Lots of waffle last week but this week I am in Spain for a few days (not enough of them, that’s for sure), so its zero waffle and straight onto the horses themselves…
A Listed sprint over five furlongs to start proceedings this week and one where I was pleasantly surprised to see a decent sized field, hats off to Ayr and to all the connections for giving us all some competitive racing.
We are talking juveniles which is a concern with so many likely to improve with more experience, but what we do know is that a high draw has a historical advantage, and common sense suggests we focus our attention there.
Vertiginous possibly has the best form on offer with a three length fourth in the Group Two Lowther Stakes at York last month which she followed with an odds on defeat over six furlongs when caught close home to go under by a neck. She made the running that day and would have been clear of her field at this trip, and if the same tactics are tried this afternoon she has a decent chance from the eight stall.
Another Listed sprint, though this time it is over five and a half furlongs, and restricted to filles and mares. I cannot pretend it is a race I like the overall look of (because I do not), but I can say that Declan Carroll’s Tweet Tweet just goes from strength to strength and she deserves a shot at some black type after an easy win in a Class Two handicap at York last time out. The daughter of Twilight Son does have a few pounds to find here but is getting better all the time and has a sporting chance of landing her hat-trick, with her nice high draw in the 15 stall an added bonus.
Our third and final Friday Listed event though this time we head south to Berkshire for a seven furlong contest won by Glorious Journey for Charlie Appleby last season, with James Doyle in the saddle.
Godolphin may well dominate once again with Al Suhial presumably their number one pick with William Buick riding, and James Doyle on board D’bai, but I am going to take a risk on their third string (?) and the promising four-year-old Silent Escape, who could surprise them all with Oisin Murphy in the plate.
The winner of three of her four career starts, she gets five-pounds from her compatriots here and is stepping up in class after taking a Class Three handicap at Sandown very very easily last month and has earned her shot at the big time. Of course she needs to do more in this better contest but she is lightly raced with every likelihood there is a lot more to come, and at an each way price I just cannot resist a little punt, just in case.
A mile and a quarter to kick off our Saturday afternoon and a Listed race at that, though if the form book is upheld for a change then there we may have found ourselves the winner.
Juan Elcano fell out of the stalls in the Juddmonte Stakes in a race he had precious little chance in regardless, and common sense suggests we ignore that run where Group One company and a tardy start mean the form is harder to get a handle on.
He will need to get away on better terms here even if this does represent a big drop in class, but if we sensibly judge him on his neck second to Bangkok in the Group Two York Stakes in July, or his Listed class win at Ascot in June. A repeat of either of those may well prove good enough here and at the age of four, there may even be further improvement to come.
A wonderful Group Three sprint won by some real heroes in the past including Meccas Angel, Cotai Glory, and Lazuli last season, so it seems fair to suggest this will take a class sort to come home in front this afternoon. Tiz Marvellous is the obvious one with his two out of three win record on good to soft going as currently predicted, but at the age of seven, I cannot help but wonder if one of his younger rivals could improve last him, but I certainly cannot work out which one. Atalis Bay looks a likely sort if I was forced to name one, but the truth is, this is a race I may well leave well alone!
A Group Three that used to be laughingly called an Arc trial (who thought of that one) though for the level, we do have some pretty decent horses in attendance. Al Aasy is the obvious one after finishing second to Pyledriver in the Coronation Cup and again last time out when held off by Sir Ron Priestley in the Princess Of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket last time out. He drops in class here and he ought to prove too good for these but be warned, this is his first start back since a gelding operation and only trainer William Haggas knows how much work he has been forced to miss.
We all know juvenile races are notoriously difficult to solve thanks to the heady mix of experience and potential, and this looks no different I am sorry to say.
The head of the betting is a prime example with promising Carlisle maiden winner Hala Hala Athmani vying for the head of the market with tried and tested Listed winner Head Mistress, and I vote for form over promise any day.
Travelling over from Ireland, Ger Lyons’s Profitable filly took her first start very comfortably at Down Royal and followed that with a cosy enough success in a Listed event at The Curragh when running on close home over the five furlongs. Upped to six today, that looks a very wise move and her trainer is as shred as they come – she would not be coming over the Irish Sea if connections did not feel she could win this.
Gowran Park 4.30pm
Just the one contest from Ireland this week and surprisingly not one dominated by Aidan O’Brien who has only managed the one winner from the last ten renewals. It has certainly been a strange season so far and once again, I note Aidan only bothers to send the one here when he usually arrives mob handed in any race that can give his horses some black type. Cartouche is his representative for 2012 and has not been seen since coming home an easy 14 lengths clear on her third career start in October last year on a far softer surface. You have to have been impressed with that effort, but then you also have to wonder how she will handle the going today and why she has been missing for so long – though as a daughter of Galileo she should do OK, and may be worth the risk to small stakes here.
A two-year-old race to end our day but a decent race that has been won by some decent horses over the years, with Harry Angel the standout for me. This year we have a standout contender in Dhabab, third in the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket last time out and reported to be back to close to his best now judged on his recent gallops. He does appear to have scared off the majority of the big guns who could have taken him on here, and if he can repeat his homework on the course then I won’t be looking any further for the winner.
Dhabab 4.00pm Newbury Saturday