The Auction race at Chepstow looks an excellent opportunity for
Avonvalley to convert the promise she has shown into a win. In her
last two races she has recorded form that would make her very hard to beat
in recent of 9lbs (4lbs more than the normal weight-for-sex allowance)
from Admin. There is also good reason to believe she can perform
a little better. STO she competed in a three-way pace duel that softened
her up and she did well to hang on for second place. That Bath race has
developed in an interesting way with the fourth having won well and the
7th & 11th having blagged wins in low quality affair. The 3rd &
6th have both placed twice since to suggest solid types (low OR70s) behind
her. The latest place by the 3rd was Toga Tiger yesterday at Goodwood.
But, he was beaten by the 8th from the race to become the fourth winner
from the race to odd to three decent placers.
Last time she was in a tough Wolverhampton fillies race and ran really
well to be closing Diamond Laura down at the finish. She had lost ground
in separate bumping incidents on the way to the sharp bend and on it. That
was good form for this level and the form has been confirmed as solid.
The winner did best of the pace pressers in the Listed Marygate Stakes
at York and the 3rd (Above Limits) won well at Sandown in a fillies' maiden.
A solid physical type, who has basic pace, finishes races off well and
better off at the weights than she would be in an open maiden. She probably
ought to be odds-on.
Hopefully the combination of Beckett, Sanders & a reasonable debut
for Admin will keep Avonvalley at a backable price. He got from 6th at
halfway to challenge the leader into the final furlong before fading late
on. The quality of that race is debatable and the later runners from it
mixed. The winner got comfortably sorted out at Windsor but that was by
Monsieur Chevalier & Archers Road. The fifth has won a Salisbury maiden
but probably only needed to be competent with the placed horses both having
run loose at some point. Russian Rock was probably not the best horse in
that race for the medium term.
The others with previous runs make little to improve to compete with either
of the top two on profile with Safari Special third best. Unless
Saxby is a late example of the souped up Channon May debut then
the overall opposition looks thin. Saxby is a cheaper 2yo purchase to suggest
that is unlikely.
In summary, Avonvalley represents the next push forward of a pair
of strong seams of form which have pushed winners into various races. Other
than a draw a bit wider than you would like & the peculiarities of
this 'barrel roofs' course topology she looks a very strong contender.
Some similarities with the fillies' Maiden at Leicester with Ailsa
Carmel well clear on profile. She has proven less than Avonvalley and goes
from easier ground to a faster surface. However, her debut was above average
and she drew clear of the other newcomers in putting up a good chase to
two proven fillies when third at Newbury. She was not that fit for debut
although she showed a very likeable mature & professional attitude
which got her a long way in the race itself. The SANOI notes came to an
OR80-3 range and a belief that she is a reliable type to reach it. A good
favourite and certainly value at the 11/4 that some of the early tissues
has her at.
The two fillies from the Nottingham race behind Habaayib - Fenella Rose
& La Fortunata - achieved very little in placing. In general
the view would be to oppose that race until it can prove otherwise. Firm
going meant a lot of non-runners including some of those more fancied from
better sources. Add in some inexperience & slow starts from what was
left, including the winner, and it was a case of something having to place.
La Fortunata showed some natural pace to lead but faded and was apparently
the stable's second strong. At least worth watching to see how far she
can carry that pace here. Fenella Rose runs for a trainer who knows the
ability of what he has and often likes to set up horses for later wins.
Sometimes by making distances changes of 2 furlong from one run to the
next to slightly confuse people. Fenella Rose drifted notably in the Market
on her intended second run at Thirsk suggesting that STO was not the trainer's
aim. One to watch in the betting because of the trainer's record, including
the Exponential 'coup', but likely to be moderate one working towards some
Angel Of Fashion was not helped by a hold up ride in a slower race
last time but her last two races at Warwick have been weak moderate affairs
& she has not looked like winning. The trainer has won the race recently
with a similar OR72 type filly but that was in an empty race and this version
looks different. Which means the possible alternatives would have to come
from the newcomers. At which point we should drift off into a bit of SANOI
(Stick A Number On It) pondering.
B2yoR recently got sight of the latest edition of Taplin's "Two Year Olds
of 2009". A useful book in a one-off static source of information but obviously
light in ongoing analysis terms. It does seem to have toned down the "...look
at the winners we've tipped.." nonsense thankfully. Listing hundreds
of horses and claiming you have tipped them when one of them wins makes
the 'Racing Post's' Eyecatcher Experts seem like pitiless forensic scientists
by comparison. Reading through the trainer's comments are a classic example
of where the vagueness of the terminology used renders the phrases meaningless.
Remove the word 'Nice' and the book would be 20 pages shorter. Remove the
'Hopeful' phrases with no reasoning and another chunk would go. You have
to search very hard to find anything negative despite the fact that most
of the horses will not win. When they are there they will be in the "..he's
no worldbeater but he should win a race" format. Err, sorry, what quality
do you think he actually is?
Of course, you will search without success for a NUMBER or even a range.
It was fascinating listening to John Dunlop last week after he had a debut
win at Goodwood last week with his first 2yo runner. A 'Nice' chap but
not at the leading edge of technological innovation you would surmise.
He got his licence in 1966 when he became the Duke Of Norfolk's private
trainer. Someone from another world possibly.
Talking about what quality Goodwood Maestro he said that he never knew
how good the 2yos were until they ran. He only had a six colts working
at present so could not assess them. Surely, in 43 years at the game you
could come up with some way of assessing basic ability? How about timing
them or working with a reliable older horse. Plenty of trainers already
do it. Alan Berry would not be top of many people's list of leading edge
trainers but he could tell you what times for 4 & 5 furlong works would
transfer to being able to win what races (if he could get them to behave
properly on the course regularly). Younger trainers like John Naylor have
demonstrated electronic systems which link to the GPS systems and can record
various physiological measures while recording exactly where, and what,
the horse was doing at any point. But, we still value trainers highly for
experience & black arts. All touch & feel. When Snaafi Dancer turned
up at the Dunlop stables in 1984 as the most expensive yearling ever how
did you go about assessing him Mr Dunlop? Well enough to know not to bother
running him. What was that phrase? "$10.2M disaster" possibly.
Anyway, a quick look though the book for five of the fillies in the Leicester
race and a remarkably constant theme. Four of the five are described using
the phrase "Sharp" and another with the phrase "Active with a
2yo pedigree". Those with a long B2yoR memory might remember the very
first Preview which dealt with the use of trainer Weasel Words like Sharp,
Racy, Early 2yo and the like. The simplest way to translate this is as
"Small" and likely to be one that needs to get going early before things
get too competitive with bigger kit. 'Sharp' is an attempt to say that
although small it has some natural zip so might win a race (or two..).
But without specifying quality, OR range or anything concrete. 'Sharp'
could mean anything from small & useless though to a nippy OR90 type
lacking longer term potential because it is used to keep owners happy and
not to tell punters what to expect.
Anyway, on profile none of the newcomers come up to the Ailsa Carmel standard
unless they really are unusually SHARP & OR80s+. Bryan Meehan runs
two with the expensive Vanishing Grey looking the first string.
She presumably owes a lot of her sales price to being a sibling of Kingsgate
Native and perhaps less to her physical presence. Meehan avers that she
"looks a sharp filly" but may need 6f (so not that sharp). But she
is here over 5f. The trainer only gets debut winners with high class horses
to a good approximation so she will need to be very good to in this. Overall,
probably a bit on the small, err, Sharp, side. He also runs Lady Of
The Desert and you wonder why this one is not trained by Channon. He
trained the dam to win at Group 1 level and both siblings for the owner
breeder. Meehan is right on script in telling us she is sharp. Perhaps
ever sharper than Vanishing Grey but less good.
Henry Cecil runs Tomintoul Singer as his first 2yo runner after
Walk On Water was a non-runner last week. The Preview for her explained
how he has become less of a 'Ready FTO' trainer and if this one is here
she is probably more of a development project. Jamie Osborne inform us
that Carries Lass is "Sharp looking" and she is out of a
very tough racemare who has failed to produce a winner in a lot of goes
so far. The trainer does not go for debut wins and another who will need
to be much better than her profile suggests to compete for the win.
Ed McMahon is into solid debut form with his last three placed so you have
to take his FTOs seriously to some extent. When talking about Totally
Invincible he suggests she is "..on the small side but sharp enough".
Which is useful because small & sharp have been separated out. Overall
she seems likely to be one of the best prepared and drawn next to the rail
perhaps sharp enough to place. Phil McEntee had a FTO winner with a filly
in early season which was a non-runner before it ran. Gessabelle
follows the script and runs here after missing a race last week. Related
to other sharp 2yos and with a trainer who prepares the debuts relatively
thoroughly another possible placer from a less obvious source.
In summary, Ailsa Carmel sets a good standard and backable at the
right price. The others with form look limited and vulnerable even to smaller,
but sharp, newcomers. Something will step forward from the range of newcomers
to surprise & ask the paddock type what they think of Totally Invincible
& Gessabelle as each-way types. Oh, and perhaps we will revisit just
how 'Sharp' this bunch were later in the week.
A different set-up to the 6f maiden at Leicester with the top on
profile having shown poor form at the same Newbury meeting as Ailsa Carmel.
Calypso Star appeared to be the intended first string for Richard
Hannon in the second Division of the important 6f maiden there that he
targets. He had already won the first division with a taking performance
from Canford Cliffs. This one received enough support to think it was ok
but ran a shocker. The only good thing was that it was too bad. If he was
that useless he would not have been there. Pushed along from the start
and adrift late on. But, a review positive and ought o be an OR85+ better
type on that. The Market will be informative because if the Hannon's think
he should be running much better here the price should show it (say, 4/1
& under depending on the vibes for the Godolphin runner).
Only Atacama Crossing of the others with experience makes some appeal
as an alternative. He ran in the chaotic division of the first pair of
6f races of the season at Haydock. He drifted in the Market and made ground
from 7th to 2nd but through dead horses from the pace duel. The 4-6th from
the ace have not been competitive in various races since. Overall, more
interested in seeing how he runs than in supporting him unseen and a good
marker for how that race stacks up. Suspect that Danzoe & Petrocelli
are both smaller ones who will compete well through readiness and nous
but vulnerable to a better type.
The first Godolphin 2yo of the season to run was up to expectations in
that it was not ready to win FTO. Remember that there early runners these
days tend to be OR80s types and they do not wire them tight FTO like they
used to. They tend to be at shorter prices on reputation anyway and in
the long run opposable on principle (unless they go back to the Ready FTO
MO). Lamh Albasser cost a hell of a lot at $450,000 for a horse
out of a little filly that Hannon managed to win a sales race with back
in 2001 but has an ordinary pedigree. John Ferguson bought him so he is
likely to be on the 'Sharp' side but interesting to see whether the vibes
say he is supposed to be really good.
General interest in the other newcomers and assessing them for the future
but hard to see them surprising here. Motivational is sire
Motivator's first runner and he never ran at less than 8f. He is out of
a 6f winning dam so perhaps she is adding the zip. But, looking at the
Taplin book there is something almost useful from trainer Lanigan. He says
"..a 2yo without much scope at present" which sound a bit like small so
get it going. He then ruins it by hoping that it will improve and asserting
"It will win races.". Yes David, but at what level?
Astonishment & Mottys Gift both run for mostly non-FTO
trainers but at times which suggest they may be usable with development
runs so ones to assess in the race for the future.
In summary, most interested in seeing what Calypso Star actually
is in quality terms and hoping he has it in lines with his looks.