a big performance, given there seems to be a good deal of pace in the race as well, to see him coming with a late charge to get his head in front again.
10pts win – Ballard Down @ 16/1 PP
4.55 Windsor: Class Handicap, 6f
Kwela was desperately unlucky not to get her head in front when being several times severely impeded in the closing stages at Lingfield on her seasonal debut recently.
She’s a pound higher today but that won’t make a difference. Back on turf, with fast ground likely to suit well, she can attack from pole position riding the golden highway of Windsor.
Excellent Georgia Dobie keeps the ride; she’s well worth her 7lb claim and I predict we’ll hear a lot of her in the future.
10pts win – Kwela @ 5/1 WH
6.30 Windsor: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 2f
The favourite Just Brilliant is an intriguing runner here: a lightly raced colt for a good yard and race fit. But he’s a short price for all he has shown to date.
I put trust in Silvestre De Sousa’s mount Allegiant, who hopefully doesn’t lack for fitness either. The gelding is also low mileage, but already won a race: on handicap debut coming off a break at Epsom last autumn. He couldn’t follow on from there when turned under a penalty soon after, but he seems to be a tricky individual and maybe the race came too soon.
He’s 7lb higher in the mark today, but ran to a TS rating of 69 at Epsom – so, if he can find any bit of improvement for age and the new trip, he could well be a good thing.
Allegiant certainly looks the part. A big, strong gelding with scope. On pedigree the 10f looks a fair possibility, and even though fast ground was cited as a potential reason for his under-performance when last seen, I think it could, in fact should suit.
10pts win – Allegiant @ 6/1 MB
7.30 Windsor: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 3.5f
Couple of weeks ago I was keen on New Show…. and desperately disappointed with his run. However, it’s too early to give up on him. What applied back then still applies today as reason why he remains an interesting individual:
New Show ran an almighty race in a hot handicap when last seen in 2018. Inexperience cost him dearly that day but to be in it for as long as he was was impressive. That Goodwood race has worked out tremendously well, so, if he can improve as a 4-year-old with age and experience, he could be on a nice mark.
As a late April foal, with low mileage, you do hope there is more to come. H steps up in trip again and tries blinkers for the first time. At the same time, dropping in grade should help as well.
10pts win – New Show @ 11/2 Coral
7.40 Thirsk: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 4f
It’s fair to say Star Ascending is a better horse on the All-Weather than on turf, an on the synthetics he wasn’t particularly good lately either. On the other hand, back in January he won seemingly with a bit in hand a class 5 handicap over 12f in fine style.
He can race off a 6lb lower mark than he did that day at Wolverhampton. Judged by the past that may not mean all that much, as Star Ascending had plenty of chances on turf and has only one win to his name in 17 attempts.
However, over 12f and on decent ground he had very few opportunities to run, the last one eleven months ago at Doncaster where he finished 5th, albeit a good deal beaten. He ran off 69 that day, and in the context of the form of that particular race, it was probably quite a good performance.
So 5lb lower than when last seen on turf now, a fair 5lb claimer in the saddle as well – even though he’s totally inexperienced at Thirsk, so hopefully this isn’t just a race to gain vital experience, as also trainer Candish hasn’t an overly fruitful record with apprentices.
That’s the clear risk. But if Star Ascending can find back some form and doesn’t miss the kick most importantly, as he sometimes does, he may be able to utilize a good draw (high draws over 12f at Thirsk an advantage) there is a fair chance he can outrun his price tag.
10pts win – Star Ascending @ 16/1 MB