Good morning all,
The start of a new week (for me) and whilst most folk are moaning like billy-o about the race planning for today, I have to say, as someone that loves low-grade jumping, it'll do me just fine. I'm hoping to make it to Fontwell later where there's three tracker horses running – most unusual to have three go on the same day at the same meet – but I do need to do the Uttoxeter card for the Sporting Life tomorrow first.
Anyway, the good lady and I attended Windsor last night and there were three races to look at with a view to the future – my take on those, plus today's selection from Fontwell, on the main piece.
6.15 – 5f Novice Stakes
Some nice looking ones and the best of the lot, for me, was the Godolphin supposed second string, Fly The Nest, who looks every inch a sprinter, big and powerful hind quarters and looked very fit too. I had an investment and knew my money was done after about a furlong. He was already being niggled along and being encouraged to pick the bit up but he simply refused to try and finished well beaten. A most disappointing effort and either he's no good, or he's not concentrating. As such, I'll keep an eye out for him next time out and see if there's been some change to proceedings – possibly some headgear – and I might give him one more go, given his good debut effort.
The other Godolphin runner, Leading Spirit, didn't look like a bare 5f sprinter on looks – I thought maybe 7f might ultimately be his trip – and he too underperformed. He did collide with the rail at halfway but even allowing for that, couldn't quicken with the winner (who he was tracking) and that merely backs up the paddock impression I had of him.
Favourite Queen Of Bermuda is a good size for a 2-y-o filly and carried the penalty with some ease, although in the end, what she's beaten here is open to some debate. Nevertheless, she herself seems to be progressing and is hard to knock.
Of the rest, Khorramshahr was very coltish in the paddock, letting it all hang out. Perfectly was small and went to post far too keenly and needs to learn to settle better. Ridiculously, I didn't mind the rank outsider, 200-1 shot Twilight In Paris, who is a good size, quite leggy but an attractive colt that, if it weren't for the fact he's trained by Pat Phelan, might win something as a 2-y-o. I say that not because I don't like Pat as a trainer, he's perfectly capable, but his record with 2-y-o's is terrible. As such, possibly one to stick in the tracker and just watch for 12 months.
6.45 – 6f Confined Novice
The jolly old favourite obliged again on a night when five favourites went in (causing the ever-jovial bookie Peter O'Toole to ask me “haven't got a grand spare, have you?” before the last. When the jolly went in again in the last, I offered to get him a taxi home!) and whilst there was absolutely nothing wrong with Buffer Zone on looks, I did prefer second in Buridan, who has a bit of class about him and was something of a standout to me. It's fair to say he got a fairly sympathetic ride from Sean Levey here, being a bit too far back early and then when asked to make ground, found the winner already gone. I wouldn't be giving up on him and he'll come on for this first run of the season. Be interesting to see where they go with him, given he has a Commonwealth Cup entry.
The rest were much of a muchness. Swiss Chill, for whom the market spoke well, was simply far too green to do himself justice, shouting in the pre-parade and proving a bit keen. Adam Kirby had to tell him what to do on the way to post and he may do better in time. Party Dancer wasn't the worst looker but he faded out of things late. However, he gets a mark now and a sharp 5f might yet prove his thing. Mrs Todd is one of the biggest fillies I've seen for her age – she has the size to go hurdling, but not the pedigree! – and simply needs a lot of time.
8.15 – 1m2f Novice
All sorts of everything in the paddock and the first to catch the eye was the grey, Galileo Silver, who really does have the size and scope to do well. He looked plenty fit enough for his debut as well but a combination of being slowly away and greenness when asked for effort has probably cost him any winning chance.
Given his connections (the Potters and Dai Walters) it's really not hard to see him going hurdling at some stage next year (probably for Alan King) and I'm already putting him in trackers with that in mind. He should be up to winning an ordinary maiden next time up if learning from this too. I like him a lot.
To be fair to Cassini, he's done well to win here given his pre-race sweating up (was already in a sweat before coming into the pre-parade ring) and was very keen to post as well. At one point I thought he might take off with Kieran O'Neill completely but he just about kept a lid on him. There's plenty of talent there and I think this form might work out quite well.
Others worth a mention – Cuban Fire, a bit green and shouty but has the scope to do better, and Timespan, who wasn't the biggest but is attractive and well put together. The fact that she's finished third, running on very well once the penny dropped with her late on, only reinforces my impression that this race could be okay as far as form goes.
On to Fontwell today and Pontresina has drifted to a nice price this morning in the 3.15 and is worth a small bet to cause a minor upset. I liked her a lot at Kempton last time and chanced a few quid e/w. For 80% of the contest I thought I might cop the lot but had to settle for third in the end. Quick ground appears to be the key to her and she should improve again, and although she's plenty to find on form her trainer is still kicking winners in, and I'm hopeful she can give us a good run for out money.
Good luck with all your bets today,