Racing

25/8/17 – Ebor Day 3

Disappointing day today ending just over 2 points down on the day, but in the grand scheme of things no real damage done. Just the one bet on Friday for me. 

York

3.35 – Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes (Group 1) – 5f

Without a doubt the highlight of the week; Lady Aurelia v Battaash. If you follow me on twitter I’m sure you’re aware of my love for Lady Aurelia, so it’s fairly obvious which way I’m going in this one. In short, Lady A is just a fucking rocket. That Queen Mary win was without a doubt the best 2yo performance I’ve ever seen, and we’ll probably be waiting a very long time to see anything like that again. There were doubts she wouldn’t train on but she put that argument to rest with a truly scintillating win in the Kings Stand. I’ve seen a few people taking her on here because of the fact she was nowhere near as impressive post-Ascot last year, so their angle is that she may do the same this year. And that argument is fair enough. But the truth is there were proper excuses after Ascot last year. In the Morny she trod in a hole at around the 1f pole according to Frankie, plus she was racing over 6f, which is clearly not her optimum. She also bled in the Cheveley Park, so that run can be completely discounted. Over 5f, I do believe she is the best horse in the world. Saying that, in Battaash she faces the best horse she will have ever raced. There is nothing between them on ORs and the sectionalistas claim that Battaash’s Goodwood win was more impressive on the clock than Lady Aurelia at Royal Ascot. But Lady Aurelia wasn’t pushed out at all at Ascot. They both beat the same horses a very similar distance, and I just think Lady Aurelia had that little bit more left in the locker. And whilst it’d certainly be no surprise should Battaash win, it’s Lady Aurelia where my money will be going. 

Selection: 1.5pts WIN Lady Aurelia 13/8 (Paddy Power/Betfair)

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24/8/17 – Ebor Day 2

We only had 2 bets on Day 1, but ended up with a small profit thanks to Cracksman’s rout, and with 3 picks on Day 2 I’m hopeful we’ll end up in front again. The write ups are nowhere near as detailed as yesterday but at least it means I won’t be rambling on!

York

1.55 – Goffs Premier Yearling Sales – 6f

Richard Fahey has made no secret of the fact he rates Great Prospector in here as his best chance of the week, but the one I like is Hey Jonesy. He was a good 2nd on debut but built on that here at the end of July when beating Staxton 2 3/4l. Granted, Staxton was carrying a penalty that day but those 2 pulled miles clear of the 3rd, marking them out as both being well above average. Staxton has since won another novice race up at Haydock, again carrying the penalty. The 3rd behind Hey Jonesy and Staxton (beaten 8 3/4l) has since won a novice race too, and with Kevin Ryan’s string in good form, I’m very hopeful he’ll go close. I’d imagine we’ll end up on good ground but nobody really knows. However, Hey Jonesy was 2nd on debut on good to firm and won here on good to soft so it shouldn’t make a difference. 

Selection: 0.5pt EW Hey Jonesy 9/2 (Paddy Power/Betfair as paying 4 places)


2.25 – Sky Bet Lowther Stakes (Group 2) – 6f

Actress sets the standard here, and should probably be fav, but I don’t think she’s going to end up being too much better than her current rating in all honesty. Happy Like A Fool was backed as if defeat was out of the question at Royal Ascot but there were many fingers burnt (including my own) when she was turned over. It will be interesting to see her again but she’d probably have wanted the ground a little firmer. Instead I’m going to take a chance on Special Purpose for William Haggas and Oisin Murphy. It’s very interesting that she runs here rather than in the preceding race, a race Haggas has won 3 times in the last 4 years, and she was his sole entry in the race. So she’s clearly held in some regard, and Haggas has a good record in this race too, having won it twice in the last 5 years. She didn’t have to work hard at all to score on debut at Lingfield, and pissed up at Beverley LTO. The 2nd that day won next time too so the form looks decent enough, and whilst it’s hard to be too confident in a race like this, she’s the one I want to be siding with at the prices. 

Selection: 0.5pt EW Special Purpose 13/2 (SkyBet)


3.00 – Clipper Logistics Handicap – 7f 192y

This is clearly a tough race to solve, but the one I like is One Word More for the Tim Easterby stable, who had a winner here on Day 1 with Wells Farhh Go. One Word More clearly likes the Knavesmire having been placed here off marks ranging from 98-103 on no less than 5 occasions. Whilst he hasn’t won since April 2015, he is now back down to his last winning mark in 92, and shaped with a lot more promise last time at Goodwood. He’s weighted to go close again on a track he likes, and he’ll do for me. 

Selection: 0.5pt EW One Word More 14/1 (SkyBet, 6 places)


Yorkshire Oaks a definite no bet race for me. Enable will win and I have no idea what will finish 2nd to her so won’t be getting involved in the w/o market either. But I would like to point out that it is ludicrous to believe that Taghrooda getting beat in this race has any impact on Enable, it’s utter bollocks. Just watch and enjoy a superstar of a horse. 

Mori should also win the following race but I can’t back her at odds on after a mid season break. 

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23/8/17 – Ebor Day 1

Well it’s a been a while since I’ve done one of these, 2 months to be exact. I’ve just been very busy with work and by the time I get in I just can’t be arsed to spend a good few hours writing a blog to be honest. But I’m off work for the whole week so the plan is to write one of these for every day of the Ebor festival. Will then probably take a break until Irish Champions Weekend, and after that, well fuck knows when the blog will be back! Anyway, in the past I’ve always advised level ¬£10 stakes, but from now on I’ll be using a points system. The reason behind that is there’s always some bets you’re more confident on than others, and a points system allows you to stake accordingly.

 

York

3.00 – Betway Great Voltigeur Stakes (Group 2) – 1m 3f 188y

Cracksman heads the market here at EVS, and I can’t argue with that at all. He’s by some way the most likely winner of this, and this has been his target ever since the Irish Derby, and will also be his last run of the season so will clearly be fully tuned up for this. He was a good 3rd in the Derby when seeming to run in snatches, and in my eyes was the moral winner of the Irish Derby, only undone by a tactical masterclass from Ballydoyle. He does seem a bit of a #FrankelBastard who wouldn’t be the easiest¬†to trust as he can be a bit lazy in his races and take a while to get going. But I have no doubt he’s the best horse in the race. Of the other Frankels in the race, I’m not a fan of any of them. Mirage Dancer and Count Octave I just don’t like, and Atty Persse isn’t up to this level. You could make a case for Khalidi on his debut for Clive Cox at the prices, but it’s the 3 Aidan O’Brien horses I think are bigger dangers. Spanish Steps won the Ballyroan against the older horses a couple of weeks ago under a Seamie special from the front, and whilst he’ll probably make a bold bid at doing the same here, this is a better race. You’d imagine both he and Douglas Macarthur will go forward, which could set the race up for the other Ballydoyle runner, Venice Beach. I’ve long been a fan of the horse, and have backed him on all 5 of his starts this season. He won the Chester Vase back in May when beating Wings of Eagles, but flopped in the Derby afterwards. But I’m willing to forgive any horse a poor run in the Derby. Some horses just don’t handle the track at all, and that looks to have been the case with Venice Beach. On his only run since, he was beaten a length into 3rd in the Grand Prix de Paris by Shakeel and Permian. He raced prominently that day and was outpaced entering the straight, before staying on well. He looks like a Leger horse to me and this morning I have backed him at 20/1 for that race. Aidan usually sends his St Leger horse here, and he’s the stable first string with Ryan on board. He stays all day but my concern here is that Aidan’s often need this run before the Leger so I’m not convinced he’ll be completely ready here. If you’re looking for one at a bigger price Venice Beach would be the one, but I just can’t see past Cracksman.

Selection: 1.5pts WIN Cracksman EVS (Stan James)

3.35 – Juddmonte International Stakes (Group 1) – 1m 2f 56y

The Nunthorpe aside, this is the race I’m most looking forward to this week, despite only having 7 runners. My Dream Boat can be discounted as he needs cut in the ground and hasn’t looked the same horse this campaign. Bar him though, it’s not easy to rule any of these out. The obvious starting point is Barney Roy. 2nd in the Guineas before getting the better of Churchill at Royal Ascot (more on this later), he was then a very narrow, and closing, 2nd to Ulysses on his first try over 10f in the Eclipse. He was very keen early on that day and the undulations of Sandown clearly weren’t to his liking. A flat, galloping track like York will suit him no ends, and for that reason many fancy Barney Roy to reverse that Eclipse form with Ulysses. But I’m not so sure. Yes, Barney Roy is improving rapidly, but so is Ulysses. He was the only one that got anywhere near Enable in the King George (granted, he was still beaten a fair way) and that was on ground he really wouldn’t have liked. If that hasn’t taken too much out of him, I’d rather back him than Barney Roy. One reason for this is the fact that for some unknown reason, Godolphin haven’t put in a pacemaker for Barney Roy, which is ludicrous. He needs a strong pace to help him settle, and we are left with just 7 runners, none of which will go hard from the front. That is a major negative for Barney Roy. With a pacemaker, I’d probably have sided with him here, but reluctantly I’m going to pass him over. I’m also going to discard Ulysses, as the King George must have taken a fair bit out of him so with that doubt I’ll look elsewhere. If we’d come here straight from the Guineas, Churchill would probably be odds on. But of course he flopped in the St James’ Palace behind Barney Roy, and no reason was found for that. Now there’s no doubting that definitely wasn’t his true running, but I do have a suspicion that at this stage of his classic season that others like Barney Roy may have caught up with him physically. He was a monster of a 2yo, and its possible some of the reason for his Guineas win was because he was simply the most mature and experienced. Obviously he is a very talented horse as well, and despite the fact that you can completely put a line through his Ascot run, I don’t feel compelled to back him here. Decorated Knight runs looking to win his 3rd Group 1, which is ridiculous in all honesty. He probably won the weakest Group 1 of all time when winning the Jebel Hatta, before adding another very soft Group 1 when winning the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh in late May. He’s not true Group 1 class and I’d be shocked, and rather pissed off, if he wins this. Shutter Speed is interesting. At the start of the season John Gosden described her as without a doubt the best filly he has. Now Enable has since turned into a world beater, but Gosden certainly hasn’t hidden the regard she is held in. Her French Oaks run was disappointing and there were no real excuses either. Yes she stumbled late on, but that was the difference between 2nd and 4th, as she wouldn’t have beaten Senga anyway. The plan was to run her at Deauville last weekend, but she was pulled due to the ground and therefore runs here as plan B, and she’s not for me. I’ve only left one and that’s my pick in Cliffs of Moher, who looks to have been a little forgotten about. The Derby form has been crabbed by many, but I think it’s a lot better than people are giving it credit for. Wings of Eagles might have been a huge priced winner, but there’s no doubt in my mind he was a very, very good horse, and it’s a huge shame he picked up that injury in the Irish Derby. But back to the Derby form, the 3rd Cracksman should have won the Irish Derby, but Ballydoyle went 5 wide across the track and forced him to go round, and he was still only just beaten. The 4th, Eminent, disappointed in the Eclipse, but pissed up in a Group 2 at Deauville last week, with the French Derby 1st and 3rd beaten miles. The 5th, Benbatl, won the Hampton Court at Royal Ascot. The 6th, Capri, won the Irish Derby. The 10th, Permian, won the King Edward VII, and was desperately unlucky not to land a Group 1 over at Saint Cloud before he devastatingly lost his life at Arlington a couple of weeks ago. Even the Derby 16th, Rekindling, has since won the Curragh Cup, so to my eyes, I don’t think it is justified to be calling that “the worst Derby of all time” like many on social media have. Granted, no superstar has emerged from the race, but Wings of Eagles could have been just that. Cliffs of Moher was of course 2nd in the race on just his 4th lifetime run. Since then, he was 4th in the Eclipse that Ulysses narrowly won from Barney Roy. However, he was very badly hampered early on and its tough for any horse to recover from that. He was lucky to still be standing, so for me a line can be drawn through that. He went off 7/4 to beat both Ulysses and Barney Roy that day, so why he should be over double the price of both of that pair now I have no idea. Add to that the fact there is no pace in the race whatsoever, I think Seamie may go forward on Cliffs of Moher here, and how many times have we seen him set a false pace and nick one from the front? He is by no means a confident selection, but at the prices he has to be my bet in the race.

Selection: 0.75pts WIN Cliffs of Moher 6/1 (Stan James)

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22/6/17 – Royal Ascot Day 3

Another ok day yesterday. Le Brivido won very impressively at 7/2 to get us off to a good start, but with only place money from Decorated Knight afterwards, we only ended in slight profit. I’ve not had much time today though, so this blog won’t be as in depth as the first 2. Maybe getting straight to the point might bring about a few more winners anyway!

Royal Ascot

2.30 – Norfolk Stakes (Group 2) – 5f

I had a few on my shortlist for this, including Consequences and Santry, but I’ve settled on one who ran in the same race as those 2 up at York in  It Don’t Come Easy. He was beaten far enough by those 2 that day, but he stayed on well enough for a respectable 4th. He improved leaps and bounds next time out however, when getting the better of the odds-on Rebel Assault (herself an 8l maiden winner) in what was a course record time. They were absolutely miles clear of the 3rd, and that was a huge run from the son of Kyllachy. He’s proven on the ground too, and a big run is expected. 

Selection: It Don’t Come Easy 9/1 EW (Bet365)


3.05 – Hampton Court Stakes (Group 3) – 1m 1f 212y

I could be proven very wrong but I was happy enough to take on Mirage Dancer here. I’ve watched that Chester run back and wasn’t as enthusiastic about it as I was originally. I don’t think he’s certain to overturn form with Bay of Poets as he’s a short price for what he’s actually achieved. Instead, I like Tamleek, who also ran at Chester. He was going well at Chester 2f out behind the Ballydoyle trio of Venice Beach, Wings of Eagles and The Anvil, but he simply didn’t stay the 12f. Back down to 10f on fast ground, he has his ideal conditions, is very lightly raced and I hope Godolphin could be tasting some more success here, but is by no means a confident selection. 

Selection: Tamleek 15/2 EW (SkyBet)


3.40 – Ribblesdale Stakes (Group 2) – 1m 3f 211y

I don’t have a strong opinion on this, but I have no problem taking on the 2 that ran in the Oaks: Alluringly and Coronet. They were well, well beaten and I don’t think they’re good enough. Mori is obviously going to be popular but she’s short enough for what she’s actually done. I’ll take a chance on Naughty or Nice for John Oxx. She won on debut beating the now 102 rated Bean Feasa (who had already had the advantage of 4 runs) very well. She won going away by 2 1/2 lengths and followed that up with a narrow win in a Listed race at Navan last month. The 2nd that day, Grandee, has since won a Listed race herself too. So the form of her wins is decent enough, she’s got plenty of scope for progress, has won on fast ground and definitely stays, so there’s a fair bit to like about her. I’m not over the moon about the blinkers going on but in what looks a tricky race, I’m willing to take a chance. 

Selection: Naughty Or Nice 8/1 EW (Betfair/Paddy Power)


4.20 – Gold Cup (Group 1) – 2m 3f 210y

Of course, Order of St George is the clear standout. He’ll probably win but I just can’t trust him at odds on. Instead, I’ll take 2 against him. The first is Sheikhzayedroad, and I’m not going to lie I back him every time he runs. He did reward me twice last season though having backed him for the Doncaster Cup, and then at 18/1 here on Champions Day. He was 3rd in this race last year so clearly stays, and that was on ground much softer than he prefers. He ran well enough out in Meydan this winter. He owes me absolutely nothing, but maybe he can reward me again. The other is Harbour Law, who I think is an insulting price. He is of course a classic winner, having won last year’s St Leger, where he showed he stays all day long and ran well at this meeting last year too, having been 2nd in the Queen’s Vase behind Sword Fighter. The clear negative is his reappearance in the Sagaro, where he finished last. He desperately needed the run that day though, and the way the race panned out will not have suited him at all. It was ran at a crawl and turned into a sprint turning for home. For a horse that all he does is stay, he had no chance. This will be run at a much quicker pace, and hopefully he can swoop late on like he did in the St Leger. We can all dream. But one thing is for sure, if he was trained by Aidan O’Brien he’d be well under half the price he is. 

Selections: Sheikhzayedroad 12/1 EW (Betfair/Paddy Power) and Harbour Law 25/1 EW (General)


5.00 – Britannia Stakes (Heritage Handicap) – 1m

Absolute minefield. The one I’d end up with is Lightening Fast. The Frankel colt won on handicap debut at Navan in April, and his mark has been protected ever since. He beat a progressive horse that day in Gino Severini, and Ger Lyons and his team think he’s a stakes horse in the making, which he will need be, mind. He’s drawn ok in 9. Yes, there was a big draw bias to the high numbers on Day 2 but the winner of the Sandringham came from 11 with the 4th breaking from 13. The pace in this race looks to be in the middle as well, so 9 should be ok. I’m not having a bet currently, but if I were to do so, he’d be my pick.

Selection: No bet


5.35 – King George V Stakes (Handicap) – 1m 3f 211y

Good luck again in this one. Worth noting though that in the last 7 years, every single winner has been drawn in double figures, as have 75% of the places horses. So I chucked out those drawn 1-9 to start with, which slashes the field in half. After that, well fuck knows. I might have play on something just before the off but for now, no bet. 

Selection: No bet

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21/6/17 – Royal Ascot Day 2

Overall, I think it’s fair to say the bookies will have been drinking a few bottles of champagne on Day 1. For us, it wasn’t the worst day thanks to a little bit of place money on Mutakayyef in the opener at 15/2, before Lady Aurelia absolutely blitzed them in the Kings Stand. Having put her up antepost at 6/1, it ensured profit on the day. You beautiful filly!

Royal Ascot 
2.30 – Jersey Stakes (Group 3) – 7f

Well we could have been gifted a much easier start to Day 2 than we’ve been presented with here. I did not find this one easy to solve at all. Dream Castle for Josie Gordon is a clear contender. He was 2nd to Barney Roy in the Greenham, and he traded very short in running that day at around the 1.05 mark. He just didn’t looked like he stayed, so it was a little bizarre to see him run in the Guineas over a furlong further next time out. Now that wasn’t run at much of a pace, so despite his 5th placed finish, the stamina doubts are still there for me. I think the Commonwealth Cup is the race for him, but of course Godolphin have Blue Point and now Harry Angel for that. Josie does have a good record when riding for Saeed bin Suroor though, but it was his stamina doubts that eventually put me off him. Daban brings 1000 Guineas form to the table, form which is clearly decent given the fact that Winter is an absolute certainty for the Coronation, and that Rhododendron ran very well in the Oaks. But with no fillies’ allowance in this race, I struggle to see her getting the better of Dream Castle. Glastonbury Song is interesting. He was well beaten in the Irish Guineas, but by all accounts he needs fast ground, which we’ve most definitely got here, and I think he’ll outrun his odds. But it’s Le Brivido for me. His French 2000 Guineas 2nd is by some way the best form on offer here. He was only beaten a short head by Brametot who of course has gone on to win the Prix du Jockey Club since. The drop back to 7f will not inconvenience him, in fact it may suit him, as he was only caught very late on by Brametot. He sets a lofty enough standard here, brings a narrow classic defeat back into a Group 3, and for me is the one they all have to beat. 

Selection: Le Brivido 7/2 (Boylesports/Betfred)


3.05 – Queen Mary Stakes (Group 2)

I have to say this doesn’t look the strongest renewal at all. Wesley Ward runs Happy Like A Fool, and by all accounts coming from Stateside, she’s a good thing here. Ward described her as “very special” after Lady Aurelia’s Kings Stand win too. I watched her debut this morning where she won very easily and it was abundantly clear that she’s got talent, and a lot of it. Wesley Ward has won the last 2 runnings of this race with Lady Aurelia and Acapulco, and he could very well make that 3 in a row. To be perfectly honest, the rest don’t seem to be anything special at all. Yes Heartache won well on debut, but Bath maiden winner certainly doesn’t scream Queen Mary winner. You could maybe make a case Mick Channon’s Neola on the back of her 1/2l 2nd to Main Desire though. If not for her setback, you’d have to think Main Desire would be a clear 2nd fav in this, so strictly on that form you’d have to give Neola a squeak. But for me I struggle to see Happy Like A Fool not winning this. Ward’s 2 year olds are usually a hell of a lot more forward than the British 2 year olds, he has a great record in the race, she fits the profile of his winners (once-raced maiden winner at Keeneland) and she doesn’t look to have much to beat. Burns them from the front. 

Selection: Happy Like A Fool 5/4 (General)


3.40 – Duke of Cambridge Stakes (Group 2) – 1m

I think I’ll start with last year’s winner of this, Usherette, who attempts to defend her title. Since then, she’s finished down the field in the Falmouth, before 2 3rds over in France. The French do tend to bring on their horses throughout the year, so you can expect her to improve further from her good 3rd in the Prix d’Ispahan. But I don’t really fancy her chances this time around. First is the fact that this looks a stronger race this year than the one she won last year. And secondly, and more importantly, is the ground. It was soft when she won this last year, and on her only run on good to firm, she bombed out in the Falmouth. She’s passed over easily enough. Godolphin do also have the favourite in Laugh Aloud. I really can’t understand why she’s favourite though. Yes, she won a Group 3 very easily on Derby Day, but that was a very weak race. Whilst she’s clearly still progressing, she’s going to need another considerable step up to take this. Like I said, she shouldn’t be favourite. That honour should go to Qemah. Like Usherette, she won at the Royal meeting last year when winning the Coronation Stakes, and then went on to win another Group 1 at Deauville in July. Yes, she was then disappointing in both the Matron Stakes and on reappearance at Lingfield, but I think there’s excuses for both performances. And whilst you would’ve expected her to win that Lingfield race, Mix and Mingle is certainly no mug, and is actually rated 3lb superior to both Usherette and Laugh Aloud. Add to the fact that Rouget’s often come on significantly for the run, and that Frankie didn’t ask her for a lot, I’d expect her to go close. But the bet for me has to be Smart Call. The ex-South African mare is already a Group 1 winner, having won South Africa’s biggest race, the J&B Met. And she won it very easily too. The handicapper rates her some way clear of these too at 119, with Qemah next best at 114. Now I’m not saying she’s a 119 mare, but I’d be surprised if she’s not at least as good as these lot. Her British debut last month at York was very encouraging too. She stayed on very well on ground she really wouldn’t have liked (good to soft). All the quotes from connections both before and afterwards were that she’d come on significantly for the run, as that effort at York came after 16 months off the track. Ryan Moore takes over and if she’s back to that form of the J&B Met, I think she’ll take the beating here. She’s a big price. 

Selection: Smart Call 8/1 EW (Ladbrokes/Betway/Bet365/Coral)


4.20 – Prince of Wales’ Stakes – 1m 1f 212y

I’m going to start with Highland Reel in what is the richest race of the week. After Ballydoyle didn’t manage a winner on Day 1, I saw plenty of people on twitter speculating all is not right with the Aidan O’Brien string. Come on, it’s a bit premature to be saying that. Deauville, Murillo and Lancaster Bomber all ran very well. Yes, Churchill was very disappointing, as was Declarationofpeace. But I’ve seen people saying the yard is in crisis, and to be frank, that’s bollocks. Probably just annoyed they’ve done their bollocks. Anyway, on to Highland Reel. Like the O’Brien bashers, I won’t be backing him, for all that you can’t not love the horse. He’s got to be close to taking Giants Causeway’s iron horse tag. He goes all over the world, is a multiple Group 1 winner, rarely runs a bad race and is very difficult to pass from the front. The ground is most definitely in his favour in this, but I’m just worried about the trip for all he’s clearly got some pace. You don’t win a Breeder’s Cup at Santa Anita without pace. At 12f, I think he’s an exceptional horse, but at 10f I just think he’s a very good horse. At the prices, I reluctantly looked elsewhere. Jack Hobbs also commands huge respect. He’s a multiple Group 1 winner, having won the Irish Derby (by 5 lengths) and was very impressive in landing the Sheema Classic on World Cup night. He’s obviously a top class horse at his best, but I do have a few concerns about him in this. First is the ground. Whilst that Irish Derby win did come on good to firm ground, it is widely recognised that he probably needs softer ground nowadays after that injury he suffered in the Jockey Club Stakes on Guineas day last year. His impressive Dubai win came on yielding ground as well, which would back that up. Whilst I’m not saying he won’t go on the ground, I just think he’s much better now with a bit of cut. My other concern is the trip. He’s simply a better horse at a mile and a half. The other one at the head of the market is Ulysses. All I hear about this one is this “typical Sir Michael Stoute improver” shite. In all seriousness, he’s clearly got a decent chance. His Gordon Richards win was a good effort. Whether he’d have beaten Deauville had they not watered is another matter. But he did win and he won well. Having only raced the 8 times, he’s obviously still going to be improving too. My worry with him is I don’t quite think he’s got the ability of some of these. On his only 2 tries at G1 level, he was hammered in the Derby (forgivable) and a well beaten 4th in the Breeder’s Cup race won by Highland Reel. He’s clearly a good horse, but I have my reservations as to whether he’s good enough to win what looks a strong Group 1. Instead, I’m willing to take a chance on Decorated Knight. He’s now a 2-time Group 1 winner, and whilst they were weak Group 1s, he still won them. The one in Meydan was especially weak, but he got in a bit of trouble that day and did well to win in the end. The Tattersalls Gold Cup win though really impressed me. He beat Somehow and Deauville well that day, and they’re certainly no mugs. He wasn’t even meant to win that day either, as he hates soft ground, so I think he can be marked up significantly for that win. He’s obviously got to improve again here, but he’s come back this year in really good form and with his optimum conditions and trip here, I think he’s decent EW value. 

Selection: Decorated Knight 8/1 EW (Bet365/Betway)


5.00 – Royal Hunt Cup (Heritage Handicap) – 1m

Of course this race is a bit of a spectacle, but it’s a bloody nightmare to find the winner. I don’t think I’ve ever backed the winner, and I’m not expecting to do so this time around either. But I’ll throw a couple of darts at it, you never know. I can see the case for El Vip, but I’m not backing one at that price in a field like this. I’m not a fan of Fastnet Tempest either, as I don’t think he stays a strongly run mile. My first arrow is Bossy Guest. He was a big eye catcher in the Victoria Cup, only being beat 2l despite having no room from about 2f out. He’s run well here before, and whilst he hasn’t won for a while, I think he’s worth chancing. The other also came from that Victoria Cup in George William. Of course there are going to be hard luck stories in these big field handicaps, but he didn’t have much room either and did finish rather quickly. He’s only up 3lb for that and with a clear run shouldn’t be too far away. They are by no means confident selections, but there’s plenty of extra places available so I’ll split stakes and back them both EW. 

Selections: Bossy Guest 16/1 EW (SkyBet, 6 places) and George William 11/1 EW (Ladbrokes/Coral, 5 places)


5.35 – Sandringam Handicap (Listed) – 1m

Well this is no easier than the Hunt Cup is it. If we haven’t backed a winner before these last 2 races we could well be in trouble. I don’t have much of an opinion on this race at all, but I’m a big Tisbutadream fan so I’ll chance her. She’s 4-4 in handicaps including against older horses here last month, is clearly still progressing at some rate and back against her own sex, she must have some sort of a chance. Her half sister, Persuasive, won this race last year too. 

Selection: Tisbutadream 25/1 EW (Bet365, 5 places)

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Racing

20/6/17 – Royal Ascot Day 1

It’s been a while since my last blog, Derby day to be exact, but I never bet much on racing between The Derby and Royal Ascot, and this year was no different. Really looking forward to the 2nd best week in racing, and hopefully we can get off to a good start. 

Royal Ascot

2.30 – Queen Anne Stakes (Group 1) – 1m

Now the obvious place to start here is with Ribchester. The case for him is fairly simple. He’s some way clear of these lot on ORs, he beat Lightning Spear very easily on his last start in the Lockinge, clearly likes the course having won last year’s Jersey and finishing runner up to Minding in the QEII, and does go on fast ground. So I wouldn’t blame anyone for thinking he’s unopposable, but whilst I think he’s clearly the most likely winner I do think he’s worth taking on at the prices. First of all, is his draw, in 1. A low draw is not what you want on the straight mile at Ascot, and with all the other main contenders drawn mid to high, there’s the chance he could get a bit isolated on the far side. Secondly, whilst he does go on fast ground, there’s no doubting he’s much better with cut in the ground. He’d definitely be unopposable with any juice, but this is very quick ground and whilst he’s obviously the class horse, a couple of the others will relish these conditions. The first of these is Lightning Spear, who was 4l behind Ribchester in the Lockinge. That was of course on soft ground which Lightning Spear doesn’t like at all. However, even with the quicker ground, I can’t see Lightning Spear beating Ribchester. To be frank, even with his ideal conditions I just don’t think he’s good enough. Whilst the case can certainly be made for some EW thievery on Lightning Spear, but I much prefer the claims of Mutakayyef. He only ran 4 times last year, but did produce some top class form. He won his first 2 starts, first in a Listed race at York, before winning the Summer Mile here in July. He then went on to be 3rd behind Postponed and Highland Reel in the Juddmonte, and would have been closer had he not been hampered. And whilst he clearly stayed the 10f, I think it’s pretty clear a mile is his best trip. He then rounded off his season with a staying on 3/4l 3rd to the supermare Tepin at Woodbine, another high class piece of form. His reappearance this campaign was disappointing out in Meydan, but I think we can draw a line through that. He had no chance on that yielding ground, but it’s a long way to go to pull a horse out on the day so they sort of had to run him. Back with his optimum conditions here, with a decent enough draw, I’m very confident of a big run. Of course, Ribchester may just be too good, but I’d be very disappointed if he was out of the places. If he returns to the form of those runs in the Juddmonte and over at Woodbine, he’ll give Ribchester a proper race. The rest are not G1 level.

Selection: Mutakayyef 15/2 EW (Betfair)

Note: SkyBet (13/2) doing money back if he loses


3.05 – Coventry Stakes (Group 2) – 6f

Have to say this looks a right tricky one. There’s a lot you can give a chance to in this so it did take me a while to whittle this one down. There’s been a lot of talk about Wesley Ward’s Arawak in the last week or so. I had a watch of his debut, and whilst he won very easily, it was a bit of a nothing race with just the 3 runners, with the other 2 showing little ability. One thing that is key about his debut though was that it was at Belmont. Now you may say why is that an issue? Well, all of Wesley Ward’s best 2 year olds debut at Keeneland. All of them. The fact that he didn’t is perhaps a sign of what they think of him. Make of that what you will. Coolmore have bought into him since then, and whilst ‘the lads’ don’t get it wrong often, I’m happy to leave Arawak alone. I am a big fan of Jessica Harrington’s Brother Bear, who is 2-2 including a Listed race at the Curragh at the end of May. I wouldn’t put anyone off him, but there’s a couple I liked at decent prices. The first of those is Romanised. He won his only start to date impressively back in April, and the form of that has worked out well enough too. The 2nd, Brick by Brick, was disappointing when 4th behind the exciting Commander Grigio, but he went hard from the front and paid for it. The 3rd, Declarationofpeace, who runs in the Windsor Castle later on the card, pissed up in a Dundalk maiden next time. The 4th, Wolfofbagotstreet, finished 2nd to Murillo (also runs here) next time and the 5th, Another Batt, was 2nd behind Black Sails (Albany bound), before winning a Ripon novice race by 5 lengths. So he won a decent race there, this has been the plan ever since and I know Ken Condon thinks a huge amount of him. The other is Nebo for Charles Hills. Now he was sent off 25/1 for his debut win, but he couldn’t have been much more impressive. He absolutely tanked through the race, winning by 2 1/4 lengths from the Frankel colt Westerland. The form of the race is hot too, with the 2nd, 6th, 7th and 13th having all won since, and the 4th and 10th have both finished 2nd. Add to the fact that the race had been used in the past by Richard Hannon for Coventry winners including Canford Cliffs, I’m hopeful he’ll run a nice race. Of the rest, Murillo obviously has to be respected with Aidan’s great record in this race, but I think he’s a bit short for what he’s actually achieved. De Bruyne Horse looked very good when winning the Woodcote despite not handling the track, but the vast majority of the past winners of this race have had no more than 2 starts. I haven’t really been impressed by Denaar, and his form doesn’t amount to much. I very nearly backed Rajasinghe though, but I just thought the form of both Nebo and Romanised amounts to a little more. Split stakes win only on Nebo and Romanised. 

Selections: Romanised 16/1 (General) and Nebo 12/1 (General)


3.40 – King’s Stand Stakes (Group 1) – 5f

If I had written this yesterday, I would have ended up tipping a different horse to what my current plan is. Yesterday, it would have been Marsha. At the time she was the 9/2 2nd fav, and my argument would have been that she should have been fav based on her performance in the Palace House. Now she is fav, so I can no longer make that case and I don’t really want to be getting involved at around the 10/3 mark in a race that favourites don’t have a good record in. She definitely deserves to be fav however. That Palace House win carrying the 7lb penalty was in my opinion the best performance this year. She had a lot of these in behind that day, and there’s no reason to think they can reverse that form now she doesn’t have the penalty. That doesn’t actually leave that many in here. Signs of Blessing is one with a different formline however. He’s shown some proper form in the past, having finished 3rd in last year’s Diamond Jubilee and 4th in last year’s Champions Sprint. But those finishing positions don’t really tell the story. He was caught fairly late on both of those occasions, and I just don’t really think he stays 6f. His comeback run this year was huge as well, giving last year’s winner of this, Profitable, 11lb and a thrashing. That was massive. The worry with him is that he might just need soft ground, but I was willing to take a chance with the generous place terms on offer. Ardhoomey is another with a separate formline to Marsha, but whilst I wouldn’t be surprised should he run a big race, I can’t see him being good enough to win though I may have a small play EW on him in the morning. And finally, we have my absolute favourite, Lady Aurelia. Her win in last year’s Queen Mary was the best 2yo performance I have seen. Ever. It was unbelievable. Of course, Wesley Ward’s 2yo always seem to be more precocious than ours, so there’s a question to whether she’d progress at 3. Judging by her win at Keeneland in mid-April, I would like to think she has. I did put her up for this at 6/1 on the day of that race however, so I don’t see any reason to get involved again now.

Selection: Signs of Blessing 6/1 EW (SkyBet, 5 places)


4.20 – St James’s Palace Stakes (Group 1) – 7f 213y

This is a straight match between Churchill and Barney Roy, so I’m not even going to mention the rest as it’s a waste of time. And to be honest, there’s not a whole lot to say about the match either. Churchill won hands down at Newmarket. Yes, Barney Roy didn’t look completely at home on the track and will appreciate the flatter track here. But not everything went Churchill’s way either. And end to end gallop would have suited him much better. He won comfortably, and will win again. The only way the only way I will change my mind on this one is if right before the off Barney Roy is 4/1, a bookie goes 1/4 odds a place and the 8 runners hold up. That’s basically EW thievery of the highest order as he can’t finish out of the 3, and has a (very) small chance of turning the tables on his Newmarket conqueror. But otherwise, it’s a large bet on Churchill for me. 

Selection: Churchill 4/6 (General)


5.00 – Ascot Stakes – 2m 3f 210y

I just want to start here by dispelling rumours that a low draw is important here, as it really isn’t at all. I saw some stats earlier (can’t remember where or I’d post them) that said a high draw is not only fine, but in recent years that the majority of winners and placed horses have been drawn high. So if anything, we should be looking for one drawn in double figures. Willie Mullins has won this in 2 of the last 5 renewals, and Ryan Moore rode both of those, so we should probably start with Thomas Hobson. Personally I can’t have him at all. He’s only the price he is because of his connections. He’s going to have to be very good to win this off a mark of 100 on his first flat start for just over 1300 days. All of his best form is with with cut in the ground too, so he’s easily passed over. I think both Who Dares Wins and Beyond Conceit won’t be too far away, but the one I like is Magic Circle for Ralph Beckett. He was unlucky in the Chester Cup when staying on well from a wide draw, and has won over 16.5f (2m 2 1/2f) before so we know he stays the trip. This extreme trip suits him no ends, with the only question mark being the ground as he has never raced on ground faster than good. But at the price, I’m willing to pay to find out. 

Selection: Magic Circle 11/1 EW (Betfair/Betfred, 4 places 1/4 odds)


5.35 – Windsor Castle Stakes (Listed) – 5f

Wesley Ward’s pair have clearly got to be respected considering he’s won this twice since 2009, and of his pair I’d prefer Elizabeth Darcy. He’s the one bred for turf and also made his debut at Keeneland, which like I mentioned for Arawak, is important. But it’s Declarationofpeace for me. You could say it’s a negative that he runs here instead of the Coventry, but perhaps they didn’t think they could reverse form with Romanised, and hopefully that one will give Declarationofpeace a nice little form boost too. He was a totally different proposition on his 2nd start though, winning a Dundalk maiden by 6l, giving the Queen Mary bound Treasuring a good thrashing. He’ll do for me, though I will give a mention to James Garfield, who’s already been backed from 66s. He missed the break by a good 8 to 10 lengths, and somehow traded odds on in running before getting tired, which was understandable. It was nevertheless a very impressive debut to finish where he did after completely missing the break, and for those looking for one at a price, he’d be my pick. 

Selection: Declarationofpeace 7/2 (General)

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Racing

3/6/17 – Derby Day

Was an ok day yesterday, with De Bruyne Horse kicking us off with an easy 13/8 winner. He looked like he didn’t like the track in the slightest and took ages to get balanced, but once he did the result was never in doubt. Hawkbill ran a decent enough race in the Coronation Cup. If only the Oaks weather could have arrived for this then you never know what could’ve happened, but place money at 10s is no disaster. Coronet and Sobetsu were both very disappointing in the Oaks however. But the winner was very good, which begs the question: how good is Shutter Speed? Gosden has made no secret of the fact that Shutter Speed is definitely the best of his fillies and it would be a huge shock if she doesn’t now win the French Oaks on the back of this. Onto the action on Derby day, with 1 in the Dash and 2 in the Derby, with 2 of those 3 at double figure prices. 

Epsom

3.45 – Investec Corporate Banking “Dash” Handicap – 5f

Now this is not an easy race to have a strong fancy in, but it is usually a decent advantage to he drawn high, so that’s where I focused my attention. The one I ended up on was Kimberella for Richard Fahey, who arguably should have won this last year. Now he’s well over a stone higher in the weights this time around, 17lb to be exact, but he’s a much, much better horse than this time last year. Fahey has done a cracking job with him, and he won his first 2 starts for him including the AW Sprint Final, before a respectable effort in the Palace House Stakes. He’s drawn 20, has a 7lb claimer on which means he’s actually on the same mark as his AW handicap win in March, won’t mind the rain at all, has good course form and Fahey says he’s going very well at home. With the 5 places on offer with Paddy Power and Hills, I think he rates a decent bet. 

Selection: Kimberella 10/1 EW (Paddy Power/William Hill, 9/1 with SkyBet if you’d prefer 6 places)


4.30 – Investec Derby (Group 1) – 1m 4f 6y

Now let’s stop with the bollocks that it’s a sub standard renewal. Yes, there looks to be no standout at the moment, but whatever wins this will win this well. Which horse that is however, well I’m not really sure. Let’s just hope we hit the jackpot but this is not a year to be going big stakes on anything in my opinion. I’ll start with who I think will go off fav, Cracksman. Now I’m a huge fan of the baby Frankels, but this is one I just don’t like. I’m not sure what it is about him, I just don’t like him. The plan all along with him had been the Dante, so it is hardly ideal he’s come here from the Epsom trial, a trial that trainers just don’t target with a very good one. The vibes from Oppenheimer suggest he’s not really that confident he’s good enough to win a Derby, and one thing is for sure, he’s no Golden Horn. Yet the fact that he shares the same connections as Golden Horn is one reason plenty of people are getting behind him, which is mind blowing. I’m not even sure I’d back him to confirm that Epsom trial form with Permian. Permian is a much better horse now than the one Cracksman beat that day, and whilst you can obviously except Cracksman to improve, there’s no guarantee he’ll even see out this step up in trip. He’s also raced off the pace in both starts so far, which could be a big issue in a field of 19 (18 really as Diore Lia is actually a donkey, not equine). He’s a big gangly horse, and although he has won here, I don’t think he handled the track very well at all. It took him a very long time to get going, and I don’t think he can afford to do that again here, especially given he could be a fair way back coming round Tattenham Corner. It was interesting that Ryan Moore said in his Betfair blog that he isn’t sure whether Cracksman has the speed to win a Derby, and I’d agree with him on that point. Now I could be very wrong with everything I’ve just said there, but I’m not going to sit on the fence. I give my opinion, if I’m right then all’s good, and if I’m not then at least I had an opinion rather than plenty of people on twitter who don’t have an opinion beforehand, yet hurl abuse at those who did give an opinion but got it wrong. Just have to hope I’m right more often than not! Of the Frankels, I much prefer the claims of Eminent. Now this is a Frankel I really like, having backed him on all of his 3 starts so far. On the face of it, 6th in the Guineas is not an ideal Derby trial, but there’s excuses for that. He looks to be all about stamina and as the Guineas was a very steadily run affair, Crowley was forced to push on much earlier than he would’ve wanted and just didn’t have the pace to live with the likes of Churchill, Barney Roy and Al Wukair. There’s also the possibility he was still feeling the effects of his Dante win just 2 weeks earlier, in what was a very fast time he recorded. He looks as if he could come into his own over this sort of trip, and given he handled Newmarket with no issues you’d hope he’ll handle Epsom’s undulations too. There’s generous place terms on offer in this race and I’ll be surprised if there’s 5 horses better than him. Onto the Ballydoyle contingent now. Cliffs of Moher looks to be the number 1, and you can clearly make a case for him. That Leopardstown maiden win over Orderofthegarter was absolutely incredible. INCREDIBLE. It had the sectionalistas creaming their pants. His timefugure of 110 that day was the highest achieved in a 2yo maiden this century. He was then unconvincing in the Dee Stakes, but you get the feeling he was barely even ready to run that day, and going on a line through Bay of Poets, he should have the beating of Cracksman due to the fact you can expect huge improvement from that run. Now you’ve clearly got to question whether he’ll get this trip, having shown so much speed and because of the fact he’s out of a sprinter in Wave. But if he does stay, he’s a huge player. I’ve backed him antepost so won’t be getting involved at his current price, but I can’t say I’d put anyone off. I’m already rambling on a bit and I haven’t got time to go through all of the rest, so I’ll just mention my other bet in the race, Venice Beach. Now he’s hardly got a sexy profile, but one thing you can say is he’ll definitely stay. He even looks an ideal St Leger horse to me. He’s improved markedly for each run too, and whilst there’s the possibility he may just find a couple too good, he ticks a fair few boxes and I’d be very surprised if he ran a bad race. 

Selections: Eminent 7/1 EW and Venice Beach 14/1 EW (both SkyBet, 5 places) 

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