Unfortunately we were once again undone by Skype. We thought we were being clever as we wanted to have a chat before we did the Podcast itself and terminated that after 30 minutes, believing we could then start a new conversation that would not fall foul of the Skype issues we have been experiencing recently. We were wrong and just after 14 minutes in, Skype crashed.
Below you have the text we had both prepared, with our selections for racing taking place at Lingfield, Haydock and, the Kentucky Derby.
I am determined to try and keep the waffle down to a minimum (so you can stay awake) but I have to at least comment on the civil war between the Jockey Club and ARC over the proposed reduction in the number of races and or fixtures next year. In my fairly uneducated view we have polar opposites here, one a centuries old establishment who put any profits back in to their tracks via new facilities maintenance and so on – the other a modern company looking, quite rightly, to make money for their shareholders – and never the twain shall meet. The problem is simple enough – too much racing means small fields, a loss in betting turnover, and isn’t good for the sport – but life isn’t as simple as that. Broadly speaking the Jockey Club put on the better racing so they want the cull to be at the lower end – ARC unsurprisingly argue their races are better subscribed, and the cuts should come elsewhere – but the truth is far more complicated. If there were less lower-class races, would the same horses be effectively forced into the better races, giving us some more competitive handicaps – or is that thought a fantasy? Truth is, I don’t think anybody knows for certain, but what we do know is something needs to happen and fast – small fields are a turn off to us punters who will soon find other places to spend their hard-earned money.
On a more positive note, what did everyone else think of the Guineas last weekend? Firstly, I am made up for James Doyle who is one of the most unassuming jockeys I have had the privilege of spending time with and from a racing dynasty (try crossing his mother – I dare you), and it honestly could not have happened to anyone more deserving. Despite backing Native Trail (it’s only money I suppose), Coroebus was a worthy winner on the day, though there is a school of thought that if the Godolphin pair had swapped sides in the draw, the result would have been the other way round. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but take nothing away from a super ride as he stole first run on his stable companion and held him off quite comfortably at the line.
Sundays 1000 Guineas was more of a muddle in my eyes, with a mixture of would-be Oaks fillies and sprinters, with the winner perhaps the only true miler in the line-up. I am less convinced than some by the long-term value of the form with a 16/1 winner in Cachet, a 33/1 runner-up in Prosperous Voyage, and a one-paced third with Oaks hopeful Tuesday running on the spot in third. Taking nothing away from the winner I really do not feel this was a vintage renewal, and if we don’t see a better filly winning at Royal Ascot, I will be surprised.
And so, it’s time for the racing…
Generally won by a four or a five year old with the winner carrying more than 9st and trading first three on the tissue.
In the last 10 years we’ve seen six winning favourites, three of those coming in the last five years so if the tissue is right then the winner is one of:
- AL AASY
- THIRD REALM
The last five winners took this making seasonal debut so if that trends holds then we drop STOWELL.
Nothing drawn five has taken this in the last decade but both AL AASY and THIRD REALM are fine in that regard…in fact even better than that, eight of the last 10 winners were drawn in stalls two or five, and they are drawn two and five!
I’m going to suggest a two horse dutch to turn a profit but for Podcast purposes and a definitive selection, I’ll put up THIRD REALM simply because Haggas has not entered one for this in the last 10 years, whilst Varian has sent five, and won with two. He’s also the four year old and they have had the edge in recent times.
RON – THIRD REALM
The fact that I am delighted to see an eight-runner field tells its own story, and I had to decide between the short-priced favourite – and an each-way alternative. Cowardice has prevailed, and the wallet will open for the William Haggas trained Al Aaasy, who is being given a sensible return to the track without being overfaced ahead of bigger assignments. Gelded last summer after some good runs including wins at Group Three level, he didn’t really bounce back as hoped, but with another winter on his back, he will be bigger and stronger this season, and with his stable in good form, and eight pounds in hand according to the official ratings, he is difficult to oppose assuming he is race fit for his first start of the year.
SEAN – AL AASY
Spat my coffee out when I saw only five runners racing for nearly £39k to the winner but I shouldn’t be at all surprised….more disappointment than anything else now.
A 3-y-o colt wins it obviously and the market tells me it’ll be front three on the tissue (eight of the last 10 winners were), but the strong recent trend I’m seeing is for very lightly raced horses (no more than two runs), that arrive here having won last time out and, in that case, the only possible winner is NATURAL WORLD.
When he won at Newbury it was another instance of an apparent Appleby second string beating his better fancied stablemate as he won at 5/1, with Buick on OTTOMAN FLEET going off 11/8f and getting done a neck, despite Doyle dropping his whip.
Just half a length further back that day was LIONEL, who currently sits fourth favourite on 7/1 tomorrow.
I can only see NATURAL WORLD improving for that debut run but he’s second favourite to another stable companion WALK OF STARS….who was yet another Appleby second string to be beating the favourite from the same yard (is Buick REALLY such a bad judge, or is something “dark” going on?).
I’m going with all of the trends and putting up NATURAL WORLD.
RON – NATURAL WORLD
A small but select field for the Lingfield Derby trial next, but I am less convinced than the rest of the racing media that this is all over bar the shouting – and I won’t be having a bet. Walk Of Stars was less than impressive when winning by a neck at Newbury and should not be odds-on in my view, not with the Aidan O’Brien beginning to fire in winners left right and centre and represented by United nations who looked likely to improve when fourth at Epsom on his return. Add in the unbeaten supposed Godolphin second-string Natural World, and this looks more competitive than I would like it to be, so its Walk Of Stars for me – but with very little confidence.
SEAN – WALK OF STARS
We had a 28/1 winner of this last year but before that the only double figure priced winner in the last 10 years was HONOR BOUND in 2014. We’ve also seen five winning favourites, two in the last three years, both trained by John Gosden, who has saddled three of the last five winners of this race.
The horse I’m taken with is EMILY DICKENSON, trained by Aiden O’Brien, who has sent five for this, won with one, placed with two others.
On seasonal debut she ran fifth to ABOVE THE CURVE and THOUGHTS OF JUNE, who franked that form running home first and second in the Cheshire Oaks on Wednesday.
In fourth, just over a length ahead of EMILY DICKENSON, was RED AZALEA. Second time up EMILY DICKENSON went off a short priced favourite to reverse that form over 10 furlongs and led in the final strides to win cosily by a neck.
She is nailed on to improve for this step up in trip and unless Gosden’s BELT BUCKLE is something special, I think we have a straight CSF here, EMILY DICKENSON to beat BELT BUCKLE.
RON – EMILY DICKENSON / BELT BUCKLE (CSF)
Emily Dickinson still looked pretty green when winning at Naas last time out and can only improve as she gains in experience, but I get the feeling that the Gosden’s have a string full of top-class fillies this year, and that Belt Buckle is being sent here as a test to see just how good the others really are. She won by a neck first time out at Wolverhampton on the all-weather but should prove to be even better over further and on the grass, and her stable have won three of the last five running’s of this race which has to be a positive, though in all honestly not one of these runners has proved they are up to Listed class let alone a classic, and this is anything but a vintage renewal.
SEAN – BELT BUCKLE
If you saw ALDAARY winning the Balmoral Handicap you’ll have most likely said to yourself (as I did), Group horse in a handicap.
He’s a four year old and percentage wise, they have a great record in this. Only 22 have represented them in the last 10 years and they’ve won four and placed in five.
If you are carrying less than 9st 7lb in this, stay in your box so that bye bye to BOUNCE THE BLUES, the current third favourite. With nine of the last 10 winners trading front three in the market that means I have to look to AL ADAARY or ROYAL COMMANDO for my winner.
If both I….and the official handicapper are right about ALDAARY (he’s rated 6lb superior to ROYAL COMMANDO), THEN HE WINS THIS BEFORE GOING INTO Group races.
RON – ALDAARY
Sometimes I wonder why I bother when we have an odds-on favourite in Aldaary but so be it, and who is to say he is the proverbial good thing anyway? He did win his last two races of 2021 at Ascot in class two handicaps, and his stable are in good form – but I cannot agree with his price for an instant. I haven’t been drinking (well, not yet), but I am going to oppose him with a silly bet here at a massive price. Sir Dancelot used to be in the hands of the now retired David Elsworth where he won 10 races, eight of them over the seven furlongs he faces here, with four of those at Group Two level, something the favourite simply cannot boast. Rated 116 at his peak that is 2lb higher than the jolly, and although not at that form recently with a fifth in the Group Two Lennox Stakes at Goodwood in 2020 his last start, who is to say his winnings days are behind him? Now in the care of John Butler, we do have to take his fitness on trust after such a long time off the track, but at 25/1 or bigger there are reasons to think he could go well, and at that price, how can I resist a little each way punt – just in case.
SEAN – SIR DANCEALOT E.W.
At this stage of the season I’d always take the older horses to beat the 3-y-o’s as they have not yet quite caught up as regards maturity etc….a different ball game after Royal Ascot, as you’ll see. It’s amazing what a difference those two months will make.
Two 3-y-o’s have managed to win this in the last decade but none since 2016 and five of the last six running’s have gone to four years olds (3), and five year olds (2).
This all means we need to be looking for horses carrying more than 9st and we also need to be looking towards to head of the market, too. Six of the last 10 winners traded front three, and that also includes the last four winners, too.
Having ruled out the 3-y-o’s that means one of SHE DO or CHOCOYA wins tomorrow.
Two things tell me to go with SHE DO.
Firstly, she is 2lb (officially), the better horse and, Roger Varian’s horses are flying right now, a superb 74% RTF figure proof of that.
Interesting that Henry De Bromhead sends WREN’S BREATH over and if money came I’d be considering a safety blanket might be needed but right now SHE DO does for me
RON – SHE DO
When you have a Group Three contest and only one runner is rated 100 or more, then you really must worry about the state of British racing at this exact moment in time. The filly concerned is the Richard Hannon trained Symphony Perfect, a daughter of Fast Company who has already won in Listed class at Newmarket in the Bosra Sham Stakes last October, and she ran her best race of this year when second to Tippy Toes at Chelmsford. That race was over six furlongs, but she ran on well at the death, and although historically three-year-olds don’t have a great record in this race, I am hoping she can be the exception to that rule at an each-way price.
SEAN – SYMPHONY PERFECT E.W
Churchill Downs 11.57pm
The Kentucky Derby and this has thrown up some interesting result in recent years, last year a 27/1 shot, and in 2019, COUNTRY HOUSE won it for Bill Mott @ 65/1.
Interesting story regarding one of the fancied horses, EPICENTER. He is owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds, which was started way back when, after a bloke called Verne Winchell made millions selling doughnuts. He was called the Donut King and in 1982 a horse owned by him, called DONUT KING, was well fancied but missed the race due to injury.
Now we move forward 60 years and they have another well fancied for it and, if he wins it, it’s all down to doughnuts.
American form means nothing to me I’m afraid so what I’ve done is scour the American websites for hints, tips and clues.
We have a Sneezy Foster/Gordon Elliott situation here in that a guy called Tim Yakteen is down as the trainer of MESSIER who was, until his ban came into force, trained by Bob Baffert. As Baffert has supplied three of the last seven winners of this I expect “Sneezy” Yakteen’s runner to go well.
John Velazquez has been booked to ride and he has ridden two of the last five winners.
The two horses that most of the pundits over there are suggesting are most likely to succeed are ZANDON or EPICENTER but they head the market and with this very much being a fun punters race this side of the Atlantic, I thought I’d try and read between all their lines and have come up with a 20/80, MO DONEGAL, currently around the 10/1 mark, runs for the trainer who saddled the 2017 winner, Todd Pletcher, yet to finish out of the first three and a winner of three of his last five races.
He’ll do for a laugh!
RON – MO DONEGAL
And so we move on to the Kentucky Derby, the one race I have focussed on during a star-studded racecard at Churchill Downs and one of the most important if not THE most important on the American calendar. Bob Baffert has won this race three times in the last seven years (four if you include the disqualified Medina Spirit last season), but he is conspicuous by his absence as the courts decide if his ban should stand or not – and for how long. Step forward the little-known Tim Yakteen, who has officially taken on some of the Baffert horses, but is seen by some as the name on the paperwork (think Gordon Elliott and Sneezy Foster). He has both Taiba and Messier in here, first and second in the Santa Anita Derby and in with solid chances here. I don’t want to even think about the fall out if either of those two come home in front (with preference for the former with Mike Smith in the saddle), and my thoughts lie with two alternatives. Blue Grass Stakes winner Zandon has been catching the eye of those getting up early in the mornings to watching them work (many of my friends among them), but they have also been pretty taken with Crown Pride, who is five times the price. To the best of my knowledge, no Japanese horse has even tried to win the Kentucky Derby before let alone been successful, but connections of the son of Reach The Crown are breaking new ground. Lightly raced with four starts, three of them winning ones, including the UAE Derby at Meydan last time out, he has been really catching the eye in his morning spins, and with the excellent Christophe-Patrice Lemaire in the saddle (to use his full name), he won’t be lacking any assistance from the saddle and could surprise them all at a massive price.
SEAN – CROWN PRIDE
3 – AGAPANTHER – 14/1 > 15/2 – WON 8/1
2 – CHARLIE’S YARD – 16/1 > 10/1 – WON 3/1
1 – LILANDRA – 50/1 > 16/1 – WON 25/1
SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKEND
RON – EMILY DICKENSON / ALDAARY – DOUBLE
SEAN – SYMPHONY PERFECT E.W.