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Hills Filly Looks Primed For Windsor Win

The Spring flat racing carnival moved onto the Knavesmire for York’s 3-day Dante Festival but there was also some good racing at Newbury on Saturday. Indeed, it was at Newbury where we may have seen the next Oaks winner.

O’Brien Filly Blooms in Newbury Sun

The highlight of the Newbury card was the battling attitude shown by Rhododendron to get up to win the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes in the final few yards. She should be very competitive in the Group 1-mile races this season, when she gets a strong pace to chase. The 4-year-old was also a Group 1 winner on soft ground over 1m 2f at Chantilly last October and runner-up to Enable too in the Epsom Oaks.

Classy Haggas Filly Enters Oaks Picture

Newbury also saw the last of the Epsom Oaks Trials and we saw a nice winner in the William Haggas trained Sea Of Class.

There wasn’t much pace in the early stages of the race but given she's bred to be better the further she goes she showed a nice change of gear to take the lead inside the final furlong, before going onto a decisive 2 length win.

This was only her second career start and she is by no means a certain Oaks runners but has been well backed for the race and is now a best priced 10/1 with Paddy Power. The filly also holds a Group 1 entry for the Coronation Stakes entry at Royal Ascot which suggests connections don’t think she lacks pace.

In an open looking year her trainer looks to have a strong hand in the second fillies’ classic, as he also won the Musidora earlier in the week with Give And Take

The Newbury listed race has a decent record when it comes to the Oaks. In the past 20 years eighteen fillies have gone onto run at Epsom with two of them winning, including the William Haggas trained Dancing Rain who was runner-up in the race in 2011, with a further seven finishing in the top four at Epsom.

In the last decade the race has produced 1 winner from 10 runners 5 placed backing all runners each way would have resulted in +23.20pts profit. By comparison the Musidora has produced 1 winner from 18 runners 5 placed in the same period.

London Gold Cup Form Worth Following!

The London Gold Cup, a handicap for 3-year-olds, is traditionally a race with form that is worth following through the season and it looks like this year’s renewal should follow the same pattern.

A one, two for Mark Johnson, with the winner Communique breaking his maiden tag at the 5th attempt. He should improve further for stepping up to 1m 4f and can win more races when he does. Of those further down the field there are a couple who are worth noting.

Mekong had won over 1m 2f at Leicester on heavy ground. I had expected him to step up to 1m 4f for his handicap debut so it was a bit of a surprise to see him racing still at 1m 2f. He never really got into the race, which suited those to race prominently, on the quick ground but did stay on to finish 7th.

Not totally sure he really enjoyed the underfoot conditions but he certainly needs 1m 4f now and maybe further as the season progresses. He looks worth another go when stepped up in trip.

The other I would take out of the race is Masaarr, trained by Roger Varian, was a good winner on his handicap debut at Doncaster earlier in the month.

Moving up from 1m was expected to bring out further improvement in the colt but the race wasn’t really run to suit, he would have preferred a stronger pace to chase and also made his effort out much wider than the three that finished in front of him.

A long striding horse, he’s well suited to a galloping track and can win more races off his present mark when he gets a stronger pace to chase. It wouldn’t surprise me if he turned to be the best of the field by the end of the season.

Notebook Horses:

This week’s horse for the tracker is Golden Apollo trained by Tim Easterby. The 4-year-old progressed well last season and looked a decent sprinter in the making winning a valuable 6f handicap at York last June. Before putting up a career best to win a 6f handicap at the Shergar Cup in August.

Effective on a variety of ground has won on good to soft through too good to firm. This was an encouraging seasonal reappearance given he had been off for 214-days.

Held up at the rear he didn’t get a run when making his effort 2f out but kept on steadily to finish 8th. Even with a clear passage he wouldn’t have troubled the easy winner George Bowen but he was only 3 ½ lengths off the runner-up.

A career record of 4 wins from 16 runs 25% +9.5 9 placed 56% (+13.80) shows he wins his share of races and he’s 2 wins from 5 runs 40% +11 3 placed 60% (+14) in field sizes 16+. Possibly more significantly, he has no record when racing fresh but his record when racing within 15 days of his last start is 4 wins from 5 runs 80% +20.5 4 placed 80%.

Monday Racing + Selection

We have four flat meetings today at Carlisle and Redcar in the afternoon and evening cards at Leicester and Windsor. There's also a jumps card at Towcester.

Windsor

8:15 – I do like the chances of the Charlie Hills trained Solar Gold. The daughter of Sea The Stars made a pleasing racecourse debut when runner up in a 7f Newbury maiden last month and she ran like she would appreciate a mile. The 3-year-old looks capable of winning a maiden like this. Her trainer has indicated she could be a Royal Ascot Sandringham Handicap horse. If she is to get into a race like that she would need to win today.

Solar Gold – 7/2

All that’s left now is to wish you a profitable weeks punting.

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Hell Can Reign at Killarney

Morning all,

Rascal Gives Haggas Derby Hope

Last week saw the first of the flat racing Spring Festival’s with three days at Chester and this week sees the three-day Dante Festival at York.

The big Derby trials took centre stage. At Chester The William Haggas trained Young Rascal broke the stranglehold that Aiden O’Brien has had on the Chester Vase. The colt only won by ½ length but his margin of victory would have been greater as he didn’t really get the best of runs on a couple of occasions inside the final two furlongs.

It was a good display by the son of Intello who made it 2 wins from 2 runs so far this season. He’s very much on the upgrade and has to be considered an each-way contender for the Derby.

How good the form is, well we shall find out on the first Saturday in June? I have my doubts but there is no doubt he looks a nice 3-year-old and he can win more nice races this year. His sire won the French Derby and his dam won over 1m 2f.

Dunlop and Weld Horses Enter Derby Picture

On Saturday it was Lingfield and its Derby Trial although you have to go back to 1988 since the last winner of the race went on take the Epsom Classic.

Knight to Behold trained by Harry Dunlop got the better of his eight rivals by 3 ¾ lengths. The son of Sea The Stars took up the running a mile from home and his jockey Richard Kingston rode a very enterprising race going well clear of the field coming to the bend. The Aiden O’Brien trained Kew Gardens was the only one to get close to the winner but he looks more of a Leger horse than a Derby one. The winner and possibly the runner up will head to Epsom but given the pace of the race there has to be some doubt as to the value of the form.

On Sunday, it was over to Leopardstown and the Derrinstown Derby Trial over 1m 2f. The winner was Hazapour trained by Dermot Weld who held off a pair of Aiden O’Brien trained colts in Delano Roosevelt and The Pentagon inside the final furlong.

A winner of a Galway maiden on his three starts as a juvenile. There is no doubt the son of Shamardal has wintered well and developed into a very useful colt. Travelling best, he took the lead inside the final furlong and was holding on. The runner up looks like a stayer who should improve for 1m 4f.

The Pentagon is another who is bred to appreciate 1m 4f and if you are on the colt ante-post for the Derby I wouldn’t tear up your tickets just yet, as I think he’s still an each-way contender for Epsom.

He’s closely related to the trainer’s Derby winner Harzand although given his sire there has to be a slight stamina doubt about 1m 4f. Still he looks like he will handle the Epsom undulations and deserves a shot at the Derby for which he’s now a best priced 14/1.

In the last ten years only Harzand out of 18 runners has gone onto to victory at Epsom. But it’s worth noting that Sinndar (2000), Galileo (2001) and High Chaparral (2002) did so in the early part of the century.

Of the three Derby trials, I think the Derrinstown was the best and if Saxon Warrior fails to get the 1m 4f at Epsom, Hazapour or Delano Roosevelt and The Pentagon could take advantage.

Its now onto the Dante this week. A race which has produced six Derby winners. The latest of which was Golden Horn in 2015.

Notebook Horses:

Keyser Soze, trained by Richard Spencer was well fancied to build on his third-place finish in the Newbury Spring Cup, being sent off the 9/2 favourite for the 7f Victoria Cup at Ascot on Saturday.

Everything that could go wrong did for the 4-year-old. He had to be reshod before the start of the race and then lost plenty of lengths with a poor start. He eventually finished 4 ¼ lengths in 10th, but he had lost more lengths than that at the beginning of the race.

Given a typical Jamie Spencer hold up ride he travelled well at the rear of the field but could never really get involved. He will now head to the Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot and with a decent draw and even more importantly a better start will be a live contender.

In the same race it should pay to follow the George Scott trained Gilgamesh. The 4-year-old ran poorly in the Spring Cup but the soft ground was against him that day. He’s a much better horse on a quick surface as he showed here. He did best of the group that race on the stands side and was only beaten 2 lengths into 7th.

He finished off his race as well as anything and the extra mile of the Hunt Cup will be very much in his favour on the evidence of this performance. Big chance at Royal Ascot with luck in the draw and of course fast ground.

Monday Racing

Plenty of racing today over both codes both sides of the Irish Sea. Over in Ireland we have the second day of the Killarney May Festival with feature race being the 3m 2f Killarney National.

Killarney

7:40 – Top weight Sandymount Duke has a touch of class, he was 5th in last years Galway Plate and races off the same mark here. Ran well for a long way in the Grade 1 Punchestown Gold Cup on his last start before weakening three out. That was the 9-year-old’s first run since August so he was entitled to need the run. Comes into the race fresher than most and drying ground is very much in his favour.

Of those lower in the weights All Hell Let Loose trained by Henry De Bromhead needs respecting. The 9-year-old looked to have a big future ahead of him over fences when jumping well to win a good ground Kilbeggan Beginners Chase back in June 2016. He clearly hasn’t been the easiest to keep sound as he’s only had five starts since.

He finished runner-up on his first start for 280 days at Tramore 29 days on heavy. The better ground will suit him and although his stamina for 3m 2f has to be proved he looks on a workable mark of 130 and given his lightweight of 9-12, with Dylan Robinson taking off a further 5lb you have to be hopeful he can run well.

All Hell Let Loose – 10/1 each way

All that’s left now is to wish you a profitable weeks punting.

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Bradley Sprinter Can Return to Form at Bath

Morning all,

Well the temperature is soaring which for a Bank Holiday Weekend is a rare occurrence these days.

It’s only six weeks ago that many racing stables in the south were snowed in and now the mercury has hit the mid to high 20s. Just in time for Guineas Weekend and what a scorcher of weekend we had on the track.

Warrior Cuts Down 2,000 Guineas Rivals

The 2,000 Guineas on Saturday was won not surprisingly again by Aiden O’Brien whose Saxon Warrior made it 4 wins from 4 runs.

Making his seasonal reappearance, last year’s Racing Post Trophy winner looked to have progressed physically from two to three as much as trainer had reported a couple of weeks previously.

The son of Deep Impact showed a nice change of pace to go into the lead before the final furlong. Once he got to the front he did hang a bit under pressure and in all truth didn’t do much when he hit the front. However, he never really looked like he would be caught inside the final furlong.

He should come on for the run fitness wise and already looks like needs 1m 2f. He showed plenty of class to win and not surprisingly is now a strong favourite for the Derby.

It was almost a fairy tale for Roger Teal as his 66/1 shot Tip Two Win ran the sort of race his trainer had promised to grab second. There should be other big days for the Dark Angel colt.

Masar who made all to take Craven Stakes in impressive style on his last start was sent off favourite for the very much inform Charlie Appleby stable. He wasn’t good enough on the day but still ran a respectable race.

Fourth home Elarqam, like the winner was making his seasonal reappearance, he wasn’t the best away and then was a bit fresh in the early stages of the race. Still he ran a fine race to finish 4th at the line. This was only his 3rd career start and he can improve with racing. On the evidence of this run a step up to 1m 2f looks the way to go but he will have to settle better than he did here.

Hannon Filly Causes 66/1 Shock in 1,000 Guineas

At the time of writing this I haven’t had a chance to look back at the 1,000 Guineas, which was won by the unfancied Billesdon Brook who was sent off at odds of 66/1.

The daughter of Champs Elysees relished the good to firm going and looks to have thrived with the warmer weather, leaving her Nell Gwyn reappearance 4th well behind her. Although she was one of the most exposed horses in the field the right horses filled the second, third and fourth places so maybe the form will stand up to scrutiny as the season progresses.

The runner-up Laurens ran a cracker for Karl Burke on her seasonal reappearance. She shaped here like she needs 1m 2f and now heads to the French Oaks as a serious contender.

Happily, who had the best juvenile form in the race wasn’t able to give Aiden O’Brien a Guineas double but she should come on for her first start of the year. Maybe she found the going a bit on the quick side and the Irish 1.000 Guineas looks a more logical target than the Oaks distance which I don’t think she will stay.

Wild Illusion looks a stronger contender for the Oaks. The daughter of Dubawi found the mile on good to firm ground too quick for her and the 16/1 available for that race looks more than fair. Although she handled the quickening ground well enough, a bit more ease will always see the filly at her best and I am a big fan of Dubawi’s progeny when they race 1m 2f +.

Notebook Horse:

Medahim, trained by Richard Hannon is this week’s horse for the tracker.

The 4-year-old had made a perfectly solid reappearance at the Craven meeting in a 7f handicap. He was always going to be a hostage to luck in running from his draw and so it proved for his backers.

Making headway on the rail he found his passage blocked two furlongs from home and had to be switched to make his effort. By then the three that eventually finished ahead of him had first run on the gelding. He stayed on well once out in the clear to snatch 4th on the line.

He now races off a 4lb higher mark than when winning over a mile on Newmarket’s July course and on the evidence of this run can win a handicap or two more this summer when gets better ground.

Monday Racing:

It’s a Bank Holiday today so you can expect there to be plenty of racing and that’s the case with action on the flat and over jumps.

Last week’s Monday selection Pennsylvania Dutch was unlucky in the run but at least landed the place side of the each-way bet at Thirsk, when snatching 3rd at the finish.

Today’s selection comes from Bath.

Bath

3:25 – Compton Prince – The 9-year-old returns from an 88-day break to a track he goes well at. He tends to do most of his racing on the all-weather and his record on turf is 3 wins from 22 runs 6 placed.

All three of those wins have come here at Bath and his record here in Class 6 handicaps on good to firm or firm ground is 3 wins from 6 runs 50% +42 4 placed 67%.

He ran poorly when last seen in action at Chelmsford back in February and doesn’t have a great record fresh but back on his favourite turf track and the quick ground he likes he shouldn’t be far away.

Compton Prince – 15/2

All that’s left now is to wish you a profitable weeks punting.

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Let’s Go Dutch At Thirsk

Well, a dramatic and thoroughly absorbing Punchestown Festival brought the curtain down on the Irish jumps season. I could have used the whole of this week’s column looking at last weeks racing over at Ireland.

Highlights too many to mention: Faugheen “the machine” powered back to form with an all the way win over 3m and Bellshill put up himself into the picture for next years Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Both trained by Willie Mullins who had 18 winners at the meeting, snatching the Irish Champion Trainer title yet again, compared to his rival Gordon Elliott who only managed 4.

A Photo Paul Won’t Want in His Album

There were also plenty of other talking points. Samcro took on more experienced rivals in the Champion Hurdle. This season’s top novice hurdler was very much in contention when coming down three out. It will be interesting to see if he stays over the smaller obstacles and goes for the Champion Hurdle or is switched to fence next season?

The other big story of the week was Paul Townend who coming to the last in the lead on Al Boum Photo for some inexplicable reason decided that the last fence wasn’t to be jumped and carried out Finian’s Oscar who was just poised to challenge when the incident took place.

It didn’t look good and the Irish racing authorities didn’t help by not issuing an initial statement as to what was said at the Stewards enquiry. Their initial silence apart from announcing that Paul Townend got a 21-day suspension for his actions didn’t help to discourage the social media conspiracy theorists from going full on nuclear on the matter.

It was an embarrassing incident for the jockey but it was an even worse one for those who run Irish racing.

I thought the incident would be the start of a bad week on the punting front as I had tipped both him and Finian’s Oscar in the race. I needn't have worried though as me and Victor Value subscribers bounced back with a 68pts profit on the week!

Bradstock Steps Right Back Centre Stage

Saturday saw the end of the British jumps season with a cracking final day at Sandown. Step Back won the Bet365 Gold Cup for the Bradstock’s.

Taking up the running from the 5th he was never for catching and just jumped his rivals into submission, for a 14 lengths win. A great bit of placing by Mark Bradstock to get the 8-year-old into the race and an interesting horse for his small yard to go to war with next season.

Well that’s jumps season over both sides of the Irish Sea and next weekend it’s the first British Classics of the season with Guineas weekend at Newmarket.

Notebook Horse:

Another couple of horses that caught my eye from last weeks action. I was at Pontefract on Monday and spotted a well-handicapped eyecatcher..

Pontefract

Orion’s Boy – Tim Easterby – The 7-year-old has still to win on 11 starts since joining the Tim Easterby stable but consequently has dropped down the weights to become a well-handicapped horse. Having his first start since October, he didn’t get the best of passages inside the final furlong but finished his race off well to be beaten just a length at the line.

Given all his seven career wins have come when racing within 30 days of his last start. He is entitled to come on nicely for his seasonal reappearance. An extra furlong will suit him and it’s worth pointing out he’s 6 winners from 18 runners 10 placed between May and June.

The son of Pivotal is now 14lb lower than when beaten a 1 ¼ lengths in the 2016 Goodwood Stewards Cup, 8lb lower than his last winning mark at Hamilton in July 2016 and he’s now 15 lb lower than when a close up 3rd in last year’s Gosforth Sprint Cup at Newcastle. There is a nice handicap in the horse this summer.

Monday Racing:

Plenty of action on Monday. There are flat cards at Thirsk, Salisbury and Windsor in the evening. There are also all-weather cards at Wolverhampton and Southwell and over the Irish Sea it’s the start of the 2018-19 jumps season. The build up to Cheltenham begins!

Last weeks each way selection Becky Thatcher stayed on well to finish second at Pontefract. This weeks Monday pick runs at Thirsk.

Thirsk

4:05 – The pick on form has to be Dark Defender who races off the same mark as when a close-up 3rd at Doncaster in Class 3 handicap. However, I am going to take an each-way chance on Pennsylvania Dutch. The 4-year-old was twice a winner for previous trainer William Haggas. Third on his debut at Southwell for Kevin Ryan back in March. He subsequently had a wind operation but could only finish 8th of 20 at Ripon 11 days ago.

I am expecting better on his second run since the wind-op although his hold up style means he will be hostage to a good even pace being set. Didn’t look the easiest of rides when with William Haggas. So, we have a quirky but talented horse who is nicely handicapped, being 1llb lower than his last winning mark. What can go wrong?

Pennsylvania Dutch – 12/1 or bigger (each way)

All that’s left now is to wish you a profitable Aintree Festival.

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