This week I feel in the mood for a little moan and to my surprise I am (sort of) turning on one of my favourite trainers in the excellent Roger Charlton, a true gentleman of the turf, trainer par excellence and all round nice guy, even talking to the media (including me) on the odd occasion! The age old argument over how much weight punters like you and me should carry in the billon pound a year horse racing industry will never be solved (well, not in my life time), but I am very wary of the run of the brilliant Al Kazeem last Saturday, where the six year old multiple Group One winner took in a Listed race for his first run of the season, with bigger fish to fry later in the year. I did mention that he needed to be fit last week and he clearly wasn’t, but that is little compensation to those who backed him in from 15/8 to 11/10 as the stalls opened, with bets of £1100, £800 and £400 to win recorded at the track. Losing is one thing, and I have never been one for too many sour grapes, but it became crystal clear after the race that he never had a chance as his trainer told the waiting media (after he finished fifth) that “I was really happy with that……James said he just got very tired on him. He’s only been in training since May and he’ll improve a huge amount”. Are we acknowledging that he wasn’t really fit enough to do himself justice and if so, where does that sit with the rules about all horses trying their best to win? Those who did their dough seem to have every right to be unhappy in my view, and the way he was backed suggests to me that maybe Mr Charlton could have passed on that information BEFORE the race so we all knew exactly what risks we were taking, and at what price?
Talking of horses who will improve for the run, I have updated the Horses To Follow list removing Idea (never as good as we once thought and seems to be in the grip of the handicapper now – famous last words), but I am more than happy to add Enraptured after her run in a Newbury handicap last Saturday. Very easy to back (drifted from 5/1 to 7/1 on course), she pulled way too hard and failed to get home but looked as if the race would do her the world of good and on her best form, she is better than a handicapper – one to watch out for next time out and hopefully for the rest of the season.
Looking ahead to the weekend next, and the obvious first and main port of call has to be the King George from Ascot due off at 3.50pm and a chance to test one generation against another with Oaks winner Taghrooda up against talking horse Telescope and to my surprise, the four year old is currently the favourite. At the risk of getting egg on my face (again), he was impressive in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot with a seven length demolition of Hillstar which is good form – but is it as good as an Oaks win with your head in your chest after just three races -I doubt it? Fact is she is a class act, gets fifteen pounds from the favourite this afternoon, has oodles of room for improvement after just the three races, and has an exemplary record – unlike her rival who has flattered to deceive on more than on occasion though to be fair, it should be one heck of a race.
Other selections I like the look of this weekend are few and far between, but I do think Windhoek has everything in his favour in the Skybet York Stakes due off at 2.55pm, a Group Two over a mile and a quarter. Having never won beyond Listed class, this is quite an ask for the son of Cape Cross but he does like the trip and the going which is a remark that does not apply to a lot of his market rivals and although I admit that backing anything Godolphin this year is akin to punting suicide, he may at least represent a spot of value on a difficult day in the circumstances.
Finally, and whether you see this as good news or not is up to you, I hope to throw a few shorter articles in to the mix for Glorious Goodwood next week – maybe we can add some winners, maybe not, but we can always find something to talk about in this game.
Selections this week:
Windhoek 2.55pm York
Taghrooda 3.50pm Ascot
Horses to follow:
Enraptured – a lovely looking progressive daughter of Oasis Dream whose two-year-old form would put her in to Listed class as a minimum assuming she has trained on. Her handicap return at Newbury disappointed me to be fair as I thought she was thrown in at the weights, but she was far too buzzy for her own good and the betting suggested she will improve considerably for the run – her first in eleven months.
***No Current Entries***
Toronado – could be absolutely top class and looked to ease up in front at Ascot in the Queen Anne Stakes for a cozy victory. Bound to improve again for the run he will be aimed at the top all aged mile events this season and will hopefully mop up and boost our profit margins!
*** Entered Sussex Stakes 30th July***
Joyeuse – the mile of the 1000 guineas was clearly a step too far for the daughter of Oasis Dream but switched back to six furlongs she won with any amount in hand at Haydock. With her fillies and/or three year old allowance it seems certain that Lady Cecil will place her to good effect for the rest of this season and beyond, and with a bit of cut in the ground she seems certain to win more races.
***Second at York last week and worth keeping on the list ***
Rewaaya – word at the John Gosden yard is that she is better than we have seen so far and certainly Group class – be that here or possibly abroad as the three-year-old options start to run out. She was talked of as an Oaks filly so no great shock to see her win her maiden with ease at odds on but she still showed all the customary signs of inexperience and I am sure there is more to come.
***No current entries***
Horsted Keynes – always seen as a late developer, connections hope he will be even better as a four year old. He started well enough with a comfortable victory at Yarmouth last Tuesday but was blowing hard enough after the race to suggest there is improvement to come despite the fact that the seven furlongs that day were covered in an impressive 1.m 23.44 seconds, 0.16 quicker than standard!
***Entered at Ascot 3.15pm Saturday ***
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 Great Voltigeur Stakes August 20th***