Didn’t do too well during the week, but Mark Johnston horses always do that to me and I honestly couldn’t find any valid reasons for the two poor previous runs. Let’s hope my luck changes today, though with three large fields to troll through it’s been tough!
Goodwood 15.15 Cl 2 Hcap 623 (104) 7f gd – 20 Run (17 at best)
3yo = 5lbs wfa allowance
Last year – 623 (108) gd – 19 ran
Johnny Barnes 13/2 5-9-3 (101) Dr 2 by 1l from Burnt Sugar 14/1 5-8-6 (90) Dr 6
Mukalal 9/1 3-8-4 (93) Dr 9 was 3.75l 4th
Masham Star 14/1 3-8-11 (100) Dr 10 was 4.5l 5th
Truth Or Dare 15/2 6-8-7 (91) Dr 4 was 4.62l 7th
Vale Of Kent 3-9-1 (100) Dr 4
Plus: class (W); going (W); distance (W); course (W); trainer (C); form run lto (21 days); career best lto; drawn low;
Minus: up 5lbs;
Verdict: (53) improving sort and looks a contender here
Burnt Sugar 6-9-10 (104) Dr 20
Plus: class (W); going (W); distance (W); course (F); trained (14d); form run lto (28 days);
Minus: up 4lbs; high draw;
Verdict: (46) looks hard task from outside draw and not the strongest contender.
Cape Byron 4-9-5 (100) Dr 18
Plus: class (F); distance (W); course (F); trainer (14d); trainer (C); form run lto (22 days); career best lto;
Minus: going; up 2lbs;
Verdict: (44) good effort at Goodwood, but hurt by draw here and not a strong contender
Chessman 4-9-5 (99) Dr 1
Plus: class (F); going (F); distance (W); course (F); trainer (C); form run lto (28 days);
Minus: up 4lbs; yet to win on turf;
Verdict: (34) good effort behind Burnt Sugar at Ascot and better drawn of the pair today, a contender
Very rushed on this one, but due to the draw I’m going for Vale Of Kent from Chessman
York 15.40 Cl 2 Hcap 3113 (112) 14f gd/fm – 20 Run
Last year – 1774 (110) gd – 19 ran
Nakeeta 12/1 6-9-5 (103) Dr 18 by 0.1l from Flymetothestars 7/1 F 409-4 (102) Dr 21
Lord Yeats 12/1 4-9-10 (108) Dr 8 was 35.1l 17th
Nakeeta 7-9-7 (107) Dr 15
21 Jul Cl 2 Hcap (620 d) 16.5f gd/fm Newb 25/1 3.75l 5/16 off 106
held up towards rear, headway over 1f out, ridden inside final furlong, kept on towards finish
Career best when taking last year’s renewal off a 4lbs lower mark under today’s rider and by no means disgraced when 5th in the Melbourne Cup last November where he ran without his accustomed hood; has had a quiet campaign this time round but suggested that he might be returning to form on his third start when 5/16 to Stratum (-9) in a first-time tongue-tie at Newbury last month; could well come on for that and will be 7lbs better in with the winner thanks to his rider’s claim.
Plus: class (W); going (W); distance (W); course (W); trainer (14d); form run lto (35 days); top 7 stall;
Minus: up 1lb;
Verdict: (47) well drawn like last year and a contender again this time round.
Stratum 5-9-2 (102) Dr 4
21 Jul Cl 2 Hcap (620 d) 16.5f gd/fm Newb 11/4 F 3l 1/16 off 94
held up mid-division, ridden and headway over 2f out, led over 1f out, kept on well
Moved from the Gosden stable to the Mullins yard in September 2017 and swiftly made his mark for his new handler winning a mdn hurdle first up; however, his hurdle career has been put on hold for the time being and impressed when 3rd to stable companion Lagostovegas in the Ascot Stakes in June; followed up with a comfortable win in a career best at Newbury last month when he was clear of a pack that saw Nakeeta (+9) in 5th; has been raised 8lbs for that and is 7lbs worse off with Nakeeta, plus drawn low here; not impossible to win again, but certainly a much tougher task.
Plus: class (W); going (W); distance (W); trainer (14d); form run lto (35 days); career best lto;
Minus: course (?); up 8lbs; low draw;
Verdict (46) not best drawn and off 8lbs higher than Newbury, but still a possible contender.
Whiskey Sour 5-9-3 (103) Dr 18
19 Jun Cl 2 Hcap (560 u) 20f gd/fm Ascot 5/1 Jt F 3.25l 5/19 off 100
mid-division, headway over 3f out, chased leaders approaching final furlong, never nearer
Useful dual performer having finished 3rd in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham and then a career best to finish 5th to stable companion Lagostovegas (-5) in the Ascot Stakes in June, just 1l back of Stratum (-8) in 3rd; has since been a rather disappointing 7/20 when favourite for the Guinness Hurdle at Galway on sf; however, back on the flat he has a 7lbs pull with Stratum compared to Ascot and looks by far the better drawn of the pair, although one has to question his liking for the ground.
Plus: class (W); going (F); distance (W); trainer (14d); form run lto Flat; career best lto Flat; recent Hdl outing (23 days); top 7 draw;
Minus: course (?); up 3lbs;
Verdict: (45) question about ground, but well drawn and weighted, so a contender.
Teodoro 4-9-5 (105) Dr 3
11 Aug Gr 3 Stks (360 d) 10.5f gd/fm Hayd 10/1 3.25l 1/7 off 101
made all, quickened over 3f out, stayed on strongly
Four times a winner at up to 10f last season and has stepped up another gear this in making all to win a Gr 3 Stks at Haydock in a career best a fortnight ago; however, had previously finished 3.5l back of Crowned Eagle (+1) in the Old Newton Cup there, although was 1l in front of Blakeney Point (-3); big question about stamina though, as he likes to be up with the pace and while he did win over 12f at Newbury in June, that was a small field Cl 3 hcap; moreover, here he has a dreaded low draw.
Plus: class (W); going (W); trainer (14d); trainer (C); form run lto (14 days); career best lto; down in class;
Minus: distance (?); course (?); 4lbs penalty; low draw;
Verdict: (43) given worries about distance, running style and low draw, not the strongest contender.
Sea The Lion 7-8-4 (104) Dr 17
29 Jun Prem Hcap (270 s) 12f gd/fm Curr 7/1 0.1l 1/11 off 93
soon raced in 6th, effort 2f out and edged right, soon challenged in 2nd, stayed on well final furlong, led at line
Seems to be still improving at 7yo as is 3/3 this term, the latest coming at the Curragh at the end of June with yet another career best; has won over 13f and has placed form over today’s trip, so distance may not be a great concern; certainly older than your normal winner, but was off the course from 2014 to 2017, so is only making 14th career start today; that said, this is very much up in class for the trainer’s first York runner, plus he runs off an 11lbs higher mark than at the Curragh.
Plus: class (W); going (W); distance (W); form run lto; career best lto; top 7 draw;
Minus: course (?); 11lbs rise; 57-day break; age (?);
Verdict: (42) too many questions to be considered the strongest of contenders.
Crowned Eagle 4-9-7 (107) Dr 19
07 Jul Cl 2 Hcap (629 u) 12f gd/fm Hayd 10/1 0.25l 2/16 off 102
tracked leader, led over 3f out, ridden 2f out, headed near finish
Moved from Gosden to Botti’s care towards the end of last year and seems to have taken a step forward in his career this season; won over 11f at Kempton on his return at the end of March and then only just denied in the Jorvik hcap here in May before running 6th in the Duke Of Edinburgh at Ascot; followed that by only just losing out in the Old Newton Cup in another career best where he had both Teodoro and Blakeney Point further back; untried at this trip, but indications are that he should stay, plus is well drawn in stall 19.
Plus: class (W); going (F); course (F); trainer (14d); trainer (C); form run lto; career best lto; top 7 draw;
Minus: distance; 49-day break; up 5lbs;
Verdict: (38) in good form this term and a possible contender if staying the trip.
A race of changing trends, as it’s not so long ago that we were looking for winner among those carrying 9-1 or less; now runners carry more than that just to get in. Up until 2004, the great Sea Pigeon was the only winner aged older than 5yo – winning as a 9yo carrying 10-0 in 1979 with Jonjo O’Neill up! However, the past 3 years have seen a pair of 6tos and the 7yo Litigant claim the prize, although the latter was a special case having only his 8th run, but along with Sea Pigeon is still the only other horse over 6yo to win. Another trend that has arisen in recent years is that no fewer than 10 of the last 12 winners have come from the top 7 stalls. In that period too, only a single winner had not finished in the first two in one or more of his last two starts.
My shortlist is missing Weekender who comes from a mid draw, has been off 70 days and has the steadier of 9-10 to carry. Good luck to him if he can win with that, but I pass. Also missing is Blakeney Point in first-time blinkers, but he is drawn in stall 2 and has yet to make the frame this term. Now applying the trend ideas to my shortlist we can swiftly remove Teodoro – low draw, not won over 12f even. As a 7yo, See The Lion looks as if he should swiftly go too, but this is only his 14th start and he has a good draw; nevertheless, he’s way up in weight and class, so I’ll draw the line. Nakeeta is another 7yo whose drawn well, but he’s also last year’s winner and as far as I can find the last repeat winner was Flint Jack in 1922/23; so another line drawn as regard to the win. Stratum is a hot favourite, as he perhaps deserves to be based on his Newbury win, but he’s up 8lbs and has a horrible low draw, so looks a little cramped at the price and is not my idea of the winner. So that leaves me with Mullins other entry, Whiskey Sour who is a proven stayer of the right age and kindly drawn, who is preferred to Crowned Eagle who has to prove he can stay the trip, but looks to be an improving sort. Stratum must be a danger if he can overcome the draw, while it would not surprise me to see Nakeeta make the frame.
York 16.50 Cl 2 Hcap 436 (101) 10.5f gd/fm – 20 Run (16 at best)
Weights raised 2lbs
3yo = 7lbs wfa allowance
Last year – 436 (105) gd – 20 ran
Eddystone Rock 20/1 5-9-2 (97) Dr 6 by 0.05l from Titi Makfi 8/1 3-8-9 (97) Dr 12
Awake My Soul 25/1 8-8-7 (88) Dr 9 was 8.4l 8th
Gulf Of Poets 50/1 5-8-2 (90) Dr 2 was 32.92l 19th
Alfarris 4-9-10 (101) Dr 20
31 Jul Cl 2 Hcap (470 u) 10f gd Good 13/2 F 0.5 1/15 off 95
held up towards rear, headway form over 3f out, switched left over 2f out, led over 1f out, stayed on well, on command towards finish
Improving this season, bouncing back from a narrow defeat at Sandown to win with another career best at Goodwood lto; raised 6lbs for that, but could still have more to come.
Plus: class (W); going (F); distance (W); trainer (14d); Trainer (C); form run lto (25 days); career best lto;
Minus: course (?); up 6lbs;
Verdict: (54) improving sort, but has high draw to overcome; nevertheless, a contender.
Exhort 3-8-10 (94) Dr 18
28 Jul Cl 3 Hcap (160 u) 10.5f gd/sf York 8/1 0.75 1/8 off 88
slowly into stride, held up towards rear, ridden and headway over 2f out, not much room over 1f out, soon switched left, stayed on inside final furlong, led last 60yds
Twice a winner as 2yo and has repeated the feat this season as she continues to improve; raised 6lbs for latest success over C&D here in another career best, but should still have more to come; however, another drawn high.
Plus: class (F); going IW); distance (W); course (W); form run lto (28); career best lto;
Minus: up 6lbs; up in class;
Verdict: (43) improving filly who can contend if overcoming her high draw.
Pivoine 4-9-7 (98) Dr 12
31 Jul Cl 2 Hcap (470 u) 10f gd Good 9/1 4.5l 6/15 off 98
mid-division, trying to close but trouble passage through from over 2f out until inside final furlong, ran on final 75 yards, bumped towards finish
Impressive winner at Sandown in June when visor refitted and likely would have been closer to Alfarris at Goodwood last time with a clearer run; has a 9lbs swing in the weights today, plus may be better drawn in the middle; question is how he’ll take to the first-time blinkers.
Plus: class (F); going (W); distance (W); trainer (14d); trainer (C); recent outing (25 days);
Minus: course (?);
Verdict: (41) how he reacts to the headgear the question, but a contender if brining the required improvement.
Communique 3-9-5 (103) Dr 8
11 Aug Gr 3 Stks (360 d) 10.5f gd/fm Hayd 6/1 9l 4/7 off 103
tracked leaders, driven over 4f out, soon under pressure, weakened over 1f out
Limitations rather exposed at Haydock lto, but previously had looked the part in winning 3yo hcaps at Newmarket and Goodwood, setting consecutive career bests; faces a tough task returned to handicaps, but both wins came under De Sousa.
Plus: class (W); going (W); distance (W); trainer (C); recent outing (14 days); down in class;
Verdict: (40) goes well for De Sousa and a possible contender
Usually goes to a horse drawn in single digits, which raises questions about the chances of Alfarris and Exhort who are drawn high. That being the case, I’m tempted to take a chance with Communique back in hcaps with De Sousa in the saddle who may hold off Pivoine and Alfarris.
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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