Hmm, a break from the Previews for a bit of
navel gazing over whether they are saying anything worthwhile. Have they
become just a, slightly different, version of the mush presented as analysis
by the general Racing Media. No short answer to that, unfortunately, and
the long one would be a detailed rant dissecting what the problems with
the punditry we have are and how to address them. After a bit of thought
a Preview is not the place to do that so you are spared, for the moment.
What to call the tome that might become? "Crushing It Whole" perhaps,
including a Chapter (in deference to another publication) entitled 'Why
clever people believe stupid things'. Could anyone survive the jihad
raised by questioning some of the accepted beliefs? From 'Going Gurus'
But, once you start down the "What's it
all about...." route it can be very easy to get lost somewhere unpleasant.
So, instead let us be thankful for Doncaster. Not something you would probably
saying if you live under the local council there for whom the word 'Failing'
would be a compliment. In this case the Doncaster Maiden which is
a fascinating little puzzle to allow someone to set aside the tiresome
issues for the moment. On a day with three races the other two are not
very appetising. Goodwood may be a picturesque course with big ideas about
itself, and it's exclusivity, but it regularly puts on woeful maidens.
It cannot just be their stinginess outside of the August meeting. If Hannon
did not take useful horses there for the second division meets you could
be at Folkestone (a delightful course which B2yoR would recommend to anyone
despite the bits that are falling down, the surly doors and the bizarre
Parade Ring layout. They are carp, aren't they...).
The best place to start with the Doncaster
race is Scarlet Rocks & Bunce who met at Leicester a
week ago. The former was on her fourth outing having pressed the pace in
her three previous races including a front running effort last time. In
each of those races she had faded at some point during the last furlong.
But, she had always helped to stretch the pace to such a level of liveliness
that only good horses had been able to get to her as she slowed. The two
that had beaten her in her two previous races have both won since and are
among the best we have seen so far (Bathwick Bear & Zebedee).
What did we get from her at Leicester? More
of the same, with knobs on. With Winston riding she took off from a high
draw to storm down the far rail, on her own, three lengths clear early.
Only three other horses were within 6 lengths of her after two furlongs
with the rest of the field spread over another 20 lengths. Now, Winston
gets lauded as a top jockey but B2yoR would stick him in the Spencer category
of not being anonymous enough. Too many visible mistakes.
A favourite would be watching the all-weather
over the winter and three consecutive breaks from the stall with Winston's
mount drawn 2 or 3 horses wide of the rail. He had probably been told to
hold each mount up. The result being the horse veering left from the stall
and wiping out the runners inside of it. Perhaps just unlucky but probably
giving the horses the wrong message with the reins, and, his posture. A
bit too much of the flapping reins and fumbling whip exchanges late on
as well. Anyway, let us try holding on to Scarlet Rocks just a little bit,
Bunce was drawn well away from her and showed
how ready and knowing the Hannon 2yos have been this season by breaking
second and being in a clear second early but also racing alone. To follow
on the Winston point Bunce was ridden by Pat Dobbs whom B2yoR would cite
as the epitome of anonymous efficiency (on a horse if less so in a car).
He had Bunce settled but trying to keep Scarlet Rocks in sight. The colt
managed to close up to the filly as she stalled towards the last furlong
and challenged her. But, he got tired into the last half furlong to drop
from second to a fourth. The pace set meant the first four were clear and
rolled home together as a tired clump.
The picture on the left shows the four of
them with Scarlet Rocks on the far rail in darker green and Bunce in fourth
in the grey. Remember this is close to the line and Bunce had closed up
to the filly at the furlong pole. He is running head down and looking 'puffed
out'. The Paddock Review suggested he looked underdone and this sort of
last furlong fade not untypical for Hannon runners FTO in previous years.
The Reviewer was surprised he ran as well as he did given his readiness.
Although a neat model he did not look full 5f pace and, as the picture
shows, just medium size although with the deeper chest and bulk of a Hannon
(& Doyle) purchase.
Scarlet Rocks has managed to roll on better
in the last furlong than Bunce after she has been caught although the zip
has gone. The picture shows her head held to the left and upright. The
picture on the right shows her arriving in the Parade Ring and she has
the same head carriage and her Ready-For-The-Dance fizziness is apparent.
Most of her pictures show the same head carriage so perhaps she is built
like that. Since Winston is riding perhaps he is dragging on the left rein,
again. Why is he in a different posture to the other three riders? More
of the 'lack of anonymity' issue.
Despite the four seconds in four goes, and
the head carriage, it is not proven that Scarlet Rocks is a shirker in
a finish. She is currently too enthusiastic early and has had no response
late on because the power reserves are empty. Charging her with packing
it in is just incorrect. At Leicester she saw Bunce away, held off Master
Macho and responded to Drawing Board (in the Lime colours) to press him
to the line. The winner was on his first run and stopped a bit once in
the lead through inexperience and allowed her to respond. He would have
won more comfortably if he had just continued his run.
The horse in yellow is Master Macho who ran
a stinker at Yarmouth in the week so did nothing positive for the form.
On the plus side he failed so badly he cannot be that bad. He is also in
the picture above only as a volunteer closer who got to the other two by
plugging onto to fading horses. A 'One Pace' or 'Same Pace' comment is
usually nonsense and all the horses above are slowing down, at different
rates depending upon their ability and the power stress in early race,
and the best of the adrift horses are closing these four down.
The upshot of all that is that Scarlet Rocks
was a bit better than expected in Paddock Review and has been beaten by
good horses when fading. She has a 3lb apprentice riding and a flat track
and if he holds on to her properly she can be tough to get by unless you
are a real OR75+ horse yourself and fully fit. The going seems likely to
be easing tomorrow with rain forecast which would be a negative. Probably
best to stick with the notion that she will stall late on and something
will get past her.
Could that be Bunce with a week's extra nous
and fitness? Just about but probably closer than the 'Hannon Is God' lobby
would have it. Bunce is ok without being exciting and probably an OR80ish
type. With Scarlet Rocks getting 8lbs overall and a more controlled ride
on faster going B2yoR would not be rushing to back Bunce. On softer going
more willing to do it but what would be value? 4/1 perhaps.
Lady Platinum Club
ran in the Thirsk Novice behind Bathwick Bear and beaten further than Scarlet
Rocks was. Hard to equate those two performances because of the difference
in previous outings and Bathwick Bear being forced to a better performance
at Thirsk by Arctic Feeling. She got well behind in 11th at halfway but
responded well to get to fourth on the line. The filly in front of her
in third has placed since, as favourite, and those behind included two
that won the Auction & Seller at Redcar in the week. She finished ahead
of the best prospect in the race in Boundless Spirit. Real ability or just
picking up faders and adrift of the front two?
The picture on the left shows LPC at Thirsk
and on the right Misty Morn who was behind her there and won at Redcar.
Entirely different physical types. LPC is taller but narrow bodied and
not carrying much spare flesh or fat (i.e. 'condition') despite it being
her debut. MM is a shorter model but more of a barrel and bulkier. She
looks a speedier model and was ahead of LPC at Thirsk before fading back
and won by front-running. LPC's build does not say 5f pace. But, she is
neatly made and well prepared despite lacking a bit of power. She is likely
to be staying on but, in pure power terms, looks a bit lightweight compared
to Bunce and lighter behind than Scarlet Rocks. Should run well but probably
place depending upon the newcomers.
Three interesting newcomers and a couple that
might compete to win. Foghorn Leghorn was due to run at Newbury
in mid-April in the race the owners target. He refused the stalls that
day but was at an SP which suggested he was a competent OR70s type, at
least, for the day. The following two paragraphs are a straight copy of
the Preview for the Newbury race.
Peter Chapple-Hyam used to be a really
important trainer then the 'Communication' problems started and horses
just seem to leak away from his stable. Coordinated Cut winning for Michael
Bell this week as a 3yo a further example. His overall record with 2yos
has got worse and that includes the percentage of debut winners. His record
with the earliest, April, debuts was moderate before the problems started.
Targetting this race with a 2yo for the 'Comic Strip Heroes' has been a
constant with three recent runners in it producing a win for Winker Watson
(the trainer's only April FTO winner and quality driven) and places for
Johnny Alpha And Skid Solo (non-winner at 2yo).
Foghorn Leghorn seems less of the 'Action
Hero' variety but a great thinker of our times, nonetheless. By sire Medicean
who gets odd 5-6f FTO wins but usually with high class runners with 2 of
the 4 by Nannina & Dutch Art (for this trainer). The dam was a small
filly from one of Cheveley Park's faster families and made her debut in
April with a second in the equivalent of the 'Pennys Pearl' race at Newmarket.
Too small to develop after a win and has produced an even smaller one who
followed a similar career path. Overall a perfectly believable early type
but a bit light on the Class needed to win FTO for the trainer & Sire.
The trainer is very good at assessing his 2yos so the 'Market' should be
instructive here. Winker Watson was 9/4f for his win to give an idea of
a Benchmark level.
A possible to compete with the experienced
runners here and less than 5/1 probably a good sign in this field and less
than 4/1 a stronger indicator of OR82+.
The most interesting newcomer is Breathless
Storm for Tom Tate. He cost $300,000 at the Keeneland September sales
and is by Storm Cat. Closely related to Irish Group 2 & US Grade winner
Frost Giant (by Giant's Causeway, a son of Storm Cat). His sales price
actually makes him the 'Cheap One' amongst his siblings with Frost Giant
costing twice that and two others being more expensive including ordinary
Over the years supporting Storm Cat's first
time at 2yo often proves profitable. But, that is usually in later season
over 6-7f. Wins over 5f and before mid-season are rare but this partly
reflects the type of trainer his expensive yearlings go to .They are not
Hannon or Channon or Evans and will be older school types who think 5f
is not proper racing and you do not 'Rush' horses. B2yoR does not understand
this approach and many trainers treat horses like they are fragile creatures.
They will only stand a handful of runs in their career before something
physical goes twang or they become mentally soured against racing. Channon
and Evans have lots of horses who start in early season at 2yo and run
forever despite that. Channon has a particularly good record and you could
pick out Mac Love (ran in the Brocklesby and 4 times by early April, all
defeats) and Imperial Dancer (ran on March 25th at 2yo and 13 times that
season on his way to a 65 race career with a 12f Group 1 win at 5yo as
the culmination) as good examples.
Here we have a double dose of surprise at
early 5f debuts. Tom Tate has developed his 2yo record in recent years
but has only had 4 debuts at 5f in the years since 2002. Two of those were
last year with a second place and 6th of 15 (after giving a lot of trouble
loading. The earlier ones included another second place. Interviewed earlier
in the week Mr Tate gave his typical routine playing the role of John Oxx's
absent minded, mischievous, brother. When asked about his 2yos for the
year he said he had three ready to go and noted that 5f debuts where uncommon
for him. He said that all three were 'Ok' in a manner you could suggest
meant they were OR75+, at minimum.
Now, as his number of 2yos have increased
the readiness for debut has wandered about while always being a bit above
average. The FTO Strike rate for the last five years has gone 33%-25%-0%-9%-5%
to make the point. So he still gets debut winners but not the readiness
he had back in 2005-6 when he was profitable to follow. What has not changed
is the 'Market' has no idea which are the good ones and which might win.
So, if you hit on one that can go well FTO it should be at a value price.
Spencer is here to ride which is a negative if you want a FTO winner but
perhaps a positive in that he wants to ride the Hay owned horses. Interesting
to see how this one goes.
Clive Brittain had a batch of early debuts
who were mostly incompetent or not very good, or both. Two better ones
then made solid debuts at Newmarket and were presumably selected as the
best ones he had available. After a break of a couple of weeks he had another
debut yesterday who ran third. Zaidan cost $200,000 at the same,
enormous, sale as Breathless Storm. Not a great deal of pedigree pointers
to that price aside from being by a good sire in Street Cry. The pedigree
does not look right for 5f either. A Group class horse will provide Brittain
with a FTO winner somewhere this season but this looks a bit too stoutly
bred an this is not a soft race.
None of the others on debut appeal as being
likely to compete to win and none have stronger long-term Profiles. Some
points of interest. Tim Easterby ran close to his best filly in the equivalent
race last year and she was a short-head second in a weaker version. Lizzie
has an ok pedigree to produce and OR70-75 winner but the stable's debut
winners need to be better quality than that. Also, the stable's main jockeys
are both at Thirsk and you think one might be here if she were useful
David Brown seems to front-load the competitive
types and they can compete ok FTO. Hi Ho Ron is his second runner
of the year and his first was an ok 6th in a solid race at Newmarket FTO.
This one runs for his main owner Ron Hull (Moorhouse Lad, etc) and a good
source of his stronger debuts. On the downside this appears an owner bred
by Tobougg and half to poor siblings. One to check in Review but not an
obvious lurker. Two debuts for trainers with expensive kit by their standards
in Roman Dancer (John Gallagher) & First Pressing (John
Berry) but both trainers have poor record in getting 2yo winners of any
sort over the years.
Some interest in the other three as development
winners with George Moore (Tarantella Lady), Eric Alston (Jossy
Johnston, cheap but and half to a claimer winner at 2yo) & Alan
McCabe (Bonjour Bongee) all trainers who tend to run the competitive
juveniles early. But none have a strong FTO record and Moore & McCabe
have looked behind schedule this years on the standard of debuts to date.
In summary, a good race with Scarlet
Rocks seeming most likely to set the race up for a closer again although
the pace she sets means they have to be OR75+ types to get to her. Bunce
is just about ok for this and the way the Hannon machine has produced horses
for the day this year he should just scrape past. Foghorn Leghorn probably
similar quality to Bunce but on debut and the trainer's record with early
starters now a negative. Check in the Market if he gets below 4/1 to indicate
a higher class one. Most interest in Breathless Storm as a possible for
the day at some value and a good indicator the the next two Tate debuts.
These will be in the next few days. Zaidan probably a 4th-6th finish unless