British 2yo Racing - 2009 Season
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Racing Previews Results

Racing Preview - June 6th 
Races :-
  • Doncaster 4:10, 6f Maiden Fillies' (4)
  • Epsom 1:55, 6f Listed (1) "Woodcote Stakes"
  • Lingfield 7:20, 6f Maiden Fillies' (5)
  • Musselburgh 2:20, 5f Conditions (2)
  • Newcastle 6:40, 6f Auction (5)

  •   June 6th Summary : 
    •  Virtual Paddock = Epsom (Barzan, Desert Auction, Fratellino, Jack My Boy, King's Approach, Little Perisher, Red Avalanche & Walkingonthemoon)
    • ===========
    • The Listed Woodcote Stakes at Epsom usually has little significance in terms of winners in higher class races during the season and less so for development 3yos. It typically features a range of early season runners and the majority of this year's field had started their careers in the first 3 weeks of the season. Those that finish in front will often ends up as OR80s sprint handicappers at 3yo and struggle to win in that season. This will be because they have ended up rated in the OR95-105 range that any horse placing in a Listed event will get no matter what the performance. The figure will also not factor in what improvement the horses have so that the precocious horses, with limited 2-3yo physical scope to improve, will not be able to make the 15-20lbs of expressed ability performance the average thoroughbred is expected to make. Occasionally a better 7f horse may be in the field but they will normally be for trainers Hannon (Kings Point) or Channon (Cedarburg) who start horses over 5f in early season that most trainers would not.
    • Go back to 2002-3 and Mark Johnston had the winner both years with The Bonus King & Parkview Love. Look at their 3yo careers & no wins as their ORs tumbled down from 100ish through to 80s or 70s. 'Disappointing' people will say but if you looked at them as 2yos you would not have had that emotion. They were not the long term OR100+ older Listed, or Group, winning physical types but the OR80s handicapper they proved to be. Same in 2004 with Screwdriver winning well but descended the OR ladder at 3yo. None of those three won a race after the Woodcote until the end of the 3yo season. And, they were lucky. 2005 winner Ba Foxtrot did not win either but got a skin illness that caused him to lose all his coat hair.
    • The 2006 winner Sadeek & Declaration Of War in 2007 both proved able to train on a bit better although neither managed to win again at 2yo. Both were much stronger builds than a typical precocious type. Last year's winner Smokey Storm did not seem real OR80s on appearance at the time. His jockey Alan Munro had to keep reminding himself to play-the-game when interviewed after the race. He clearly thought the horse was limited and was surprised to have won a Derby Day race so cheaply. When tossed one of those "..that must have been great to win on such a top-class horse.." type questions afterwards he managed to subdue the giggle. He managed to come back with a nice bit of misdirection about " was the first time he felt like he might be a nice horse..". Later thumpings in Group races put it into the right perspective if you had not managed to work it out already. His runner up was the bigger & more solidly built Indian Art who did not win again either but seems to be into the normal OR level competitively this year.
    • On a look through the Virtual Paddock for the race it is not obvious that we have a bigger & better type for the long term there. They seem to be to the usual template with the possible exception of Red Avalanche. Jack My Boy has a bit of size but narrow bodied & Walkingonthemoon another lighter bodied one. Of the 5 not in the VP then Corporal Maddox & Avon River might be a little better on profile. But the first of those was downplayed by the trainer after his Hamilton win when Karl Burke gave a passable Munro impression when asked a similar question about whether the 'Moon' was the limit for this one. [Possibly by Tom Ryan, the King of the greasy, sugar coated, inquisition. Usually along the lines of " do you manage to be so effortlessly brilliant all of the time..." to some old 'pal'.] The second appears to be a Hannon second string and his win was not worth anything in a farce of a race. Just a niggle that Jimmy Fortune is not the second choice to Hughes though & Avon River is well drawn.
    • Mention of the Draw brings us on to Run Styles that work on the course. This is a bigger than normal field which throws a bit of doubt in but here is a Bluffer's Guide :-
      • The start is in a chute but you are soon across the main track and into a left hand curve downhill. The bend tightens at the base of the hill as you turn into the straight. If you are drawn low you are naturally on the inside of the bend & cover less ground. The recent winners of the race with 6+ runner fields reads 2003 (3 of 10, SP 11/2); 2004 (1 of 8, 7/2); 2005 (2 of 10, 4/1); 2006 (1 of 6, 6/4f); 2007 (11 of 13, 9/2, from stalls 9 (pressed leader early) & 1 (led early)); 2008 (3 of 10, 4/1).
      • Like Chester the bottom three stalls have an advantage if they can use it and the others need to find something different in quality terms to overcome it. That seemed to be the reason in 2007 when Declaration Of War (probably a real OR100 horse) managed to run down, lower end, precocious types in Bespoke Boy & Mount Pleasure. Those two had pressed on hard to soften themselves up.
      • When it comes to Run Styles being well drawn does not help if you are not forward going. 6 of the last 7 winners have been in the first 3 through halfway and usually less than 2 lengths off the lead. Front running tends not to be the answer at the course and tracking in second or third a better option. Declaration Of War came from 9th at halfway to be exceptional in that way also. 
      • The races at the course yesterday were a good example of how these races tend to unravel. You have a ribbon of horses working away from the rail in the straight with the leaders on the rail. Those further back and further off the rail are from higher draws plus slow starters. As the efforts made to make the pace tell those in the front start to stall and those further back in the ribbon starts to close up. How far back you can close from depends on the usual dimensions including ability & race pace. The front runners struggled to get home and horses were able to close in centre track to some extent but the advantage was still there if you run the inside route. The big point to note for today is that the rail was out yesterday lifting horses off the normal inside rail and further up the cambered straight. Presuming the rail is in it's normal position today that may well change the shape of the finishes a little.
      • To summarise that you should be looking for a low drawn, prominent racer with as much Class advantage as possible. An obligate front-runner is not so good because the downhill early part & lots of other enthusiasts will usually break them before the finish. A deep closer is no good unless he is very high class or the leaders go berserk. The horse storming through the final furlong-and-a-bit to finish 3rd or 4th after getting behind is one of the perennial Characters in the Woodcote story. If they do not get to the front they are OR80s horses chasing down other OR80s horses, of some shade, who have softened themselves up somewhat. Even if you are an OR98 horse you will not get to the front if you bungled the first bit badly.
    • Ok, so nothing is outstanding on 'Class' terms what about if we add in the Draw & Run Style? 8 of the 13 have lead their fields through halfway at least once and of the other 5 only Mon Brav & Yeadon have not been in the first 3 at the same point and within 2 lengths of the lead. Mon Brav is best drawn in 1 but was 6th at mid-point on debut on a stiff track. Not reviewed he may be better than his pedigree profile but he does not appeal as one to to get prominent in this group of, relatively, hardened sprinters. Yeadon is drawn 12 so a 'No' anyway. Terrific, two off the long-list.
    • To get the numbers down quicker let us take a Draw 6 as an outer point & ask whether anything above that can get prominent. Jack My Boy (7) has led his last two race but on stiffer courses and the quality of the form not strong. He isn't going to get to the lead here unless he has turned into the next 'Tamagin' in the horsebox so will need to close from mid-field. Just an average profile to do that. Fratellino is a bit more interesting because he may well have a right good go at crossing over. But he is lightweight & limited a this level & the effort would ensure he faded by 1 furlong out at latest. [If you believe horse size matters then probably the favourite moment of the season would be Fratellino being shunted aside Monsieur Chevalier at Sandown later in the race. There it was, the Truth encapsulated in one shot. B2yoR would encourage people to watch yesterday's Catterick fillies' race if they get the chance as well as a close second favourite. From the rail out the tiny Tillys Tale is shadowed by the small but bigger Oondiri with the much bulkier Ceedwell outside. Like Russian Dolls. Ceedwell takes time to gather herself against the little ones but when she applies the power she has the situation under control.]
    • Desert Auction in 9 appears the Hannon first string and has a good Run Style profile having sat 2nd or 3rd in each of his 4 races and within 2 lengths of the lead. Whether he can do that from stall 9 seems a bit doubtful but jockey Hughes does not mind cutting s few up if he can get the horse out smartly. Leave him on the possibles list. The fact that he has beaten Star Rover has to be a plus too since that horse seems close to the top of the form so far among the precocious 2yos. He beat him when that horse had run 24 hours before & below his best but still a solid effort in the context of this field.
    • Walkingonthemoon has led twice on softer ground and been granted easy pacemaking both times. He ran less well on firmer going with Fratellino to bother him. First string for the stable but too much of a job on overall. Corporal Maddox would need to be higher class & comes up short of that. King's Approach seems the Hannon 3rd choice and put in 13 and with a review that says he is short of even the OR88 required Standard.
    • We are left with a look through draws 2-6 for credentials with Desert Auction not dismissed fully. Jimmy Fortune bullied Avon River to get to the front at Kempton in a small field then applied the breaks. He turned that race into a short sprint in the straight with him best placed. He will not be able to do that here but he is in a good spot to get to a good position if the ability is there. He is probably not far behind the required level and a possible overall. The Market should be some help because it should tell you whether the Hannon Stable think he is good enough to compete or just here for a Derby Day out for the owners. Let's say, single figures if he is ok?
    • Red Avalanche has a solid profile overall. Good enough in quality terms, well drawn, has been 1st or 2nd at midway in his last three races and gave Star Rover a good tussle when Red Avalanche was below his best. He seemed to show improved form on softer going but has run well on firmer going. He did not run that well last time when held up in a slower race but that should not happen here. His last run looks better now Crown has won again since as well. Some niggle but a profile you could live with if he got beaten.
    • Royal Desert looked short of the class required in his first two runs and well beaten by Red Avalanche first time. He seemed to improve for leading at Bath but in a low level race and a time just faster than the juvenile seller on the same card. The trainer usually runs OR80+ types in the race and some respect for that but short overall. Barzan is the stable's second string & his Brighton win has mixed messages from the subsequent runners. The placed horse she beat look limited on later outings and the 4th has improved for settling STO to win a minor race.
    • Little Perisher is drawn wider than you would like and his Run Style suitability depends upon his latest outing. But, he has developed with racing and the last two runs have looked like real steps forward. The Ascot race he ran 3rd in has looked a Key form race for these early season events and he looked better next time with a comfortable win. A solid second choice to support Red Avalanche and two needed in what is really a quite closely matched sprint.
    • In summary, a tricky race and not the obvious Trump Card of superior quality among the field. Would take Red Avalanche & Little Perisher against the others in a competitive race. See how the Market goes for Avon River as possible each-way value. Pass on Desert Auction overall with the wide draw but become a lot more interested 'in running' if Hughes can get him 3rd-4th without much effort. Who is going to be the slightly bigger one steaming down the outside to finish 3rd-4th? Let's guess, err, Estimate at Corporal Maddox.
    • ====================
    • A fascinating fillies' maiden at Doncaster which pulls together a number of stories. Interesting enough in naming terms with Proper Littlemadam taking on She's A Character while Raddy 'Ell Pauline takes the attitude outside of the horse behaviour into disguised swearing. Meanwhile the 'Old Money' worlds of Highclere & the Rothschild's give us Caviar and a Love Match. Raddy well done, everybody.
    • Two of the fillies have run before and Brinscall seems proven as short of the required standard. Babylonian  is a more difficult puzzle and one of a batch of Mark Johnston STOs from his May debuts. B2yoR would admit to being a trifle puzzled about how to assess Johnston debuts if you are short of direct review information. The Market mostly knows very little except at the extremes and the way they perform on debut hints at how different the Johnston preparations are to many other trainers. 
    • Try thinking about this. In 2008 he ran 16 horses on debut between May 1st and the first week in June. One of those won FTO and only 8 managed to win during the season. Many in later May were Maktoum family 'Surplus Stock' (usable OR60-73 types) with good pedigree & sales credentials. The SPs got longer in late May but did not help to pinpoint which of the 16 were competitive on the day or likely winners in future. The other 7 later winners, aside from the FTO success, managed 3 places & 4 unplaced on debut including Takaatuf (yes, that one) 13th at 33/1. Here is a list of his 17 debuts in the same period this year to peruse to see if there are any 'angles' to find to assess which are the good ones from FTO.
    Horse FTO Place
    & SP
    FTO [Est] Halfway 
    [Est] Difference
    to STO+
    King Of Axum 1st, 10/3 15 6 -6 & +1 Accidental win in weak race. Beaten x2 since.
    The Hermitage 2nd, 13/8 12 1 +4 & +23 Too free FTO & fade. Good winner & Listed placed since
    Step In Time 2nd, 4/1 18 9 +10 Laboured winner of late race sprint STO
    Avonrose 8th, 12/1 -19 5 +47 Step to 6f STO. Too free FTO?
    Baileys Vision 2nd, 10/1 10 5 +12 Ok 2nd STO
    Original Dancer 8th, 9/1 -10 10 Chosen for York debut
    Nave 8th, 9/2 -20 8 +34 Outpaced 3rd in late race sprint STO
    Pallantes Cross 10th, 6/1 -115 8
    Below Zero 3rd, 7/1 21 5 Good winner at Bath
    Bikini Babe 7th, 2/1 -6 1
    Shakespearean 1st, 7/1 28 9
    Capercailie 1st, 9/4 25 3 Runs in Musselburgh Conditions Today
    Take Ten 5th, 11/10f -1 5
    Babylonian 3rd, 4/1 8 3
    Capacity 4th, 13/2 1 4
    Cherry Bee 2nd, 6/1 15 2
    Layali Al Andalus 2nd, 6/1 33 2
    • The colours are the usual Green for later winner, yellowish for later placer & reddish for unplaced subsequently. Overall, you would say that this year's bunch look better than the crop he gave us last year. Try it for yourself & look through the list to try to find a pattern in one of, or combination, of FTO SP, place, rating ([Est]), Run Style to see if you can predict how strong the STO run will be. On SPs you would say that Take Ten & Bikini Babe are actually better class ones that failed FTO for some reason. Bikini Babe was the Johnston debut that steams off in front then blows up in later race and hangs left (never right). Bigger & flashy & believable as better one.
    • In general, you would say he horses are not trained to 'quicken' in preparation or to cope with difficulties. If they can get to a balanced position & prominent on ability they can but put them under pace pressure they cannot handle & they flounder. When they make ground in later race it is a laboured process and they take time to gather. Looking through the ones above Capercailie probably came as close as any to quickening & runs at Musselburgh. Drawn against the rail you suspect he will be favourite & add 10+ to his debut rating and he comes out near the top of the profile. Despite his whacking penalty Archers Road just tops it & interesting to see how that plays out. That race also features North Central's debut as a full brother to South Central who won by miles on debut this time last year. He looks competitive with his allowances if he has ability. The race will presumably see Dispol Keasha going haring off in the lead but not getting home & providing a target for the best of Archers Road, Capercailie & North Central to close onto. Eternal Instinct & Reignier come next on the profile with the latter competitive with a bit of extra improvement.
    • Which brings us back to Doncaster where Babylonian runs for Johnston. In short, B2yoR does not much fancy that York maiden she debuted in nor how she went through it. She rolled around and faded with a lot of moderate fillies behind a stiff pace set by the, probably, OR70s Falling Angel which allowed Sweet Sonnet's daft win. A low rating FTO & not up to winning this unless she can find 15+ points improvement & not a lot of excuses for her first run. That's the theory.
    • Anyway, a number of solid FTOs to take her on with so a decision to live with. To clear a few out the better ones do not include Caviar who seems likely to be an ordinary Hannon debut rather than the high class one (but watch for late Market support below 4/1). Some interest in how Fasette goes because the trainer is running his first batch at present & the first two have shown quiet promise for the future. Fasette only cost 1,000 guineas but the trainer says she is a good size and usable. But, he does not get FTO winners normally so a pass for the day.
    • Which means the FTO shortlist comes down to Raddy 'Ell Character, Love Match & She's A Character. Love Match is the first runner of the year for Roger Charlton and he picks out competitive 2yos for the earliest runners. He ran the STO winner & later Group placed Rose Diamond in this maiden last year and she finished 4th at 9/2. Which is pretty much the point. If Love Match is running here-and-now she is a solid 2yo and up to winning at OR80+. But, the trainer does not press for debut wins and, while competent, the horses will not be fully ready. As a daughter of Danehill Dancer out of a mare that won at Group level as a juvenile Love Match could well be up to Rose Diamond level but still a place would be good promise here.
    • Richard Fahey has had a Doncaster debut winner already this year to add to one last year. He runs She's A Character who has just a middling 2yo pedigree and a solid debut on profile but short of the level for a better debut. But, the best of the Northern debuts on profile is Kevin Ryan's Raddy 'Ell Pauline. Ryan has had just one winner (of two races) to date in a poor season. This filly was retained for a very high 140,000 guineas at the breeze up sales and hard to make a case for that on pedigree grounds. She is by the new sire Dubawi who has yet to have a winner but we should be seeing some of his better representatives starting out soon. The same could be said for the trainer who normally batches up his better debuts and later May into early June is a good time to expect to see one. Obviously, if she is 33/1 the confidence goes down a lot & She's A Character perhaps becomes the one to take Babylonian on with.
    • In summary, that's all very well in practice but what about the Theory. Babylonian does not appeal on what she achieved FTO which seem to lack any hints of the Johnston debut promise. The better of the Southern debuts looks like Love Match who may be the best filly in the long-term but would only place normally. Kevin Ryan must have a good one somewhere to start out soon and the better ones win FTO at this time of the season which makes Raddy 'Ell Pauline a strong possible on her overall profile.

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