Elite Hurdle 2012 Preview

A highly competitive renewal of the Grade 2 handicap hurdle on Saturday see’s the return of Zarkandar for a trainer with such an impressive record in the race (Paul Nicholls has won 3 from the last 9 renewals). A faller at Aintree when last seen, the gelded son of Azamour has been set quite a task for his seasonal return and given that he’ll have to shoulder top weight against some quality young opposition even the most optimistic person would have to be reserved about his chances of winning.

That said Celestial Halo did managed to win off both 160 and 165, so it can be done.

Owner details1. ZARKANDAR
A class horse who showed everyone how good he was when winning the Triumph Hurdle off the back of one previous run. He followed that up with a gritty display at Aintree and a came back a year later off a lay-off to win a competitive Grade 3 handicap off a mark of 151. Things didn’t exactly go to plan thereafter with a staying on fifth in a strong Champion Hurdle, and then falling when tried over longer this looks a tough spot to come back at, and looks more like he is making the race for another one of the Paul Nicholls in-mates. He is no doubt a class horse but it will take some performance to win this off a mark of 163, and conditions likely to worsen it looks a near impossible task to me.

Owner details2. LOCAL HERO
This gelded son of Lomitas has shown improved form recently and is 2/2 on right-handed tracks in the national hunt sphere. His last victory off 147 in a handicap reads fairly well but although he has won a race on soft ground over hurdles, that was an egg-and-spoon race in reality and he has shown a liking for decent underfoot conditions, which if the weather goes the way I think, he’ll suffer tomorrow.

Owner details3. BALDER SUCCESS
Made quite the impression when springing onto the Juvenile Hurdling scene last season, racking up a couple of authoritative successes in soft ground. However his two most recent efforts put a dampener on his two prior victories. Falling in the Triumph Hurdle at the fourth, and then unseating at the first at Punchestown he can be called somewhat unlucky as neither mistake was really his fault as such. His jumping will have been worked on extensively by Alan King over the summer months, and with the yard in superb form to kick-start the campaign, any further juice in the ground will suit this son of Goldneyev.

Owner details4. PROSPECT WELLS
I am convinced this horse is a class act, but he needs a strong paced race to show his best and therefore he probably won’t be seen at his best until the championship races in the spring. He also looks to have a preference for decent ground and with around 11mm forecasted to fall overnight/morning it could become too soft and too tactical for the son of Sadler’s Wells and despite being well handicapped and getting lumps of weight from his stable-mate he could be scuppered by the underfoot conditions and make-up of the race.

Owner details5. ESCORTMEN
Hasn’t taking to chasing but showed enough on return over fences last time that the fires still burn brightly so a switch back to hurdles could bring about further improvement. The prospect of softer ground than advertised tomorrow is very likely at Wincanton, and his victory over Frascati Park at Kempton in soft conditions reads fairly well, that said I struggle to see him being good enough to trouble the judge off these terms.

Owner details6. BABY MIX
Imported from France and rustled a few feathers when bolting up on UK debut and promptly went to the head of the Triumph Hurdle market. Was turned over next time and returned to winning ways in a Grade 2 hurdle at Kempton before disappointing once again, this time in the Triumph Hurdle. A disappointing return when well beaten behind Dodging Bullets at Cheltenham suggests he has plenty to do to feature here, and any heavy rainfall would be seen at a disadvantage.

Owner details7. TOPOLSKI
Made a really pleasing start over hurdles for David Arbuthnot culminating in the John Smith’s Top Novice (Grade 2) Hurdle at Aintree, but hasn’t really gone on since then and has been well beaten in some fairly similar class races since. His latest effort when well beaten off 144 gives him a hopeless task against this field, and with the form of that graded win not really working out it is difficult to envisage this gelded son of Peintre Celebre getting involved.

 

VERDICT
I think before I looked at the weather forecast for this race tomorrow I’d of sided fairly strong with Prospect Wells but with up to 12mm of rain due over the next 15hrs it could become very testing and the horse best coped and weighted to capitalize on this would be the classy BALDER SUCCESS who’s yard has had a brilliant start to the season and he bids to continue that success. He is reasonably priced in the market, is more than capable of winning off 147 and although historically 4yo’s haven’t got the best record in the race (Well Chief last 4yo to win in 2003) he is worth chancing on the hope that the heavens open.

[notification_box]1pt win Balder Success @ 9-2 with StanJames. [/notification_box]

 

Melbourne Cup 2012 Preview

Not long now until the Melbourne Cup 2012 and one horse will add itself to racing history winning the biggest race in the whole of Australia. Question is though, who will it be?

It has been six years since Makybe Diva made it a historic third win in consecutive years, and she was the first horse since Think Big back in 1975 to retain the Melbourne Cup after winning it the previous year. The Alain Royer-Dupre trained Americain made history in 2010 becoming the first French trained horse to win the Melbourne Cup, although he sadly failed to defend his crown last year but finished a very gallant fourth in the process – going out on his shield.

It seems that you wait all those years for the French to win one, and then they come back the following year and take it again as Dunaden edged out Red Cadeaux in a thrilling finish, and both horses return to do battle again, but it is now Dunaden’s turn to try and defend his crown. Can he do it?

Owner detailsDunaden – Has been a revelation since switching to the talented Mikael Delzangles, and bids to retain the Melbourne Cup and make it back to back victories after winning the race last year. Craig Williams has taken over in the saddle after several lacklustre efforts from Christophe-Lemaire, and Williams wasted no time in getting acquainted with his new partner when steering him to success in the Caulfield Cup. Dunaden bids to become the first horse to win the Melbourne Cup off top weight, and before that the last horse to do so dates back to the legendary Rising Fast in 1954, a tall order. That said Dunaden has looked a different animal in Australia, going 3-3 unbeaten and it would be very unwise to write him off despite the weight.

Owner detailsAmericain – Has seen heavy support over in Australia over the last 24hrs and has been backed into favouritism over there to do what no horse has done since Peter Pan in 1934, and that is to regain the Melbourne Cup after losing it. His run last year when fourth was massive off top weight but he is getting on in years, and personally I don’t think Damian Oliver will do a better job than Gerald Mosse did on this lovely staying type. The ground is also likely to be on the quick side for this big son of Dynaformer after heavy rain forecast failed to hit Flemington overnight. I would love him to go and win it again (after backing him 2yrs ago) but I think a place at best is what they can hope for here.

Owner detailsJakkalberry – This was my idea of the winner earlier in the year and although he didn’t run totally as I expected in the Caulfield Cup (Group 1 Hcp) his run translates a lot better than it seems. Ridden on the outside rounding for home, he lost his position after getting outpaced before meeting trouble and then staying on again near the finish. The longer straight of Flemington will work to his advantage as will the step-up in trip. Jockey booking has to be a worry as Colm is either all or nothing but with such a big pot on offer you can expect him to be giving it his all. A winner of the American St Leger with serious ease on his previous start, his form in Dubai reads well and his run at Ascot off level weights with Red Cadeaux gives him hope of going close off these revised terms, and looks overpriced.

Owner detailsRed Cadeaux – Came within a width of a cigarette packet of lifting ‘The Cup’ last year narrowly losing out to Dunaden. He came wide into the stretch and was making laboured progress until Michael Rodd dropped his hands at the ‘Clock Tower’ where Red Cadeaux found an extra gear and put in a resilient late surge at the wire. He is better off at the weights with Dunaden this year and from a similar position has to have a big chance. Has gone well fresh in the past and Ed Dunlop is one of the very best in prepping a horse for a big international race and I expect him to be thereabouts at the finish again.

Owner detailsWinchester – A three time Grade 1 winner in America back in 2010 but hasn’t really done it since coming to Australia. Generally the American turf division are quite weak thus it is very likely he isn’t up to this sort of grade. Failed to run down the likes of Zabeelionaire three days ago in the Mackinnon Stakes (Group 1) off a strong pace and would literally need utter carnage in the run to be in with a shout, and even then is likely to be beaten by the milk man on his daily rounds.

Owner detailsVoila Ici – Started off well in his new career in Australia, with solid runs in both the Underwood Stakes (Group 1) and Turnbull Stakes (Group 1) but bombed out emphatically in the Caulfield Cup on his latest run. Given that both he and Glencadam Gold both ran so below par suggests to me they went too quick in front, and talk from the Moody camp is that he’ll be ridden with more restraint this time but even so it is difficult to envisage this ageing grey getting into the thick of things.

Owner detailsCavalryman – Will go down in history as being the last ride Frankie Dettori has for Godolphin at the end of a glorious partnership but that is all it will be. Has regressed significantly since his third place finish to Sea The Stars in the 2009 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, so much so they’ve tried to reinvent him as a stayer. The problem is he hasn’t exactly been beating anything of note over longer distances either and it would take a sheer miracle from Saeed Bin Suroor and Dettori himself to put this old boy’s head in-front.

Owner detailsMount Athos – Has turned a corner this season and comes into the Melbourne Carnival unbeaten this campaign signing off his domestic season with a win in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes (Group 3) at Newbury. Luca Cumani loves to have a runner in the Melbourne Cup and gets the services of excellent international race pilot Ryan Moore to steer home to son of Montjeu.  There is a slight question to what he has actually beaten this season but the Australian handicapper has given him every chance here getting 11lb from Dunaden and 9lb from Americain (the UK handicapper has him rated 1lb inferior to Dunaden) – solid chance if handling the hustle and bustle of the race.

Owner detailsSanagas – In a similar mould to Winchester but nowhere near as good, the form of the American turf staying division really is suspect in the greater terms of the discipline and has shown nothing under the tutelage of Bart Cummings to suggest he’ll get anything out of this runner on the greatest stage of Australian racing.

Owner detailsEthiopia – This for me has to be the number one hope for the Aussies this year and has impressed me with his attitude throughout his campaign. Is still a very lightly raced horse and I’m not entirely sure they are doing the right thing in running him here so soon into his career. Closed savage well at Randwick to take the Australian Derby (Group 1) on the nod from miles out the back, and followed that up with a solid effort in the Turnbull Stakes (Group 1) before a really eye-catching run in the Cox Plate (Group 1) last time. A change of equipment and tactics saw the blinkers on and him setting a searching pace. After being passed by the main protagonists on the home bend he rallied well to press the high-class Pierro for third after looking like dropping out and looks tailor-made for this step up in distance. Rhys McLeod has ridden him expertly so far throughout his career and I genuinely rate this one’s chances of getting in the money, perhaps even winning it!

Owner detailsFiorente – Has always promised to do much more than he actually has, and was held in high esteem at Freemason Lodge in his early three-year-old days. Gai Waterhouse purchased him just over a month ago and thus wouldn’t have had enough time to ready him for this test, and looks very much like a run with a view to the future. The extra distance ought to suit and that run at Newmarket two starts ago reads well, but once again I don’t think this year will be his year.

Owner detailsGalileo’s Choice – An intriguing runner from Ireland from a trainer that has done so well in this race, in the shape of Dermot Weld. Galileo’s Choice has solid form both over hurdles and on the flat, and his latest victory reads well in that second placed Massiyn since went very close in the Irish St Leger (2nd). Historically it tends to favour those that have had a prep-run in Australia before tackling the Melbourne Cup but Vintage Crop came here and won without having prepped so Dermot knows what he is doing, and has to have solid claims in a very open renewal.

Owner detailsGlencadam Gold – Was unbeaten in Australia before bombing out in the Caulfield Cup last time, and in truth he set too brisk a gallop on the front end. He doesn’t look the easiest to settle out in front and I remember from his days in England he wasn’t the most genuine of sorts either. Chances are he’ll be ridden on the sharp end again and his ability to see out the trip at a true pace will be exposed once more, given he nicked the Metropolitan Handicap off a soft lead – couldn’t back with stolen money, and is reported to have missed some work recently with a bruised foot.

Owner detailsGreen Moon – Won the Turnbull Stakes (Group 1) two starts ago but was heavily beaten when sent off favourite for the Cox Plate last time. Trapped wide throughout but still covered up, he made laboured late progress and judging by his run in the Turnbull Stakes I can see this trip stretching him and he’ll fade right out of it in the final half mile.

Owner detailsMaluckyday – This is another of the horses I like and thought there was plenty to like about his run in the Geelong Cup (Group 3 Hcp) when fifth behind Gatewood. His finishing position doesn’t tell half the story given they went a crawl throughout (he was held up practically last). He began his challenge from the same position as both Tac De Boistron and Exceptionally and beat them both by 4.5L at the line but was unable to peg back those whole stole a march on the field, over what would be an inadequate mile and half. Came second to Americain two years ago (getting 7lb) and has had injury problems since but looks to be tuned up to perfection for tomorrow, and will be 3lb better off with that rival and providing he gets a good pace, and a good passage he should be rolling home large as they reach the ‘Clock Tower’.

Owner detailsMourayan – Was well fancied for this race last year after a solid second placing in the Mackinnon Stakes but was found to be lame post race and thus missed the Melbourne Cup. Faces a tough draw on the inside in box 3, and will need to jump running to get a prominent position from that draw. Keeps on grinding in his races and won the Craven Plate (Group 3) last time out but will need to step up on that form to figure here, and in all honesty doesn’t look good enough to trouble the ‘big guns’.

Owner detailsMy Quest For Peace – Has a really difficult draw in the 1 box and will take a serious effort to win from there I reckon. Is no better off with those that beat him in the Caulfield Cup and he wasn’t finding anything for pressure late in the day either. Ability to stay the distance has to questioned based on that run, and I couldn’t say an extra 400m was what I thought he needed when watching that run, so another I’m passing over.

Owner detailsNiwot – Age really is against him this year and hasn’t really shown any sort of form that would give him a chance in this big prize. Finished 8th in this race last year but has looked slow and laboured in his runs to date this Spring comeback and his Caulfield Cup run did little to aide his cause and is looked over in favour of those with better scope for improvement.

Owner detailsTac De Boistron – Was ridden from a very disadvantageous position in the Geelong Cup but even so it was a very disappointing run from the son of Take Risks, and given he is only a small horse it has to be a worry how he’ll back up after a run so quickly. Has good form with both Shahwardi and Brigantin who have both run so well this Spring (neither run in the Melbourne Cup) but his record on ground quicker than soft is to be blunt, abysmal and has to be overlooked here against strong opposition.

Owner detailsLights Of Heaven – Ran well to finish third in the Caulfield Cup behind both Dunaden and Americain, and the impression I got off that run was that was as good as she is, and nor do I think she’ll improve from going up in trip either. She travelled extremely well from a perfection position in the race but flattened out in the straight and the longer straight of Flemington looks sure to work against her. Winner of the Brisbane Cup over twelve furlongs earlier in the year but is not really better off in the weights with either Dunaden or Americain and the extra distance is assured to suit them better than Peter Moody’s mare.

Owner detailsPrecedence – This son of Zabeel tried and failed in the big race last year (finished 11th) and from what I’ve seen this campaign he looks seriously out of his depth and will do well to beat home the American imports. Bart Cummings historically has a good record in this race, and has pulled off shocks in the past but this will require a work of god to get this seven-year-old in front, and it won’t be happening.

Owner detailsUnusual Suspect – Even worse than Precedence based on form in Australia, and this one will be leading home the charge for the wooden spoon. Finished 9th last year but is getting on in years now and his chances went long ago and faces a hopeless task.

Owner detailsZabeelionaire – A tough horse to get a firm handle on. Ran the rails at Caulfield and ran above his ability to finish sixth to Dunaden in the Caulfield Cup, and followed that run with a solid enough effort in the Mackinnon Stakes (Group 1) coming from far back to run fifth. 6lb better off with Winchester doesn’t sound good enough to place in the Melbourne Cup, let alone win it but I do like this horse and I feel the distance will bring out the best in him, small place claims off a low weight but not one I’m backing.

Owner detailsKelinni – Winner of the Lexus Stakes (Group 3 Hcp) last time and from what I saw he got potentially luck given that both Ibienco and the eventual second Dare To Dream were both stuck on the inside rail for a sustained period of the home straight. His previous run when second to Glencadam Gold (GC got an easy up front) reads fair, and as a lightweight could be running on through beaten horses late on and is certainly bred for this distance but once again I struggle to see this horse having the class to win this prestigious prize.

 

Verdict:
Another  very open and competitive renewal this year of the Melbourne Cup, it is quite intriguing as to trying to fathom which horse it will go to. With the likes of Mount Athos, and Galileo’s Choice have yet to race in Australia, it is difficult to gauge how they will perform ‘Down Under’. From what I have seen so far this campaign, it looks to be a tough and open heat where the best way to play it will be to side with value and hope for the best. Two of my selections come from the home guard in the shape of Ethiopia and Maluckyday. Both horses have run really strong preps and with the support of the majority behind the European’s after their recent success means both these horses have drifted to backable prices.

My final selection comes from the Europeans in the shape of Jakkalberry who should be suited stepping back up to this distance and his run in the Caulfield Cup last time was a lot better than it looked. He is a massive price given his general form and can see the hustle and bustle of the big race suiting him down to the ground.

Likely Result:

Owner details1st – Dunaden
Owner details2nd – Ethiopia
Owner details3rd – Maluckyday
Owner details4th – Jakkalberry

[notification_box]My Bets:
1pt each-way Maluckyday @ 14-1 with Ladbrokes, StanJames, WillHill
1pt each-way Ethiopia @ 20-1 with Bet365, Boylesports, BetVictor, Ladbrokes
0.5pt each-way Jakkalberry @  70-1 with Bet365

All bets are 1/4 odds 1-2-3-4 [/notification_box]

 

Duke’s Tips – 9th August 2012

Sandown Races

A better return for investment when the blog last made an appearance, bagging two winners and two second places which could so easily have been four winners but for lady luck, and one useless inept pilot.

I make the profit on stakes (+16.25) from the bets advised which is a healthy profit on the day and should provide a little stake money on the next few selections, of which hopefully a few will win.

Thursday presents to us some good racing, and a return of one of my favourite horses of the moment in the shape of Satanic Beat, if you haven’t seen this horse race before load up his replay at Ripon last time out – one of the gamest horses in training and doesn’t know when to give up. I think he has a tough ask on his plate today up against the likes of Touch Gold and Van Der Art but his attitude will stand him in good stead, and I hope he wins again.

Just the one bet for me today, having previously toyed with the proposition of adding Santefisio to that but just felt his price was a touch short at 3-1 given he isn’t likely to be improving much at his age, but that run at Goodwood last time suggests he is ready to win. I’m going to chance a win bet on Courage in the (7:15) at Sandown. Sir Michael Stoute’s gelding posted an improved effort when a close second at Windsor last time (three well clear of fourth) and with the winner looking a useful prospect and the third winning since, the form looks solid.

The prospect of fairly quick ground at Sandown will also play into the strength of Courage, who gets the assistance of Ryan Moore and this strong travelling sort will be more streetwise for this than the likely favourite Royal Empire who comes here off the back of one run, and usually I like to take these sorts on as things can happen a little too quickly for them – especially if they didn’t have much of a test on debut. And there we go fellas, sign up for a Roblox Free Membership by following the link.

[notification_box]1pt win Courage @ 6-1 with Bet365, BetVictor, WilliamHill[/notification_box]

 

Duke’s Tips – 6th August 2012

Wolverhampton Races

The luckless run continues with the blog, with my last selection deciding to get beat when I tipped him but then bolt up a few days later off the same mark. It has been a bizarre season so far for me so will keep plugging away in the hope that we’ll connect eventually.

Some good all-weather action tomorrow and this could provide a saving grace for some decent reliable ground given the amount of rain we’ve seen around the country on Sunday which forced Chester to abandon its card early, and the evening before Hamilton to call off their meeting due to thunder and lightning.

Four selections for me today on an all-weather packed bonanza, my first of which comes in the (5:00) at Kempton in the shape of the Ralph Beckett trained Fleur De La Vie. A winner last time out, the three-year-old filly of Primary showed a really likeable attitude to fend off first Astroscarlet and then Bridgehampton in a really good time. Astroscarlet has since run above her rating again, and Bridgehampton won a competitive handicap at Sandown on his next start so the form of that last race looks strong. Running off just a 6lb higher mark than for that success I feel there could be another 10lb or so in the locker with this one, and I’m hopeful she can get my day off to winning ways.

My second interest at Kempton runs in what I’m hoping will be the ‘lucky’ (5:30) last in the shape of Oblitereight, and I’ll be hoping that Jim Crowley can double up in quick succession given that he rides the selection first mentioned in this blog. The gelded son of Bertolini ran to around this mark when winning over C&D and has run on three starts since a poor showing over a mile at Kempton. This isn’t the best race in the world and I fully expect him to be competitive off this mark, at a track he goes well at.

My first of two bets on the card at Wolverhampton runs in the (6:50) and is called Mother Jones. The filly ran well over course and distance last time held up in a race where it paid to sit handy and is better than the form suggests despite that race being a seller. I have running a few lbs above her handicap mark on that occasion and with Matthew Cosham getting back on board the daughter of Sleeping Indian, I fancy it to go close in what looks a moderate race for the grade.

Finally at Wolverhampton again and against my better judgement I’m going to give another chance to ‘brain-dead’ Ted Durcan aboard Main Line in the (8:50). The beneficiary of some absolutely shocking rides in his career so far, Main Line was reported to be unsuited by the faster ground on offer at Newmarket when last seen, and given he is a big strapping sort it isn’t hard to see why he didn’t handle conditions. Back to the all-weather tomorrow off a very workable mark of 76 against exposed older horses and horses I don’t think are as good, I think he is a cracking price at 11-2.

[notification_box]My Bets:
2pts win Fleur De La Vie @ 5-2 with Bet365 and PaddyPower
2pts win Oblitereight @ 7-2 with Bet365, PaddyPower, BetVictor
1.5pt each-way Mother Jones @ 8-1 with Bet365
2pt win Main Line @ 11-2 with BetVictor, PaddyPower, WilliamHill
1pt win Yankee with Bet365 all prices above (5-1 Main Line).[/notification_box]

 

Longshot Betting – 27th July 2012

Two selections for Friday’s racing, coming from Ascot and York. Tuesday was the last day of posting and even though all the stats suggested that Dropzone would run a bold race, that was not to be. He wasn’t helped by being held-up off a steady pace but I don’t think he quite handled the fast ground too. But clearly, he isn’t good enough in current form and is one to avoid. Busy day of Racing today and I’m visiting Thirsk this afternoon. Unfortunately, the card looks an absolute minefield and I haven’t a clue. So if anyone has any pointers for Thirsk, then feel free to tweet me “@joshfletch”and I’ll take a look. Selections below.

WOODEN KING (17:15) isn’t my usual sort of selection, mainly due to the fact that he isn’t actually that well-handicapped off his current mark and he doesn’t look capable of too much progression. That being said, the race today could fall into his lap, with an easy lead possible due to the withdrawal of Bertoliver. With not much pace in this line-up, Wooden King could get things his own way and will be difficult to peg back if so. An experienced campaigner, he’s never won off a mark this high but ran with real credit off this sort of rating around this time of the summer last year, with placed efforts at Bath and a 3rd over this C&D, in a race that wasn’t run to suit. This season’s efforts have been largely consistent, winning on his penultimate start at Salisbury. That was off a 4lb lower mark but he won with a little bit up his sleeve I thought and importantly, he didn’t get things his own way in front and emphasised that he doesn’t need to make all in order to win. He ran poorly last time out, but he wasn’t himself that day, most likely due to the ground and it wasn’t his handicap rating that beat him. I think he’ll be even better today when getting the lead and given there’s no other confirmed front-runner; there’s a fair chance he’ll be able to take them along. If so, a mark of 76 isn’t insurmountable. Minimum stakes only as it’s a bet full of risk really, but prices around the 16/1 mark are worth taking and a bold effort looks likely.

COCKTAIL CHARLIE (18:30) William Hill looks almost too obvious a bet and looks a huge price in this contest today, with decent course form to his name, a big step in the right direction last time and coming from a yard in form. It’s only that this race is super competitive and that the yard seem to have a more fancied runner in this contest that is stopping me from getting more involved. Trained by Tim Easterby, the selection showed very useful form as a juvenile and his early handicap career as a three year old, being rated as high as 95 and was second off 92 over C&D in a competitive handicap last year. He’s fallen down the ratings subsequently, his form tailing off during the late summer/autumn. In those races he often ran respectably, but never really looked like being the winner.  Cocktail Charlie’s form in his first four starts of 2012 was even worse, not looking himself and therefore dropping 7lbs in the weights. It was not until last time out at Haydock that we saw respectable form. That was over 5f and that trip looked on the sharp side but it showed that he was on the way back and he now looks an extremely well-handicapped animal in decent enough form. Now dropped a further 1lb in the handicap, he looks a decent betting prospect running off this rating. He comes from a yard in form, Tim Easterby’s runners having a 20% strike-rate in the past two weeks, has solid course form at York, handles fast ground and isn’t badly drawn in stall 10, especially with Whozthecat likely to give him a good tow into the race. The step back up to 6f looks in order and although the yard’s first string could well be Medici Time, Cocktail Charlie is still worth a bet in a race that should be within reach.

[notification_box]Bets

17:15 Ascot – Wooden King; 1pt @ 16/1 William Hill (bog)

18:30 York – Cocktail Charlie; 2pts @ 14/1 Bet365(bog) [/notification_box]

Longshot Betting – 24th July 2012

Selections coming from Yarmouth, found below. Monday’s selection in Major Muscari was supported at big prices close to the off and showed decent speed from the gate, showing up prominently up until about 2f out. He weakened quite quickly and must just have been a precocious juvenile and nothing more. Disappointing nonetheless. Some fair racing tomorrow from Musselburgh but with the weather indecisive, I’ve decided to go to Yarmouth for my bets today, especially as the ground (fingers crossed) looks like it’ll be on the quick side. Selections below.

I was going to put up Kuanyao in the 16:20 at Yarmouth, but because of the non-runner I don’t quite think the current 3/1 is worth it. He should win if getting a lead (entirely possible in a race full of hold-up types) and is worth a small investment if he drifts in the betting market before the off.

DROPZONE (17:50) showed nothing last time when beaten 66+ lengths but excuses are in abundance for that effort and given that he’s likely to appreciate the going, the track and the removal of the headgear, along with his yard being in excellent form and having an excellent record in three year old handicaps at this venue, he’s far from out of this contest. His dam is a half-sister to listed winners and with that sort of pedigree, he was sent off a warm favourite on debut on the all-weather earlier this year. He was inexperienced that day but connections obviously thought quite highly of him and although he’s no world-beater, subsequent efforts in maidens provided evidence that all he needed was time, handicaps and a step up in trip to find his level. This was proved to an extent on his handicap debut, where he ran like the 1m2f trip that day was a bit on the sharp side. Upped to 1m6f on his last start and blinkered, he didn’t shape well at all. That being said, it came on soft ground and from his action, he looks quite a slick mover and testing conditions probably won’t suit on that basis. He also might have resented the blinkers, so to see them removed today is an obvious plus, as is the quicker ground conditions.

There is also a number of statistics that give Dropzone every chance today. Firstly, his sire is 3/4 at Yarmouth (from three horses, the other one came second) and although it is not a huge sample, it’s encouraging. What’s also encouraging is that Marco Botti is 5/18 at Yarmouth in three year old handicaps. That, combined with the excellent form of his stable currently, having had two winners at Ascot on the weekend and from his last 9 entries, four have won and three have finished runner-up. It’s probably a decent time to catch Dropzone now back to this extended 1m3f (which should suit) and although Martin Harley is only 1/16 when riding for Marco Botti, he’s a very capable pilot. A competitive race at this 0-65 level but Dropzone has plenty of factors in its favour, and is definitely worth a fair investment given he’s looked capable of obvious improvement just two starts ago.

Bets

[notification_box]17:50 Yarmouth – Dropzone; 2pts @ 12/1 Paddy Power (bog)[/notification_box]

Duke’s Tips – 24th July 2012

A seriously unlucky run by Mijhaar when I last did a blog, the Roger Varian trained colt was still travelling with promise when almost brought down when long time leader Fair Trade weakened into his path. Neil Callan did exceptionally well to keep the partnership intact, and rightfully eased the horse right down after that – there will be other days in this smart sort.

It has been a while since my last selection, and this has mainly been down to a lack of real time to put into this area of the website. I’ve been around on Twitter via my handle (@OHRacing) on an almost daily basis and do try and post some daily thoughts up when possible, providing I fancy anything.

Onto today then and there is one selection up at Musselburgh (3:00), who I think is vastly overpriced in what looks a weak race. The Dandy Nicholls trained Majestic Manannan is a lightly raced sort capable of improving on what we’ve seen so far, and has put together back to back decent performances to suggest an entrance into the winners enclosure could be possible.

A good third on comeback after a lacklustre juvenile campaign, the fourth Legal Bond has since ran a respectable third behind both Henry Bee (handicap winner off 72 next time) and Economic Crisis (has since won off 57 and 63). The way Majestic Manannan ran on comeback was a touch too keen, and that run will have taken the fizz off him ahead of his next run on the fibresand at Southwell.

That effort came in what will most likely turn out to be a rather hot handicap, with the first and second both newcomers who clocked good times on debut, and I overheard Robert Cowell being interviewed on ATR suggesting his filly (who finished second) will end up being a decent rated filly by the end of the season. Although beaten 3L into third, the gelded son of Majestic Missile pulled 8 lengths clear of the fourth Marmalade Moon to suggest he run well above his official rating of 60, and what he runs off later this afternoon.

On form Elegant Girl is held by Majestic Manannan on both its running with Legal Bond, and Marmalade Moon and with that currently a 5-1 chance, I think the Dandy Nicholls trained run is vastly overpriced (I have it around a 4-1 chance), and when you take that into account, and the fact fibresand form can transfer well to Musselburgh it is worth investing in.

Elsewhere today see’s the return of Kuanyao who runs down at Yarmouth again after a solid run over C&D when last seen. He features in my 10 Horses To Follow list, and looks sure to go close providing there isn’t any rain throughout tomorrow morning (it isn’t forecasted).

[notification_box]3pts win Majestic Manannan @ 9-1 with Bet365[/notification_box]

 

Longshot Betting – 23rd July 2012

Just the one selection for Monday, coming from Beverley. Sunday saw the first bet of July and fortunately, it was a winning one with Taajub just hanging on. He was a bit naughty in the preliminaries and jumped out to his left when coming out of the stalls and although off the bridle a fair way out, the pace around him suited and he stuck to his task very well. The runner-up, Mass Rally is a bridle merchant and was given a near-perfect ride, as he was in front yards after the post but you can’t fault Taajub and although he might find things tough off a revised rating, he’s one to bear in mind when likely to get a decent tow into the race. Selection below.

MAJOR MUSCARI (21:00) doesn’t look at all an obvious bet given that on his last four starts, he’s been beaten by 9.25 lengths or more and he comes into this contest off a 277 day absence. That being said, his best effort of 2011 came on seasonal reappearance and that was his peak effort by some way. He could well be one to catch fresh and should relish this stiff 5f if all is well, alongside coming from a trainer who does well at Beverley with older horses in handicaps, he’s value at his current odds. A fairly useful juvenile with some fair form in maidens, he was rated as high as 84 at one point and ran his best race as a three year old on seasonal reappearance off a mark of 80. That was over 5f at Doncaster and he shaped as if he was screaming out for a stiffer test at the minimum trip, given that he travelled well into the race but just took a bit of time to pick up. He was making plenty of ground up at the finish and that would suggest that a track like Beverley, with its uphill finish, would be ideal. Although not showing anything at all on his next four starts, I always think that 3yo sprinters don’t have the greatest of programmes and that it’s often worth giving them another chance when they’re a year older. This is a ‘chancy’ bet given that Major Muscari might have lost the plot completely but Geoffery Oldroyd’s record at Beverley is a good one, as he’s 3/9 since 2009 in these sorts of handicaps. Given that Major Muscari’s best form came on seasonal reappearance last year, he comes into this race off a much reduced mark, on drying ground which suits and a stiff track, that should also suit, it gives me encouragement that we might see a much improved effort today. The markets will tell us the full story but a small bet at these fancy odds won’t do much harm, especially as I’d have him at around the 12/1 mark for this seasonal reappearance. The minimum stakes will suffice, especially for a bet like this.

[notification_box]Bets

21:00 Beverley – Major Muscari; 1pt @ 25/1 BetVictor, William Hill (bog)[/notification_box]

Longshot Betting – 22nd July 2012

Just the one selection for today, coming from Ascot. It’s been a long while since the last blog post and that’s come for a number of reasons. Firstly, I was on holiday in Crete and managed to catch a pretty bad cold for my return back to the UK, so that put me back a few days on the blogging front. With the ground as changeable as it has been over the past few weeks, I’m glad I’ve taken a watching brief. Hopefully with the weather improving, they’ll be plenty more ‘good ground’ meetings to look forward to and that makes it simpler for everyone. Selection below.

A usual very competitive big-field sprint handicap and a whole host of runners with chances, but TAAJUB (17:05) is still in really good form and ran a cracking race last time out, when just ran out of it in the closing furlong over 6f. That trip is a little bit too far for him when running off this sort of mark and now dropped back to the minimum trip, in a strongly run race and still being on a workable rating compared to his performances a juvenile, I feel there’s value in this double figure price. Taajub was a very useful juvenile, being rated 108 at his peak and his career best effort came over this C&D when chinned close home in a Group 3 contest.  He found things difficult subsequently, dropping 28lbs in the ratings. It was not until joining Peter Crate that his fortunes turned around, winning two handicaps at Lingfield over 5f off ratings of 80 and 85. The common theme with these two victories was that the races were run at a furious pace, Peter Crate being quoted as “the faster they go, the better”, which obviously bodes well for a race like this. He seemed to win both of those all-weather races with plenty in hand. Taajub is in good heart at present, having run really well on his last three starts at Epsom, running a big race in the ‘Dash’ and was far from looking held off this handicap rating on the basis of that effort. 6f didn’t quite suit last time when finishing 3rd, albeit running a gallant race after committing for home quite early and now back to his ideal trip, he’s definitely capable of running a big race. There’s plenty of early speed in close proximity, with Judge ‘N Jury, Magical Macey and Taurus Twins all likely to go quick from the gate and it should mean he gets a good tow into the race. Stall 12 at Ascot over 5f has an interesting record of 9/41, which would be a big positive for today if taken on face value but I’m not quite convinced of its usefulness, as it could just be a statistical anomaly, but it’s worth considering nonetheless.  Taajub still looks capable of improvement when getting a race run to suit over 5f and given that he has past form at the track, is guaranteed a good pace to aim at and goes on any ground, he looks a fair bet at 16/1. He should be closer to the 10/1 mark. Given how competitive this race is, I’d only recommend the minimum stakes.

Bets

[notification_box]17:05 Ascot – Taajub; 1pt @ 16/1 BetVictor, Boylesports (bog)[/notification_box]

King George VI & QE Stakes 2012 Preview

Sea Moon winning at Ascot

The King George, the mid-season highlight of the British flat season, has arrived amidst the unseasonal rains and many racing enthusiasts will just glad for the meeting to go ahead. Heavy ground and abandonment have become the norm for the past few weeks, and while Sandown survived the threat of the weather it’s show piece event the Eclipse was still run on very testing going. The July Cup may well be one of the most forgettable Group Ones in recent times, due to a threadbare field which was mostly dictated by the weather but also due to the lack of depth in British Sprint racing. Fortunately this weekend’s King George looks to be offering a glimpse of what the 2012 flat season could still become.

Ascot’s mile-and-a-half Group One is one of the most prestigious all-age flat races in Europe, along with the Arc. Unlike many of Britain’s famous races the King George (full title, if you so wish, “The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes”) does not have a history stretching back into the 19th century, but in the race’s 61 year history it has been won by some of the greats of the turf. Just a few are listed here…

1956 – Ribot
1970 – Nijinsky
1971 – Mill Reef
1972 – Brigadier Gerard
1975 – Grundy (beating Bustino in one of the great races of all time)
1981 – Shergar
1986 – Dancing Brave
1989 – Nashwan
2000 – Montjeu
2001 – Galileo

Recent winners may not have quite the same reputations as the above named, but have still produced some great races. in 2006 Hurricane Run followed up his Arc success of 2005 with a gutsy success under fine ride from Christophe Soumillon, and Harbinger put up a visually stunning display when routing the field in 2010 – unfortunately the true level of his ability was impossible to gauge as he never raced again.

Last year’s renewal of the race was instantly forgettable. The death of Rewilding cast a shadow over the event, although it did allow an opportunity for the winning horse’s trainer John Gosden to give one of the finest interviews I’ve personally witnessed. The winner of course was Nathaniel, who returns fresh from his determined success in the Eclipse looking to become the first back-to-back winner since Swain in the late 90s. He and his opponents are covered below…

[frame_center src=”http://www.ohracing.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/NathanielBig.jpg” href=””]Nathaniel winning the 2011 renewal bids to defend his crown…[/frame_center]

BROWN PANTHER – Better from him last time after a hugely disappointing return at Chester, but on the face of it that Listed race form would have to be built on considerably to take a hand in a race like this. Showed a huge amount of potential last season when running away with the King George V handicap at Royal Ascot and running second to Masked Marvel in the Leger. Will appreciate the give in the ground (by Shirocco, Listed success was on soft) and not a forlorn hope if he can build on that Pontefract form, but his price is about right.

DUNADEN – Soft ground over 1m4f around Ascot is a very different proposition to the Melbourne Cup that Dunaden won, but showed he’s far from just a stayer when following up in the Hong Kong Vase. What this horse does need is an end to end gallop, something which he didn’t get when beaten at odds-on at Chantilly but enjoyed when second to Sea Moon over course and distance in the Hardwicke. I think he would’ve given Sea Moon something to think about if he have managed a clear run that day, as he was almost stopped to a walk when coming with a strong run up the centre. Prices are not as different as I thought they might be however and while he is likely to get the strong pace he requires, he has less scope to improve than Sea Moon.

MASKED MARVEL – St Leger winner last season when they went a brutal clip and he stayed the strongest of the field. Dropped back in trip and finished last in the Arc, second last in the Jockey Club at Newmarket and finally showed something like good form when third (beaten a long way) behind St Nicholas Abbey in the Coronation Cup. Will need them to go Nunthorpe pace up front if he’s to pick them off, and as such he’s very likely to be outclassed. Strange to see the horse still running in mile-and-a-half group races when he looks ripe for a staying campaign.

NATHANIEL – Got me into trouble when I seriously questioned his chance in the Eclipse last time, but I am still convinced the only reason he won the race was because of the soft ground. The renewal of this race he won last year was borderline farcical, although the guts he showed when winning the Eclipse cannot be questioned and he is a runner who is certain to appreciate the likely soft going in this race. Comes up against a much stronger field than at Sandown, but is also running over a more suitable trip himself. Should he win this race then I may finally have to accept he’s as good as I’ve been informed he is (Fred) but until then for me the jury is still out on Nathaniel.

RELIABLE MAN – Won the French Derby (Prix du Jockey Club) last year and maintained an unbeaten record in doing so. Not so good since then (although that may be underestimating his run in the Prix Niel) until an excellent effort when fourth to So You Think in the Prince Of Wales’ at Royal Ascot. In between he was well beaten in the Arc and first time out this season in the Prix Ganay, but there were definite positives from Ascot as he was given a lot to do on ground that would have suited others more than him. Soft ground is preferable but whether or not he truly wants a mile-and-a-half in it is unproven, despite being by Dalakhani out of a Sadler’s Wells mare. His sire’s best two sons both improved with age (Conduit and Duncan) and there’s a feeling we are yet to see the best of Reliable Man – definitely of some interest at around 20s.

ROBIN HOOD – Unlikely to enhance the reputation of the character Kevin Costner did proud in Prince of Thieves. Pacemaker.

SEA MOON – The type of horse he trainer has excelled with in the past, Sea Moon stepped up on his return at Goodwood to run up to his best in the Hardwicke where he had the re-opposing Dunaden in second. As I’ve said I do feel his 3 1/4 length advantage would’ve been cut down considerably had Dunaden had a clear run, but Sea Moon is still lightly raced enough to improve and his two runs in Group company with give in the ground have been his best performances on the book. Still not certain genuine soft ground would be exactly what he wants, but has some of the best 2012 form in the book and any improvement would have him in contention. Personally think he’s still behind St Nicolas Abbey as things stand.

ST NICHOLAS ABBEY – A horse I think Joey O’Brien has taken a while to get to know. Regularly ridden by his young jockey as if he had an instant turn of foot, he’s been made to look a little naive on a couple of occasions (in this race last year and in the Sheema Classic at Meydan) although his electric performances at Epsom last time and in the Breeders Cup Turf probably go some way to show why Joseph has that faith. I do think that he does need to be asked for his effort slightly earlier than O’Brien has asked him on occasions in the past, but at the same time I also think he’s the best horse in the field and if given the best opportunity to win I think he will. A bit of a concern is that since winning the RP Trophy he’s run four times with ‘soft’ in the going description and not won. Holds Sea Moon on Breeders Cup form, and while Sea Moon has apparently improved since the same can be said about St Nicholas Abbey. Major chance.

WINDSOR PALACE – Had his moment when beating St Nic in the Mooresbridge, but his stablemate was considerately handled and is a certainty to reverse placings on the big day. Pacemaker.

DANEDREAM – Any filly that wins an Arc by five lengths has got to be taken very seriously, but she has been pretty disappointing since. Finished sixth in the Japan Cup on ground that to be fair would have been on the fast side for her, but more worryingly she was last at Saint-Cloud in her prep for this race which was far from ideal. What is in her favour is the ground, as in her last race before the Arc she won the Grosser Preis Von Baden on very soft going, and would probably be the only one of the principles to really relish it should the Ascot ground not dry out. Probably not as good as her Arc performance makes her look, but the going brings her into calculations should the Berkshire venue continue to see rain.

SHARETA – Second in what wasn’t a reliable renewal of the Arc, but got closer to Danedream out in Tokyo and isn’t devoid of ability. Fact she’s only won at Group Three level and been beaten in every race since the Arc doesn’t suggest she’s about to win a King George, but the fact she’s bred to stay and will handle soft ground means she’s not a total no-hoper. Still feel that connections would be delighted should she beat more rivals than beat her.

DEEP BRILLANTE – Comes over to Europe to attempt what his famous sire couldn’t manage and try to win a European Group One. Despite not being at the same level as Deep Impact on the track, the colt won the Japanese Derby last time out and the increasingly impressive record of horses travelling from Japan for major races means he has to be considered. Does look to have plenty to find in a race like this though, and on ground that he’s unlikely to have experienced (won on soft as a 2yo but unlikely this soft). Has the 3yo allowance but will need to improve if he’s to get close to the likes of St Nic and Sea Moon.

After a couple of below-par Group Ones in recent weeks it’s great to have such a competitive looking field lining up for the George. The winners of the Arc, Breeders Cup Turf/Coronation Cup, Melbourne Cup, St Leger, Jockey Club and Japanese Derby will all be present at Ascot, as well as the defending champion and Eclipse winner. Personal preference would be for St Nicholas Abbey, who produced a performance as good as anything we’ve seen from him at Epsom last time and I believe if ridden right that he’s the best horse in the race. However with the ground the way it is SEA MOON could turn the tables on Aidan O’Briens runner having shown he handles at least a certain amount of give in the ground. Reliable Man and Danedream will both need considering, with preference at the prices for the former.

[notification_box]
Prediction:
1. Sea Moon
2. St Nicholas Abbey
3. Reliable Man [/notification_box]
 

Bassett’s Allsorts – 19th July 2012

Two runners for Bassett's Allsorts tomorrow...

Liberty Ship is a horse I put up last week and I am inclined to give him another chance tomorrow. He was a shade disappointing last time, though that was a much stronger contest. He has good course and distance form and incidentally, won the corresponding race last year. Though not the most straight forward of horses, he looks back down on a winning mark and if able to put it all together, should be capable of running a big race.

O Ma Lad has shaped like an improving horse this year and ran another respectable race last time out when stepped up in trip to 14f, which probably didn’t suit the horse. He had previously won a handicap at Catterick over 11f, before just losing out over 10f at Sandown on soft ground in a stronger race. Back at a more suitable trip the gelding looks worth a chance to continue his improvement.

[notification_box]Basso’s Bets:
Doncaster 6.20: Liberty Ship 1pt Win @ 14/1 with Bet365.
Epsom 6.10: O Ma Lad 1pt Win @ 6/1 with Bet365. [/notification_box]

 

Bassett’s Allsorts – 16th July 2012

windsor races

Last Shadow has shaped like a horse who needs a good test of stamina with his two victories to date being on soft ground at Nottingham, the later being off a mark of 77. He was then dropped back down to a mile and unsurprisingly found things happen much too fast. His next run saw him stepped back up to 12 furlongs in what looked a hot handicap won by Rule Book. Last Shadow was far from disgraced finishing a staying on third on ground that was probably quicker than he would have liked.

The going at Windsor is currently soft, with further light rain forecast throughout tomorrow, meaning conditions should be ideal for the gelding. He is taken to make the most of what looks a workable mark of 82.

Minoan Dancer won a maiden at Lingfield and is totally unexposed, but at the price looks well worth taking on. Swnymor is feared most having proven his liking for testing ground when winning his maiden at Pontefract last month.

[notification_box]Basso’s Bets:
8.40 Windsor: Last Shadow 2pt Win @ 5-1 with William Hill.[/notification_box]

 

Favourite Racehorses – Dubawi

Anyone who’s been in this game for a while knows about how attached you can get to your ‘favourite’ horses. George Washington, Zarkava, Shawanda, Rio De La Plata, and even that enigmatic gelding Our Vic have all been on my personal radar since I really started getting into racing.

Dubawi however is something a little bit different for me. Before I really go into my own personal attachment to Dubawi though it’s important to remember that he was a fine racehorse, who’s three defeats could all be attributed to factors beyond his control..

Dubawi’s trademark turn of foot was evident throughout his juvenile career, especially on his first foray into Group One company in the National Stakes at the Curragh, where he cut down what was admittedly a below-par Group One field to take his two-year-old record to a perfect three from three. The quirks he had displayed in his maiden success were apparent in the Emerald Isle, as Dubawi jinked both ways when going clear in the final furlong- a trait Dettori convincingly put down to greenness.

The first major test for the colt was to be the 2000 Guineas of 2005. Shamardal, a star juvenile for Mark Johnston, had wintered as favourite for the Classic but new owners Godolphin rerouted him to Dubai in preparation for a crack at the Kentucky Derby. This left Dubawi as the outstanding candidate for the Newmarket contest, but come the day he faced an unusually lightening quick Rowley Mile- something connections considered to be very much against their horse. In the circumstances it was a fair performance from the colt in finishing fifth to the never-seen-again Ballydoyle runner Footstepsinthesand, but nevertheless it was disappointing to see Dubawi lose his unbeaten status.

His performance in routing Oratorio in the Irish 2000 Guineas was much more like the Dubawi we had seen as a youngster, as he made easy headway and quickened right away from the well-backed Oratorio, who would go on to prove himself as a genuine Group One horse in the Eclipse. This was the first real sign that Dubawi could be a star, and he was immediately aimed at Epsom, where his ability and, much more worryingly, his stamina would be tested to the maximum. Having travelled enthusiastically throughout the first mile of the mile-and-a-half trip, it was no surprise to see the colt failing to make an impression on the stoutly-bred Motivator after swinging round Tattenham Corner, and it was apparent that he would be seen in a better light back at a mile.
[frame_right src=”http://www.ohracing.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/dubawi2.png” href=””]Dubawi winning the Prix Jacques Le Marois[/frame_right]
In defeating a small but high quality Jacques Le Marois field at Deauville, Dubawi confirmed that he was the top-notch miler of his crop. Behind him that day were Whipper (winner of the race in 2004), Valixir (dual Group One winner) and the darling of French racing Divine Proportions, who up until that defeat had a nine-from-nine career record.

Unfortunately the final race of Dubawi’s career became a bit of a disaster, with Frankie ignoring instructions to follow his pacemaker and ending up in the middle of the track in the QEII. Eventually re-joining the stands side group, Dettori had allowed Starcraft an advantage which he was unable to recover and Dubawi finished an unlucky second.

All of the above adds up to a very smart career, but on figures a rating of 123 does not put Dubawi in anything like the top category. As well as enjoying a smart performer in action, the reason I was so gutted that Dubawi failed to get passed Starcraft is in his background.

First of all Dubawi is by one of the great racehorses of the last generation. What Dubai Millennium did to his rivals in the 2000 Dubai World Cup was visually incredible, setting a gallop that would see most horses crying enough after about six furlongs and visibly quickening off it with two furlongs to run. He followed up by thrashing Sendawar in the Prince Of Wales’ Stakes back on turf, and had he not suffered a career-ending injury he could well have become the first true world champion on dirt and turf. Because of his injury and subsequent death due to grass sickness, Dubai Millennium only produced one incomplete crop at stud… the best of which was Dubawi.

This is where the emotional connection to Dubawi starts to really develop. Dubai Millennium’s owner was Sheikh Mohammed, a man who’s involvement in British racing has probably saved the sport’s existence as we know it. Dubai Millennium was the apple of the Sheikh’s eye (he famously quoted that he “could see the winds of heaven” between the colt’s ears) and his highness was present during the operation in which the colt lost his battle with grass sickness. This was a man who had everything in life, but who cared deeply for his horses and was now focused on finding a son of the one that mattered most to him who was good enough to fill his father’s box at Dalham Hall.

As by some way the best of the crop, the small, compact son of Oaks winner Zomaradah carried the dreams of one of the weathiest men on the planet every time he set foot on the racecourse. Instead of potential covering fees or winners prizes Dubawi’s victories brought with them the raw emotion of having found a worthy successor to his great sire. I couldn’t help but find it amazing that such a powerful man could be so wrapped up in the performances of this small bay individual!

It helps that as a stallion Dubawi has been a phenomenon. His Group winners from five furlongs to a mile-and-a-half include 2000 Guineas winner Makfi, Dubai World Cup winner Monterosso, and QEII winner Poet’s Voice, while he is also responsible for this season’s Ascot Gold Cup fourth Gulf Of Naples. Standing at stud for £75,000, Dubawi is part of an elite band of stallions in Europe alongside the likes of Galileo, Dansili & Oasis Dream, as well as the recently deceased Montjeu.

For me Dubawi represented everything that is good about racing. He was small, genuine, ridden by the greatest jockey of my lifetime and owned by a man who has the world (and an amazing wife…) but to whom Dubawi meant so much. He ran his heart out to finish 5th in the Guineas when all at sea on the ground, he was still trying entering the 12th furlong of a race that was blatantly too much for him at Epsom, and when he came alongside Starcraft in the QEII it was as if a pony had ranged up beside a shire horse. But did the colt shy away from the challenge? Like his owner, Dubawi did not know how.

Mayson ploughs through mud for July Cup success

Bad weather has been the story of the season so far, as an overnight torrential downpour on the Newmarket July Course turned the ground heavy, and with that went the chances of antepost favourite Bated Breath’s participation in the race – and he was pulled out first thing this morning.

Bated Breath was followed by Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) winner Krypton Factor and then Libranno in the list of non-runners for this Group 1 prize as rain continued to pound down in the headquarters of racing, and with questions marks surrounding the capabilities of a few challengers in handling this ground threw the race wide open.

This morning also saw a bizarre market move for Sepoy, peddled by the support of Pricewise – who despite both his former trainer Peter Snowden, and jockey Kerrin McEvoy said he would struggle on soft ground was punted like he was an absolute good thing, but sadly failed to act on the surface as expected by those who know him best.

The field split into three groups as soon as the stalls opened, but Paul Hanagan soon took charge at the head of affairs down the centre of the track aboard the Richard Fahey trained Mayson, previously a dual winner on the Rowley Mile course earlier in the season.

As the field started to come under pressure in-behind; Hanagan let out an inch of rein on the likeable free-going son of Invincible Spirit, and he quickened up smartly in the conditions to extend his advantage on the run to the uphill section of the track. The Eve Johnston-Houghton trained The Cheka tried valiantly in second to close on the leader, as did Society Rock who came through late for third, but neither looked like laying a glove on the uber impressive winner.

This win crowned the first domestic Group 1 win for both Paul Hanagan and Richard Fahey. The pair had previously teamed up with then two-year-old Wootton Bassett to win the Jean-Luc Lagadere at Longchamp back in 2010.[frame_right src=”http://www.ohracing.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/mayson2.png” href=””][/frame_right]

“I was standing looking at the betting and he was the outsider of the lot and I was thinking this is the biggest joke in a long time. At York he got very upset and got his back leg caught in the stalls (for a few seconds) and at Newcastle it was bottomless and he couldn’t cope with it. He loves soft ground but not like at Newcastle (where you could see water collecting in your footprints). He’s in the Nunthorpe but I’d have worries going back there after that experience but I’ll speak to the owners and see.” – Richard Fahey

Defending Champion jockey Paul Hanagan left his role as stable jockey to Richard Fahey to pursue a career as a retained jockey to Hamdan Al Maktoum after the retirement of Richard Hills, but still picks up as many big rides for Richard Fahey as he can in amongst working for his new employer.

“He really enjoyed himself out in front and the big positive was that he loves the ground. He jumped so well and I didn’t want to take him back and I knew if I could keep him going he’d be hard to peg back – which he was. He’s got a lot of speed but I’d rather be looking at races over six furlongs rather than the Nunthorpe.” – Paul Hanagan

This is a first Group success for owner David W Armstrong, and hopefully Mayson can continue to improve off the back of this convincing success, and given the manner in which some of his rivals performed in the softer ground he will most likely be a half decent price to do so next time too.

Duke’s Tips – 14th July 2012

I had initially planned to do a few previous this morning on the bumper card of racing we have before us (seriously? Who’s idea was it to have so much on one day?), but sadly once again the weather has taken its toll completely ruining everything and giving us Soft/Heavy ground at Newmarket – however we have one saving grace is that York are only Good to Soft.

Unfortunately York is probably my worst punting track out there, so confidence at picking a winner on the Knavesmire isn’t overly high given that it throws up rather strange results on a regular basis.

One I do like the look of today runs in the John Smith’s Cup (3:00) in the shape of Mijhaar, and although he looks likely to go off favourite I thought there was plenty to like about his performance in the Wolfreton Stakes at Royal Ascot last time.

Sitting to the fore of a truly run race, Neil Callan kicked his mount on 2.5 furlongs from home, putting a gap of around 3L between himself on the field before trying to hold off the closers inside the final furlong. The fact that only Mijhaar and Retrieve (to a lesser extent) managed to stay towards the fore at the end of the race suggests both their performances can be upgraded, considering that the first Gatewood, the second Black Spirit and fourth Qaraaba all came from towards the rear.

I did my speed figures for the race and got the run as being massive on the clock, so I’m pleased to see Roger Varian reaching for an aid that is being utilized so well these days in the hood. Mijhaar can be quite keen in his races, and the Knavesmire or Royal Ascot wouldn’t be the most ideal places to keep a horse calm with any temperament issues, but the hood will certainly help that problem now (presuming there is one).

I think although he is only around the 7-2 mark, there is value in that price off his current mark of 102, as that performance at Royal Ascot marked him down as a horse able to hold his own in pattern company, and thus should be capable of winning a decent handicap off this mark providing he can settle early on.

Elsewhere today in the 4:20 at Newbury, Qaraaba returns to the track for the first time since her Ascot fourth behind Gatewood and Mijhaar. She has to have a solid chance of picking up some black-type here, but has a solid rival in Retrieve.  I pointed her out in my Flat 2012 Ten Horses To Follow piece at the start of the month, so will be watching her performance with interest.

[notification_box]2pts win Mijhaar @ 4-1 with StanJames[/notification_box]