Back to old habits again yesterday picking them in the wrong order, but I wasn’t the only one seduced by Elector’s promise as it ended up as favourite. No harm done in the end with Jazeel winning, but annoying. Different matter today though with a pair of tough handicaps to try and crack. I hope I’ve made some sense of them, but we’ll see later on this afternoon I guess.
Sandown 14.25 Cl 2 Hcap 162 (96.4) 8f gd/fm – 14 Run (13 at best)
Last year – 462 (95.5) gd/fm – 15 ran
Tigre Du Terre 9/3 F 3-8-8 (98) Dr 5 by 1.75l from Escobar 9/1 4-9-7(102) Dr 1
Via Serendipity 8/1 4-8-13 (94) Dr 7 was 2.75l 3rd
Mojito 5-9-8 (101) Dr 8 (123.5)
Highly progressive 3yo who completed a hat-trick of wins at York in August 2017 off 95, but finished L/18 at Ascot on his final start in the October; has not been seen since.
Plus: class (W); going (W); distance (W); course (W); down 3lbs (OR);
Minus: up 5lbs (wt); 637-day break;
Verdict: impossible to know what to expect, but not a logical contender coming back from such a long break.
History Writer 4-9-4 (97) Dr 11
16 Jun Cl 2 Hcap (247/92.6) 8f gd/sf Sand 5/1 9-10 2l 1/12 off 91 – 132.2
held up towards rear, headway between horses chasing leaders 2f out, ridden to lead entering final furlong, ran on well
Has a good record here (2/2/5) and back to winning ways here last month when Greenside (+4) was 4l 4th; had earlier finished 0.35l 3/8 to Lush Life (0) here in late May, which had indicated his well-being prior to a dismal effort at Epsom where he was never a factor; handicapper has raised him 6lbs, although he actually carries 6lbs less against this better opposition; not the most frequent of winners (2/13) so perhaps it’s expecting a bit much for him to complete the double.
Plus: class (W); going (F); distance (W); course (W); form run lto (21 days); down 6lbs (wt);
Minus: up 6lbs (OR); high draw;
Verdict: in form and course suits, but maybe ground will prove too fast and not well drawn off his career high mark; still, can’t ignore at Sandown.
Via Serendipity 5-9-4 (97) Dr 6 (128.6)
20 Jun Cl 3 Hcap (104/92.0) 8f AW Chelm 6/1 9-7 5l 1/8 off 95 – 128.6
made all, clear final 2f, ran on strongly, unchallenged
Won here last June before finishing 3rd in the renewal of this off 94; went on to win the Shergar Mile at Ascot off 95, although had since struggled off his new mark; back down to 85, however, and dropped in class at Chelmsford lto he made the most of a change of tactics to make all and win unchallenged; raised just 2lbs for that, he carries 3lbs less actual weight going back up in class; however, might need a race or two to conquer his new mark.
Plus: class (W); going (W); distance (W); course (W); form run lto (16 days); down 3lbs (wt);
Minus: up 2lbs (OR);
Verdict: returns to course that suits, but runs off a 3lbs higher mark than last year and might find winning too tough an ask again.
Lush Life 4-9-1 (94) Dr 14 (122.2)
Inclined to forgive latest effort at Newcastle as not all horses get on with the AW surface there; previously had won a 93/88.6 over C&D here just getting the better of War Glory and History Writer (0) by a nk and a hd, respectively; runs off a 3lbs higher mark than that, however, plus has a wide draw.
Plus: going (W); distance (W); course (W); recent outing (32 days); down 6lbs (wt);
Minus: class (?); high draw;
Verdict: has to bounce back from Newcastle disappointment, but she may find it difficult to confirm previous running here from an outside draw.
Greenside 8-9-1 (94) Dr 4
16 Jun Cl 2 Hcap (247/92.6) 8f gd/sf Sand 4/1 10-0 4l 4/12 off 95 – 128.7
raced keenly, held up towards rear, headway on wide outside over2f out, hung right inside final 2f, plugged on final furlong
No spring chicken but still very much part of the game and after winning at Windsor in early May when he had Lush Life (+1) less than 2l back in 3rd, he has run a couple of credible efforts at Epsom and C&D here, the latest when 4th to History Writer; won off this mark here 2 years ago, but might be looking for easier targets as an 8yo.
Plus: class (W); going (W); distance (W); course (W); form run lto (21 days); down 1lb (OR); down 13lbs (wt);
Verdict: still capable as an 8yo and no surprise were he to make the frame.
Trends tell us to look for 3/4yos – no 3yos this year! – plus horses carrying 9-6 or less with an OR in the 88 to 100 range. A top 4 finish in one of the last 2 starts, which should be within 10 to 65 days, but the most telling may be that 8/10 were drawn in stalls 1 to 6.
Mojito was an impressive 3yo, but that was 2 years ago and while I may be wrong, I just can’t go for a horse coming back from that long a break as favourite, I’m also not that fond of Via Serendipity who was woeful in his first 2 starts this term and had to be dropped in class on the AW to try a change of tactics. That worked in that he had no problem making all against that class of opposition, but one feels it might be tougher today. Of others, I’m very much aware that Escobar runs off a 4lbs lower mark than last year, but he’s also still 3lbs above his sole hcap winning mark, plus his 3 runs this term hardly fill one with much hope being beaten 46.5l in total – not for me I’m afraid.
That leaves me with History Writer, Lush Life and Greenside, the first two being drawn in double digits. Very much so for Lush Life from the outside stall, and thus I’m tempted to go for the older horse Greenside to see off History Writer.
Haydock 15.15 Cl 2 Hcap 623 (97.9) 12f gd/fm – 17 Run
Last year – 622 (96.4) gd/fm – 16 ran
Rainbow Rebel 12/1 5-8-11 (92) Dr 2 by 0.25l from Crowned Eagle 10/1 4-9-7 (102) Dr 8
Koeman 20/1 4-8-7 (88) Dr 7 was 7.25l 7th
Society Red 20/1 4-8-13 (94) Dr 17 was 20.35l Last of 16
First Eleven 4-9-10 (109) Dr 17 (134.9)
15 May Cl 2 Hcap (311/97.4) 12f gd/fm York 5/1 9-9 1/18 0.25l off 104 – 134.9
mid-division, headway over 2f out, every chance over 1f out, ridden to lead inside final furlong, held on near finish
Improved as a 3yo winning a valuable hcap at York in September carrying 9-6 off 97; improved on that on return, staying on best of all to hold off past winners in taking a highly competitive hcap; has been raised 5lbs for that, but only carries 1lb more in actual weight on what would appear to be one of his last forays in the handicap realm.
Plus: class (W); going (W); distance (W); form run lto (52 days); career best lto;
Minus: course (?); up 5lbs (OR); up 1lb (wt); high draw;
Verdict: class horse, but big ask in giving 5lbs or more in weight to the field, plus not been kindly treated in getting a wide draw; can’t be ignored, but a tough task.
Aquarium 4-9-4 (103) Dr 9 (131.5)
21 Jun Cl 2 Hcap (560/101.2) 12f gd Ascot 40/1 9-7 4.5l 7/19 off 103 – 130.7
towards rear, ridden and headway over 1f out, kept on final furlong
Scored 5 times in a busy 3yo season and back in the winner’s enclosure at Chester in May when beating Epaulment (-4) by 0.5l; was never involved at Epsom at the start of June, but showed that running to be all wrong when despite meeting trouble he finished ahead of Byron Flyer and Lucius Tiberius in the Duke Of Edinburgh at Ascot; goes well for Norton but yet to win over this trip and may need easing a lb or two before he’s back in the winner’s enclosure.
Plus: class (W); going (W); course (F); form run lto (15 days); down 3lbs (wt);
Minus: distance (?);
Verdict: although only a 4yo may be a little over exposed already having 6 wins to his credit; looks a little high in the weights to be the strongest of contenders.
Island Brave 5-9-0 (99) Dr 12 (124.2)
22 Jun Cl 2 Hcap (259/91.1) 13f gd Ayr 12/1 9-5 0.75l 1/14 off 96 – 124.2
held up in rear, outpaced over 3f out, headway over 2f out, chased leaders over 1f out, led inside final furlong, stayed on strongly
Predominantly an AW horse, has nevertheless shown his capabilities on turf since midway through last season, winning over 14f at Nottingham last August and then winning over 13f at Ayr a fortnight back; has been raised 3lbs for that, but will actually carry 5lbs less today; whether or not he can confirm the running with Charles Kingsley is another matter, however, particularly on the faster ground.
Plus: class (W); distance (W); form run lto (14 days); down 5lbs (wt);
Minus: going; course (?); up 3lbs (OR);
Verdict: suspect this may be a little beyond him on the fast ground and may prefer further nowadays.
Charles Kingsley 4-8-13 (98) Dr 14 (123.9)
22 Jun Cl 2 Hcap (259/91.1) 13f gd Ayr 6/1 9-7 2l 5/14 off 98 – 123.9
tracked leaders, outpaced over 3f out, rallied over 1f out, not clear run and switched right entering final furlong
A winner on his debut at Beverley last September, he’s shown steady improvement this year winning in lower class at Hamilton and Beverley before finishing a creditable 5/14 to Island Brave (-2) and Kelly’s Dino (-3) when raised to this level for the first time at Ayr last month; met trouble that day and may well reverse the running on 3lbs and 2lbs better terms, respectively.
Plus: class (F); going (W); distance (W); form run lto (14 days); down 8lbs (wt);
Minus: course (?);
Verdict: lower weighted of Johnston’s pair, but may be the more likely contender.
Al Muffrih 4-8-12 (97) Dr 19 (116.4)
27 May Cl 2 Hcap (280/90.3) 10f gd/fm Red 6/4 F 8-12 0.1l 1/14 off 91 – 116.4
held tracking leaders in 6th, smooth headway on inside 4f out, ridden to lead over 1f out, held on, all out
Just the one start as a 2yo, finishing 3/7 in an 8f Newmarket mdn in the October; won a fast ground 10f mdn at Newbury on his return at 3yo last May, but rather disappointed when 4/14 at Sandown the following month and not seen again; entitled to need the race when fading in the final furlong over 9f at Newmarket in early May; settled better under today’s rider in the Zetland at Redcar at the end of May and batted well to deny Leroy Leroy; however, the race has yet to produce any further winners; has been raised 6lbs for that, although runs off the same physical weight today, plus is up an extra 2f in trip against stiffer opposition; entitled to improve, but will it be enough?
Plus: class (W); going (W); form run lto (40 days); career best lto;
Minus: distance (?); course (?); up 6lbs (OR); up in trip; high draw;
Verdict: just the 2 wins to date and untried at this trip, plus not favoured by the high draw in a race that should be run at a good pace; not the strongest contender in my book.
Koeman 5-8-11 (96) Dr 10 (120.3)
22 May Cl 3 Hcap (93/86.3) 11f AW Kemp 7/1 9-6 0.1l 2/10 off 92 – 120.3
close up, pushed along and headway 2f out, chased winner over 1fout, ridden and stayed on to press winner close home, just held
Runs off an 8lbs higher mark than when a creditable 7th in last year’s renewal having won at Ascot later in the month; put in a decent effort on his return at Newmarket in May when a staying-on 3/9 to Baghdad; followed up by just being denied on the AW at Kempton later in the month; not been out since, but Channon has won this in the past and maybe doesn’t want to show his hand.
Plus: class (F); going (W); distance (W); form run lto (45 days); down 9lbs (wt);
Minus: course; up 4lbs; up in class;
Verdict: knows what it’s all about and may do better than last year.
Tough as ever, but hopefully some of the past stats will help. Looking at age, yes, there have been a pair of 6yo and even a 7yo winner in the past 10 renewals, but those 5yo and younger have won 14/17. Weight is a little less predicative, though 12/17 have carried 9-1 or less, while 13/17 have run off a mark in the 89 to 97 range. When it comes to past wins, 3 to 5 looks the safest with only 4/17 having won more and 6/17 having won less. The other key to note on wins is that just 2/17 had not previously won over 12f. When it comes to the draw it doesn’t pay to be drawn too high unless the ground is on the soft side of gd, which it was for the only pair to have won from stall 19, 14 or lower seems to be the place.
The only one that ticked all the boxes on the trends, by the way, was Koeman, although I don’t see him as the strongest of contenders as he’s yet to win at this level. I also have my doubts about Island Brave following up his Ayr win in this much tougher event. The other four I can give chances to, however; it’s just a matter of picking the right one(s). First Eleven is obviously the class horse and Dylan Mouth carried 9-10 to victory in 2017. So there are precedents. However, he’s been saddled with a wide draw in stall 17 and it could be tough to win from out there, although I expect him to make the frame. Al Muffrih is even worse off drawn widest of all from stall 19, plus he has yet to run over this trip and is only making his 6th start. Again, he could, but I doubt it. That leaves me with the two Johnston horses, and he has won 3 of the last 6 renewals, including last year. You know I always have problems picking the ‘right one‘ of his multiple entries, but I’m tempted to go with Charles Kingsley. So in a race that I rarely get anywhere near right, I’d be going with Charles Kingsley (e/w) as my main choice from perhaps First Eleven, Aquarium and Al Muffrih.
Any comments on today's racing. Please don't just put in selections ... please add some reason why you think a runner will win
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