This is often a decent two-year-old maiden (first 7f maiden to be run here this term) in which only one of the 10-strong field have any previous experience to call on, but there are some nicely bred/well regarded newcomers in the field - previous winners include Fox, Halicarnassus, Unnefer, Silver Grecian and Coupe De Ville.
The selection is a son of Danehill Dancer who is a full brother to the fairly useful 8-10f 3yo winner Lucky Legs and 6f 2yo debut winner Choir and a half brother to 10-11f Flat/2m hurdle winner Rising Force, out of an unraced close relation of King Edward VII Stakes winner Amfortas and a half sister to high-class French middle distance stayer Legend Maker (later dam of 1000 Guineas winner Virginia Waters and high-class Irish/Australian middle distance performer Alexander Of Hales), 1m 2yo winner/Lingfield Oaks Trial runner-up Dollar Bird, useful 8-10f winner Bahar Shumaal, 6-7f winner (including on 2yo debut) Devil's Imp, 10f 3yo winner Motakabber and 14f-2m Flat/dual 2m hurdle winner Rainbow Dash, family of In The Wings, High-Rise etc. This well-bred colt is trained by Marco Botti and makes obvious appeal on pedigree, being a full brother to a pair of winners including a debut scorer at two over six furlongs, out of an unraced close relation of Amfortas and a half sister to a host of winners including high-class performer Legend Maker and also Lingfield Oaks Trial runner-up Dollar Bird, smart middle distance family. He has reportedly caught the eye in his work at home so far this year, and hails from a stable that has shown it can get them ready to strike at the first time of asking (actually sent out the third in this race 12 months ago), and any further easing of the ground ought to suit this son of Danehill Dancer better than most. This looks a potentially decent race on paper, but all but one of his rivals here are fellow newcomers and he certainly lacks for nothing on paper; stable yet to saddle a 2yo winner in 2012, but this colt is very well regarded and no surprise to see this well-related colt get off the mark at the first time of asking here and provide the yard with its first juvenile winner of the campaign.
The only member of the field with any previous experience to call on is the John Dunlop-trained Shebebi, a US-bred son of Mr Greeley who is a half brother to 7f-1m winner Nadawat and 7f 2yo winner Afnoon, out of a high-class 6f-1m winner (including at Group 2/Listed level) who was a half sister to very smart 7-12f winner Fairy Queen (including the Ribblesdale), smart 8-14f winner (including at Listed level)/Arc fourth Acropolis and 12f 3yo winner De Laurentiis. This colt made his debut outing in a 6f maiden here a fornight ago, for which he was sent off an unfancied 20/1 chance; broke very slowly and was soon detached in last place, ridden and very green over halfway, making some good late progress entering the final furlong to eventually finish eighth of 11 behind Tipping Over (beaten 12 lengths). It is clear that this colt was very much in need of the experience on debut, soon detached in last and running green for the most part, but he did make some good late ground to eventually beat a couple home and offer some promise going forward. The step up a furlong in distance ought to aid his cause here and entitled to know a fair bit more than he did a fortnight ago, but he does face some well-related newcomers and does need to make significant progress to get off the mark here in those two weeks; stable form remains a major concern also.
Mahmood Al Zarooni sends out a trio of newcomers here, the first string appearing to be the Mickael Barzalona-ridden Chesterfield, a son of Pivotal who is the second foal of a smart French 7f-1m winner (including at Listed level) who was out of a smart dual 10f 3yo winning half sister to the very smart 10-13f winner/Irish Oaks runner up Russian Snows, very smart 12-13f winner Modhish, smart stayer Wareed and to the Listed winning dam of Grade 2 Canadian winner Truly A Dream. This colt makes clear appeal on pedigree as the second foal of a Listed winning miler who was herself the daughter of a 10f Listed winner in France who was a half sister to a handful of at least smart performers including Irish Oaks second Russian Snows and very smart middle distance performer Modhish. He looks the type who will make an impact this year at around this distance, and the fact he is the choice of Mickael Barzalona obviously looks significant in terms of what he has been showing at home in relation to the yard's other two runners, for all it is hardly unheard of for lesser-fancied stablemates from this particular operation to win. He has been found a nice starting point in which all but one of his rivals are fellow newcomers, and it would usually be the case that he could be relied upon to be fit and know his job on debut; however, the yard's juveniles so far in 2012 have been a bit hit and miss, one or two doing what was expected of them on debut but several others coming up short at the business end.
The second Al Zarooni representative is the Jamie Specner-ridden High Force, a son of Street Cry who is a half brother to dual 10f winner Moon Quest and dual US winner Blue Gulf, out of a very smart UK/US 7-12f winner (including at Grade 2/Group 3 level) who was the daughter of fellow May Hill Stakes winner Midnight Air. This colt is another to make a fair amount of appeal on pedigree, being a half brother to a few winners albeit none out of the ordinary, his dam's progeny not exactly living up to a racing career which saw her win the May Hill at two and a Grade 2 over 12f in the US later on in her career. However, he comes from a stable that did exceptionally well with newcomers by Street Cry last term, cleaning up in maidens at this track with them; appears to be the yard's second string on this occasion, but it isn't uncommon for their lesser-fancied newcomers to topple the supposed first string, and interesting to see how this nicely bred colt goes in the market beforehand in relation to Chesterfield.
The third member of the Mahmood Al Zarooni trio is the Antioco Murgia-ridden Top Joker, a son of Raven's Pass who is a half brother to French Listed placed 6f 2yo winner Forum Magnum and triple Australian sprint winner Cavalaire Bay, out of a high-class Australian 5-6f winner (including at Group 2/Listed level). This colt makes some appeal on pedigree as a half brother to a useful 6f 2yo winner in France and also a fair sprinter in Australia, whilst his dam was a very smart sprinter in Australia, though it is a little surprising that he hasn't been out before now and debuting over six furlongs. However, he does give his stable a strong hand here, and his 5lbs claimer has shown once or twice that he is more than capable of getting them home on debut, as shown with Irish History at Windsor last month; market beforehand sure to sort out the pecking order of the yard's three runners.
The John Gosden-trained Tropical Song is a son of Beat Hollow who is a full brother to connections' fairly useful 8-10f winner Tropical Beat and a half brother to 10f 3yo winner Dr Brass, out of an unraced half sister to smart middle distance performer The Scout who was the daughter of Prix Marcel Boussac winner Tropicaro. This colt is another to make a fair amount of appeal on pedigree without it necessarily oozing quality, his full brother a progressive handicapper for connections and his dam the daughter of a Group 1 winner over 1m at two. He represents a top stable that sent out the joint-favourite in this last year (proved disappointing that day, but has gone on to prove a fairly useful performer this term) and that has already sent out a couple of winning newcomers from a handful of 2yo runners so far this season (both fillies); debuts in what looks a winnable enough race, and any pre-race market support for this son of Beat Hollow would look most interesting.
Richard Hannon won this last year with the smart Coupe De Ville and is represented this year by Royal Challis, a son of Royal Applause who is a full brother to useful triple 6f 2yo winner Mr Keppel and a half brother to UK 5-6f winner/US 1m 1f Grade 2 winner Devious Boy, very useful 6-7f winner Against The Grain and fair 6-7f winner Special Lad, out of a 7f 3yo winner who was a half sister to several winners including smart pair Leporello and Poppy Carew. This colt fetched just 30,000gns at auction but does make plenty of appeal on pedigree, being a full brother to a useful triple 6f winner at two and a half brother to a Grade 2 winner in the US and also an Ayr Silver Cup winner, whilst his dam was a winner at this distance and a half sister to several good winners for Peter Harris/Walter Swinburn. He hails from a juvenile powerhouse that supplied the winner of this 12 months ago (had already run) and that can almost always be relied upon to have its youngsters ready to roll on debut; one of the likelier types, and any market support beforehand would look very telling indeed.
The Luca Cumani-trained Makafeh is a son of Elusive Quality who is the first foal of a 8-10f AW winner who was a half sister to US 1m 1f Grade 3 winner Miss Caerleona (later dam of very smart 7-9f winner Karen's Caper and high-class US miler Miss Coronado), Listed placed 11-12f winner Mr Academy and to the dam of Dante winner Bonfire and Musidora winner Joviality out of a Listed winning half sister to top-class miler Miss Satamixa. This colt sold for 190,000gns as a yearling and makes obvious appeal on pedigree, his dam a dual winner at up to 10f and a half sister to a high-class performer in the US who later produced a couple of very smart performers at around 1m, as well as the dam of high-class duo Bonfire and Joviality. However, he does come from a stable that doesn't tend to push its youngsters too hard first time out (only 2yo runner so far this year was in the Windsor Castle earlier this week), so it is likely that this expensive purchase will benefit for the experience more than most; that said, reportedy held in some regard by his handler, and interesting to see how strong he is in the betting beforehand.
The Brian Meehan trained Harry Bosch is a son of Kyllachy who is a half brother to 7f 2yo AW winner Vinnie Jones out of modest 6f 3yo AW winner who was a half sister to the fair 6-10f winner Crackle (dam of the very useful 7-10f winner Auld Burns), 5f 2yo debut winner Let's Try It, 7-11f winner Ronaldsay (later dam of Norfolk Stakes runner-up Gale Force Ten), 8-12f winner Sleepy Hollow and 14f Flat/2m hurdle winner Crackleando out of a useful middle distance winner who was a half sister to the top-class 6-7f 2yo winner Bianca Nera and the very useful 7f 2yo winner Hotelgenie Dot Com (later dam of the very smart miler Simply Perfect). This colt's dam was nothing out of the ordinary, but she did hail from a successful family (including a debut winner at two over this distance) and her first foal was successful over this distance as a juvenile last year; comes from a stable whose youngsters are usually better for a run, however, and likely best watched on this occasion unless the market strongly suggests otherwise (above average youngsters are often good enough first time up and also well found in the market). _________________ Dark Horses 2013 - Flat
After Ryan Moore's win in one of the races last Saturday his response to Emma whatshername's statement that it had been a good day was 'it should've been better'. What he was referring to was the fact that he gave High Standing too much to do and it was flying at the death. It reappears in the Wokingham. Clearly its in good nick. Last week was on rain softened ground and tomorrow will be on soft which he's won on. Won this a couple of years back if memory serves me correct when a handicap snip and is only 4lb higher so if has retained any of his ability as he's got older will run a big race. My only concern is the draw as I am not sure where the pace will be. But I'll be having a dabble at the 14's that are flying around at the minute.
There's obviously plenty for which cases can be made in the Wokingham. Two that take my eye at the prices are Waffle at 16/1 who runs off the same mark as when runner up to Deacon Blues in this last year in similar conditions and always threatens to win a big race. The other I'm keen on is Seal Rock. Has always been very highly thought of by his yard. He runs off a career high mark of 99 following a good win in the soft at Pontefract beating Mirza who has since won twice more including a listed win over in Cork.
The Chesham Stakes is a race that requires the sire of any given runner to have won over just shy of 10f in their racing career, which often brings together an interesting clash of early bloomers perhaps bred to excel a little later over further than the usual 5/6f races at this stage of the season. The Jim Bolger-trained Move To Strike is a son of Lawman who is sure to head the market following his 9 length demolition job of Slope in a 6f maiden at the Curragh towards the beginning of last month, tracking the leader until leading well over a furlong out and extended clear inside the final furlong to run out a thoroughly impressive winner. Those immediately in behind have run well in defeat since, and the manner in which those colt left behind was extremely impressive; proved himself under rain-softened conditions that day, and everything about that performance marked him down as one that would stay further; stable landed the Coventry on Tuesday and this colt gives them a good chance of doubling their tally. Richard Hannon has certainly not that had the meeting he would have liked, but the Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned JALAA (NAP) can see him off the mark belatedly, and, rather ironically, this colt is a Street Cry half brother to Jim Bolger's 2008 Dewhurst Stakes winner Intense Focus. He made his debut in a 6f maiden at Leicester last month, going off the 2/1 market leader and prominent from the outset, ridden to challenge over a furlong out and leading entering the final furlong, asserting well in the final 100 yards to see off Carlton Blue by 2 lengths. He shaped on that occasion as though he would come on plenty for the experience, also looking more than ready for another furlong in trip; treads the exact same path taken by the yard's 2008 winner Free Agent, and absolutely no surprise to see this colt maintain his unbeaten record with victory here and belatedly get his stable off the mark for the meeting. The Mick Channon-trained Chilworth Icon has already had four runs, the latest of them resulting in a victory in the Listed Woodcote Stakes at Epsom on Derby day over a furlong shorter, leading entering the final furlong and holding on in determined fashion from Heavy Metal to score by a short head. He incurs a 3lbs penalty for that which will make life tougher in a race that features a few open to significant progress, but he is a professional type who could have some improvement to come over this additional furlong given he is a son of Sixties Icon; still may find one or two of these improving past him. Godolphin have a representative from both yards, the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained Tha'Ir a son of New Approach who improved for his debut run when landing a 7f maiden at Ripon 17 days ago, putting his experience to good use and making all, staying on well inside the final furlong to see off Bircham by a convincing 4½ length margin. The runner-up went one better next time, but it probably wasn't the strongest of maidens and leaves this colt needing to improve a fair bit; that said he is bred to appreciate the extra furlong here and represents a powerful yard, so no forlorn hope if upping his game for the extra yardage. The Mahmood Al Zarooni-trained Lovely Pass is a Raven's Pass daughter of the smart miler Macadamia who made a winning start to her career in a 6f fillies' maiden at Lingfield a month ago, but she looked less than straightforward when doing so, veering left out the stalls and then hanging left from over a furlong out when asked for her effort, powering clear when straightened up to score by 2¼ lengths. She won with a fair bit in hand at the end, but her waywardness at the start and also when brought with her effort on the outer was slightly worrying, for all it can be put down to greenness at this stage; tackles completely different ground now upped in grade. The rest look to have a fair bit to find, but the Andrew-Balding trained Zanetto hinted at ability in a 6f maiden at Goodwood last month when seventh behind Mister Marc, slowly away and showing signs of inexperience early, moving through to challenge over two furlongs out but edging right and unable to quicken inside the 150 yards. He needs a huge amount of improvement to figure here on the face of it, but he is bred to excel over this extra furlong and, as a son of Medicean, will relish the rain-softened conditions; debut race working out okay, and could well outrun his odds here if improving as expected for this extra distance.
A typically classy and competitive renewal of the Harwicke Stakes. Last year's Breeders' Cup Turf runner-up/Leger third Sea Moon had to work a lot harder than expected when a 2/7 chance for his reappearance run in a 12f Listed Race at Goodwood last month, forced to make his own running and actually doing well to fend off the challenge of Dandino inside the final furlong to hold on by a neck. He can be expected to improved massively for that comeback run, which was intended to be nothing more than a tune up for bigger targets such as this; showed his class with an excellent second behind St Nicholas Abbey in the US last autumn, and a danger to all if improving as expected for that return win and arriving here at the peak of his powers. John Gosden's AIKEN has come through the handicap route, but this son of Selkirk has quickly proven himself a high-class performer this term, kicking off with a handicap win at Epsom in desperate ground and following up in a Listed Race over this course and distance when forging 10 lengths clear of Tameen. He followed that with a win in the Group 2 Grand Prix de Chantilly earlier this month, setting just a modest gallop and led for much of the way, ridden over two furlongs out and headed approaching the final furlong, but, as is always this case with this colt, he rallied gamely under pressure and regained the lead with 100 yards to go to score by ¾ length. He has come a long way in a short space of time, and it is unlikely that making his own running at a modest pace would have suited him last time, somewhat predictably done for speed by a challenger before regaining the lead in game fashion to extend his winning run to six; proven over this course and distance and on this ground, and no surprise to see him provide the in-form Gosden/Buick axis with another winner. Dunaden was a couple of places behind the selection at Chantilly, but was totally unsuited by the tactical nature of the race and having to attempt to come from behind in a steadily run affair, staying on inside the final furlong. He proved himself to be top-class on the international stage at the end of last year, just hanging on to land the Melbourne Cup from Red Cadeaux and showing that to be no fluke when following up in the Hong Kong Vase; ought to be spot on following a couple of outings this year, and has no Group 1 penalty to carry now, so every reason to believe this horse can go well here. The Aidan O'Brien trained Memphis Tennessee made the frame in the English and Irish Derbies last summer, attempting to make all on both occasions and doing well to finish as close as he did, and he made a successful return to action in the Ormonde Stakes at Chester last month when again making all to see off Vivacious Vivienne by 4 lengths. The favourite on that occasion ran well below his best, and the runner-up was rated 100 whilst the third was unraced albeit has proven himself a useful sort since and actually re-opposes here; still unexposed after just six starts, and his efforts from the front in a couple of Classics last term allow him a fair amount of respect here. The Ed Dunlop-trained Red Cadeaux has improved out of all recognition this past year, following his Irish Leger third with an excellent second place finish in the Melbourne Cup behind Dunaden and a third place finish behind the same rival in the Hong Kong Vase next time, keeping on well inside the final furlong once again there. Thursday has since shown that there was no disgrace in finding Colour Vision far too good for him at Kempton in April in the Sagaro Stakes, and went one better next time when landing the Yorkshire Cup in good style from Glen's Diamond, impressing with the way in which he travelled. His latest outing saw him find only St Nicholas Abbey too good in the Coronation Cup at Epsom earlier this month, rallying well for pressure having been tapped-for-toe initially; tough, honest and now reliable sort who is absolutely certain to give it his best shot, and he doesn't have a lot to find with the likes of old foe Dunaden and Sea Moon (on a line through St Nicholas Abbey), so shouldn't be underestimated by any means. Sir Michael Stoute is also represented by Fiorente, who is ridden by rising star James Doyle, but this colt has proved disappointing since his second place finish over this course and distance last year behind Nathaniel in the King Edward VII Stakes on his only other start at three; showed little on his return at Newmarket and although he did run better at Goodwood last time, was firmly put in his place by Jet Away; cheekpieces now tried.
This year's Diamond Jubilee centres around the excellent Australian sprinter that is Black Caviar. She is unbeaten in 21 runs and has barely come off the bridle for the majority of those victories, slamming anything put in her path in her homeland including Hay List, himself a very smart sprinter. The obvious question marks surrounding her with regards to this race would be the long distance travel (reportedly fine and has seemingly settled in well) and the soft ground, the likes of which she has never encountered in Australia; going to offer no value at around the 1/4 mark but should win if coping with those new challenges. The Freddie Head trained MOONLIGHT CLOUD is a filly that has always been very highly regarded, and looked every inch a top-class performer when landing the Prix Maurice De Gheest over six and a half furlong by 4 lengths from Society Rock. She couldn't gain a clear run until it was far too late under a hold up ride when fifth behind Deacon Blues over this course and distance last autumn, but returned in style when easily bagging a 7f Group 3 in her native France to tee her up for this; not yet proven herself fully over this trip, but conditions likely to make this an even stiffer test than usual and if anything is going to bustle up the favourite, it is more than likely to be this filly. Society Rock comes alive over this course and distance, winning this 12 months ago having finished second the previous year; put firmly in his place by Moonlight Cloud in the Prix Maurice De Gheest and his form fizzled out thereafter. However, he returned with a promising third place finish in the Duke Of York Stakes last month, staying on well inside the final furlong to get to within a length of the winner; entitled to be all the sharper for that run and record at this track leaves him with excellent place prospects. Pastoral Player had come up short on all three efforts at pattern race level until this season, but this high-class handicapper finally made the breakthrough when landing the Timeform Jury Stakes over 7f at Haydock last time, coming with a sustained run to lead inside the final furlong and score well; much more needed now upped to the big time, but finished a good third behind Deacon Blues in the Wokingham twelve months ago and couldn't rule him out of nicking a place here, given that he seems better than ever. The Cheka has been a fine servant to Eve Johnson Houghton, not quite living up to his explosive 10 length debut win here at two but making a deserved breakthrough at Group level at Haydock last year; looked better than ever in a couple of outings so far this term, reverting to sprinting for the first time on the opening day at Doncaster and seeing off Jimmy Styles by ¾ length. His latest outing saw him narrowly fail to nab Tiddliwinks in the Duke Of York Stakes last month, and his progress since switching to sprinting makes this gelding another candidate to make the frame, though they are all essentially playing for places if Black Caviar runs anywhere near her best.
This looks a very tricky renewal of what is always a fiercely competitive sprint handicap. Maarek is going to be popular following a couple of victories at Naas and Newmarket this year, travelling well and coming with a sustained effort from a fair way back to get up close home; top weight and up a further 8lbs now, but has the potential to be better than a mere handicapper and commands respect. The Kevin Ryan-trained Lightning Cloud was extremely progressive last term, winning five times from seven outings and going up almost two stone as a result; shaped really well on his return to action here in the Victoria Cup last month when fifth behind Global Village, staying on well and carrying over his progression from last season; strongly run 6f will suit. However, one at a bigger price of even more interest is stablemate GRAMERCY, a most progressive sort for Michael Bell in the first half of 2010 who seemed to lose his way a little towards the end of that year, but he acquitted himself well in defeat last term including when fifth behind Deacon Blues in this from a 1lb lower mark and when second to Smarty Socks in a valuable 7f handicap here. He was far from disgraced when seventh in a Group 3 over this course and distance on his final start of last year; sold for 90,000gns to current connections soon after, his only outing of 2012 came in a 5f handicap at York last month when never involved and coming home last of the 16 runners. However, that was almost certain a pipe opener for something such as this, given it was his first ever attempt over the minimum trip; this strong-travelling sort ought to be spot on now, and his form at this track and the booking of Johnny Murtagh are other positives. Any number could be offered up as credible contenders and the winner still may not be named. Morache Music revels in soft conditions and has acquitted himself with credit at a higher level since winning a course and distance handicap at the Shergar Cup meeting last summer; ran well when fifth in a Listed contest at Salisbury last Sunday (didn't get the clearest of runs). Medicean Man ups his game at this track, and ran an excellent race to finish fourth behind Little Bridge in the King's Stand here on Tuesday; shaped as though finding that trip on the short side and obvious claims if in the same mood, but could do with the ground continuing to dry out. Waffle is one of the most consistent sprint handicappers around, and he ran an excellent race to finish second behind subsequent Group 1-winning sprinter Deacon Blues in this 12 months ago off the same mark he races off here; showed he was ready to hit those sorts of heights again when fourth behind Secret Witness in a 6f handicap at York last time, but not getting any younger and it isn't a coincidence that he has still only one win to his name. Mac's Power is very much a 'nearly' horse, having finished eighth in this 12 months ago when seemingly on the unfavoured side of the track, following that with a staying on third behind Hoof It in the Stewards' Cup; unsuited by the small field on his return, he shaped well last time when third behind Palace Moon in the same race he used before this race last year; has a big prize in him when it all falls into place for him, but that's asking a lot in a race of this nature. King Of Jazz never really went on from his good second place finish behind subsequent Britannia winner Sagramor in the Silver Bowl at Haydock last year (had beaten the smart Firebeam in a maiden prior to that), but the move to Michael Bell seems to have sweetened him up somewhat so far, staying on in hugely eyecatching fashion when third in a 6f handicap at Doncaster and filling the same spot in the Victoria Cup here last time out; still relatively unexposed and major player now returned to six. Desert Law has a lot of talent, but doesn't always find what seems likely off the bridle; won a minor contest at Bath last summer, that having kicked off with a good second place finish in a valuable 6f handicap at Newmarket on his reappearance, but didn't go on as expected. He returned this season with modest showing in the 6f handicap contested by King Of Jazz, but bounced right back when a staying on second behind Stone Of Folca in the Epsom Dash; remains to be seen whether a strongly run race at this distance is what he wants.
Alternative: King Of Jazz
5.00 DUKE OF EDINBURGH HANDICAP (CLASS 2) (0-105) (3YO+) - 1m 4f
Typically competitive renewal of this race. Camborne won his first two career starts before proving a little disappointing on his next two outings, but he came back to form in tremendous style last time in first-time cheekpieces when thrashing a field of 11 at Doncaster last time, giving weight all round but coming readily clear approaching the final furlong to score by 7 lengths (travelled well throughout); up almost a stone for that in what is a much better race, but wholly unexposed and represents top connections. The Sir Henry Cecil-trained Midsummer Sun is a well-bred colt whose three-year-old campaign was very much in and out, winning twice but coming up short of expectations on three others occasions; made an impressive return to action when landing a 10f handicap on the all-weather at Lingfield in April, and had excuses for both defeats since (reared over at start and too keen in the race on ground too soft, then probably didn't stay 14f next time); could do with better ground, however. The John Hammond-trained HAMMERFEST (NB) is perhaps something of an unknown quanity given he hasn't raced outside of his native France, but this son of Fantastic Light took his career record to 5-11 with a very smooth success in a 1m 7f conditions contest at Saint-Cloud last month, going easily in behind the leaders throughout and quickening to lead inside the final furlong and soon in full control as he saw off Night Serenade by an eased down half length. He has won over this sort of trip, however, and looks an unexposed type very much on the up; likely to get the soft ground he needs here, and he can give his excellent handler a famous win back at the scene of his 2000 King George victory with Montjeu. Saeed Bin Suroor's Alkimos returns to this country from a winter in Dubai with a little bit to prove after three defeats, disappointing badly on his final outing having made the frame twice before that, but he was a most progressive sort before that for previous handler Luca Cumani, winning a couple including a conditions event before running a good second behind Pisco Sour in the Group 3 Tercentenary Stakes at this meeting 12 months ago. He has been gelded since he was last seen and comes here with a bit to prove, but he is still lightly raced and posted his career-best at this track; wouldn't be the first horse not to run up to his best at the Dubai Carnival, and no forlorn hope now back on home soil and upped to 1m 4f (pedigree suggests he will stay). The Marcus Tregoning-trained Mulaqen shaped well in defeat in a pair of handicaps following his maiden win last time, but surpassed those achievements on his reappearance run last month when readily landing a 12f handicap at York by 2¼ lengths. He was raised 13lbs for that and was unable to follow up in a better race at Newmarket (July) next time, leading briefly well over a furlong out but soon left behind by the leading duo inside the final furlong to come home in fourth behind High Jinx; still relatively unexposed and has the make and shape of one that will improve for a good while yet, so no forlorn hope here if improving again. The Mahmood Al Zarooni-trained Anatolian finished second in the same 12f handicap at Newmarket (July) last time out, drawing clear with eventual winner High Jinx inside the final furlong but going down by half a length in the end; had landed a hat trick of wins last term, winning a pair of handicaps very easily, and though he is now 7lbs higher than for that good second last time, couldn't discount this son of Pivotal running another big race. One at a big price who could go well is the Amanda Perrett-trained Classic Vintage, who struggled for a while after landing a valuable handicap at Glorious Goodwood at three, even going hurdling (not at all successful); took advantage of a falling mark to win a 12f handicap in first-time headgear at Ffos Las, and followed that with a creditable fourth in the November Handicap at Doncaster (had also run well in the race the previous year). He made his somewhat belated return to action in the same handicap at headquarters as contested by Anatolian and Mulaqen, shaping nicely for a long way in behind the leaders until a lack of a recent run told at the business end and he dropped back to beat just a handful home; fitter for that, and headgear that was absent there now back on.
5.35 QUEEN ALEXANDRA STAKES (CLASS 2) (3YO+) - 2m 6f
The longest race of the week traditionally brings the curtain down on the meeting. Simenon bids to emulate 2006 winner Baddam and follow up his victory in Tuesday's Ascot Stakes, and such was the ease with which this gelding won that particular contest, it isn't too hard to envisage him doing just that. Zuider Zee is a tough and progressive stayer who has performed with credit in defeat at a higher level, including when fourth behind subsequent Gold Cup runner-up Opinion Poll at Sandown last time, having ended last season with victory in the November Handicap in conditions similar to what he will face here. However, it could be worth chancing PETARA BAY to make a winning return to action. The eight-year-old has never quite lived up to early expectations (contested the 2007 Epsom Derby), but has proven himself a smart enough performer since his sights were lowered to more realistic levels, really catching the eye on his first two runs back last term and coming good next time when winning a valuable 14f handicap at Glorious Goodwood from Icon Dream, travelling stylishly into the race and coming with a sustained run to get up close to the finish. He has reportedly been kept back so far this season with this race in mind (best when fresh), and the ground conditions ought to suit him well; shaped last season as though needing a marathon trip and given that he has a touch of class, could be the answer in what looks a tough finale. Front-runner Overturn is perhaps one of the toughest horses around, very smart over hurdles and also developing into a high-class handicapper on the Flat in the past couple of seasons, winning the Chester Cup from the front last year and finding only stablemate Ile De Re too good this time; prior to that he had finished second in the Champion Hurdle, and it is hard to not see him involved if staying this new trip. Champion jumps trainer Paul Nicholls has his first runner under this code in the shape of American Trilogy, a smart middle distance performer in France in his younger days for Elle Lellouche who progressed into a smart hurdler for connections, his highlight over timber coming when landing the County Hurdle at the 2009 Cheltenham Festival. Unlikely he has been brought to this race lightly by his handler, but likely to be priced up purely on who trains him; perhaps worth noting he won a legends' race very well under Mick Kinane on Grand National day at Aintree.
I feel a bit inadequate posting next to you Aidan...
Saturday Ascot Selections:
2.30 MOVE TO STRIKE 13/8, By Lawman and half-brother to a 5 times winner over 6f to 1m, Billyford. Won by 9 lengths in impressive style at Curragh over soft ground 47 days ago. A commanding performance, he was in touch throughout and when asked at 2f he turned on the gas to draw clear and stay on well. A Coventry and Chesham double is on the cards for the yard this meet.
3.05 AIKEN 7/1, NB 5 from 6 including 2 at Ascot and 4 over this distance with all but one on soft/heavy ground. His last race at Ascot was in May of this year, with Ryan Moore in the saddle, he settled well amongst the leaders and pushed to lead 2f out staying on strong to win by 10 lengths. Some other notable performances was a prominent win at Epsom in a field of 10 in April and a polished win at Ascot last July. Gosden and Buick were in the winners yesterday with 3 and i have a feeling it may continue today.
3.45 BLACK CAVIAR 1/4, No need for a write-up, i won't be backing at such a short price but i do hope and pray she wins. A small outside chance at getting a place could be THE CHECKA 33/1 E/W, who is running off the bounce of a few good performances with a win at Doncaster and a well fought 2nd lto in the Duke of York Stakes along with a string of 2nds and a 1st last year all in class 1.
4.25 MAAREK 12/1, NAP He comes into this race with a hattrick on the cards with a win at Naas and another win at Newmarket both on soft ground along with a 2nd at Curragh in March. His win lto at Newmarket looked in doubt in the early stages with a struggle to find room and a lost iron, but hitting the 1f mark he was driven out to finish strongly winning by a neck in a field of 24. His last 4 runnings over 6f have been 1,2,1,1 all good staying runs and over soft ground.
5.00 CAMBORNE 7/1, Another Gosden, Buick selection here. His only run over 1m4f was lto with a win at Doncaster wearing cheekpieces for the first time, on good/soft ground 14 days ago, easing off to win by 7 lengths. His run prior to this was less straight forward with a slow starting, messy 6th at York in May. He's given a 11lb rise for today, but should have enough to come close here.
5.35 AMERICAN TRIOLOGY 16/1, More accustom to running over the hurdles with a 141 rating, so stamina shouldnt be an issue. Rolling back the years he has had a few wins in chases at Kempton and at Cheltenham along with some decent runs on the flat in France including a listed race win. Connections have shown a great deal of intent with the booking of Joseph O'Brien along with the decision by Paul Nicholls to run this horse on the flat.
Joined: 08 Jun 2007
Posted: Sat Jun 23, 2012 7:25 am Post subject:
Lightning Cloud 10/1 NAP Fancied this horse yesterday in a better race then this one but pulled out to take part in this As ever a competitive race and a tricky one to solve but been waiting for this horse to run and should be spot on for this Lightning Cloud is still lightly raced but made rapid improvement last year and won five times from eight races As proven Ascot form and in three runs here as a win a second and a fifth but the fifth was a seasonal opener and needed the run Been rested for Ascot and ran a cracker last time on seasonal opener when fifth to Global Village who i had that day but Lightning Cloud had a poor draw and won its side and was not beaten far but such a promising race after 8 months off Runs off the same mark has last time and looks nicely treated Needs a fast pace and should get it and has a good turn of foot and will fly home late and stay on well and think it has a even better chance in this Gets alot of weight off the others "
Joined: 17 Jan 2011
Location: Wigan, England.
Posted: Sat Jun 23, 2012 10:33 am Post subject:
3:45pm Ascot Diamond Jubilee Stakes Group 1 6f
With Black Caviar untried on these shores and very short nonetheless, I decided to dig around with some stats to check out anything with better value.
All based upon the last 10 years of this race:
Favourites have very much underperformed in this race, with only one horse justifying so in 10 years. Even so Starspangledbanner went off as joint favourite at 13/2.
Average Favourite SP: 3.37/1
Average Fav Chance: 22.91%
Expected Wins: 2.29
Actual Wins: 1
Fav LSP: -2.50
As we see, this is generally not a race to be backing the favourites in if the last 10 runs are anything to go by. It must be countered that not a single favourite was odds on in that time, the closest being Airwave in 2002 who went off at 11/8.
This race has been won by plenty of long odds horses in recent times, 6 of the last 10 being priced in double figures at the off. Indeed a few calculations shows that if you back every single horse at double figure odds you would come out with profit on both the win and place markets. (4 places at 1/5 odds).
Av Odds: 32/1
Win LSP: +22.00
Place LSP: +20.50
With only two horses 9/1 or shorter today, there could be plenty of money to be made in the place markets.
Indeed no winner has won this race at a price shorter than 6/1 meaning:
Average Winner SP: 16.70/1
Age: 4 year olds have the best record having won 4 out of the 10 races. The average winner is 4.6 year olds, so 4 and 5 year olds are very much of interest.
Specifically I have taken interest in the official ratings of the horses going into the race. In the years 2002-2006 2 winners had no official rating prior to the race which makes it tricky to analyse, which gives redundant data as so.
However, when taking into account the spread of the official ratings:
Average Top Rated: 118.20
Average Bottom Rated: 103.20
Average Winner Rated: 112.88
Over the last 5 years however
Average Top Rated: 119
Average Bottom Rated: 103.40
Average Winner Rated: 115
So it seems the field in recent time have been stronger officially (or the handicappers become better?), whilst also increasing in average field size (2002/2006 = 15.20, 2007/2011 = 18.40).
In calculating the average official ratings of the winner over the last 5 years I account for the fact that there could be improver's who we hadn't seen the best of, or horses who have been running not at 100% in preparation for this race.
Anyway, I took the average positioning of each winner over the last 5 years in terms of their official rating against top and bottom and the average winner was officially rated:
4lbs lower than top rated but 11lbs higher than top rated.
Then, going backdating such information and backing each horse who's official rating fell within the specified range and was either 4 ot 5 year olds gave:
"Many non runners here so field is smaller but will still take some winning Bosun Breese is fancied and won three of its last four races but on a high mark now I am going for reliable Doctor Parkes who is running into form with races Won twice last year in eight races and only 2lbs higher then last win and looks well handicapped Had two starts this season and been good runs and finished fifth both times but them races were harder and this is easier and see the horse resuming winning ways "
The Sixties caught the eye massively on debut at Windsor, when missing the start of the race by 10 lengths or so over 6f then keeping on under light pressure to finish a never nearer 5th. It wasn't necessarily the best race at Windsor this year but the horse appeared to have no chance of ever getting involved after a furlong so it was a very taking performance eventually.
He was entered into a maiden a week or two ago but was pulled out eventually and instead put into this race. Mick Channon has a great batch of 2yo's this year and I think it looks rather significant that he has just decided to skip a traditional maiden route with this one and instead step him right up in class.
This alone wouldn't necessarily be enough for me to get involved in a race like this, although if he had broken on terms and won that race he would probably be half the price for this, however another very significant point is that Channons 2yo's have been improving hugely for their debut runs. Just looking at the other 3 that he runs in this race, they all left their debut runs behind when making their second start. It seems fairly safe to assume that this colt will improve today. In addition, this step up in trip looks precisely the right way to go for him, given that he is by St Leger winner Sixties Icon.
I'm never too worried to take a big price on a runner I fancy and I am almost certain that this fella will outrun his odds, even if that doesn't prove to be good enough to trouble the judge here. On value terms, my NAP today...
Good luck all _________________ "The problem with the future is that there are more things that could happen than will happen" - Plato (liberally paraphrased)
Joined: 17 Jan 2011
Location: Wigan, England.
Posted: Sat Jun 23, 2012 11:51 am Post subject:
2:30pm Ascot - Tha'ir
Gave 7lbs and bags of experience away to Hillbilly Boy on debut, but reopposed on level weights for that 3.5 length defeat. Won next time out beating easy next time out winner Bircham comfortably. Sire of this horse has made a fine start to his stud career boasting a 39% strike rate of all progeny so far thanks to 7 wins from 18 runs. More so he has already had two juvenile winners at this meeting. Sire got 7 furlongs as a juvenile and so did Tha'ir's half-brother by Pivotal, so the step up should be well handled. The odds and jockey booking would suggest this is the strongest of the two Godolphin horses and with only 3 winning favourites in this race over the last 10 years a 7/4Fav doesn't appeal to me. Neither does the unknown form coming from Jalaa's race for such a short priced second favourite. At 6/1 this one can be played e/w for safety.
3:05pm Ascot - Testosterone
Made a good impression on debut last April over 10 furlongs in heavy conditions at Longchamp when staying on well under a very patient and considered ride. That experience and handling told next time out when stepped up a furlong and getting Good ground as she won very cosily. Kept to the same distance but upped to Listed class the next time out and she couldn't justify her Evens favouritism when staying on with too much to do. Upped once more to 12 furlongs and on soft ground she picked up a Group 3 win at Chantilly followed 3 weeks later by a Group 2 at Saint-Cloud. She then went for the Prix Vermeille prior to L'Arc, and ran a very good race having no chance with the impressive Galikova she finished a worthy runner up. The neck third that day then finished runner up in L'Arc and has since also placed in a Group 2 and a Group 3 in France. 4th home picked up the Canadian International at Woodbine a month later and put in a decent showing in the Japan Cup. This horse then went for L'Arc at big unfancied odds of 66/1, but was well beaten over 15 lengths back in the end. She's had a sinus operation since, and that might bring out a bit of improvement in her as she did appear to be unable to finish her races well at times. She was bought for 1,200,000gns in November and has since been transferred to Ed Dunlop's stable who admits she is behind schedule somewhat. She will however get this softer ground for sure, and if anywhere near her best she could run a big race here.
4:25pm Ascot - PALACE MOON
Jockey William Buick stat's make for very good reading for these race conditions. He had had 9 rides in Ascot Handicaps over the 6 furlong trip, winning 3 of them at odds of 22/1, 20/1 and 20/1. He takes the ride on Palace Moon today who's been on the go since January taking advantage of a tumbling handicap mark by picking up two wins in quick succession on all weather before coming unstuck stepped up to Listed class. In March he was sent back handicapping but stepped up to 7 furlong and finished a close up 4th in a race with good subsequent form. The winner Primaeval won a Class 2 handicap at Goodwood next time out before flopping in soft conditions this week. Second lost by a neck next time out but since won a Class 2 handicap before finding Group company too hot. 3rd place finished a decent close 5th in a Class 2 handicap at Newmarket too so the formlines are decent pertaining to official marks. he was dropped 2lbs for that 4th, but then raised 5lbs after winning last time out of a short spring break over this trip at Newbury. Should be prepped for this run now, and I think there's a good chance he can run well at big odds.
5:00pm Ascot - ETERNAL HEART
Both Joe Fanning and Mark Johnston have good stats in 12f+ handicaps at Ascot and interesting they combine on a horse who has won 3 out of 3 attempts over this 12 furlong distance. A winner on final race of reappearance this season in the Doncaster Shield (Class 2 Handicap) over this trip, before being stepped up in to Listed class which wasn't a bad performance to finish 6th four lengths behind some talented Class 1 performers. Stepped up further to 19 furlongs in what was somewhat of a farce of a Chester Cup. The start being done by tape gave good advantage to the front runners and they ran away with it, whilst this horse plugged on for a distant 4th. A good showing last time out in Listed company again
on Heavy ground a Leopardstown finishing 4th by 5 lengths to three class horses including yesterdays Ascot Gold Cup 3rd Saddlers Rock. Not put up for that Doncaster win at the beginning of the season, he may be good at the weights and I think he can run another big handicap race again. _________________ D.Rogerson's Ratings D.Rogerson's Trend System
Joined: 08 Jun 2007
Posted: Sat Jun 23, 2012 12:45 pm Post subject:
Looks a decent race and nothing stands out and many are inconsistent so anything has a chance if on song I like Tommy Stacks horse Celerina who has been running well this season without winning but last run looked promising when hampered at the start and stayed on well and for me would have won for that start Ran a cracker on only start at Ayr when just beat by Margot Did who has gone on to much better things Looks on a nice mark and still lightly raced as a sprinter so more to come and hopefully get a deserved win"
showed an impressive turn of foot to win its debut race. in a super fast time considering it had such a bad start. with more improvement to come, it looks as if it can at least make the frame
beaten everything put up against it since its attrocious debut. very strong in a finish, will be difficult to beat if leading into final furlong. jockey of the moment buick rides again chose Aikn ahead of masked marvel, before masked marvel withdrew. distance ideal, going suits and an exciting race in prospect.
3.45 AscotRoyal Rock E/W
cant back Black caviar, im not totally convinced by the hype and its way to short. looking for an EW for a bit of intrest. a steady no fuss sprinter, usually staying on when others are back peddaling. will have a small stake Each Way and hope black caviar is as good as they say. _________________ Never pay for tips, Why would you?.
just be cool, think about what your betting and be smart.
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