Welcome to what looks like one of the poorest and uninteresting weekend’s racing of the year so far, but we can but deal with what is put in front of us (Easter Eggs hopefully), and I have found a couple to at least seriously consider.
Before that, we have had a fascinating midweek for a change, starting with Brendan Powell (junior) who is up in front of the beak (well, BHA disciplinary procedures) for giving Battle Group a pasting before the start of the Scottish Grand National from Ayr last Saturday. To put it politely, the nine year old is a bit of a monkey to put it politely and despite all his ability (won three in a row this time ish last year), he has been pulled up or refused to race in his last five outings, and is clearly out of love with the game. Replays don’t really show what happened so I can’t and won’t take sides, but I can say that in the modern age when racing is in the sights of various animal welfare organisations, we need to keep cleaner than clean, and I am only hoping this doesn’t undo the good of zero casualties in the Grand National proper?
Its not often that I get all excited about an Even money favourite being beaten but I think My Tent Or Yours ran the equivalent to his best race ever when third in the Scottish Champion hurdle, beaten four lengths by Cockney Sparrow and one and three quarter lengths by Court Minstrel but is that really as bad as the rest of the racing press are implying? The winner was rated 148 pre race and the runner up 152, but as the winner received 24 pounds my secondary school maths puts the third on a theoretical rating of 168 (148+24 pounds less 4 pounds for four lengths), so no great shock really despite what the bookmakers would have you believe. Fact is he can now be backed at 7/1 from 5/1 and I for one do not think there was any evidence here that he has gone backwards?
Newmarket were next on my agenda so I popped up to see some old friends and am still in a state of shock about the form of the Gosden yard – I’ll have a bowl of what they are eating please. He may have been beaten by a Gosden hot pot but runner up Between Wickets was the one to take out of the race from a betting perspective – it is well known that the Marcus Tregoning horses always need their first run yet he was the only one who got near the winner (all be it after he had flown), and a run of the mill maiden is surely his for the taking if he improves as expected?
True Story took the Feilden Stakes and did so impressively (though the time wasn’t all that), so why have the bookmakers only cut him to 16/1 for the Epsom Derby? Although hardly a reliable trial (I can’t see a Derby winner in the roll of honour), the son of Manduro won by seven lengths puling up with another six lengths from second to third, retaining his unbeaten record, and comes from the all powerful Bin Suroor yard and would most likely have the brilliant Silvestre De Sousa in the saddle – hardly a list of negatives. Add the fact that he handles good and good to firm ground (the most likely options at Epsom in June), and should get better the further he goes, and he does look over priced and as I have found a little 18.5 on Betfair the win, I just couldn’t resist (I don’t think he is the best horse, but I do think he is overpriced).
This afternoon (Thursday) saw a rare Gosden turnover when the well-backed Fencing was only third behind Jane Chapple-Hyam’s Mull of Killough, who I rather hope was having a warm up race for the SIA Cup in Singapore next month. He won the same race last year (why didn’t I spot that BEFORE the race?), before finishing fifth at Kranji and I may well be tempted to back him each way to do better this year – an unknown jockey trainer combination can often lead to rewarding odds abroad.
Looking ahead before I run out of space and Ron has already called off the Podcast thanks to the low quality racing this weekend (which is a shame because we love recording it). All-weather racing is akin to sunlight to a vampire as far as Ron is concerned (isn’t that right Count?), but with the first racing on Good Friday in history, they deserve at least a mention? I have no confidence in any selections, but I can pass on that jockey Oisin Murphy told us all he hoped for a big run from his mount in the apprentice race which means Honoured who should certainly be a decent price – not a tip, but I am happy to pass that on just in case?
As for Saturday, not a lot to say to be honest but Zibelina looks interesting ahead of the Snowdrop Stakes at 2.55pm. A late bloomer with just the four races on the clock last season, she is dropping in class to this Listed event having won the Group Three Prix De Lieurey at Deauville last August and then running a respectable fourth in the same grade on her last run for the season at Sandown A repeat of that form ought to be good enough here unless anything improves past her of course, and with the Appleby stable in good enough form (a few more winners would be nice), she does look worthy of a bet.
At Nottingham, it seems quite likely that Burtonwood can do to the newcomers exactly what he suffered last time out at Leicester when the race fit Flyball just saw him off in a photo finish. As we all know they think quite a bit of the winner, there was no disgrace in this narrow defeat, and with that run under his belt, he ought to make it second time lucky just like his Leicester conqueror.
Selections this week:
Zibelina 2.55pm Kempton Saturday
Burtonwood 5.15pm Nottingham Saturday
Horses to follow:
Between Wickets – ran a blinder at a big price when runner up to the impressive and well backed Provident Spirit, and just like all Tregoning horses the son of Compton Place looked certain to improve considerably for the run. I doubt he is special but he ought to be more than capable of picking up his maiden if well placed by connections as seems most likely.
***No current entries ***
Tominator – back in training at the Jonjo O’Neill yard they are very happy with him and he looks a picture – expect a few wins this season with the Chester Cup very much on the agenda.
***No current entries***
Mutakayyef – trained by William Haggas I had a quandary this week – do I or don’t I back the son of Sea The Stars? As with all the stable juveniles he was a shoe in to improve for the run but he is spoken of in glowing terms by gallop watchers in Newmarket. Fact is he ran as expected – slowly away, green as grass, and hampered as well, he will learn plenty from the experience and can be ignored at your peril.
***Ran a blinder to finish second this week and will win his maiden soon enough***
Freemason – a once raced juvenile owned by Highclere Thoroughbred Racing – Harbinger (a posh syndicate), he cost a whopping 150,000 Guineas so ought to be half decent – word is he is all that and more, so one to stay on the right side of.
***No current entries (unless you include the 2014 Derby!***
Idea – twice raced two year old trained by Sir Michael Stoute and said to be flying on the gallops. Won after a poor run at Windsor when last seen looking as green as grass and very much one to keep on the right side of – originally nominated by a post racing reader!
***Entered 2000 guineas 3rd May***