Another small field on softer ground at Folkestone today and the usual
structure to the race field. Last year the six runner field - Result
- included one each from Channon & Hannon, a second time out runner
from a reliable trainer who won and some interest in the others to see
what potential they had.
The Channon runner last year was a seller class runner
from an owner bred source and his representative here with Strictly
Royal has the same profile. By the first season sire Imperial Dancer,
whom the trainer handled and stands at his Norman Court Stud, out of a
mare who showed no worthwhile form. The trainer's debut runners haven't
gone well to date for the most part and he can probably be ruled out for
Trainer John Spearing has targeted the Bath meeting (the day
before this race in 2008) to introduce his early usable 2yos. He had a
targeted seller winner there in 2006 and would probably have won the same
race in 2007 with a newcomer but for it having to be left a non-runner.
He also introduced a later nursery winner on the same card. Leaving aside
the FTO seller win in each of the last two seasons his debut runners do
not normally compete well. He used to develop horses with racing and had
a good record of winning outside seller company with horses who broke their
maiden in sellers for him.
Either way his filly Soul Sista is by a sire who has got the odd
precocious 5f winner in each of his first 3 seasons although. The mare
was limited quality but a competent winner rating around OR50 in her older
years. Not a profile to trouble the places here and interesting she didn't
start in yesterday's Bath seller to some extent. Of minor interest to see
where she can develop to but presumably up to winning a seller somewhere
down the line.
Trainer Michael Quinlan (the gangly Irishmen who always get
interviewed is his brother Noel and you never hear Michael speak) is notable
for loading the front section of his debuts each season with the competent
2yos. The following is a quote from the 'FTO P&L Track' article in
relation to his recent record :- "Another trainer notable for ready
debuts who produced profits for this period in 2003-5. Less good 2yos have
led to no debut winner in the March to May period in 2006-7 with a late
start in 2006 contributing to the record. However, debut places in those
years with the competitive 2yos, although they lacked strong ability, suggest
he still will get the debut wins with the right horses."
Sorrel Ridge looks a bit short in the quality department as well
is this is a tough race but ought to be a good gauge of the readiness of
the trainer's string. You would think he could hand in there with the top
two on profile better than the others before fading back in the final furlong
to 3rd or perhaps second if one of the top ranked underperforms.
With the rest of the field covered we come to the top pair and an interesting
match between a runner with 'experience' and one with the profile to be
a better debut for Mr Hannon. Paul Cole has started the season strongly
with his whole string and has already got a winner with his other 2yo runner.
Northern Tour ran in the Brocklesby and put in a laughably inept
first part of the race. On the plus side he was the only runner to make
worthwhile ground in the second half of the race against the favoured front
runners who raced near the rails (5 of the first 6 home were in the first
6 at halfway). Another plus in that he made progress towards centre field
away from the advantageous rail. We have perhaps already seen a hint of
that advantage with the 9th Saxford (raced far side to centre) beating
the stands' rail 3rd (Knavesmire) when they met again.
But, he presents a dilemma because despite the promise he showed he has
to prove he has learnt from the experience. On top of that he has a non-5f
pedigree and would probably always be vulnerable to a real 5f type later
in the race. You feel he might reach full potential after a break over
6-7f after mid-season and he would probably be put away if Mr Cole could
get him the win here. So, good promise on debut and perfectly possible
he can win here depending upon the opposition. He ought to have the others
covered unless Sorrel Ridge is better than the tin says so the question
is how good is Celtic Commitment?
As covered in yesterday's preview, in relation to Hannon's second runner
April Pride (this written prior to that race), the trainer if very consistent
about how he chooses which types to run where each year. The first 3-4
runners would typically include 1 x very useful (often start out at Kempton
& often win FTO), 1 x above average (probable dual winner and might
win on debut in a the right race), 1 x below average who might find a small
win and a duff one. His intended runner in this race last year was withdrawn
at the start. He had a break but proved to be a dual winner who won on
debut on May 25th when making it back to the course.
Celtic Commitment looks more likely to be the 'dual
winner' type on profile and has prospects to beat whatever level Northern
Tour can improve to. His sire has produced early season winners in each
of his three seasons with runners including on softer ground. He's had
two of the six winners of the first pair of early races at this course
in 2005-7, for example. The dam is more stoutly bred and won a 7f claimer
for Mark Prescott in July as a juvenile and was claimed for £4,000.
Typically, Mr Prescott knew what he was doing and she never improved and
took until 4yo to manage another OR50s rated win. She's produced development,
staying, types with her winners to date. In that sense it's ought to be
a good sign he's running this early for a reliable set of judges like Hannon
and his jockeys. He's either no good, on balance pretty unlikely, or probably
an above average winner.
In summary a small field but a fascinating set-up at the head of
the profile and hopefully Hannon will help to get this year's juvenile
scene moving with a better type. Northern Tour provides further clues regarding
the Brocklesby and is probably plain better than the horses he finished
with an just behind at Doncaster. Each of Sorrel Ridge, Strictly Royal
& Soul Sista are probable season winners although the last two probably
in claimer company or below and perhaps Sorrel Ridge as well.