Not a lot to say about last weeks selection apart from the big question (or excuse depending on how you look at things) – why did they not make even a vain attempt at reorganising all five runners after two broke through the stalls as opposed to a three horse farce? Sour grapes I admit but it wasn’t a race in any way or form which my selection needed and I did suspect it was all about the Grand National and not allowing the race schedule to slip by a minute?
This week I am out to annoy Ron with a quick mention of the All-Weather Championship as I cannot see how an injection of prize money in to the sport we all love in whatever guise can ever be seen as a bad thing? ARC are certainly making a big deal if it as are their bookmaker partners after inviting us all down to leafy Lingfield for a media lunch where we were astounded by statistics as well as treated to a decent buffet! The part that I really cottoned on to was the idea that higher prize money will mean better horses and more integrity in the sport – was this a mini confession that all-weather racing at it’s lowest standard is open to corruption? Now I know for a fact Ron agrees with that particular conspiracy theory (I am naïve enough to think its as straight as a die), but are we saying only the “poorer” owners are open to temptation and those nearer the top of the tree are whiter than white? Either way the fact is that Good Friday will be the eighth richest days racing in the United Kingdom which has to be applauded regardless, and I can see a future where we have horses for the all-weather that we can then sell on at a profit to race abroad – even I am entitled to a dream!
Looking ahead I keep telling Ron we need to hold something back from the podcast or I have nothing exciting to write about, and this week that is exactly the case so do excuse me if some of this is slightly repetitive. Newbury put on a cracking card on Saturday with three Group three contests – not bad at all for an early season Saturday. Ron loves his handicaps and thank goodness for that as he invariably gets those at fancy prices but I prefer the top table and will have two bets this weekend, both of them in the so called Guineas Trials. Ladies first as us old fashioned non PC chaps like to say, and the Fred Darling sees up to thirteen fillies go to post over seven furlongs on good to soft ground as I write. With every single one of them making their seasonal debuts and clearly most of them with bigger fish to fry (they hope), this is not a race to go mad in but I keep coming back to Marco Botti’s
Al Thakhirah who won her maiden readily enough but really caught they eye at Newmarket when taking the Rockfel Stakes by a comfortable three and a quarter lengths. The hint I take is that this trip on this ground looks to be just what the doctor ordered and if we ignore her run in America (a mile, too firm, and she boiled over before the start), then she has about the best form in the book and ought to at least go close.
As for the colts ahead of the Greenham Stakes at 2.55pm, I can’t say I am too impressed by the early prices that suggest Kingman will go off mightily close to evens or worse. Unbeaten after two races to date for trainer John Gosden who has his team in fine fettle (six winners six seconds and three thirds from just the 20 runners in the last two weeks), I admit he looks the one to beat but his form of a maiden win at Newmarket and a Solario Stakes win at Sandown (only four runners and the time was nothing special) makes me feel the need to look elsewhere for value. Astaire is officially the best horse in the race after winning the Gimcrack Stakes followed by the Group One Middle Park Stakes but I get the feeling he was a bully of a juvenile and will soon be caught out as others mature past his abilities. Berkshire is a horse I like a lot and I can pass on a good word from the Paul Cole yard about his wellbeing yet still feel he may be seen to better effect at Epsom or even Sandown for a crack at the Coral-Eclipse, just further than this seven furlongs or even the mile of the 2000 Guineas. Lat Hawill came under serious consideration for a Botti double and could be anything or nothing after a Newcastle maiden win, but after making a few phone calls it will be the Hannon beast Night Of Thunder that carries my cash 20/80 as Ron would say. A son of Dubawi, he handled the soft going at both Goodwood and Doncaster but should be even more at home on the surface here, but more importantly, they always felt he would make up in to a far better three year old. Always considered the stables number one 2000 Guineas hope, they know a good miler when they see one and feel he has all the right attributes, so at odds of 9/2 (tissue), he does look like an each way bet to nothing so fingers crossed for the right result.
Selections this week:
Al Thakhirah 2.20pm Newbury Saturday
Night Of Thunder 2.55pm Newbury Saturday
Horses to follow:
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.
***Entered in the Newbury opener on Saturday***
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!
***No current entries***