Friday, 25 May 2018

Saturday 26th May: Elarqam Can In Irish 2000

Its Group racing galore on Saturday as the Irish 2000 Guineas marks the highlight of the racing weekend, however over in the UK we also have top class action at Haydock and York and it’s on the Knavesmire we start with a great value Group 3 bet:

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3.05 York (Bronte Cup – Group 3) – PRECIOUS RAMOTSWE

John Gosden’s filly proved exactly why she should have been kept in training with an impressive enough win at Brighton on her comeback and the very well-bred Nathaniel filly can go on again here.

She got herself in a pocket at the south coast track and ran all over the place once hitting the front yet still got there by a good couple of lengths over an apparently inadequate mile-and-a-quarter trip.  She is stepped right up to a mile and six here and it could be the making of her.

Gosden is well adept at preparing these fillies and tends not to throw them into Listed or Group company unless they have a winning chance, so her price could be a real touch of value up against Isabel De Urbina.

She has no other fancy entries at this stage but looks sure to keep climbing the ladder and she will get better and better with more racecourse experience.

3.25 Haydock (Sandy Lane Stakes – Group 2) – HEARTACHE

Last season’s Queen Mary Stakes winner at Royal Ascot beat a stellar field that day and really looked the part.  She complemented that victory with a win in the Flying Childers at Doncaster later in the season and appears to be the real deal.

With speed to burn, Heartache looks a potential Group 1 performer at sprinting distances and is nowhere near her best yet so could account for these before perhaps heading back to the Royal meeting next month for the Commonwealth Cup.

Her chief rival would appear to be James Tate’s Invincible Army who has been impressive of late; however he has also been placed pretty well by his trainer to win his races thus far and he may not live with the fact that he has to give away three pounds to the filly this time around.

Heartache could prove to be a lovely sprinting amuse-bouche to the return of Battaash in the Temple Stakes at 4PM, though his price would prohibit us from backing him in the big race.

3.30 Chester – PRECISION

This is a decent little handicap over 1m5½ furlongs around the bends of the Roodeye and in this one it could be worth taking a chance on Sir Michael Stoute’s raider, Precision.

Stevie Donohoe takes the ride on the four-year-old son of Galileo who had a run at Salisbury back in April but completely bombed out, finishing 7th of eight and beaten nearly 70 lengths.  He utterly hated the heavy ground that day though and was asked for no effort whatsoever after his chance had gone and this will be a different matter on the quicker ground.

He can resume his improvement and gets the vote at hopefully a decent price ahead of likely favourite Redicean for the Alan King yard.

3.45 Goodwood (Tapster Stakes – Listed) – MIRAGE DANCER

He may not go off a particularly big price, but the point about Mirage Dancer is that true competition in this race is very thin on the ground and having had a season opener two weeks ago, there is little doubt he will improve now from race one to race two this year in typical Sir Michael Stoute fashion.

Euginio may well prove to be best of the rest for Richard Hannon and Andrea Atzeni but in truth it looks like being Pat Dobbs’ race to lose and he is terrific in these situations.

4.10 Curragh (Irish 2000 Guineas – Group 1) – ELARQAM

Mark Johnston’s regally bred colt by Frankel out of Attraction was my pick for the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and, despite the best horse winning on the day in Saxon Warrior, he lost nothing in defeat as it turns out.

Saxon had the form in the book and was strongly backed to do what he did, yet Elarqam managed to finish only 2¼ lengths behind on his third ever racecourse start having gotten unbalanced in the dip and remains a very definite Group One winner in waiting.

In time he is likely to step up to middle distances but for now he brings the best recent form over a mile into this race and carries the absolute confidence of the Johnston team as well as that of Richard Hills, assistant racing manager and former top jock to the owner Sheikh Hamdan who says he “should win”.

It would be no surprise to see Elarqam run the legs off this lot, though watch out for an improved run from last year’s Dewhurst winner US Navy Flag for the Aidan O’Brien team who perhaps didn’t get enough credit for that win at Newmarket last backend.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Saturday 19th May: Red Hot Haggas The Dish Of The Day At Newbury

There’s a ton of pattern race action on Saturday with potential sprint champions and middle-distance fillies on show, however the afternoon reaches a crescendo at 3.40 with the Group One Lockinge Stakes taking place at Newbury.

Young pretenders Beat The Bank and Addeybb take on proven top level performers Rhododendron and Limato with Glorious Goodwood, Lincoln Handicap, 1000 Guineas/Oaks and July Cup form all clashing over the mile trip.

We go in with four good value bets in total across Newbury and Newmarket’s cards with improving horses taken to score on their way up the horse racing ladder:

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1.50 Newbury (Carnarvon Stakes) – Listed) – EQTIDAAR

Although strictly speaking both John Gosden’s filly Juliet Capulet and Aidan O’Brien’s colt Murillo could be of a very high standard now sprinting, there are still doubts about both over this trip until they have proven otherwise.

There are no such doubts about Sir Michael Stoute’s young speedster Eqtidaar however whose form already after just three runs is right up there with the best of these and more can be expected now that he will be towed and chased along by horses in and around the top class bracket.

Furthermore Eqtidaar is by Invincible Spirit out of an Acclamation mare, both horses who won multiple top level races over six furlongs on fast ground, and so more improvement can be expected in these conditions with a dry forecast terrific reading for the trainer.

2.40 Newmarket (King Charles II Stakes – Listed) – PURSER

With any luck, the way things will work out is that there’ll be plenty of money in the ring for Goldolphin’s Aurum based on his potential, though even with improvement he may just lack a bit of experience this time but could well push up the price of our horse.

Mutaaqeb has plenty more to give on seasonal debut as well but with Purser we have both proven ability and more potential so with a few pounds more improvement to come over this distance he rates a very far bet to take this Listed prize.

He was very much fancied to land the valuable Burradon Stakes at Newcastle at the end of March while his third to Ghaiyyath last backend reads very well and now it appears he has his optimum conditions at last.  I wouldn’t be surprised if John Gosden’s Mizzen Mast colt turned up at Royal Ascot in the Jersey Stakes next month but he would have to win this along the way.

3.30 Newbury (Lockinge Stakes – Group 1) – ADDEYBB

William Haggas’ stable star has done nothing but improve since making his debut as a three-year-old at this meeting last year and having risen through the ranks is well fancied to earn a first Group One win.

With extended trips not to his liking, his run when taking care of Afaak in the Silver Cambridgeshire over nine furlongs last backend was a great performance and so it was no real surprise when he started off his 4yo campaign by winning the Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster.

What was surprising perhaps was the manner in which he took care of a typically competitive field before going on to score easily in Group 2 company last time out at Sandown.  It’s not a case of if he’ll win a Group 1 but when, especially given the competitive nature of this race.

That said we cannot say when his improvement will finish and if he takes another step forward here on nice quick ground, which I expect, then he’ll take some pegging back.

Beat The Bank of Andrew Balding’s is another who looks sure to land a Group 1 race over this distance but if he’s anything like his sire he may maintain his high level at 4 without necessarily improving a whole lot more, thus he could be vulnerable against a race-fit Addeybb.

Aidan O’Brien’s filly Rhododendron may well go off favourite and has plenty of good form in the book, however it seems we know how good she is now and so if one or both of the 4yo colts do what we expect then she’ll just fall short this time.

4.50 Newbury (Fillies’ Trial Stakes – Listed) – STREAM SONG

Although it seems highly unlikely we will see an Oaks contender from this lot, although hope springs eternal of course, there should be plenty of improvement shown from the likes of Sir Michael Stoute’s Crystal Hope and Aidan O’Brien’s Athena now they have their trip.

Sea Of Class is another who should be on the premises but for me the master of preparing these fillies is John Gosden and so a chance is taken on his runner Stream Song.

The Mastercraftsmen filly was engaged in the Lingfield Oaks Trial, something I think she would have won, but was pulled out leaving her nothing more than a Windsor handicap winner to this point though she is undoubtedly capable of more than that.

She’s improving hand over fist and the brilliant Frankie Dettori should be able to get a very good tune out of her, hopefully nudged her ahead at the line where it counts. 

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Fri 11th, Sat 12th & Sun 13th May: Glory, Eminency And A Master Highlight Our Betting Weekend

We have top class racing across the continent this weekend with the French 1000 and 2000 Guineas taking place over at ParisLongchamp on Sunday and more classic trials taking place in Ireland too.

We concentrate largely on the domestic action however with the closing day at Chester on Friday followed by more classic trials at Lingfield where Aidan O’Brien and John Gosden may have the two big races between them, however with little in the way of value  in the Derby and Oaks trials we take on a punt on the below.

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2.25 Chester (Huxley Stakes – Group 2) - EMINENT

Martyn Meade’s Derby fourth and French Group 2 winner may not be a big price for the Huxley, however he really should prove to be a class above these and rates a confident bet to get his season off to the best possible start.

The main point of highlighting him here though is that it’s interesting to watch what could be another Group 1 middle-distance performer making his seasonal debut en route to better things this summer and he should be able to take care of the likes of Forest Ranger and War Decree.


2.50 Ascot (Buckhounds Stakes – Listed Race) – GLENCADAM GLORY

There’s little argument that  Barsanti could win this if he is at his best, however in these conditions and at six years of age I can’t quite see it and so a chance is taken on the level of improvement the masterful John Gosden can get out of Glencadam Glory which could be considerable.

He needed to be nowhere near his best to take care of a substandard field at Wolverhampton in his sharpener there last month and it seems the Nathaniel gelding is being prepped for a summer of climbing up the middle distance ranks, starting here.

He was mixing it with some very good types early last season as a 3yo before his progress was curtailed, however with his confidence and fitness back he may be terrific value to beat Roger Varian’s stalwart as well as Sir Michael Stoute’s Mirage Dancer.

3.40 Lingfield (Chartwell Fillies’ Stakes – Group 3) – ONE MASTER

The weight-for-age given in this race, while appearing generous on paper, has rarely helped too many three-year-old fillies and so while I can see Richard Hannon’s Tajaanus running a big one, she may not cope with the in-form William Haggas runner.

One Master displayed excellent progression last season as a 3yo, culminating in her winning the Listed October Stakes at Ascot at the backend and if anything she should probably be better on faster ground.

It’s also worth noting that, not seen as a sprinter by connections, she was probably just getting home over seven furlongs back then especially on rain-softened ground and so should be right at home in these conditions as an older filly.  Tomyris also makes the shortlist on seasonal debut.

4.20 Haydock (Spring Trophy – Listed Race) – MUBTASIM

The only four-year-old in the field is the one with the most improvement in him and a look at his overall profile tells you that Mubtasim could still be on for Group success somewhere down the line over this distance.

Beaten over an inadequate 6f trip by superstar Harry Angel at the start of last season, the son of Arcano ran a blinder to be third to Le Brivido in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot and, having now been gelded, has his mind firmly on the job in hand (on the track as opposed to eyeing up the fillies).

He blew the cobwebs away with a thoroughly decent third to Lancelot Du Lac in a good conditions race at Chelmsford two weeks ago over an unsuitable trip and is primed to attack this time around under the excellent James Doyle who comes here primarily to take this ride.

So Beloved and Richard Hannon’s Tabarrak could well prove to be the main dangers to a horse still entered in Group 2 races further down the line, albeit over six furlongs.


2.35 ParisLongchamp (Poule d’Essai des Poulains – Group 1) (French 2000 Guineas) – WOOTTON

There may yet be some British and Irish interest in this classic however it looks like being one for the home side with the Henri-Alex Pantall runner Wootton for Godolphin.

While others may prefer much slower ground to be at their very best, this horse fairly cantered home on good ground at Deauville on his racecourse debut back in August and has been treated very kindly since then.

A devastating Listed race win in October was followed up with a clever, cosy front-running win under the control of Mikael Barzalona in the trial here last month and he can progress more than the rest.  Dice Roll and Hey Gaman could prove tough nuts to crack for the places but in truth shouldn’t get to Wootton.

Given the fact that Newmarket winner Saxon Warrior is to go up in trip, Wootton could well come to England at some point and be among the favourites for such races as the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

May Bank Holiday Weekend: Frankel Colt The Main Attraction On Guineas Weekend

This weekend sees the first two classics of the season run at Newmarket as the Flat season gets going in earnest.  We have a selection in both the 1000 and 2000 Guineas as well as one in the opening handicap at HQ and another in a nice fillies’ race at Goodwood, hopefully leading to plenty of profit.

Look out for Defoe running again in the Jockey Club Stakes, potential Derby and Oaks contenders in the Newmarket Stakes and Pretty Poly Stakes as well as the latest Kentucky Derby champion being crowned over in Louisville.

Here are our top picks for the weekend:

Saturday 5th May 2018

1.50 Newmarket (Spring Lodge Stakes Handicap) – SHARJA BRIDGE

Having been beaten only narrowly behind Group 1 hunting Addeybb on debut last summer, it’s easy to see why many believe Roger Varan’s charge to be well handicapped for this contest and I have to agree.

Very soft ground was no good for him when beaten at long odds-on at Pontefract on his second start but other than that he has shown himself to be highly progressive and looks like running to Listed or Group 3 standard about now with everything taken into consideration, so arriving here on a mark of 99 makes him very appear well-in.

John Gosden’s Dommersen rates a big danger so long as the “bounce” factor doesn’t kick in, i.e. he ran well last time in Listed company after nearly 19 months off the track and may not be in the same form or the same mood this time around.

If he does in fact progress from that run though he can show up well here, along with David Simcock’s Another Eclipse and Charlie Appleby’s Oasis Charm.

2.05 Goodwood (Daisy Warwick Fillies’ Stakes) – MORI

The daughter of Frankel only just missed out at Royal Ascot last year and has had a wind operation since a couple of underwhelming performances after that run last season.

She will appreciate the softer going here and by my reckoning has shown superior speed figures on easier ground compared to today’s rivals despite not being at her best so should be right at the forefront of things here.

Mori won the Height of Fashion Stakes around this track last year over 1m2f and is in need of this extra trip, so we should see her best performance to date in this one which should be enough for the win ahead of Architecture and Isabel De Urbina.

3.35 Newmarket (2000 Guineas) – ELARQAM

Three-year-olds winning the Guineas first time out for the season are not rare, but those with only two starts certainly are however if any horse was ever bred for this job then its Mark Johnston’s star colt Elarqam.

By runaway 2011 2000 Guineas winner Frankel out of Attraction - who was a superb winner of the 2003 Fillies’ equivalent and trained by Johnston - Elarqam has this in his veins.  On what we know about him so far following his tough but classy win in the Group 3 Tattersalls Stakes here as well as taking a line through his lineage, I’d say we can expect a run well into the 120’s and that should make him good enough.

Despite his foibles, the potentially wonderful Expert Eye has to remain high on the list too and if settling OK and staying the trip may well show us again the sort of form which had us all licking our lips after he took the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood last summer.

Forget Goodwood though; despite being beaten in a supposedly disappointing performance in the Greenham last month he ran to a mark of around 110 that day.  If any other inexperienced horse had done that in a trial without being fully wound-up you’d mark them down as a serious contender in this.

Naturally it wouldn’t surprise me to see any of Aidan O’Brien’s contenders go well while Masar, the Goldolphin runner, was hugely impressive in the Craven Stakes here but may not improve as much as some of the others between then and now.

Sunday May 6th 2018

3.35 Newmarket (1000 Guineas) – SOLILOQUY

The fact that Sheikh Mohammed paid a pretty sum to supplement Soliloquy into this race isn’t a massive pointer in itself, but a look at her overall profile as well as considering that the Boys in Blue already have Wild Illusion in the race with a live chance does speak volumes.

The daughter of Dubawi improved plenty when taking the Nell Gwyn Stakes at the Craven meeting last month and it wasn’t unexpected.  She has improved tons over the winter months and wasn’t fully wound up to take care of Altyn Order that day who just failed behind O’Brien contender I Can Fly last season in the Oh So Sharp Stakes.

Plenty more progress is expected and I can easily see her leading home her stablemate Wild Illusion who showed top class form when taking the Prix Marcel Boussac last backend, though she may want a little further than this ideally.

Aidan O’Brien’s biggest chance seems to lie with Happily, another Group 1 winner at the Arc meeting, though again whatever she achieves here can be improved upon when going up in trip.