A packed day with the 6f maiden that used to be on the Saturday of the
Newbury Lockinge Meeting moved to the Friday and divided and a Newcastle
Novice added to the list compared to 2007. Which produces a good set of
events covering tests of previous, early season, form and maidens which
ought to include a set of good winners and perhaps a few high class types.
Looking back to last year this set of races produced two winners above
at Listed level or above with Polar Circle (Listed winner) and Nijoom Dubai
(Group 2 winner) placed first & second in the fillies' conditions race
at Newbury. Unusually, the Newbury maiden didn't produce anything higher
class. The Newmarket fillies' maiden was won by Festoso who finished the
year with a volunteer third in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes but with
nothing of note behind her.
We are at an interesting time of the year because of the expectation of
better horses starting out but also because the clash between early season
form and better-types-on-debut occurs. Early races are often won by limited
athletes putting up moderate performances and they have to improve 20lbs
in performance terms to 'stand still'. The majority wont be able to do
this and even runners that appeared to win quite well in the context of
their early fields end up struggling in nurseries off Official Ratings
(ORs) in the 70s. Wednesday at York gave a good example of this with Masamah,
a 60,000gns purchase with a solid enough Sales report without being superior.
He had apparently shown an aversion to racing with other horses at home
so was fitted with a blinker to stop him hanging left across the
course. It didn't work but he still won comfortably from a couple of early
winners in Caranbola & Grand Honour plus placer Majuba who looks another
Ryan, small, non stayer at 5f like Fast Feet last year. That Ryan runner
ended up rated OR72 having started at OR89 after the early season places.
Which sounds a lot like the 'lack of 20lbs of improvement to stand still'
coming into play across a season.
The Newcastle Novice race has a Northern version of this with four
penalised winners running of which three cost less than 3,000gns and the
'class' of them with Gone Hunting an 8,000gns go. These aren't long
term prospects. The two newcomers both cost more than the rest put together
on more than one occasion when offered for sale.
Rebel Radio made a reasonable advance from yearling to her breeze
up sale this year. She's the first runner for Howard Johnson and another
part owned by Graham Wylie under the 'Transcend Bloodstock' banner. Mr
Johnson hasn't really impressed with his handling of 2yos since this partnership
started and his approach has been to get the horses very ready for debut
and then the form often tails off quickly after mid season. One winner
after July 9th last year with a runner on STO who finished last on it's
third run and didn't run again. There's also been an awful lot of money
spent on slow ones. But, the early ones to run will include most of the
winners and some will be useful before they they 'go off'.
Bryan Smart has a much more successful approach with juveniles which he
has developed over time. He runs Prime Spirit who is dealt with
in the box below and seems like a good prospect for the win provided he
knows what he is doing. The Johnson filly comes out just on top receiving
weight because when he does have a good one they tend to be more tightly
wound first time than a Smart 2yo.
The thoughts about early season form and the better types starting to appear
brings us to the Listed Marygate Stakes for fillies at York. This
should be an important race given the billing and the fillies involved
making an impact in better races through the season. Since it's inception
three years ago this hasn't really happened. The first field was made up
of 80-88 handicappers for the most part and the 2006 race was won by Gilded
who went on to win a sub-standard Queen Mary before being thrashed by Sander
Camillo over 6f (a filly who didn't develop beyond her 2yo career). The
placed horses behind Gilded included Cassiara who still hasn't won a race.
Last year's race looked a little better in strength terms (Result)
but contained no later winner above conditions level. The runner up is
making hard work of competing off OR90 at 3yo and the third won off OR88
at 2yo to give an idea of the typical quality of these early fillies' Listed
Last year's winner Janina looked to have more scope than average for an
early 2yo filly and achieved a B2yoR estimate of 65 for the win. She ran
just ok in the Queen Mary where the track position and pace were probably
against her. She hasn't been out since but interesting to see what she
can do as a 3yo. This year's field looks right at the bottom end of the
quality and it's difficult to identify a better type who would outclass
the rest. Remember that in these sort of races the better types are often
10lbs and more in advance of the others and will open up extended distances
to the others. The bulk of this field look below even the OR88-90 standard
which would normally be needed to place. They look like early season runarounds
who have 'got lucky' because it isn't obvious there's a real better type
(like a Janina) on show.
Which means it's a close race between a lot of OR70s types and with the
prospects of a step forward show at the front coming from one of Maggie
Lou, Doughnut or To The Point Slight preference is for
the Ryan filly with the trainer tending to target fillies at this meeting
and getting them primed to run to their best.
To make the point further about whether we need a 'Precocious Championship'
at Listed level for 5f fillies this early in the year there is a similar
race at Newbury but at Conditions level (what the 'Marygate' should
really be). The disparity in grading for the races seems a problem this
year with the best filly on show on the day probably at Newbury. Glamorous
Spirit wasn't fully tested at Ascot in a race where Court Approval
set a so-so gallop because no-one else wanted to. But, held up at the back
the filly had no problem outpacing the colts in the later race sprint and
looked a different type in Paddock Review to the likes of Fazbee, Langs
Lash & Aspen Darlin (for example who grace the York race). A good question
might be would be why she the Noseda filly isn't at York - he ran the later
Listed winner Salut D'mour (4th) in it in 2005. You would imagine it's
because he knows she can win at higher level later and this is another
Hannon runs April Pride in opposition who has looked to be vying
with Doughnut to be the best early filly in the yard. Her debut win looks
a moderate effort now given what the others in the race have achieved later
and she couldn't deal with a 7,000gns newcomer last time (although giving
weight and perhaps softened up by the early pace where she travelled best).
Anyway, she seems unlikely to be able to cope with the pace Glamorous Spirit
can generate. Similar comments apply to Moss Likely who has already
achieved more than her appearance suggested when Paddock Reviewed on debut.
Her trainer has now come into form (4 winners from the last 5 runners starting
with this filly). She's another positive for sire Clodovil whom the trainer
has latched onto following the success with Nahoodh in 2007. But, she doesn't
look as good a physical type as that filly nor Nijoom Dubai who ran on
debut for him in this event last year.
At Newmarket the 6f fillies get a chance to show what they can do.
This is a relatively early 6f race at a major course which you would think
would have a good record of producing a range of better types. The recent
fields haven't been that strong though and the better types have tended
to be one-offs if they have been there at all and the bulk of the field
struggle to win ordinary maidens. The better types have often finished
unplaced including in 2006 when the field was unusually strong but with
Sander Camillo only fourth and Scarlet Runner (Group 3 winner at 2yo &
3yo) in 8th.
This year's group of 9 look a reasonable mix with the top four on profile
having some prospects to be above average to some degree. Mambo Light
ran in the 5f fillies' maiden at the course in mid April and finished
a sound third in the late race sprint after a potter through the first
first of the race. On Paddock Review she looked fine and around a OR79-84
type without being high class. The other point to ponder is whether her
Newmarket race is 'working out well'. The second has scrambled home in
an average (at best) 5f maiden at Nottingham while looking like a 6f filly
(and she went past Mambo Light at Newmarket). The fourth has won a moderate
Windsor fillies' auction. The unplaced Danidh Dubai has won a 6f maiden
but was clearly well below her innate standard at Newmarket so doesn't
represent Mambo Light directly. The fifth (Fasliyanne) has been thrashed
in Northern maidens to indicate the real quality of the performance at
Newmarket. So, you actually need to be able to convince yourself Mambo
Light was a better physical type at Newmarket and not just lean on the
crutch of 'form working out'.
The trainer has a mixed record with converting these early placers into
winners which he seemed to have fixed this year following Percolator &
Northern Tour's STO successes. But then Desire To Excel ran poorly at Salisbury
yesterday after putting up a similar debut at Newmarket. [He was in trouble
before the 2f out pole and looked legless and a little in distress late
in the race and you hope that he didn't incur some longer term physical
damage]. The trainer's last runner in this race had also placed in the
same 5f maiden in mid April. Is Tarkamara still a maiden at 4yo?, probably
so. Anyway, Mambo Light is a little better physical type and sets an ok
standard here but there are three interesting newcomers.
Bryan Meehan has targeted Newmarket maidens for many of his best runners
in recent seasons and they account for 8 of his 24 debut winners in the
period 2003-7 and 7 from 15 if you discount the abnormal 2007 season, the
reasons for which are covered in the 2007 Trainers' Performance article.
Because he doesn't target strong debuts a debut win or place normally indicates
a higher class runner and up to winning at Listed class at least. He hasn't
had a 2yo winner yet this season and he doesn't appear to have a natural
& precocious 5f runner for early season. But his Hosanna has
a good all round pedigree and represents the type of major owners that
the trainer does get FTO wins for. A jockey he gets in to ride the better
ones (Jimmy Fortune here although Dettori sometimes gets the gig) is in
attendance and a price below 9/2 with the right vibes a (real) good sign.
Michael Jarvis is trainer who has his newcomers much more ready for debut
and tuned than Meehan. He actually takes it further than that and they
can often appear taut, on their toes and a bit sweaty FTO. Fitness is usually
a little above average levels as well. Which means he often gets strong
debuts and an above average FTO win strike rate. In the last three seasons
he has had an 'patch' of debut winners early on in the first batch of debuts.
In 2005 that was with the first and third debuts in late May (both fillies).
In 2006-7 it has been in mid June and three of the total of four debuts
have been with fillies.
Africa's Star is relatively early debut for him and cost a spectacular
price at the Goffs' sales considering what the dam and her siblings have
achieved. Go back to the 3rd dam (Great Grandmother and 1 of 8 ancestors
at that level so a trivial genetic input) and there is more Group One tints
but, so what. So, hopefully the price is because she's a useful athlete.
Another strong contender if Mambo Light fails.
A final mention for Henry Cecil's Honest Quality for major owner
breeder Khalid Abdulla. As detailed earlier this week Cecil isn't the FTO
ogre he used to be but he may still get the odd debut winner. The last
three he has managed (2005-7) have all been for this owner with useful
types. The fact that Abdulla has a range of fillies with other trainers
(Stoute, Charlton, Barry Hills, etc,) means that the owner's racing manager
(Lord 'Teddy' Grimthorpe) will have taken all the input and will have only
ok'd a run if there is some good reason for it. Also, because he isn't
messing around worrying about handicap marks if they are any good and are
running they should have the ability to make it worthwhile.
In summary, Mambo Light has a bit of the accident-waiting-to-happen
about her after Desire To Excel effort and at a shorter SP. Easy to convince
yourself there are some interesting newcomers who might be just plain better
than she is.
Two divisions of the Newbury 6f maiden and the usual range of trainers
represented. Last year's big field for one race (Result)
didn't have a real juvenile star in it and was unusual in that regard.
The best horse was probably Il Warrd who finished 6th behind handicappers
and the 7th was Huzzah who took a long time to win at 2yo but seems to
be improving markedly at 3yo.
The first division has a Paul Cole STO runner - Duke Of Aquitaine
- who achieved nothing much on debut when looking very unknowing and not
convincing as a one likely to snap together into a strong runner STO.
Which means the newcomers provide the most probable winner. Peter Chapple-Hyam
has nibbled away with his 2yos so far and had placed debuts who haven't
won on later starts. He introduced another duff looking one in Countrywide
City (small sprinter, sweaty and too stupid to run well) at Newmarket yesterday
but we are just entering the period when we should expect a batch of better
types and some taking debut wins. Over this weekend last year he had two
debut winners with Polar Circle in the fillies' race at Newbury and Declaration
of War at Newmarket. They were quickly followed by second places on debut
for the useful Western Art & Orientalist Art for the a same owner as
Great Art (there's something similar about all the names but what
is it... baffling). In 2006 the debut wins cam in a pair again, a bit later
in May and into June with Dutch Art & Tariq. In short, this one just
has to be a strong debut
Marcus Tregoning regularly has runners in the race but doesn't get debut
winner much these days. He does tend to run solid types in the race though
for the Maktoums. The last three have been Endiamo (4th in 2006 for Ahmed),
Masaalek (1007, 2nd at 16/1 for Hamdan) & Il Warrd (6th at 8/1 for
Ahmed). This year the Maktoum runner is Marsool for Hamdan and in
a thinnish looking group he ought to go well despite the trainer's recnet
debut record. He used to be a prime them FTO type of handler and Finjaan
has already shown this year that he can still get debut successes with
the right material. His other runner looks likely to be a less strong debut
(Oasis Knight) although should be a solid maiden winner with development
Richard Hannon usually runs at least two in the race and has two in both
divisions. Taken as a group his runners in the race over the period 2001-7
have proved to be maiden winners at least and there have been a number
who have been well above average headed by the 2006 visitor Major Cadeaux.
With Ryan Moore signed up to Michael Stoute the presence of Richard Hughes
on a Hannon 2yo now seems to be a very good indicator of 'better one'.
He rides the Queen's Instalment in the first division and Hughes
rides although there is a possibility this is out of courtesy to the owner.
On profile he looks just a maiden winner type and only comes out third
down the list because the overall group isn't that strong. The second string
with Head Down would seem to be another maiden winner type having
his debut (worth tracking him if you consider how Grylls flowered from
a 17th place last year as second string at 33/1).
Bryan Meehan doesn't have a strong record in the race in terms of finishing
positions and no place in recent years. But, the horses he has started
out here have included a number of average maiden winners or better. His
runner in the first division with Courageous Nature looks in that
In short, the first division looks like the right opportunity for
Chapple-Hyam to kickstart his 2yo season with Great Art. If he isn't much
cop there isn't a really strong, all-round, profile in opposition and a
'surprise' win for a better type at somewhat longer (8/1+) odds probable.
Division 2 has a bit more depth and is headed by a runner with previous
experience. Jazacosta was as daft as Duke Of Aquitaine on his first
outing but has the difference in that he was convincing as a physical type
in Paddock Review. He didn't look a 5f type though and this move to 6f
a real plus. Another positive is the trainer's record in the race. She
had a fourth, on debut, in one division in 2005 followed by a second place
in 2006. In 2007 she had the winner with a STO runner with the later nursery
winner Coasting. She runs the best of her early 2yos in the race on known
evidence. Which means that Jazacosta has a good profile to set a stiff
The range of 'possibles' in the newcomers is much stronger than in the
first division. John Gosden is a bit like Meehan in that the debut wins
come along with the high class runners. He's had two debut winners of this
race in 2004 (Group winner Iceman) & 2005 (To Sender, a Khalid Abdulla
choice and a typical strong debut in the period in that overlaid sense)
.In 2003 he had the sixth with a the useful Privy Seal for Sheikh Mohammed
and last year a moderate performance for another major owner in Cheveley
Park Stud (for whom Iceman ran). He also run solid winners Murfreesboro
& Dumfries unplaced in the same period. Donativum runs for Princess
Haya and a regular provider of his debut winners in recent years (as well
as a lot of expensive garbage). A real positive is the performance of the
siblings on debut who include two debut wins (one for Sylvester Kirk which
is notable given his record) and a good second for the three winners.
Jamie Spencer rides Gallagher for Meehan and another runner with
debut winners amongst the siblings. The trainer's overall record looks
a negative but he does get strong debuts when the Sangsters are involved
in the ownership. Tregoning provides another Hamdan Al Maktoum newcomer
- Ghaayer - with a very expensive son of Nayef who looks to have
a 7f+ pedigree. If he is running over 6f now he's probably well above average.
Add in Orizaba for Channon who is in good form (entered for the
Windsor 5f conditions race on Monday but runs here) and Hannon's Robin
The Till who lost all chance at the start on debut by veering left
to race alone on the far rail and you have a really interesting set-up.
In summary, Jazacosta sets a good standard and the other runner
with experience in Robin The Till is presumably much better than he showed
FTO. Donativum comes out best of the newcomers but you never quite know
what a Gosden debut will bring. The performance Ghaayer especially interesting
amongst the others.
Some feedback from Bath on Wednesday night. The race saw a taking victory
for Cerito for Mick Channon. He's owned by Harry Findlay's
(as in Denman, etc ) mother and he was at the course making more noise
than the horses, getting interviewed by the course announcer and so forth.
He should be included in the Channon 'Muckers' list on this evidence although
given how unstoppable he is Mr Channon probably doesn't have the choice.
On a purely Paddock Review report you couldn't say that Cerito (Picture)
stood out in the group in terms of size and build. What he did stand out
on was professionalism in a notably 'young' and stupid bunch. Although
he won by 6 lengths you need to temper that with impression with what he
beat. In second was a newcomer from Clive Cox's yard who didn't look a
better type and not in good condition. The third was a Meehan (note his
debut record) newcomer ridden by a 7lb apprentice and at 33/1. He was probably
the biggest in the group but didn't look a 5f runner and you wouldn't be
surprised to see him packed off to Thirsk next month to have a go in the
first worst 7f race of the year. The rest of the field didn't suggest he
beat a good set.
He was very fit for debut and you don't see great improvement in him. He
looks the type to end up having the same type of career as La
Neige did for the stable in 2006. Running in a lot of good races after
a debut win but coming up short. If they could get a second win at conditions
level out of him that would be a good return.