The two races planned for York today have been abandoned along with the
rest of the meeting. The 'St Leger Sales' race has been rescheduled for
Newmarket tomorrow when the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes will be run at Newbury
with the original horses entered able to have another go at declaring to
run. With a divided maiden on both cards the Newmarket card is a monster
11 races including two transferred Group 1s which would be a bargain to
attend whatever they charge to get in. Newbury has a piddling 9 race card
with the Ebor transferred as the 'Newburgh Handicap'.
Two races today and the nursery at Great Leighs looks interesting. Readers
will be aware that Zelos Girl was tagged as a fully-ready-on-debut
type who then got sent North to find a winnable race at a low level STO.
That part of her career was predictable but you would expect her to get
something in the OR70s for that and that would be too much in an ordinarily
competitive nursery because she's smallish and with little scope to develop.
But she has got into handicaps off OR67 along with a group of mostly smaller
fillies like herself which seems a feasible assignment. Leftontheshelf
hasn't been paddock reviewed and might be a better stamp of horse but is
on OR84 and has to give Zelos Girl 17lbs. Red Cell has been doing
well as a frontrunner in similar races but not quite getting home. Sweet
Applause stands out in the VP as a bigger type who could cause trouble
but she is on OR81 which seems about right. She is also trained by Alan
Jarvis who, another well worn set of juvenile racing characters, buys taller
types but turns them out fiery & wilful and often overtries them in
tough races. The result is they have patchy careers with hints of ability
but not a smooth story and winners come along unpredictably.
Let's go back to a mundane evening of racing at Folkestone on Wednesday
night which at least had the advantage of happening given the abandonments
elsewhere. The preview of August 20th gave a summary of the likely contenders
in the 7f Auction race and noted that a 'Lurker' (a horse of better physical
type than the profile would suggest) stand out in a group of mostly lesser
types. The race went pretty much to script with the 2nd-5th places filled
by Penton Hook, Never Lose, King's La Mont & Spit And Polish who were
four of the top five on profile. The draw made little difference and the
latr 7f event was a photo finish between a pair split far side and stands'
side to confirm the view.
Penton Hook (Picture)
looked well enough for the day and a taller type. Perhaps a bit lightly
made but being a washed out grey can add to that effect. But this isn't
a strong race and he's fine as top of the profile receiving weight and
with his trainer in form. 6/1 is a value price and he just gets touched
off in second. Fair enough. If you keep on backing 6/1 shots who can compete
to that level you'll be fine in the long run even though this one got mugged.
Never Lose (Picture)
is a smaller filly who you suspect finished second in a poor race last
time but that '2' will make her a shorter price than she should be. She's
given trouble in the past at the course but mostly ok here. She looks a
little overtried against the bigger colts and you suspect the weight differential
wont be enough. As a secondary factor she is in below average condition
and the trainer's runners have mostly presented in very good state recently.
SHe ends up joint favourite at 4/1 and a bit longer than expected but no
value. She does ok in third and see how she looks NTO.
Spit And Polish (Picture)
has a profile which says he is not very good but the trainer will get the
best out of him and he ought top be at his peak for this type of 'low course
quality' win attempt. His coat is in excellent condition and he's got an
up-for-it attitude from entry to the pre-parade ring. Ok as far as that
goes. Now, judging the difference between Good Energy (Positive and wanting
to race for you) and Bad Energy (Nervy & Negative) is one of the most
diffiuclt bits of paddock review. Even when you are sure it's Good (like
here with Spit And Polish) then judging when it's gone a bit too far and
might now be getting a detrimental factor is also tricky. Factors such
as going, race distance, age & experience of the horse can be added
in. An experienced sprinter over 5f on firmer going who always looks ready-to-go
isn't going to bother you in overdoing-the-good-energy terms. Make it a
less experienced horse over a longer trip on softer going and it can be
a difficult call. In the end Spit And Polish is doing too much in the preliminaries
and one of only two horses who managed to sweat at all at the whole meeting
in a stiff breeze.
Added to this the picture of him shows a very lean horse who has no spare
flesh. On the positive side he's very fit but John Dunlop would figure
in the top four of trainers that B2yoR sees in terms of getting the runners
fit to the point of perhaps being overdone. The others would be Gary Moore,
David Evans and Mark Johnston. Richard Hannon just doesn't turn runners
out looking like theirs for example, except possibly in very early season
with a high class older horse like Major Cadeaux but even then they don't
get as 'spare' looking. Mr Moore seems to get fitness without the overdone
look compared to the other three. But, with Spit And Polish it adds into
the 'Too much?' thoughts as he might be a little too tightly strung and
not get home. He finished 5th as the other joint favourite having led his
group into the last furlong (the leading and prominent running often goes
along with the exuberance of looking up-for-it in preliminaries and you
often know your fate after a furlong if you have supported one as 'Good
Energy' as it is tearing off in front with joie de vivre. C'est
la vie as they say in Folkestone.
King's La Mont (Picture)
looked a taller type, although narrow bodied, who ought to be usable in
this sort of race. The picture shows this well. A bit of a hat-rack but
ok size and seems to move athletically enough. Unconvincing attitude on
the day but the sort that ought to be able rate OR70+ somewhere in his
career. Not a pacey sort but ought to be keeping on in a leggy way later
in the race and perhaps a stayer. Ran that way by plugging on into 2nd
on his side in the final furlong and clearly not a lost cause over further.
Bertie Smalls (Picture)
looked like a possible lurker on paper and was in reasonable condition
and fit enough for debut. But an unconvincing mover and looking very 'stolid'
overall. A bit on the small side and an attitude that made him a 'Poster
Boy' for lethargy. Into the 'No' pile for today and finishes midfield at
Now, the race was won by a 20/1 Lurker who just pipped Penton Hook. Try
looking at the 'Virtual Paddock' test
which shows 6 of the other runners in the race and see whether you can
spot the long priced winner. Answer in tomorrow's preview.