Well the Grand National is over and done with for another year and my long term horse racing eyecatcher/ selection for the race Goonyella plugged on to take 5th and thanks to the perseverance of jockey Johnny Burke repaid morning each way support. I thought the 22/1 that was available early Saturday morning was too big considering the rain that fell overnight in the Aintree area and was due to fall before post time. This is what I wrote about the horse in last week’s article:
“The nine year old isn’t a ‘mudlark’ by any means as his Ayr run showed but the more testing the ground the more its slows the others down and his trainer said after Ayr “On this sort of going he really needs eight miles”. Let’s hope the showers forecast for the area hit Aintree this week. I am happy with Goonyella although I will probably have a couple of others running for me come the day”
Hopefully some subscribers will also have been on another past eyecatcher Distime in the Topham Handicap Chase on the Friday over the National Fences. This one had caught my eye when finishing 3rd in the Grand Sefton at Aintree back in December and I noted for subscribers that connections will be looking to run him in the Topham given how well he had taken to the big fences. A 50/1, fourth place was achieved by the horse which was the equivalent to a 12/1 winner!
A solid profitable week for Eyecatcher Pro Subscribers then and now I move my attention fully to the flat with the three day Craven Meeting beginning at Newmarket today. There should be plenty of horses to put in your trackers over the next few days.
There are no eyecatchers this week but I have taken a look at six horses that look worth following this turf season. There are four three year olds in the list and one four year old that could reach the top of the sprinting tree. They will be added to the existing list of flat horses already available to subscribers. Subscribers will also notice that I have deleted most of the jumps eyecatchers from the tracker although a handful have been kept as hopefully they will be targeted at some of the remaining big jump meetings.
I will begin with a brief look back at Saturday’s Grand National.
Grand National Review – Mullins Wins National!
Rule the World was a sort of trends buster as he came into the race not having won a race over fences. The nine year old had plenty of experience over in big fields though, having finished 2nd in last years Irish Grand National and then slipping up before the last in the Galway Plate when still very much in contention. He wasn’t impossible to find at all but I was certainly put off by his lack of a win over fences. Anyway it was a good news story for wily trainer ‘Mouse’ Morris and a testament to his training skills especially given his recent win in the Irish Grand National. Nineteen year old jockey David Mullins took the honours with an ultra cool ride. I am sure when Ruby Walsh retires he will become number one jockey to his uncle Willie Mullins.
The rain that fell before post time certainly helped the lower weighted horses as the going was soft, heavy in places, before the off. The race was run at a good gallop from the off and stamina was certainly required by the winner and the placed horses. Like National’s of the past over half of the field failed to complete the race indeed there were only 16 finishers. This was the first time since 2001 that race was run on soft ground and who knows next years renewal could well take place on more normal spring ground. Looking to the future I think there are a couple of horses to take out of the race:
Gilgamboa – Finished 4th for Enda Bolger 19 lengths clear of the 5th. This was only his 10th start over fences and given there were doubts about his stamina for this marathon trip this was a really good performance. Only 3 of the 16 finishers carried more than 11-0 and he finished the highest placed of those. Always prominent he jumped well and no doubt owner J P McManus will be aiming him at this race next year.
Morning Assembly – Ran a cracker for trainer Pat Fahy given this was only his 9th start over fences. He was jumping and travelling well in midfield, making headway to be with the leaders four out, His stamina seemed to give way as he faded out of contention two out to finish 8th. Nonetheless connections can be delighted with his run and given he is relative inexperience over the larger obstacles he is on a good mark for a decent handicap chase down the line.
Gallant Oscar – The 10 year old was well fancied before the race and was making some headway when blundering and unseating his rider at the 18th. It was too early to say where he would have finished as it was still a fair way from the finish. There is still a decent long distance handicap chase in him even off this career high mark but it should be noted he has also unseated his rider both in the Paddy Power Chase and last years Irish Grand National.
Six Flat Horses to Follow 2016
In no particular order here are my six to follow:
Aghaany – Roger Varien – This three year old filly is by top sire Dubawi out of Hathra, who was placed in a 1,000 Guineas. A half sister to four winners, including Group One 2nd Hadaatha, only had the one start as a two year old when running green in a Newmarket seven furlong maiden at the end of October. Keen early in the race she never looked like she would be in the mix at the finish and her jockey didn’t give her a hard time as she finished sixth of ten. The education will not have been lost on her and she is bred to be a useful filly. Will be effective over a mile and should get further in time. With the right trainer to improve as a three year old, I wouldn’t be surprised to see her running in a hood sometime as her trainer has used this headgear to good effect to settle his fillies. Enters the new season in the ‘could be anything’ category!
Don’t Touch – Richard Fahey – The four year old ended last season rated 106 and took his unbeaten record to 5 when becoming the first three year old to win the Ayr Gold Cup in 13 years back in September. He had previously won the Great St Wilfrd at Ripon and once again he showed a really tremendous attitude to hold off more experienced handicappers. After the Ayr Gold Cup his trainer said “To do what he’s done for a three-year-old in his first season is a bit special”. Not surprisingly hopes are high for the horse that will be aimed at all top sprints this year and is open to any amount of further progress. It’s worth bearing in mind that the son of Dutch Art has yet to race on really quick ground although it was good when he won at Ayr.
In The City – William Haggas – I can’t really have a list of horses to follow without including a William Haggas trained animal. The three year old son of Exceed and Excel made only one start as a juvenile but it was a performance full of promise for his three year old career. Was outpaced over a furlong out but was staying on at the finish to be beaten 4 ¾ lengths into 4th behind the useful Emotionless. The winner went on to win a Group 2 at Doncaster before running well below form behind Air Force Blue in the Dewhurst. The 2nd, 3rd, 5th & 10th have all subsequently won races so the form is solid and he can be placed to win a maiden. On breeding should get a mile and should be suited by decent ground.
Pernickety – Lucy Wadham – Looked a bit weak and immature when making her debut Newmarket back in August. Always in a prominent position she only weakened out of contention a furlong out over 7f. The filly returned to action with a good second at Chelmsford on the 7th April. The step up to 1m 2f suited her as her breeding suggested it would. Related to plenty of winners, on the evidence of this run she can win a maiden race over this sort of distance. On turf she looks like she will be suited by quick going. I doubt she is a pattern class filly in the making but hopefully she will pay her way this year.
Stormy Antarctic – Ed Walker – Was bit of an eyecatcher for me on his debut run at Windsor when a fast finishing 3rd over six furlongs after a slow start. Another placed effort at over six furlongs Ascot followed before then colt went on to win over seven furlongs at Sandown and a mile at Newbury. The improvement in his form seemed to coincide with the step up in distance and facing softer going. Ended the season with a really excellent 2nd to the Aiden O’Brien trained Johannes Vermeer in the Group 1 Criterium International when back over seven furlongs at Saint-cloud in November. His form ties in with most of the top class juvenile form. Not surprisingly his trainer has described him as the most exciting three year old he has ever trained, Stays a mile and could get a mile and a quarter this year. His sire Stormy Atlantic was dirt horse in the US and his dam did win on good to firm at Doncaster so he may not have to have the ground soft to be at his best. Trainer has him entered in the Craven and the Fielden Stakes this week at Newmarket and he has the scope to improve as a three year old. May not have the class to win an English Classic but there will be good races in him this year I am sure of that.
Ulysses – Sir Michael Stoute – The three year old colt is bred to win an Epsom classic given his sire is super stallion Galileo, who won the English & Irish Derby’s, and his dam is Light Shift who won the Epsom Oaks. Was only 4/1 for a one mile Newbury maiden on his racecourse debut back in October and ran like he was in need of the experience when finishing a 2 ¾ length sixth. Held up at the back he made some headway two furlongs out but could only run on at the one pace. After the race his jockey reported he “wasn´t in love with that ground, but is a nice horse to look forward to next year” His half brother won over 1m 4f and had a Racing Post Rating of 94. In the right hands he is bred for middle distances and should be able to pick up a maiden before going onto better things.
All that’s left is to wish you a profitable betting week and roll on the first English classics which are just a few weeks away now.