An interesting field at it's level for the Bath 5f maiden with a
range of horses of some interest. Those that have run have hinted at ability
without suggested they are going to set a stiff standard in. Lagan Handout
ran fourth in the Brocklesby and trying to sum up that race in as either
'franked' or 'not franked' is difficult and trying to understand the horse's
ability more fruitful. The winner has run less well twice and hasn't finished
the race off as she did on her March debut. The second has won the 'Lily
Agnes' but probably a sub-standard renewal and so on. He hasn't progressed
with racing and more of the same here.
Entrancer has been left behind as soon as the shooting started in
two solid races and didn't help himself with free running early last time.
He probably has a minor race in him but his trainer often struggles with
this sort and they win after a lot of runs through sticking at it.
Abhainn was wound up for debut, including mentally and gave various
bouts of trouble before the race. Unsurprisingly, he ran too freely in
the race and pressed a good runner on debut and faded later in the race.
If you look at that Result you
can see how that form has worked out and how the pace duel dragged those
overmatched types that participated back to the trundlers by the end of
The third (Mazzola) has run competently in a slowly run Conditions race
at Goodwood without looking out of place and, most notably, Miss Hollybell
seemed to improve when second to Brenin Taran in another slower race on
Monday. She had actively pressed Missile Dodger for the lead at Bath and
paid for that and ran better than the form suggested. In that context her
second is explainable. If you look at the plain result without factoring
how the horse's run styles you would struggle to get to grips with her
finishing just in front of Forster Island (thrashed at Warwick in a duffish
race last Saturday) & Caressing (woefully uncompetitive in another
weak Wolverhampton event on Monday). That type of thinking leads you to
put Abhainn into the 'Miss Hollybell' better today camp rather than the
garbage behind him. Paddock Review would support that but limit him to
OR60s and therefore shouldn't be good enough to win even if more mature
overall and even in his energy output.
And Sharav? On profile before debut he looked a possible OR70+ 2yo
and from a stable who runs their best ones early. He appeared to put in
an unexciting debut when a remotish 5th at Windsor. Two of those in front
have won since (including Smokey Storm who was just in front and the first
two home are likely to go the Royal Ascot without looking likely winners
their). So, he probably ran a bit better than it seemed at the time. But,
he had some moderate, and worse, horse not far behind so he looks like
the 'break point' for that race between the maiden winners and those that
aren't. Paddock Review adds a sort of middling rating to the mix to suggest
he's a bit better than Abhainn without being frightening for a good, and
Further interest comes because the two others with previous runs both come
from non-2yo stables but both got positives as usable types in Paddock
Review. Lucky Punt runs for Brendan Powell who has a terrible record
and these types never seem to come to anything with him. Saunton Sands
got a real Paddock Review positive on debut and ran as expected, out the
back, at Bath that day. That race (result)
has proved to be poor form and nothing has won from it and hardly anything
has placed. The 6th has been beaten in several claimers and seller, the
winner is proving to be the bottom end of the Hannon 'debut winner' quality
on race target, etc. On the day they didn't look a great group, and April
Pride's FTO win can be seen as best of a moderate group rather than the
Hannon's targetting the win.
Saunton Sands therefore achieved a 'Fun Run' rating with his lose-some-ground-at-the-start-then-allowed-to-bumble-around-at-the-back
effort. The trainer has had a single 2yo win since 2001 (from a small number
of runners admittedly) which, like Mr Powell, wouldn't lead you to believe
he'll iron them out at 66/1. But, he was a good type so he ought to improve
well here unless the brakes are still on for a nursery future over 7f.
What about the newcomers then having almost convinced ourselves Sharav
would see off Abhainn & Entrancer if there weren't any. In general
they are a solid group for this type of event and Mikael Magnusson's Liturgical
come out just top overall. The trainer and associates bought the colt for
$22,000 in the US in 2007 as a yearling and offered him at the Kempton
breeze up sales this March. They kept him for £90,000 and he is a
full brother to last year's 5f juvenile winner Perfect Paula. Mr Magnusson
doesn't have many 2yo runners and those that do tend to be ready to compete
FTO. Aided by the early preparation and training for the Breeze up sale
he ought to be up to making the first three here.
Mick Channon started the year slowly with his horses looking off colour
and not sharp. Things have improved in May and he's had four winners now
including three from his last four runners. He doesn't go in for strong
debuts but one of those wins was FTO in a minor Redcar race and, typically,
it was for an 'important' owner. If you look through the debut wins he
does get the majority are for the Maktoums & hangers on, err, associates
(Sheikh Mohammed when he had some horses for him in 2002-5, Ahmed Al Maktoum,
Jaber Abdullah (Flashy Wings, Queen's Logic, and all that)) of 'Himself'.
The second category includes horses he bred and owns himself (like this
week's winner Lucky Leigh, by one of his 'tame' stallions in Fraam, think
also Piccolo, Hunting Lion & Imperial Dancer) and stable generated
partnerships (like 'Ridgeway Downs').
The other odd debut winners come along with better individuals. If we look
back to his record in 2005-7 we find a range of better debuts in mid-May
and a number of debut winners. In 2005 it was Upper Hand (ran in Group
races) and Championship Point (still knocking around in Listed & Group
races). 2006 saw a debut win in a mess of a race for Sunley Gift and strong
debuts for Pretty Majestic & Dowlleh for the Dubai connections. Last
year was a better return with FTO wins for Meeriss & Yem Kinn (for
Ahmed Al Maktoum), Carleton (for himself, owner bred by Hunting Lion).
The same period saw other better types debut with Hatta Fort (Ahmed again,
Group 3 winner) & Nijoom Dubai (Jaber Abdullah) with both too wound
up to win FTO.
Which means that the reasonably expensive Cerito ought to be a solid
type although fails the "me, my muckers and the Maktoums" test for ownership.
A good sprint 2yo pedigree if a little short on quality on the female side
suggests another who should be in amongst those with experience at the
top of the hill.
A couple of others with interest starting with the expensive Burning
Flute for Brian Meehan. Like Channon (who also worked for Richard Hannon
before getting his own licence), Meehan doesn't go for debut wins. He gets
them with Group class horses for the most part and seems to take the best
he has to Newmarket these days. His debuts are much less competitive than
Channon's overall. He has made a slow start with little promise from
his runners to date. He ran a similarly expensive one called Zezao in the
Windsor Novice race on Monday and he looked the best physical type in the
group (much better in the long term than the small, and ready, winner River
Rye who isn't one to follow). However, he made a horribly inept debut and
you could almost hear the comedy music in the background as jockey Munro
kept looking down to see if anything normal was going to happen.
Meehan puts a 7lb apprentice on Burning Flute so best of luck to him if
this one is as clueless. Richard Fahey has already caught us out with a
7lb apprentice who has won on two of his FTO successes but Mr Meehan is
unlikely to be up to the same game.
An finally, in the 2007 Trainers' Review Stuart Kittow got a mention as
the type of small stable that can get the job down with the right material.
The 'Market' hasn't rated him in the past which means that his runners
with ability still start at 25/1+ FTO. But, he identifies the better ones
at home and prepares them well for debut. The ones with ability usually
show up well FTO and can place and win with the right interaction between
horse ability and rest of field inability. He runs Flute Magic who
looks more the 'usable early' on profile than the better class debut which
might win at a longer price. Perhaps more a 6f+ type but interesting to
see how he shows up although he's drawn out wide in 12 (on the 'weak side'
for breaks if you watch a lot of them..).
In summary a fascinating little puzzle of it's type if you like
this sort of thing (which you presumably are if you have got this far).
A range of interesting horses and stories and jigsaw pieces in these type
of race can only fit together in a small set of ways to produce the final
result. Sharav ought to prove best of the previous runners and let's hope
for a real step forward from Saunton Sands. He should be pressed most closely
by the best of the newcomers with Cerito better drawn than Liturgical and
the trainer's mid-May record suggest he might be a better one.