Note that today's meetings (Wednesday) at York and Carlisle have been abandoned
because of waterlogged tracks. The York meeting would have included the
6f Group 2 'Gimcrack Stakes' & the 5f Listed 'Roses Stakes' along with
the 7f Group 3 'Acomb Stakes' rescheduled from Tuesday's abandoned meeting.
The Carlisle day included a 5f maiden.
With those two races lost we are left with two low quality events. The
Folkeston Auction race lacks runners with solid form aside from,
to some extent, Peter Winkworth's Penton Hook. The trainer had got
up to a 10% strike rate from 5 winners up to last Sunday and then had a
winner on Monday when the grey filly Tropical Paradise won a soft
Windsor fillies' maiden comfortably. When she had made two starts early
in the year she had been supposed to be one of his best but didn't really
show it in the races. On Monday she showed more of what the trainer was
expecting having trialled her on the AW at Lingfield. Which now means his
strike rate is above 10% and above what would be a solid average for a
Penton Hook has a little of the same background as Tropical Paradise. He
ran in a solid Goodwood maiden on debut ten days after Tropical Paradise
had set off. The trainer used the same maiden in 2007 to debut the STO
winner Sofia's Star and Penton Hook couldn't get involved in a stiff group
at the front. After nearly two months off he returned to run in a 7f maiden
on Lingfield's AW and was backed down to 7/2 and you presume he had shown
up well when trialled there as well. He ran ok in third behind two newcomers
who have both run well enough in placing in tougher groups on their second
outings. Overall, you suspect that Penton Hook has more to show and already
has close to the best form on offer and receives 7lbs from the topweights
because he only cost £3,400 at the sales.
The one real niggle is that he is drawn 14 of 14 and in the centre of the
track unless the stalls are moved across to the far rail. On firmer going
the stands' rail is a magic carpet that anything can win on and could make
you look like an olympic athlete. On softer going the rail can still be
an advantage although this can be muddied by jockeys taking the field to
the far rail out of habit. In which case Penton Hook would be in the perfect
spot to lead, or join in, the migration rightwards.
The more obvious dangers are all drawn low and you would hope their jockeys
would stick to trying to get them onto the stands' rail and the one that
manages it might conjure a comfortable win wherever the rest of the field
spread to. Spit And Polish represents John Dunlop who has an improving
record at the course with three wins in 2007 by runners dropped in 'course
quality' to try to find something winnable. This one has already had a
go at Brighton, the 'go to' place for trainer's looking to find a weak
race in the south, and couldn't win a duffish race at 8/1 and the 33/1
he started at on debut tells you he probably isn't very good. Respect for
the trainer and he's found a soft race overall but something should be
Amanda Perrett is another who uses the course to try to get a win with
moderate to average ones (say OR56-75 kit) and her record this year is
one win with Rio Royale (15/8f) and a 4th (7/1) and the 'Market does tend
to be some indicator of what to expect. King's La Mont is a taller
model but one of those horses who looks better side-on than end-on. A reasonable
height and neat enough but narrow bodied and underpowered. But, he ought
to be able to compete in this sort of race although he has to give weight
to most of the others and has good prospects of getting to the rail from
box 2. A bit of encouragement (say, less than 5/1) from the Market would
be 'of interest'.
After that you are into the dross and the hopefuls amongst the newcomers.
One of the good things about paddock reviewing low quality field like this
that lurkers can't really hide because a usable horse will stand out amongst
the tiny, the 'bits-and-pieces' and so forth. The Mark Tompkins newcomer
Bertie Smalls, drawn 1 next to the stands' rail, comes out top of
the 'lurkers' to sift.
In summary, Peter Winkworth has shown more this season in handling
juveniles than before and is in a good spell with them. Given that background
and the minor hype surrounding his previous runs Penton Hook looks a solid
favourite. His draw sets a problem and worth investigating each-way alternatives
amongst those near the stands' rail.
Every year there are races which if you just read them as 'form' and didn't
paddock review them can be difficult to get a grip on. In 2007 the classic
example is probably the 5f Conditions race that was run at Beverley in
May - Result
- with good class horses mixed in with ordinary types and a poor midfield
of Thomas Malory (seller winner) & Do As I Say much too close given
that the time looks ok. The time has been bettered this year only by three
races and most notably by Master Noverre (much quicker and possible a serious
horse on that) when he beat Fitz Flyer. That runner went on to finish second
on his next run and ran into two more high class horses lurking in an ordinary
Ayr maiden when he divided Weatherstaff & Jobe (wide margin winner
next time) who were both declared for the Gimcrack Stakes. The fourth at
Ayr went on to win a Goodwood nursery by a long way. How unlucky has Fitz
Flyer been to run into that group when he could have won pretty much any
northern maiden on the ability he has shown.
Anyway, that Beverley race from 2007 does have a number of '2yo characters'
which help to get a handle on the race. The winner was the tuned up for
early season Fred's Lad who was the type of 25/1 debut winner in April
for Mick Easterby we haven't seen this year. He was as good as he was ever
going to be that day. In second we had the runner that Bryan Smart took
time to understand in that Captain Gerrard was 5f front runner who needed
to learn how to settle and some softer going. In third was another who
had been souped up in early season in an expendable way by Mark Johnston.
The fourth was the best of Linda Stubbs' 2yos who had won early and then
improved later into June to win two later races (in the same way that Saxford
peaked this year). In 5th was a Vicky Haigh runner who throws in apparently
good efforts with poor ones with a lack of pattern. The favourite was a
small, short runner over 5f, that Kevin Ryan often has that doesn't really
stay 5f and struggles to win as the bigger horses come along if he doesn't
manage it in early season. Fast Feet was reduced to trying to win sellers
a ended the year a maiden. If you look at his early runners this year then
Amorachy, Count Almaviva and Majuba are similar in many ways.
This year the Redcar race that useful filly Lucky Leigh (who has looked
in good condition on her last two runs but has faded tamely) won on debut
- Result - is baffling
to read. The winner was clear which is fair enough on what she has done
since. The second was at 80/1 having shown nothing on debut and worse form
since. That was El Bobby who runs in the Hamilton Claimer.
If you could believe the Redcar race then he should have a good chance
but it seems unlikely on the way his career has gone. In third we have
another David Nicholls runner who bumbled about in early races before flowering
into a clear margin, front running, winner at Goodwood like Parisian Pyramid
did (i.e., the 'character' behind Fitz Flyer & the Gimcracks at Ayr).
The we get to what looked like the best horse in the race with Verinco
finishing well after a bungled start. He unseated his jockey when about
to win at Hamilton 3TO and his form has gone a long way south since. We
then get into a mixed group of claimer and northern auction race winners
and the point you would pull out of that set is how quickly Patrick Haslam
drops runners to claimers and sellers when other trainers persist in auction
events. Behind that midfield we have three of the better types on later
form shown. At least the last four home have had the decency to prove as
useless as they looked that day. With a bit of paddock review you could
have ranked that field by ability on the day and not have to wait, and
fall into various holes, while the ability was revealed on the track.
The Hamilton race features another two Haslam juveniles who have been quickly
dropped to a claimer. Blue Dagger seemed to run well on debut and
had winners above claimer level in front (Sloop JohnB who was in that puzzling
Redcar affair) and behind her. She was dropped to a valuable seller STO
and ran poorly (perhaps from a poor draw) and is topweight here. If she
could show her debut form, like El Bobby, she could have a good chance.
Becky Blue was 11/2 for a maiden at Redcar FTO but it's straight
to a claimer after a 6th there. Most trainers would be pointing to the
fact that the 3rd at Redcar was a Mark Johnston runner who has won an open
maiden since and spinning it out in maidens and auction events for as long
Three of the runners met in the same Newcastle race with Cash In The Attic
3rd, Royal Premium 7th (at 200/1 and appearing to show a level of form
the previous four runs had neglected to reveal) and Miss Gibboa well back
in 9th. The picture of Cash In The Attic from when she was reviewed at
Sandown after Newcastle shows an underpowered claimer type and the Newcastle
event can be put into context just from her appearance.
In summary, a tricky race without paddock review but you would put
the shortlist down to Blue Dagger and Cash In The Attic and assume El Bobby
will need a stable revival to get back to form. Blue Dagger probably has
more scope than the, more reliable, Cash In The Attic and may be more value.
Miss Gibboa is the obvious lurker if you can view the horses before the