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.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Chester May Meeting

Having been away to the lakes for a few days I havent been able to put any posts, I will post and "Up a bit, down a bit" review for this week and last on Friday.

Today sees the start of the Chester May meeting and there are a couple of sprint races which look to be competitive events. I dont think anyone needs to be told that you have to be drawn low here and also have pace in abundance to win and two that have that in the first of the 5f sprint races are Fallasteen and Confessional and they are both well drawn. Fallon looks to be a significant booking for Fallasteen and14/1 is available so he looks to be a decent ew selection.

Later in the aftrenoon another speedster is Noble Storm and he is also well drawn and if he can get to the rail  and the others may struggle to get past.

Tonight Henry Candy's Larwood runs at Kempton and he put up a very good winning performance there last time. Although going up in the ratings he looks to be progressing the right way and his turn of foot will stand him in good stead in any race.