Weatherby’s Super Sprint Day
100.05 Auenklang 8-12
79.56 Patsy´s Double 9-4
95.99 Superstar Leo 8-6
87.34 Ascension 8-6
93.72 Claxon 8-12
93.70 Duchamp 8-8
85.52 Aegean Dream 9-2
Ground – 3.98 (Firm)
94.12 Invincible Spirit 9-3
87.75 Zucchero 8-7
94.18 Good Girl 8-5
80.79 Dulcet Spear 8-10
99.31 Sakhee 9-3
89.34 Cashneem 8-8
97.01 Majestic Bay 9-3
Ground – 2.21 (Good to Firm)
74.37 Dublin 8-13
97.50 Ashdown Express 8-12
97.04 Highdown 8-10
93.04 Presto Vento 8-9
85.30 Calcutta 9-8
90.05 Nemo Fugat 9-1
94.79 Elgria 8-5
Ground – 1.36 (Good)
98.69 Mubtaker 9-3
86.99 Definite Guest 8-2
85.70 If Paradise 8-7
78.92 Matloob 8-10
97.54 Somnus 8-12
94.01 Lochridge 9-3
89.95 Mac 8-4
Ground – 2.75 (Good to Firm)
98.65 Muqbil 9-3
90.40 Everest 8-6
88.33 Siena Gold 8-1
79.76 Grand Marque 8-13
91.30 Pastoral Pursuits 8-12
90.91 Indian Trail 9-4
86.98 Merrymaker 9-1
Ground – 1.33 (Good)
86.19 City Of Troy 8-7
91.99 Another Bottle 8-12
88.44 Lady Livius 8-5
100.44 Welcome Stranger 9-3
104.48 Beckermet 8-12
84.84 Evaluator 8-7
Ground – 2.10 (Good to Firm)
95.82 Fayr Jag 9-7
87.21 Salinja 9-1
92.11 Elhamri 9-4
86.18 Thousand Words 8-13
97.66 Tam Lin 8-10
84.48 Inchloch 9-9
Ground – 1.23 (Good)
81.49 Doctor Crane 8-13
98.79 Intrepid Jack 9-3
82.30 Lindelaan 9-7
90.83 Jargelle 8-6
97.89 Hunting Country 8-4
90.32 Passage Of Time 8-12
80.99 Alnwick 9-0
Ground – 0.17 (Good)
82.70 Sir Parky
99.35 High Standing
90.00 Monsieur Chevallier
89.29 Crime Scene
81.58 King Charles
91.42 Aaim To Prosper
Ground – -1.22 (Good to Soft)
With a rating of 100 this confirmed that the winner was potentially a Group 1 animal but the German bred colt was unable to turn over Aidan O’Brien’s Bernstein in the Shergar Cup Sprint for 3yo at Ascot who was coming off a bad first time out run in the 2000 Guineas, he was 2nd that day and lost by a head but failed to back up his time at Newbury before bombing out in the Haydock Sprint Cup on heavy ground – definite question marks.
This was won by a new Godolphin recruit Auenklang, the unexposed colt was a Group 2 winning juvenile for Hans Hillier at Baden-Baden and this was his first run of the season in which he was dropping down in class although you’d have to question the strength of Group races in Germany but he made all from stall 9 under John Reid to win a comfortable 6 lengths with the jockey describing him “”as good a sprinter as I´ve sat on in a while” yet the market support didn’t give any indication of this admiration pre-race.
A 9 runner field that featured a lot of hold up horses, 3 year olds with something to prove and some well travelled experienced sprinters who have been running since March/April.
2. Harmonic Way (Progressive handicapper, winner of The Stewards Cup and The Wokingham; he also broke the track record along with Tajasur over this distance at Newbury in 1999 – on the go since April)
3. Cretan Gift (progressive handicapper, on the go since March and winner of 15 races prior to this including a listed win at Newmarket.)
4. Halmahera ( Winner of the Cornwallis as 2yo and 5th in the Palace House during that year, on the go since March)
5. Alfailak (3rd in the Molecomb, 2nd run of the season as a 3yo)
6. Gaelic Storm (experienced yard stick)
7. Now Look Here (21 races and one maiden win over 7f prior to this race)
8. Halland Park Girl (5 time winner as 2yo, including 2nd in Super Sprint and winner of Doncaster Stakes, run in 1000 Guineas but didn’t train on as a 3yo)
9. Tabheej (3rd in Oh So Sharp, 6th in Duke of York, lightly raced 3yo)
10. Don Puccini (Super Sprint winner, lightly raced 3yo and 2nd run of season)
11. Desaru (Royal Lodge 3rd, didn’t train on as a 3yo)
A time of 94.12 was particularly disappointing considering Invincible Spirit went on to win the Group 1 Haydock Sprint Cup; it was 1.88 pts slower than what the listed race standard is (96) but the horse did drift very badly right handed inside the final furlong which may have influenced the poor time which was certainly nothing on Auenklang in 2000.
Invincible Spirit was a highly regarded 2yo with injury problems at 3, only notable win was a conditions race and a decent 9th in Group 2 Company at Ascot from a horror draw prior to this race, he was racing from stall 3 and was held up off a decent clip travelling with ease throughout, he looked like a horse that was better than this level who could start going the right way.
This was an 8 runner field with plenty of horses that liked to race close to the pace which suited the holdup type.
1. Invincible Spirit
2. Mugharreb (one run at 2, progressive 3yo and 6th in Irish 2000 Guineas)
3. Bouncing Bowdler (Never unplaced as a 2yo in 9 starts, Mill Reef winner, 2nd in Super Sprint – beaten 62l on both 3yo career starts prior to this run)
4. Superstar Leo (Fantastic 2yo, Norfolk winner, Super Sprint winner, Flying Childers winner and 2nd in Prix De L’Abbaye – failed to inspire on her 3 starts as a 3yo)
5. Industrial Pride (Anglesey winner, 5th in the Jersey Stakes and 3rd in the Chipchase stakes prior to this, exposed 3yo)
6. Doctor Spin (Decent enough handicap sprinter on his day, 4th in Chipchase prior to this race)
7. Bannister (Gimcrack winner, beaten 43l on his 3 outings as 3yo)
8. Fire Dome (Experienced handicap sprinter)
This was a time of 97.50 that indicated a horse that was at Group 3 level and potentially a Group 2 performer, it wasn’t until 14 runs later that he secured a Group 3 victory although it was a long time coming but did manage to reproduce the figure in defeat on a few occasions.
The winner Ashdown Express yet again was another who benefited from the 3 year old allowance, he was a talented horse tried and tested over a mile before the decision was made to drop him back to 6f were it would only be his 4th run over the trip but he improved from ever run over 6f in 2002 and was 3rd in the Chipchase prior to this race, he likes to be held up of a strong pace which he got from stall 4 under Jimmy Fortune.
There were yet again plenty of horses who enjoy racing close to the pace which suited Ashdown Express who was held up towards the rear.
1. Ashdown Express
2. Mugharreb (one run at 2, progressive 3yo and 6th in Irish 2000 Guineas, 2nd in this race in 2001 and had finished 2nd in Duke of York in 02’ – 3rd run of the season)
3. Massarra (Listed winner and Group 2 placed at 2, 2nd in Nell Gwyn on seasonal debut and tried over a mile in French 1000 Guineas prior to this race (16th/17th) – half sister to 2001 winner Invincible Spirit)
4. Vision Of Night (Very decent sprinter, multiple European Group winner who was 2nd in the Chipchase prior to this race)
5. Indian Country (only 6th run of career, lightly raced and 4th in Golden Jubilee prior to this race)
6. Sartorial (1st run of the season, Group 3 winner in Deauville, Group 2 placed at Baden-Baden)
7. Brevity (progressive handicapper, winner of 9 races over 6-7f prior to this race
8. Spencers Wood (Listed winner at The Curragh in 02’, hard horse to place and found himself in sprints after runs over 8-10f)
This was fascinating because the figure was just 0.04 outside last year’s time with last year’s winner Ashdown Express running 2nd here losing by a neck which just solidifies the figure as this time had to give away the 5lb penalty to the eventual winner and yet another horse who showed Group 3 potential boarding Group 2 class which would be the 3rd time in 4 years that this had happened (Auenklang, Ashdown Express, Somnus)
Somnus was a winner of the Yearling Sales Stakes at Doncaster were he took full advantage of a draw bias before going on to win the Redcar Two Year Old Trophy when things looked impossible from a horror draw in 1 which was a complete change of fortunes from Doncaster. He was 6th on his seasonal debut before coming 8th/11th in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot, weak in the market when bagging a Haydock Conditions race just 2 weeks prior to the Hackwood, he was a monkey that was off the bridle although he found a lot of it for pressure which was reminiscent in his Hackwood victory.
This was a much larger field than previous years and featured some strong horses; the winner was ridden up with the pace from stall 8 with the 2nd, 3rd and 4th being held up.
2. Ashdown Express (winner of the race in 2002, flirted around listed level since and was 4th in the Chipchase prior to this race)
3. The Tatling (experienced sprinter, season started in April which included a 3rd in the Wokingham and listed win at Sandown prior to this race)
4. Saddad (Winner of the Flying Childers at 2, 12th in Kings Stand and 5th in Chipchase prior to this race)
5. Bonus (unexposed 3yo who started his season in March rising 35lbs and 2nd in a conditions race prior to the Hackwood)
6. Peace Offering (winner of Cornwallis as 2yo, struggled with handicap mark at 3)
7. Chookie Hamilton (Progressive handicap sprinter, 3rd in Wokingham and 2nd last in Chipchase prior to this)
8. Country Reel (High class 2 year old; winner of Gimcrack and 4th in Middle Park behind winner Oasis Dream, 2nd in Gimcrack prior to this race and was only 4th run of career)
9. Needwood Blade (multiple listed winner and Group placed, winner of the Palace House stakes in 03’ started season off in the Cammidge)
10. Indian Spark (very experienced handicapper with 13 wins prior to the race)
11. Vision of Night (4th in 2002, flirted around listed level and 2nd in Listed race at Sandown prior to this)
12. Sartorial (Group 3 winner in Deauville, coming here 2 years without a win)
13. Red Carpet (2nd in the Middle Park as a 2yo, 5th in the 2000 Guineas, winner of Cammidge on seasonal debut at 5 before going off the boil and never really built from his 2000 Guineas 5th)
14. Polar Way (Excellent 2yo winning 4 out of 5 races including a Group 3 at the Curragh and 4th in the Diadem Stakes at Ascot, 3rd in Duke of York on seasonal debut at 3 followed up with a 6th in the Golden Jubilee prior to this race)
This figure of 91.30 was quite disappointing on the face of things being a large 4.70 pts below Listed level but when you look deeper into it you can see the factors which lead to the misleading time, the horse was extremely well thought off and the fact he was kept to Listed level meant it was just going to be a run out getting the horse back carefully with bigger engagements to come but the goings on prior to the race wouldn’t have settled any nerves in regards to the horses health which may have been the reason behind the slow start from Drowne as he was a horse who liked to race up with the pace but that could of been too pressurising for the horse, I don’t think they would of cared about a loss but the horse’s class shone through in the end when he came through with a dangerous challenge 2f out but never really put the race to bed which would have been a fitness problem. Pastoral Pursuits went on to win the Park Stakes at Doncaster and the July Cup in 05’ three runs later.
Pastoral Pursuits was an 8l Auction Maiden winner at Chepstow before repeating his winning margin when stepped up to a conditions event at Windsor which put him very much a horse to watch out for and he grabbed Group 3 success during that season with a win in the Sirenia. He never went for the Middle Park or Mill Reef after chipping a bone which left him off the track for some time and missing the 2000 Guineas which was a serious target although he made his reappearance at Sandown coming 2nd in the Scurry Stakes over 7f before staying at this level when landing the Hackwood dropping down a furlong, he reared over and banged his head badly in the saddling boxes prior to the race and was kicked by another horse who flipped in the stalls and was very much slowly away under Steve Drowne from stall 1 who managed to get him up for a hard fought victory with a head and a neck separating first 3 home.
1. Pastoral Pursuits
2. Cartography (3rd in Sirenia Stakes at 2, 3rd in the King Charles Stakes at Newbury and 3rd in the Jersey Stakes At Ascot prior to this step down in trip from 7 to 6f)
3. Dowager (exposed, listed winner at 2 over 6f, 6th/8th in a conditions race at Haydock prior to this)
4. So Will I (unexposed, 2 runs at 2 including a maiden win at Newbury, 3rd in Greenham on debut, listed winner over 6f at Newbury in May and 8th in Chipchase prior to this)
5. Phantom Wind (unexposed, 8l Maiden winner on 2nd start as 2yo, 6th in the Fred Darling on seasonal reappearance as 3yo prior to this race)
6. Mac Love (16 runs at 2 including 2nd in the Doncaster Stakes and 2nd in the Rockingham Stakes, 3rd in Heritage handicap at Newmarket July meeting prior to this)
7. Nights Cross (well travelled and experienced 2yo 2nd in the Molecomb, 8th in the King Stand and 10th in the Golden Jubilee prior to this)
8. The Kiddykid (decent juvenile, Listed winner at Haydock and progressive handicapper at 3, Greenland Stakes Group 3 winner at 4 and 6th in Sandown Sprint Group 3 prior to this)
9. Iqte Saab (unexposed, conditions winner at Newmarket on seasonal debut, failed in transition to Listed class in the King Charles Stakes at Newmarket prior to this)
10. Colonel Cotton (experienced sprinter, listed winner at Newmarket and 3rd in Sandown Sprint Group 3 prior to this)
11. Crimson Silk (3rd in St Ledger Yearling Sales, didn’t train on)
This was staggering time of 104.48 which beggars belief and thank god with the benefit of time we’ve been able to see that the winner wasn’t a Group 1 sprinter but at the time theres no doubt that having a Golden Jubilee 3rd and a Golden Jubilee winner in 3rd and 4th place would have made the time more believable making it a potential very costly meeting. Although if we look at it on the positive side the 3rd Barons Pit did win the Group 2 Diadem Stakes at 20-1 with Fayr Jag back in 2nd, Fayr Jag went to go run 6th in the Nunthorpe at 50-1 and 5th in the Haydock Cup Sprint at 33-1 whilst 2nd placed Ashdown Express ran 3rd in that race at 50-1 which adds another angle to the rating, in fact it kind of solidifies the time although I wouldn’t go as far to saying it was a 104 but possibly a 100-102.
Why didn’t Beckermet aspire to the potential he showed on the day in future engagements? There must have been something seriously wrong which could of been caused possibly wrong advertised distances, tailwind etc and the ground also dried up significantly during the day with the 10f race before being run in a fast time who gain was very much towards the fore of the field and we can see also that Welcome Stranger was no Group 1 horse in time but what are we saying, if the ground is quick at Newbury then anything with an easy lead is more than likely going to run a fast time and very likely to win the race but may not be the horse to take out for future engagements – interesting.
Beckermet ran the 10 times as a juvenile managing to bag 4 races yet failed in his step up to Listed class towards the end of the season where he was very much effective at 5f although found it tough in fields where he wouldn’t get his own way out in front. He made his seasonal reappearance at Lingfield in April coming 4th in the Pavilion Stakes before showing electrifying pace in large handicap fields over 6f during the summer under Royston Ffrench, it wasn’t until the man who rode him on his seasonal reappearance Martin Dwyer took the reins 7 runs later in the Hackwood when going off a 14-1 outsider, how was this horse who hasn’t won in his last 12 starts stretching back 12 months to 9th of July last year be able to beat horses of Group Class, the only way was to do something he relished at as a 2yo when taking advantage of good draws showing a blinding early pace and hope they over do the waiting tactics and surprisingly enough this is what happened which ended up in a fantastic pay day for the owners and trainer.
There was many hold up horses in the race which allowed Beckermet an easy time out in front who expected to pick him off although the weight for age proved vital.
2. Ashdown Express (A real solid sprinter who made the transition to Group level, 2nd in the Palace House earlier in the 05 season and 6th in July Cup prior to this race, a race in which he was primed for after coming 2nd in the previous year)
3. Barons Pit (Norfolk winner at 2, 3rd in Golden Jubilee and 15 months of the track prior to this race)
4. Fayr Jag (decent 2yo, 5 wins in 2003’ including the Wokingham, Ridge Wood Pearl Stakes Group 3 at the Curragh, Golden Jubilee winner in 2004’, beaten 45l in 4 starts during 2005’)
5. Jedburgh (decent 7f juvenile with multiple wins, winner of the Buckingham Stakes at York prior to this and had been on the go since April)
6. Baltic King (decent improving handicap sprinter, winner of listed race prior to this and had been on the go since April were targeted for a Heritage Handicap at Newmarket coming 2nd in consecutive years.
7. The Crooked Ring (in form handicap sprinter, on the go since April)
8. If Paradise (decent 2yo, winner of Field Marshal Stakes at 3, hard to place at 4)
9. Boogie Street (Roseberry Stakes winner at Ayr, 3rd in Palace House on seasonal reappearance, multiple group placed and 2nd in the King Stand during 05’ season leading up to this race)
10. Chookie Heiton (Listed winner at Beverley since his 2004 running, disappointing in handicaps prior to this)
11. Desert Fantasy (Listed winner at The Curragh, without a win in 2 years)
After a strong renewal in last year’s race the Hackwood had now been upgraded to Group 3 level, the time was just below listed level at 95.82 although the ground faced a barrage of rain throughout the day which took its toll on 4 horses being withdrawn leaving a quite substandard Group 3 field but however you try dress it up Fayr Jag was primed for the Golden Jubilee at Ascot were he didn’t have a hard race and picked up the Chipchase on his next outing before again trying at the big time in the July Cup at Newmarket coming 10th/15th which made this race just a consolation prize keeping the horse on the go and a smart piece of placing by the trainer. The horse never went on to winning anything smart but was consistent in his approach and most notably placing in the Group 2 Diadem at 20-1, 16 runs later he hadn’t won but did reproduce the figure on several occasions and he sadly died when beginning to look like he was well handicapped and would have had more races left in him.
1. Fayr Jag
2. Kodiac (Decent improving handicap sprinter, on the go since January in Dubai, 3rd in a Conditions event at Haydock prior to this)
3. Tawaassol (unexposed sprinter rising the handicaps, made the transition well to Group 3 level when coming 4th in the Champagne Stakes prior to this)
4. Balthazaar’s Gift (Winner of the Rockingham and Group 2 winner at Maison Laffitte at 2, 2nd in the Golden Jubilee prior to this race)
5. Baltic King (6th in Kings Stand and winner of the Wokingham prior to this race, on the go since April)
6. Ashdown Express (4th in the Golden Jubilee and 3rd in the July Cup prior to this, on the go since April)
7. Ajigolo (Decent 2yo, 4th in the Norfolk Stakes and 2nd in the Cornwallis stakes, beaten a total of 24l on his 2 reappearances at 3 prior to this race)
This was an excellent renewal in my view and the time of 98.79 was Group 2 class boarding Group 1 and the sort of race Newbury management would have been pleased with after a sub standard field when putting the race up in grade. This is a funny situation again much like what we had in 05’ with Beckermet were the winner hasn’t gone on to be the best horse or carry the rating on into other races and Intrepid Jack hasn’t managed to win since in 17 races whilst the 2nd horse who tragically died in 09 had superb potential and he franked the time when 4th in the Group 1 Sprint Cup at Doncaster were injuries got the better of him in time, Balthazaar’s Gift managed to come back here in 2009 and repeat the time giving him a Group 2 victory in the Hungerford Stakes whilst picking up a win in Nad Al Sheba along the way and Strike The Deal who finished 3rd has come back here in 09 and repeated the figure in his Group 3 success whilst also picking up some valuable places in Group company along the way.
Hughie Morrison’s Intrepid Jack was a progressive 3 year old sprinter raising 25 lbs in the handicap towards the end of the year including two victories and a 2nd to Tax Free in the William Hill Trophy at York. He was still very much lightly raced as a sprinter in 2006 having just 8 runs to his name and it was interesting rated 97 that they stuck to handicaps, a good 6th on debut at York behind Borderlescott was followed by a 10th in the Wokingham were he faced a difficult draw and new hold up tactics before coming 11th in the Stewards Cup. 2007 was very much the same starting off in handicaps before his 2nd run of the season came at Kempton in a weak Listed event where he managed to come 2nd before frustratingly coming 2nd again at Royal Ascot in the Wokingham when benefit from a positive draw but was already looking a much more stronger and consistent horse, handicaps wouldn’t beckon forever and after another tilt at the Stewards Cup in vein (10th/27th) he would finally have another attempt at Pattern Class in his 3rd run of the season in the Group 3 Champagne sprint after coming 10th in the Wokingham prior and he could only manage 7th at best were the stiff 5f looked too sharp before he was to go back to back in pattern company in the Hackwood 2 weeks later where the step up to 6 furlongs suited as George Baker held him up off a strong pace set by Beckermet and he was able to find the gaps with a strong run inside the final furlong
1. Intrepid Jack
2. Corrybrough (Highly thought of sprinter, impressive winner of the Scurry Stakes at Sandown prior to this)
3. Balthazaar’s Gift (4th in 06’, 3rd in the Wokingham and winner of the Hackwood in 07 when meeting was re-scheduled to Ascot, winner of a listed race at Windsor and 10th in the Golden Jubilee prior to this)
4. Strike The Deal (excellent 2yo and winner of the Richmond stakes, 2nd in the Mill Reef and Middle Park, failed in 2 starts over a mile at 3 before coming 5th in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot prior to this)
5. Edge Closer (one run and one win at 2, progressive handicap sprinter at 3,stepped up in grade as a 4yo and winner of a Listed race at Salisbury before coming last in the Wokingham prior to this)
6. Excusez Moi (decent 3yo and 4th in Heritage Handicap at York although failed at Group Level, 4th in the Stewards cup at 4 in 2006 and 2nd in a Group 3 at Newbury in the backend of the season, failed in Dubai before becoming a solid AW sprinter and winner of the Cleves Stakes in 08, beaten 32l prior to this in 2 starts and has been on the go since February)
7. Wi Dud(2nd in the Molecomb, winner of the Flying Childers and 2nd in the Middle Park – excellent 2yo, failed to build on that as a 3yo although 5th in the Nunthorpe, on the go since March when 3rd in the Cammidge at Doncaster, 4th in the Champagne Sprint at Sandown prior to this)
8. Hoh Hoh Hoh (decent handicap sprinter, on the go since April and 6th in the Palace House during 2008, well beaten in a listed event at Chester prior to this)
9. Final Verse (2nd in the Horris Hill at 2, 6th in the 2000 Guineas, solid group performer over a mile ex Sir Michael Stoute horse and 19th/29th in the Royal Hunt Cup prior to this, lost his way in 08’)
10. Dark Missile (improving sprinter, 2nd in the Diadem Stakes in 07, 9th in the Golden Jubilee prior to this ad on the go since April)
11. Beckermet ( 2 years without winning a race sine landing the Hackwood in 2005, Listed winner at Goodwood and Newmarket in 07, 3rd in both the Duke of York & Chipchase in 08’ and 2nd in the Chester City Plate prior to this)
12. Rowe Park (Improved 55lbs from 06’-08, solid group level sprinter and winner of Group 3 at Newbury in 07, last and 2nd last in all 3 starts prior to this race)
The Newbury Sprint meeting was as soft as it has ever been in last 9 years but the quality and time of the Hackwood stood up well in what was a strong field despite the small in numbers, the time of 99.35 suggest the winner was Group 1 class which hasn’t always been the case although the owners decision to ditch the Stewards Cup in favour of pattern class here and the Wokingham win where he was backed off the boards going away strongly despite interference probably gave a good indication into the future engagements of the horse and he was 3rd in the Haydock Sprint Cup next time out with Kieran Fallon getting the ride finishing 2 lengths behind the 2nd horse Fleeting Spirit who had won the July Cup although no one could have found the eventual winner Regal Parade though. The runner up Prime Defender is a solid Group performer and although he didn’t build on that rating in 2009 he’s gone on to win the Duke of York in 2010 whilst coming 9th in the Golden Jubilee, the 3rd horse Doncaster Rover won a Listed race at Chester next time out had has come 4th in Group 2 whilst placed twice in Group 3 company in 2010. The 4th horse War Artist who was pacemaker and returning from serious health issues managed to flop next time out in a conditions race understandably but picked up a Group 2 at Baden-Baden, Group 3 at Longchamp and came 3rd in the Prix De L’Abbaye that year before winning at Meydan in Group 3 company shortly after.
High Standing initially trained by Simon Callaghan was beaten a total of 57 lengths on his 3 starts in maiden company as a juvenile before managing to win two backend handicaps on the All Weather, incredibly he hadn’t done much to be rated 76 despite his initial rating of 38 after his maiden exploits but reappeared at Leicester over 7f in May before finishing the year off at Great Leigh’s over 8f coming 2nd after just having the 3 runs in 2008. He began 2009 with new trainer William Haggas and owners Harry Findley and Tony Bloom were the shackles were about to be taken off, well backed to land a handicap at Doncaster in May he was eased down at the finish by Jamie Spencer at Goodwood were the handicap mark could of easily been put to shreds but he was able to get into the Wokingham off 8-12 and was very much the talking horse as he was for the 3rd time in his new career backed off the boards and ended up beating a Group/Listed Godolphin horse in the process by the finest of margins when encountering some trouble. The decision to ditch The Stewards Cup in favour of the Hackwood spoke volumes about the new route and future of High Standing who was a hold up horse and found a willing partner in War Artist to set a testing pace in testing conditions and it was easy for Ryan Moore who was able to pick them off at ease coming to the final furlong.
1. High Standing
2. Prime Defender (decent 2yo, twice a listed winner at 3 over 6-7f, winner of the Cammidge in march, solid Group race performer and 9th/13th in July Cup prior to this)
3. Doncaster Rover (decent 2yo, 6th in the Flying Childers, last in the Spring Cup on seasonal debut, 2nd in a listed event at Haydock before winning a conditions event there a month later prior to this, on the go since March)
4. War Artist (Excellent Group 1 winning Australian sprinter, 3rd in July Cup in 2008, 12 months of the track with Colic prior to this)
5. Festoso (smart 2yo, 2nd in the Cherry Hinton, 4th in the Lowther and 3rd in the Cheveley Park, 11 months of the track at 3 and well beaten in the Sun Chariot at Newmarket, failed over 8f on seasonal reappearance in April before winning a listed event over 6f at Haydock and 6th in a Group 3 at Fairyhouse prior to this)
6. Edge Closer (5th in this race last year, well beaten on both starts in 2009’ and 3rd/6th in a Listed race at Windsor prior to this)
7. Madame Trop Vite (very fast 2yo and winner of the Flying Childers, generally didn’t train on and 7th/11th in the Coral Charge prior to this)
8. Shalall (two races and one win at 2, 4th in the Greenham behind Paco Boy, beaten 41l on his next 3 starts out of form and generally regressive on the go since April)
The Hackwood is a really nice race, it’s unpredictable and fascinating at times playing its part in what is a fantastic day attracting the likes of Golden Jubilee winners, July Cup horses, Wokingham winners and Stewards Cup winners along with some excellent 2 year olds bringing in winning and place form from the Gimcrack, Mill Reef, Middle Park, Norfolk, Flying Childers etc. The race has developed in phases and features a variety of different horses with different agendas were it could be used as a stepping stone for young unexposed talented horses to the experienced well travelled sprinters looking for an edge to take advantage of and finally the progressive handicappers.
I do believe the race has some good stories to tell and has a habit of throwing up a surprise with 12-1, 14-1, 16-1 winners in recent years which are there to be found if you look hard enough and in the right areas. The race can be seen as one were a horse has been trained for a particular race were they would use this as a consolidation but that’s not such an easy route to take now a days with their always being a surprise around the corner and we’ve seen Group 1 horses come into the Hackwood and short prices get beat.
I have learnt not to underestimate the weight for age allowance I think many good 2 year old sprinters who’ve gone wayward at 3 use this in a hope of getting that all important win understanding that the race will consist of well travelled handicappers and horses who’ve not made the grade at higher levels or over a longer trip. The race has got stronger in recent years making it harder for 3 year olds now and I don’t believe the advantage may be as clear cut as it once used to be which is unfortunate but the quality of the races are more important.
I think theres a key race;
The Haydock Conditions Sprint on Lancashire Oaks day, the performance of horses who’ve run in that race in the Hackwood are as follows;
09’ – Doncaster Rover 3rd (6-1)
06’ – Kodiac 2nd (25-1)
04’ – Dowager 3rd (50-1)
03’ – Somnus 1st (5/1)
Also I don’t know why Royal Ascot (bar the Wokingham) or the July meeting at Newmarket bares such a terrible record in horses running in the Hackwood let alone trying to find t winner but I think it’s down to the sheer pressure and hard race they have were this is used to keep them ticking over until bigger assignments maybe but its defiantly a day for the underdog – The Chipchase or Failchase is a race that has to be written off in this race.
Barney McGrew – He’s probably unfortunate to bump into a similar horse in Markab and I can’t see his stamina lasting.
Markab – This is a horse I like, he could and should be hard to beat from draw 5 given his stall reminiscent of Beckermet although he’s likely to be over bet from Royal Ascot form and surely the Prix De L’Abbaye or Haydock Sprint Cup is a more realistic target to get him ready for?.
Doncaster Rover- A very interesting contender who’s dropping back in distance here and has proven himself in the race although I don’t think he’ll have a chance if he’s ridden handy and prefers more dig in the ground.
Edge Closer – Now this is a horse I think could upset the applecart or at the very least run a big priced place, he ran back into form at Windsor before running 8th in the Wokingham and theres no shame in that before finding trouble at Windsor in his penultimate run. Theres a little something about him which reminds me of Intrepid Jack in his preparations, Hughie Morrison kept Intrepid Jack out of pattern company for as long as possible before winding him up at Sandown over 5f well Richard Hannon looks to have done the same in Edge Closer who has used his run in the infamous Haydock conditions sprint as his preparation for what in my eyes is a serious target for Edge Closer and the quicker ground is only going to help with a nice draw.
Fravashi – I wouldn’t know much about this Godolphin horse, they won this race with a German export but this Australian bred colt is interesting stepping down in trip, but horses that’ve been on the go since April or earlier generally do bad in this race.
High Standing – He is the best horse in the race and has everything set up for him to win if he wants it, his mentality at Haydock wasn’t the best and flopped badly in the Golden Jubilee although he didn’t have much of a race, this is weaker in terms of quality than last year when he won but he’s going to be running against more horses that are in form and could easily be upset at short odds.
Regal Parade – I can’t have Regal Parade on this ground although the race will be run to suit but I think he’ll probably need this in his tilt for back to back Haydock Sprint Cups.
Secret Asset – This is a typical handicapper who looks to be out of their depth and wouldn’t be in the class of previous progressive handicappers who’ve had a shot at this race and looks up against it.
Angels Pursuit – Richard Hannon’s got another serious chance in Angels Pursuit who recorded a really nice speed rating in beating Society Rock whose since gone onto Group 1 class, she’s not the typical decent 2 year old who’s been either stepped up in trip to a mile and found out stamina wise or completely failed to train on entering this race and they knew the case with her that she’s an out and out sprinter with a touch of class. The weight for age shouldn’t be underestimated even if recent years are a little tougher but Angels Pursuit has place claims.
1st – Markab
2nd – Edge Closer
3rd – Angels Pursuit
I believe I’ve covered this year’s selections with a bit of everything over the last 9 years, the Beckermet pacemaker in Markab who can quite easily get an easy lead on this quick ground and be a hard horse to crawl back along with the outsider Edge Closer whose got a bit of the Hughie Morrison preparation in him and the use of a very hot Haydock conditions race as a set up for the Hackwood along with the 3 year old who has the race to suit and a lot of weight allowance. I believe that the value lies in the two Hannon horses who will be overlooked, Markab’s ability to get an easy lead makes him more dangerous in my book than High Standing who are both coming from the dreaded Royal Ascot and I just don’t have faith in High Standing at this stage to pick them off from a rear position and much rather be on a horse whose going to be in a position to win than ask one whose not.