The racing this week just gets better and better. Really looking forward to Sandown’s Friday Flat card and their Jumps finale on Saturday is bubbling up to be a belter plus across the Flat cards on Saturday at Doncaster, Haydock, Ripon and Leicester I have over a dozen possible bets entered up!!
I am always a sucker for interesting jockey bookings. New trainer, George Scott (ex Cecil yard) has been using Josephine Gordon and in particular Tom Marquand. All three are on the up. The other pairing that is really interesting me is in Ireland where Johnny Murtagh has sent out 42 runners and half of them have been ridden by Conor King including four winners for a £11 profit to a level £. In 2014 they were both on a stellar upward curve but seemed to stutter and plateau last season but it looks like they are now back on track. Andrew Tinkler doesn’t seem to have horses with Murtagh (or anyone else for that matter) and I’m not sure how strong the Qatar link up is but I’m sure success will breed success. Conor King I really rate.
Three interesting Group races at Chantilly 3.40, 4.40 + 5.40.
Lingfield 6.15 ZANJABEEL Crisford for H-a-M £210K and gelded! Making debut under Paul Hanagan on AW.
Lingfield 6.45 INTIWIN Didn’t expect him on the AW at Lingfield! Could be a good spot by #FantasticMrFahey as trip and grade are fine and if Paul Hanagan can get him out of stall 2 just behind the pace on the rail he could have every chance turning for home. A two star** win selection @ 7/1 WH.
Perth 3.15 NAMBOUR and to a lesser extent Up for Review. I had Nambour down on my short list for the Alfred Bartlett at the Cheltenhan Festival and Up for Review as one I wanted to take on until he goes novice chasing.
Bryan Cooper comes over to ride the one horse and Willie Mullins is a man on a mission so Nambour is one star* win selection @ 7/2 with Ladbrokes.
Pontefract 2.40 SPRING OFFENSIVE 1st 7/2 WATCHING BRIEF.
Frustrating start to the afternoon with this little monkey bolting in! Took trail, fifth two wide, pulled five wide turning for home, went four lengths clear as he hung right in straight. He had his eyes only on the paddock exit thirty yards after the post from the top of the home straight and that is where he stopped and dumped young Adam McNamara unceremoniously on the floor! Spring Offensive had had a run and was well in here and there may be more to come but I wouldn’t be surprised if he is equipped with a set of blinkers!
Pontefract 3.10 BALLYMORE CASTLE 9th 5/1 WATCHING BRIEF.
Rear, wide, as predicted midfield mediocrity. I think you may see a different horse, ridden prominently on a flat track once the handicapper drops him to OR90!
Pontefract 2.10 Springwood 1st 11/2
I don’t really get involved with the 2yo’s until Royal Ascot but this was a tidy performance, coming on from his run in the Brocklesby. Out well, couldn’t get inside rail, closed up, kept on, led 1F out three wide and held on. Next win will probably be in a nursery. Interesting in the market as he drifted to 9/1 before being cut into 11/2 just before the off! Horse to take out of the race was Tom Dascombe’s well supported newcomer Sidewinder who was a little clueless early on but bravely challenged up the rail and was only beaten by experience.
Pontefract 3.10 Beardwood 6th 9/4 Fav a two star** win selection @ 9/2 general.
What a nightmare! Put up at 9/2, having been as big as 6/1, was halved in price on course and he completely missed the break and was then slow to gather race pace. Worked his way into midfield on the rail, then had the door slammed and that was race over. No Stewards. Ground may not have helped.
Pontefract 4.10 Dacoity 7th 4/1
RP analysis said “Prominent on outer, pushed along 3f out, ridden over 2f out, soon weakened (op 10/3 tchd 4/1).” Can’t see him winning a maiden so it will have to be a handicap off OR73. Not convinced?
Pontefract 4.45 Johnny B Goode 4th 11/4 Fav
Bit surprised to see him sent off 11/4 Fav but he was beaten less than two lengths and he didn’t have a lot of room in the final furlong. However that extends his losing sequence to sixteen including being beaten in a seller. He may well win this season but not carrying my money!
Pontefract 5.15 Arcano Gold 1st 7/2 CoFav a two star** win selection @ 4/1 general.
Out well, got rail, third, needed room 2F out, got run on rail and won well (1½L, 3¾L, 2¼L etc.). Nice attitude and more to come, he may well get 10F.
At theRaces Monday April 13th Richard Fahey is favouring a return trip to France for Ribchester for a tilt at the French 2,000 Guineas.Although the Godolphin-owned three-year-old holds an entry in the Qipco 2000 Guineas, the Malton handler is leaning towards making the French equivalent his target. After capturing the Mill Reef Stakes on his final start last term, the son of Iffraaj was second past the post on his return in a Group Three at Maisons-Laffitte earlier this month before being demoted to fifth. Fahey said: “It was a messy race in France, but I just wanted to get that run into him for the experience. For the first couple of furlongs they went steady and then it turned into a bit of a sprint. It was not a disaster and he has come back fine. He is in the English and French Guineas and if I was picking one now, then the French is what I would be thinking. We will keep an eye on what is turning up in the Guineas while I will speak to the boys, too.”
Plans also remain fluid for last year’s Superlative Stakes winner Birchwood, who was last seen finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Fahey said: “I’m not sure at the moment where we are going with Birchwood. “He in the Irish 2,000 Guineas but there is also the German Guineas. We will see where he is nearer the time. I am very happy with him and I purposely have given him a long break as he had a long season. He looks fantastic now. We are quite happy getting him ready here.”
P.S.Time to stop moaning about our overpaid footballers! Here are the top 5 earners in the Cricket Indian Premier League for no more than twelve, 20 over matches over two months!
#1 – Virat Kohli: Royal Challengers, Salary ($2.26 Million)
#2 – Shane Watson: Royal Challengers, Salary ($1.85 Million)
#3 – MS Dhoni: Team Pune, Salary ($1.8 Million)
#4 – Shikhar Dhawan: Hyderabad Sunrisers, Salary ($1.8 Million)
#5 – Rohit Sharma: Mumbai Indians, Salary ($1.7 Million)
Not bad work if you can get it!
P.P.S back to racing! Here are the bones of an excellent Craven report from Ben Linfoot on sportinglife.com.
Ben Linfoot Weights & Measures The Craven April 19 2016
EBF Stallions NGK Spark Plugs Conditions Stakes
1.Thikriyaat >>>> Up 14lb to 98 2.Tabarrak >>>> Remains on 97 3. Zhui Feng >>>> Up 7lb to 100
It turned out to be a very good Craven meeting for Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum and it all began when he saw the black cap pip the blue and white cap in a thrilling finish to the EBF Stallions NGK Spark Plugs Conditions Stakes on the first day. Despite this being an early-season small-field conditions race the handicapper was impressed with the front three, raising the third, Zhui Feng, 7lb to a mark of 100 after he tried to give the front two 4lb and was beaten two necks. Tabarrak split the pair and remains on 97 with Thikriyaat raised a stone to 98 following his narrow victory, the second of his career from two starts. Angus Gold, Sheikh Hamdan’s racing manager, feels the rise was harsh on the winner despite him getting the better of the 97-rated Tabarrak in the run to the line. “I thought that was a hefty hike,” he said. “He’s done nothing wrong in two starts, I just hope he’s as good as the handicapper thinks he is. I imagine he’ll go down the handicapping route, but I haven’t spoken to Sir Michael Stoute about that.”
As for Tabarrak, he was collared late on after leading for most of the seven-furlong contest and a drop back to six could be in the offing for him. “It looked like he got outstayed,” said Gold. “His pedigree and his size and his shape all suggest he has the speed for six so perhaps that’s the way he’ll go.”
Ben Burgess & Co Handicap (6f)
- Teruntum Star >>>> Up 6lb to 101 2. Bertiewhittle >>>> Up 2lb to 89 3. Yeeoow >>>> Up 2lb to 85
Terentum Star showed he was a handicap sprinter to be reckoned with, particularly when there is cut in the ground, when he won on the July Course last summer off a mark of 90. Gelded over the winter, he improved on that effort on the Rowley Mile, seeing off the challenge of Bertiewhittle in good style to post a career-best effort. Up 6lb to 101, he’ll be targeted at all the big handicap sprints when the ground is on the soft side, with the Infinity Tyres Stakes at York’s Dante meeting an obvious early-season target for him should conditions be suitable on the Knavesmire. Later on in the campaign the Ayr Gold Cup, a race Ryan has targeted in the past, could be on the agenda.
Bertiewhittle might be eight-years-old now, but experience counts for a lot in these big-field handicap sprints and he’s really well-handicapped on his best form. Up just 2lb for this effort, he should remain of interest in the coming weeks as he excels off a strong gallop over six when there is cut in the ground and he’s always likely to be a nice price against the up-and-comers.
Winning Post Pavilion Experience Handicap
- Speed Company >>>> Up 7lb to 96
This race has a history of being a springboard to better things with Wigmore Hall and Main Sequence two recent winners that have gone on to record success at the very top level. Group races could be in the pipeline for this year’s winner, Speed Company, too, as he continued his upward curve with a taking success in the hands of Ryan Moore.
He travelled well, quickened when asked for his effort and was eased down in the closing stages, his 7lb rise reflective of his dominance if the winning margin of three-quarters-of-a-length wasn’t. John Quinn noted post-race that this horse would probably have a busy time of things early in the season and that there was already interest from Hong Kong for the son of Fast Company. Again, like Terentum Star before him, it’ll be tempting for his northern handler to think Dante meeting for this horse and the extended 10-furlong handicap, won by Mahsoob last year, at the meeting could well be the ideal opportunity.
CSP European Free Handicap
- Ibn Malik >>>> Up 5lb to 112 2. Scrutineer >>>> Remains on 103
Only a small field for the Free Handicap but a smart winner, Ibn Malik, who won despite racing freely in the early exchanges. Paul Hanagan allowed the newly-gelded son of Raven’s Pass to bowl along in front and he put the race to bed impressively in the closing stages when pulling away from Scrutineer who ran well under Silvestre De Sousa.
Raised 5lb to a mark of 112 following this seven-furlong victory, he’s worth another crack at Group level having finished placed in three such contests as a two-year-old. His pedigree gives off mixed messages as to what his optimum distance will be and so does this performance; the way he lengthened clear toward the very end suggests he’ll have no problem seeing out a mile or perhaps even further, while he’s obviously fine at seven furlongs and even, possibly, would he be worth a crack dropping back to six given he was keen over seven here? “Well, we’ve put him in the Commonwealth Cup today, so it’s an option,” said Gold. Given the marvelous work Charlie Hills did with Muhaarar last season, who was rated 5lb higher than Ibn Malik is now going into the Commonwealth Cup, it makes sense to keep the sprinting alternative open to this improving three-year-old, who has clearly benefitted from his winter break. “He had some time off, was gelded and it was really nice to see the way he did it, he didn’t hang at all, he had a nice head carriage and his ears were pricked,” Gold added. “He has options, he’ll definitely get a mile, it was just really good to see him win like that without hanging at all.”
Weatherbys General Stud Book Earl Of Sefton Stakes
- Mahsoob >>>> Up 6lb to 116 2. Air Pilot >>>> Down 1lb to 115 3. Tullius >>>> Down 1lb to 111
Mahsoob rose through the handicap ranks as a four-year-old, rattling off a sequence in the early part of last season that saw him graduate from an initial mark of 89 to one of 111 by the time the assessor had caught up with him after Royal Ascot. Thrust into Group company after that, he struggled at Newmarket’s July meeting and at York, but he’s clearly done well from four to five judging by this convincing success from three good yardsticks. All three of Air Pilot, Tullius and Custom Cut are right at home on softer ground, something Mahsoob wasn’t proven on, but he handled it with aplomb and stayed on really well to confirm this success. Raised 6lb to a rating of 116, he deserves a chance at the top level and he could get it over a furlong shorter in the Lockinge at Newbury next month. “John Gosden says this horse has plenty of speed so he could drop back for the Lockinge,” Gold said. “It was just really good to see him come back and he looked great beforehand. Again, options are open for him and if he doesn’t go for the Lockinge he could go for the Prix d’Ispahan at Longchamp over the extended nine furlongs.”
Ben Burgess & Co Handicap (7f)
- Accession >>>> Up 11lb to 100 2. Flaming Spear >>>> Remains on 99 3. Mutamakkin >>>> Remains on 92
The stormy weather that accompanied Stormy Antarctic’s Craven win meant the ground was changed to ‘Soft’ for the following handicap and the conditions played a part in Accession’s six-length romp. Charlie Fellowes’ yard is in red-hot form, though, the trainer stating in his Racing Outlook column that “it’s possibly because we’re ahead of where we are normally.” In the same piece he predicted an 11lb rise for Accession on the back of this win and he was bang on the money, adding “we’ll see what the handicapper does, but I’m not scared – our fellow has earned a hefty rise.” That he has got, and though this means he’s certain to get into big Saturday races like the Victoria Cup at Ascot, whether he is capable of defying a career-high mark of 100 at the age of seven remains to be seen.