Wednesday, 26 December 2012

The Big Fight !

It's Boxing Day and it's second's out for the King George.
Today's race looks wide open to me with the very heavy going and with nearly all the field having some questions to answer whether it be about going, staying ability or the distance being too short.
For me I am going to take a chance on Kauto Stone who has shown recently at Down Royal that 3 miles in the mud isn't a problem and Nicholls and Walsh have put their faith in him. Okay he hasn't beaten much to date but he is improving and I'm sure this isn't a plan that Nicholls has recently thought up on a whim and he will have been laid out for this.
Of course it's a Grade 1 and the opposition is tough but Long Run has something to prove, Cue Card, Riverside Theatre and Captain Chris have doubts about staying the trip, Grand Cru's is coming back from a breathing operation, The Giant Bolster appeals more as an extreme stayer and Champion Court is out of his depth. That leaves Junior as a lively ew alternative at 25/1.
Kempton is supposedly an easy 3 miles but on this going that goes out of the window as the race will take much longer to complete than normal and therefore the two and a half mile horses will be using their energy much longer than normal and will have difficulty staying the trip.

Countrywide Flame looks to have a favourites chance in the Christmas Hurdle as he scooted through the heavy going at Newcastle when beating Cinders and Ashes and I'm sure McCains horse would have been ready for that as it was a big pot and the horse was on a winning streak that they wouldn't have wanted to lose. Punjabi is coming back from a break and someone of Hendersons training expertise should have little trouble having him right for this even after a 978 day break. This former Champion Hurdler is not out of this and can ruffle some feathers, if you can still get 33/1 you should have an ew saver.

Katkeau was very unlucky at Haydock last time and he can make amends in the 3.45 at Kempton. Being a French bred he will love the heavy ground and he also has untapped potential to boot which is a very dangerous combination to be put into the hands of the Pipe stable.

So they are my three for the afternoon, whatever you choose I hope you have a very good days racing and Happy Christmas to one and all.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Sunday 23rd December !

Well Christmas Day is fast approaching and if you havent been for your presents yet you have a monumental task ahead as the shops are packed and probably sold out of what you were planning to get. Still, it's not the end of the world, there is always the racing and you could just as easily sit back down again and pick up the Racing Post and check out the Boxing Day declarations !! 
However you wont find much Christmas cheer in the RP on the weather front, at least according to the front page, "Washout threat to Christmas programme" with seven of the nine boxing day fixtures reporting heavy ground.
With further rain set to sweep the country between now and then things aint lookin good and it's a problem that's troubling Chepstow who stage the Welsh National they are looking at contingency plans should it fall to the weather. If it is abandoned on the 27th it will not be the dear old BBC's last racing broadcast after all but C4's instead, however that wont be a problem for Claire Balding who looks like presenting it for many years to come whatever happens.

Yesterday at Ascot it was also heavy with the times well above standard and the Ladbroke, won easily by Cause of Causes, was the closest to standard, but that was probably more to do with the distance of 2m than anything else. The winner though looks one to keep on side as does Majala who won up at Haydock in the Novice Chase with Denis O'Regan stating "Without going over the top if he improves again he could win a decent race".

Finally with rain we had during most of the summer and what seems like continual rain through the winter so far could this be the wettest year ever on record in the UK, any weather boffins out there know the answer ?


Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Aintree Highlights

There was no blog last Saturday as I was at my local track Aintree. The weather was pretty darned cold and I spent most the afternoon on the move. I was lucky enough to get the first two winners which set me up nicely for the afternoon with both going off at prices that were generous in my view. There was a 2 minute frenzy in the ring when Buthelezi dropped 2 points quickly from 6/1 into 4/1 and later L'Uniique who had been touted as being something special from the King yard, entered here in a Listed Juvenile Hurdle (must have been the plan for a while) was drifting out in the betting !.

The 4 runner Listed Chase went to Wayward Prince from Across The Bay in second with Quito De La Roque, who appeared to run below form, in third. The second was running for his connections who hail from The Scotch Piper Pub in Lydiate just up the road and he ran a fine race considering he didnt seem to handle the track.

The Becher Chase was the first over the big fences and I had been informed by a source pre race that West End Rocker would not act on the going according to his owner so I steered clear. Apparently he was nearly pulled out of last years race because of the going but in the end remained in and won. However the going was a lot worse this time around as it had been raining heavily for most of the week. Interestingly his trainer blamed the poor run on him not liking the track because of his experience in the National last year when he fell at the second fence, which I find strange as he had also fallen in the 2011 National before he won the Becher. Whatever the explanation he has been dropped in the handicap by 2lb to 140 and he should be kept on side.
There were a few that ran well behind the amazing winner Hello Bud, namely Join Together, who I had backed to win but in the end I was shouting home the winner because of his age, Problema Tic and Ballabriggs, the latter has been dropped a useful 4lbs to 152 - won the National off 150 and was 6th last year off 160.

The runaway and most impressive winner of the day was Henderson's Bear's Affair who turned into the straight going great guns and duly waltzed away from the field to a 10 length win and a 12lb rise looks fair and the team will surely be planning away.

It was a great day for the Twiston Davies family with 3 winners and I was thrilled for Sam who is so enthusiastic for the sport and is a great advert for anyone wishing to be a jockey. He got a great reception after winning the last as he returned under the stands. Myself I tried to pass on congratulations to Nigel but I got a look of "What the bloody hell do you want"...they are the complete opposite to like father like son in the personality stakes.

Hopefully I should be able to do a post on Saturday morning.
Keep Winning !


Saturday, 1 December 2012

Big day at Newbury !

I have always loved the Hennessey Gold Cup from when I was young nipper so I'm really looking forward to this aftrenoons race with 19 runners set to line up. The race has been a very good pointer for the Grand National in the past and there's every chance we may see the winner of that here today.
It is very good field though for the race and it's going to be difficult to pick a winner with 14 of the field covered by 8lbs.

Apart form the big guns at the head of the betting there are a few long priced contenders who are not out of it by any means. Soll is down at the bottom of the handicap on 10.00, 1lb out of the handicap and he will be having his first run for Jo Hughes having been transferred from Willie Mullins yard. Mullins said in March "He's a big staying type and a horse we like a lot" and connections think that he has a big future. A seven year old with limited mileage on the clock he remains unexposed and capable of better and 28/1 is a fair price.

Another who should run better than his price is last seasons Irish Grand National winner Lion Na Bearnai who won 3 times from 5 runs last term and has been raised 48lbs since his first handicap win in May 2011. As I said earlier this is a good indicator for the National and we have seen in the past what Irish National winners have achieved at Aintree. Bookmakers are at odds over what price he should be with 25 points covering his price on oddschecker with the top being 50/1.

Harry the Viking is another to consider at big odds with his trainer Paul Nicholls saying "I know Harry The Viking is a 25-1 chance, but I give him a big each way shout at those kind of odds".

Although Paddy Power do 5 places on the race they have factored that into all of the prices.

I had a winner yesterday in Bless the Wings courtesy of Wayward Lad's, blog link to the right of page, who has been in excellent tipping form over the last week with several winners and it will be interesting to see what he selects today.

Good luck whatever you choose to put your money on.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Dont settle for less !

Not much of a big Saturday racing wise today, some big pots with small fields on offer.

The going at Haydock is soft, heavy in places and judging by the times of the races yesterday it looks nearer the latter.

The 2.30 at Haydock sees 7 of the runners shouldered with 11-9 or more in the fixed brush hurdle and one with over a stone less to carry is Pipe's new french bred recruit Katkeau who is open to any amount of improvement. In fact he recives at least 5lb from every horse in the race which for one trained by David Pipe is a bonus particularly as he knows how to win this race having won the last two runnings with Grand Cru's and Dynaste both 5yo's like Katkeau. At 7/1 he represents good value.

Racing Post analysis and comment : Midfield, headway to track leaders 6th, 5th and 5 lengths off the pace going well when blundered 3 out, soon eased (op 8-1)
The ex-French trained Katkeau took a strong grip for a long way but looked far from beaten when crashing throughthe third-last. There was no way back from that point but he is readily given another chance, even if dropped in distance. Conor O'Farrell reported that he had twisted his knee when the gelding made a mistake at the third-last hurdle, and was unable to ride out for sixth place.
American Spin, also in the same race, put up a very good time the last time he ran here back in May, also on soft, and his trainer feels that his run at Cheltenham recently will have put him spot on for this and he looks to have been trained specifically for the race. The 16/1 with Ladbrokes has gone but you can still get 14's with some firms and he must be an ew alternative with all 16 runners still in the mix and the only downside being that he has to carry the 11-11 on this sticky going.

Other than that there's nothing much more I can find today and I wish you all good luck whatever you choose to select.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Sunday runners !

No post yesterday as I was returning from a week in Lisbon, the weather was ok at the beginning of the week but like everywhere else they are getting significant rainfall and things gradually worsened towards the end. Cant say I'm a lover of the food but the city has it's own busy style and there is plenty to see and do.

Anyway some interesting results yesterday with good performances from Far West and Our Father. I thought that Sire Collonges would take all the beating after his last run at the track and for Our Father to beat him well on his first run back was impressive.

Today there are a couple of competitive big field handicap hurdles and if you can find the winner of one of those you will have done well as it will probably be a decent price. Bothy could be worth an ew in the Racing Post Hurdle at 2.50 - (4th 12/1).

It's a day of significant non runners with Well Sharp, Sprinter Sacre and Darlan all ducking out of their intended races.

In the bumper The Liquidator has a fine chance as the form of his 2nd last year is very good indeed and he has joined a stable that knows how to win this type of race. He receives 4lb from the previous winners, which is a bonus. - (2nd 4/1)

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Call the Doctor !

After last weeks win over the jumps I'm reverting back to the Listed Wentworth Stakes at Doncaster and Doc Hay at 16/1 must be worth an ew interest. He has run some of his best races here 3rd in this last year and winning the Portland over 5 1/2 f this time around in what was a very good time when he came fast and late.
The race looks like being dominated by him, Jack Dexter, Sirius Prospect and Stoute's Ultansonic who seems best in at the weights.

Over the jumps there's not a lot that catches my eye as a betting proposition and only one I may go for is Houblon Des Obeaux 8/1 in the 2.15 at Wincanton, a race in which 3 return from extended breaks and Nicholls Poungach may have confidence problems following his fall at Chepstow. - (1st 9/1)

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Onward and upward !

I havent posted on this blog for sometime and it needs updating quite badly re all the sprint action that has taken place.

With the flat season nearly over it's time to take a look at the jumps action which is begining to hot up this weekend. I havent been following the jumps for a while but my interest has been awakened recently and I will try and do some regular posts throughout the winter months on both the jumps and all weather racing.

Today I feel that Gus Macrae in the 3.45 at Ascot looks to be worth an interest as he receives plenty of weight from most of the field, 2 stone from Michael Flips and he looks to be on the up after his win at Aintree last week and the better ground is expected to bring out further improvement. - (1st)

Ace High looks to be on everyone's list in the 3.10 at Ascot and Ile De Re looks to be thrown in in the 2.35 for McCain who sends just Ubaltique to Ayr where he has a 29% SR with his hurdlers.

Good luck !

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The July Cup

Clerk of the course Michael Prosser said: "The track has taken all the rain that we had well and we have been very lucky that it has been dry today.

"I am loathe to change the ground until the morning as there is a threat of showers overnight. Saturday's forecast is for a warmer day with sunny breaks and showers."

Trainers quotes for the July Cup on Saturday :

Roger Charlton - BATED BREATH
He is favourite for a Group 1 and my inclination is to let him take his chance because York could be as bad but we will have to wait until tomorrow.
Like most horses he would prefer faster ground. He has run on soft ground before and won well. It's just not to his advantage.
The horse is not going to come to any harm running on the ground - that's not the issue - it's just he may not produce his best and I guess when a horse is about to be a stallion, you wonder whether that's sensible or not.

Richard Fahey - MAYSON
"I just want him to put that disappointing last run behind him. The run before that I was very confident but it was a bit of a disaster. He got very upset in the stalls. If you put those two runs behind him and go back his form at Newmarket then he could run well. He seems in great form at home. I have always liked him and I'm just hoping he can come back to form."

Mayson has been a bit disappointing on his last couple of runs ahead of the Darley July Cup at Newmarket. It was just desperate ground at Newcastle last time and he couldn't get his feet out of it.
He likes the other course at Newmarket and everything is fine for him so I'd be delighted if he could get placed. It would be brilliant to see him win but he would have to be at his very best - we shall see what happens.

Eve Johnson Houghton - THE CHEKA
He seems in really good form after Ascot. I thought he ran below par there but I can't find a reason for it. We did some tests and he's absolutely tickety boo, so I'm hoping it's just one of those things. Unfortunately Neil (Callan) has been claimed to go to York so Jimmy Fortune is going to ride him.
This horse doesn't mind any ground and we are hopeful of a big run from him. It looks an open race, though if Bated Breath runs he's a big danger."

David Marnane - DANDY BOY
He pleased us going into Ascot and has pleased us as much, if not more, since coming out of Ascot. We sat down and had a good chat, he won well at Ascot and we decided to take our chance. He's been a phenomenal horse for us and to win a third big handicap like that in the manner he did shows what a good horse he is on his day. He's a fragile horse and when they are right and well you have to take your chance.
The ground was just good at Ascot, it was touch and go whether he would run because of softer ground but he's a little bit older now and he is fragile so maybe he enjoys a bit ease in the ground now. I think he moved better at Ascot on the slightly easier surface."

DANDY BOY - He's a super horse, he owes us nothing and he's entitled to take his chance in these races. The ground is an issue and he's done most of his winning on level tracks. I just hope he's OK - a big horse like him on those undulations, but he has a tendency to travel well so that should help him. Softer ground is a debate really. I probably wouldn't be mad about it, but he has won over six on yielding to soft at Fairyhouse and has been Group Three placed over a mile on soft ground at the Curragh. There's a little hope that he can handle the ground and it might not help some of the other horses. We're in now so we are going to take our chance. Please God he runs a nice race."

Paul Messara - ORTENSIA
"Prior to the King's Stand she didn't seem to handle the environment. She got upset in the pre-parade ring and broke out into quite a big sweat. By the time of the race she was very revved up and agitated and had run her race before she had even got there.
She ran an average race and pulled up with a sore back but everything's settled down now. We've had a couple of practices here which have been great and she's done well. She's done a good bit of work here and we're hoping she will be a much (better) settled horse on the day.
Her last piece of work was excellent on the course proper here and she will have another gallop tomorrow. We are very pleased with her going into the race."

Mahmood Al Zarooni - SEPOY
"He's a good horse and he's back now. When he arrived here (in Newmarket) he was a bit down. We gave him an easy time to recover. He has recovered and is in good form. He did a piece of work on Saturday and he's showing that sort of form (as he did in Australia).
I don't know why he ran like he did at Meydan. The surface, or sometimes when they travel they get really down. It is long way to Dubai from Australia. That's why I think he ran like he did."

He's in good form and is ready to have a run. I think the ground will suit him, he won a Group One in Australia on soft, but how good he is compared to the British horses, I don't know. His form is very difficult to judge when you try and compare him to the horses over here. He has worked nicely, so we will see

"Sirius Prospect is definitely an intended runner in the Darley July Cup. I was delighted with his run in the Diamond Jubilee and he has come out of that race the best that he has come out of a race all year.
He wore a hood and blinkers for the first time at Royal Ascot and he will be wearing both again at Newmarket. I think that it helps him a little bit because he can get a little bit wound up in the stalls, like a lot of sprinters do. I don't want to lose a length or two in races like this and it gives him a bit more focus.
The ground won't be a problem for him, as long as it is not heavy. He seems to run on all ground and, ideally, I would be happy with good to soft or soft because we know he goes on it.
It took a while for him to get going this season but I think his run in the Diamond Jubilee proved a lot. He was drawn the opposite side to Black Caviar and had to race away from the pace. If he puts in a similar race at Newmarket, then I would like to think that he will be there or thereabouts."

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Big day for Black Caviar

Well the day is finally here when we can witness Black Caviar for ourselves and see those salmon pink and black caviar spots coming up the straight at Royal Ascot, hopefully to a resounding victory in front of Her Majesty.

It will be a fantastic day for all those connected with the horse and if she can handle all the different elements that make up a horse race then she should be well on her way to victory. The opposition will try their best to give her a good battle but realistically they will all be running for place money.

When we have watched her in the past she has travelled supremely well and won with any amount in hand and we are unlikely to see her taken out of her comfort zone once again.

It will be interesting to see what her splits are for the 6f just to see how they compare to Frankel on tuesday. He was able to run the 5th furlong in the Queen Anne Stakes in 11.26 and the 6th furlong in 10.58 which was remarkable considering the whole of the Kings Stand field at no point in that Group 1 sprint was able to better his 6th furlong time.

The only two who have any chance of getting anywhere near her in my view are last years winner Society Rock and Krypton Factor who is better than he showed last time.

We also have the Wokingham later in the afternoon and 28 should go to post for this. The draw will obviously play a big part and Maarek, Palace Moon, Waffle, Mac's Power and Desert Law should all be in with chances in what is a very competitive sprint.

However it is a day to sit back and enjoy another champion take the stage in Black Caviar.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Up a bit, down a bit

On 28th May at Haydock Athenian won a Class 6 6f Handicap on the AW at Kempton for Sir Mark Prescott off a mark of 61. In the process she recorded a speed figure of 72 so remains open to improvement and the handicapper has raised her 10lb to 71. She beat Copper Falls by 4 lengths after staying on strongly.
Sir Mark was quick to get her out again and he ran her at Chepstow on 4th June in a C5 over 6f in which carried a 6lb penalty and she won by 1 3/4 lengths from Ficelle, staying on strongly in the closing stages. She was then sent to Newmarket on 8th June to contest a C4 over 6f and finished 2nd beaten 1 1/4 lengths by Charlotte Rosina were she was carrying a 12lb penalty. The 3 runs may have had an effect and the winner by Chosir was eased close home to win.

At Ripon on 29th May Dutch Rose won the Class 5 6f handicap by a nose from Springheel Jake, the first and second recorded top speed figures of 76 and 81 and were raised 11lb and 4lb respectively, so the second has room for improvement.

At Ayr on 31st May Galician won the Class 4 6f handicap for Mark Johnston by 3 lengths from David Barron's Profile Star and has been raised 8lb to a mark of 88. It was the usual gritty response that you get from a Johnston runner and no doubt she is capable of better still from her revised mark.
She was a dissapointing 5th however on 6th June at Ripon.

At Haydock on 1st June Excellette won the Listed race over 5f by a neck from Spirit Quartz and has been raised 3lb to 101. There were some decent sorts behind but the time of the race wasnt anything to get excited about.

The Dash at Epsom was as competitive as ever and was won by Stone of Folca by half a length from Desert Law and a further 3/4 length back to Catfish in third.
The winner has been raised 7lb to 100, the second 5lb to 102 and the third 1lb to 89 and after the race John Best commented on the winner "Great ride by Luke and I believe not only was it the first time the race has been won from a stall lower than 9, but also the fastest time recorded electronically for any 5f race! We will almost certainly take our chances at Royal Ascot, although that will be a huge step up"
In behind there were drops in the handicap for :
Jamesway 1lb to 84
York Glory 1lb to 95
Captain Dunne 3lb to 102
Sohraab 1lb to 89
Living it Large 2lb to 87
Dickie's Lad 1lb to 93
Arctic Feeling 1lb to 87
One of hose that ran well behind was Confessional in 5th.

At Newmarket on 2nd June Lui Rei won the Class 2 handicap over 6f by a short head from Baldemar with a further neck back to Swiss Cross in third.
The winner has been raised 6lb to 103, the second 2lb to 84 and the third 1lb to 95.

At Musselburgh on 3rd June Bajan Tryst for Kevin Ryan won the Class 2 Scottish Sprint Cup  over 5f by a length from Bryan Smart's Flash City with a neck back to Burning Thread in third.
The winner has been raised 5lb to 101, the second 2lb to 83 and the third 1lb to 92.
"Bajan Tryst is a very good horse and he always has been. He loves being fresh. This was the plan for a long time. It was a blessing in disguise that the stall opened at York last week and he couldn´t run - he came here really fresh and well". - Joe O´Gorman, trainer´s assistant

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Up a bit, down a bit - 27th May 2012

The week beginning 21st May started with Ladyship winning for Sir Michael Stoute at Leicester in a Class 5 Maiden over 6f. This daughter of Oasis Dream was dropped back in trip here and duly won by 3/4 of a length from Henry Cecil's Tickled Pink and looks capable of progressing up the sprint ladder off her revised mark of 86.

At Windsor the 3yo Wicked Wench won for Jo Hughes in the Class 4 Hcap over 5f by a length from Kyleakin Lass and her trainer has since commented "the ground was better at Windsor and she romped home. She's gone up 7lb since then but the way she won suggests she can win off 81".
Behind Indian Tinker has been dropped 3lb to 76 after finishing 12th with her rider reporting that she was denied a clear run and was never travelling thereafter. Kevin Ryan's O'Gorman finished 10th and can be expected to improve on this as most of his stable do after their first run back.

Lucky Dan improved to win the Class 5 handicap at Chester over 6f beating Song Of Parkes by an impressive 3 1/4 lengths with a further 3/4 of a length back to Red Cape in third. The winner goes up 7lb to a mark of 70, however he recorded a speed rating of 72 so could still be ahead of the handicapper.

On the same day Beat The Bell won the Class 4 Handicap over 6f at Goodwood for Jamie Osborne and in doing so beat My Kingdom by 3/4 of a length with 3 1/4 lengths back to Aye Aye Digby in third. The winner recorded a top speed figure of 83 and has been raised 6lb from 74 to 80. The second rec a top speed figure of 86 and has gone up 3lb from 79 to 82.

At Haydock Bated Breath won the Temple Stakes and race is summed up the BHA below :

TEMPLE STAKES WELL UP TO STANDARDThe most prestigious 5 furlong race of the season so far, the Group 2 Temple Stakes, was run at Haydock on Saturday and it looked a decent renewal opines Chris Nash. 
Bated Breath beat Sole Power by a neck with a further 3 ½ lengths back to Spirit Quartz and Borderlescott. The winner went into the race as the highest rated on a mark of 118 which he achieved when placing in both the July Cup and the Haydock Park (Betfred) Sprint last year.
Both of those races were over 6f but he showed on Saturday that he does not lack for pace over the minimum trip in lowering the track record time. The second is a solid performer over 5f on quick ground having won the 2010 Nunthorpe and the 2011 Temple in such conditions. He ran to 115 when winning this race last year and arrived here with that same rating intact. I have no reason to believe that he hasn’t run the same race again.
As a result I have the winner running to 116 – a shade below his very best form but a very decent figure for his first start of the year. This level also fits really well with the 3rd and 4th who arrived rated 106 and 105 respectively and in finishing only a head apart would both have run very close to their official marks.
The winner may well stick to 5 furlongs next time out with the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot mentioned as his likeliest next race thereby avoiding a clash with Black Caviar who is probably to be seen in the 6f Diamond Jubilee at the Royal meeting. 
One would imagine that Sole Power would also show up in the King’s Stand and provide one of the biggest threats to Bated Breath again.

Over at York Richard Gust's Dancing Freddy got up by half a length to beat Catfish with just a nose back to Bathwick Bear in third and a further half length to Celerina in fourth. The inner goes up 4lb to 91, the second 2lb to 90 and the third who was 2lb out of the handicap 4lb to 90. Pre race Brian Meehan stated that Catfish had matured physically over the last 10 months and could run a big race, albeit that she could be a little ring rusty.

Finally in the Class 3 Handicap on the same card by the in form Ronald Harris's Powerful Wind who beat Last Bid by 1 1/4 lengths with half a length back to Profile Star in third. The winner has been raised 6lb to 90, the second 2lb to 94 and the third 2lb to 80. In behind Pea Shooter dissapointed in finishing 6th and has been dropped 2lb to 85.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Up a bit, down a bit

Well the season is really gettin goin now and at last we are beginning to see the beginings of some reasonable weather so hopefully we can start to pick out some selections with a bit more confidence.

Looking back at this last week we start with a couple of races at Bath on 16th May, nothing out of the ordinary though only Class 5 Handicaps. The first one was won by Valmina by a length from Cheers with a further 1 1/4 lengths back to Whipphound in third. The winner won comfortably and recorded a topspeed figure of 75 and has been raised 6lb to a new mark of 73 and the second moves up 3lb to 66 and both remain capable of better.
The next race up was won by Robert Cowell's Cats Eyes by a length from Welease Bwian, she has been raised 6lb to 68 and the second is up 3lb to 65 for his length beating.

Onto York and on the first day we had the Class 2 Handicap over 6f, the going was good and it was won by Secret Witness by half a length from Baby Strange with 1 1/4 lengths back to Fast Shot in third. The winner looked to win well and he was also out again the following day here and finished second. As a result over the two races he has been raised a total of 11lb and is now on a mark of 105. Derek Shaw's Baby Strange goes up 3lb to 88 and Fast Shot remains on 87. Out the back there were no significant drops New Planet is down 2lb to 98 and Love Delta 4lb to 88.

The Group 2 Duke of York Stakes run over 6f was won by Kevin Ryan's Tiddliwinks, he 's been an in and out sort in the past but the stables sprinters have been doing well so far and this confirms that they are generally in good order.
He beat The Cheka, who has improved for the move to sprint distances, by a head with a neck back to Group 1 winner Society Rock in third. As a result the winner has gone up 12lb to a mark of 112, with the second up 3lb to 111. Bogart in fourth ran well on his first start back but goes up 4lb for this to 110. In behind Sirius Prospect went down 2lb to 107 and Libranno, winner of two Group 3's last season, down 3lb to 109.
Below is the handicappers view of the race.

THE GRAND OLD DUKE OF YORK Last week’s Group 2 six-furlong Duke of York Stakes on the Knavesmire was billed as the battle of North Yorkshire, with the front two in the market, Hoof It and Mayson, expected to battle out the finish enthuses Stewart Copeland.

However, it was their unconsidered fellow ‘Tyke’ Tiddliwinks, trained by Kevin Ryan, who triumphed for the White Rose County instead. Third in last year’s renewal when running to a mark of 108, he showed himself to be better than ever with a head defeat of The Cheka, with a somewhat unlucky-in-running Society Rock a neck further back in third.

In recent times the average winning rating for the Duke Of York has been around 112, and I had to consider whether Tiddliwinks was at least worthy of such a rating. On balance I feel he is for now, which means I took the view also that The Cheka had put up a marginally best career effort. Unexposed at sprint trips, he seems to have relished the drop back to six furlongs this season, and he’s been credited with a mark of 111.
As for Society Rock, he ran a highly creditable first race of the year, recording a mark of 110. I’m happy to leave him at 117, and he’ll head for his favourite stomping ground of Ascot in an attempt to repeat his Golden Jubilee success at the Royal meeting. However, looking ahead to that race, on this evidence they’ll all be fighting for second place if a peak form Black Caviar turns up. The brilliant mare is currently rated 132, which puts into stark perspective the gulf between her and the pick of the home contingent.

Going back to the two favourites, a line can be put through Mayson’s disappointing run, having got upset at the stalls; he was reported to be never travelling. He remains on 110, and having been such a progressive sort this year, hopefully he’ll put this quickly behind him. Hoof It also remains on his current rating of 118, though he only ran to 101 in finishing fifth. It was a somewhat sluggish start to his season, from some way out he was clearly struggling to go the pace and never looking like landing a blow. He was subsequently reported to be coughing though, and it’s far too soon to be writing him off.

On Thursday 17th May Pearl Secret reappeared in the Class 2 Conditions Stakes over 5f were he won impressively by 1 1/2 lengths from Ponty Acclaim and he looks capable of winning in the very best of company in due course. He has been raised 7lb to 108 and David Barron said afterwards "That was a good performance, as he was having to go and beat horses who were quickening up in front of him".

David Elsworth's Swiss Spirit won a Listed race at Newbury on Friday 18th May beating Lethal Force by a neck over 6f on his sixth start. The race had been won by some decent sorts in the past and the winner is certainly capable of following in their hoofprints. He had run well at Newmarket last time and David Elsworth said afterwards " We thought he´d progress and he´ll come on again for this. I would think the Jersey is a good target".

At Newcastle on the same day Pivotal Prospect won the Class 5 fillies handicap over 5f by 3 1/4 lengths from Untold Melody with 2 lengths back to Sally's Swansong back in third. She was running from 9lb out of the handicap and as a result the handicapper took this into account and raised her a total of 22lb for her win to a mark of 76. This was only her sixth start and she can progress further.

At Newbury on 19th May Palace Moon won the Class 2 handicap over 6f by a head from Pabusar with 3 1/4 lengths back to Pabusar. The winner was running on his favoured surface as all the progeny of this family have done well on an easy surface in the past, as a result he has been raised 6lb to 106. The second has gone up 4lb to 104 and the third is down 1lb to 98. In behind there were drops for Bertiewhittle, whose trainer was expecting a good run here, down 2lb to 89 and Sohraab 2lb to 88.

Later in the afternoon at Newmarket Mince (811221) made up for his unlucky run last time and beat Bartolemue by a head in the Class 2 CoralChampionsClub.Co.Uk Sprint Trophy Handicap over 6f with a nose back to Top Cop (Desert Law was just beaten in the same race last season). The winner has been raised 4lb to 95, the second 3lb to 92, the third 3lb to 93 and the fourth and Fifth Rafeej and Tioman Island up a 1lb to 88 and 93 respectively. Democretes finished a running on 8th and pre race Hannon was saying that he will want a mile in time. It was another win for horses with a mark in the 90's in this.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Up a bit, down a bit - 20th May 2012

This week I will start with the 3yo Al Rayan handicap run at Newmarket on 5th May 2012 which I missed out last week but as Mince won off his 6lb higher mark yesterday I thought I best revisit it.

That race was run in a time of 1m 16.03s on going officially described as Good to Soft, the winner was Robert Eddery's Red Clubs colt Red Quartet who beat Mince by half a length, who was considered to be a little unlucky, with 2 lengths back to Hannon's Democretes. Red Quartet has gone up 7lb to a mark of 88, whilst Mince went up 6lb to a mark of 91. The third went up 1lb to 88 and the 4th Richard Fahey's Personal Touch, who was 4lb out of the handicap, went up 5lb to 87. Robert Eddery said after the race of Red Quartet "He ran well over seven at Newbury last time and I knew he´d be more effective over six here. I would hope he could go to Royal Ascot".
Mince had previously been beaten just a nose by Ballesteros at Haydock last October when Ballesteros was rated 88 and Mince 76. Ballesteros has won twice already this season off marks of 93 at Sandown, when beating Bear Behind by a neck, and 99 at Chester, when beating Sonko by 2 1/2 lengths. Bear Behind is 20/1 for the Dash at Epsom and is rated 104 for which Ballesteros, who is now rated 107 is 12/1.
Hurry Up George was rated 99 for this and was therefore carrying 17lbs more than Mince, he managed to finish 5th.

On Sunday 6th May Maarek won the Class 2 Qatar Racing Handicap over 6f at Newmarket by a neck from Charles Hills Shropshire, with topweight Colonel Mak and Parisian Pyramid in third and fourth. The second has been raised 5lb to 95, the third 1lb to 105 and the 4th remains on 91. The going was slightly better than the day before according to the "going stick" but the time of the race was exactly 2 seconds faster so should be form to follow.
Pre race David Nagle, trianer of Maarek had said "He's in good old order over here and though this is the highest calibre race he's run in he's an improving sprinter. With an ease in the ground he wont be far away, so were hopeful the few showers that are forecast will come".
Charles Hills said on his website "Shropshire couldn't have done anymore and was just nosed out of it in the 6f handicap. Hopefully he won't be too harsly treated for this effort and we could have lots of fun with him this season" - he has since run a stinker at York off his old mark of 90 ? who knows what happened there.
In behind there were notable drops for Fathsta 2lb to 88(won off 102 and 94 and trianer thinks he can be competitive off new mark), Bathwick Bear 3lb to 87 and Victoire De Lyphar 3lb to 92.

On Monday 7th May Bryan Smarts Exceedance won by 5 lengths at Kempton and in doing so broke the 5f track record off a mark of 79, he has now been raised 14lb to 83. In doing so he recorded a topspeed figure of 97, so in theory is still well ahead of the handicapper on his new mark. The trainer commented recently in his stable interview for the weekender "He ran in three good races last year winning the third of them. I have been very happy with him over the winter and wasn't in the slightest suprised to see him win on his return to action at Kempton on Monday. He bolted up by 5 lengths and smashed the track record in the process. I couldn't tell you what we will do next as the handicapper will determine that when he reasseses him. I a very pleased with him and hope we can go on from there as he is an exciting prospect".

Tioman Pearl for Roger Varian was another to record a 5 length win at Windsor on the same day, beating Courtland Avenue in the process. The handicapper once a gain took a dim view as he has been raised a whopping 18lb but he was 4.98 seconds outside standard so was that justified compared to Exceedance ?.....only time will tell.

At Chester on 8th May Confessional took advantage of his good draw to win by 3/4 of a length from Foxy Music and has been raised 6lb to 101. He may be entered in the Temple Stakes and will probably run in the Epsom Dash again in which he was second last year off a 10 lb lower mark for which he is 12/1. The time of the race was 0.71 secs faster than the following Conditions Stakes won by 102 rated Duchess Dora by 3/4 of a length from 105 rated Borderlescott, so Confessional could well have improved now he is a 5yo. Dickies Lad had a rough race so remains one to look out for.

At Kempton on 9th May Larwood was out to see if he could follow up his impressive performance a few weeks back but it never looked on the cards from the start and remains to be seen if he was a one race wonder. The winner Priceless Jewel by Selkirk looks to be decent and she beat Safari Sunseeker by half a length and has been raised 6lb to 87 and Roger Charlton commented afterwards" I´m really pleased. It was a bit tight for Priceless Jewel and she would have learnt plenty, as she made all when she won at Newbury last year. George [Baker] didn´t have to get too serious with her and we´ll see what the handicapper does. There are somevaluable handicaps over 6f coming up and we will think about it. She´s a very nice filly". This was only her third start so she looks open to plenty of improvement.

As we mentioned above Ballesteros won at Chester on Friday 11th May beating Sonko by 2 1/2 lengths and as a result has been raised 8lb to 107 and looks set to continue to improve up to Group class as the season progresses, but may be ground dependant.

The Victoria Cup although a race over 7f has plenty of the sprinting brigade stepping up to try and win the big pot on offer. This years race was won by Brian Ellisons Global Village who pre race said that he would be better suited by the trip and ground than the mile at Newbury which stretched him. He beat Elsworths Bonnie Brae 3/4 of a length and Elsworth has commented several times this season that his horses are behind......but they keep popping up in decent races. King of Jazz, not his ground, was third and a veteran of this type of race Brae Hill, who his trainer said pre race that he still hadnt completely come in his coat, was fourth.
The winner has gone up 8lb to 96, the second, from whom there should be more progress to come, 4lb to 100, the third 1lb to 98 and the fourth remains on 99.
In behind there were drops for Mabait 2lb to 95, whose trainer says he is slowly becoming well handicapped but didnt like the ground and Nasri 3lb to 92(ran several good races last season off higher marks).

At Haydock on the same afternoon Our Jonathan continued his rise up the ladder by taking the Class 2 Conditions Stakes by 3/4 of a length from Regal Parade. Swiss Dream won the fillies Listed Race at Nottingham beating Sioux Rising by a length with Ladies are Forever in third. The winner has been raised 4lb to 103, the second 3lb to 100 and the third remains on 108.

Hallelujah !, its Sunday !

The Class 3 6f Handicap for fillies at Ripon this afternoon sees Hallelujah return to the track to see if she can maintain her 100% record to date. She is up against Pearl Blue from whom she receives 5lb, however she has already had two races to date this season so has race fitness advantage. The going is currently Good to Soft, soft in places but it is a drying day.
It promises to be close between the two and the Fanshawe stable commented on their website "HALLELUJAH is a powerful filly who has won both her two starts. She was one of the last fillies to come back in and will stick to sprinting and appreciates a cut in the ground. Hopefully she will be running at the begining of June" and in the Racing Post Weekender stable interview "She has raced twice and won twice and is a really nice filly. She really improved from her first run to her second run but then she had to have some time off. She’s a strong, attractive sprinting filly and has a really good temperament. She just wants a bit of sun to really thrive. I’ve heard some people say that’s nonsense but if you saw how some of these fillies improved for better, warmer weather you’d see that it is important. She’ll be out when that comes along".

In respect of Pearl Blue Chris Wall commented on his website on 1st May 2012 "I was very pleased with PEARL BLUE’s effort in the 5f handicap. Badly drawn and on ground that was also too quick for her, she did very well to finish a close 5th. She has subsequently stepped up on that effort when running out a ready winner at Doncaster last Friday. The ground conditions were in her favour on that occasion and she was very brave when sticking her neck out in the final 100 yards to run out a ½ length winner under another well-judged ride from George Baker".

Although Pearl Blue has the fitness edge I'm drawn to the Trainer and Jockey combination of Hallelujah and she clearly has no problems winning first time up so that's who I will be going with today.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

York, York, York !

Some top quality sprint races at York tomorrow with the main event being the Group 2 Duke of York Totepool Stakes over 6f.
The obvious fav Hoof It (4/1) returns after 256 days and he has a very good chance of winning having been unlucky not to win the Group 1 Haydock Sprint Cup, Ryan Moore takes over from Fallon and the only problems I can see is whether this big brute of a horse is ready to go first time up and whether his draw in stall 11 is on the wrong side of the group.
The one to take advantage if he isnt is Mayson (9/2) in stall 2 who has shown improved form this season and he must be thereabouts again in what is a sub standard field for a race of this type.
Society Rock (8/1) is well drawn too and Fallon gets the ride on this winner of the Golden Jubilee last season.

The Class 2 Handicap at 2.00 sees the return of the very promising York Glory from the Kevin Ryan stable, he was unlucky not to win the Portland at Doncaster last season and had he done so he would have won three on the bounce. He was 8/1 about 4pm today and he has since been backed and is now in to 15/2 and 7/1 in places. He is well drawn in stall 5 and the drying ground will be in his favour.
Waffle (18/1) could be an ew contender as he is drawn in stall 7 and this is the sort of big field he likes to weave through late on and he doesnt have a Deacon Blues to beat in this. Finally Silvestre De Sousa is a good booking for Barnet Fair who showed up in a lot of good 3yo races last season.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Up a bit, down a bit - 10th May 2012

We start off this week by looking back at what happened the week before because I took a little time out last week in the Lake District.

On the 23rd April at Pontefract Seal Rock beat Mirza by a length over 6f in the Class 2 handicap with the veteran Tajneed back in third. With the gorund being so soft its hard to know what to make of any form at the moment and it's going to be difficult picking winners over the following weeks. In behind there were drops in the handicap for Nicholls Victoire De Lyphar down 4lb to 95, Wildcat Wizard down 3lb to 85 and Nasri down 2lb to 95. Nicholls has said that none of his are firing at the moment and we will just have to wait until he comes into form but in the meantime watch their handicap marks get reduced.
At Epsom on 25th April it was heavy going and the fast 5f Class 3 handicap was won by Cadeaux Pearl by a length from Taajub with Taurus Twins a further length back in third. The winner was raised 7lb to 90 and recorded a topspeed figure of 89 in the process, whilst the second was raised 3lb to 92 and recorded a topspeed figure of 92 from his poor draw in stall 1. Certainly the second, if he gets a better draw, could be capable of a good show in the dash in June.
At Kempton on the AW the 4yo Mon Amie Jolie beat Twice Red by a length and in doing so recorded a topspeed figure of 80 from his handicap mark of 69 and as a result he has been raised 6lb to 75 so should still be ahead of the handicapper.
On the 27th Pearl Secret showed that he is a decent horse in the making by winning Class 3 handicap at Doncaster by 4 1/2 lengths from Lupo D'oro and he now looks set to run in all the big 3yo sprints. The handicapper was certainly impressed as he has been raised 16lb to 101.

This last week started off with Bartolemue winning a Class 4 handicap at Wolverhampton by 3 lengths from Stoute's Pivotal gelding Uprise with a head back to the third Homeward Strut. The winner who is trained by Marco Botti was put up 9lb for this performance and there is every chance he can continue to improve from his new rating of 89. Later in the week his trainer commented "He has ability and won a Lingfield maiden over 7f, although he ran a bit free so we are dropping him back to 6f as he has a lot of natural speed. His rating of 80 looks a fair mark and we wanted to avoid the heavy ground".
At Kempton on 2nd May Gusto took the Listed Pavillion Stakes which was rerouted from Ascot. He managed to do so by 3/4 of a length from Bannock and the handicapper reviewed the race as follows :
The hard work put in by the BHA Racing Department in rearranging Ascot’s flooded off fixture to Kempton saved what turned out to be an above average renewal of the the Blue Square Ascot Pavilion Stakes says Stewart Copeland.

It looked a strong race beforehand as the average winning rating of the race over the last decade has been 106 and three of the field had already surpassed that level beforehand.
Indeed those three fought out the finish with the admirable Gusto trained by Richard Hannon claiming his third Listed success this year and his fourth in total.

The race itself was a somewhat messy affair as a modest early gallop meant a position close to the pace was probably crucial. Gusto was well positioned throughout and despite being headed a furlong out by Bannock, he dug deep and rallied in fine style, coming home just under a length clear of that rival.
Rated 110 going into the race, Gusto’s defeat of the 109 rated Bannock at level weights is worth 111 thus giving a minor adjustment to his rating as I believe Bannock replicated his fine effort of 109 in the European Free Handicap.

However it is worth highlighting the run of the third, Burwaaz, given that little went right for him on the day. Too keen early off the modest pace, he then suffered trouble in running in the straight, before finishing strongly into third.

It was an even more meritorious performance when you consider that the bit slipped through his mouth which hardly helped his cause.

Burwaaz was rated 109 after some excellent efforts in Pattern Races as a two year old. Although his performance at Kempton was only 104, he looks sure to be capable of 109 or better later in the season. As for Gusto he is reportedly being aimed at the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot. As he has already shown winning form at 7 furlongs this season, it seems a logical target to aim him at.

At Doncaster on 5th May Farlow got his season back on track by winning the Class 3 handicap over 6f by beating Summerinthecity by half a length with a further half length back to Beckermet. The winner has been raised 3lb to 89 for this and his trainer Ralph Beckett commented since "He had plenty of boot at two and three but was immature and has done well physically from three to four. He didn’t look obviously well handicapped but won at Doncaster on Saturday, where he got a really good tow into the race and was always going to be hard to pass once he got to the front. I’d love to think he would make up into a Wokingham or Stewards’ Cup horse, but he’ll need to win again".
Out the back were Marine Commando and Ginger Ted and both were dropped 2lb apiece to 88 and 83 respectively.
In the maiden beforehand Roger Varian's Shahzan won over the same course and distance in a time o.43 seconds faster than Farlow and he was carrying 12lb more in weight and in doing so recorded a topspeed figure of 90 so it will be interesting to see what mark he is eventually alotted. In second a half length behind was Rae Guests Milika.

Over at Newmarket Mayson continued his rise up the sprinting ranks by taking the Palace House Stakes by 3/4 of a length from the proven mudlark Definightly with Brian Meehan's Elusivity back in third. Going with the latter first he reocrded a topspeed figure of 109 and therefore he has been raised 12lb from 95 to 107 and he can obviuosly hold his own in this company. The winner clocked his best ever effort and he looks open to further improvement having won with a bit in hand. Afterwards Fahey said Today's 5f is a bare minimum for him and he will be back up to 6f from now on. He'll definitely go for the Duke of York and I'll enter him for the July Cup, but he'll have to win at York to go there. But how did he get beat in the Ayr Gold Cup ? I thought he was a certainty there off a mark of 100, but he was probably a bit fresh and it went pear shaped".
Caledonia Lady ran another good race in 6th and once again ran on when meeting the rising ground. Astrophysical Jet is down 3lb to 94, Stepper Point down 2lb to 106 and Jonny Mudball down 3lb to 102.