Well the sun is shining here, as it is if you had being following the eyecatchers last week with Duke Cosimo, landing a bit of a gamble at Ripon, backed into 5/1 and the filly Elbereth winning the big fillies & mares listed race at Nottingham at a generous 8/1. It got even better on Saturday as Blaine (8/1) landed an old fashioned touch for Dandy Nicholls at Epsom with 14/1 around in the morning of the race. I hope you got on at that price like I did.
For those of you new to the column this is what I wrote about Elbereth after her seasonal reappearance at Epsom:
“…A progressive filly last year, her trainer had been very positive about here in a recent Racing Post Stable Tour believing she had improved over the winter and was capable of winning in listed company. Well worth another chance on better ground”
And this is what I wrote about the very well handicapped Blaine after his recent run at York:
“….He is just the sort his trainer has excelled with in the past and he has also become a very well handicapped horse in the past year being 15lb lower than when a 3 length 3rd in the 2014 Ayr Gold Cup and 11lb lower than his last winning mark over 5 & ½ f at York in August 2014…”
I if you took notice of last week’s short look at the Derby trends where I highlighted two horses for the big race, including the winner Harzand. I know some of you backed the Dermot Weld trained runner at double figure odds last week when the rain was falling at Epsom. I am hoping to look at big race trends in more detail in a future column. So watch this space in regard to that!
Before looking at the week’s tracker horses I am going to take a short look back at the big races at Epsom on Friday and Saturday.
Minding Overcomes Trouble to Land Oaks!
On Friday it was the fillies that took centre stage with the latest renewal of the Investec Oaks. It was a strange race to my eye and it had looked a weak race beforehand and so it turned out to be. With the first two home pulling 14 lengths clear of the rest of the field.
Minding put up an incredible performance in the circumstances, she had travelled sweetly in the early part of the race but coming into the straight became short of room and was dropped out to last. When she got in the clear she showed a really good turn of foot to get back into contention and took up the running a furlong from home any doubts about her stamina for a mile and half was put to rest as she battled onto the line. I think trainer Aiden O’Brien summed it up all up after the race when he said the “she has speed, class, stamina, a great mind – everything”. Can’t add anything more to that, apart from adding she is the best three year old filly seen in the UK & Ireland in many years. Where next for this great filly? Well a rest and an autumn campaign with the Arc as her target looks good to me.
The second home Architecture improved on her previous form here as connections had expected before the race and the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Irish Oaks won last year by the trainers Covert Love look potential targets for the filly. She can certainly win in Group company on the evidence of this run but whether it’s in the Irish Oaks I am not so sure as she will probably come up against more top class Ballydoyle fillies in the shape of Ballydoyle and Even Song and the latter in particularly looks a smart middle distance filly in the making.
Postponed Tough To Beat In King George
Postponed showed he is the best older middle distance colt in Europe with an authoritative win in the Coronation Cup. Now with Roger Varian, previous trainer Luca Cumani had always felt we would see the best of this horse when he was 4 or 5 year old and that is certainly proving to be the case. Last seen when winning the Sheema Classic at Meydan on World Cup night, he proved to strong and quick for his rivals here. As he gets older he seems to have got quicker. The King George a race he won last year is his next target and he will be hard to beat there as he will be on any of his starts this season.
The other one to take out of the race could be Simple Verse who wouldn’t have been suited by the gallop set by the winner’s pacemaker. Last years St Leger heroine would have been suited by an strong even gallop not a sprint and I am sure trainer Ralph Beckett can find another decent opening for the filly over 1m 4f when stamina is at a premium.
Impressive Harzand Gives Dermot Weld Epsom Glory
Coming into the race many pundits were of the opinion that this years Derby was a weak renewal but I didn’t subscribe to those thoughts and in Harzand I think we saw an above average Derby winner. In fact the first three home; Harzand, US Army Ranger and Idaho all look decent colts. Harzand was clearly helped by the rain that feel earlier in the week and the going although officially good to soft looked to be still riding more soft than good on the Saturday. He showed he could battle as the second closed on him inside the final furlong but he found extra and asserted before the line. Has yet to race on quick going so it will be interesting to see how he fares in the Irish Derby if the ground was good or quicker.
US Army Ranger didn’t get the best of starts and was playing catch up for most of the race. Some have criticised Ryan Moore’s ride but having looked back at the race a couple of times I think they are being a bit harsh on him. His mount was only having his third start and raced like the inexperienced colt he is. He was just beaten by a stronger stayer on the day, he still looks a Group 1 colt in waiting tand you would think he will now probably head for the Irish Derby and he would have a decent chance of turning the tables on quicker ground.
Finally, let’s not forget the third home Idaho who also could have a Group 1 race in him before the season is out. He made his effort earlier than the first two and might have paid for in the final few yards. He didn’t seem to handle the track that well and can be seen to advantage on a more conventional one.
The first three pulled 5 lengths clear of the rest of the field and of the rest Wings Of Desire’s trainer John Gosden felt the ground was too soft for his 4th placing colt but I think he may have found his level here. Of the rest Red Verdon out ran his odds to finish 6th and could have finished a bit closer with a better passage between the final two furlongs. Ulysses isn’t one to give up on yet as he was too inexperienced for a race like this stage of his career and connections are probably wishing he had gone to Royal Ascot instead. There are still races to be won with him. The 2000 Guineas second Massaat didn’t stay and French raider Clothes of Stars probably paid for chasing the fast gallop but he did best of the prominent runners and looks a possible St Leger horse. Deauville another Ballydoyle runner was further behind Wings of Desire than in the Dante and was said to be unsuited by the going.
One to Note – Simple Verse – Some great performance last weekend notably by Minding in the Oaks but if there is one to watch out for it’s the four year old Simple Verse who could surprise at a big price in Group 1 company over 1m 4f if she gets a real test of stamina.
This Weeks Eyecatchers
There are three notebook horses this week from Epsom but I will also be adding three more to the software for Eyecatcher Pro subscribers.
Friday June 3rd
Fire Fighting – Mark Johnston – The five year old has been a credit to his trainer and although he has yet to hit form so far this turf season this tough and consistent horse has slowly dropped to a winnable mark. Second in this corresponding race last year on good ground he was a well beaten 6th here but wouldn’t have appreciated the rain softened ground this time around. His two best performance last summer where when a strong finishing 3rd to Mahsoob at Royal Ascot over 1m 2f. He was beaten just ¾ length that day off a mark of 110, he then ran just as well in a valuable handicap at Glorious Goodwood when beaten 1 ½ lengths into third by the useful Mount Logan again off a mark of 110. He now races off 106 will probably drop another 1lb or two after this run. Like many of his trainers old handicappers he is the sort to handicap himself and he will be of interest in the big handicaps this summer at around 1m 2f, especially when he gets quick ground 3/12 6 places on good to firm.
Fieldsman – George Scott – Can be excused his run here as he was facing totally contrasting conditions to the one he faced on his seasonal return, when just getting up to land a Newmarket handicap over 7f on good to firm. A gelding operation over the winter seems to have done the trick for the four year old and brought out some extra improvement in him. Up 4lb for that Newmarket win he still looks to be on a workable mark. Connections have talked about the Royal Hunt Cup as a possible target and on good to firm ground he would have to be a contender. I think a tilt at Newmarket’s Bunbury Cup over 7f would also seem a good summer target. A mile on good to firm shouldn’t be a problem but his optimum trip look to be 7f, all his career wins have come at that trip and good or good to firm ground, 3/9 on such going. There looks to be another decent pot in the four year old when he gets his ideal conditions.
Saturday June 4th
George Bowen – Richard Fahey – The four year old was a progressive handicap sprinter last year, winning a valuable 6f handicap at the Curragh and also finishing 2nd in the Ayr Silver Cup. Was well backed before the race but he was held up to far off the pace by Jamie Spencer and could never really get involved although he finished the race off nicely. This was only his second start of the season and he looks like he will be primed for a big sprint handicap by his shrewd trainer. One could easily see him going back to Ayr in September a track where he has run well on his two starts. Three 1lb higher than for his head 2nd in the Silver Cup he mark looks workable. Six furlongs looks his ideal trip 3/14 7 places over that distance and he seems to handle most types of going
All that’s left is to wish you a profitable weeks betting.