Sunday and to Brighton and a solid field for the maiden. The course has
an interesting configuration and presents an unusual challenge for 2yos.
The course starts with an undulating stretch and with the 5f (actually
5f & 59 yards = 5.3f which can make a real difference) course meeting
up with the steep descent quite quickly after a left hand bend. You will
see many 2yos backing out of the race down this hill especially if a better
balanced pacemaker(s) are pressing on. In general the downhill run and
firmer ground often leads to free running pacemaking unless the jockey
is aware of the problem.
The course reaches it's lowest point before the furlong marker and then
climbs up a reasonably steep slope to the line. This slope is cambered
significantly away from the stands and tired runners ought to roll onto
the far rail and horses failing to get a run, even in small fields, not
uncommon. Given all of that what sort of horses win at the course? Does
the fast downhill part favour front runners who can set up a lead and never
get pulled back?
A brief look through the recent records suggest the course produces a pretty
fair test and horses can win from anywhere. The biggest problem is the
pacemakers going to quickly, especially if they contest the lead, and fading
on the uphill section. Horses can lose a few lengths taking the downhill
section easily in many events because the uphill finish allows them to
close back to the pacesetters. You might think the technical nature of
the course would count against newcomers but of 106 debut runs in recent
seasons a total of 7 have won which is just above the average across
all FTO 2yos. However, none of those wins have been at 5.3f where
the record is 0 from 28. This probably makes sense in that experienced
frontrunners are harder to close on in the shorter race.
The Run Styles recorded for the 5f winners at the course confirms the view
that even over the shortest distance any method can succeed with the right
horse. Recent winners of this race can attest to that. In 2005 the useful
Zato came here on his second go having got outpaced over 5f at Nottingham
before gathering himself for a taking finish. The pacemakers got him out
of his comfort zone downhill here and he lost 3-4 lengths and looked in
trouble as favourite. But, by the time he'd gathered himself and with an
extra, uphill, 60 yards to factor in he was sailing away from the others
at the finish. Last year a thinking jockey in Richard Hughes took what
he knew to be a solid early 2yo in Cracking to the lead and settled the
pace and won comfortably because he'd saved a finish. He knew what he had
with Cracking because he had tried him out on debut at Windsor by hustling
him to the lead and then easing him once he got passed.
[As an aside Hughes can be easy to criticise because he doesn't seem to
be working too hard on occasions but watching him on the Hannon 2yos over
the years you can start to see a pattern in what he's doing. He does have
a plan and that often involves getting to the point in this race
that will win the next one. Top of the B2yoR list for non thinkers would
probably be Adrian T Nicholls who can be a real 'head down' type at times.
At Sandown on Friday in the sprint Fol Hollow and, in particular, Bosun
Breese, looked in top condition and ought to have run strong races. The
horses were so well that they were too fresh and needed a 'Hughes' ride
an being buried away to use that excess energy for the finish. Nicholls
on Fol Hollow and Keniry on Bosun Breese do the exact opposite and allow
that wellbeing in their horses it's head and tear off into a contested
lead. Before the first furlong marker had been reached you could chuck
your ticket away on either of them and they both faded on the stiff track.
Bosun Breese looked trained to the minute and worth following to STO.]
Back at Brighton and the course is also notable for small fields with an
average under 7 horses per race when the overall average is going towards
11. Eight in this race and a typical set of runners with experience. The
course tends to be used by trainers to try to find a weaker race to ensure
a win with a type who might end up an eternal placer in stiffer quality
fields (Hannon & Mark Johnston would be exceptions in sending better
types as well). Lagan Handout struggled at Bath second time after
what looked a promising run in the Brocklesby and would fit the model.
But, he's found a solid field for the course and will come up short again
while getting involved at some stage.
Brenin Taran was retained was bred by the trainer's family and retained
at the 2yo sale for a minimum bid. Since they presumably still have the
mare and other foals coming through Mr Simcock's top priority is to get
a win with this one so that the later sales offerings look more attractive
on paper. Which probably plays a part in the 'send it to Brighton' approach.
He ran in the big field for the conditions race at the Newmarket Craven
meeting and closed through to fourth from 12th, and last, at halfway. He
was aided in this by the pacemakers stalling and a good ride from his jockey
in woking a clear path from the far rail to the centre to make his
Because it was a conditions race at a major track the traditional handicappers
have to give it a high rating and Brenin Taran would get something around
OR 80 for that debut run. The shape of the race and the way he lost ground
at the star would mean you would have to think he's a 90+ type with a clear
run and handling this course. If he really is that he should win this by
five lengths. He probably only ran something in the 60s at Newmarket however
and we will find out more about the quality of the race from Rayvin Mad's
second go at Leicester the day before this race. Either way, he should
be at his peak here and capable of running to OR late 70s and has a closing
style which would go well even if he doesn't handle the downhill too well.
The Newmarket course is quite undulating and he handled the downhill part
well enough there as he made ground down it. In summary, a strong contender,
although not as strong as the 'OR80 debut' makes him sound.
The other two with form represent similar profiles having both been dropped
to a lesser race after debuts in solid maidens. Both looked to be (real)
68-76 OR raters in the longer term and a drop to this sort of track needed
because that standard would struggle in open maidens. Preference in this
race would be for Smokey Storm who was a non-competitive fourth
at Windsor but with two useful 2yos well way and just behind another with
respectable early season form. He appeals as the best prospect to compete
with Brenin Taran and make the win if that one really isn't the 80+ type
the background makes him seem.
Entrancer ran in a race which developed into a 2f sprint on sticky
ground at Newbury and got outpaced by the better and readier types. Like
Smokey Storm he looked a solid size and usable 2yo at his level. His trainer
is more of a develop-with-racing type than Willie Jarvis though and it
would be a surprise to see him be sharp enough to win here. He should be
much more competitive though and display close to his real ability level.
With the 0 from 28 record and a solid group of runners with experience
the newcomers are very unlikely to win unless one is really useful. Ruby's
Song and Piccaso's Sky look too lightweight on profile and Taurus
Twins probably the same although with the nous to get involved earlier
int he race.
Tom Dascombe entered Old Father Zeiten for the Brocklesby
and declared him for the third race of the season at Kempton although he
was a non-runner. On profile he should be at least up to the level of that
trainer's other runner this year with Firth Of Forth which would make him
a minor winner at least. However, that runner wasn't competent enough to
win a weak race FTO so this one is more one to assess.
In summary, a solid maiden for the track and Brenin Taran ought
to win by a long way if you believe the general ratings he got for his
debut run. Even with a more sceptical view he still sets a strong standard
here and the trainer is well motivated to get the win in the bag for the
family. Smokey Storm is preferred to Entrancer on the day with both looking
usable 2yos able to rate 70+. There's a reasonable possibility that Smokey
Storm ran into a strong race first time and ran better than it first appeared.
He didn't looked tuned for the day, unlike some of the trainer's debut
types, but should be close to his peak for this race.