Thursday 26 March 2020

Saturday 28th March 2020: Independence Hall to Stake Triple Crown Claim

After the successes last week of Addeybb and Jetz we go again, despite the lack of racing in Britain due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Ireland is now cancelled too and at this point we’d usually be concentrating on Dubai World Cup night at Meydan, but despite that and other postponements top-class racing is still offered in both Australia and the States and we have some good information for both Rosehill in Australia and Gulfstream Park in Florida.

Odds on these races are widely available with most major online bookmakers with us beginning at Rosehill Gardens and remember; it’s a very early morning start for UK-based punters so be on the ball!

4.50 Rosehill (Tancred Stakes – Group 1) – MIRAGE DANCER

A competitive Group 1 event over a mile-and-a-half, one in which former European runners Southern France, Danceteria and 2019 Ebor winner Mustajeer should all be comfortable.

Last year’s winner Avilius doesn’t seem to be in the same frame of mind this year, while he also ran just seven days ago behind Addeybb.  Ahead of him a week ago was main danger Verry Elleegant, Chris Waller’s Australian Oaks winning filly and her trainer is adamant she wants this trip although the quick turnaround can’t be ideal after what was a hard enough race behind William Haggas’ six-year-old.

The one to be on at a good price could be the former Sir Michael Stoute-trained Mirage Dancer.  A Group 3 winner and close third to Group 1 scorer Defoe in the Hardwick Stakes last season, this son of Frankel really needs this trip which explains some underwhelming recent runs.

By all accounts he remains in great heart, has the inside draw and trainers Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young are confident of a big run, as they should be given his overall level of form.

4.10 Rosehill (Star Kingdom Stakes – Group 3 Handicap) – VEGADAZE

This is a tough handicap and thus it’s advised that stakes are to be kept small, however that’s fine given that the selection could be around the 10/1 mark and he is one of few who, if running to his best level, could be described as being very well handicapped.

The likely favourite is three-year-old Villami, a last time out winner at Randwick but that was against his own age group and he is bound to find this a whole lot tougher.

James McDonald’s mount Brave Song’s most recent form figures are 88880- but he remains capable at the weights while Godolphin’s Manicure and topweight Kementari both hold chances, though again don’t look the best off at the weights.

In the case of Anthony Cummings’ Vegadaze, he’s run well in two Group 2’s off level weights both here and at Randwick and in these conditions should get back to near his best, something that makes him well-in off this rating and yet with such little mileage on his clock he could even improve further.  Tom Marquand rides and he should get a good tune out of the four-year-old son of Lope De Vega.

5.30 Rosehill (Vinery Stud Stakes – Group 1) – FUNSTAR

We’re not expecting a big price about this horse, a filly trained by Chris Waller just like last year’s winner Verry Elleegant who of course races on the card once again.

If the odds should become at least in some way backable though then she’s worth a shot as on all known evidence should looks very much the solid one in the line-up under James McDonald.

Already having had several battles, the form line to concentrate on is that between our horse and Kerrin McAvoy’s mount Probabeel, with the current score standing at 3-1 to Chris Waller’s horse.

The one time she was beaten was over seven furlongs on good ground and, while the ground is good again here, it seems the selection is the one that wants a longer trip and so a more dominant defeat of Probabeel over this mile-and-a-quarter, much like when the two met over a mile on softish ground in October, is to be expected.

10.36 Gulfstream Park (Florida Derby – Grade 1) – INDEPENDENCE HALL

This Grade 1 event is one of the very top races on the now rearranged Road to the Kentucky Derby, providing full points as a prep race for Churchill Downs and also offering Grade One status and a first prize of well over £300,000 in its own right.

The solid one on the evidence we’ve seen so far is likely short-priced favourite Tiz The Law, Barclay Tagg’s colt who beat Ete Indien comfortably in the Holy Bull Stakes before the latter went on to score around here in the GII Fountain of Youth by a huge 8½ lengths.

That’s where his status as solid favourite comes from, although it’s clear Ete Indien wasn’t at his best when they last raced and it could be that they are both at the same, admittedly good level.

On a line through the fairly solid Ajaaweed we can gain some insight into the well thought of Independence Hall however, and it could be that we’re looking at the best horse in the race here.

While arguably neither ran to their best when finishing second and a distant third in a Grade 3 over at Tampa Bay Downs recently, a look at how the odds played out among other things as well taking weight into account, it’s thought Michael Trombetta’s colt is at least 10lbs better than Ajaaweed and that would put him in with a winning shot here if true.

He built up a big reputation last autumn as a juvenile when winning the Grade 3 Nashua Stakes very easily at Aqueduct and, despite some saying he didn’t get home last time, being by Constitution and more importantly being a grandson of Tiznow much like the favourite, it could be that he routes just fine and should be comfortable at this distance.  He looks the value in the race.

Friday 20 March 2020

Saturday 21st March 2020: Addeybb to Grab First Group One Win

The current coronavirus has hit the world hard, the horseracing world especially in fact with all meetings in Britain scratched until the end of April at the earliest, but the roadshow our sport is will not be fully denied.

Not only is Irish racing carrying on with one meeting maximum per day behind closed doors, but bookmakers are also regularly pricing up races from the States, South Africa, Australia and the USA amongst others which gives us a chance to have a well-informed bet over the weekend.

Australia and Ireland it is who provide us with the best information, so be sure to look out for the very early start this week for racing at Rosehill Gardens who have a massive day of Group 1 action in the offing, so these race times are AM!

3.25 Rosehill (Ranvet Stakes – Group 1) – ADDEYBB

William Haggas’ admirable performer, a Group 2 winner at home and always at his best on today’s forecast soft ground, really should have too much for the home team in this ideal mile-and-a-quarter event.

Only just denied in the Group 1 Champion Stakes back in October, the Royal Ascot winner is only getting better at 6 and he can take care of four-year-old Verry Elleegant and Avilius, though both have performed well on softer going in the past.

Tom Marquand is over to take the ride on Addeybb with the plan being that he can take this race before attempting to double up in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes on April 11 at Randwick, for which he’d be exempt from the ballot should he win this first.  He’d be a bigger price at local odds, so grab that if you can.

4.45 Rosehill (Rosehill Guineas – Group 1) – SHERWOOD FOREST

Plenty in with chances here, but many who are unproven on this ground and/or who have been performing to their best without winning, meaning we pretty much have a good handle on where they stand ability-wise.

A last time out winner who could yet be much better though is the New Zealand raider Sherwood Forest of the Tony Pike yard.  He took the NZ Derby last time out over a mile-and-a-half, but as a son of Fastnet Rock there is a good chance that he will thrive in this ground and for coming down to a mile-and-a-quarter.

He is a big price to get the job done so looks great value, although it also means stakes can be kept to a minimum.  Of the rest, Castelvecchio and Warning probably stand out even more than Randwick Guineas winner and likely favourite Shadow Hero.

2.10 Thurles (Hurdle) – JETZ

In an otherwise decidedly trappy race featuring plenty of ifs and buts about the horses, the one solid one who stands out in terms of the clock on this sort of ground is Jessica Harrington’s Jetz.

The reason the clock is important is that Thurles reportedly rides very well with a beautiful covering of ground, so even when described as being soft it suits a horse who can show a turn of foot and in this race, those are few and far between.

Jetz however has performed well on this ground on several occasions, often showing a decent burst and usually against much lesser opposition which gives him a great chance this time around.  Robbie Power rides with his mount looking to take care of Brace Yourself and Karl Der Grosse.

3.10 Thurles (Pierce Molony Memorial Novice Chase – Grade 3) – SIZING POTTSIE

A quick double could be on the cards for Jessica Harrington and Robbie Power as there seems to be plenty of confidence behind Sizing Pottsie in this Grade 3 chase, even under a penalty.

It’s easy to see why too; improving hand over fist as a chaser, the six-year-old loves these conditions and has won each of his last two now, including another Grade 3 in the easiest style.  He should be too goo for the likes of Capuccimix and Cut The Mustard and can collect a cool €32,000 prize.

Saturday 14 March 2020

Saturday 14th March 2020: Nicholls Runner Just Fabulous in Kempton’s Grade 3

It’s tough on all of us, but we have to put Cheltenham behind us now and concentrate on the bread and butter of Saturday afternoon racing!

Kempton hosts a very competitive jumps card on which we can back the standout performer of the day, all being well at least, while Newcastle also stages National Hunt racing which provides a stern test for runners in the prevailing weather.

Across at Wolverhampton the only flat meeting on the card is a decent one containing a few class 3 races with in-form runners and two of them in particular look great value, but we start with Kempton and a horse we could have been seeing in a different setting several days ago.

2.05 Kempton (Novices’ Handicap Hurdle – Grade 3) – McFABULOUS

Having won Aintree’s Grade 2 bumper last season in good style this horse appeared to be heading right to the top, but a slow start over hurdles led to some completely losing faith in him as far as this sphere goes.

In truth he has steadily improved in three hurdle runs to date, culminating in a cosy win last time out at Market Rasen that has put him spot on for this race.

Had he managed that performance one run and three weeks earlier he’d no doubt have been heading to Cheltenham with a leading chance this week, so entering this Grade 3 race off a mark of 132 makes him look very well handicapped indeed and it would be disappointing were he not able to score for trainer Paul Nicholls and jockey Harry Cobden.

Of the others the overpriced Blackfinch has a shout, his seconditis not defining him with improvement now likely in today’s race conditions, while Hurricane Harvey is another in with a chance each-way.

3.45 Newcastle (Novices’ Handicap Hurdle) – POLISH

The finish at Newcastle will take some getting this weekend on soft ground, but the one able to cope with it best I feel is Fergal O’Brien’s Polish who is backed at a very attractive 8/1 at the time of writing.

The only runner sent up from Gloucestershire by the Cheltenham-based handler, Polish is having only his fourth start over hurdles and while he has been consistent and improved slowly so far, he can reach a new level for this extra test of his stamina.

Pound for pound, his best run was his hurdles debut on soft ground over 2m3f at Taunton and while he’s run well since, he has probably been a little inconvenienced by running on ground just a little quicker than ideal, especially at Kempton where it’s very flat.

Today he has soft ground, a two-and-three-quarter-mile trip and a stiff finish all of which will see him run to his full potential on what is only his second handicap start.

The rest are all very close on private ratings with not much to choose between Baron De Midleton, Landronne and the likely short-priced favourite Minella Trump who has the assistance of Brian Hughes in the saddle.

6.30 Wolverhampton (Handicap) – DEPUTISE

This is a small but competitive class 3 handicap over six furlongs in which there should be plenty of speed on show, something that should help Deputise who is long overdue a return to this course.

While he’s won races at Chester and Newcastle in the past, he is an impeccable two from two here with his last run at the track being back in December 2018 when he put in easily his best speed figure over today’s course and distance.

In running very well when third at Lingfield to Fizzy Feet who opposes again here, he made a good stable debut two weeks ago but that race was not run to suit so we can assume he will do a lot better here and probably at a thoroughly backable price too.  Franny Norton rides.

There are a number of others in the pack who can have their say in this race, most notably Tathmeen and Wild Edric, but as a four-year-old who overall probably even has a career high to come our horse gets the nod to land his first win for Michael Wigham.

7.00 Wolverhampton (Handicap) – UNIVERSAL GLEAM

This is another tight handicap, this time over a trip just short of a mile-and-a-quarter.  Some decent horses rated 90+ are taking part here and they’re in form too meaning this is no egg and spoon race, but one does stand out especially on speed figures record on this surface type and he can may well be allowed to go off at a nice price.

That horse is Universal Gleam of Keith Dalgleish’s yard all the way up in Lanarkshire, with the team hoping to land a nice double with their Caustic Love in the following race, a fillies’ handicap for which she is favourite.

In this one they have a representative who has been thoroughly consistent of late, winning and finishing third at Lingfield before finishing fourth over this course and distance last month, but his latest race was a small and slow affair and simply didn’t play to his strengths.

Today, given the fact that as mentioned we have a competitive field which will keep the pace honest, he can put his best foot forward and looks capable of digging out another few pounds.  If he can, that’s something that as he’s actually gone down a pound in the handicap since his last run would hand him a winning chance.

Richard Fahey’s versatile all-weather performer Furzig won’t mind this surface and enters calculations, as does the popular Sha La La La Lee for Tom Dascombe while Rangali Island makes up the shortlist seeking the four-timer for David Simcock.

Friday 6 March 2020

Saturday 7th March 2020: Lily to Bloom in Dubai’s Group 1 Jebel Hatta

After another deluge of 18mm of rain at Sandown Park on Thursday, the weekend’s Imperial Cup card has been abandoned and that knocked out our only chance of a bet in the National Hunt sphere.

There are multiple flat options though, with Wolverhampton staging its Lincoln Trial and Listed Wulfruna Stakes and we have a tip in both, while it’s also Super Saturday in Dubai at Meydan as the track makes his final preparations for Dubai World Cup night on the 28th.

We have a few selections at Meydan, two of them in particular looking really good value, and we start with one in a trappy looking Listed race:

12.00 Meydan (Al Bastakiya – Listed Race) – YA HAYATI

This is a competitive Listed event on the dirt and one in which plenty of runners have potential, but patchy records for sure.

One of those is the promising filly Dubai Love who, if the form of her easy win here in January can be taken literally, really should win this but that was over a mile and she failed over this trip last time.  Indeed, all of her other runs have been substandard and so we can probably take a chance on her not living up to her reputation.

Her Godolphin rival Ya Hayati, trained by Charlie Appleby rather than Saeed bin Suroor as the Irish Oaks entry is, has proven to be on a very steep upward curve having started at a lowly level.

He won a conditions race here last time, should go on from that, will enjoy this trip and could be decent value despite his wide draw and he gets the not under William Buick.  Laser Show appears to be best of the rest.

1.35 Wolverhampton (Lincoln Trial Handicap) – FOX POWER

Taking into account his course and distance second when giving away weight in a conditions race last time, Richard Hannon’s Fox Power should prove to be too good for this field off his current handicap mark of 99 under top jock Silvestre de Sousa.

A winner here as a novice and a Listed scorer at Newcastle last year in the Burradon Stakes, Fox Power has proven himself not just in these conditions but also at a good level and it seems he has a handicap win in him before perhaps moving up in grade once again.

Wide margin Newcastle winner Red Bond may well prove to be very well handicapped, while he also obviously enjoys Tapeta, although his 8½-length win last time was the kind of success that often looks too good to be true and the 13lb rise he’s received could be enough therefore to anchor him.

Outsider Another Touch is worth considering for each-way purposes, but as a four-year-old from a top stable it’s fair to say more improvement is expected from Fox Power and he should be heading into the race with plenty of confidence from his yard.

2.20 Meydan (Jebel Hatta – Group 1) – MAGIC LILY

Most are expecting Godolphin to command this Group 1 race as they’ve often done in the past, with four of their five entrants dominating the betting this time around.

Spotify doesn’t seem to have what it takes to me, likewise Dream Castle, but in Barney Roy and Magic Lily there are two in the line-up who could yet prove to be top level performers in 2020.

Barney Roy, a Guineas runner-up and Group 1 winner in 2017 before his unsuccessful stint at stud, returned with aplomb over the course and distance in January but he did the same thing last season in England too without really going on.  He’s also drawn wide here and could be vulnerable, especially to stablemate Magic Lily who even at five is progressing very nicely.

Her recent win at Group 2 level, especially the style of it, marked her out as a very good mare and with yet more progress to come she looks too big in the betting to ignore as her turn of pace could just be enough to score under Mickael Barzalona.

2.45 Wolverhampton (Lady Wulfruna Stakes – Listed Race) – HABUB

While heavy early favourite for the race Urban Icon has rubbed shoulders with some top types such as Mohaather and Space Blues along with finishing eighth in the 2000 Guineas, the truth is he’s been somewhat dragged along by such classy horses and hasn’t beaten them, nor really significantly improved.

With that in mind a chance can be taken at a nice price on Owen Burrows’ Habub instead.  Hooded for the first time today, the five-year-old son of War Front has only had eight career races with no doubt plenty more yet to give, while his overall level of form so far puts him at least at the same quality as the jolly.

Should he take to the Tapeta surface OK, which on breeding he should, then he can get the better of Urban Icon and also Mark Johnston’s Cardsharp.

3.30 Meydan (Dubai City of Gold – Group 2) – DEFOE

In the hope that he’s a backable price on the day, Group 1 winner Defoe is taken to make a successful seasonal reappearance for the fourth year out of five.

Progressing all the time, Roger Varian’s lovely grey finally became a Group 1 winner when taking the Coronation Cup at Epsom last summer and, to prove it was no fluke, he doubled up in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot too with both wins coming over today’s mile-and-a-half distance.

Conditions are perfect for him and he is the proven horse in the field, so as long as his price isn’t too restrictive it’s Andrea Atzeni’s mount who gets the nod.  Up and comer Pablo Escobarr rates next best ahead of the globetrotting Desert Encounter.