Racing Preview - April 12th
Races :-
12: Folkestone 2:00, 5f Maiden (6)
13: Windsor 2:20, 5f Maiden (5)

 April 12th  Summary :-
  • The Folkestone Maiden is a Class 6 race and limited to Sires whose Sales Median for this Crop is less than £22,000. Given the depressed Market in 2009 this will mean a few more sires will qualify. This Condition for entries means that the quality of the race can be variable. Last year gave a classic example with Monsieur Chevalier winning FTO and representing the best of the sire Chevalier who has had limited opportunities and only had two other, poor, runners in the season. He beat fillies for Evans & Turner who ran in either sellers or claimers in later season despite getting rating OR80+ for, whizzed up, early runs and having little physical scope. One of those - Diamond Laura - turned up running in the 1,000 Guineas trial at Meydan and the mind boggles at what is going on. That sort of Dubai race, both for males & females, often features horses who are just not that class but have presumably been exported and that is the only race that is not barred to horses not rated OR95 or more. The third was Anjomarba for Bill Turner and she is now rated OR66 and going downwards. Another classic example of the BHA handicapper over-rating 2yo performances. After those fillies last year you were into real garbage.
  • But, other fields for the race have been populated by a few more competitive 2yos of a little more scope. This year's field is interesting and if there were 4-5 who proved up to the competitiveness of the first 3 last year plus a seller winner elsewhere it would not be a surprise. That is without expecting there to be anything of the Monsieur Chevalier elite level. An intriguing set up for the race with two horses on STO taking on seven newcomers and the first pair present a solid benchmark on the promise they have shown. To follow up the thoughts from the Lingfield race on how previous experience can help the STO runners here look better quality than those for that race. You doubt that Hannon's Shewalksinbeauty would have been able to run one of this pair down having given them a start.
  • The last four editions have been won by a horse on it's fourth runs (when the season was starting in Mid-March), followed by two STO runners and then Monsieur Chevalier was too good to allow STO Anjomarba to hold him off. The first three of those front-ran along the rail and Monsieur Chevalier ran the rail for most of the race in 5th behind some tearaways that faded and Anjomarba. Running the stands' rail at Folkestone can be a huge advantage on firmer going and seems to be ok on softer going. The earlier 2yo race this season saw Novabridge grab the rail early and lead throughout.
  • Put all of that together and we have a good Model for the race to work against and for the Paddock Reviewer to input the final touches about horse quality and readiness. Bajan Bullet & Saucy Buck are drawn one and two wide of the rail and the first of those has proven she can get front rank on her second run. Saucy Buck was very laid-back in the preliminaries before the Brocklesby and picked up slowly after breaking alright to end up 11th through halfway. So, he needs to show a bit more zip early but you would expect him to be better drilled here. Something to look for in his attitude beforehand. If he is quietly professional rather than being laid-back through not being aware of the requirement than a good sign. We could imagine this pair being prominent early with Bajan Bullet probably leading and close to the rail. If they are not then, either they have given up a large part of the experience advantage, or they are letting some free-runners go.
  • If we have two STO runners on the rail and prominent then we have a good idea of what the newcomers are up against if we know the 'Class' of that pair. On size and build you would expect Saucy Buck to be an OR65-73 type that Channon would typically run in this sort of race. Quite likely to end up with an Official rating above that if he wins early but an 'empty' long-term assessment. Which sets the standard for a newcomer. A long-term OR100+ type like Monsieur Chevalier can run 25lbs below his best FTO and still win. Given the easy-going Hannon debut runs that would be a reasonable level. If you are an OR75, long-term, Hannon debut then Saucy Buck is going to have to blow out for you to beat him on your first run.
  • Bajan Bullet is a bit more problematic to place. She is small and does not look like a real 5f horse. Lengthier in the body and much lighter behind. She has not had to show 5f pace in achieving two places having got shuffled back at Lingfield and then finishing into faders late on. On heavy and wet ground at Nottingham she was up with the 'pace' but in the second slowest time for a 2yo race there since 2003. The ground is due to be on the soft side at Folkestone but drying. She is probably an OR60s filly over 5f and see how she goes over 6f+. She will be competent and could get the rail and the lead so sets a standard receiving 5lbs from the males.
  • To make a point about trainer readiness we could then think about what sort of quality is needed for the newcomers to compete. If you come from a 'Ready FTO' trainer then you might scramble home if you are OR76+ and have an ok draw and get away properly. If you are an OR85+ type for that trainer you should beat them. Going back to Hannon then you probably need to be OR85+ to scramble home 50% of the time and more likely to give it up at the start. 
  • Now, Hannon has run two so far and both have won but in weaker looking races. Neither had anything in it which would be up to the Profile of Bajan Bullet & Saucy Buck. If Cape To Rio were another Monsieur Chevalier then Richard Hughes would be here rather than with Zebedee at Windsor (almost certainly an OR85+ type). Pat Dobbs tends to press a bit more than Hughes FTO so that shifts the balance a bit. At £26,000 Cape To Rio is the most expensive in the field and higher than the Median level to make the point that he is in the upper half of the Captain Rio yearlings sold by price. He is out of a dam that as produced two placed 2yos for Alan Swinbank over 7f. The sire would be on the list as a Pivotal line one that tends to get wins from May onwards. Mr Hannon will produce a 'Duff' one soon along with some average to moderate ones which will not win FTO. Cape To Rio looks and average one (OR70-75) and is drawn wide. A pass overall.
  • Plenty of interest in the others with the draw helpful to those of most interest.  Andy Haynes seems to have an early batch of 2yos ready to compete which he last showed in 2007. Two runners have produced a frontrunning win for Novabridge here and a 3rd for the small filly Stunning In Purple. The filly led for most of the race at Lingfield and was two lengths clear at halfway and only lost the lead inside the last 50 yards. Lady Excellentia is drawn 3 wide of the rail just outside Saucy Buck. She cost £11,000 and is by good 2yo sire Exceed And Excel. The dam is more stout but has produced a 6f winner. An interesting opponent for the STO pair.
  • Next to the rail is Cocohatchee for trainer Pat Phelan. Look through his profile and, although cheap, there are a solid set of positives otherwise. The sire is fine for an early 5f run and the dam was second on her 2yo debut in mid April. Mr Phelan does choose competitive 2yos to run first and they can show up well FTO. The last two seasons have produced a win and three places from 15 runners but only two winners in total in the seasons. The development from the debuts is the area you could question. Not a full 'Ready FTO' trainer but solidly prepared and doubts over the overall quality given the price but worth a 'Lurker?' note.
  • An interesting set-up with those 5 and, while lacking OR75+ hints, you would not rule out any of them a possible winners. The remaining four include at least two who have solid prospects to be successful as 2yos as well. Enrichment is a notably early runner for Harry Dunlop. In his short career the evidence strongly points to him batching up the competitive 2yos to run first. When that sort of trainer has a really early runner you expect it to be capable of winning at some point or to be tiny and not worth hanging on to. In the last two seasons three of his first four runners have been winners in the year and the other two placed. However, strong debuts are not that common although he had his first debut winner last year with an OR85+ type. Looking at his SP FRAG one around 8/1 to 12/1 would mean a competitive one for the season. This one is the first runner for new sire Iffraaj out of a dam who has produced a zippy 5f runner to Pivotal. A solid profile for a season winner but doubts over the quality versus how ready the trainer would have this sort of early runner. Widest draw to add to the downside.
  • Major Return is the second runner for Alan McCabe who has said he has a good set of 2yos this year. It was this week last year he produced his only season winner with a debut win by Fratellino. His first runner this season was uncompetitive but in what seemed a strong race. Overall the trainer has not proved he can get FTO winners without having an OR90+ type. This one only cost £7,000 and out of a stout dam so would need to be a better physical type than the profile promises. An interesting point in that owner David Armstrong seems to be supporting the stable now. A mixed profile but a possible for a development winner.
  • To recite the phrase 'go back to 2005....' and a runner for Mick Quinlan at Folkestone on debut would be very high on the list to check on the day. He used to get regular FTO wins and following them was profitable. Since 2006, including his first runner this year, he is now 1 from 62 in terms of FTO wins. That one win was at this course with a filly who went on win the Queen Mary. He had a filly run in the same race last year who got supported and was one of the tearaway leaders. She turned out to be a seller runner and unable to win. Bishops Moon is the first rep for new sire Araafa out of a mare who did not race and has produced a moderate sibling. Difficult to place but Mr Quinlan seems to be a stable to oppose until his record improves back to where it was.
  • Night Witch is related to a clutch of 2yo winners but the dam's record seems to be declining as she gets older. The trainer's record is still developing with 2009 showing he got debut places with OR80+ horses from mid-season on. This one reads more as a weak one.
  • In summary, a fascinating little puzzle with the STO runners presentable without being overpowering. Plenty of hunts in the newcomers of competitive types of, at least, similar standard to that pair but lacking their experience. The draw has been helpful to the STO runners if they use it. If Cape To Rio is an OR85+ one despite no-Hughes then the 'Market' may be useful if he gets supported below 4/1 (perhaps 7/2 as the check level) but we are getting into 'They cannot all win' territory. Most interest in Cocohatchee & Lady Excellentia to be stronger debuts with the first likely to be each-way value. On profile a race which should produce more season winners than failures.
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  • A typically large field for the Windsor maiden and a quick reminder about the draw. In the 'Good Old Days' when the ground was firmer there was a large high draw bias and running the stands' rail side worth 3-4 lengths (as Jamie Spencer quoted last year). 16 runner maidens with the first 4 home having double figure draws were comfortingly common. Not a 'Bias' as a problem but a source of reassurance that the world was turning on the proper axis.
  • Windsor decided they would do something about this and splitting the final 3 furlongs in half (from the intersection of the round course) now occurs at some meetings. The 'Stands' runners are not on the usual strip and are running in Centre track depending upon how far out they rail. This, along with watering of the course has affected the sureness with which you could judge the draw bias. On wetter going the fields will often go far side in the straight which changes the draw effect. The watering at the course can be thorough to the point of overuse. B2yoR vividly remembers an evening a few years ago when there had been no rain for several weeks. The lawns in the public enclosures had cracks in the soil surface you could lose small children down due to the lack of moisture. Out on the course it is like a Paddy Field and you need wellingtons to walk it.
  • Today's race will see the track at the full width so the stands' rail may still be the best place to be. The going seems likely to have 'Soft' in it somewhere which may lessen the effect but unlikely the field will go far side with a lot of inexperienced horses. The Profile for the race is very unbalanced with 5 runners who appear competitors and then a large gap back to 10 who appear lesser types or are running for develop-with-racing handlers. The front five are split with three near the rail and two out wide. It seems likely that Scarlet Rocks, as the only runner with previous runs, will get to front rank early but likely to cut across towards the stands side as well.
  • B2yoR is a little baffled by Scarlet Rocks and by the David Evans ranking for jockeys. The horse ran ok on debut and seemed the second string. Given a typically 'involving' ride by Robert Winston she was second at halfway and faded only in the last half furlong. But it looked the fade of a short runner. She was second string to Bajan Bullet (ridden by Gannon there but by the stable's 5lb apprentice at Folkestone today). At Ffos Las she is again second string to Bathwick Bear but the trainer says that is his fastest 2yo. She appeared to run a stormer and overcome the pace bias and racing away from the rail (a probable disadvantage) to press the pace for most of the race until a stall very late on when clear of the rest.
  • Evans runs three in the race with two for owner Nick Shutts and Spencer rides this one while Gannon rides Joyously. She had previously ridden Bajan Bullet on both outings so is she behind the apprentice in ranking as well as Spencer? Knowing the ranking can be of dubious use anyway since Gannon has been behind the Evans 2nd string (Winston aboard) and 3rd string (Hanagan) on both goes on Bajan Bullet. Anyway. Assume Spencer often gets the best one (despite being lumbered with The Best Mode at Leicester) and, for the moment, believe that Scarlet Rocks ran well at Ffos Las. Drawn wide but has the pace to get front rank and cut across in front of the field. Seems to fade late so might drop back into a plugging-on high class one but the type Evans can get a win with early even if she is not the best one in the field in the long view.
  • Both of the other Evans runners - Joyously & Littleportnbrandy - were declared for the Warwick Seller which was abandoned. On jockeys you would presume Joyously is the better one. Remember that Evans won the Warwick seller with Transfixed in 2009 so the best of that pair may be better than an OR60 filly. So, neither are in the 'Top 5' on Profile but the best of them may be best of the rest.
  • Hmm, what to make of John McCririck? Go back to the late '70s and early '80s and he was winning 'Campaigning Journalist of the Year' awards for his work on the 'Rochester Coup' affair and whatever Woodrow Wyatt was up to as head of the Totalisator Committee (Totegate). Remember the 'Rochester Coup'? Endless stories about people being unable to get into Betting Shops after another raft were superglued shut. Oh, the memories. Sometime around when Channel 4 started he seemed to put his brain back in the box it came in and decide he could make a better living as a 'Character'. Which has led us to the puppet-on-a-stick we have now with a ham actor turning up to work through his pre-planned script no matter what is actually happening. Saying whatever will be most controversial rather than most sensible. Which he probably was once capable of. 
  • It is long odds-on that if he is a pundit at Windsor tomorrow he will say "Always back Hannon to win the First at Windsor...." within about 60 seconds of starting to purvey his battered old 'Act'. If you are a new reader of these Previews and have seen Hannon win with his first two runners of the year you will be wondering why anyone can make it so 'Hard'. Hannon wins with everything and always wins the the first at Windsor. Big Mac tells me it is true so it must be. Zebedee is the most expensive horse we have seen this season by a good 2yo sire form the Green Desert line. The dam has not produced a winner in three goes but they sold very well and this one is an early runner which is a good sign. He is ridden by Hughes and runs for 'Lucky Owner' Julie Wood who has already supplied one of his debut successes. This ought to be an OR85+ type and has prospects of overhauling Scarlet Rocks in the last furlong as she stalls having made an early effort to get prominent.
  • Well, B2yoR would agree that he is the second most likely winner but backing Hannon debut runners and runners at Windsor will lose you more than half you stake in the long run. Let us reach into this bag and pull out the 'Big Picture' to place before Big Mac. Pointlessly, because like a robot he will just work through his prepared lines of script anyway. How well did Richard Hannon do at Windsor in 2009? He was 12 winners from 60 (12/60) across all his runners. This equated to winning 12 of the 42 juvenile races over the season. The strike rate was 20% and above his 15.4% overall figure. But, all of the winners were 11/4 or less and 5 were at odds-on. A 20% Strike Rate to leave you potless.
  • Ok, so how many of his FTO runners won in 2009? Just 1 from 17 with Dick Turpin winning at 3/1 which was the joint shortest SP of any of his newcomers. The other one at 3/1 was moderate and did not win in 3 later outings. Right at the lower limit strong support may show a good one but there is no margin for profit in this. If we look at all his debut runners at the course since 2002 he is 12/130 and he has had three blanks years to add to the single winner in 2009. The 12 winners are split 6 under 5/1 and 6 between 5/1 & 9/1. Again, other than saying anything at 10/1 or more is most unlikely to win it is difficult to pick out a lot from the 'Market'. You would have lost more than 50% of your overall stake in following his horses. Unless you really think you know something using the Hannon newcomer as a lever to find a bit of value elsewhere seems a sensible response.
  • Which means that Zebedee may well be the best horse in the race. If he is OR85+ and gets second rank comfortably from the rail he might well have enough 'Power' to get past Scarlet Rocks late. But what price would be value? Galtymore Lad runs for Mick Channon who is another trainer B2yoR would encourage people to avoid for debut runs except in particular circumstances. This one was a non-runner in the Nottingham Novice race last thursday with a bruised foot. The Preview on that day summarised him and suggested he is probably a later OR70s horse and come up short on the day but a solid winner later. Drawn 1 here and a lesser type on Profile than Zebedee he would traditionally finish 3rd or 4th.
  • A couple with 'Lurker' tags who might well be value as each-way types. Two from stables whose approach as 'Front-Loaders' who can get strong debuts in early season has already been covered in the previews. Alan Bailey ran a tiny one first with Mini Bon Bon who proved too small to last out 5f. On the positive side she got to 3rd comfortably enough and made a brief effort in the straight. So, she was competent but just too damn small. Triple Agent's background would not fill you with expectation but we are assuming that Bailey is running a competitive one. If it is not then he may well not have one or this may be another tiny one. The Market did seems some help with fingering Mini Bon Bon as limited so one to check here (say12/1+). Triple Agent is well drawn next to Zebedee so we should know soon after the start if he is here to compete up the front.
  • Bryn Palling used to have a profile similar to the one Bailey has developed but the debut runners seem less wound up than they used to be. His first runner last week - Millyow - managed to blag a volunteer 3rd at 9/1 late in the race but behind a Garbage Gap and did not look that fit for the day. Maxiyow has a better pedigree and cost more than Millyow. Perhaps the 'Maxi' bit means she is the bigger one or perhaps it is swearing in Welsh, or the like. But, another with an ok draw and a reasonable profile.
  • Other than those 5, plus the best prepared of the Evans 'Seller refugee' pair, you are into some weak profiles for debut and not very strong for later winners. Given they are out early 1 or 2 may surprise but unlikely to be FTO. At a push you would suggest a shortlist of Straight Line, Ad Vitam & Regal Bullet as possibles for minor later winners but not much better than arm-waving.
  • In summary, where are you going with that Superglue it was the Stewards that did not throw Mayfair Princess out not the bookies. Oh, you were going to the Stewards' Room, actually. Unless the Ffos Las race has been misread notably Scarlet Rocks sets a good standard for the others to chase. If she is to be overhauled as she stalls towards the line then Zebedee is the most likely to do it. But, if you are in it for long-term value then side-stepping Hannon reps in these situations and investigating alternatives is unlikely to be a negative. Galtymore Lad looks a solid later winner on profile but Mick Channon reps of that type finish in the 2nd to 5th range depending on race strength so 3rd or 4th here. Each-way alternatives with Maxiyow & Triple Agent especially if you can check whether they are substantial enough to be OR70+ types. May be a left-field Lurker in the rest but Paddock Review would be the only answer because on Profile they are a poor group.

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