#startracking Tuesday April 12th 7pm

Tuesday was all about the ground and John Gosden.

The ground first. Official! GOING: Good To Soft 6.6 Changed to Soft after race 5

Racing UK ‏@Racing_UK The ground is “soft but nice” according to Frankie Dettori after partnering Galileo Gold in a pre-race workout

Judging by Swiss Range’s time of 1:42.09s (+7.09s) at @NewmarketRace we are very much looking at soft ground.

After the first, James Doyle said: “It’s soft there’s no good to soft in it.”

Johnny G has a couple of nice fillies in Swiss Range and Nathra and this seasons go to accessory is……the hood!

More to follow on the horses in my single review of all three days.



RP David Milnes 8:54AM 11 APR 2016 GODOLPHIN’S leading Qipco 2,000 Guineas hope Emotionless is set to add extra spice to the newly restored three-day Craven meeting at Newmarket this week by taking part in a racecourse gallop before racing on the Rowley Mile on Wednesday. It will be the second time the Charlie Appleby-trained colt has taken part in such an exercise as he used the same course for a workout before his disappointing performance when last of seven behind Air Force Blue in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes last October. Emotionless, who was found to have chipped a bone in his knee in the immediate aftermath of that effort, has been pleasing connections in his work this spring and is to use the workout as a stepping stone for a return to the Rowley Mile on April 30. A general 10-1 second favourite for the Classic, Emotionless was an emphatic winner of the Group 2 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster prior to his Newmarket disappointment. Appleby said: “I’ve been pleased with Emotionless this spring and the plan is still to take him straight to the 2,000 Guineas. He’s ready to step up his preparation and the plan is to give him a nice piece of work over seven furlongs with two companions before racing on Wednesday.”

3.55 Free Handicap (OR100+) Listed 3yo Colts 8F

IBN MALIK                            (Charlie Hills)                       OR 107                   Peak 110               LWM –                    RPR 105

A homebred son of Ravens Pass for H-a-M he won on debut in a C4 7F maiden on Good to Firm at Newmarket. Prominent throughout he travelled very strongly and saw it out well, more grinding than quickening. Stepped up in class to Group 2 at Goodwood he was second in a messy Vintage Stakes on the Downs. He was second again, to Emotionless, in the G2 Champagne Stakes and Doncaster and rounded off his season with a 2L third to Gifted Master in the 8F Autumn Stakes back at Newmarket. He has been gelded which suggests he will be busy this summer but what and where will he win? He looks to be around Listed class, a mile seems the trip and ground better than good. Could see him winning at York if getting a lead? If he dropped 5lbs or so could be competitive in some C2 handicaps, plenty of size about him. Could even see him revert to sprinting? He starts in the Free Handicap at Newmarket over a mile.

Although he was bred in Ireland he is of American parentage and I’m not sure about this Soft ground. With Raucous in the field, 3/1 Ibn Malik is too short and we will take a Watching Brief.

5.40 C3 Handicap 0-95 5F

BRANDO                                (Charlie Hills)                       OR 88                     Peak 88                  LWM 83                 RPR 93

“Brando had a stop-start season but really showed his ability with his final outing at Haydock. That day he blitzed his rivals, showing a lot of natural speed. He is a classy individual and with another winter on his back could be a horse to progress through the ranks” Adam Ryan Season Preview Trainers website

Being a son of Pivotal the Soft ground should suit and with Teruntum Star winning for the yard it is no surprise he heads the market. Can he handle the dip? Is 5/2 value? Don’t know and probably not! We’ll pass, make him a Watching Brief and keep our powder dry for York!

Don’t know how many of you will have read the Timeform review of the Grand National and their ratings for last weekend. I was hugely impressed, especially the no minced words GN report and hope the boys from Halifax take it as a compliment that I have cut and pasted it for you lot!!

“An emblematic Grand National, confirmation if any were needed of the effectiveness of the much-discussed recent modifications to start position, size of fences and overall distance, stamina and jumping still tested like in no other race in the calendar yet with an uplifting subplot of all 39 participants living to fight another day; the later off time resulted in the track taking more rain than it would have done in a more customary afternoon slot, more pulling up than falling/unseating as conditions took a toll, with 5 of the first 6 home Irish-trained, as 3 of the first 4 had been the last time the race was run on ground this testing in 2006; the early pace steadied on the final circuit, and around half the finishers still had a chance entering the straight, the first 3, all from contrasting backgrounds but no less relishing the examination, going clear between the last 2. RULE THE WORLD chose the biggest possible stage to open his chasing account, the first maiden to land the National since 1884, though not many in the interim can have boasted his ability, runner-up in a Neptune in his novice hurdle days before injury (twice fractured pelvis) intervened, testament to his trainer – responsible also for this year’s winner of the Irish version – for getting him back; Rule The World had himself found only one too good in the previous year’s Irish National, and this first try since at a marathon trip proved key, doing well to even recover from his second mistake 4 out (had earlier pecked at second Becher’s) let alone have enough left to forge to the front just after the elbow, finding bundles and no little improvement to master the pick of the weights; he’ll be young enough to have another crack next year, though conditions have only twice come up as testing as this since the turn of the century, soft or heavy going probably key to him given those past physical problems. THE LAST SAMURI (IRE) had to give best to one who improved plenty for the trip yet emerged with bundles of credit himself, almost the perfect ending to an outstanding first season with this stable, coping superbly with the demands of the race and giving his all in defeat, the extreme trip as expected right up his street; his jumping was superb, belying his relative lack of stature, and, having pressed on 4 out, he tried most determinedly to repel all challengers, working hard to see off Vics Canvas only to succumb to the winner’s surge inside the final 1f, continuing to respond even once his measure had been taken; he’s got a year on Rule The World in terms of likely National longevity, though never again will he have a better chance at the weights, due as he is a 12 lb rise. VICS CANVAS (IRE) outdid the likes of Oscar Time (fourth in 2013), Amberleigh House (2004 winner) and Brave Highlander (fourth 2000) as the oldest frame finisher in the race this century, the first of his age to finish placed since Rondetto filled the same position in 1969, doing much to highlight how far course experience can get a National runner, having been fifth in the Becher on his first try as recently as December; admittedly, he’s no typical 13-y-o – he didn’t make the track at all until 2010 and was sent chasing only last season – but he’s a veteran nonetheless, and his effort was all the more remarkable considering the severity of the mistake he made at Becher’s first time around, when he was all but down, somehow coaxed back in the mix by the twenty-fifth and even laying down a stern challenge from 2 out, giving best only inside the final 1f. GILGAMBOA (IRE) displayed previously unforeseen stamina to reach the frame for the second time in as many starts in a major handicap this season, a highly encouraging display with a view to more of them next season, the overriding feeling he’s still to show his maximum, lightly raced for an 8-y-o after all; he jumped soundly bar an error at the first Canal Turn, got into contention smoothly and, having looked set to drop away once shaken up approaching 2 out, ran on again to close the gap to the admittedly tiring third, well clear of the remainder. GOONYELLA (IRE) is no Aintree natural but was able to express himself more than in his 2 previous tries in the shorter-distance Becher Chase, still no threat to the principals though as he closed all too late (only ninth 2 out), mistakes at first Valentine’s and the eighteenth having put him on the back foot. UCELLO CONTI (FR) could be a fixture in this race and other leading staying handicaps for a few seasons to come, certainly far from disgraced on his first sight of these fences, doing well to get involved – still going smoothly – on the home turn considering the bad mistake he’d made at the nineteenth, the effort of making up the lost ground probably telling on him late on; it was only in December that he made his debut for this top stable, and he’s well worth another try over long distances. VIEUX LION ROUGE (FR) took well to the course – belying his relative experience – only for his stamina to unsurprisingly give way upped even further in trip, creeping into things after pecking at second Becher’s and getting onto the heels of the principals on the home turn before his run petered out, shaping much better than the distance beaten might suggest; still only a 7-y-o, he can be placed to advantage in a good handicap back over shorter next season, perhaps starting with the Becher back here. MORNING ASSEMBLY (IRE) was beaten much further than at Cheltenham yet shaped just as well until his stamina gave way upped markedly in trip, looking a match for the placed horses for most of the way, going powerfully taken widest of all (jumped well) and even edging into second briefly entering the straight, weakening 2 out; he’s best around 3m. SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR (IRE) under more testing conditions than last year, predictably had his stamina limitations exposed all the more, tracking the pace but weakening once shaken up after 4 out, looked after as he dropped away. UNIONISTE (FR) seemed unsuited by the course for the third time in as many visits, his running style and jumping of the fences not lending themselves to this race, ponderous in rear and never on terms. LE REVE (IRE) has never failed for stamina at 3m+ before but seemed to find this a bridge too far, making promising headway into things from mid-field after halfway only to weaken from 3 out; he’s a far more assured jumper nowadays, getting in tight to second Canal Turn his only blemish of note. BUYWISE (IRE) seemingly saved for this since late-January but an unlikely National type, took his jockey’s sequence of completions in this race to 8 under a trademark patient ride yet was never the slightest factor, a characteristic blunder at the seventeenth no more than a side issue, his stamina for the trip remaining a doubt. PENDRA (IRE) hadn’t lasted home at a demanding 3m when last seen pre-Christmas and predictably found this far too much of a test; mid-field, lost place when blundered second Canal Turn, beaten before 2 out, eased off but completed course. TRIOLO D’ALENE (FR) has Topham and Hennessy wins on his record but isn’t so good, durable or reliable nowadays, his win in a 3-runner listed event at Kempton first time out this season a flimsy piece of form; raced off the pace, not always fluent, some headway eighteenth, struggling from twenty-third. JUST A PAR (IRE) back in blinkers, struggled for the second time in as many runs over these fences; not jump well, went with little fluency, always behind. MANY CLOUDS (IRE) looked just about as strong a contender to emulate Red Rum’s back-to-back Grand National wins as there’s been since but met with a contrasting fate to 12 months earlier, legless as he trailed in last, reported to have suffered a breathing problem; all had looked to be going well when he moved alongside at the eighteenth, but a blunder 5 out knocked him back and the writing was on the wall entering the straight. AACHEN had his moment in the sun in leading from the second until an error at the water jump, tailed off by the time he was pulled up approaching second Becher’s. KATENKO (FR) was still off the pace – and not looking to be going anywhere – when falling at second Becher’s. SILVINIACO CONTI (FR) one of only 2 bona fide top-class runners but a doubtful stayer on paper, shaped as if amiss in any case; tracked pace, bad mistake eleventh, dropped away quickly next, pulled up fourteenth. ON HIS OWN (IRE) is a long way removed from the enthusiastic, bold-jumping horse once considered an ideal type for this race and didn’t seem to relish much about his first visit here since the 2013 Becher, going with little zest in rear prior to taking a crashing fall at The Chair. FIRST LIEUTENANT (IRE) unlike 12 months earlier, failed to survive an early error, close up when coming down at the second. SIR DES CHAMPS (FR) endured an unpleasant first experience of this course, losing his place – and confidence – courtesy of mistakes at the thirteenth/fourteenth before barely taking off and unseating at the next (The Chair). DOUBLE ROSS (IRE) back in a tongue strap, looked a doubtful stayer and lost his place gradually on the final circuit prior to blundering at the twenty-fifth which resulted in his rider losing his irons, managing to clear the next but pulled up after. GALLANT OSCAR (IRE) was shaping well – still going smoothly under a patient ride – when blundering at the eighteenth and eventually unseating; he’ll presumably be aimed at Punchestown’s Pat Taaffe Handicap now, and he ought to make a bold bid to retain his crown, still open to improvement despite his age. SAINT ARE (FR) failed by a long chalk to repeat his second-place heroics of 2015, not for the first time let down by his jumping; he was soon prominent and jumped to the front crossing the water, but he was rarely fluent otherwise and, having been headed soon after the seventeenth, was done with soon after further mistakes at second Becher’s Brook and the next. SOLL found himself much further off the pace than last year and didn’t seem to relish the experience, never going well after being hampered at the first and behind when pulled up second Becher’s Brook. BOSTON BOB (IRE) looked too long in the tooth to be trying this course for the first time and never figured, in rear prior to being eased and pulled up before second Becher’s, later said to be lame. BLACK THUNDER (FR) has had something of a write-off season and effectively lost all chance when blundering at the water after another 9 weeks off, tailed off when pulled up approaching the twenty-first. BALLYNAGOUR (IRE) exited before his doubtful stamina could be put to the test, creeping closer from rear when unseating at the nineteenth (earlier mistake at fourteenth). HOME FARM (IRE) added to a patchy record, not taking to the course; soon behind, never going well from seventh, tailed off when crossing twentieth, pulled up before next. THE ROMFORD PELE (IRE) got away with a peck at the first only to unseat at the eighth (Canal Turn). WONDERFUL CHARM (FR) ran no sort of race after 4 months off, facing these fences for the first time; in rear, jumped tentatively, tailed off when pulled up twenty-first. ROCKY CREEK (IRE) with headgear left off, blundered his chance away at the eleventh under a new rider (pulled up immediately), though he was already well behind and struggling at the time. KRUZHLININ (GER) can have this run ignored, as he has before showing this course isn’t for him, making mistakes and always behind. BALLYCASEY (IRE) lasted longer than on his first try over these fences but, having threatened briefly to make some headway from behind after 3 out, was tired and beaten when stumbling and unseating at the next; he’ll be better off back at shorter, but he’s been easy to oppose for some time regardless of trip. HADRIAN’S APPROACH (IRE) lived up to his reputation as a sketchy jumper by unseating at the first. THE DRUIDS NEPHEW (IRE) was let down by his jumping in this race for the second year in a row but, in complete contrast to 2015, never gave his backers even the slightest hope, barely taking a fence fluently after finding himself much further off the pace, eventually pulled up at the twenty-first. HOLYWELL (IRE) looked one of the better-handicapped runners but got no further than the second on his debut over these fences; Un Temps Pour Tout seemingly knocked their Cheltenham form here earlier in the week, but the way fourth-home Morning Assembly ran for a long way in this suggests there’s nothing at all wrong with that race; he should certainly stay beyond 3¼m. ONENIGHTINVIENNA (IRE) one of only 2 first-season chasers in the field (along with Vieux Lion Rouge), wasn’t ready for this sort of examination at this stage after just 4 chase starts, jumping with far less conviction than before and struggling when unseating at second Becher’s; he went without the cheekpieces he’d worn when flopping at Ascot, incidentally.


Ben Fearnley — published 11th April 2016

Ben Fearnley takes you through all of the latest Timeform ratings after Aintree’s Grand National meeting, as well as Leopardstown’s first Flat action of the season.

Thanks to the inclusion of multiple Grade 1-winning chasers including the likes of Holywell, Sir des Champs and Silviniaco Conti, as well as last year’s classy winner Many Clouds, who was seemingly better than ever in the run-up to Aintree this season, the 2016 Crabbie’s Grand National was widely regarded as the highest-quality renewal yet, and a BHA mark of 145 was required to even get a run in the end.

Despite the high number of graded winners in this year’s National, it was a maiden who won – which was the first instance of this happening since 1884.

That said, although Rule The World was lacking a win over fences going into the race, he was a very smart hurdler (second in the Neptune in 2013) and may well have achieved plenty over fences before now but for some serious injury problems (has twice fractured pelvis). Rule The World is now Timeform-rated 156 over fences, while The Last Samuri – who himself emerged with bundles of credit after finishing a gallant second – is now 158+.

While time is on The Last Samuri’s side as an eight-year-old, he is unlikely to get a better opportunity to win the National given he was 12 lb ‘well-in’ at the weights. Vics Canvas also put up a remarkable performance in third (148) given he almost unshipped his jockey at first Becher’s – and what a recovery from Robbie Dunne! – and he became the first 13-year-old to be placed in the race since Rondetto in 1969.

With the ground coming up soft for only the second time this century (by Timeform’s calculations), the Irish-trained runners came to the fore, with just one British-trained runner amongst the first six home, and a more cautious view of the form has been taken from a ratings perspective. Rule The World’s performance was rated inferior to the likes of Many Clouds last year and Neptune Collonges in 2012, who both ran to 164.

The high-quality pre-race feel of the National was a running theme throughout Aintree, and – thanks in no small part to Willie Mullins’ attempts to win the British trainers’ title – there were some top-class performers on display throughout the whole of the Aintree Festival.


After his fall three out at Cheltenham last time, Cue Card was on the comeback trial in a fantastic renewal of the Bowl, which also featured the second and third from that Gold Cup in Djakadam and Don Poli. This was Cue Card’s third Grade 1 win of the campaign after the Betfair Chase and the King George, and it was his most emphatic yet (this term), beating the more prominently ridden Don Poli into second by nine lengths and eased down towards the line. Cue Card is Timeform-rated 182, 1 lb behind Gold Cup winner Don Cossack, and the two could potentially meet for the third time this season at Punchestown in three weeks’ time.

Arzal showed the benefit of missing the Festival when routing the field from the front in the Manifesto Novices’ Chase, achieving a career-best Timeform rating of 156 in the process. The form is held back somewhat by some of his rivals underperforming faced with such a test at the trip, including L’Ami Serge (who shaped well but whose stamina seemed stretched, now Timeform-rated 148+), Sizing John (seemed to find this coming too soon after Cheltenham) and Garde La Victoire, who once again was let down by his jumping and loses his ‘p’ as a result (now rated 148+).

Annie Power’s 18-length victory in the Aintree Hurdle was her best yet on Timeform ratings, and she is now rated 170+, putting her second to only the injured Faugheen (176) in the division’s hierarchy, moving her past stablemate Arctic Fire (168). Though the rivals that re-opposed her from the Champion Hurdle three weeks earlier underperformed (or fell, in the case of The New One) it is a testament to Annie Power’s durability and versatility that she was able to perform to her best over this different trip. Fresher than most, she may well be in line for a memorable Cheltenham/Aintree/Punchestown treble.

Earlier on, Apple’s Jade put up at exceptional performance in the Anniversary Hurdle, beating Ivanovich Gorbatov (who beat the winner in the Triumph) by 41 lengths. With the margin of victory so high, and the fact Ivanovich Gorbatov was clearly below form (could have been the softer ground or the fact he got worked up beforehand with problems with his tongue strap) this is difficult form to assess, and Apple’s Jade is now Timeform-rated 148p. It will be intriguing to see where she goes next, as she is clearly a filly on a sharp upward curve.


After favourite Limini failed to reproduce the form of her Cheltenham Festival win (remains 142p), Buveur d’Air did not have to improve on his third in the Supreme to take the Top Novices Hurdle. Buveur d’Air is Timeform-rated 152p, and showed a likable attitude to prevail by a neck to the well positioned Petit Mouchoir, who is now rated 150 after a much-improved performance.

Native River benefitted from a positive ride from Richard Johnson in the Mildmay, and is now Timeform-rated 152p, though the form – like that of the RSA won by Blaklion, who was below-form here in third – is not likely to prove strong, given the absence of the most exciting pair in the division this season, More of That and the ill-fated No More Heroes.

The form of the Melling, too, is not likely to be all that strong given the fact that 1/5 favourite Vautour put in a rare jumping error and fell at the ninth fence. However, God’s Own is still worth crediting with some improvement as he produced a career-best on ratings (now Timeform-rated 166) to fight off Al Ferof, who was a little below his best, turning out quickly (for him) after Cheltenham.

Last year’s Sefton was won with a much improved performance from this year’s star staying hurdler Thistlecrack, and the lightly raced Ballyoptic found another chunk of progress to score this year, gamely fending off Bellshill – who got his career back on track, now Timeform-rated 144 – to make it three from three over hurdles after he was well beaten in a bumper on his rules debut on Boxing Day. Ballyoptic showed smart form here (now Timeform-rated 145p) and there is every chance he will make up into a leading novice chaser next season.


Thistlecrack has met with defeat just once in six starts after winning last year’s Sefton, and he completed a five-timer with ease in the Liverpool Hurdle on Saturday, not having to be anywhere near his World Hurdle-winning best to beat Shaneshill by seven lengths. He remains Timeform-rated 174p, and it is hard to see what will challenge him next season if he stays in this division.

Willie Mullins’ British trainers’ title claims were dealt a blow when Vautour fell, and for a moment it looked as though another of his Aintree ‘bankers’ Yorkhill may be turned over in the Mersey, after he failed to settle and made rather hard work of beating Le Prezien (rated 144). Regardless of this run, Yorkhill (163P) remains a top-class prospect for next season and hopefully his disconcerting lack of application will be something that disappears as he matures.

Unlike Yorkhill – who was below the level he showed at the Cheltenham Festival – Douvan was even better, and is now Timeform-rated 180p which puts him on the same level as his stablemate Vautour in just his first season over fences (same Timeform-rating as Sprinter Sacre finished his novice season on). Alisier d’Irlande set a good gallop in an attempt to get the 2/13 favourite beaten and ended up tailed off, but The Game Changer – ridden for optimum position – seemed to run right up to his best (155) – and the way Douvan brushed him aside in such effortless fashion means he is one of the most exciting novice chasers seen in Timeform’s experience, likely to be a match for virtually any of the established top-rank chasers next season.


The end of the Aintree Festival means that the Flat season now steps up a gear, with Newmarket’s Craven meeting later this week, and Leopardstown’s first Flat meeting of the season on Sunday gone.

The stand-out performer on Sunday was undoubtedly Harzand in the Group 3 Ballysax Stakes, who found plenty of improvement for his maiden win at Cork in March and again seemed to relish the heavy ground, being very much suited by the emphasis on stamina at the trip. Harzand is now Timeform-rated 114p, and is sure to progress again when his stamina is further drawn out. He is around 16/1 third favourite for the Derby, behind US Army Ranger (95P) and Midterm (93P) in the market. Aidan O’Brien saddled the second, third and fourth here, and it would be no surprise to see his runners perform better in time, particularly Ryan Moore’s choice Cook Islands (100p) who found the test on this ground too much, and Idaho (113p) who was outstayed by the winner but impressed with the way he went through the race.

Alice Springs (last seen finishing second at the Breeders’ Cup meeting) was given a lot to do in the Group 3 1000 Guineas Trial and had no chance of catching the well-ridden front pair which was headed by Jet Setting (106), who improved, though was seen to maximum effect with a big positional advantage over most of the field. Overall, the form is fairly easy to pick holes in due to the way the race unfolded.

The listed 2000 Guineas Trial took a hit when the standard-setting Johannes Vermeer was withdrawn, but Aidan O’Brien held the key nonetheless, with Black Sea (now Timeform-rated 104p) narrowly getting the better of the dead-heating Stenographer (103p) and True Solitaire (104), with the first two named being on more of an upward curve than the latter, and are therefore of more interest going forward.




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