Selections for Wednesday’s action from York, posted below. Friday was the last day of posting and it was the first profitable day in a while with Pintura managing to survive a stewards enquiry to hang on at Chester. Personally, we were lucky to keep the race I feel as the interference was quite major to the eventual runner-up. However, Pintura deserved a change of luck and so did we, so I’ll take it. 6/1 was a lovely price. Unfortunately, King Zeal couldn’t land us another winner and managed 2nd. He was ridden with a bit more restraint which was the right move as there was a fair amount of pace involved and he just ran into one, that being the well-handicapped favourite. He did nothing wrong but is unlikely to be much of a price for a little while, but he’s probably worth keeping an eye on around tracks such as Nottingham and Haydock. There was supposed to be selections for Saturday on the blog but as some of you might have read on my Twitter (@joshfletch), there was a power-cut and I was unable to post them. Luckily for those who didn’t read the tweet, they both came 2nd. I’ve been looking forward to this meeting for a while and I must add, I’ve done my best to make sure prices are accurate but this blog will have been posted automatically at 9am (for a few reasons), so hopefully there isn’t a huge market move in the time between hitting ‘submit’ and the post going online.
Although on last time out form LABARINTO (13:30) wouldn’t have a chance, that run was all wrong for a yard that at the time, were out of sorts. That can’t be said now and returned to better ground and his optimum trip, I’m hoping for much better. He made solid progress in handicaps last season, rising from an opening mark of 87 to his current rating of 97, running some big races without a win over this 10f trip before finally succeeding off a mark of 93 at Goodwood. That was a performance of some note, especially as it came in a race that generally favoured those up with the pace and not many got into the race. The horse he beat was a decent yardstick and Labarinto looked destined for better things. Sent off a 7/2f for the Dubai Duty Free handicap at Newbury, he dropped away when chasing an overly quick pace, emphasised by the fact that the first four home all came from off the pace. It wasn’t overly encouraging but was definitely worth putting a line through, and his seasonal reappearance should attribute similar comments. Although a winner on soft ground in a Maiden, I don’t think it’s a surface that suits a horse with his action ideally and running on testing ground on reappearance can often find a horse out. That race was over a mile too, a trip on the sharp side and with the Sir Michael Stoute yard going notably poorly at that point in time, it’s fair to say he’ll have benefitted from the outing.
Now back up in trip, on better ground, and for a yard now amongst the winners, it’s fair to say that better is definitely expected. He remains potentially a close to pattern-class animal on his form when winning at Goodwood and with reasonable excuses since then, he’s definitely worth chancing especially in a field where there isn’t an abundance of younger progressive types. Flag Officer would be the main danger on paper but he’s been off for a long while and I don’t particularly rate his trainer a great deal at this time of the year. Although not an outlandishly big price on first glance, I feel confident that we’re yet to see the best of Labarinto and off what still be a very generous mark, he’s worth backing into about the 9/2 mark.
Although carrying top-weight in a sprint handicap isn’t ideal, NEW PLANET (14:00) has shown form to suggest he still retains plenty of his ability that he showed as a juvenile and after not an ideal three year old campaign, he still looks capable of running to around a level of 110 if getting a strongly run race which is more than likely in a big-field handicap such as this one. He’s far too big a price today and should be more like single figures, so he’s definitely worthy of a bet. He was highly tried as a juvenile, placing in a Group 2 at Doncaster and that subsequently made him difficult to place last season, especially when there’s a distinct lack of opportunities for sprinters of that age. He ran respectably in a handicap over this C&D off 5lbs higher, and in a Conditions event at Doncaster, but the season ended quite prematurely in late July and it seems that they’ve decided to save this horse for this campaign, where there’s an abundance of opportunities. Gelded in the meantime, he returned to winning ways first time out at Warwick, in what wasn’t the greatest of races. He did it well though and showed that he was perfectly capable of running to a decent level of form as an older horse. This was subsequently backed up when finishing 5th last time out in a listed contest. Although beaten by 5.75 lengths, the race was run at a very modest pace and New Planet got caught flat-footed and probably ran as well as he could in the circumstances. He does best when they go a nice pace and although there isn’t an abundance of front-runners in the race, with 20 runners going to post it is fair to say that they’ll likely go a fair clip. Although carrying a big-weight, I wouldn’t have said he’d be out of his depth at a couple of grades higher than this, and this has been a race where winners have gone on to be Group race animals, Hoof It and Borderlescott being two examples. New Planet is lightly-raced enough to have the scope to go on to a better grade than this and he’s far too big a price at these double-figure odds. He should be more like 9/1 in my book and he’s worthy of a 2pt bet, even though races like this are devilishly difficult to solve, given there could be draw and pace biases that only become known post-race.
KING KURT (15:35) is 7lbs higher than his last winning mark but he still retains the scope to progress further at around this 1m4f trip. His reappearance effort should have put him spot on and I think a win from this mark is entirely possible, so he’s a horse worth following until he proves otherwise. Kevin Ryan’s charge was twice a winner in 2011, once at this 1m4f trip. His last victory came off 7lbs higher and it was a resounding success over 1m2f, where although he was slightly fortunate that the race panned out perfectly (was handy in a slowly-run race), he stayed on extremely strongly and looked a horse that could definitely be competitive off ratings much higher than the one he is currently at. He was well-beaten on his next two starts, but the second being in decent company and he probably ran as well as could have been expected. His final start of the 2011 campaign was a creditable one on soft ground over 1m5f. Although quite slowly run, it more or less proved that this trip was within range, as he had on occasions looked that he might not stay a strongly run contest at 1m4f.
King Kurt’s seasonal reappearance was far from disgraceful and it’s entirely plausible that this big price has been attributed to that seemingly “poor run”. For a start, it was on really testing ground which for a seasonal reappearance is obviously not ideal. More patient tactics were employed and he was keen early on, and it’s fair to say he wasn’t knocked about in the closing stages. He still made a modicum of ground and with that run under his belt; I feel he’s definitely capable of further progression. He’ll stay the 1m4f trip, will likely appreciate the better ground today and he is still unexposed at these sorts of distance. A draw in stall 20 might not be seen as ideal but the winner of last year’s renewal came from a similarly wide berth and they have long enough to sort themselves out before meeting a bend. If he’s ridden more prominently today, which in a race with this sort of prize-money, would be more likely, a bold show is far from out of the equation. I think he is more than capable to run to a mark of 90 or so, and with his reappearance effort possibly setting him up for this sort of race, then he’s definitely worth a bet at a big price. I’d be taking prices up to about 10/1 or so for this one.
13:30 York – Labarinto; 2pts @ 8/1 William Hill, 7/1 Bet365, BetVictor (bog)
14:00 York – New Planet; 2pts @ 16/1 William Hill (bog)
15:35 York – King Kurt; 2pts @ 16/1 Bet365, William Hill (bog) [/notification_box]