A small field of 6 newcomers for the 6f males' maiden at Ascot.
Last year the race attracted 13 runners - Result - and the first three
pulled well clear in a good demonstration of how the better types usually
make the fornt places if they are in the field. However, as with
Newmarket maidens it can be easy to get caught up in the hype and believe
that the maidens are stuffed with high class horses and future winners.
If we return to the 2007 result the winner ran once more when unplaced
at 5/2 in an average 7f Group 2. As a 3yo he has won a conditions race
and been beaten, as a short priced favourite, in a similar event and hasn't
fulfilled the large reputation he had tback then and still to some extent.
The second didn't run again and hasn't done that well as a 3yo with places
in a maiden and a 4 runner Listed race albeit behind solid horses. Aqlaam
was in third and is currently injured again but in two starts this season
easily won a maiden and then a Group 3 at Royal Ascot.
The gap back to the fourth+ horses is a real one in that it is caused by
ability and not track bias or some other reason. The front three were OR90+
raters to some level and much well above 100 in Aqlaam's case. The three
later juvenile winners in the field in 2007 finished 4th to 7th. The fourth
was Hawaana whose OR has declined from 86 to 80 in three handicap runs
as a 3yo, all unplaced. Moral Duty in 5th won off OR75 as 2yo and that
looked the limit of his potential. Arctic Cape was in 7th and has had 5
goes at 3yo with his OR declined from 85 to 77 without managing a place.
The 8th & 9th have struggled to win but both managed to do so off around
OR74 at 3yo and the lower end of the 'Interchange Range' or OR70-79 between
moderate and horses and the start of better handicappers around OR80.
That range of physical types showed up on the day with Atlantic Sport &
Skadrak being the biggest horses and the second of those not convincing
that he was an efficient mover. Aqlaam wasn't as big but more powerful
than the 4th+ '70s Handicappers' and a better mover than Skadrak. He has
presumably physically imporved well to 3yo. Behind that the field looked
limited but the 'Ascot' aura still makes it difficult to acknowledge that
for what it is.
An interesting set for this year's race but not easy to put your finger
on the winner. Let's start with trainer Alan Jarvis who runs Kings Ace.
Mr Jarvis often runs horses at Ascot and these are often being overtried
and are out the back. But, he has had four winners at the course in the
last 5 seasons including two on debut with fillies capable of winning at
Listed or Group level later. As noted in a Preview early in the season
he buys horses who are exactly the opposite shape to a 'Hannon 2yo' for
the most part. Mr Hannon likes bulky horses of any size and sprinter shapes.
Mr Jarvis likes tall, narrow and leggy ones but with some range. The differences
continue in that Mr Hannon turns out, as a group, the most relaxed, 2yos
you will see. Mr Jarvis turns out fiery, fizzy ones and this often strays
into being a real negative in behaviour terms.
He ran fillies in the 6f maiden on Friday and in the Group on Staurday
at the course. With the model of the tall & fiery ones in mind here's
Sweet Possession (Picture,
3rd in the maiden at 33/1) & Sweet Applause (Picture,
last in the Group 3). Not hard to believe Sweet Applause ran too freely
and was eased looking at the picture (she tore off in the lead when beaten
on heavy in maiden previously at odds-on). Sweet Possesion has calmed down
from her dancing entry to the parade rings and managed to run well. Which
all means that Kings Ace isn't entirely discountable but he will need to
be a high class runner and a tractable one to figure and the market may
well give a hint if he is a better one.
Mr Haggas runs Sir Isaac who is a cheap retainee for an owner breeder
and not typical, on profile, of the type of horse he runs at Ascot. He
has run 13 juveniles at the course between 2002-7 and 12 have made the
first 4 (the other was 5th) and mostly in double figure fields. The list
includes a number of his best horses - Brunel, Majestic Missile, Sharplaw
Star, Conquest & Enticing. The three he ran in 2007 where all for Hamdan
Al Maktoum including Aqlaam & Alfathaa (talked up for the 2,000 guineas
after an early season win). So, Mr Haggas seems to take Ascot seriously
and doesn't go in for 'social runners' looking for a nice day out to give
the owners some fun. But, hard to believe this is a better one one profile
and on his statements that this was a "small one" in early season stable
Mark Johsnton has to have an Ascot 2yo winner sometime but Tilos Gem was
clearly not a better one on Paddock Review before he was last in the 7f
maiden on Friday. Marbled Cat is a son of the useful 5f winner Catstar
who ran second to Attraction in the Queen Mary here (a remote second).
A possible but would need to see a much better type than the trainer ran
on Friday here.
Which leaves the three of Albaher, Bawaardi & Euston
Square. The first two of those were quite expensive purchases for Hamdan
Al Maktoum at around the 150,000 guineas range. Both have relatively 'fast'
and 2yo oriented pedigrees and Hamdan likes to have a set of these each
year. Albaher has the second retained jockey on and races for John
Dunlop. Mr Dunlop does get debut winners and the majority of them for Hamdan.
However he is not having a good season to date after a below average effort
in 2007. 26 runners to date for 1 winner at a 3.8% strike rate. A couple
of placed debuts (both for this owner) by runners then beaten STO. We can
expect this to be an above average debut although difficult to be enthusiastic
of the winning chance although the 'second string' tag often pushes these
runners out to value prices in double figures (Just 'Ask' Ryan Moore about
second strings and choices..).
Bawaardi is one of a pair of runners for John Gosden who has had three
debut winners to date including a last stride win for Floodlit in a moderate
race last Wednesday. The other is a well related (half to Group 1 5f winner
Continent most notably) owner bred for Khalid Abdulla with Euston Square.
Richard Hills rides Bawaardi suggesting he is the better of the Hamdan
pair and Jimmy Fortune Euston Square. Mr Gosden gets debuts winners with
the high class ones so the better of the pair should have made that visible
to them in home work even if they haven't fully tried them out.
In summary, Bawaardi makes most appeal but some interesting stories in
the other 5 and a test to see whether the '95' horse (it he is there) stands
out from the '75' ones.
Low level stuff in the other two races at the Northern courses with seller
(OR55-65) at best unless Raedah is better than she looked at Salisbury.
Yesterday saw three (of the four) odds-on favourites beaten with Annapolis
(2nd at 1/3f), You've Been Mowed (Picture,
3rd at 8/11f) & Captain Ellis (2nd at 1/2f). The first two of those
brought moderate form into their races and seller to good seller level
at best. Both were poor favourites because they set such a low standard
that a competent OR50s runner would give them troble if they were a little
bit below par. The third of those ran much better and was 2 lengths clear
with the eventually winner driven along before getting caught late on.
He was a good favourite on form and on TV pictures big enough to look after
himself against a solid newcomer. He still set a high standard although
he appeared to lose concentration after being in the lead for some period.
The other 'Good Favourite' was Elnawin who won at 1/2f at Salisbury.
Which brings us to Raedah at Pontefract. This is one of those stories
that you can paint any way you want if you don't bring into the discussion
what physical type she is. On paper she ran well on debut and just got
caught by a filly with a good trainer and illustrious owner. That filly
(Sea Of Leaves) has run in Group races twice since so Gosden must think
she's good. So, Raedah is a good favourtie at a shot price in a weak field
on profile? Well, No. She isn't going to set a stiff standard and probably
in the 60s and vulnerable to a bigger horse.
Sea Of Leaves is tiny and has been well beaten in both of those Group races
and isn't up to that standard. The trainer usually finds a second race
for that type to win but it will presumably be in a Fillies' conditions
event or she might end up in nurseries. She was just ahead of Our Wee Girl
on debut but she's another small and limited on who is oversold by looking
at her form (2nd to Cherry Hinton winner Please Sing and all that). Here's
what Raedah (Picture)
looks like and she's another small one and compact in body length and lacking
range. A nippy 5f thing if she's anything and at least that is what she
looked like at Salisbury. But on a stiff Pontefract course you could easily
see somthing a bit bigger overhauling her in the final furlong.
Fortunately for her there isn't a strong opposition profile unless Magic
Cat is a better type for Karl Burke. But, she doesn't set a high standard
and it wouldn't need much to soften her up (running a bit too free early
for example). A poor favourite and not one to support at presmably short
Without even a bit of Southern 'class' the Carlisle 5f Auction looks
like a seller and a range of horses could reach the required standard and
a longer priced winner probable. The Richard Fahey runners have competed
strongly on debut in 2008 but haven't progressed a great deal overall in
later runs. Sloop Johnb has seller level form and doesn't appeal. At a
distance and lacking Paddock Review Jaslyn appeals as the