My last article for a couple of weeks as I am off to recharge the batteries on a golf trip first booked pre-covid, but let’s see if we can sign off with some winners before then.
On the racing news front, it was good to see ARC and Windsor bow to punter pressure and abandon their two tier structure for racegoers after a disastrous trial that must have seen the poor staff get plenty of verbal abuse. I do like the track and it has always had a certain charm, but the reality is people do not like change (and once they have something, try taking it away at your peril), but I also understand the commercial concerns of any business and if you needed any evidence that racing has a culture shock to go through over the years ahead, this may be your first example.
Talking pf punters, did you see how I linked those - genius, did you see the court decisions regarding a struck bet this week. In a nutshell he called in a £1300 each way bet but the recipient misunderstood and confirmed it as a £13,000 each way bet which they accepted – and the horse won. Naturally, they tried to get out of paying out and it has gone here, there and everywhere since before the latest decision being that no contract was made and the bet does not stand. Now I am a very simple chap and I do see things very simply too for my sins, but surely if they took the bet, and the money left his account, then that is game on from both sides of the coin? I am guessing you are all betting folk, so what odds would you give me that if the horse had lost, the same bookies would have been quickly on the phone apologising for their error and refunding the excess stake? Even Betfair odds don’t go that high, I have never heard of it happening in all my years involved in this game – and to me, if you cannot win a bet then surely you cannot lose it either.
With just the one winning favourite in the last six years we do not need to be at the head of the market, but the interesting one here just has to be Cadamosto, regardless of his odds. You do not see as many Aidan O’Brien sprinters as you used to these days, but the son of No Nay Never has always looked as if a mile would be beyond him, and connections are sensibly keeping him to reduced trips to pick up some prize money. His third to stable companion New York City was nothing to write home about, but he did look as if he would come on for his first start of the season, and he is not being overtried here either. If he does strip fitter as I hope, he could well win this, with Ryan Moore reminding us all just how good he is in the saddle over the last week or so.
Four winnings favourites in a row, two of them odds-on, and three of the last eight winners trained by Charlie Appleby ought to give us a bit of a heads-up, and I suppose that is why the once-raced Ottoman Fleet heads the early market. Second to Natural World at Newbury on his debut, the assumption is he will improve considerably, but we all know the stable horses arrive at the racecourse finely tuned, and that may not be the case. He could win this with his head in his chest and make me look foolish, but at the early odds I prefer the chances of Groundbreaker from the Andrew Balding stable. A winner on his first start at three, he strolled clear of Surrey Knight at Doncaster for a four-length success at odds of 5/4f. It is no secret that the stable horses invariably improve for a run, and if that is the case, he could be the better value here.
Five favourites from the last six renewals suggests this could be another race heading the way of the jolly, though at the moment that statement helps nobody with three of them vying to head the market come the off. The Haggas yard won this last year with Al Aasy and they rely on Ilaraab for the 2022 renewal. He was most certainly not at his best on his return to action when only fourth to Max Vega here in the John Porter over C&D last month (he beat the winner comfortably enough last October), and it may simply be that he was a gallop or two short of his best. If he improves for the run he can get back to winning ways here, though it does look a very competitive renewal despite the small field.
Every now and then I like the look of a competitive handicap and I have put in the hours here to try and find us the winner, digging through years of statistics in the hopes of a pointer. To my surprise, it has driven me towards a complete outsider here in the shape of the Roger and Harry Charlton trained La Pulga, who I will be backing each way at that price. As a two-year-old, the son of Kodiac won at Sandown on his debut and again at Carlisle, but it is his second to Desert Angel at Doncaster that catches the eye. Only beaten a neck off a mark of 88, just 1lb lower than he carries here, the front two were clear of the rest of the small field, and as he was giving nine pounds to the winner that run looks pretty solid. Better still, Desert Angel franked the form with a four-length success at Newmarket earlier in the month and the fourth was beaten in to second in a Class Two nursery on his last start of 2021. The suggestion has had a run this season, his first after a gelding operation, where he was seventh of 10 at Sandown over a mile, running on at the one pace over a distance I feel was too short for him. He steps up two furlongs here, has a run under his belt which will put him spot on, has been dropped 2lb by the handicapper, and better still represents a stable who have had seven runners in this race over the years – winning with four of them and placing with one as well.
I have always loved this race for as long as I can remember, but sadly that does not mean I have always found the winner, just that I have always appreciated the top milers in action on a course I love, though finding the winner occasionally has been a bonus. Baeed arrives here with a six out of six record and is probably the best miler in training at this moment in time, but we will not get rich backing him at odds of 2/5 I am afraid. He will improve for the race, I am certain of that, with bigger targets waiting later in the season, but he cannot be opposed in this field regardless. Real Word returns to the turf after two poor efforts on dirt in Saudi Arabia and Dubai and may be the value call for the forecast, but it ought to be all over bar the shouting and we can sit back and watch poetry in motion from the Haggas four-year-old ahead of tougher assignments.
Our sole Irish race this week and one where Selador catches the eye, stepping up in trip after running on in to second over shorter on her Dundalk debut on the All-Weather. As a filly she gets 5lb from likely favourite Arbutus, a C&D winner on his only start, and on a tough day to even consider opposing the favourites, she may be the better value for a tiny each-way bet in the hope she runs a big race, if nothing else.
Odds-on favourites are becoming a Saturday staple lately, but what can you do when one horse appears to be so much better than their opponents? In this case we are talking about the Gosdens trained Nashwa, a daughter of the amazing Frankel, and an easy winner of her first start of the season in a Haydock novice. She beat stable companion Wonderful Times by over six lengths that day and in a stable who seem overflowing with talented fillies this season, she can win this to leave connections mulling over whether to go for the Epsom Oaks or head elsewhere for her next start.
La Pulga each way 2.45pm Newbury