Good evening from the Major who writes from a close Worcestershire evening air, stifling and uncomfortable.
Thank goodness Ascot is behind me. I can only say that it was a non stop unending catastrophe. I started with a solid idea of the group winners, decent form in my mind concerning the leading three year olds and a small war chest with which to undertake the campaign. I managed to overcome those issues with incredible deftness to leave the week pot-less. Following the Major at Royal Ascot was your fast route to the poorhouse.
The dust has settled. This is a brief post as the Major is dedicating his weekend to the garden. As such, we shall head straight to the sports.
It is strange you might consider that the Major is spending some time on the Lingfield Saturday card but @rjcoughlan is attending and I said I would, for what it is worth.
Going to Lingfield for the racing is not high on the Major’s list of ways to spend the time until we face our final reckoning. That is because I typically associate Lingfield with the sandy dog track; where low-grade racehorses trade handicap positions, skullduggery and gambling plots unfold and my only usual advice would be to back Robert Tart, Adam Kirby or Neil Callan… either that or stick a pin in the card.
Yet Lingfield boasts a rather fine turf course whose attributes are slightly undulating, sharp left hand turns but a reasonable long straight in which normally, horses get their run. I like it.
In the opener, I would have to be on Banadeer whose debut race I watched where he finished a close up second having possible been out fought on the run in. That might give some cause for concern regarding attitude but I think the colt did well having broken a little badly, he made up good ground and travelled well, these two year olds can learn a lot from run to run and since that was the best form on offer anyway, I think the odds on shot should go in easily enough in the opener.
There are a few competing for favouritism in the second and the Majors fancy is one of them. Indian Tinker looks the most obvious call having shown a return to form last time where he chased Cincinnati Kid home at Leicester. While just over a length short of the winner, he was three clear of old warrior Methaaly in third. A repeat effort will see him win at 5/2.
The third race is a fillies handicap in which I am struggling to see past the Lady Cecil trained, handicap debutant Tomintoul at 5/1. Moma Lee is a the 2/1 favourite but I think my selection if putting the best foot forward (not guaranteed) has an excellent chance of getting upsides.
The 7.25 is a four runner affair and in these, I am always swayed by jockey booking. Apart from horse ability, I always considered jockey booking the most significant factor in calculating my horses probability of winning and I think the emphasis on jockey is greater in extreme small or large fields where timing, tactics and putting the horse in the best position are amplified in influence.
In the Majors view Bishop < Keniry < Doyle < Queally. Thus the selection is 8/1 rank outsider Santo Prince who has yet to run well this year but might find this small field a good chance to find a love of racing again.
Then the racing switches to the fibresand and the first of the last three races is a seller… Right Stuff is destined to be the odds on favourite but I think I am going against and backing Proud Times at a forecast 4/1. The horse has some talent but has had some significant issues and faded badly on a return from another big break latest. I am pinning hopes that the lung opener there and Adam Kirbys assistance can do the business.
In the penultimate race, I am backing Hello Sailor to outrun 9/1 odds. His last run was too bad to be true and the soft conditions probably had something to do with it. Point of Control would be of huge interest if the money comes and Duchess of Gazeley also caught the eye in a race where it was hard to narrow the thoughts.
In the last, Harbinger Lass makes easily the most appeal. I think Channon must have thought she was better than this class as she has been in some much hotter races to date.
The field for the renewal of the Northumberland Plate is absolutely top-notch. I want to increase our chances in this race by ignoring anything over 9 stone as only two horses have shouldered more than that to victory in the last twenty years. However, it feels a dangerous tactic as the field quality in 2013 is unusually high.
Yet lurking nearer the base of the weights is Mubaraza a Dalakhani colt trained by Ed Dunlop and ridden by Paul Hanagan. The jockey had a nasty fall at Ascot on Ektihaam but he has been riding brilliantly this week and I think he will give us a great run for our money.
The Curragh – Irish Derby Day
The quality racing on Saturday is happening on the Curraghs evening shift. Moving the Irish Derby to be run in the early evening was an interesting move but not one the Major is entirely opposed to. @limerickjfk and his band of merry men shall be on course and the Major wishes you the finest of fortune.
Watching Friday Curragh action, the form of O’Brien struck me. He had seven runners and two winners which is not at all shoddy. In there though, he had three favourites unplaced, including a 4/6 shot and some of those runners performed particularly badly. I am not agin him entirely, more I tread a little more warily than usual.
My reading of the Curragh card is as follows.
The opening maiden looks a penalty kick for Intensified if you trust the market which prices him at 1/3. Not surprising really as the form tie with War Command who was easily the most impressive Royal Ascot winner for the Major is excellent. However, I am wary of horses with excuses, particularly those tied to better form. Intensified also has tied form with Sir John Hawkins so it looks rock solid.
Second on the card, in the listed race, I am supporting 6/1 shot Flashy Approach. This horse is making a huge step up from a debut maiden win to compete with seasoned campaigners but I like the connections and I like the breeding. New Approach is already a leading sire this season and this is going to further improve in the years to come as he gets a better quality crop of mares to cover. As it is Flashy Approach is out of a Group 2 winner. Load the Cannons, John Oxx will have him ready.
21 runners in the handicap and 6/1 the field tells you something… Gathering Power is current favourite and after Royal Ascot, who would argue against Mr Murtagh, he is showing irresistible form from the saddle. I prefer Akira at 14/1 who gave Tropical Mist a good beating when winning on his second start. I also think Majestic Queen should not be 20/1 either so will have a small saver. Dangers aplenty!
It goes from the difficult to the mind bending as the 4.45 is the 30 runner sprint which is currently 10/ the field! I am taking a stab at Bajan Tryst who is a massive 28/1 as I type with BetVictor. These sprinters swap form like anyones business and so the key is not to be too hung up on literal readings. Instead, find a decent jockey and a sprinter that looked like he was heading the right way ( as mine was last time when a little unlucky). Tick the boxes of capability, jockey and form and you have a contender.
The Railway Stakes is more solvable, particularly with Coach House who was second to the excellent American raider No Nay Never at Royal Ascot in the field. I am not that convinced that Coach House will beat Stubbs who was in the Coventry and finished 6th but had raced on the wrong side. I would prefer to have a slice of the stable second string at 4/1, a price I suspect might drift.
In the Sapphire Stakes I am opting for Slade Power. The horse was a Pricewise pick at Ascot and would surely have played a better pat if breaking on terms. That was uncharacteristic and if coming out of the stalls, I expect a very good run. 7/2, fill your boots.
The Irish Derby
Libetarian has passed into the hands of Godolphin and they are looking for some immediate payback as the horse has another crack at Ruler of the World and Galileo Rock from the first three home in the Epsom Derby.
You have to admire the record of O’Brien in this race, he has won the last seven renewals.. A role call including Camelot, Fame and Glory and Dylan Thomas.
Whether Ruler of the World is in that category, we shall see. Yet I think odds-against cannot be ignored. The horse is unbeaten He won the derby on an unusual undulating and cambered track having crossed a sea. If Libetarian and Galileo Rock fans think their own hard luck stories give them a rightful expectation of overturning the form, I think they are wrong.
It is often easy to look at a placed horse and concoct a reason as to why the horse was unlucky. Yet in doing so, you ignore the fact that the horse WAS unlucky. It is no certainty that over a fairer track that either of the Derby runner ups will get to Ruler of the World. If anything, I think the latter might improve further back on home soil on a course that should suit better.
The one I worry about as a fly in the ointment is 9/1 shot Sugar Boy but on balance, I think the odds against price of Ruler of the World is a signal that European recession and Austerity is being bought to a close. Steak tonight!
The Lucky Last
If we end up needing the lucky last, we are in big trouble.
Any Willie Mullins horses redirected to the flat need to be respected and so Call me Bubbles is of interest.
Abou Ben is an extraordinary entry. At the tender age of 11, he is in resurgent form and can defy the latest rise in the weights. Many might be put of by his switch from soft to firm ground but not me. He has won on it before so why worry?
I am playing my get out card on Fanaan Aldaar at 25/1 who is just out of the handicap proper but I am not concerned.
The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Hello Sailor, Harbinger Lass, Tomintoul and Muburaza.
Courage, roll those dice.