Well that’s another Festival finished for another year but there are still plenty of horse racing’s summer/autumn festivals to come with the St Léger meeting at Doncaster and the Western meeting at Ayr in September.
My Betting Week On The Knavesmire
A good week for the Eyecatchers with a win for the Alan King trained Oceane at 7/1, in the 2 mile handicap. He had looked unlucky in the run at Goodwood on his previous start and I mentioned in this column after that race that the Cesarewitch would be a good target for the 4 year old and, he would be worth looking at when the ante post market for the race was up, that is indeed the race he is being aimed at. It’s worth bearing in mind whilst he is stayer very much on the upgrade he is ground dependent and needs good or good to firm to be at his best. The best return of the week didn’t come from a winner though it was from the 5th placed home in the Nunthorpe Stakes Thesme. This what I wrote about the fillys chance on the forum
“I think her 100/1 odds with WH & SkyBet (both paying 1-5 places) are too big and she could well hang on for the places – 0.5pts e/w”
I also highlighted the each way chance of Cotai Glory who finished 4th in the same race:
“His trainer Charlie Hills has always thought of him as Nunthorpe horse. If the ground stay on the quick side then we could well see a big run from Cotai Glory, who was only beaten ½ length into 2nd in the Kings Stand Stakes behind one of the favourites Profitable on soft ground and that surface wouldn’t have suited him as much as the winner. His 8th at Goodwood last time out can be ignored as he was hampered by the eventual winner at the furlong mark and his jockey wasn’t hard on him after. King Stand run was on soft ground but I think he is a better horse on a sound surface and looks worth a modest each way nibble at 40s”
I was great posting on the Race Advisor forum for each of the four days, not just looking at any tracker horse qualifiers but also giving some of my thoughts on each days racing. I know plenty of you found it useful and profitable. Given it highlighted winners like Oceane 7/1 Mecca’s Angel 11/2 (Early Price) Firmament 10/1 (Early Price) and Heartbreak City 15/2 in the Ebor Handicap. There were also several big priced placed horses in addition to Cotai Glory and Thesme, such as 3rd placed horses Captain Colby 14/1 & Moonmeister (8/1 Early Price) and 2nd placed Yorker (16/1 Early Price). I know a few of you were also on the Richard Fahey nursery winner Wagon Wheel at 13/2 after I had mentioned on the forum the following:
“Trainer Richard Fahey has only had three winners in the past 5 years at this meeting and two of them have come in this race in 2015 & 2012. He saddles three this year in last time out Beverley winner The Wagon Wheel, Naverone and Spin Doctor”
Sadly I only had a saver on him, with my main bet being on his other runner Spin Doctor who was well beaten.
Last but not least I highlighted a couple of trainers in last weeks column who have really good records with their two year olds at the meeting in William Haggas & Kevin Ryan both had a winner this year Rivet for William Haggas 4/1 (Early Price) and Kevin Ryan had Syphax at 16/1. As I said last week: “It takes a brave punter to ignore those two trainers’ two year olds”.
That’s enough of the trumpet blowing for now. Before I look at this weeks four eyecatchers all from York. I will have a real in depth look at last weeks racing on the Knavesmire
York Ebor Festival Review
The meeting opened on ground that was officially good to firm but if times are a guide it was probably a shade quicker on the first two days.
Postponed won the day’s feature race the Juddmonte International, as he showed that the step back to 1m 2f was no problem to the five year old. Given a great stalking ride by Andrea Atzeni he made his effort three furlongs from home and it was never going to be easy for the rest of the field to get past him once he did. Clearly the best older middle distance turf horse in the world.
It was never going to be easy for those horses held up in the race and so the William Haggas trained Mutakayyef did well to get 3rd on his first start over 1m 2f. Would probably have finished 2nd if he hadn’t have been short of room when Postponed hung to his right in the final furlong. Another whose performance can be marked up was the consistent Grey Gatsby in 6th who was even further back than Mutakayyef when the race began in earnest at halfway. He really does need a very strong pace to chase and a step up to a 1m 4f now looks worth a try.
Idaho won the Great Voltigeur Stakes for Aiden O’Brien and was quickly made a short priced favourite for the final classic of the season the St Leger and whilst he should stay extra two furlongs I think he will be better horse over shorter
Finally, all three of the day’s handicaps were run at good even pace so the form should be fairly solid.
It was Ladies Day both on and off the track with the Day’s feature race being the Darley Yorkshire Oaks over a 1m 4f. Seventh Heaven gave trainer Aiden O’Brien another win in the race as she came from behind with a well timed run to take the lead inside the final furlong to beat the consistent filly Found, in a similar performance to when she took the Irish Oaks on her previous start. A filly very much on the upgrade that stays 1m 4f very well and clearly likes quick ground. She looks likely to stay in training as a four year old and there looks to be scope for even more improvement. I doubt she will go for it but I think St Léger would be a good race for the filly. There was another disappointing run from the winners stablemate Even Song who ran poorly when favourite for the Irish Oaks and did the same here. She does look ground dependent, as her win the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot was on soft ground.
A daughter of Frankel took the Group 2 Lowther Stakes for two year old fillies but it wasn’t short priced favourite Fair Eva who did but the Richard Fahey trained Queen Kindly. I think it was and above average renewal of the race. The winner looks more of a sprinter than a 1,000 Guineas horse for next year. Meanwhile Fair Eva who could only finish 3rd looks in need of a step up 7f for her next start and is more of a miler in the making than the Fahey Horse.
The Sir Micheal Stoute trained Abingdon won the Listed Galtres Stakes with a really nice performance. The daughter of Street Cry really likes quick ground and she made it three from three on good to firm going. This was only her 5th career start and she is a filly on the upgrade who can make the step up to Group company pay as long as she get the right ground. I saw her as a bit of a galloper when she won at Newbury early in the season but she showed her that she has a change of gear too. After the race her trainer indicated that the Park Hill Stakes (The fillies St Leger) at Doncaster will be her next target and she will take the beating there if she gets her ground. Would have to be supplemented for the St Leger itself but she wouldn’t be out of place in that race if she was to go for it.
The feature race of the third day of the meeting was the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes over 5f. Rain had fallen prior to racing although the ground was no worse than good and had taken any jar out of the ground. The rain arrived just in time for last year winner Mecca’s Angel, who put in a top class performance to take the race for the second year running, who probably would have been a non runner if there had still been firm in the going description. This was some performance given she almost broke the track record for five furlongs that has stood since 1990! She won’t be here next year to retain her crown sadly, as he will be heading for the paddocks but she ends her career arguably the best turf sprinter in the world on this run. July Cup winner Limato wasn’t disgraced, in 2nd, on his first start over the minimum trip and without the winner in the race would have been an easy winner himself.
The Jeremy Noseda trained filly Nemoralia showed a good turn of foot to outclass her rivals in the Group 3 City of York Stakes over 7f. She can win races at higher level than this and she looks likely to head to the USA in the autumn for some Grade 1 races. Of the others it might be worth noting the run of the Dean Ivory trained Librisa Breeze who previously had landed a bit of a gamble to win International Stakes Handicap at Ascot. Had to make up a fair bit of ground after a tardy start and did well to finish 4th in his first run in Group company. Without his poor start he would probably have finished 2nd, apart from the winner nothing was finishing as well him.
Quest for More got a great front running ride from George Baker to take the Lonsdale Cup over two miles, to give trainer Roger Charlton some compensation after the disappointing run by Fair Eva the previous day. Well suited by quick ground he ran well in last years Melbourne Cup but is unlikely to go down under this year for the race and looks like the trainer has his eyes on the stayers race on World Cup night at Meydan next year.
William Haggas improved on his great record in the juvenile races at the meeting as Rivet took the valuable Convivial Stakes for maidens over 7f. The two year old had shown real promise on his racecourse debut at Ascot when keeping on nicely to finish 3rd at he put that experience to good use, despite still showing signs of greenness when making his effort, and was too strong at the finish for his rivals, winning by a comfortable 3 ¼ lengths at the line. The colt handles quick ground well and has entries in the big autumn juvenile Group 1 races the Middle Park and the Dewhurst and with more improvement forthcoming he will be a contender in whatever races he goes for.
The Ebor Handicap is the richest turf handicap in Europe and a big field was declared to run in this year’s renewal. Traditionally the betting highlight of the week for punters and this year was no exception as the well backed Tony Martin trained Heartbreak City took the race in good style by four lengths. The race was a real triumph for the Irish trainer as his other runner Quick Jack finished 3rd. The winner had been much improved over hurdles and continued it on the flat here. Had won the two mile handicap here last year and enhanced his trainer’s good record at the meeting which now stands at 3 wins from 10 runners and 2 further places. Tony Martin was full of praise after the race, for 5lb claiming jockey Adam McNamara, who he said rode “a race of sheer brilliance”. High praise indeed, for a young jockey, who could go to the very top of his profession in the next few years. The Iain Jardine trained Shrewd ran another good race game in 2nd and deserves to land a big race like this. Battersea continued the good run of the Roger Varian runners at the meeting with a never nearer 4th at the finish, on his favoured quick ground. This was his best run since winning a handicap at Meydan during the winter and rates a good performance under 9-10. He had disappointed 7 days previously at Newbury but the first time hood and a return to a bigger field suited him.
Arguably the performance of the day came from the two year old Godolphin owned Blue Point in the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes over 6f. This year’s renewal of the Gimcrack looked a good one on paper with plenty in with a chance so the manner of the winner’s victory has to be noted. The son of Shamardal showed an excellent turn of foot to win by a comfortable looking three lengths at the finish. After the race his jockey William Buick described the colt as one of the best juveniles he has ever ridden. Given his ability to quicken so well I suspect he needs good or quicker ground to be at his best, all his three wins have come on good to firm going, and if he gets it he will be hard to beat in the Middle Park Stakes.
Another well run Ebor Festival ends and special mention should be given to Clerk of the Course William Derby who keep punters up to date with the going on a regular basis and made sure we had safe but ideal summer flat racing ground for the meeting. Clerks at other courses need to take a leaf out of Mr Derby’s book on that score.
This Weeks Eyecatchers
All three eyecatchers come from York but I will be adding three more from Saturday’s cards at Chester and Sandown for Eyecatcher Pro Subscribers.
Wednesday 17th August
Captain Colby – Ed Walker – The four year old came into the race looking on a workable mark. He had unseated his rider at Yarmouth on his previous start but before that had been an excellent 4th in a big field handicap over C&D. He had only been beaten 1 ½ lengths that day and arguably would have finished much closer if he had got a better run inside the final furlong. A progressive sprinter as a three year old this was only his 9th career start. Considering he was drawn nearer the stands side, all of the action was with those drawn low, he did very well to finish 3rd. There could be a nice pot in the speedy gelding before the season is out although he is a much better horse on quick going and a dry autumn is what he needs.
Thursday 18th August
Mustashry – Sir Michael Stoute – Had been a well fancied 12/1 in the Britannia Handicap at Royal Ascot two starts back but didn’t seem to handle the soft ground that day and finished down the field in 12th. He returned to Ascot last month and was a good winner of a Class 2 mile handicap. Clearly he liked the return to quicker ground as he did here. Well backed into 5/1 favourite at the off, the three year old did well to finish 2nd given he had been dropped in from his wide draw and the way the race was run it was never going to be easy for those horses coming from behind. With a better position I think he would have won this race and he can be rated higher than his run suggests. This was Group class performance by the colt but if the handicapper isn’t too harsh on him there could still be a nice handicap in him, maybe the Cambridgeshire although I notice he doesn’t seem to be in the ante post betting for that race. Another horse from the same race whose run can be upgraded is Spark Plug who also did well to finish as close as he did in 4th, considering where he was positioned in the race. The five year who was brought down well inside the final furlong when still in contention for the 2015 Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot is gradually working himself back into form and his 33/1 quote from Corals for the first leg of the Autumn Double looks good to me as long as he gets good or quicker ground.
Friday 19th August
First Up – Jeremy Noseda – Rivet was a good winner of this valuable maiden race for two year olds but a real eyecatcher was this son of Rip Van Winkle who was staying on steadily from the rea,r under a tender ride from jockey Jamie Spencer, to finish a 4 ½ length 5th at the finish. This race usually throws up plenty of future winners either at two or three and I will be surprised if this year’s renewal didn’t contain plenty of future winners too. Weak in the market at 25/1 the trainers runners usually need a run and come on plenty with experience.
I will be posting some more stat pointers on the forum this Saturday and lets hope it proves as useful and profitable as it did last week.
That’s it for now, and now all that’s left is to wish you a profitable weeks betting!