Two divisions of the maiden at Southwell and
a welcome change from some of the small fields the early races at the course
have at times produced. The surface is Fibresand and the only one of it's
type in the country. Although classed as 'All Weather' along with Polytrack
it has different properties and tends to ride deeper and slower. You cannot
quicken on the surface in the way you can on turf and to a large extent
on Polytrack. You have to grind good performances out by sticking at it
and moving efficiently on the surface. The horses that really handle the
track can appear to skip over the surface when it has enough moisture in
it to make it hold together.
Many horses do not handle the surface and
perform to a notably lower level. Backing short priced horses who are unproven
on the surface is to be avoided. Good runs on Polytrack make them favourite
and sloppy 'Form' based thinking will sucker you in. As well as being able
to move properly on the surface you need the horse to have the mental toughness
to not mind the kickback and to be able to extend their efforts for the
This set-up means that early pace and getting
a good position is very important. Remember from last year's discussion
that 2yos making big moves to win on turf is rare over 5f on firmer going.
Most of the juvenile winners over 5f here this season will be within 1.5
lengths of the leader at halfway so will be second rank at worst. If the
one you have backed is 3 lengths back in 6th after 2 furlongs you are in
trouble and need some external help to win.
To a large extent races will fall into one
of two types over 5f. The first is where the leaders go a usable pace and
put everything else under pressure. The runners will fade in order and
the leading set will stall last and sort it out amongst them. In odd races
the leaders hook up and go berserk and will often then be fading just inside
2 furlongs out. The outpaced horses then get the chance to trundle through
to win. How fast the track is running will assist either type of race.
If older horses are running sub-59s then closing is extremely unlikely.
Over 60s and the pace collapsing becomes more likely.
The surface, when running well, provides a
very good benchmark test for 2yos. A usable pace will spread those that
handle the surface out in ability order. Lesser athletes fading first in
a visible demonstrations of the differences. The need for consisent application
of power by the horse throughout the race and getting into a sustainable
rhythm can catch jockeys out. Last year's Preview noted how a jockey like
Jamie Spencer who likes to cruise about at the rear of the field in the
hope of quickening through late in the race looked out of place at the
track on a rare visit.
B2yoR would add Hayley Turner to that set
because she has on at least 4 occasions made a horlicks of winning on the
best horse in the race. Michael Bell has provided exactly the right kit
to win and Turner has come cruising up to the leader inside the last 2
furlongs. But instead of letting that run continue she hooks the horse
back so as not to lead too early. But, now we are making trouble we do
not need. When the horse is asked to quicken to lead late on it is now
scrabbling in place of cruising. Two of the four have managed to win with
Juicy Pear the latest after some unseemly later race struggling.
The surface makes a good case for the jockey
sitting still if the horse is in a good rhythm late in the race and let
it run on. In Britain we are brainwashed at an early age to want our jockeys
to be, to put it politely, active in a finish. Bouncing around and unbalancing
the horse might be another take. "Look at that", shouts the proto-Thommo
in the commentary box, "the jockey has lifted the horse over the line".
Tosh, of course, and only one of the species involved in racing is doing
the lifting and carrying and they are equine. Being 'Strong' in a finish
is not about physical strength despite what we are told relentlessly. It
is about encouraging the horse to give more if you think it has it. Bouncing
around may not be the answer and will certainly add extra energy to the
system that the horse will have to cope with. While not in the habit of
quoting adverts (impossible to avoid with ATR..) but the phrase 'Ostentatious
adolescent display' comes to mind. Horses recognise 'Presence' in humans
and they know when the 'Boss' has arrived. It always seemed to B2yoR that
this is a big factor with Fallon and mentally dominating the horse. Very
little physical strength required.
If you really want to test strength in the
jockeys then holding up a horse in early race that wants to pull itself
to the front is a much better test. A tug-of-war where we could use a meter
to record the forces involved. If you want to question female jockey's
'strength' then it's application in the finish of a race is probably the
wrong area to be looking. Try recording how many horses are unable to be
held up by the jockey when they are running too freely.
Just one more thing before we get to the races
and that is the Draw. Now, as with most 2yo maiden races, the draw is a
much lesser factor than basic ability because there will be a wide range
of abilities on show. If the draw made, say, 6lbs difference then the OR80
horse is still going to beat the OR65 one but by 2 lengths less. It will
make a defining difference between more closely matched ones but they will
be a small elite in most races. Traditionally the Southwell 5f course confers
an advantage on those that race in centre track over those further towards
the stands' rail. This equates to low draw numbers.
The subtlety is that the stalls are pushed
in from the outside of the course and British stalls are numbered from
1 on the far right. Which means that for different sized fields 'Stall
1' is one a different starting point. During the worst of the 2009-10 winter
this low draw bias disappeared and you presume it was the fact that the
course was being worked 24 hours a day to stop it freezing and perhaps
some other track management factors. The hints have been that the bias
is back in February and March. The March 5f races at the course have produced
wins as Draw 2 of 8, 3 of 8, 2 of 7, 1 of 9, 4 of 13, 12 of 12, 8 of 11
& 4 of 13. The one that won from stall 12 veered left from the stalls
and wiped out half the field without losing any ground and ran up the centre
of the course. The winner from stall 8 beat horses from draws 2-1-3-4-5
and also raced up the centre of the track.
With which let us consider Division I.
Having spent a fair bit on Monday's Preview explaining why to avoid the
Fahey runners we find Jamesway clear in the Profile. This is partly
due to his own background and also to the thin-ness of the others in prospect.
Jamesway is Star Rover's full brother and he won on the first day of the
season and their dam won the Brocklesby. The trainer has shown this year
that a 'natural' can win FTO off his normal preparation and Jamesway clearly
represents a plausible 'special case' natural. Worth recalling the difficulties
the surface represents and that means looking for a longer price for value
Difficult to find a realistic alternative
and if we went back 5 years this preview would probably be putting up Bobby
Smith as a possible. Mick Quinlan used to get regular FTO winners in
the first half of the season and it was profitable to follow him. He also
used to have an average record with 2yos overall, at least. The last few
seasons have seen that change and 2009 was his worst for 10 years. Perhaps
an illness problem with the horses. His FTO record in the last 4 years
is 1 win from 61 goes and that was with a filly up to winning the Queen
Mary beating garbage at Folkestone. Enough in his pedigree to think he
could compete to place but the trainer's record is now poor so probably
have to pass until he shows he is back in form.
Which means you are then expecting a bigger
stable like Tim Easterby or Clive Brittain to produce a good natural to
overcome their lack of FTO firepower or a surprise from a smaller set-up.
If Jamesway is no good or fails on the surface and Bobby Smith is a little
one this thing is up for grabs. Tim Easterby used to be a 'Top' 2yo trainer
but his last solid year was 2002 and he has a below average record since.
He never was a 'FTO Trainer' and if you remove the wins in that Ripon maiden
in April he hardly ever has one. He often runs a good 2yo in the small
batch of early runners but they often blow out. Hamish McGonagall flapping
around at the Brocklesby field being a typical moment.
He runs three across the two divisions which
means an earlier start for a larger batch than usual. Mappin Time
looks the first string and has a reasonable US pedigree and of the three
he runs looks the most likely to be the OR74+ possibility. But, unlikely
to be ready to win a normal race FTO. This event may not be normal depending
upon Jamesway and on profile Mappin Time has a good chance of placing and
who knows if the race collapses. Trading is his second runner and
looks a cheap and moderate one who would probably be an OR50s type if usable.
Clive Brittain clearly has a lot of his 2yos
ready for early season but the ones to run so far would not give any encouragement
to expect a FTO win. Two of the three have comically blundered about off
the back of their fields looking startled and the other at least went along
in midfield and faded with the others. Merjaan ought to be a good
one as a very expensive rep for new sire Iceman and has an all 'Cheveley
Park' pedigree. In a field this thin he should be able to place just on
bumbling along at a solid pace. Can he be trusted to do that? Let's hope
the Paddock Guy isn't feeling too cold.
Phil McEntee also runs three across the two
Divisions and two of them have run already. Now, Mr McEntee has been getting
early winners with garbage wired tight by the end of March for a long time.
He won a similar race to this at the course in 2007 with Baytown Blaze
3 days after running in the first race of the season. Which means that
the two second time out runners may well include a solid competitor for
the day. Huckle Duckle ran in the owner's second colours on debut
with the senior jockey on rather than the apprentice the yard uses. He
was wearing blinkers and either he would not go forward in these or he
was just too inexperienced to get going. Either way he was adrift early
and finished last. He has the same jockey here and the apprentice is on
Difficult to see Huckle Duckle improving enough on a more difficult surface.
Callipygos is on debut so would need to be better than the pedigree reads,
and the failure to find a bidder at the sales suggests.
Wotitis represents Bill Turner so might
compete on preparation but has a poor pedigree and was another to fail
to find a bidder at the sales. One for the review to check for size but
not one to expect a debut winners for the yard. Moving Picture is
a cheap one and the first 2yo runner for Ben Haslam having taken over from
his father. Not a stable to expect a strong FTO run from so another to
The other two runners are for newer trainers
that we are all still learning about. Paul Midgley has managed improved
performances in the last two years with increased numbers of 2yos and nearly
all cheap buys. In the last two years he has a record of 10 individual
winners from 28 juveniles that had cost less than 5,000gns at the sales.
Which is a good effort. Debut wins do not seem likely unless he has an OR80+ type and he gets a lot of
horses going in April and the usable ones will be mixed in with the absolute
rubbish. Be A Good Lady is new sire Goodricke's first runner out
of a moderate mare. One to check for ability.
Pat Morris took over Rob Lloyd's Cheshire
Stables after the previous incumbent got the heave-ho. A solid start in
2009 with a 10% strike rate and the two individual winners finished first
(16/1) and second (25/1) on their debuts. A trainer to keep in mind for
a surprise FTO win in 2010. Roodee Queen is out of a mare who ran
in early season and has sibling that ran ok early for trainer Stan Moore.
A believable pedigree to make a minor winner early and for a trainer where
ability seems to show up FTO.
In summary, Jamesway seems a strong prospect
but unlikely to be value. Merjaan ought to be a good one but not easy to
believe Brittain will have him ready to win. Will need to be Group class
to win FTO but not entirely dismissable that is the case but a pass. Bobby
Smith & Wotitis for trainers who do (or used to) get FTO wins do not
really appeal. The Easterby pair do not seem likely winners either although
Mappin Time may well be OR70+. McEntee should have a strong STO run on
the Day but Bold Deceiver in Div II appeals most as that. Be A Good Lady
unlikely strong debut and Moving Picture not good enough. Which leaves
Roodee Queen as an each-way possible if she look big enough. Plus, see
whether Jamesway ever gets to value price.
Division II has a different shape but
it lacks the possible Trump Cards of the Jamesway & Merjaan types who
just prove too big even if unready. The profile is a surprise because Bold
Deceiver comes out at the top if at a low rating level. The notes above
explain the McEntee STO approach and the apprentice ridden Bold Deceiver
showed enough on debut to believe an improvement would be competitive in
a weak race. Got going ok and fourth through halfway and dropping back
from 5th to 9th in the final furlong. A just believable set-up attempt
to compete here. Part of the point of Profiling is to put the thoughts
into a number framework and also to escape from the simplistic thinking
of Fahey & Ryan = 'Good' and McEntee & Kelleway = 'No Good' straitjacket.
Which just brings you to the same, underpriced, horses as everyone else.
Second up is Style And Panache for
David Evans and you should be able to see the background there. We haven't
seen a strong debut from his runners yet but the three who have started
on the all-weather to date have all got involved and been in the first
three at some point in the final furlong. This one has a solid pedigree
and the sire does get early 5f wins.
We are then into the middling looking debuts
for the larger stables who have a mixed FTO record. Arctic Feeling looks
more like the ordinary Fahey debut at this times of the year and without
the possible higher quality of Jamesway. Another sign that Fahey has more
early runners than normal but still to decide whether he has them up to
normal 'May Prep Level' which brings the FTO wins. Another poor value one
and especially if Jamesway goes well.
Kevin Ryan has similarities to Fahey in that
the debut wins come along in very early season with the higher class ones.
The batches of FTO wins come along later on when the better 6f+ types emerge.
His two, attempted, runners this year have not looked ready to compete
and seemed more like STO set-ups. Daas Rite was a Brocklesby entry
which may indicate a solid type but a cheap profile and not compelling
Clive Brittain has yet another one with Mishtaaq
by a sprinter but out of a stout dam. Nothing to suggest anything better
FTO that what we have already seen. Tom Dascombe's two runners to date
have both faded in later race and have not looked as ready, nor as good,
as his rash of debut wins in 2009. He will come into form at some point
but the feeling is that he is still playing his way in at the new base.
Rowan Spirit is by Captain Rio which is going to get the Sires-for-Going
gurus nodding but does the sire really get early 5f wins? The dam doesn't
add any sprinting zip. Another pass.
Ought to be easy to dismiss Peppercorn
Rent as a weak Easterby type and Soviet Bolt as a cheap one
for Midgley who will be a seller, development, project on profile. Cruise
Tothelimit is another Pat Morris runner with enough in the pedigree
to be dangerous in a weak event. One to check after seeing how his runner
in the first Division goes. Trainer Des Donovan was another to make an
acceptable start in 2009 to his career and his two winners were his first
two runners. His two better types both made the frame on debut at 16/1
and 33/1 so another who might wangle a FTO win with the right set-up. Sailor
Boy is a solid price given the pedigree so another for serious review
on the day.
Alan McCabe has talked up his 2yo string for
2010 and has his first runner with Barista. He moved stable in 2009
and had a bad season with his 2yos with just one winner from 18 runners.
The horse was little Fratellino who was his second runner of the year in
mid-April and he won on debut. Since he finished the season on an OR95
the FTO win was ability driven rather than preparation you feel. As an
early runner for the stable Barista is likely to be a competitive one for
the season but need to be higher class to win here. Another one who cost
around the £7,000 range with an ok pedigree at this level for the
reviewer to rank.
In summary, a low top rating on the profile
which allows a range of horses to have to prove only a bit better than
profile to win so not a strong view. The type of set-up where a well prepared
little one would win if one of the ordinary pedigree middle rankers is
not superior. Bold Deceiver a reasonable prospect and Style and Panache
the other 'Ready Now' one who might win without being the best in the long
run. Nothing stands out on profile from the midfield raters and get the
reviewer to take extra care on Sailor Boy & Cruise Tothelimit (no making
your own jokes up with that pair and let us hope Thommo is not there. He
will be laughing at his own 'Act' now.)