Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Hide Seeking Win At Sandown

Dragon Mall got away to a decent start for us at the weekend but that was about as good as it got. He was dropped in and ridden just how I expected, but the finishing surge he showed on his previous run was nowhere to be seen. David Simcock's description of him as a frustrating type is an understatement and while he may win races in the future he won't be seeing any more of my hard earned. 
Philip Hide could be smiling at Sandown on Wednesday.
Tomorrow I like the look of one at a nice price at Sandown, and I think Haulani could be set to return to form for Philip Hide in the 10f handicap at 20.10. This well related American bred 3yo is 2 from 6 on turf, both of those wins coming last season. He won his maiden on his third start at Brighton (7f gd/sft) and followed that up with a superb victory on better ground at Salisbury (8f gd) on handicap debut off 73.

Haulani ran a cracking race in a hot class 2 handicap on his penultimate start of last season at Newmarket (8f gd/fm) off 82, beaten just 4L in 4th and shaping as though a step up in trip might suit. He was badly outpaced early on and looked like tailing off at one stage, but he kept on well inside the final furlong and got back up for 4th. He didn’t run badly at Newcastle on his final start of last season when beaten 2.5L at Newcastle (8f) in 3rd off 82.

His first three runs of this season were well below the level he showed last year, but he took a big step back in the right direction at Kempton last time in first time cheek-pieces and a tongue tie (8f). He was again outpaced as they approached the final furlong but he stayed on very well late in the day and just missed out on a place in 5th off a mark of 73.

I think the step up to 10f is going to suit him, and when he tried it earlier this season he was bang out of form so I am putting a line through those runs. The combination of cheek-pieces and tongue tie really sharpened him up last time and he races off the same mark off which he won so easily last season. 

Hector Crouch takes off another 3lb and he has ridden 2 winners and had 3 top 4 finishes from just 11 rides for Philip Hide. The ground will suit, as will the trip in my opinion, and at odds of 20/1 I think Haulani has a good each way chance in an admittedly competitive looking handicap.


Friday, 14 July 2017

Don’t Discount The Dragon At York

Top Boy ran an absolute stormer for us at Newmarket on Thursday and he was given a peach of a ride by Franny Norton. I couldn’t believe that odds of 66/1 were widely available in the run up to the race and he was eventually sent off at 33s. He was held up as per usual, and as they headed into the final furlong few travelled better.

It looked as though Franny had timed his challenge to perfection but unfortunately Shamson did him in the last 50 yards. Top Boy is one of my favourite horses in training and he is a credit to his trainer Derek Shaw. Hopefully he gets his head back in front sooner rather than later. Saturday’s selection goes in the John Smith’s Cup at York, and I am keeping the faith with Dragon Mall for David Simcock and Stevie Donohue.
David Simcock had a 20/1 winner at York on Friday.
I tipped this fella up last time at Royal Ascot where he completely missed the break for Josephine Gordon. He was detached and looked a hopeless cause as they turned for home, but amazingly he was only beaten 3.5L for the win despite also finding a bit of trouble in running. He was only a neck behind Muntazah and that horse ran a cracker at Sandown last weekend. It was an extraordinary effort seeing as he must have lost at least 15 lengths at the start and if he gets away better this time it could be his day.

The 4yo son of Blame is admittedly a hard horse to win with and his antics at the start have cost him quite a few times. He has won just one of his 14 career starts, a mile class 2 contest on the all weather at Chelmsford, but he has shown on more than one occasion that he is a talented horse. He races off a mark of 101 tomorrow, the same rating as last time, and he is 5lb better off with the winner at Ascot, Snoano.

His Newmarket based trainer David Simcock does well on his trips to Yorkshire and he teamed up with Stevie Donohue with 20/1 Listed winner Mystic Dawn on Friday. Simcock has decided to try eye shields and blinkers on Dragon Mall tomorrow and hopefully that makes him a bit more alert from the gates. He is drawn out in the car park in stall 21, but he is a hold up sort in any case so Donohue will drop him in and produce him late. Stakes should be kept small enough with this one given his quirky nature, but if things go his way then Dragon Mall could make a mockery of his odds of 25/1.


Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Boy Could Be Top Gun Back At Newmarket

I somehow managed to pick out another non-runner in Go Bananas earlier this week and I am making a habit of it at this stage. It is very frustrating, but such is life and these things happen. Seemingly she didn’t eat up, and better that she be withdrawn than run and not be at her best. Tomorrow I am backing an old favourite of mine at a monstrous price at Newmarket, but don’t worry, my reasoning is far from sentimental.
Top Boy winning at York (far right).
Top Boy is a horse that owes me nothing having landed a massive touch for me at York a couple of years ago. It is hard believe that he hasn’t managed to get his head back in front on grass since, but he has more than paid his way on the all weather for his ultra shrewd handler Derek Shaw. He loves it around Chelmsford and has won there on three occasions, but a couple of his best turf efforts since that York win have come on the July course at Newmarket.

Now off a turf mark of 81, he gets to race off a lovely weight there on Thursday in the 5f John Deere Handicap at 16.35. His last run over this course and distance came last July and he ran a cracker to be 3rd behind Soie De Leau and Primrose Valley off a mark of 79, beaten just over a length. In July 2015 he dead heated for 2nd over this c&d off 84, beaten a head when not getting the clearest of passages. Earlier in June 2015 he was only beaten a length by Humidor, again off 84, so off a mark of 81 he looks well capable of getting involved tomorrow.

He had his first turf run for some time at Doncaster (6f) 12 days ago off 82, and he may have finished 6th but he wasn’t beaten far at all and it was a very good run over a trip he has yet to win at. He has been dropped a pound for that run and he will be suited by the return to 5f at Newmarket. Franny Norton takes over in the saddle and he was an unlucky 3rd on Top Boy at York a couple of years back so he knows the horse well.

He has 2 wins and 2 places from just 6 rides for Shaw this season, and when he is booked for this yard they usually mean business. Top Boy is suited by a strong pace at this trip and with 16 sprinters going to post the race should be run to suit him. He has run well on his last three visits to the July course, he is 6lb below the mark off which he last won on turf and at odds of 40/1 surely he has to be worth chancing for small stakes e/w.


Tuesday, 11 July 2017

7f Could Suit Meehan’s Filly At Brighton

Havre de Paix was unfortunately a non runner at the weekend with David Menuisier deeming the ground to be unsuitably quick. She is entered in the Bunbury Cup and the consolation race this weekend and if there is a bit of juice in the ground she remains of interest. Another trainer that has his string in superb form at the moment is Brian Meehan, and I can’t let his only runner of the day go unbacked at a huge price in the 17.45 at Brighton on Tuesday.
Brian Meehan's horses are flying.
Go Bananas was last sighted finishing well down the field in the 6f Group 2 Queen Mary at Ascot, beating just one horse home and beaten just over 15L. She had previously run a poor race on the all weather at Lingfield when slowly away over 6f, but her debut at Bath over 5.5f wasn’t totally devoid of promise when she stayed on late for 4th after a very slow start. She shaped as if further would suit that day, and she steps up to 7f today.

This daughter of Bahamian Bounty has a very nice pedigree and she is bred to stay at least 7f. She is the first foal of a half sister to a 7f, 10f and 12f winner who had placed form in Group company and she had another half brother that was a 103 rated 7f and 8f winner. The signals from her pedigree suggest that 7f should suit, and so does that debut effort.

Her trainer Brian Meehan couldn’t be in much better form at the moment and of his last 13 runners 4 have won and 5 have placed. He may have only had 2 winners at Brighton in the past 5 seasons from 17 runners but that doesn’t tell the whole story.  Of those 17 runners, another 11 have finished in the top 4 so that makes for a frame hitting strike rate of over 75%.

It is interesting that Meehan hasn’t decided to go down the handicap route with Go Bananas as she has been handed an opening mark of 62. He must believe that she has the ability to win a novice or a maiden, and he has found a weak looking contest for her. There isn’t much form to shout about in the race, and with Jordan Uys claiming 7lb she gets 12lb from her male rivals and 7lb from the other fillies in the race. I think Go Bananas could go well from a favourable draw in stall 6 once she gets away on terms and at odds of 28/1 she is worth chancing for small stakes e/w.


Thursday, 6 July 2017

Havre A Bit Of This At Doncaster

I am afraid Elzaa didn’t try a yard at Gowran on Tuesday and I knew after a furlong that our goose was cooked. She raced way more prominently than usual and it was no surprise to see her fall away in the closing stages. She is best when held up but obviously Tuesday wasn’t the plan if the tactics that were employed were anything to go by. To add injury to insult McAllister had a winner the following night with Bien Chase at Fairyhouse. Racing really tests the patience at times, and this week is a good example.
David Menuisier's horses are coming back into form.
Still, I will soldier on and I am convinced that once the tide turns the winners will flow. Hopefully our luck changes with Friday’s fancy, a 33/1 shot who comes from a yard that is returning from a very quiet spell. Regular readers will be aware of the high regard in which I hold French born trainer David Menuisier, and I remain convinced that his stable star Contrapposto has a big day in him after a couple of woeful efforts earlier this season.

I don’t have a line into the yard, but Menuisier has had very few runners in the last couple of months and that would suggest that perhaps his horses haven’t been healthy. He had no runner from the 20th of May until the 1st of July, but the break seems to have worked the oracle as both horses that have run since have gone close. Kevin Stott was beaten just half a length on Havre De Paix’s half brother Corpus Chorister last week and Pat Dobbs will be kicking himself for getting beat by the same distance on Thundering Blue at Epsom on Thursday night.

Meunisier’s string are obviously over whatever was ailing them and he has a trio of runners tomorrow that all look to have live chances. Stott has been booked to ride Havre De Paix in a rated race at Doncaster and the 5yo daughter of Le Havre looks a big price at 33/1 in an open looking heat. This mare is officially rated 90, and with a 3lb sex allowance she looks well treated getting weight from all of her male rivals.

She was actually rated as high as 97 after a cracking effort in a Listed heat at Chantilly last October (9f soft) but a couple of well below par efforts back in April and May of this year saw her rating fall to 90. Her sole win came in a Chelmsford maiden (8f) in March of last year on her seasonal comeback, and she has shown her very best form at around 8f or 9f on easy ground. However, she was beaten just half a length in a decent Newmarket maiden on debut (7f gd/fm) so she won’t mind the ground at Doncaster and her half brother is a quick ground winner too.

She is a mare that is at her best when able to dictate and I am hoping that she bounces out of stall 7 and is sent straight to the front by Kevin Stott. Sun Lover is another possible front runner but he was held up last time so hopefully he is again and Havre De Paix gets a soft lead. If she does I think she will make a very bold bid, and with her stamina guaranteed she could be hard to peg back if she poaches a lead of a few lengths before they head into the last couple of furlongs. Menuisier will be keen to get a winner on the board after his quiet spell and at odds of 33/1 hopefully Havre De Paix can end the drought.


Monday, 3 July 2017

Elzaa To Relish Return To Gowran

Staff College was withdrawn by Henry Spiller on account of the ground at Newmarket, and it seems he is biding his time for a sounder surface. He holds another couple of entries for this week, so keep an eye out for him. If he repeats the form of that 2yo run in France on decent ground he will be well up to making a big impact off his opening mark of 80.
Socks Madden can claim 5lb and it could be crucial.
I am off to Gowran tomorrow for their twilight card and hopefully the rain steers clear. There are showers forecast but it is unlikely that conditions will soften too much. The one I am interested in won’t give a monkeys what the weather does, and I think Elzaa looks way overpriced in the 20.30 for Adrian McAllister and Socks Madden.

This 3yo filly showed little in four starts last season as a 2yo, but she has displayed a fair bit of potential on two of her last four starts this season. The first glimmer of ability came when she was 3rd at Gowran back in April off a mark of 51 on handicap debut for her former handler Lady Jane Gillespie, who sadly passed away after a brave battle with a prolonged illness earlier this year.

Elzaa is now in the care of another Northern Ireland based trainer, Adrian McAllister. This is the Antrim based handler’s first season and he has already sent out a winner from just 7 runners. He has his string in good form at the moment, and he has rattled the cross bar with his last two runners. Elzaa was well beaten for him on her first run in a 10f Curragh maiden, but she showed a whole lot more last time back in handicap company at Leopardstown.

She was outpaced early on in that 8f good to firm ground contest off a mark of 53, but she stayed on strongly in the last couple of furlongs behind the well treated winner. She just missed out on a place for Tom Madden who was riding for the first time, and he was unable to claim any weight in that apprentice race. Elzaa has been dropped to 52 after that effort and with Madden able to claim 5lb this evening she is effectively 6lb lower than when 4th at Leopardstown.

She could have been drawn a lot worse than stall 7 tonight and in any case, she will probably be held up for a late run so as long as she doesn’t fall out of the stalls she should be fine. The first time cheek-pieces should help sharpen her concentration and on the evidence of her two handicap runs the step up to 9.5f is another cause for optimism. She has course form, she is versatile regarding ground and she has proven she can be competitive off her current mark. Elzaa is well overpriced at odds of 16/1 and she is a confident each way selection.


Friday, 30 June 2017

Spiller’s Charge Looks Overpriced At Newmarket

Sahreej ran a cracking race for us earlier at the Curragh, staying on well for 2nd behind Enter The Red. The 14/1 shot was given a good ride by young Danny Sheehy, and he went on to ride the winner of the next race for Adrian Keatley. He is a claimer with a big future and he is well worth keeping an eye on going forward as plenty of trainers will be looking to utilise his claim, which probably won’t last very long.
Henry Spiller has his string in fine fettle.
Tomorrow is Derby Day at the Curragh and I think Wings Of Eagles is definitely the one to beat. The only worry would be an easy surface but the weather forecast is good and the ground is likely to dry out. He won at Epsom on merit and he can follow up and give Aidan O’Brien yet another Irish Derby win. I also think Champagne Champ has a good each way chance in the Pitmen’s Derby at Newcastle and at odds of 33/1 he should run his usual solid race.

Saturday’s blog selection goes in the 10f handicap at 16.55 at Newmarket and local trainer Henry Spiller fires three bullets at this race. Canterbury Quad and Broughtons Knight wouldn’t be without chances off marks of 77 and 69 respectively, but I think his 80 rated handicap debutant Staff College looks interesting with Jim Crowley booked. This son of Slickly was last sighted 3 months ago finishing down the field on soft ground in France, but his sole run on good to soft was a cracker.

That came in an 8f maiden at Maisons-Laffitte in France and he was beaten less than a length in 3rd. The form of that race has worked out well, and the winner went on to beat a subsequent Group 2 winner before finishing 8th behind Brametot in the French Guineas. The 2nd, just a short head in front of Staff College went close behind a subsequent Group 3 winner next time and the 5th home won next time and has since scored in Listed company.

All that evidence suggests that Staff College should be well capable of making his presence felt here off a mark of 80 and the good to soft ground will suit. His dam is related to quality dual purpose performer Sentry Duty so the step up to 10f is another potential positive. Staff College is the joint highest rated horse in the field, but with the 3yo allowance he gets to race off just 9st 4lbs. The booking of Jim Crowley catches the eye and he finished 4th on his only previous ride for Spiller. I think odds of 16/1 look too big and Staff College is Saturday’s e/w selection.


Keatley Can Strike At The Curragh

Ballinrobe was a complete disaster from a punting perspective with not one of my selections hitting the frame, let alone winning. However, apart from doing my conkers I enjoyed the day and it is a racecourse that I highly recommend paying a visit to. The locals really support the track and it was packed to the rafters on Tuesday evening. I have been to other tracks in Ireland for midweek meetings and I have yet to see crowds like I witnessed at Ballinrobe on Tuesday night.
Adrian Keatley has his string in good nick.
The horse racing powers that be have decided to hold the Derby at The Curragh this weekend, despite the disaster that was the Guineas Festival. The course is in the midst of redevelopment and surely it would have made sense to run the race elsewhere this year with capacity limited to just over 6000. The HRI have stuck to their guns though, and the crowds will have to make do with marquees and mud.

One horse that won’t mind what the weather does this evening is Sahreej, a 4yo son of Zebedee who is trained by local handler Adrian Keatley. This fella loves to get his toe in and I can’t believe his price after a very encouraging run here on bad ground last time. He was staying on strongly at the finish of that 5f contest off a mark of 76 for Gary Carroll and on the evidence of that run the extra furlong tonight should be right up his street.

This horse has yet to win for Adrian Keatley, but he was a heavy ground winner off 83 for Charlie Hills at Newbury as a 2yo. He gets to race off a mark of 74 this evening and crack claimer Danny Sheehy takes off another 7lb so he is effectively racing off 9lb lower than last time when beaten just over 3L. Although the current ground description is yielding there is rain forecast so it could get softer, and at odds of 14/1 I think Sahreej will relish the underfoot conditions and he is a confident each way selection


Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Ballinrobe Selections

I found things really tough at Royal Ascot this year and winners were few and far between. Thankfully Idaho got the job done for us in fine style on the last day, and only for falling out of the stalls I think Dragon Mall would have gone very close to giving Josephine Gordon that elusive Royal Ascot winner earlier on in the day. I am heading to Ballinrobe this evening where torrential rain for most of yesterday has softened the ground considerably. Below are my thoughts on a card that should see mud lovers coming to the fore.
Gary Halpin could go well on All For Nothing later.

Machine Head is the market leader for this 9.5f race and he was a massive eyecatcher last time at Roscommon (10f soft). He didn’t enjoy the clearest of passages but he stayed on really well to grab 2nd once he did find daylight. Declan McDonagh keeps the ride and hopefully he gets more luck than he did aboard Naughty Or Nice at Ascot!

The worry here for me has to be the slight drop in trip, as he gave the impression last time that a step up in distance would suit. However, this is a race that lacks strength in depth and once it isn’t run at a crawl then Machine Head should be good enough to get the job done for Charles O’Brien, a trainer who has had 3 winners and 7 places from 36 runners at Ballinrobe.



I tipped up Boom Or Bush the last day at Gowran and he just about managed to grab 4th after being slowly away and failing to take advantage of the plum draw. He is now 7lb lower then when narrowly beaten on handicap debut on soft at Down Royal, and he has to be considered a big danger here, though he hasn’t got the best of draws.

The one I will be backing at a half decent price is Silk King for Andy McNamara and Seamie Heffernan. Seamie gave Idaho a cracking ride to score for us at Ascot and hopefully he continues in the same vein on this 3yo son of Holy Roman Emperor. Silk King ran a lovely race last time to be 4th on bad ground at Gowran (8f hvy), staying on well late in the day. He will love the ground, he should appreciate the step up in trip and at odds of 12/1 he looks a solid each way bet.



Try Again has been a super horse for connections and has hasn’t finished out of the first two on his last 7 starts. Four of those runs resulted in wins, and he showed he handled soft ground with a cracking effort behind Prove The Point at Leopardstown back in April. He ran well again last time behind Geological at Limerick but he is 6lb higher than for his last win and he has been on the go a long time this season.

At a huge price I think the Ian Madden trained Baby Bellini could run well off a feather weight with decent claimer Sean Davis taking off 4lb. This lightly raced 6yo son of Ivan Denisovich has run a couple of decent races on the flat, none more so than when beaten just over 4L at Leopardstown (10f soft) on his seasonal return off a mark of 64. He is now running off 60 and with Davis’ claim he is 8lb lower than for that encouraging Leopardstown effort. The slight drop back in trip to 9.5f could suit and the cheek pieces return for the first time since Leopardstown. Baby Bellini looks worth chancing each way for small stakes at 28/1.



With only 6 going to post this is a race I will be just watching.


Light That and Prince Charmin are bound to be popular in this 13f handicap after encouraging efforts last time out. Light That ran a lovely race on heavy ground at Gowran but he didn’t give the impression that he was crying out for further. Prince Charmin is another danger and connections are hopeful of a good run this evening. They are both short enough at around 2/1 though, and at a bigger price perhaps All For Nothing can give each way backers a run for their money.

Kevin Prendergast’s son of Bushranger has had just six career starts and he has improved steadily since tackling handicaps. He ran a lovely race last time on good ground at Fairyhouse, staying on well for 6th behind Ben Rumson (12f), beaten a never nearer 5L for Gary Halpin. He races off the same mark of 56 here, and the extra furlong should suit. Soft ground is an unknown, but his dam is related to soft ground scorers and his sire Bushranger’s progeny usually handle cut well. At double figure odds he looks worth chancing each way in an open looking race.



I really fancied Chocolat Noir to run a big race at Navan (13f gd) last time but she wasn’t given much assistance from the saddle. She could only manage 6th, beaten just over 7.5L but she was never in the right position and I am sure Shane Foley would ride her differently on another day.

Colin Keane takes over in the plate and Murtagh has decided to reach for the cheek pieces. She should be fine on the soft ground judging by her 4L defeat at Leopardstown off 73 on handicap debut and she races off just a pound higher here. The daughter of Yeats looks worth giving another chance to and at odds of 4/1 she is the selection in a race where a case can be made for most.



At a big price Nevsky could run well for in form duo Jessica Harrington and Colm O’Donoghue. This 4yo is out of a sire that I must admit I know little about, but this gelding has shown definite promise on his last two outings over shorter at Killarney (8f yld) and the Curragh (10f yld).

He looks sure to benefit from the extra couple of furlongs at Ballinrobe and he is a half-brother to a soft ground winner over jumps in France. High Haven and Powersbomb are both sure to be popular with punters, but I think Nevsky could outrun his odds of 20/1 and he is worth backing e/w for small stakes.


Friday, 23 June 2017

Royal Ascot Day 4 Tips

Day 3 was an unmitigated disaster for us, with not even one of our horses hitting the frame. Nine Below Zero could never land a blow, even after being drawn on the same side as the winner. Tamleek finished well down the field and to add insult to injury his stable mate Benbatl ran out an impressive winner. The saddle slipped on Naughty Or Nice and she trailed in last behind the brilliantly ridden Coronet.
John Gosden could have another good day at Ascot.
I thought Prince Of Arran ran a huge race in the Gold Cup and 2f out it looked as though he might even win before he faded late on. Keyser Soze ran an absolute stinker, while Twin Sail could never recover after getting a bump at the start. The highlight on Day 4 is the Commonwealth Cup and I think Harry Angel looks an absolute good thing. You can read my thoughts on him and on the Queen’s Vase and Albany Stakes by clicking here.

King Edward VII Stakes 

Benbatl franked the form of the Epsom Derby by hosing up yesterday, and perhaps Best Solution can further rubberstamp the form with a big run here. Plenty fancied him to run well at Epsom after a commanding win at Lingfield in the trial but he chased a searing pace set by Douglas McArthur and he simply didn’t get home. I don’t think this race will be run at such a fast pace and that could bring him right into the mix.

His form is amongst the best on offer in this contest and he was far too good for Sir John Lavery at Lingfield. Crystal Ocean stayed on well behind Permian in the Dante and those two are both shorter than Best Solution in the betting. They could still be improving, but I believe that Best Solution will be suited by this smaller field and if he gets his own way up top he could be a tough nut to crack. He is the each way selection at odds of 10/1.


Coronation Stakes

With only 7 going to post I won’t be having an interest in this race. The filly they all have to beat is dual Guineas winner Winter and favourite backers will be praying that she doesn’t do a Churchill. On all known form she wins this, but that is reflected in her price of 1/2. Hydrangea beat Winter earlier on this season but that filly has been firmly put in her place on the two occasions they have raced against each other since. The fly in the ointment could be John Gosden’s filly Dabyah, but this is a race I will just watch.

Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap

The last race on Friday is the Duke Of Edinburgh and it looks a typically competitive renewal with 19 horses going to post. The Queen’s horse Mainstream is the current favourite, but he has been frustrating to follow and his mark keeps rising without him actually getting his head in front. The one I like at a decent price is the John Gosden trained Cape Cova who comes here after a fine effort over 14f off a mark of 101 at Newmarket beaten 1.5L in 3rd by Jaameh.

He is a pound higher here off 102, but the drop back in trip to 12f and the first time visor could spark the bit of improvement needed for him to get his head back in front. This 4yo son of Cape Cross has had 4 starts at 12f and they have yielded form figures of 3131. His 3rd to Prize Money on his last start at this trip at Doncaster (gd/fm) reads particularly well now, as that horse went on to score in a Group 2 at Meydan. He will be ridden quietly and produced late by Tom Queally so he will need luck in running, but if he gets the rub of the green he should be there or thereabouts at odds of 16/1.