Well, autumn has arrived and you can tell that season has changed with the end of evening turf horse racing as the nights draw in. September can be a very cruel month for punters as the ground can change quickly away from summer quick ground, as we saw at Haydock on Saturday. But there’s still plenty of top class horse racing to look forward to in the next 6 weeks or so. Indeed starting this week with the four-day Doncaster St Leger Festival, Irish Champions Weekend and the Arc trials over the English Channel.
As I mentioned last week September is a change month for me, as it’s the time to start looking at those flat horses that have done well in September and October in the past and those that appreciate ease in the ground. If the weather forecasters are correct though we could be looking at a dry & warm week ahead both sides of the Irish Sea, so it could be quick ground or at the very least good ground for the top class racing at the weekend and if we do it will be excellent news indeed!
Before I look at this week horses I will have a brief look back at Saturday’s big race action at Haydock.
Time for Reflection at Haydock
Haydock’s three-day meeting began on good to firm ground and a longstanding track record was almost broken. By the end of racing on Saturday the ground was bordering on heavy and what should have been the showpiece flat meeting of the season at the course was run in some of the worst weather you can imagine. In fact, I doubt the weather or ground will be much worse come Betfair Chase Day in November.
The two big races of Saturday were the Group 1 32Red Sprint Cup and the Old Borough Cup also sponsored by the online bookmaker. Both races were a triumph for trainer Karl Burke whose Quiet Reflection won the big sprint and Intense Tango made all to take the 1m 6f handicap.
Quiet Reflection the winner of the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot on good to soft ground and an excellent 3rd to Limato in the July Cup on ground that was a shade too quick for her. The ante-post favourite for the race Limato was unsurprisingly a non-runner due to the softening of the ground. His defection did take away some of the gloss away from the race but take nothing away from the filly who travelled powerfully through the race only had to be pushed out inside the final furlong to win by 1 ½ lengths from the slowly away The Tin Man. The winner now heads for the Sprint on Champion’s Day and if she gets some cut in the ground she will be a tough nut to crack in that race. The second would have preferred the rain to stay away and his chance went at the start in all truth. But on the plus point, he continues to improve with racing and he will look to take on the winner again at Ascot. If he can get better ground there and get off on level terms it should be a good rematch. Of the others behind the first two Mr Lupton, a previous eye catcher and another who wasn’t best away outrun his 25/1 odds and was keeping on well to finish 5th, beaten just over 5 lengths at the line. The three-year-old has an entry in the Ayr Gold Cup and given his liking for a big field he won’t be one to dismiss lightly if he goes for that race. He can be backed at 33/1 for that race.
Intense Tango was the only runner in the Old Borough Cup that was likely to make the pace and she broke quickly to get the front and was never headed. The mare was given a good ride by 7lb claimer Clifford Lines who really slipped his field at the bend taking 5 lengths or so out of the field. That move by the jockey was a winning move as none of her rivals were able to threaten. The second Montaly and the fourth Magic Circle were staying on well at the finish but were never going to get to catch the winner. Arguably the eyecatcher of the race was the 5th placed horse Justice Belle (more on her later).
A final mention has to go to one of our tracker horses Cosmeapolitan who was travelling powerfully and like the winner till two out. He just didn’t stay the extra two furlongs but a return to 1m 4f can see him back in the winner’s enclosure off his career high mark. No doubt trainer Alan King will be looking at starting his juvenile hurdling career sooner rather than later and if takes to hurdles he could be an interesting horse to follow in that code too given his ability to handle soft ground.
This Week’s Eyecatchers
As you will notice in the next month or so the number of flat tracker horses will be reducing, as I start to look at the jumps season with some exciting profitable angles and ante-post bets with next year’s Cheltenham Festival in mind. There are just the three eyecatchers for you this week but I will be adding two more well-handicapped horses, set to go well in the coming weeks, exclusively for Eyecatcher Pro subscribers.
Tuesday 30th August
Meandmyshadow – Alan Brown – The eight-year-old has yet to get into the winners enclosure this year but the mare has dropped to a winning mark, being 1lb lower than for her last win back in October. Her jockey probably set to strong a pace and she did well to finish as close as she did at the finish in the circumstances. Has shown enough this year to think there is a handicap in her before the season ends. Is ground versatile although better on decent ground, worth mentioning that she is 0/12 1 place on soft or heavy going. Five of her thirteen career wins have come in September & October and the booking of jockeys Dale Swift 7/35 15 places or Robert Winston 2/9 4 places would be extra positives. A drop back to 0 to 75 company should also be noted.
Thursday 1st September
Beaverbrook – Mark Johnston – The three-year-old is now 1/17 and the colts win at Chester back in May 2015 remains his sole win. Has seemed to have improved with the step up to middle distances and three starts back had run better than his final position of 7th suggests in a valuable 1m 4f handicap at Glorious Goodwood. He was almost tailed off on his next start at Newmarket but that race may have come too quick after his Goodwood exertions. This was a much better performance from the son of Cape Cross who was a beaten only 1 & ½ into 4th. He didn’t seem to get the clearest of runs at the furlong mark so this run can be marked up a bit. Looks on a winnable mark even if his right distance is still unclear!
Saturday 3rd September
Justice Belle – Ed Walker – Was making her belated seasonal reappearance in the Old Borough Cup. The four-year-old was progressive last year over middle distances winning at Lingfield and Kempton last summer before ending her turf season with an excellent 3rd in a valuable 1m 4f Class 2 handicap at Newmarket back in October. Was having her first run over 1m 6f and given she was held up to get the trip ran a very encouraging race in finishing 5th. Given how testing the going was she stayed the trip well enough and this gives her a few more options now. The filly is also effective on the all weather and unexposed in that sphere being 1 from 3 2 places on the synthetics. Another go at the distance looks likely especially if she gets better ground.
That’s it for now. I will be taking a look back at this week’s big racing action in the next week’s column and now all that’s left is to wish you a profitable Doncaster St Leger Festival.