We can safely say the horse racing turf flat season is kicking into gear as the first two British Classics the 1000 & 2000 Guineas are now behind us and with Chester’s May Festival coming up this week and York’s Dante Meeting also coming up in the next week or so there will be plenty of horses that you will want in for your trackers for the coming weeks.
There are three notebook horses this week but I have also added another four tracker horses to the software for exclusive use of Eyecatcher Pro subscribers.
Before looking at this week’s eyecatchers, I will have a look back at Newmarket’s Guinea’s weekend. For those of you new to the column I like to begin by having a look back at the weekend’s action or if there has been a Festival the previous week I will also take a look at that too.
Newmarket Qipco Guineas Weekend Review
It’s Gold for Palmer but Exosphere Takes the Eye
Hugo Palmer is a trainer very much on the up and having won his first Classic last season with Covert Love taking the Irish Oaks and, he added this year’s 2000 Guineas with an impressive performance by Galileo Gold. Arguably the weakest in the betting of the fancied horses before the off, he won the race by a fairly comfortable 1 ½ lengths despite hanging towards the stands side inside the final furlong and having raced keenly in the first part of the race. Inevitably the talk afterwards was about a tilt at the Derby and although his pedigree gives slight hope that he can get the 1m 4f at Epsom I doubt it myself and not even the 12/1 that is still available for that race would tempt me to back him. I don’t think I am being controversial when I say I don’t think was the best 2000 Guineas we have seen recently although I would expect that this likeable son of Paco Boy to be competitive in Group 1’s at a mile this season and he could well eventually be worth a try at a 1m 2f. The hot favourite for the race Air Force Blue was beaten two furlong out and it remains to be seen if the colt has trained on from two to three.
The Group 3 Palace House Stakes went to the Clive Cox Profitable. The four year old looks to have done well from three to four and 5f on good ground looks to be his optimum distance. The son of Invincible Spirit’s next target will be the Group 1 King Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot and he is a best priced 20/1 with Coral for that race. There will be worse bets in that race and he looks worth a modest ante post bet at those odds.
Folkswood took the final race on the card the mile handicap in good style. The three year old who had won a Goodwood maiden on his last start back in August ran on to strongly for his rivals here, had looked on a good handicap mark before the race and is highly regarded by his trainer Charlie Appleby. He is entered in the Irish 2000 Guineas but whether that race comes to quick for him or not he is on the upgrade and looks worth following in the coming weeks.
I have kept the best performance visually till last. Sir Michael Stoute hasn’t had the best of horses under his care in recent years and not since Workforce has he had a colt that could go on to win Group 1 level over middles distances but he could have with Exosphere. The four year old has been given plenty of time to develop physically and mentally and that patience looks to have been rewarded. As a three year old arguably his best performance came on his final start when 3rd in a listed race at Ayr in September. He travelled powerfully at the back of the field and swept by his rivals at the furlong mark. This performance came as a surprise to connections and to be fair the favourite Jack Hobbs ran no sort of race and was pulled up before the finish but there is no doubting he could go to the top over 1m 4f this summer and on the evidence of this run and could easily be competitive over 1m 2f. Connections look to have plenty to look forward too.
Minding takes the 1000 Guineas for Coolmore!
Andre Fabre is a trainer to note when bringing a horse to run over the Rowley course and he is now 6/14 43% +13 9 places 64% with his runners here in the past 5 seasons. His filly Usherette was always going to be worth a second look and she was well supported before the off. Given a confident ride by Mickael Barzalona, held up at the back of the field she made her effort on the inside and her length victory doesn’t do justice to how much better she was than her rivals here. Clearly the better ground and the decent gallop suited her and although she had race fitness on her side having won two races on the all weather in France this spring she looks to be getting better with racing.
John Gosden took the final two races on the day with Swiss Range putting up an impressive performance to win the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes over 1m 2f and looks set to head over to France for the Prix Diane (The French Oaks), a race her trainer won last year with Star of Seville, The strong looking colt Taqdeer had seemed to be on a good handicap mark before the race and he was well backed before the off to make a winning turf debut in this 1m 2f handicap. The three year old came with a powerful run to get up just before the line and can go on to better things.
Well Aiden O’Brien will have been disappointed with the running of Air Force Blue in the 2000 Guineas but he had the 1, 2 & 3 here. The form of last years Moyglare Stakes was upheld here as the first three home in that race were the first three here again and in the same order.
Minding who had been so impressive when winning the fillies mile over C&D last year took the first classic for the fillies and she was just as impressive here and the Oaks is definitely now on her agenda and she could well take in the Irish 1000 Guineas beforehand. What I like about the filly, she hasn’t the instant acceleration of a Kingman, but she has turn of foot that she can sustain for a long period which marks her down as a really high class filly who could turn out to be one of the best in many years. She will be hard to beat this season and can hold her own against the colts later in the season. There is a slight doubt about 1m 4f on breeding but she is rightly a hot favourite for the Epsom Oaks given undoubted class.
Ballydoyle didn’t get the best of runs on her first seasonal start but was staying on well at the finish to take 2nd. Clearly she has trained on from two to three and is a Group 1 filly in the making on the evidence of this run although probably not as good as her stablemate. I was also taken with the performance of the third Alice Springs who didn’t have the pace of the other two filly’s but is on the upgrade and on breeding shouldn’t have no issues with the Oaks trip as her full sister was a close up third over that trip in the Ribblesdale Stakes. There is a chance she could go for the French 1000 Guineas but I hope she goes for the Oaks as she clearly likes good going and the 20/1 widely available for that race looks each way value to me!
This Weeks Eyecatchers
Wednesday April 27th
Burmese – Marcus Tregoning – Was last seen winning a Class 3 handicap over Ascot two miles back in October but he showed here that he is a stayer on the upgrade and has trained on well from 3 to 4. Stepping up to Group class and on ground that would have been a shade softer than he liked he was staying on well at the finish to take 4th in the Group 3 Sagaro Stakes. The way he was finishing his race suggests the extra half mile of the Ascot Gold Cup could bring out even more improvement in this son of Sir Percy. Granted he would have to improve to take a hand in the Gold Cup but he has only had seven career starts so he can still improve further for an longer distance. Bookies don’t rate his chance for the race but I couldn’t resist a modest bet on the horse at 66/1. Can win races over marathon trips this summer on the evidence of this performance!
Saturday April 30th
Arthenus – James Fanshawe – The four year old was making his seasonal reappearance, after being off the course since winning at York handicap in October, and was well backed to make a winning one. The race was won by his last fancied stablemate Knight Owl but he ran a race full of promise for the season ahead. Only finished 6th here but was only beaten 2 ¼ lengths at the line despite not getting the best of runs at the at the furlong mark. All three of his wins have come on good to soft and it will be interesting to see if he needs some cut in the ground or will be able to handle a much quicker surface. The four year old was slow to come to hand last year but after a gelding operation won three races from August to October and could well be the sort of horse that is at his best in the second half of the season. That said he is one for the notebook as he is highly regarded by his trainer who thinks he can progress further this year and win some decent races.
Right Touch – Richard Fahey – The six year old looked to be progressing nicely when taking a Class 2 handicap at Ascot over 6f and Class 3 handicap at Ayr back in September. Had run credibly on his two starts this season but was back to his best here with a strong finishing 4th in this 7f handicap. Only beaten a length at the line, despite being well to the rear at the furlong mark. He will probably go up a few pounds for this run but is only 2lb higher than his last winning mark. Has yet prove he stays a mile but his trainer thinks he can and he will be worth another go at that trip.. Jamie Spencer won on the horse last year and he would be the ideal pilot for the horse for this hold up performer but apprentice Adam McNamara’s 7lb claim can also be utilised to good effect as Jack Garrity’s has been in the past by the trainer. Is 0/4 on good to firm ground and looks at his best on good or good to soft going which is 6/17 on. In the right hands to progress further and there could be a decent handicap in the horse this season if all the cards fall right for the horse.
For those of you with long memories I put up Steve Rogers as a possible for the Chester Cup after his unlucky run from a wide draw in last years Cesarewitch! He showed his well being with a win at Kempton and hopefully some of you took the 20/1 that was still available after that win. The horse has got a nice single figure draw and is as low as 7/2 for the race now! Win lose or draw you have a value bet if your on at 33/1, like me, or the 20/1.
All that’s left is to wish you a profitable weeks betting.