Cheltenham takes centre stage this weekend with an extended Trials Day taking place, with Doncaster also backing up jumping HQ with some fine racing including the Sky Bet Chase.
For those with an eye on the Flat season, especially the Classics Friday is particularly important, especially for Charlie Appleby. Two races we’re involved in feature some of his hopes for the top level this year, while Naval Power also runs in Dubai.
He also runs one against fine debut winner and Derby entry Nazymbek at Lingfield, as well as a nice filly at Wolverhampton.
We begin at Doncaster over the jumps.
Friday 27th January 2023
2.40 Doncaster (Fillies’ Juvenile Hurdle – Listed Race) – ARCLIGHT
Juvenile races are notoriously difficult as the horses are lightly raced and improving at different rates, but if the price holds on Nicky Henderson’s Arclight then she really should be too good for this opposition.
Calico and Komedy Kicks were next on the list, ahead of Greyval and Libby.
3.45 Meydan (Jumeirah Fillies Classic) – DREAM OF LOVE
This is an intriguing seven-furlong race on the turf for the three-year-old fillies, one in which most of the concentration is on Mawj, Glory Lily and Dream Of Love.
The Appleby pair of Dream Of Love and Glory Lily have some ground to make up on Saeed bin Suroor’s Mawj on ratings, though the likely odds-on favourite is drawn wide while the other two have major improvement in them.
Mawj was fourth in the Lowther and third in the Cheveley Park last season and she is a general 25/1 and 33/1 shot for the 1000 Guineas. Her speed is impressive, but she’s not guaranteed to stay the seventh furlong, especially from out wide, while we already have an idea of where her ceiling is for now.
Glory Lily made a nice debut at Lingfield in December, but a likelier winner is stablemate Dream Of Love, herself as low as 25/1 for the Guineas in May.
After winning on debut, she was a little stuck in the mud on her second start at Newmarket in the Montrose. She was favourite that say, so based on what was expected, the actual speed she showed despite the ground, her breeding (Shamardal x Secret Gesture (Galileo)) and her expected rate of improvement she looks like the value in this race.
4.20 Meydan (Zabeel Turf Handicap) – FALLING SHADOW
There are some solid types here. Brilliant Light, White Wolf and Dubai Legend certainly fit into that category, while there is most certainly a lot more to come from Blue Trail who has a big handicap in him this year.
William Buick could have ridden him, but instead goes for Falling Shadow who has a little more pace I’d suggest and can swing off the bend well here and collar them if ready first time up.
Falling Shadow is rated only 4lbs lower than the top-rated horse in this race, but as a four-year-old with only six starts under his belt it is certain that we are not even close to knowing his true ability.
Saturday 28th January 2023
1.35 Doncaster (Lightning Novices’ Chase – Grade 2) – BOOTHILL
Most will concentrate on the big two here; Harry Fry’s Boothill and Ann Hamilton’s Tommy’s Oscar who has won the hearts of many for his stable in recent times.
Tommy’s Oscar does get 5lbs and he’s rated another five more than his main rival, but in truth what he’s achieved so far over fences doesn’t really match up to Boothill who may also have more toe. He’s taken to score therefore for jockey Jonathan Burke.
3.15 Doncaster (Sky Bet Handicap Chase) – MISTER COFFEY
Ga Law has been very well backed at the top of the market, while Undersupervision was pretty eye-catching two runs ago when staying on after a bad start.
The one for value is Nicky Henderson’s Mister Coffey. Seemingly always second and not improving, a closer look reveals that he was definitely climbing the ladder and showing speed on good ground, but rather getting stuck in the mud more recently on softer ground.
These conditions may be right up his street and he can now land a major handicap, his first over fences. Nico de Boinville takes the ride as expected.
9.05 Gulfstream Park (Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf – Grade 3) – SHANTISARA
This may be a Grade 3, but it’s worth some $500,000 and as a valuable turf race it’s a shame to see no British or Irish interest.
Dalika is 5/2 on the morning line in the States but may find it tough to give weight away, while Queen Goddess and Wakanaka are solid enough.
If a reasonable price can be found about Chad Brown’s Shantisara however then she would be the one. Race fit now after a spin in November following a long spell out, her past form (and speed) entitles her to be favourite for this race.
9.40 Gulfstream Park (Pegasus World Cup Turf – Grade 1) – LADY SPEIGHTSPEARE
There’s an even million at stake in this one, a race staged over nine furlongs in Florida. Again, no European interest and I can’t help thinking this prize would have been there for the taking.
Ivar has some top-level form and will be well fancied, while Speaking Scout and Master Piece are also of some interest.
At these weights however the one to concentrate on is the five-year-old mare Lady Speightspeare. Third to Tuesday at the Breeders’ Cup, her form is among the best on offer and she is ideally drawn too. Luis Saez takes the ride.
10.40 Gulfstream Park (Pegasus World Cup – Grade 1) – ART COLLECTOR
Though due to changes to this day’s racing the Pegasus quickly lost its title as the world’s richest horse race, it still carries a purse of $3 million.
While those at the top of the market have often done well in this race before, often being younger and improving types, I feel that Bill Mott’s six-year-old Art Collector is way overpriced for this and can do some damage.
Defunded, Cyberknife, Proxy and White Abarrio were also shortlisted.