The Leicester 5f maiden looks a match between Desire To Excel
and Brae Hill. The Virtual Paddock is very useful in this instance
because the pictures of them are taken against the same background at Newmarket
(on different days) and allows a comparison to be made. They are different
types with Desire To Excel a more compact, deep bodied type. Brae Hill
is a good size and more lengthy through the body although he tapers off
behind and is less powerful. On the positive side he is more obviously
athletic than the less rangy Desire To Excel.
Desire To Excel made his debut in what looked a tough maiden at Newmarket
that developed into a later race sprint. The 5th has gone on to win a moderate
looking maiden in a slow time at Yarmouth and the 2nd had already shown
real promise FTO (although Paddock Review of Ouqba reveals a lack of scope
and a horse that needs to win it's maiden and will struggle up in class).
The winner is entered for the Listed National Stakes over 5f on Thursday
Which means that you have to explain what happened to Desire To Excel at
Salisbury. He wasn't particularly strong in the market prior to the race
and was being niggled along by halfway as Sun Ship got into a better rhythm
on the firmest ground he had encountered. He capitulated inside the 2 furlong
pole and faded back to finish behind and amongst some ordinary horses.
He certainly didn't look like a better type moving on to higher class races.
The only mildly positive thing you could say was that it was too bad to
be his real ability and perhaps add in that The Desert Saint also ran poorly.
The pair of them were 2nd and 5th at halfway and those who were 3rd and
4th (Shiva Adiva & Macdillon) got outpaced by Sun Ship's later race
effort but hung on to finish 2nd & 4th. Which doesn't suggest there
was any real excuse for Desire To Excel to fade as he did. Either he isn't
as good as he looks (the slow race at Newmarket didn't really prove a great
deal) or there was a problem.
He runs again relatively quickly and at 5f so the trainer presumably thinks
it wasn't anything serious, or, he couldn't find a reason. In general Paul
Cole early season debut runners who go 'bang' at some point and never fulfil
the (apparent) potential of their starts has not been that unusual. In
many ways the win of Percolator and the dual winners Nothern Tour &
Shampagne in 2008 have been better than his usual. In the long term you
just wouldn't want to be betting on a Desire To Excel profile from the
So, the real question is how good is Brae Hill and will he be value on
the day? The Class 5 race he made his debut in at Newmarket was a 'Median
Auction' which meant that only 2yos by sires with Sales 'Median' prices
below a certain level could run. The idea of these races as compared
to entirely open maidens is to give juveniles from 'cheaper' backgrounds
a better chance to win a race. The field for the race looked a motley bunch
and Hannon's Prolific stood out both in terms of physical prescience and
preparation. Brae Hill was comfortably the second biggest and usable enough
despite the niggles about his lack of power behind. He ran a good debut
by the trainer's standards until comfortably dealt with by Prolific to
highlight his limitations.
He's probably an OR70s rater and a 'Nursery' type but that would be good
enough here if we put Desire To Excel to one side. Hannons' Lucky Redback
was second string and achieved very little at this course on his debut
last week and doesn't appeal as likely to better Brae Hill's standard.
Liturgical was disappointing in Paddock Review at Bath and looked
a late OR60s type and a bit difficult to see why someone bid £88,000
for him before the owner's topped it to keep him. He has a couple of valid
excuses with a slow break which lost 4 lengths and racing in centre track.
He got himself to 4th at best before fading in the final furlong. The problem
is that he was doing that amongst limited horses. He finished with moderate
types and the 3rd & 4th from that race couldn't make the first 4 last
week in a similar race at Goodwood. August Days comes with a similar
lack of recommendation having faded off an ordinary pace at Salisbury.
In summary, Desire To Excel is one to let beat you if he can prove that
he's beyond whatever got a grip on him at Salisbury. The record of Cole
runner's snapping together after a step back from debut is not a good one.
Brae Hill has his limitations and you would want 9/4 or better to feel
some value but hopefully Desire To Excel's presence will enable that. The
others haven't achieved much and the best each-way alternative would be
At Carlisle the interest is in the newcomers with the two previous
runners moderate. Mark Johnston has a good record in the race and at the
course over 5f with 4 wins and 4 places from 12 runners since 2002. Two
of the unplaceds have been in this race including with the limited Chatham
Islands on debut for owner Sheikh Mohammed last year. To point up the mixed
nature he has run two better class horses in the race in 2005-6 with Royal
Engineer (STO winner) & Middleham (STO winner for the chief Sheikh).
He runs Effort here for Sheikh Mohammed's son Hamdan (i.e. Hamdan
bin Mohammed & not Hamdan Al Maktoum) to whom he has presented all
his horses in training. He cost a lot of money but so did a lot of his
siblings. The dam produced French juvenile Group winner Titus Livius early
on and noting that has won at Listed level or above since. Johnston has
a record with 5f debuts below his average (3 from 39 in 2005-7) and the
one's he does get usually equate to higher class precocious types (Attraction
on April 29th being an example). He hasn't had a debut winner this year
and his only winner was Harwalla (3TO) who was second on debut on April
19th as his first representative of the year. He's also entered for the
5f Listed National Stakes so presumably he was as good as he had
for precocious ones. Which means that Effort wasn't that precocious, or
possibly good, and likely to be low value here despite coming out top on
Three other interesting debut runners with Bryan Smart (different to Johnston's
approach) represented by Visterre and already has three debut winners.
We are towards the end of his best period in most years and she has just
average prospects of being the better type that can win FTO (from a poor
draw). Dandy Nicholls has his best record with later season debuts and
his FTO win this year seemed to owe a lot to a fierce pace breaking up
the others that could have won that event. The other debuts have been more
typical of his early season record. Hysterical Lady is an expensive
purchase by his standards and has a good 5f 2yo pedigree overall.
Alan Swinbank did not have a debut winner before 2007 and then had four
of them. With an increased number of 2yos in the last two seasons they
have been readier to compete on their early runs and this probably reflects
a change in the type of individual bought as well as an adaptation in the
approach. He isn't one of those trainer's that loads the competitive 2yos
into the early runners on recent evidence though and the debut wins came
spread out through the season. Two debuts so far have brought a 4th and
a 9th and he runs two FTO today. Uramazin runs at Carlisle and has
a mixed pedigree and looks more a development type than a 5f one. At Redcar
he runs Miss Gibboa who is a cheaper purchase and also has a mix of speed
and stayer influences. Ones to watch to see how he is approaching 2008.