The flat season is just 2 months in but I’m already looking forward to the return of the winter jumps season…Only joking!
Well, at least Dave M has been providing his followers with big priced winners. Me, I’m struggling to tip rubbish into a bin.
In this week’s post I have four takeaways from last Saturday's racing. A few stats for the upcoming Investec Derby Festival and a Monday tip that will be carrying a wealth warning.
Phoenix Rises From The Classic Ashes
So far, this flat season the Classics have been very difficult puzzles to solve. In fact, it’s a fair few years since we have faced such a situation and Saturday's Irish 2,000 Guineas just reinforced that point.
The late inclusion of Too Darn Hot to the Irish 2,000 Guineas field set the race up for what was billed as match between last seasons top juvenile and English 2,000 Guineas winner Magna Grecia.
No-one told Phoenix Of Spain the script as he made all to win and beat Too Darn Hot by 3 lengths with Magna Grecia a well beaten 5th. The colt became the first winner of the Irish 2,000 Guineas for 45-years to win the race without running that season.
The Charlie Hills trained colt has clearly done well from 2 to 3. If he goes on to win the St James Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot. Then maybe we do have a Champion 3-year-old miler on our hands.
Let’s hope by the end of Royal Ascot we know where the colts classic generation stands.
But It’s Too Darn Hot For Gosden Colt
At the end of last season Too Darn Hot was been talked about in some circles as a new Frankel. Unfortunately, it’s not worked out well for the colt so far this season.
Granted his preparation for the 2,000 Guineas was hit by injury which meant his long-awaited seasonal reappearance came in the Dante Stakes.
He ran well at York to finish runner-up, just beaten by a stronger stayer on the day. After the Dante the St James Palace Stakes was nominated as the colts next race.
It was rather surprising then to see him turn up at the Curragh in the Irish 2,000 Guineas just nine days later. That said he still ran a good race to finish runner-up once again. It’s likely a tough race at York just took the edge off him.
Some people say Too Darn Hot hasn’t trained on from 2 to 3. That’s nonsense of course he has. It’s just that other horses are developing past him as 3-year-old's. There is of course the possibility that he could prove trip-less this season. A mile in the best company could be too short for him and a strongly run 1m 2f could be just a shade too far.
After the race he was pushed out to as big as 4/1 for the St James Palace Stakes. He will have to put up a career best to reverse form with Phoenix Of Spain next month. But you still wouldn’t bet against him doing it.
Battaash Bounces Back
Battaash was all the rage before the start of the Temple Stakes at Haydock on Saturday, despite the presence of the like of Mabs Cross and Alpha Delphini. The gelding was on his best behaviour and looked well before the race, his first run since another off-season wind-op.
There looked like there would be plenty of early pace in the race. So, it proved as Kachy & Caspian Prince blazed a trail.
Jockey Jim Crowley wisely switched his mount to chase the two front runners. He was travelling supremely well, and the jockey decided to push Battaash to the front.
Those “catch me if you can” tactics quickly put three lengths between himself and his rivals. The official margin of victory at the line was 2 ½ lengths but that doesn’t really reflect his superiority.
Alpha Delphini stayed on for second on his seasonal reappearance and Mabs Cross who was out paced 2f from home, kept on for third.
This was a second successive win in the race for Battaash. He will now head for the King Stand Stakes, a race he finished runner-up in last year.
His win this year was much more impressive than last seasons, so he heads to Royal Ascot with a good chance of going one better this time around. On a going day over the minimum trip, on a flat track, no horse can touch him. Mind you I think we knew that already.
However, as he has shown in the past, he’s got his quirks and how he handles the atmosphere before Royal Ascot is anyone’s guess.
The 5/2 available about him for the King Stand Stakes looks good to me. If you knew he won't lose the race before the start.
John Gosden Isn’t Infallible
Now I have to say I’m a big fan of John Gosden. Best trainer in the UK that’s for sure. He’s a man you would follow through heaven and hell. But even he gets it wrong sometimes and he got it wrong on Saturday.
Calyx so impressive when winning on his seasonal return at Ascot after a 316-day break returned to action at Haydock just over three weeks later. Sent off the 2/13 favourite this was expected to be an easy win before a tilt at the Commonwealth Cup.
Everything looked to be going to plan two out as Calyx was travelling well. However, when his jockey asked him to put the race to bed, he hung badly to his left and found nothing for pressure. He manged to hang on for second.
Clearly this wasn’t the colts true running. The way he hung suggested he was either feeling something or just bounced. After the race Johnny G put forward the quick ground as the reason for his poor run. I’m not buying that one at all. His three previous wins came on good to firm and there was an excellent covering of grass on the track they used.
I think the race came too soon for him, after his seasonal return, and the trainer got it wrong he should have just waited for Royal Ascot.
I think some of the bookies did overreact to this run pushing him out to as big as 8/1 for the Commonwealth Cup. That was soon snapped up and he’s a best priced 6/1 at the time of writing. He’s not one to give up on yet. The trainer just got it wrong for me.
Epsom Derby & Oaks Stats
Much has been made about stall one being the ‘coffin box’ draw in the Derby and only one horse has defied that stall in the past 20-years. However, looking at the past ten running of the race stalls 1 to 3 haven't done well either.
0 winners from 30 runners 3 placed
Maybe a smaller field will bury that stat this year but it’s something to note.
The Derby isn’t won by a colt with two many miles on the clock either. Those horses that had six or more career runs are:
0 winners from 24 runners 4 placed
Interestingly that stat would rule out a couple of well fancied Aidan O’Brien runners Anthony Van Dyke (8 runs) & Broome (7 runs)
It may pay to avoid runners that have yet to race below Group 3 company. Those below that level are:
0 winners from 19 runners 1 placed
One again stall 1 has produced 0 winners from 10 runners 3 placed.
The filly’s classic has also produced more than its fair share of shocks in the past ten years.
Those horses returned between 20/1 & 50/1 have produced:
4 winners from 37 runners +77 7 placed
The expected wins from such qualifiers should have been 1.17.
If you had backed all 34 runners to Betfair SP you would have made a profit of +156.64
In an open looking year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an unfancied filly get into the places and maybe even win it.
Those fillies who could outrun their odds are: Tarnawa, trained by Dermot Weld, as big as 25/1 with Bet365 and Delphinia, trained by Aidan O’Brien, a generous 40/1 with bet365.
Given my recent form, today’s tip comes with a wealth warning attached.
4:10 – Nicholas T – Beaten ½ length in this race 12-months ago and now 2lb better off. The 7-year-old was a staying third at Thirsk two starts back. Poor next time in the Victoria Cup but wasn’t suited by the soft ground at Ascot. Each way contender again.
Nicholas T – 9/1 – Each way
Until next week