Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Grenade Could Explode Into Life At Hamilton

Yesterday's selection Desert Apostle ran respectably enough to finish sixth, but to be honest when I checked her odds at lunchtime and saw 50s and 66s available I feared the worst. Hopefully today's selection, which comes from the lucky last at Hamilton Park, can make amends.
Grenade, trained by Pat Holmes, is a well bred son of Paco Boy who was trained as a 2yo by Richard Hannon. He is a half brother to the useful Forgive, as well as being related to multiple winners Right Touch and Lokis Revenge. This lad has yet to get his head in front, but he did run a few decent races in maidens at 6F and 7F last year. He shaped as if a drop in trip would suit on more than one occasion,  and was allocated an initial handicap mark of 72. He ran an extremely disappointing race on his handicap debut last October at Newbury on soft ground (6F), and was subsequently sold out of the Hannon yard for 9,000 Guineas.
He started off his 3yo campaign with Pat Holmes over 6F at Ripon and ran a respectable race at odds of 50/1 to finish 4th of 9 off a mark of 65. He was finally dropped in trip on his next run, and though the record books show that he finished down the field in 7th, there was more to that run than first meets the eye. He was waited with, and his jockey tried to go for the brave man's route up the inner, where he got completely chopped off when just starting to get into the race. Now I'm not suggesting he would have won, but he certainly would have finished closer with a clear run, and that effort came off a mark of 63.
His next run saw him stepped back up to 6F, and he admittedly ran a stinker trailing in at the rear of the field. It was on good to firm ground though, and all his best runs have come on good or softer, conditions he will get today. Last time out  he returned to some sort of form over this course and distance, keeping on well down the centre of the track to take 5th, beaten less than three lengths.
He races off a further reduced mark today, the handicapper deciding to drop him another 2lbs down to a lowly mark of 55. With regular partner Neil Farley also taking off another useful 3lbs, Grenade has certainly been given a chance at the weights.
His trainer's record at Hamilton over the last five seasons is rather impressive too, with six winners from only twenty two runners, for a tasty level stakes profit to a £1 stake of  £23.50. The combination of his trainer's strike rate and the clear promise this horse has shown on his couple of runs over the minimum trip are enough to spark my interest today, and at odds of 16/1 he could well run a big race from a decent draw in Stall 2.

Selection: 5.15 Hamilton-Grenade (each way) 16/1.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Apostle Could Appreciate Return To All Weather

Pleascach didn't disgrace herself in the Pretty Polly on Sunday, but in fairness to the Bolger Filly she didn't get a strong pace to aim at. Diamondsandrubies stayed on bravely to repel the late surge from Legatissimo, and was a deserved winner having led from pillar to post under a well judged ride from Seamie Heffernan. Mutatis Mutandis ran an absolute blinder having lost many lengths at the beginning of the race, and proved that she is deserving of her place at the top table. She should have no problem picking up a Group Race later on this season provided she doesn't make a habit of blowing the start.
We come back down to earth with a bang on Monday, where the fare on offer is of a much lower quality than what was on over the weekend. Today's selection is a horse that has yet to trouble the judge after eight starts,but I believe there is reason for optimism regarding Desert Apostle's prospects today.
 She hails from a yard that readers of this blog will now be familiar with, and represents the same connections as Top Boy, who has gone close for us on a couple of occasions this year. 
This 3yo filly is a daughter of Tagula, and is a half sister to prolific winner Dynamo Walt, whose six victories for the Shaw yard include three at Wolverhampton. She has plenty more winning half siblings too, including the Group 3 and Listed placed Samhari. Her pedigree suggests that there will be better to come at some stage, and I believe a return to Wolverhampton and the step back up to 6F could work the oracle. 
Four of her runs so far have come at Wolves, and three of those came over the minimum trip of 5F. It was the last of those runs that sparked my interest in this filly, when she finished a never nearer fourth off a mark of 47, pushed along and slightly outpaced early doors, before staying on reasonably encouragingly in the closing stages without ever really threatening the leaders beaten less than four lengths.
That run came in February, and she was put away for a couple of months before being given a couple of quick runs on the turf at Lingfield (6F) and Nottingham (5F) at the tail end of May. She didn't show much on either start admittedly, but they should have put her spot on for the return to the scene of the best run of her career so far. It will be disappointing if she can't make an impact over 6F off a rock bottom mark of 45, and at her current odds of 25/1 she could reward each way supporters. 

Selection: 2.15 Wolverhampton: Desert Apostle (25/1) each way. 

Pleascach To Plunder Pretty Polly For Bolger

Jack Hobbs won the Irish Derby yesterday with the minimum of fuss, and confirmed the strength of the Epsom form in no uncertain terms. I'm sure Aidan O'Brien will be doubly determined to reclaim the crown next year, as much as Godolphin will be desperate to retain it. Master Carpenter was declared a non runner, but he is one to keep an eye on  later in the season, especially when the weather decides to come in his favour.
Today's feature at The Curragh is the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes, for the fillies and mares, and it has attracted a star studded field. English raiders have tasted success on five of the last seven runnings of the race, and they send a three pronged attack to try and make it six from eight. Secret Gesture and Ribbons are perceived to be the biggest threats by the bookmakers, and are priced up at 10/1 and 7/1 respectively. There is a bit of rain forecast, which would favour Ribbons, and that probably explains why she is a shorter price.
However, of the English trio I believe the value lies with the Ed Walker trained Mutatis Mutandis. who can currently be backed at 40/1. She has looked a different horse this year, and whilst she admittedly is taking a huge step up in class, her trainer thinks the world of her, and she has been supplemented for this race for the princely sum of 25K. Mr Walker has struck form with a vengeance in recent days, and this beautifully bred daughter of Mastercraftsman looks well worth a small saver each way at huge odds on her first crack at Group level.
However, the home team will put up a big fight to keep the Pretty Polly in Ireland this year and the likes of  Legatissimo, the unbeaten Brooch and especially Pleascach will head the Irish challenge. The most likely winner in my eyes is the Bolger filly, who was outbattled over 12F in the Ribblesdale, but had previously looked a serious filly when staying on well off a strong pace to land the Irish Guineas.
Bolger had seemed to have plotted a course that included a tilt at the Irish Derby, and indeed this filly was only taken out of the race very late in the week. This could be regarded as the biggest tip of all as to Pleascach's prospects today, as it seems that the owners realised that Jack Hobbs was a certainty in the Derby and overruled Bolger, who obviously believed Pleascach was worth her place in the field. Instead she tackles what is a much easier race on paper, against her own sex, and also dropping back to 10F, which is also likely to suit. Bolger's highly rated filly Lucida pushed Legatissimo all the way at Newmarket, and if there is confidence behind the Bolger filly in the market it would suggest that Mr.Bolger believes that Pleascach will have the upper hand on the Wachman horse.
Brooch, who has yet to taste defeat in her four runs so far is a bit of an unknown quantity, but Amazing Maria didn't do the strength of the form of her comeback run any harm with an emphatic win at Ascot, putting  useful yardstick Rizeena in her place. Diamondsandrubies, Aidan O'Brien's sole representative in the race, probably has the most attractive pedigree in the field, and was a very unlucky fourth behind Qualify in the Oaks at Epsom. They both should run well but I can't see them troubling the Bolger filly, who is a confident selection to land the spoils at 13/2.

Prediction: 1. Pleascach (13/2)
                   2. Diamondsandrubies(8/1)
                   3. Mutatis Mutandis  (40/1)
                   4. Brooch(5/1)
                   5. Legatissimo (7/4)

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Carpenter Too Big At Windsor

Top Boy (16/1) went close for the blog on Wednesday, and for him to miss out on a place was frustrating to say the least. He ended up being beaten less than a length for the win, and surely his turn is not far away. He is more than capable of winning off his current mark, and with a little more good fortune he will be back in the winners enclosure sooner rather than later.
The big race today is the Irish Derby, and I have already posted my analysis and selection for that race which can be read below. There is plenty of good action on the other side of the Irish Sea this Saturday too, and a horse that looks overpriced is Master Carpenter in the Listed Midsummer Stakes at Windsor (3.20).
Trained by Rod Millman, he was highly tried on his first couple of runs this year, reappearing in the Group 1 Lockinge (8F) and then trying his luck in a Group 3 (7F) at Haydock. He was well beaten in both events, and dropped into handicap company on his last run.
He ran off a mark of 104 over a mile on fast ground at Ayr, and it marked a proper return to form. He was repeatedly denied a clear run from the two furlong pole, and showed a nice turn of foot when he did find daylight about a hundred yards from home to finish 3rd, with seemingly plenty left in the tank.
He is already a winner at both Listed (8F) and Group 3 (9F) level, but  both these triumphs came on easy ground last year. This might be the explanation for his current price of 16/1, as he definitely has the reputation of being a soft ground specialist. I'm not convinced though, as that last run at Ayr came on good to firm and he earned the highest RPR of his career. The conditions will be similar tomorrow at Windsor, and I see no reason why a repeat of his last run won't see him in the shake up. Kodi Bear gets a lot of weight from his rivals and is the current favourite at 15/8. It is his first run of the season though, and if he is not fully tuned up Master Carpenter could be the one to capitalise.

Selection: 3.20 Windsor Master Carpenter (16/1) each way.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Irish Derby Preview

Coolmore and Aidan O'Brien have farmed this race over the past decade, and Jim Bolger is the only trainer to break their stranglehold since 2006 with the ill fated Trading Leather back in 2013. There are eight intended runners at the time of writing, and four of them hail from Ballydoyle. Unusually though the favourite does not hail from those quarters this year, with Jack Hobbs currently odds on for John Gosden and Godolphin after a superb 2nd to Golden Horn in the Epsom equivalent.
Two of the past three years has seen fields of only five horses going to post, and in my opinion the race has lost a lot of the appeal it once had, particularly from a spectators perspective. Last year, of the five total participants O'Brien provided three, and back in 2014 he trained two of the five starters.
For me, diversity is a  massively important element of horse racing, even at the highest level, and having a single trainer responsible for fifty or sixty odd percent of the starters in a race as important and prestigious as the Irish Derby can't be healthy for the future of the event.
With Coolmore owning the most prolific middle distance sires, and Godolphin on a mission to buy up the best of the rest, the chance of a smaller operation breaking the monopoly looks less likely than ever at the present time, and also into the foreseeable future.
This year's heat sees Jack Hobbs heading the market after his excellent second to Golden Horn at Epsom. The Carbon Unit, Giovanni Canaletto, Kilimanjiro and Storm The Stars also all ran at Epsom, and will be looking to turn the tables on the Gosden horse. Storm The Stars got closest of these, and was four lengths behind Jack Hobbs in 3rd, with Giovanni Canaletto a further two lengths back in 4th. Neither horse had any real excuse on the day, and it is difficult to see either of them turning the tables at The Curragh. Perhaps Giovanni Canaletto has more scope to close the gap, seeing as the Derby was only his 2nd run of the season, but even if he does improve it is difficult to see him finding the six lengths required if Jack Hobbs run to form.
Perhaps the most likely challenger to Jack Hobbs is the Ballydoyle trained and Coolmore owned Highland Reel. This horse has had two runs this year, both in France and both on easy ground. His second run was a huge improvement on his first, as he chased home New Bay in the Prix Du Jockey Club (Group 1) at Chantilly over 10.5F, shaping as if the step up to today's trip of 12F would suit. He will be racing on fast ground at The Curragh for the first time this year, barring an unexpected deluge between now and Saturday, and this along with being upped in trip could eke out the required improvement to make the frame.
His Vintage Stakes (Group 2) win came on good to firm ground at Goodwood last year. He is a son of Galileo and has a plethora of excellent middle distance Australian performers in his pedigree on the dam side. Jockey bookings have yet to be confirmed for the O'Brien quartet, which also includes Oaks heroine Qualify, but if Moore opts for Highland Reel I can see his current best price of 6/1 collapsing in no time. At that price he looks a solid e/w bet once 8 runners remain in the field come Saturday evening, and I can see him giving the favourite plenty to think about.

Prediction: 1. Highland Reel.
                   2. Jack Hobbs.
                   3. Storm The Stars.

Swing In Weights To Benefit Top Boy

A good run from Red All Star yesterday to finish runner up at Naas, and he ended up going off a well backed 6/1. It was a pity he got taken on for the lead by the English horse, and if he had been able to dictate at his own pace he may well have had enough left in the tank to repel the challenge of the eventual winner, who it must be said won emphatically in the end.
Today's fancy is a horse I have tipped up before, and I believe he is overpriced again at Newmarket in the 4.20. Top Boy  ran a sound race on easy ground on his last run on turf at Nottingham, and finished a good 2nd to today's favourite Double Up. He races off the same mark of 84 today after running another decent race at Chelmsford, where he raced up with the pace and pulled away his chance early on.
Double Up  on the other hand is eight pounds higher in the handicap, so Top Boy will be in receipt of a whopping twelve pounds from the favourite, as against four last time when only a length and a half separated them at the finish. The Varian horse is 6/4, whereas the Shaw inmate is available at 14/1. With Humidor and Noble Storm in the field a strong pace should ensue, and this should enable Top Boy to settle in his customary fashion at the rear of the field. Hopefully Paddy Mathers can get him covered up, and if he does he should show his smart turn of foot at the business end of the race and hit the frame. .
Some may point to the ground, and say he needs an ease to be seen at his best, but I would tend to disagree. Yes, his best runs at York last year came with slight cut, but he also has form on good/ good to firm ground, and I do not think rain is essential for this gelding to be seen at his best. He is bred to go on it, being a son of Exceed and Excel and out of a dam whose best efforts came on good to firm, and indeed he already has black type form himself on fast ground from his 2yo days, behind Sir Prancealot in a Listed event. I believe it has been circumstance rather than planning that has seen Top Boy encounter easy ground on turf in recent times, and hopefully off his mark of 84 he will prove it today.

Selection: Newmarket 4.20: Top Boy (each way)   14/1

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Martin To Strike At Naas

Gainmill Lady at least showed up well for a long way yesterday, but was well beaten in the end. I was disappointed to see her blasting off in front to be honest, and it seems that the first time blinkers lit her up. I still believe she has the ability to win a race, and she is a horse worth keeping an eye on in the market on her next few outings.
One trainer that has been in superb form in recent weeks is Meath based Pat Martin. I like to keep an eye on his horses, as one or two of them are owned in my local area. He has had a number of winners this month, including one at Ballinrobe last night, and has also had a number of near misses. One of those was in the Gainmill Lady race last night, with Easy Boy claiming a close 3rd under Colin Keane at 40/1. Martin is a trainer that can go without winners for relatively long periods, but when he does get them they usually come at a furious rate and it is for this reason I am interested in Red All Star at Naas tonght.
He goes in the 8.30, and can be backed currently at 11/1. He was fancied to run a big race last time out, but couldn't get to the lead and pulled hard early on before fading in the closing stages.
He returns to the track where he gained the solitary win of his career so far, which came over 6F on fast ground.
He runs over 7F tonight, a trip he has gone close over a couple of times before, and has been dropped a further 3lbs by the handicapper since his last run to a mark of just 67. It will be disappointing if he can't make an impact back at a track he loves tonight and with his trainer in cracking form he looks well worth supporting each way at 11/1.

Selection: 8.30 Naas Red All Star (11/1) e/w

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Possible Improver At Ballinrobe

David Harry Kelly is a trainer I have a lot of respect for. He is well capable of readying one, and he has a filly of interest tonight in the 6.10 at Ballinrobe.
Gainmill Lady has hardly pulled up any trees with her performances so far, and her last effort was particularly disappointing. The handicapper has reacted accordingly though, and she is now 18lbs lower than when making her handicap debut off 63. That was arguably her best run too, and came over 8.5F. She stayed on late in the day, and shaped as if stepping up another couple of furlongs would suit.
She had one more run last year, on soft ground, and bombed out. She reappeared in April at Dundalk over 8f and again looked in need of further, staying on well after being hampered. She got her step up in trip last time out, but the ground turned against her and she unsurprisingly ran a shocker.
Today will be her first go at 10F on good ground, and I believe she will relish conditions. Her pedigree is a head scratcher, as it is full of speed so 10f ought to be too far for her, but sometimes you have to believe what you actually see a horse do, rather than believe what you think it should do on breeding. Hopefully my eyes haven't deceived me, and if they haven't, she is well worth a speculative few quid each way with Powers paying 4 places.

Selection: 6.10 Ballinrobe Gainmill Lady e/w 16/1 (4 places powers)

Friday, 19 June 2015

Royal Ascot Day 5 Preview

A train wreck of a day for the blog yesterday with not us not even managing a place. A couple of the selections lost their races at the start, and the rest were just plain not good enough. Onwards and upwards as the saying goes though, and hopefully we will have better luck on the final day.


A Listed contest to get proceedings under way, and this race has not been a happy hunting ground for favourites in recent years, with just one winning since 2009. Aidan O'Brien was the trainer of that horse, and he supplies the market leader again this time around, with the aptly named Ballydoyle, who is currently a best priced 7/4. Ryan Moore takes the ride and this well bred daughter of Galileo is entitled to maximum respect.
She is a full sister to black type performers Misty For Me (dual Group 1 winner as a 2yo) and Twirl, and her dam is out of a half sister to Fasilyev. She lacks nothing on the pedigree front, and the two horses that have run since finishing ahead of her on debut (6F) have both won since. She finished 4th that day, and shaped as if a step up in trip would suit.
Mick Halford also sends a raider across the Irish Sea, Tonkinese, and he has arguably the strongest piece of form in the race. He was beaten just two lengths by Air Force Blue on debut, and the 2nd and 8th in that race won next time out. Tonkinese, who finished 3rd, also won next time out, and he did it in some style over today's trip on fast ground at Leopardstown.
Of the remainder, Love The Kitten for Wesley Ward ought to appreciate the step up to 7F after being outpaced on both her starts over 4.5F in the States. Simon Crisford has Red Artist for Fergie, and he is very nicely bred, his dam being a half sister to a few very decent types. He could be one for each way backers.
However, Tonkinese has the best form in the book, is nicely bred, and at his current odds of 4/1 he has to rate as the value bet against the O'Brien horse given their respective achievements on the track to date. Red Artist is the dark horse, and could give those at the head of the market something to think about.

Selections: Tonkinese (4/1) win Red Artist (14/1) each way.


Two favourites have won this in the last five years, and in recent times it has been won by useful performers like Gatewood and Rainbow Peak who went onto win races at Group level afterwards. It is an extremely tricky puzzle to solve this year, and finding the winner is a thankless task. Stakes should be kept to a minimum here.
One that I think might run well at a price is  Educate, for Ismail Mohammed and ridden by Adam Kirby. Has been slowly regaining his form this season, and his last run behind The Corsican in a Listed race at Goodwood (10F) was his best of the season so far. He is just a pound higher than for his greatest victory in The Cambridgeshire, and a big field holds no fears.
He will be held up, and is always the case with these sort of runners he will need the gaps to appear at the right times. If he gets the rub of the green Educate could well teach his rivals a lesson.

Selection: Educate (18/1) each way.


This race has been farmed by the Stoute operation in recent years, and he has sent out five of the last ten winners. He fires three bullets this year, and the favourite is last years winner Telescope, who will again be ridden by Ryan Moore.
Eagle Top for Dettori and Gosden head the opposition, and look the most likely to capitalise if the favourite has an off day. Postponed for Cumani and Kirby is the third of the horses at the top of the market, and the only other runner of possible interest is Snow Sky for Stoute, who lowered the colours of Brown Panther over two furlongs further at York last time out.
However, it is difficult to look beyond the favourite Telescope and he is clearly the one they all have to beat.

Selection: Telescope (5/4)


I have written an in depth preview for the feature race and you can find it here http://www.sportismadeforbetting.com/


Another spectacular big field sprint, and a difficult race to try and find the winner in. Richard Fahey and Kevin Ryan have taken the prize up North on the last couple of occasions, and there are a few Northern raiders of interest in the field again today.
Ryan Moore has been booked by Fahey for Tatilsu, which suggests that a big run is expected. He will need a career best to win. Rene Mathis also runs for Fahey, and should appreciate the return to this trip having been campaigned at 7F so far this season.
Watchable is another from up North with obvious claims for the O'Meara yard, and with Spencer in the saddle he could well do some damage.
However, the one I like at a price is a horse with Northern roots that is now trained in Newmarket. Suzi's Connoisseur is an intriguing contender, and showed clear signs of returning to something like his best last time out. He is a Listed winner over this trip on good ground, and also bagged a handicap off a mark of 100 over 7F on heavy ground at Leicester. He is a pound lower today, and he wasn't beaten all that far over 7F here last time, storming into the lead two furlongs out before fading just inside the final furlong. At his current odds of 33/1 he could be one for a few pennies each way.

Selection: Suzi's Connoisssseur (33/1) each way


A trappy enough affair, and no strong  fancy here, Teak is a proven stayer, and is a token selection at 18/1.

Selection: Teak (18/1) each way.

Royal Ascot Day 4

Another decent day yesterday for the blog with the first couple of winners of the meeting for us with Curvy and Time Test. Simenon ran a cracker too, but I was delighted for Galwayman  Graham Lee, who I have long admired and who is one of my favourite jockeys. I'm amazed one of the big money owners haven't snapped him up as a retained rider yet. He is criminally underrated and deserves all the success he gets.
Hopefully there is a winner or two in the preview today.


Another sprint for the fillies to start proceedings on the penultimate day of the meeting, and it is an open race, with Illuminate from the Hannon yard currently a 7/2 favourite. Only one favourite has won in the last five years however, and this year there is a filly at generous odds that looks to have a great chance.
The filly in question is trained by Clive Cox and will be ridden by Oisin Murphy. Our Joy was beaten on her first run, but on reflection that was a more than decent effort given that her conqueror Kassia went on to run with credit behind Acapulco here in the Queen Mary on Wednesday.
That debut run was over 5F, and she would have won if the race was even just 10 yards longer. The step up to 6F should be ideal, her half brother Xtension was 2nd in the Coventry, and at her current odds of 12/1 she looks well worth an each way interest.

Selection: Our Joy (12/1) each way.


Not a good race for favourites in recent years, with only one obliging in the last five renewals. Aidan O'Brien has a surprisingly poor record, with only one winner, which came back in 2004. John Gosden has had plenty of joy, winning two of the last four, with three wins in total. Both yards are represented tomorrow, and they are not without their chances.
Stravagante is the current favourite at 5/2 for Frankie and the Stoute yard. He is an extremely well bred son of Rip Van Winkle with no shortage of black type on the dam side of his pedigree. The trip should be fine, and on the evidence of his last run he is a horse on the up. That was only a handicap though, which he won off 89, so he is taking a huge step up in class today. 5/2 is too short for me,
The one I like most at the current prices is the Godolphin representative Festive Fare, an exceedingly well bred son of Teofilo (what a horse he was!) and out of a half sister to Dilshaan.
Unraced at two, He took a maiden at Lingfield on the all weather on his first start (8F) from a stablemate by the slimmest of margins, before winning in the manner of a useful horse in a handicap at Kempton.
 However he stepped up markedly on those efforts on his next start in the listed Feilden Stakes, chasing home Disegno, Peacock and Golden Horn, who have all run well at Group level since. He has been put away since, obviously with today in mind, and I can see him holding off the challenge from Ballydoyle and giving Charlie Appleby and the boys in blue something to cheer about.

Selection: Festive Fare (5/1)


A new race for this year, and it should be some spectacle. The sight of eighteen of the fastest three year old race horses in the world thundering across the hallowed Ascot turf at breakneck speed will be something to behold and I envy those that will be there at the track to witness it. It is a truly international event, with contenders from Ireland, The UK, France, and The USA.
The current favourite is one of the American contenders, Wesley Ward's speedball Hootenanny, and given that he won at the meeting last year, his trainer is in great form and his jockey, Ryan Moore, is riding out of his skin.it is unsurprising he is favourite. He is currently 7/2 and if you are going to support him do it early, as I can see him being backed off the boards.
The one I like at a price is a filly that hasn't even managed to win this year, but she has shown plenty of ability in her defeats. She was beaten into fifth behind the re-opposing Tiggy Wiggy as a two year old in the Cheveley Park, and ran a lovely race on her seasonal reappearance behind Limato here over today's trip and ground. She was dropped to 5F next time in a listed heat at York, where a slow start put paid to any chance she had, and I'm sure a fair few fingers were burned as she finished a close second at the skinny price of 6/5.
 She is better judged on her second to Limato first time up, and it is interesting to note that Gosden often talked about how big a filly Tendu was as a 2yo, so you would imagine there would be improvement to come this year. She is a full sister to Showcasing, and a half sister to Camacho, so she is defintely bred to be a Group level filly. I think she will fulfil that potential today, and looks well worth backing each way at the generous odds of 14/1.

Selection: Tendu (14/1) each way (4 places most bookies).


A fascinating little race, with only eight fillies going to post and nearly all could have a case made for them. Aidan O'Brien and Coolmore supply the favourite, Found, who can currently be backed at 11/8. With the yard and jockey in scintillating form she is difficult to oppose.
I'm never usually one to shirk a challenge though, particularly when it involves taking on a short priced favourite, and my idea of a filly that has the credentials to give the O'Brien hotpot a fright is the Martyn Meade trained Irish Rookie.He has already sent out Kurland this week to run a cracker in the Queen Mary.
 This filly made her seasonal return, after an unbeaten two race 2yo campaign which included a Listed victory, in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket. She ran a decent race in sixth, but her next run, in the French equivalent, was much more like it. She finished an excellent second to Erveyda, who also runs today. I think this filly is improving, and back on  quicker ground now fully fit she could really make an impact.
She is a beautifully bred, a daughter of  Group 1 winning sire Azamour and out of a half sister to the useful Bravo Echo and Well Dressed. Her grand-dam is a half sister to the 2000 Guineas winner Zafonic, so she lacks nothing on the pedigree front.
 She was originally headed for the French Oaks over 10F last week after her effort at Longchamp, but according to her trainer she has been showing so much speed at home that she was supplemented for this instead. It could prove to be a wise decision.

Selection: Irish Rookie (18/1) each way.


Nineteen go to post in a typical minefield of a handicap. No strong fancy for me here, but one that could run well at silly odds is Peter Hedgers Continuum. He finished in midfield last year, but was only beaten 6 lengths by Arab Spring. Nothing went right for him that day though, he was hampered early on, and with better luck he might have finished even closer.
He ran off 98 that day, was dropped to 96, the same mark as today, and hosed up in the Silver Cup, a Listed handicap, at York. The trip was 14F that day, which proves he has the stamina that will be needed to run well in a race that will most likely be run at a furious pace. Tom Marquand takes off an invaluable 5lbs too, so effectively he races off 91.
He has run with credit on both occasions over this trip at Ascot, including a good fourth to Gatewood in a Listed contest on his 2nd run last year, finishing in close proximity to Pethers Moon and Elidor, with the likes of Harris Tweed and Cap O'Rushes in behind. That looks pretty decent form to me in the context of this race.
He will be dropped in from his wide draw. If they go a furious gallop and the leaders start to wane, don't be too surprised to see Continuum finishing fast. He will need the race run to suit, and the gaps to come at the right time, but if they do and the stars align he is capable of running a big race at 40/1.

Selection: Continuum (40/1) Each Way. (33s Powers 5 places).


No real strong fancy here. Great Glen a token selection to appreciate the step up in trip in a race that does not exactly set the pulse racing.

Selection: Great Glen (10/1)

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Royal Ascot Day 3

Some semblance of pride was restored for the blog on the second day of action, with both Bossy Guest and The Grey Gatsby arguably very unlucky, Rizeena finishing a good 2nd, and both Kurland and American Hope running well too. However, there is no doubt that a winner would have been nice, and hopefully that situation can be rectified on Thursday.


Another two year old sprint to kick off proceedings, and unsurprisingly the top two in the market come from the Hannon yard. Only two favourites have won since 2005 though, so it is a race to tread carefully with. 
Both Hannon horses command respect, but the one that stands out on form is King Of Rooks, who will be ridden by Frankie Dettori. He easily beat Buratino on his last start, and we all saw what he did here in The Coventry. It is no wonder  that the bookies have him priced up at around even money. The big hitters will be steaming in on this one, and he is the one to beat. 
I'm not usually one for tipping up even money shots though, and there is one horse in particular  that is worthy of a second look. This horse is James Given's Jazz Legend, who is a son of Scat Daddy, a sire who is no stranger to success over this course and in this race. Jazz Legend absolutely hosed up on his only run at Haydock, a performance all the more impressive considering it was on easy ground, which he is not bred to appreciate. The bare form looks weak enough, but  he could do no more than beat what was in front of him and his current odds of 20/1 look very attractive. He could easily run into a place as improvement should be forthcoming back on fast ground. 

Selections: Jazz Legend (20/1) each way.


A good race for fancied horses, with three of the last five favourites doing the job for punters. This years good thing looks to be Time Test, and he is a colt that is difficult to oppose.
His form is  solid, and he relished the step up to this trip on his last outing in the London Cup, winning easily off 93. His 2nd to Latharnach at the tail end of last season was given a big boost as well, with that horse finishing second to Gleneagles here on Tuesday.
He is also bred to be extremely smart, being a son of Dubawi and out of Passage Of Time, a super mare in her own right (Group 1 Winner) , and a half sister to Timepiece. This is undoubtedly a big step up in class for him today, but on pedigree and form he should be able to cope and his current price of 9/4 looks fair. The one to beat.
The interesting one at a more generous price is the Stoute horse Disegno. He will be ridden by Ryan Moore, who rode both Time Test and Cape Clear Island on their last starts. He has a piece of form with Derby hero Golden Horn that would give him every chance in this field. The fact Moore chooses him has to count as a positive too given the superb form he has been in this week. At 8/1 he could be the potential fly in the ointment.

Selection: Time Test (9/4) Disegno (8/1) each way (4 places powers).


Having tipped up Pleascach to win the Irish 1000 Guineas, it is difficult for me to oppose her today. Her chance is obvious for all to see, but the bookies have taken no chances in pricing her up at around even money, with some even going a shade of odds on. The only doubt has to be the trip, but her facile win over 10F would suggest she should be fine.
The biggest threat could come from Curvy, who was successful in the Gallinule (Group 3) over 10F, beating Giovanni Canaletto who was subsequently fourth in the Derby. Her half sister has won this race so stamina should not be an issue for this daughter of Galileo. Ryan Moore takes over in the saddle and at 7/1 she definitely represents decent value. If the favourite fluffs her lines Curvy could be the one to capitalise.

Selection: Pleascach (evs) win Curvy (7/1) each way.


Aidan O'Brien has won seven of the last ten runnings of this race, and supplied the winner last year Leading Light. Kingfisher is his sole entry this year, and he deserves plenty of respect given connection's record. However, there are major doubts as to whether this extreme test will suit, as there is a dearth of stamina on his dam side. 9/1 looks a bit skinny to me.
The Dermot Weld horse Forgotten Rules is currently the 3/1 favourite, but there are also doubts about this one on fast ground, a surface he has yet to encounter. The one I like at a price is Simenon for jumps maestro Willie Mullins. This horse has been undoubtedly aimed at this race, having finished 2nd back in 2013 and 4th here last year. He is a previous course and distance winner, he will relish the ground and he has the assistance of James Doyle in the saddle. At his current odds of 12/1 he definitely looks to be the value bet in the race.

Selection: Simenon (12/1) each way.


30 runners go to post, and there are any amount with chances. The one I like each way  is       Emirates Airline for Saeed Bin Suroor, who rarely leaves this meeting without having a winner.
This horse absolutely hacked up in his maiden win at Chelmsford over a mile, and was stepped up in trip to 10F for his handicap debut off the same mark as he has today. He ran with credit that day, and seemed to be beaten more by the trip than by his mark. He pulled hard and travelled well only giving best in the final furlong and going down by a length and a half. The strong pace today should help him settle, and the drop back down to a mile should be ideal too. He sports a hood for the first time too, which could also help him relax better during the race.
Harry Bentley takes the ride and he has ridden plenty of winners for connections in the past. Emirates Airline could be another for him today, and he looks to be well worth supporting each way at 33/1.

Selection: Emirates Airline (33/1) each way (6 places powers)


Another cavalry charge, with 19 horses taking their chances in a wide open race. The one I like each way at a price is Putting Green for the Hannon yard. He has been running over 10F this season, and whilst he hasn't won he has shaped as if a greater test of stamina would suit.
He gets an extra two furlongs today, and young claiming jockey Cam Hardie takes off a valuable 3lbs too allowing him to race off an effective mark of 80. I can see Putting Green flying home late on, and he should make the frame at 20/1.

Selection: Putting Green (20/1) each way.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Royal Ascot Day 2

Confidence has been well and truly dented after a poor day for the blog yesterday. Able Friend was perhaps the biggest let down, and when the cameras showed him sweating up down at the start I knew my goose was cooked. It highlights the importance of waiting until the last possible moment if one is considering having a good bet on a horse, and I won't be making the same mistake again.

Below are my selections and a brief analysis for each race on Day 2 of the meeting. Hopefully they run better than yesterday's picks did!


Favourites have obliged in the last two editions of this race, and interestingly they both had a very similar profile to today's hotpot Ivawood. In fact the last three winners have come here after placed efforts in the Irish 2000 Guineas, and the Hannon trained Ivawood has followed the same path. He also ran with credit in the English version at Newmarket, and on both occasions has shaped as if the drop down to 7F would be ideal.
Both Hannon and his jockey Richard Hughes are extremely bullish about this one's chances, and the two of them have described him as their banker of the meeting. He is currently priced up at 15/8, and is a worthy favourite. It is hard to see him being beaten, but one that might give him something to think about is the Mick Channon inmate Bossy Guest.
He was less than a length behind Ivawood in 4th at Newmarket having been sent off unfancied at 50/1, and crucially he gets 5lbs from the Hannon horse today. If he can repeat that run back down to 7F he must have a big chance. All his wins have come over 6F, but his run in the Guineas suggests that today's trip should be well within his compass. If short priced favourites are not your cup of tea, then Bossy Guest at 9/1 should give you a good run for your money.

Selections: Ivawood (15/8) win Bossy Guest (9/1) each way.


Anthem Alexander obliged for favourite backers last year, but four double priced winners since 2005 show that this can be a tricky puzzle for punters to solve. Acapulco represents Wesley Ward (won this in 2009) and Coolmore with Ryan Moore on board, and he also sends out Bruised Orange who will be ridden by Frankie Dettori. Acapulco is currently shading favouritism at 4/1, and Ward has been bullish all week about this ones chances.
She was well beaten on debut though, and while Ward is adamant that she works like the best sprinter he has ever trained, I would rather see evidence on the course before believing the hype. 4/1 is too short for me and I fancy a couple that could run well at bigger odds.
Kassia is an intriguing contender, and she is bred to be fast, a daughter of Acclamation and half sister to Rufford, who was 2nd in the Mill Reef a couple of years ago. She was a good 2nd to today's rival Besharah (11/2) on her first run, and got her head in front next time out still showing signs of greenness and probably value for more than the final winning distance of a short head. With that experience under her belt, and more improvement possibly to come, I can see her running a good race at 20/1.
Kurland is the other horse that has caught my eye, and hails from the Martyn Meade stable, a yard that has been improving at a rate of knots in the past couple of years. His exploits with Irish Rookie show that he knows what it takes to succeed at this level, and his decision to go straight to Ascot with this filly after a facile maiden victory should be heeded. The form doesn't look overly strong, but she could only beat what was in front of her, and this daughter of Kheleyf could hit the frame today at 14/1.

Selections: Kassia (20/1) each way Kurland (14/1) each way


No really strong view here. Integral looks too short to me, and Rizeena looks the value at 8/1 given her excellent record at the meeting.

Selection: Rizeena (8/1)


As open a renewal as the betting suggests, and difficult to rule out any runner with conviction. The clear form pick on last years exploits is the Grey Gatsby, who lowered the colours of Australia in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown. He also bagged the Prix Du Jockey Club, and a repeat of either of those runs would probably be sufficient today. 13/2 looks a big price to me and he looks almost certain to be in the first three.

Selection: The Grey Gatsby (13/2)


An absolute battle charge and unfortunately I do not have the time for a detailed in depth analysis. Two speculative suggestions are Baraweez each way at 25/1, for Brian Ellison and Colm O' Donoghue, and American Hope, a horse that has run well here in the past in big field handicaps, and could well do so again today. He is also a 25/1 shot for Mike Murphy and Shane Kelly.

Selections: Baraweez (25/1) e/w American Hope (25/1) e/w


A listed handicap for the girls, and another near impossible puzzle for punters to solve. The one I like is Kodiva, for Charlie Hills and ridden by Oisin Murphy. She gets in off a mark of just 91 for her handicap debut, and that looks lenient to me given her strong form last year, which included a good second to Irish Rookie at listed level, who has since gone close in a Group 1 in France. If Hills has her primed for this return she should be well up to making an impact off this sort of mark, and at odds of 20/1 looks worth a little support each way.

Selection: Kodiva (20/1) e/w

Monday, 15 June 2015

Royal Ascot Preview - Day 1


A race that has been won in recent years by equine superstars like Canford Cliffs, Goldikova and Frankel. Favourites have fared well in the race of late, coming out on top in three of the last five runnings, and no winner priced bigger than 15/2 since 2005. Eight go to post in this years renewal, and the trainer of the aforementioned Goldikova, Freddie Head, has the favourite Solow, currently priced up at 6/4.
The race looks to chiefly concern the top three in the market, Solow for France, Able Friend for Hong Kong and Night Of Thunder for the Hannon yard. The vibes have been good for the John Moore trained Hong Kong challenger Able Friend, who has rattled off a six timer since November of last year, including four Group 1s and a Group 2. To give the form some context he had the more than useful Dundonnell five lengths behind in 4th on the third of those runs.
Solow has been equally as prolific, also completing a six timer on his last outing over 9.5F at Longchamp in the Group 1 Prix D'aspahan. His previous win, a four length defeat of reliable yardstick The Grey Gatsby at Meydan was his best run so far. However, the drop back to a mile could be an issue, and he could struggle to cope with out an out milers like Able Friend, and even Night Of Thunder.
The Hannon's horse high point so far came in the 2000 Guineas, when he sprang a 40/1 shock with Fallon on board. He ran with credit on his subsequent starts without managing to win, and his first victory since came on his seasonal reappearance in the Group 1 Lockinge. He is third in the betting at 5/1, and represents solid each way value.
However, the most likely winner in my eyes is the John Moore horse Able Friend. He has recorded the fastest time over a mile by quite a distance in comparison to his competitors today, he should get the quick ground he needs, and the vibes from the yard have been extremely positive. Seemingly he has travelled over well, and is eating and drinking up as normal, which is always good to hear. He has a proper turn of foot, and I fully expect Moreira to swoop late on the 5yo and bring the prize back East.

Prediction- 1. Able Friend
                   2. Night Of Thunder
                   3. Solow


Another race that has proved a happy hunting ground for favourites, with three of the last five obliging. Aidan O'Brien has won two of the last four, seven in total, and has a sole representative, Air Force Blue, this year. Jim Bolger, who won this with Dawn Approach a couple of years ago, trains the favourite Round Two who can currently be backed at 9/4. There is plenty of value to be found in this race, and I have found a horse that could run well at rather rewarding odds.
The one I like is the Johnny Levins trained Black Beach. Last time out he finished 3rd behind Round Two, beaten by  just over 2 lengths and closing the gap all the way to the line. The Bolger horse had the run of the race that day, while Black Beach blew the start, and found himself detached from the rest of the field. He was still three or four lengths out the back with two furlongs to go, so to finish within three lengths of the winner was some feat.
He flew home, and shaped as if six furlongs would be right up his street. With a better start in this race I can see him reversing that form over this trip. Whether that will be good enough to win I'm not sure, but with the Bolger horse 9/4 and the Levins horse 28/1  it doesn't require a degree in astrophysics to realise where the value lies.
Of the remainder I can see the O'Brien horse running a big one. Given O'Brien's record in the race, and the fact that this is his only entry, Air Force Blue warrants respect. He is by the same sire as connections previous winner War Command, and his pedigree is all about speed on the dam side. He is currently available at 8/1 with some firms, and I can see him going off a lot shorter on Tuesday.

Selection: Black Beach (each way) 28/1.


Eddie Lynam and his stable star Sole Power will be going for an unprecedented third win in this race, and with no rain forecast to fall conditions should be ideal for him. He is now an eight year old though, and there are plenty of more youthful challengers that will be trying to wrestle his crown from him.
Sole Power looked as good as ever in March on his last start at this trip when he took a Group 1 sprint in scintillating fashion. Last time out he ran over 6F at The Curragh, a trip that simply doesn't suit him, and on ground that would have been plenty soft enough. His trainer has proved that he knows how to get him in peak condition for this race, and he will go off a worthy favourite. His current odds of 7/2 look fair enough to me and I would love to see him complete the hat trick.
However, given that old father time waits for no man (or horse), it makes sense to have an each way saver on something else in the race at a price, and the horse I think could give Sole Power a fright is one I tipped up on this blog last time he ran, Jim Goldie's gelding Jack Dexter. This horse has won at Group 3 level in the past, but admittedly the very best of his form has come with cut in the ground and over 6F.
He has shown this season though that good ground or the minimum trip holds no fears for him, and he should have won last time out after suffering interference at a crucial time over 5F at Haydock. His trainer said after the race that 'he has been trained as a 5F horse this year' and 'that should put him spot on for the Kings Stand'. I am not surprised that he has targeted the race as Jack Dexter ran a cracker in it last year when he wasn't beaten that far at all after racing up with the pace. I can see him being held onto for longer this year, and he will be produced late by Lynch, in a similar fashion to what Richard Hughes will be trying on Sole Power. It will all depend on whether the gaps appear at the right times, but if they do Jack Dexter must have every chance of running into a place.

Selections: Sole Power(7/2) win, Jack Dexter (25/1) each way.


Pretty straightforward with Gleneagles the one to beat. The French raider, Make Believe, who is a half brother to the outstanding Dubawi Heights, should appreciate the faster ground and looks the most likely one to profit if the favourite has an off day.

Selection: Gleneagles and Make Believe forecast.


A race that has been dominated by National Hunt trainers in recent times, with the Chapple-Hyam yard being the last flat yard to taste success back in 2009. Nicky Henderson, Willie Mullins and Tony Martin are the representatives from the jumping fraternity this year and provide six of the twenty strong field.
However, the horse that interests me hails from a flat yard and will be ridden by the jockey that has been succesful for the past two years in this race. Hardstone is trained by former champion jockey Johnny Murtagh and will be ridden by Fran Berry, a booking that immediately catches the eye. He has been improving with every run, and is now rated 90 having started out off 78. He has twice tasted victory, and he gave the highly rated Weld horse Don Camilo 7lbs and beat him by a length on his return to action this year over 12F. He was stepped up in trip to 15F on his next run, off a mark of 90, and ran a great race off top weight, shaping as if a further step up in trip would suit.
He gets that step up in trip in this race, and at he looks to have a great chance of making the frame in a wide open race. He will only be carrying 8st 13lbs, and will feel like he is running loose after lumbering 9st 10lbs around Leopardstown last time. He looks well worth supporting each way at the rewarding odds of 20/1.

Selection: Hardstone (each way) 20/1.


Another sprint to wrap up proceedings on the first day of the meeting, and this is a race that is prone to throwing up a big priced winner. Only two favourites have won since 2005, and there have been winners in that period ranging from 14/1 all the way up to 100/1.
Wesley Ward won it last year with Hootenanny and he bids for a repeat this year with Ruby Notion, a facile winner on the dirt at Churchill Downs on her only start so far. However she is pretty short at 7/1, and one that could run well at a much bigger price is Aragon Knight.
His form figures of U52 hardly inspire confidence, but there is more to the form than meets the eye. His last run in particular was an excellent effort, and he finished in front of Jersey Breeze, Racquet and Azhar, who all won in good style on their next outings. He still looked to be learning the job that day, and if he can settle better there should be even more to come.
He is currently priced up at 66/1, and I believe he is worth a small speculative each way punt in a race that is as open as they come. His trainer Heather Main might not have many horses, but she can certainly train one, and it would be great to see Aragon Knight put her on the map.

Selection: Aragon Knight (each way) 66/1.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Lady To Live Up to Her Name On The Knavesmire

A very disappointing run from yesterday's selection, but hopefully I have found one to make up for that disappointment today. The horse I like goes in the big sprint at 3.45(York) and is a three year old filly, Explosive Lady, trained by Karl Burke and partnered by Ben Curtis, who has ridden her on four of her five starts so far.
This filly won her maiden on debut in taking fashion over 5F in Nottingham, and her shrewd trainer wasted no time in upping her in trip and class next time out. She ran a cracking race in the Group 3 Princess Margaret at Royal Ascot over 6F, finishing an unlucky 3rd behind Osaila after being denied a clear run at a crucial time. She was then dropped into listed company at Ripon, going down by less than a length to Izzthatright. Mr. Burke is adamant she should have won that day, and blames himself for the defeat having instructed Curtis to ride her differently than usual.
Her next start, the final one of her 2yo campaign, came in a traditionally strong sales race at The Curragh worth 82k to the winner, and she ran another superb race in 2nd, with Realtra just behind her in 3rd, a horse that has since won a handicap off 93. There was 29 runners in that race, and she showed that the hurly burly of a big field holds no fears for her, which is very important in the context of today's race.
She was reported to have badly needed the run on her reappearance this season, and yet she still managed to finish a creditable 3rd in a Listed event at Haydock. She has been allocated a mark of 95 for her handicap debut today, and I feel this may underestimate her abilities. Mr.Burke agrees, and hopes 'for a good run off 95 as I feel she's a good bit better than that'.
She is drawn in stall 17 today, and whilst this may be a hindrance there are winners that have come from similar draws in the past so it is not the end of the world. The Martyn Meade colt Scalzo looks like he could be pretty special, but he has it all to prove and today will be the toughest test of his short career. He is priced up at around 3/1, whereas Explosive Lady is available to back at 18/1.
 Given that the Burke filly's form stands up to scrutiny, she has experience of big fields and is fancied to run well by her trainer, I think she has to be worth an interest each way, especially with a number of bookmakers offering 1/4 the odds for the first 5 home.

Selection: Explosive Lady e/w 18/1 (5 places various bookies)

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Crouch's Claim To Prove Key For Goldie

With seven meetings on Friday you would think it would be easy to find a winner. That is not the case however, with the old cliché 'quantity over quality' springing to mind. There is one horse that catches my eye though, and he goes in the 5.15 at York for the on fire Jim Goldie. 
Mr.Goldie's form figures for his last seven runners read 3131913, an indication that he is a trainer bang in form. He has three entries at York tomorrow, and a case can be made for all of them. However, the one I like best is Ronald Gee, who goes in the finale, an apprentice handicap over 12F, and who has the more than capable Hector Crouch in the saddle. 
This 8yo gelding is lightly raced for his age, having only had 16 starts during his career, and the best he has managed is three second places. However, these stand out efforts all came over today's trip of 12F, with his two best runs coming over the distance on good ground, conditions he will get today. 
Last time out at Musselburgh he ran a cracker, kicking clear and only getting reeled in late on going down by less than a length. That was off a career low mark of 58, and the handicapper has reacted accordingly, raising him to 60. 
He steps up in class too today to a Class 4 event (Musselburgh was Class 6) and there is no doubting that this is a stronger heat. However, the fact that his pilot can claim a valuable 5lbs off his back means he gets to race off an equivalent mark of 55, 3lbs lower than last time out. A repeat of that run should see Ronald Gee hit the frame, and the way that Mr.Goldie's horses have been running gives even more encouragement. His current odds of 10/1 look overly generous to me, and he looks worthy of each way support. 

Selection: 5.15 York: Ronald Gee (10/1) each way.  

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Epsom Derby 2015 Preview

Derby Day tomorrow at Epsom, and Aidan O'Brien, successful today with the unfancied Qualify in the Oaks, bids for his fourth consecutive Derby win, and his sixth in total. However, for a change, he does not supply the market leader and the mantle of favourite will be carried by the unbeaten Golden Horn, barring a monumental gamble on something else in the race. Below is a quick summary of runners and riders and what I believe their prospects are.

1. CARBON DATING                  JP Shanahan/Ronan Whelan

While today's result in the Oaks is a reminder of the unpredictable nature of horseracing, it would be an even bigger surprise if this horse proved to be up to the task today. He is a half brother to the yard's useful performer Ralston Road, but he will need to improve in spades if he is to get involved at the business end today. Rank outsider currently priced up at 300/1 and deservedly so. 

2. ELM PARK                               Andrew Balding/Andrea Atzeni 

A son of Phoenix Reach, he was the leading staying two year old last season, and finished off a four timer with victory in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy over a mile on soft ground at Doncaster. His trainer has often suggested that he wants soft ground to be seen at his best, but his Group 2 win last year in the Royal Lodge was achieved on good to firm, so today's surface should be fine. 
He reappeared in The Dante at York this year, stepped up to 10.5F for the first time, and he more than met his match with both Gosden horses finishing in front of him, the reopposing Jack Hobbs and Golden Horn. 
However, both of those horses had the benefit of a previous run that day, and whilst Golden Horn ran out a comfortable winner in the end, Elm Park did travel like the best horse in the race for a long way. Mr Balding suggested that he may have been a bit short of fitness, not stamina, and if that was the case then the prospect of him reversing the form with the two Gosden horses is not as far fetched as one might think. At 8/1 he is definitely an interesting contender. 

3. EPICURIS                                   Thierry Thuilliez/C Head-Maarek

French raider for Criquitte Head-Maarek who was successful on all three starts last year, including a Group 3 and a Group 1. Reappeared this year with a second to Silverwave in a Group 3 at Longchamp, beaten four lengths. He had Medrano a couple of lengths back in third, a horse easily beaten by Storm The Stars next time out. 
Bred by Juddmonte he is a son of Rail Link and is out of a dam that won a listed race over a mile on soft ground. His best form has come with cut in the ground, and he will face very different conditions today. Currently priced up at 20/1 and will need to find bags of improvement from somewhere if he is to bring the prize back across the English Channel. 

4. GIOVANNI CANALETTO        Aidan O'Brien/Ryan Moore

This son of Galileo has a pedigree to die for, unsurprisingly given the yard that he hails from. He is the shortest price of the Ballydoyle trio, and will be ridden by the man of the moment Ryan Moore. He can count the likes of Ruler Of The World and Duke Of Marmalade among his siblings. 
He has been the 'plunge' horse this week, but I wonder if the reason for that was the fact that Moore rides, rather than a sudden improvement in the work he has been doing at home. His form does not look as strong as some of his rivals, and he was beaten by the filly Curvy stepped up to 10f and into Group 3 company last time out. He shaped as if the further step up he gets today would suit, but nevertheless it is difficult to be to confident about his chances. His current odds of 10/1 look a little skinny to me given what he has achieved so far, and there is better value to be found elsewhere. 

5. GOLDEN HORN                        John Gosden/Frankie Dettori

Currently favourite at 2/1 after an impressive victory in the Dante on his second start this year, with Jack Hobbs and Elm Park in behind. Also beat Storm The Stars by a head on his debut last year. Frankie takes the reins, having won on him on his second start. 
He is beautifully bred, sired by Cape Cross and out of a mare that is a half sister to the very useful Rebecca Sharp and Mystic Knight. He should get 12F fine, but it is far from a foregone conclusion that he does. 
 He will need to travel better than he did in the Dante though, as getting shuffled back through the field approaching the final stages rarely ends well in the Derby. Too short for me in the betting and I'll be leaving him alone. 

6. HANS HOLBEIN                         Aidan O'Brien/Seamie Heffernan

The second of the Ballydoyle trio, that looks to be the third string on jockey bookings, as was Qualify yesterday. Will be ridden by Seamie Heffernan,who has been in the saddle on plenty of big day winners for O'Brien. Got the better of Storm The Stars (12.5F) on soft ground at Chester in The Vase. This is not quite as strong as some of the other form on offer, but at least he has proven his stamina over today's trip, which cannot be said for a lot of his rivals.
Has a lovely middle distance pedigree, being by Montjeu and a half brother to Sans Frontieres, who was a winner of the Irish St.Leger (14F). He has a fair bit to find on the figures with the likes of the favourite and Elm Park, but further improvement on better ground cannot be ruled out. 16/1 is probably a fair price, and it wouldn't surprise me in  the slightest to see him make a bold bid from the front. Of interest each way. 

7. JACK HOBBS                                John Gosden/William Buick

Was second in the Dante, the race that provides the three at the top of the market today, Golden Horn, Elm Park and this one. Godolphin wasted no time in buying into him after his run in second that day, and he races in blue today bidding to give The Sheikh his first victory in a race he so dearly would love to win. 
However, I believe the wait is set to go on for him, as I can't see this horse having the stamina to win a derby. He was hard at work a long way from home at York, and when Golden Horn swept past it wasn't as if this horse stayed on like a train. The gap stayed the same all the way to the line, and I'm not sure if this new trip will be enough for Jack Hobbs to reverse the form.
He does have a nice pedigree, being a son of Halling and a half brother to the useful Niceofyoutotellme. However, his dam was a speedy sort, as was her dam (although she did win over 12F in the USA), and there are enough doubts there stamina wise to suggest today's trip might stretch him. 
 I think his price of 5/1 is ridiculously short, and is based on the reputation of connections rather than what he has shown on the track. Another one I'll be avoiding today and maybe one to lay for a place if you are brave! 

8. KILIMANJARO                                Aidan O'Brien/Joseph O'Brien 

The third of the O'Brien darts and ridden by the trainer's son, who has ridden two of the last three winners saddled by O'Brien in the race. Won his last start at Lingfield in a listed contest over today's sort of trip, but the form looks weak in the context of this race. 
Is a son of High Chapparal, but the dam side of his pedigree raises question marks about the suitability of today's test. His dam is a half sister to the likes of Mars, Wonderfully and Nayarra, all useful black type horses, but all with their best form at around a mile. At Epsom there is no hiding place and you need to be able to get every inch of the trip, and I'm not sure Kilimanjaro is bred for the job. His current odds of 20/1 an accurate reflection of his chances. 

9. MOHEET                                            Richard Hannon jr/Pat Dobbs

Highly touted during the winter, and was expected to win on his return to action, when he was beaten by stablemate Kool Kompany. Ran a decent race in the 2000 Guineas, and stayed on well enough to suggest a crack at this sort of trip might suit. Has picked a tough race to try it in  though! Ridden by Pat Dobbs, who rides the horse in all his work at home. Overlooked by Dettori who understandably prefers Golden Horn. 
Is a son of High Chapparal, but out of a dam that was useful at 5F and 6F, and there is a lot of speed on her side of the family. 12F might be stretching it for him today, and his current odds of 40/1 look fair. One for later on in the season and best watched today. 

10. ROGUE RUNNER                            Andreas Wohler/Oisin Murphy

German contender and likely to come up short. Outsider at 100/1. 

11. STORM THE STARS                        Pat Cosgrave/William Haggas

Has form with a lot of these, and has been seemingly improving with every run this year, which in fairness Mr.Haggas predicted he would do. Goes on any ground, and was a good second to Hans Holbein at Chester. Also has form with the favourite Golden Horn, going down by a head on his debut. 
Beautifully bred, being a son of the outstanding Sea The Stars and out of a Sadlers Wells half sister to Giants Causeway among others. His pedigree would indicate that today's test should be perfect, and the trip and track should hold no fears. 
Currently priced up at 20/1, and given his consistency and the fact that he has form with most of his rivals in the book, I think that is too big. Another to be interested in each way. 

12. SUCCESS DAYS                            Ken Condon/Shane Foley

Been a revelation on heavy ground this year, bagging two Group 3s and putting a fair few noses out of place in the process. Those were small fields though, and the test he faces today is a whole lot different. 
He is a son of Jeremy, and his dam was best on soft ground, which suggests that today's quicker conditions may not be ideal. While her dam excelled over sprint trips there are plenty of indications in her pedigree that 12F should be within reach. If there is a deluge before the off it will increase this horse's chances hugely, but if not he will probably struggle. Not for me at 18/1. 


There are a number of horses that make the shortlist. Golden Horn is too short a price for me, and the same applies to Jack Hobbs and Giovanni Canaletto. The first two named have niggling doubts about the suitability of the trip in their pedigrees too. This is not the case for Hans Holbein, and he could fare best of the O'Brien trio. Elm Park is respected too, and is fancied to turn the tables on the Gosden horses that were ahead of him in the Dante. However, from a value perspective,  the one I like is Storm The Stars at 20/1. He has a lovely pedigree, has kept improving with every run and 12F should prove to be his perfect trip. A solid each way bet with a live chance in a wide open race. 

1.Storm The Stars
2.Elm Park
3.Hans Holbein

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Jack To Nail 'Em

The Derby meeting at Epsom is one of my favourites, and on the first day it is all about the girls. Eleven fillies go to post in this years Oaks, and it has been a notoriously difficult race for punters in recent years with three of the last four winners returning at 20/1.
This years edition looks open enough, with Legatissimo deservedly at the head of the market after her superb display at Newmarket in the 1000 Guineas. However, the one that catches my eye is Jack Naylor, who was a creditable fourth on her seasonal reappearance in the Irish 1000 Guineas. Significantly she gave the favourite 5lbs and won cosily enough when they met last season over a mile, and the trip today of 12F should suit Jack Naylor even better. She has shaped on both of her Group 1 starts as if she needed a stiffer test of stamina, and connections have always thought of her as an Oaks Filly.
She is a daughter of Champs Elysees, a proven middle distance horse, and her dam was a listed winner over 10F. There is plenty of black type on the dam line if you go back far enough, and most of it is at middle distances too. How she was bought for ten grand is beyond me! With stamina more or less guaranteed, and with Fran Berry back in the saddle, Jack Naylor can swoop late for Jessica Harrington and give her the biggest win of her career on the flat to date.

Selection: Epsom Oaks:  Jack Naylor 7/1

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Borough Boy Too Big At Nottingham

Top Boy ran a good race on Sunday, and it was just unfortunate that he happened to bump into what looks like a very useful sort on the day. He will be worth backing next time out too, and hopefully he gets in to the Dash at Epsom this week as I think he will have a great chance from the foot of the handicap.
Mr.Shaw had a winner too earlier this week, with Stun Gun romping home on Monday and it looks like his horses are starting to come into form. He has another interesting contender tomorrow at Nottingham in the 2.50, Borough Boy, and a there are a number of reasons to believe he is overpriced at his current odds of 16/1.
Obviously, as mentioned earlier, the recent form of his yard is encouraging, and it is the first of a number of reasons I believe this horse is too big a price. His last couple of runs since returning from his winter break have been very encouraging, especially last time over c&d when the ground would have been plenty quick enough for him. He pulled hard early, had to be switched a couple of times and only really got a clear run when the leaders had flown. To be only beaten less than 4 lengths, considering everything that went wrong during the race, was a very creditable performance in my opinion.
He gets to race off the same mark of 62 today,and the presence of more than one confirmed front runner in the field should ensure he gets the pace he needs to get settled early on. The current going is described as good to soft, which is absolutely perfect for Borough Boy. All his best turf form has come with cut in the ground. He is drawn in stall 5, which shouldn't be an inconvenience as he will surely be held up and dropped in. Hopefully the gaps come at the right time, and if they do I think Borough Boy has an excellent chance of reaching the frame at the generous odds of 16/1.

Selection: 2.50 Nottingham: Borough Boy 16/1 (lads) each way.