Racing festivals come around very quickly at this time of the season.
After Chester last week, it’s on to York’s Dante Festival which starts on Wednesday. It’s a meeting I love to attend but due to my recent operation I probably won’t be able to get there this year.
This week, I will share with you a few of my takeaways from last week's racing news. Oh, and I also have four horses to follow at York this week and of course Monday’s tip.
Aidan O’Brien tightens grip on Derby
Does any other trainer win Derby Trials other than Aidan O’Brien these days?
Last week he won the Chester Vase with Sir Dragonet, the Dee Stakes with Circus Maximus, Saturday’s Lingfield Derby Trial with Anthony Van Dyck and then finally the Derrinstown Derby Trial at Leopardstown on Sunday.
He’s still to unleash another possible Derby contender in Japan in this week’s Dante Stakes.
Surely, he’s not going to win yet another Derby Trial, is he?
Gosden’s holds Oaks aces
Aidan O’Brien might hold the key to next month’s Epsom Derby but John Gosden looks to have a strong hand of fillies for the Oaks.
Mehdaayih was impressive in winning the Cheshire Oaks on soft ground. It's worth noting her stablemate Fanny Logan who finished third. She wasn't knocked about by Frankie Dettori when he realised she was hating the ground.
Mehdaayih needs to be supplemented for the Oaks but I would expect that to happen after this performance.
Anapurna landed Saturday’s Lingfield Oaks Trial by six lengths. The further she went the better she looked and I was impressed with her win. In all truth she probably didn’t beat much here but she’s going the right way and will improve further.
It’s likely she will take up her Oaks entry with the 10/1 available with Paddy Power looking fair enough to me.
The trainer has still to run recent Sandown winner Sparkle Roll. That filly will probably run at York in the Musidora Stakes.
Follow the first three home in the Victoria Cup
It’s worth following the form of the Victoria Cup. Especially, the first three home who have been profitable to follow on their next run.
In the past 20-years if you had backed the first three home in the race on their next start you would have made £10.33 to a £1 level stake.
Cape Byron, Kynren and Kaeso will be worth supporting on their next start, if they run in races at Class 2 or below.
Ignore racecourse rumours
The rumour mill was in overdrive at Ascot and Lingfield.
The Sir Michael Stoute trained Sextant was on offer at 100/30 early in the morning but drifted out to 7/1 on the back of some negative rumours. All before his comfortable win in the 1m 4f handicap that opened the Ascot card.
At Lingfield Anthony Van Dyck who was also subject to similar negative reports before the Lingfield Derby Trial eased out to as big as 9/4 before being sent off a generous 2/1.
Both horses may have drifted but that didn't stop them from registering smooth wins.
Louis back in the limelight
Louis Steward had looked a Champion Jockey in the making when bursting onto the scene in 2014. That year he won Ebor with Mutual Regard and the Cambridgshire with Bronze Angel and the following year he went on to land the Portland Handicap on Steps.
It’s not been easy for the jockey since he lost his claim in the summer of 2017 and you can see why, he’s tall for a flat jockey and keeping his weight under control can’t be easy.
I though he gave gave the Sir Michael Stoute trained Sextant a peach of a ride at Ascot and a big Saturday winner, for HM The Queen should get him noticed again.
He’s been riding out for Sir Michael Stoute of late and hopefully he will get more chances as the season progresses. He possesses a good pair of hands and can still make his mark as jockey if he gets the opportunities.
Dante Festival Thoughts
We could be in for a cracker in the Dante Stakes this week, if Too Darn Hot, Line of Duty and Japan take up their entries. Add in the unexposed Telecaster and Almania and you can see why it’s a race to get excited about.
Rather than look at the stats as I normally do. here are four horses to note should they run at York this week.
The five-year-old won twice last season but ran even better when just touched off in the Goodwood Stewards Cup. He proved there that he stays 6f on quick ground but 5f still seems his optimum trip for me.
He ended last season when well down the field on heavy ground in the Ayr Gold Cup. It's worth putting a line under that run as he doesn't like soft ground.
He's another who could go for the 5f handicap on Thursday for which he’s a 28/1 shot with William Hill. Granted this is his first start of the season but he did win first time up in 2017 and the trainer has been among the winners.
He races off the same mark as in the Stewards Cup and looks the sort to win a big sprint handicap this season when he gets a sound surface.
Eeh Bah Gum
The 4-year-old was well placed by his trainer to win four races in the early part of last season between May and June. He was well beaten on his seasonal reappearance in a hot handicap at Musselburgh but did show some good speed out wide from a poor draw.
All five career wins have come at the minimum trip and four of them on good to firm. Indeed, his form figures at 5f and on good to firm are 11121. He won here last August off 5lb lower.
There should be more to come from him this season and given his speed he could be an ideal type for a race like the Epsom Dash, if he gets fast ground, a race that trainer Tim Easterby had the one-two in 2011.
Again he’s 28/1 with William Hill for Thursday’s 5f handicap but his chance will depend on the ground on the day.
Another, trained by Tim Easterby. The 4-year-old went into the tracker after his recent seasonal reappearance at Ripon. Always up with the pace on the favoured stands side. He ran well for a long way and was only headed inside the final furlong and eventually finished third.
This was his first start since October and like plenty from his stable will come on for the run. He’s gone well at York in the past and will no doubt turn up for a sprint handicap there over the coming months.
He looks capable of winning a decent pot or two as a 4-year-old and he’s got an entry in the 6f Handicap on Wednesday and is 14/1 with Ladbrokes and BetVictor.
The 4-year-old was nicely progressive last year for Ralph Beckett. Ending last season with a win in the valuable Old Rowley Cup at Newmarket in October.
The step to 1m 4f really suited the gelding. He took the lead just inside the final furlong although he had to hold off a sustained challenge by the eventual runner-up all the way to the line. He looks the type to always just do enough to win which doesn’t make the handicappers life easy.
He should be able to stay further than 1m 4f this year. Starting this season off 5lb higher. He’s got an entry in the 1m 4f handicap on Wednesday for which he’s a general 8/1 in the ante post market. It looks a tough race for his seasonal reappearance, but he did win first time up last April on his racecourse debut.
I have had a dreadful weekend punting so that’s a word of warning for today’s tip. Today’s selection comes from the Musselburgh card.
3:05 – Gabrial The Tiger – The selection is a real course specialist. He’s 5 wins from 6 runs 83% + 23.25 6 placed 100% over C&D. The 7-year-old hasn’t been at his best on his last two starts and stall six could be better around here. However, given his track form he’s got each way claims on ground that will suit.
Gabrial The Tiger – 6/1 or bigger – each way
Until next week.