The Preview will spend as much time reviewing the recent races as the two
events on Saturday. It is difficult to know what words would adequately
convey the dreadful quality of the Class 4 maiden at Doncaster.
There are more moderate and worse equine athletes than better class ones
and a maiden like this in later season would often have a strong representation
of lower class horses. They would be there for development runs or because
the owner was local or some other reason. But, amongst the field would
be a group of average, or better, quality horses who you could concentrate
on trying to assess.
They have all gone missing for this race and we are left with 8 moderate
ones, and worse. It is actually more unpromising than that because not
only do they present as poor profiles in quality terms they mostly represent
trainers with poor records with 2yos. Added to that none of the newcomers
are from stables who you would expect to 'prime one' for a debut run. It
is so thin with quality as to be transparent, it takes unprepossessing
to new heights. You get the picture. If any pundit uses the phrase "..
dropping down from a Class 4 last time..." about one of the runners
on a subsequent outing they ought to be reprimanded, or preferably sacked.
The one runner with 'experience' is Come On Buckers
who was a paddock negative on debut and looked claimer class at best. Lightly
built, narrow, underpowered and so on. We have seen what a ready David
Evans 2yos who has some ability can do this early int he season with She's
A Shaw Thing & Kingswinford. Even a more limited pony like Smalljohn
took his field along to the furlong pole before slowly folding. This one
added incompetence on his Leicester debut and his 4th place depended on
picking off some faders having failed to get into the race. But, and it's
a very large BUT, he comes out top on profile here but with a rating of
Without naming names, because there's little point, the newcomers all cost
5,000 guineas or less at the yearling sales or are owner/trainer breds
with poor pedigrees. This is getting the chisel out and head first into
the, err.., barrel. Two of the six are by stallions who won over 2 miles
and are at stud for the NH, P-2-P and event horse markets (And Beyond &
Yoshka siring 5f winners in April??).
Only 2 of the 6 trainers with FTO horses have ever had a debut winner.
Tim Easterby runs the 'expensive' 5,000 guineas sales retainee Monsieur
Jourdain but he is a below average debut win trainer. We should look
out for what he runs in the Ripon maiden in mid-April but otherwise he
wouldn't feature as a 'FTO trainer'. His runner in the Brocklesby was well
behind for example.
The other is Mel Brittain who back in 1990s got FTO successes
and had a notable increase in juveniles in 2007. One of those managed an
accidental FTO win aided by the Ayr rail bias. His two debut runners to
date this season have been a competent third by a lesser type in the Brocklesby
& a win by another limited type in a poor race at Musselburgh yesterday.
Which makes his cheaply bought filly (3,000gns) Marygate seem
quite tempting in the context of this race.
But, in short, snap out of that sort of thinking, we should be trying to
find positives and not 'least worsts' to bet on. A race where any result
wouldn't be a shock because of the low quality likely to be needed to win
it. If one of the contestants has developed well from the sales and is
a prospective OR75 rater then they could win comfortably and looking quite
good as they come home clear. Then you check the time and see it's poor
and the winner was running away from garbage and will get sorted out under
a penalty next time by anything normally usable.
Which means that the trainers of, at least, two of the runners in the Wolverhampton
Class 5 maiden might think they are in the wrong race. Going to this
course is similar to going to Brighton in that it is a ploy to try to find
a weaker field to beat. Unless Paul Howling (Grand Honour) &
Jamie Osborne (Sub Prime) particularly want to stay on polytrack
with their colts they would both have been favourites if they had gone
to the weak Doncaster race on turf (worth about £1,300 more to the
Both those colts come from a Kempton Class 4 race which went in a slow
time and the first 6 finished in a heap. Eschewing the 'Franked', all or
nothing, approach to race form analysis here's a summary. The field looked
moderate beforehand, might be some later minor winners given they are all
racing early but nothing unusual. The winner (Asaint Needs Brass) looked
the best type and perhaps a little better than the same trainer's Concertmaster
from 2007 by season end. Imperial Skylight who was a nuisance in the preliminaries
set an average pace to the winner which was made to look stronger than
it was by the lack of ability, nous and racecraft on show behind. The winner
cruised past Imperial Skylight in the straight and went clear. He faded
late and the closers did get, very close indeed, to him. However, they
only just managed to get to Imperial Skylight as he plodded on. That horse,
predictably, got outpaced again by three better newcomers at Bath on Wednesday
and that performance sets a solid benchmark for the form (possibly over-estimated
even with a low 30s winners). The, probably, better seller quality fourth
filly has been beaten since and the 6th has won a poor race at Lingfield
which probably wasn't much different from seller quality.
Which means that Sub Prime & Grand Honour set a reasonable standard
here but not an unbeatable one. However, it looks like a soft race and
they are the 'Class' of it so, like Gone Hunting, they can provide another
winner from the 'Kempton race'. But, without boosting or denigrating your
view of that event's quality (and certainly not 'franking it'). On paddock
review preference would be for Sub Prime who has a bit more size and strength
while still being below average. Grand Honour is small even by early 2yo
standards although quite solidly built within that. The first, limited
examples, of the 'Race Virtual Paddocks' are linked to in the table above
to compare the two. The pictures taken recently have been of better quality
and should remain so through the remainder of the season.
Dottys Brother didn't show enough on debut to suggest he is better
than the early types his trainer ran last season. He got tired on dead
ground which might be some excuse and switches to the all-weather so might
improve but probably short of the other two. Dedante runs for a
develop-with-racing trainer and showed little first time a race which has
had it's rating level downgraded by 7 points currently. Kuwinda
is another Channon home bred and a full brother to a seller winner for
the stable last year. His debut runners haven't got involved much yet and
it would be a surprise if this filly was up to competing with the colts.
Bath 5f Maiden (Wednesday 9th). The runners for the race are presented
together in this post-race 'Virtual Paddock'.
Right clicking the mouse over the small pictures brings up a full version.
Note that the small pictures are not true, small filesize, thumbnails and
the page will take some time to load over a modem link (i.e. non Broadband
or some form of higher throughput link). The 'Racing Preview' link on the
VP page goes back to Wednesday's Preview and not this one.
While you can get a handle on the ability of many horses
from a single viewing seeing them again is always useful. One of the things
that makes more difference than you like to think is the context of the
other horses in the race. Imperial Skylight, going back to that
Kempton race, looked an ok size in that group of smaller ones but in this
better field at Bath his deficiencies were more obvious to see. Just a
medium size in the group and much more lightly made and narrow than a number
This lack of build, and therefore motive power, means he will lack pace
somewhere and it showed in the race. Hs used his experience to get a comfortable
spot behind the leaders and just an average pace. After his front-running
at Kempton part of the day was presumably to get him to settle in the race.
But when the front two and April Pride from just behind him made their
later race moves he was left behind. He plugged on in fourth and this lack
of an ability to up the pace seems a worry for what to do with him. Let's
hope he doesn't end up all 'Shatter Resistant'. Wouldn't be a surprise
to see him dropped to a claimer along the way.
April Pride looked just a usable winner on profile
and not the better type that the trainer usually has debut winners with.
Her pedigree didn't say 5f and lots of 'good judges' passed her by for
a piffling £25,000 five weeks ago at the 2yo breeze-up sales. The
word in the morning was that the Hannon's likes her and thought she would
be a winner but she drifted int he market as FTO winner Doughnut had done
last week. The Paddock Report that came back had her second top rated and
noted she was a typical Hannon 'shape & size' buy. If he likes the
set-up of a horse he can live with any pedigree because he isn't tied to
running a 'Falbrav' over 7f+ or whatever.
Close to medium size, compact shape and a deep barrel in front. A lively,
bouncy mover and physically ready. A better prospect than Imperial Skylight
for the day if you stood them next to each other, for example. Jockey Hughes
gave another example of how good he can be in doing just enough to keep
an inexperienced type involved and get them home and she just got home.
After Doughnut's win Hannon junior was talking about the Supersprint and
the like while that talk-up was absent here. She looked a 75-85 type and
not a longer term sprint prospect but one the stable will find a second
win for at the right level.
While we're thinking about physical types that trainer's
buy (and produce & amplify by their feeding & training regimes)
Kingswinford was classic David Evans as well. He buys at a lower
level than Hannon and good 'build' & barrel chests normally adds to
the cost (quite what happened with April Pride is a questions - perhaps
she made a mess of the breeze part). Evans has small, narrow types often
and in getting them fit makes them look even more greyhound like. A lot
of them prove to be moderate but some will have the combination of good
movement and enough build to make them usable or better.
The trainer won the race with Vhujon
the previous year and he was that bit bigger, more well-built, rangy and
forward in condition. Kingswinford looked too much on the narrow side to
be better than a ready, early 2yo. The way the race went seemed to confirm
that. Both lead after a furlong but the jockey on Vhujon couldn't resist
letting him go off in top gear while Kingswinford was held onto in a narrow
lead off an average pace. He then got outpaced and outfinished by two more
well built rivals and it isn't really much more complicated than that.
Perhaps around a 70 rater.
The preview for the race noted that trainer L. Williamson
didn't have a record with 2yos and missed the point that her first runner
of the season had managed to finish third, albeit an uncompetitive one
in a weak race behind the front two. Her Musical Bridge was backed
from 33/1 to 8/1 and the support proved well judged despite the narrow
defeat. On paddock review he scored well enough for build and was one of
the fittest in the group. On the downside he was one of the shorter runners
and he slouched around the ring (where there were a lot of jig-joggers)
not looking that athletic. But, the jockey was fully on-board with what
was required and had him attending the pace early and he went on inside
the final furlong. He was 'mugged' by April Pride in that she challenged
him late and he did respond having already seen off the rest of the pace
in Kingswinford & Lagan Handout. A solid effort and some improvement
Lagan Handout presented a sort of middling response to the proposition
in the race preview. He wasn't as bad as he might have been, he's build
is ok but he's a stodgy little fat bloke to some extent and lacking in
range. He had everything go his way in the race but get left behind by
the front rank when the pace went up and faded inside the final furlong,
unlike Imperial Skylight who plugged on. 60s fare and confirmation that
you need to sort through the Brocklesby to find the solid nuggets amidst
the lesser types.
Dazzling Dust's dam was a lengthy, low slung type
(the link from her name on his page goes to a picture). Her lad's entirely
different. Probably the tallest in the field but leggy and on a long side
on view like a table where the legs are that bit too long. Shallow bodied
in context and not the compact barrel of April Pride if you compared them.
Physically quite fit and forward but mentally young and didn't concentrate
in pre-race. Another one left behind as the race quickened and a worry
that his leggy set-up might limit him despite his strength. Ought to rate
Proper Tool runs for a non-FTO trainer and showed glimpses
of response during the race but was too lacking in overall readiness to
get involved. Paddock review showed a below average size horse, but neatly
put together and with enough build and range to be competitive at his level.
Ought to be a competitive 60s rater at least.
Percy's Corismatic cost £500 to retain
at the Ascot sales (third tier in Britain) and presumably the minimum bid
for that sale. She looks what you would expect and although neat enough
is just too small and light to compete against these bigger horses. The
lass leading her probably isn't 5 foot and the horse's withers are well
below the top of her head which makes her borderline pony size. Struggled
to go the pace at any stage in the race but a positive in that she never
gave in and plugged on into the eased runners late on. She probably did
a time close to the winner of the later seller but flat out all the way
and carried by better horses compared to a more leisurely pace in the other
While we're thinking about physical types and trainer's
preferences Milton Bradley likes some meat on them if he can afford it.
He often cannot so the ones he buys with some build will be peculiar shapes
and set-ups in many instances. Sharp Discovery would fit that model
and if you compare him to the filly Percy's Corismatic there's a lot more
of him. But he's another fat, dumpy, one and not neat to look at. He wasn't
fit or knowing enough here to make things worse. Mind you, when you are
dealing with a trainer whose won a single race with 41 x 2yo horses in
6 years you kind of stop worrying what they look like. They aren't going
to win anyway, to a very good approximation.
Which brings us to the pleasant surprise in the group with
Saunton Sands. Now, when you get a horse bred by the trainer and
he has very few 2yo runners and even rarer winners you don't expect much.
You suspect you are going to see a rabbit like Percy's C. or a bits-and-pieces
stodgy mover like Sharp D. or some other combinations of disappointments.
The piece below that headline says the dam never won in 4 seasons (she
ended her 5yo season on January 1st to add some meaningless 'to be fair')
and has produced a half brother who didn't achieve a worthwhile rating
in three runs in two seasons. At which point the expectation levels don't
shift the needle at all.
But the horse is much better than that and in a brief summary if this thing
can't win at 2yo it's the trainer who's cocked it up and not the paddock
reviewer. He came into the pre-parade in a full rug and was jig-jogging
away. He has four white socks which can make any horse look more athletic
than they are but you satisfy yourself he can actually move ok and it's
isn't just go-faster-stripes. He's close to the tallest in the field and
is more heavily built than most and more so than Dazzling Dust and is deeper
bodied. The picture shows him unrugged and when he had settled down and
carrying his head down and doesn't show him to his best. You might well
say he looks a little stodgy although his overall shape, balance &
maturity is fine. For comparison the lass leading him is probably close
to 5' 8'' and much taller than the girl with Percy's Corismatic.
It's at this point you hope he doesn't finish a promising third or reveal
his promise more widely. He starts at 33/1 and you hope for a run well
buried away that looks dreadful in the form book so he's be at least that
next time. His trainer's lack of preparation helps and he runs a un-noticed
race. Slow out of the stalls he shows some promise in getting to the front
of the outpaced group at halfway before being allowed to drift back and
be eased later on. The jockey gives him a quiet and educational ride. When
he got a bit tired he showed a more reaching, galloping stride, rather
than a quick-snap sprinter and this along with his strong build suggest
he might need time and a 6f+.
If you go back and look at his pedigree you can convince yourself it is
a bit more usable than it looks. His dam cost 20,000 guineas although by
a middling (at best) stallion so presumably she had some positives. She
made her debut on March 31st at 2yo and almost made the first three in
some minor races. Her first foal was by the poor sire Zaha and this one
is by Best Of The Bests who would rate a better bet. He had a good enough
start with his first 2yos in 2006 and four different 5f winners. 2007 was
less good but he wouldn't be a real negative.
To make the point try looking at these pictures 2yos by Best Of The Bests
and compare them to Saunton Sands. Here's a small and no good one - Princess
Zada = well he must be better than her. This one is Langham
House who would have a similar profile - an owner bred for a trainer
who doesn't have much of a record with 2yos. Well, more like him, a bigger
type but less well built and not as neatly put together as Saunton Sands.
He managed 4th places in 7-8f maidens at minor courses and got an OR70
and you would think Saunton Sands could do better. The best 2yo by the
sire so far is probably Resplendent
Alpha who was a very strongly built, bull, of a shorter juvenile. He
won a couple of races and finished on an OR86 rating. Well, he's a bigger
frame and perhaps as strong although we don't know if the parts add up
to a whole that can shift itself adequately.
Anyway, definitely one to track and see how he develops because he's much
better than his pedigree, trainer and 9th on debut at 33/1 make him sound.