Racing Preview - 
May 1st
Races :-
42 : Doncaster 6:45, 5f Maiden (5)
43 : Goodwood 5:10, 5f Maiden (5)
44 : Thirsk 1:45, 5f Auction (5)

 DATE  Summary :-
  • 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' upwards.
  • 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, eh.
  • 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 winners. 
  • 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 Group class.

Back to Top of Page

© British 2yo Racing. All rights reserved.