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Alex @ The Winning Post.

PREVIEW! Le Prix De Diane – 15/06/2014:

MISS FRANCE wins the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket (04/05/2014)

MISS FRANCE wins the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket (04/05/2014)

CHANTILLY
14.45 – Le Prix De Diane
(3yo, 1m 2f 96y, Group I, 12 runners)

After the Arc, the Prix de Diane at Chantilly draws the biggest crowds in French flat racing. Unfortunately, this is due as much to the concerts, fairgrounds, and fashion shows of the ‘event’ as it is to the actual racing. In fact, beyond the Diane itself, it is a relatively lowly occasion, with only 2 Group IIIs to complement the main attraction along with a collection of Handicaps, Claimers, and Conditional Jockeys’ contests.

But don’t let me dampen your enthusiasm too much as I can tell you from experience that, whether you’re interested in hats, horse racing, or both, Diane Day is a fine experience and this year’s feature race will certainly outshine the sideshow!

It seems appropriate on a day famed for its elegance and femininity that one of the favourites should be a filly named MISS FRANCE, who rose to prominence as a 2yo when winning the 2013 Oh So Sharp Stakes at Newmarket for André Fabre.

Following this victory she shot to the top of the markets for most of the following year’s fillies’ Classics, but her reputation took a dent when she could manage only 6th in a Maisons-Laffitte Group III on her reappearance in April 2014.

However, this race was certainly not run to suit and the horses who beat her, including Group I winner Vorda and recent French 1,000 Guineas 3rd XCELLENCE, are not to be sniffed at.

In any case, Monsieur Fabre appeared unperturbed by the run and hence aimed his filly at the English 1,000 Guineas. Sent off at 7/1 for this race, she travelled sweetly and stuck on well at the finish to win by a neck from subsequent Irish Guineas 2nd Lightning Thunder.

With this form under her belt and a good break to freshen her up, she looks to have a fine chance of landing a 2nd Classic, especially as she won her Maiden at Chantilly and will have the assistance of the very capable LOCAL HERO as a pace-setter. What is more, she has been drawn in stall 1, which should allow Maxime Guyon to get her a good spot in a race in which low numbers are generally favoured.

The one question mark is whether she will stay the trip.

Unlike the traditional 1m4f distance of most Derby and Oaks-style races, the French ‘middle distance’ Classics are run over 10 and a half furlongs (2100m), but it is possible that this may still prove too much for this Dansili filly.

Though a fine racehorse and an even better sire, Dansili never won over more than a mile, but his progeny, who include King George, Grand Prix de Paris, and Arc winners, have nonetheless shown admirable stamina. And as a daughter of Miss Tahiti, who was 2nd in the 1996 Diane, MISS FRANCE could well have inherited staying quality on her dam side too. So if Fabre thinks she will stay then he’s probably right!

Currently available at 9/2, she looks likely to play a big part.

Despite MISS FRANCE’sClassic-winning profile, the filly heading the Diane market is Alain de Royer-Dupré’s SHAMKALA. Owned by the Aga Khan, who has seen his green and red colours carried to victory in this famous race on 7 occasions since 1993, this daughter of top sprinter and hugely successful sire Pivotal is unbeaten in 3 outings.

Having only made her debut last October, she is yet to have her limits tested and scored easily in the Group III Prix Cléopâtre over the Diane trip at Saint-Cloud last time out.

As a guaranteed stayer with a huge margin for progression and seemingly no going preference, SHAMKALA is a worthy favourite, even if she is yet to prove her Group I quality. But at a best price of 13/8, I prefer to take a slight risk on MISS FRANCE.

And the English 1,000 Guineas winner is not the only Classic heroine in Sunday’s field, as we also have Jean-Claude Rouget’s AVENIR CERTAIN, who took her unbeaten record to 4 when landing what looked a competitive edition of the French 1,000 Guineas in good style on 11/05.

Having only raced up to a mile on either fibresand or softish ground, we are entitled to have some doubts about this daughter of Le Havre and indeed her trainer has said, truly enough, that we won’t know if she stays … until she stays.

So with these question marks around her and a best price of 7/2, she won’t be carrying my money.

Of those at bigger prices, XCELLENCE, who was already mentioned above, and BAWINA tie in with AVENIR CERTAIN on the Guineas form. Judged on that race, it seems unlikely they will be able to challenge the principals, but BAWINA’s Guineas run does deserve marking up as she was hampered at a crucial stage before running on strongly for 4th. Jockey Olivier Peslier is also particularly sweet on her, though a draw in stall 12 of 12 will not make things easy.

And finally I must mention BALL DANCING, who was this week supplemented at a cost of €66,000 for the race. It was clearly not foreseen that this US-bred filly would have Classic aspirations, but she has shown sharp progress for trainer Pia Brandt and beat some well-touted sorts in a Listed at Longchamp over 1m3f in May before taking 2nd in the Group III Prix du Royaumont over 1m4f on French Derby day.

It remains to be seen whether she has the class for a Diane and her rivals are formidable, but we know she will stay and her under-rated trainer is very much capable of challenging her more illustrious counterparts. BALL DANCING is currently available at 25/1, but I would recommend hunting around for the biggest price you can find and having a small each-way investment.

So on a day on which elegance and femininity are to the fore, I am hoping MISS FRANCE and BALL DANCING will have an appropriately prominent position!

BE LUCKY!

Selections:
MISS FRANCE – 1pt WIN @ 7/2
BALL DANCING – Half pt EW @ 25/1 or the biggest you can find

Alex @ The Winning Post.

 The WP – Where every Post’s a Winning one!

PREVIEW! Le Prix Du Jockey Club – 01/06/2014:

Chantilly Racecourse

Chantilly Racecourse

CHANTILLY
15.15 – Le Prix du Jockey Club
(3yo, 1m 2f 96y, Group I, 16 runners) 

With the various European ‘Guineas’ races out of the way and our top 3yo milers having been crowned, the Classic generation will now have to prove their mettle upped in trip. Generally, this will be over the ‘Classic’ Derby distance of 1m4f (2,400m), but not in France…

Since 2005 the Prix du Jockey Club (or French Derby) has been run over 10 and half furlongs (2,100m). This change was made so as to allow horses to make a more gradual progression, with the 1m4f of the Arc being seen as their ultimate late-season target rather than the 1m6f of a St Leger-type race.

To me, this seems to make sense for the French programme, but, as with any change to tradition within racing it remains controversial. It has also meant that a different type of horse has come to win the Jockey Club and that the relevant trials have also changed.

One race that retains its former importance is of course the Poule d’essai des poulains (French 2,000 Guineas). The Poulains was this year won by 2013 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardère victor KARAKONTIE, who saw off Prestige Vendôme by a neck.

Though many were left unimpressed by this performance, we can see from KARAKONTIE’s record that he generally only does enough to win and he fought on tenaciously at the finish to leave me thinking he will enjoy a couple of extra furlongs. Also, he is currently available at 6/1 and therefore looks a prime EW option.

Prestige Vendôme, the Poulains runner-up is also worthy of note, but he has now been beaten twice by the selection and on pedigree is seemingly unlikely to see out the distance.

The horse that is currently favourite for the Jockey Club is the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained Prince Gibralatar and this Rock Of Gibraltar colt certainly looks likely to be a big player having romped away with the Group I Criterium de Saint-Cloud at the end of his 2yo season and returned this term with an authoritative victory in the Group II Prix Greffulhe.

Both these prestigious races are run over 10f so he should have no problem with the Derby’s distance and hails from an in-form yard who know how to land a big prize.

With regular partner Christophe Soumillon retained on the Aga Khan’s Shamkiyr it is veteran jockey Gérald Mossé who will take the ride, but this is far from a negative as Monsieur Mossé is a cool head with 3 Jockey Clubs already to his name.

In all, Prince Gibraltar is a worthy favourite and it is only his short price that stops me selecting him.

One horse whose price has certainly caught my eye is FREE PORT LUX, who has progressed steadily this season under the tutelage of Freddie Head and took the Group II Prix Hocquart over 11f at Longchamp on 11/04.

Though this race has not had a great deal of impact on the Jockey Club in recent years, it is nonetheless a recognised trial and the Aidan O’Brien-trained Adelaide, whom FREE PORT LUX beat into 2nd in the Hocquart, has since come out and won a Group III at the Curragh in some style. At 14/1, FREE PORT LUX merits an interest.

Speaking of interest, there will be a lot surrounding The Grey Gatsby tomorrow as he bids to become the first foreign-trained winner of the Jockey Club since Shamardal in 2005.

The Kevin Ryan-trained grey has thus far proved potent in trial races, but failed to show his best at the top level. I fear he may again miss out tomorrow, though the assistance of Ryan Moore is an obvious bonus.

Of the other runners Galiway could surprise a few having been running on well when 5th in the Poulains, while Jean-Claude Rouget has another notable chance with the unbeaten Gonna Run, who has yet to even contest a Group race, but looks an animal of real potential.

So these are the likely protagonists in the annual drama of the Jockey Club and I encourage you to tune in to see these distinguished performers light up the famous Chantilly stage.

BE LUCKY!

SELECTIONS:
Karakontie – 2pts EW at 6/1
Free Port Lux – 1pt EW at 14/1

 Alex @ The Winning Post.

 The WP – Where every Post’s a Winning one!

PREVIEW! The French Grand National – 18/05/2014:

3-Time Grand Steeple Winner MID DANCER

3-Time Grand Steeple Winner MID DANCER

AUTEUIL
15.30 – Le Grand Steeple-Chase De Paris (French Grand National)
(5yo+, 3m 5f 181y, 15 runners)

It might seem strange to British and Irish readers that the biggest race of the French jumps season will be taking place this weekend, when most of us have already switched our attention to the flat. But this unusual timing is just one of the numerous distinguishing characteristics that help make Auteuil’s flagship event one of Europe’s great races.

First run in 1874, this infamously demanding contest was designed as a French equivalent to Aintree’s celebrated Grand National and certainly offers a test of a similar caliber, with 23 diverse obstacles having to be negotiated over a 3m6f course.

The most formidable of Auteuil’s fences is undoubtedly the ‘rail ditch and fence’ in the back straight, which though only jumped once, often cuts the field down to size. In 2012, for example, no fewer than 6 runners came to grief at this unforgiving obstacle.

That is not to say that the other fences are easy, of course, and their unusual challenges, including a stone wall, a drop bank, and a bullfinch, are often enough to put off the majority of foreign raiders.

Indeed, the idiosyncratic steeplechase track Auteuil is made for course specialists and there are numerous French horses who will only run here for their entire chasing careers.

With this in mind, it is unsurprising that the last foreign-trained horse to take the race was Fulke Walwyn’s MANDARIN, all the way back in 1962, and I therefore hold little hope for the 2 English-trained runners lining up on Sunday.

That said, Cheltenham Gold Cup and dual King George winner LONG RUN is of course no ordinary entrant and he did win a Grade I chase at Auteuil as a 4yo.

This will certainly stand him in good stead, as will the booking of Ruby Walsh, who once fought tooth and nail against him when partnering the great KAUTO STAR, but who rides Auteuil notably well for a foreign-based jockey and will not be duped by the sometimes muddling pace of French jumps racing.

However the form LONG RUN has shown this term does little to inspire confidence and it could well be that, having already raced at the top level for many seasons, he will be vulnerable to the spark of a younger rival.

And the youngest rival of them all, the 5yo STORM OF SAINTLY, is currently favourite for the race.

STORM OF SAINTLY has won his position at the head of the market thanks to both a string of powerful performances over the course and the pre-eminent position within French jumping of his trainer Guillaume Macaire, who landed this contest last year with BEL LA VIE.

Having demonstrated the required aptitude for the Grand Steeple’s obstacles and shown he is in good form when taking the Prix Ingre, a key trial for Sunday’s big race, last time out, he is certainly a key player, but 5yos have a notably poor record in this race and I am hence going to look elsewhere.

And the one I like is SAINT PALOIS, who runs for last year’s winning owners the Papot family.

Aged 6 and having gained notable experience without putting too many miles on the clock, this son of SAINT DES SAINTS has been aimed at this race since birth and has been given the break he requires in order to show his best when it matters. With James Reveley, who knows the horse well, on board and his preferred very soft ground forecast for Sunday, he should put in a big run at a fair price.

It must be said that both SAINT PALOIS and STORM OF SAINTLY were beaten earlier this season by UNMIX in the Prix Murat at the beginning of April. This result came as something of a shock to the French racing public however and the way the race was run certainly played in UNMIX’s favour as he broke away from the field and could not be caught. With 6 extra furlongs to cover in the Grand Steeple and his rivals wise to any similar move, it is unlikely he will have things his own way again and shouldn’t have the class of some of his competitors.

Two horses certainly not lacking in class are RHIALCO and SHANNON ROCK.

The former has recorded 5 consecutive wins over hurdles and fences at Auteuil since returning to competition in September 2013 following an injury. He is yet to win at Grade I level however and his jumping can let him down when the pressure is on.

SHANNON ROCK has twice been 2nd in the Grand Steeple, including last year, and many would be happy to see him finally get his head in front. But an inauspicious return to action in March, when he was pulled up when favourite for a Listed chase, and a fair beating by STORM OF SAINTLY in the Prix Ingre last time out, lead to me to believe that he may miss out again this year.

Add to these key figures the exciting TZAR’S DANCER, the veteran PIBRAC, and Jo Hughes’ SOLL and you have the makings of a fine race so be sure to seek it out and enjoy what is one of the great races in the French calendar.

BE LUCKY!

Selection:
SAINT PALOIS – 1pt EW

Alex @ The Winning Post.

The WP – Where every Post’s a Winning one!

PREVIEW: Le Prix Ganay – 27/04/2014:

Trêve V. Cirrus - A Meeting Of Champions

Trêve v. Cirrus – A Meeting Of Champions

LONGCHAMP
14.40 – Prix Ganay (Group 1)
(3yo+, 1m 2f 96y, 8 runners)

The first European Group I of the season is always a moment to savour, but this year’s Prix Ganay has added attraction as it will feature an unlikely clash between 2 of the world’s most popular, exciting, and contrasting equine talents.

TRÊVE and CIRRUS DES AIGLES require little introduction at this stage, with the former having last year wowed the racing public with an immaculate 3yo season that took in the French Oaks and the Prix Vermeille before culminating in an incredible 5-length beating of a field of Group I winners in the Arc.

With this top-level hat-trick in the bag, it was no surprise to see Criquette Head-Maarek’s filly at the summit of the world rankings, on a par with the one and only BLACK CAVIAR, and with just 5 runs to her name she could, scarily enough, still have room for improvement.

Conversely, 8yo gelding CIRRUS DES AIGLES has now had 55 runs under rules and failed to land a Group I in the course of 8 outings last season. But with this horse the form figures are far from the full story…

In 2013, CIRRUS (as he is known to his many fans) was returning from an injury sustained while preparing for the 2012 Hong Kong Cup and seemed to take time to regain his best form.

As the months went by and the ground grew softer, he landed a Group III at Maisons-Laffitte and a Deauville Group II before going down by a quarter-length to the high-class FARHH in the Champion Stakes and bagging 3rd on unsuitably fast going in the Hong Kong Cup.

So although CIRRUS may not have reached the Group I heights of TRÊVE in 2013, in a way he had a much tougher task before him and came out of it with his striking head held deservedly high.

And 2014 can already be counted a success for the cherished stable star of Corine Barande-Barbe as he found only the powerful Japanese mare GENTILDONNA too good in the richly doted Dubai Sheema Classic last month.

This Meydan run not only proved the good form of CIRRUS DES AIGLES, but also ensures that he will be at peak fitness for Sunday’s Ganay and, combined with the rain there has been in Paris this week, could perhaps give him an edge in attempting to penetrate the galvanised Group I armour of TRÊVE, who will be having her first run since the Arc.

However, as just a 4yo, TRÊVE is highly likely to have progressed in the off-season and indeed both her trainer and her jockey, Al Shaqab Racing’s retained rider Frankie Dettori, believe she has become stronger and more professional since last year. Reports from her work in Chantilly have also been excellent and, with BELLE DE CRECY, herself a Group II winner, booked for pace-making duties, all seems primed for a successful return.

And this fact is certainly reflected in TRÊVE’s odds, as she is currently best-priced 2/5, with CIRRUS DES AIGLES rated the only serious opposition at 10/3.

Yet despite this seeming to be a somewhat one-sided match, there will be 8 runners in Sunday’s feature and, beyond the sacrificial lamb of BELLE DE CRECY, there are a few who could potentially play a small part.

We all know the 7yo JOSHUA TREE as a gallant type and he has 3 Grade I Canadian Internationals to his name, but the most meaningful challenge from the outsiders will likely be from the closely matched pair of NORSE KING and SMOKING SUN.

These 2 5yos have both scored at Group II level and recently filled the first 2 slots in the Prix d’Harcourt over the Ganay’s course and distance. SMOKING SUN came out on top that day in first-time blinkers and showed a powerful finishing kick that NORSE KING was unable to match.

With André Fabre’s 2 entries, BALTIC BARONESS and TRIPLE THREAT, seemingly not up to Group I level, it should be SMOKING SUN who will fill 3rd place behind the principals.

So there you have it. The Ganay will be drawing global attention on Sunday, but won’t perhaps catch the punter’s eye as TRÊVE should continue her arc of improvement to win, even if CIRRUS might make her get serious.

BE LUCKY!

Alex @ The Winning Post.

The WP – Where every Post’s a Winning one!

The Grand National 2014:

MONBEG DUDE (L) and TEAFORTHREE battle it out - 05/01/2013

MONBEG DUDE (L) and TEAFORTHREE battle it out – 05/01/2013

It’s one of the great sporting spectacles and only becomes more exciting if you’ve got a horse in with a chance nearing the end of this 4 and a half mile marathon. So let’s see what we can come up with…

Previous form in either the National itself or a similarly testing event is indispensable when looking for the winner of this. Any staying frailty WILL be exposed in these conditions and so picking out horses with proven stamina is definitely the place to start.

This is one key way of narrowing down the field, as is the age of your various fancies. Horses aged between 8 and 11 tend to dominate, with 9 and 10 year-olds also holding an advantage within this bracket.

Since recent changes to the weighting of the National, higher-rated horses have done better and an Official Rating of 144 or higher is preferable.

Irish-bred horses also have a particularly good record in the race, with British-bred runners faring notably badly.

So, bearing all this in mind, I have decided on…

MONBEG DUDE and TEAFORTHREE.

These 2 comply with many of the key trends, will stay all day, and should both give us a good run for our money.

The latter would be even shorter in the betting I feel had he missed the Gold Cup and the poor run of Rebecca Curtis’s O’FAOLAIN’S BOY yesterday leaves a few doubts.

But MONBEG DUDE has clearly been tuned up for this and the excellent Paul Carberry will hopefully guide him safely through the mayhem.

SELECTIONS:
Monbeg Dude – 1pt EW at 16/1.
Teaforthree – 1pt EW at 12/1.

Let’s hope everyone comes home alright and that the new course at Aintree will prove both safe and exciting.

BE LUCKY!

Alex @ The Winning Post.

The WP – Where every Post’s a Winning one!

The Dubai World Cup – 29/03/2014:

CIRRUS DES AIGLES - Dubai Sheema Classic winner?

CIRRUS DES AIGLES – Dubai Sheema Classic winner?

When the Dubai World Cup was set up in 1996, the aim was to attract the best flat horses on the planet. And looking at today’s card, it seems to have fulfilled its objective!

With such competitive contests to look forward to, finding winners won’t necessarily be easy, but at least we’ve got some big prices to work with for the each-way money:

13.45 - Dubai Gold Cup (Group 2) (Turf)
(3yo+, 2m, 15 runners)

CAVALRYMAN won this as he liked last year and returned to action at the beginning of the month with a powerful performance to beat several of today’s rivals with ease. He loves the track and even the best of the opposition lack consistency.

Joshua Tree will stay the trip well and was 2nd in this in 2012. Having recently made a pleasing seasonal debut over an inadequate distance, he should give a good show.

SELECTION: Cavalryman – 3pts WIN at 3/1
NB: Joshua Tree – EW at 10/1

16.39 -Dubai Duty Free (Group 1) (Turf)
(3yo+, 1m 1f, 13 runners)

JUST A WAY made excellent progress last season in Japan, culminating in an impressive 4-length beating of the brilliant Gentildonna in October. With a fine first run under his belt this term, he looks the progressive type to land this.

I have followed Tasaday throughout her distinguished career and though she has struggled to get her head in front at Group I level, she is as consistent as they come and looks good value for a place following a recent course win.

SELECTION: Just A Way – 1pt WIN at 4/1
NB: Tasaday – 1pt EW at 16/1

17.17 -Dubai Sheema Classic (Group 1) (Turf)
(3yo+, 1m 4f, 15 runners)

Runner-up in this behind the great St Nicholas Abbey in 2013, GENTILDONNA could well go one better this year thanks to her C&D experience. Her draw is not ideal, but over this trip the gifted Ryan Moore should find her a good position from which to challenge.

Cirrus des Aigles bids to become the first horse to win this race twice, though I feel the draw and the ground will count against him.

In contrast, Godolphin’s Excellent Result has a prime berth in stall 1 and has been notably progressive this season. He’s miles behind on ratings of course, but could still surprise a few by making the frame.

SELECTION: Gentildonna – 1pt WIN at 5/1
NB: Excellent Result – EW at 16/1

18.05 -Dubai World Cup (Group 1)
(3yo+, 1m 2f, 16 runners)

The richest race in the world has succeeded in attracting 2013 Epsom Derby winner Ruler Of The World and, with 50% of Aidan O’Brien’s Classic winner having recently been bought by Sheikh Joaan’s Al Shaqab Racing, a massive run must be expected. The draw, the trip, and the surface do however put me off backing him.

PRINCE BISHOP has had a much less illustrious career, but his recent C&D form can not be faulted and so, with a draw in stall 1 and Kieran Fallon (who has won 3 times on the horse from 3 rides) on board he looks worth an EW investment.

2013 Japan Cup winner Akeed Mofeed disappointed last time out at Sha Tin, though that race might have come a little too soon for him. With excellent work reports coming from Dubai, he seems another with solid place claims.

SELECTION: Prince Bishop – 1pt EW at 12/1
NB: Akeed Mofeed – EW at 11/1

Enjoy the racing everyone and…

BE LUCKY!

Alex @ The Winning Post.

The WP – Where every Post’s a Winning one!

The Cheltenham Festival 2014: Day 2:

MORNING ASSEMBLY soars.

MORNING ASSEMBLY soars (Photo: Healy Racing)

Yesterday was a tough day for a number of reasons, with events conspiring to leave many of us with a certain gloom despite the brilliant racing.

But if one can’t take the knocks then horse racing is not a sport to have any investment in and so, like the top jumps jockeys do time again, one has to be able to accept the pain and carry on.

RIP Our Conor.

_______________________________________________________

The Champion Chase is the feature on Day 2 of the Festival, but the withdrawal of Sprinter Sacre has taken a deal of lustre off the race, leaving the RSA a more compelling contest.

Both my big price fancies and more confident selections failed to land us anything yesterday so I will be narrowing my target to just 3 races today and hope the tide will turn!

14.05 - RSA Chase (Novices’ Grade 1)
(5yo+, 3m 110y, Class 1, 15 runners)

MORNING ASSEMBLY has always been rated most highly by his shrewd trainer Pat Fahy and justified this belief when progressing rapidly as a hurdler to take a Grade I Novice Hurdle at Punchestown last year.

He has since shown the same precocity over fences and has jumped, travelled, and answered his rider’s urgings in a way that has really caught my eye. Despite going down to today’s rival Carlingford Lough at Leopardstown over Christmas he has every right to progress past this rival (and hopefully the entire field!) today.

This is his first attempt on better ground, but stable confidence is high and he is a good each-way price.

Smad Place too is open to lots of improvement, but was often found wanting at the top level over the smaller obstacles and, despite running well in 2 World Hurdles, has not shown his best form at Cheltenham.

The Mullins team rely on Ballycasey, who beat a small field to land the PJ Moriarty on just his 2nd chase start and should come on a lot. However he was soundly beaten by the selection over hurdles and came to grief during a recent schooling session at Leopardstown, which does leave reservations about both his jumping and lack of experience.

SELECTION: MORNING ASSEMBLY – 1pt EW at 17/2

14.40 – Coral Cup (Grade 3 Handicap Hurdle)
(4yo+, 2m 5f, Class 1, 28 runners)

We saw yesterday both how course form works out particularly well at Cheltenham and how the Pipes know how to prime a horse for Prestbury Park’s unique challenge.

Having this season landed the Greatwood on his first start for the Pipe yard and put in a storming run to take 2nd in an ultra-competitive Betfair Hurdle at Newbury, DELL’ ARCA seems a likely candidate for today’s Coral Cup.

Of course, he has gone up in the weights, but is still only 5 and could well do better for the step up in trip. The ground is an unknown however, though I have every faith in his trainer’s judgement, as I do in the skills of jockey Tom Scudamore, who will be on a high after yesterday’s Arkle triumph.

Multiple Grade I winner Dunguib returns to the scene of his 2009 Champion Bumper win and showed he could be back to somewhere near his best with victory in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan last time out. He’s got a lot of class, but carries a lot of weight too and I believe he will be found wanting after so many problems.

SELECTION: DELL’ ARCA – 1pt EW at 12/1

16.00 – Glenfarclas Handicap Chase (Cross Country)
(5yo+, 3m 7f, Class 2, 16 runners)

This is always one of the great spectacles of the week and carries extra interest due to the number of return participants.

Indeed, C&D form is often key to landing this and so I feel last year’s winner BIG SHU, who went on to win the Punchestown equivalent and returned earlier this year with a good 2nd at the same track, should give us an excellent run.

The selection was beaten by Enda Bolger’s Love Rory last time, but I feel BIG SHU’s experience, combined with an ability to act on decent ground, will give him the edge today.

Balthazar King is an admirable beast and loves cross-country action, as demonstrated when taking this race in 2012 and, more recently, in the competitive Grand Cross de Craon in France. This level of success does mean he tops the weights however, and I thus feel he may come up short.

SELECTION: BIG SHU – 2pts WIN at 6/1

Enjoy the racing everyone and…

BE LUCKY!

Alex @ The Winning Post.

The WP – Where every Post’s a Winning one!

The Cheltenham Festival 2014: Day 1:

HURRICANE FLIES!

THE HURRICANE FLIES!

Well, it’s finally here: The Cheltenham Festival 2014!

And we couldn’t ask for much more from the first day of action, which features an enthralling Champion Hurdle that has the entire racing world talking, a quality field of exciting improvers in the Arkle, some big talking horses putting their reputations on the line in the Supreme, and the chance for Quevega to make history in the Mares’ Hurdle.

Beyond this, there are a pair of predictably hot handicaps and of course the marathon slog of the 4 miler.

All we need to complement this fine array is a few winners, so let’s see what we can do…

13.30 – Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)
(4yo+, 2m 110y, Class 1, 18 runners)

Irving and Vautour are all the rage in the market and understandably so having shown some top form this season. The former’s jumping can be a touch sketchy however and the latter got the run of the race when taking his Grade I at Leopardstown so they’re certainly not bomb-proof as neither will have anywhere near as easy a time of it here.

The fact that Mullins also runs Wicklow Gold and Valseur Lido only adds to the numerous imponderables we always encounter in this race and both have the potential to take this having put in impressive performances on home turf.

Another exciting Irish runner is Enda Bolger’s Gilgamboa, who managed to land the competitive Boylesports Hurdle at Leopardstown on just his 4th start and must rate a big danger.

But I am going to take a risk on some other Irish form, but not with an Irish-trained horse…

David Pipe’s THE LIQUIDATOR showed serious talent last season to finish 4th in BRIAR HILL’s Cheltenham Bumper and then took the Punchestown equivalent with some ease. His first 2 starts over hurdles were mightily impressive, including a C&D Grade II win, and if we forgive him his Tolworth run then he should be a big player.

With the yard in good heart and apparently confident they have the horse back in form, he could be good value for a place at 25/1.

 FANCY: THE LIQUIDATOR – 1pt EW at 25/1

14.05 – Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase (Grade 1)
(5yo+, 2m, Class 1, 9 runners)

Champagne Fever is a true Cheltenham Champion having landed the Bumper and the Supreme here and looks to add to his tally of big wins with the Arkle.

With such course form and such powerful connections, as well as a decent start to his chasing career, he is of course a major player. But I have not been very impressed with him over fences and think he is somewhat ponderous compared to some of today’s rivals.

The one I like, and have liked all season, is DODGING BULLETS, who has really come into his own over fences, landing 2 Grade IIs including the Cheltenham Arkle Trial. The stable are confident he still has much more to give and he appears to be in immaculate condition. At 6/1, he’s the one to be on.

Former Champion Hurdler Rock On Ruby could of course improve for a run in more competitive company, having had little to beat in his 2 chase starts so far, but his jumping hasn’t been top-drawer so I’ll save him for another day.

And finally amongst the big players we have Trifolium, who I always rated over hurdles and who yet may prove to be even better over the larger obstacles. He has shown sharp improvement this term, including a beating of Champagne Fever and a win in the Grade I Arkle Novice Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas. He rates a serious threat, but may be better with some cut.

 SELECTION: DODGING BULLETS – 1pt WIN at 6/1

 14.40 – Baylis & Harding Affordable Luxury Handicap Chase
(Grade 3)
(5yo+, 3m 110y, Class 1, 24 runners)

Any handicap at Cheltenham is likely to be a competitive affair and this is no exception!

They can often throw up a big-price improver and I’m hoping it will be KING MASSINI this year, who has shown rapid improvement over fences in only 4 starts, yet remains on what could be a workable mark.

His form doesn’t quite match up with some his more established rivals, but he has a vital course win to his name and at 20/1 I think he’s worth a small interest in an open race.

Holywell would be my next best for Jonjo O’Neill, a trainer with a fine record in Cheltenham handicaps.

 FANCY: KING MASSINI – Half pt EW at 20/1

 15.20 – Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1)(4yo+, 2m 110y, Class 1, 9 runners)

The race of the season? The race of the decade? I guess we’ll have to wait and see, but it certainly has a lot of the key ingredients for a fine sporting spectacle, with the precocious young guns seeking to shoot down 19-time Grade I winner HURRICANE FLY.

I must admit that THE FLY certainly faces some firepower today, but I still think he is the bet of the race at 4/1 as his form has been as good as ever this season, he has seen off some of his closest rivals with a bit in hand, his preparation has been perfect, and connections have every faith that he remains at his best.

Of course, some might say that he isn’t as good at Cheltenham, but he has nonetheless won 2 Champion Hurdles and I think that today he will make it a third!

Our Conor and My Tent Or Yours look the biggest threats to me as they are both open to a deal of improvement and have put in big runs at Cheltenham in the past. The former especially was so impressive in last year’s Triumph and, aged only 5, he will be getting better by the day. 5yos do have a very poor record in the Champion however and I think he will have a better chance next season.

My Tent Or Yours is somehow bigger in the betting than The New One, despite having beaten him in Kempton’s Christmas Hurdle, and looks a horse with a real killer instinct. AP McCoy will make sure he is delivered at just the right time and his strong finish could see the others in trouble.

And as much as I rate Sam Twiston-Davies, I think he still needs a few more years’ experience to reach the level of Ruby and AP, and am thus inclined to pass over The New One, despite his good course form and progressive profile.

Of the rest, Jezki is a top animal whom I have followed closely. He’s got class and with Geraghty on board certainly has a chance, but he has been too far behind THE FLY this term and seems to lack the dash for this level of competition.

 SELECTION: HURRICANE FLY – 2pts WIN at 4/1

16.00 – OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (Registered As The David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle) (Grade 2)
(4yo+, 2m 4f, Class 1, 16 runners)

 Quevega wins. HIGHLAND RETREAT makes a place.

 FANCY: HIGHLAND RETREAT – 1pt EW at 18/1

16.40 – Terry Biddlecombe National Hunt Chase (Listed Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase)
(5yo+, 4m, Class 1, 15 runners)

SHOTGUN PADDY looks likely to relish conditions today and with Derek O’Connor on board should be given every chance of showing his best in an open race.

 FANCY: SHOTGUN PADDY – 1pt WIN at 6/1

17.15 – Rewards4Racing Novices’ Handicap Chase (Listed)
(5yo+, 2m 4f 110y, Class 1, 20 runners)

KING VUVUZELA has really come into his own this season with 4 solid runs including 2 wins. His 4th to HE’LLBEREMEMBERED at Leopardstown last time is top form and today’s decent ground should hold no fears.

 FANCY: KING VUVUZELA – Half pt EW at 28/1

Enjoy the racing everyone and…

BE LUCKY!

Alex @ The Winning Post.

The WP – Where every Post’s a Winning one!

PREVIEW! Fairyhouse And Kempton Features: 22/02/2014:

ON HIS OWN scores at Navan - 19/02/2013

ON HIS OWN scores at Navan – 19/02/2013

Most of the confirmed superstars of jumps racing may be under wraps before Cheltenham, but there are nonetheless numerous exciting novice hurdlers in action today on both sides of the Irish Sea, as well as a few grand chasers taking a spin in Graded company in preparation for more prestigious late-season targets.

I will be watching the novice hurdlers, including IRVING and FIRST MOHICAN in the Dovecote at Kempton and a talented Willie Mullins-trained trio in the 13.25 at Fairyhouse, with interest, but am happy to leave them alone from a betting perspective and focus on the day’s 2 feature chases: the Bobbyjo Chase at  Fairyhouse and the BetBright Handicap Chase at Kempton.

FAIRYHOUSE – 15.10
At The Races Bobbyjo Chase (Grade II)
5yo+, 3m 1f, 7 runners

This contest can provide some valuable pointers for both the Irish and English Grand Nationals, but is often a fine race in itself and features some top performers today.

My fancy is ON HIS OWN, who was vying for favouritism in the 2013 Aintree GN, but unfortunately failed to complete. He hadn’t been in sparkling form in his first 2 starts this term before bouncing back to take the lucrative Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park towards the end of last month.

With this good run under his belt and a significant weight advantage over some unreliable rivals, he looks a good bet at 2/1.

ROI DU MEE, QUITO DE LA ROQUE, and MOUNT BENBULBEN are all Grade I winners, but the former pair have failed to show anything near their best this term and the latter, though probably the class horse of the race, is prone to the odd jumping error and thus often flatters to deceive.

2012 Irish Grand National winner LION NA BEARNAI must also get a mention as he loves it round Fairyhouse and hasn’t, in my opinion, got the credit he deserves. Today’s rivals are a cut above those he recently saw off in a rated chase here however so I’m happy to save him for another day and a more extreme test.

SELECTION:
ON HIS OWN – 2pts WIN at 2/1.

ARDKILLY WITNESS at Cheltenham - 14/03/2013

ARDKILLY WITNESS at Cheltenham – 14/03/2013

KEMPTON PARK – 15.50
BetBright Chase (Grade III Handicap)
5yo+, 3m, 13 runners

A good field go to post for this valuable prize including the 2010 Punchestown Gold Cup winner PLANET OF SOUND. The Philip Hobbs-trained veteran doesn’t win too often these days, but did score nicely at Kempton last time out. The Hobbs-Johnson combination is always to be respected in this race, however this seasoned performer could well be vulnerable to a lightly weighted improver.

And for me the lightly weighted improver of the race is Dr Newland’s ARDKILLY WITNESS, who has had just 4 starts over fences, but has not been out of the first 3 so far and has shown improved form on every run.

Clearly highly thought of by his shrewd trainer and having proven his aptitude for 3m in heavy ground, this 8yo gelding should give us a good run at 15/2.

BURY PARADE could well prove to be a classy sort in the future, having scored nicely under Noel Fehily last time out, but the fact that he is trying 3m for the first time under top weight on heavy ground puts me off.

Of the others, BLESS THE WINGS is a horse I have always rated, though I feel he needs a few pounds less, better ground, or both if he is to trouble the judge, while the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained TOUR DES CHAMPS has some impressive 3m form to his name and could well return to his best having been dropped 5 pounds.

SELECTION:
ARDKILLY WITNESS – 1pt EW at 15/2.

Enjoy the racing everyone and…

BE LUCKY!

Alex @ The Winning Post.

The WP – Where every Post’s a Winning one!

PREVIEW! Top Action On Both Sides Of The Irish Sea: 15/02/2014:

ROLLING ACES jumps boldly at Sandown (06/12/2013)

ROLLING ACES jumps boldly at Sandown (06/12/2013)

It seems amazing that almost all of today’s cards in Britain and Ireland have survived the recent weather, but this just gives us all the more reason to savour some quality action and provides an interesting ‘heavy ground’ angle that will hopefully help us find a winner or two!

I’m going to look at the Grade I Ascot Chase, the Grade III Grand National Trial at Haydock, and the Grade II Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park.

ASCOT – 15.50
Betfair Ascot Chase (Grade 1)
(5yo+, 2m 5f 110y, Class 1, 8 runners)

This is a good quality renewal of a race that sometimes suffers due to its proximity to Cheltenham and features the talents of 4 Grade I winners: CAPTAIN CHRIS, KAUTO STONE, MEDERMIT, and RIVERSIDE THEATRE.

The former has obvious claims today having put in 2 fine runs this season and shown Ascot aptitude in the past. Heavy ground seemingly holds no fears for the 2011 Arkle winner and he has every right to run well. RIVERSIDE THEATRE did beat him a half length in the Peterborough Chase back in December, but was not travelling with much gusto in the King George and this inconsistent sort should struggle to confirm that form now off level weights.

CAPTAIN CHRIS is evens as I write however so I am keen to seek out some each-way value elsewhere.

MEDERMIT is a horse I have always liked and Alan King is just the man to bring him back with a bang from 674 days off the track. However today’s testing conditions will not make life easy for the 10yo and I fear he may feel the pinch turning in, especially as he has been known to prefer better ground.

It is very interesting to see Paul Carberry booked on KAUTO STONE and if anyone can get this quirky sort to put his best hoof forward then it’s the masterful Carberry. The horse has been off the boil for some time however and hasn’t previously shown much grit at the finish, something which will no doubt required today.

In fact it is Paul Nicholls’ other runner, ROLLING ACES, who has caught my eye today. The 7yo has still only had 6 starts over fences, but has shown progressive form, the best of which has come on a softer surface. He beat quality animals such as TEXAS JACK and TONER D’OUDAIRIES in a Down Royal Grade II in November and with Noel Fehily, who rides Ascot as well as any jockey I know, on board and cheekpieces fitted for the first time he could well take a step up today.

SELECTION:
ROLLING ACES – 1pt EW at 7/1

HAWKES POINT (centre) takes 2nd in the Welsh National

HAWKES POINT (centre) takes 2nd in the Welsh National

HAYDOCK – 14.55
Betfred Grand National Trial (Grade 3 Handicap Chase)
(5yo+, 3m 5f, Class 1, 14 runners)

This marathon contest may not have thrown up a Grand National Winner in some time, but it is always a compelling race in its own right and this year is no exception.

OUR FATHER and MERRY KING, 2 horses trained by recent National winners David Pipe and Jonjo O’Neill, head the market and  of this pair I would definitely prefer the latter. OUR FATHER is a talking horse for me, whose reputation is made on potential but who rarely translates this hype into racecourse form, whereas MERRY KING has shown great consistency and an appetite for the game in 2 admirable seasons’ chasing. He relishes soft ground and stays well, but his run in the Welsh National did leave me questioning his aptitude for extreme distances such as that faced today.

The same could not be said of the Paul Nicholls-trianed HAWKES POINT, who seemed to thrive on the 3m5f when finishing a close 2nd in a heavy ground Welsh National over Christmas. He’s gone up a few pounds in the weights, but having had a break since and with conditions looking to suit again today, he rates  a nice EW punt at 9/1.

Others to note include the improving WYCHWOODS PEARL and long distance/heavy ground specialist EMPEROR’S CHOICE.

SELECTION:
HAWKES POINT – 1pt EW at 9/1

GOWRAN PARK – 14.25
Red Mills Chase (Grade II)
(5yo+, 2m 4f, Class 1, 5 runners)

It was touch-and-go at Gowran this week after day’s of torrential rain, but the meeting has thankfully got the go-ahead and features some interesting races.

UN DE SCEAUX is long odds-on to enhance his Champion Hurdle claims in the Red Mills Hurdle and this race is required viewing before Cheltenham, but the race that interests me more from a betting perspective is the Red Mills Chase.

It’s been reduced to just 4 runners now following the late defection of RATHLIN, but the remaining runners are all decent animals and should make for a good race. Of them, I like AUPCHARLIE.

Formerly trained by Willie Mullins, the 8yo, who is now in the hands of Henry de Bromhead, failed to fire in the Jewson last year and then fell when in contention at Punchestown. Before this he had shown real chasing potential with a facile Maiden win followed by 2 close 2nds, including in the Grade I Topaz Novices Chase at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival. He could have a lot more to give and looks worth a small WIN bet at 9/2, even if the exciting TURBAN, returning Grade I Novice winner BOG WARRIOR, and the enigmatic yet talented ARGOCAT all deserve the utmost respect.

SELECTION:
AUPCHARLIE – 1pt WIN at 9/2.

Whether you’re braving the racetrack or watching from the comfort of your own home, I hope you enjoy this excellent day’s sport and manage to find a winner or two along the way.

BE LUCKY!

Alex @ The Winning Post.

The WP – Where every Post’s a Winning one!

PREVIEW! The Betfair Chase: 23/11/2013:

The athletic form of BOB'S WORTH

The athletic form of BOB’S WORTH

Today’s Betfair Chase at Haydock has been billed as a ‘mini Gold Cup’ and it is hard to disagree with this assessment as all of the 8 runners who will contest the 25 furlongs and 18 fences of this exacting test hold Grade I form of the highest calibre.

Indeed, there are 2 previous Cheltenham Gold Cup winners in the line-up, including last year’s victor BOB’S WORTH, who has won 9 of his 12 career starts and is unbeaten going left-handed. We only saw him twice last term, but he is clearly a horse who goes well fresh and does not need a run to get to top fitness as he scored convincingly on both occasions, first in the Hennessy, where he beat a gallant TIDAL BAY, who reopposes today, and then in the Gold Cup itself, in which he saw off 3 of today’s other rivals, Long RunSilviniaco Conti, and The Giant Bolster:

So, as you will have seen, BOB’S WORTH is a reliable jumper and dour stayer whom one can never write off, but some do wonder if Paul Nicholls’ Silviniaco Conti might have made him work a bit harder coming up the hill had he not crumpled at the third last. We will simply never know, but he certainly rates a worthy rival today, having taken the Betfair in good style in 2012. However, though Haydock is a tight, flat track compared to Cheltenham, where BOB’S WORTH has proved so effective, I think the winner of today’s race will need to show profound staying quality with Roi du MeeLong Run, and The Giant Bolster all likely to force a strong pace. Cue Card too likes to lead, but has never won over 2m5f and so will likely be held onto today, despite connections’ assertions that he will stay the trip.

With these factors in mind, BOB’S WORTH rates the most likely winner for me, but I do fancy the hugely talented 12yo TIDAL BAY to be fighting on at the finish. He is known for the sometimes alarming lack of interest he can show during his races, but is a grim battler when it comes to the crunch and stays for days, as seen when flying home to come out on top in the 2012 Lexus Chase in one of the best finishes to a horse race you are ever likely to see:


This form puts him right there with today’s opponents and he looks a nice EW prospect at 8/1.

I have yet to mention David Pipe’s Dynaste, but he certainly deserves his prominent position in the betting (currently around 13/2) having blossomed into a top-class Novice last season. He landed his Grade I in a heavy ground Feltham Chase over 3m at Kempton, but his rivals that day have failed to do much since and though I expect him to run well today, especially with the Pipe yard in fine form, I think the top-level experience of BOB’S WORTH and TIDAL BAY will see him fighting for a place at best.

SELECTIONS: 
BOB’S WORTH – 2pts WIN at 5/2
TIDAL BAY – 1pt EW at 8/1

Hope you enjoy the race and BE LUCKY!

Alex @ The Winning Post.

The WP – Where every Post’s a Winning one!

PREVIEW! The Prix Royal Oak: 27/10/2013:

MISSUNITED wins the Galway Hurdle - 01/08/2013

MISSUNITED wins the Galway Hurdle – 01/08/2013

14.40 Longchamp – Prix Royal Oak (Group I)
(3yo+, 1m 7f 90y, Class 1, 15 runners)

Despite having been open to older horses since 1979, the Prix Royal Oak, run each year towards the end of October over a mile and seven at Longchamp in the West of Paris, is still considered the French equivalent of the St Leger and attracts some of Europe’s top stayers.

It doesn’t go back quite as far as the English St Leger, which was first run in 1776 and hence holds the status of the world’s oldest Classic, but remains an historic contest dating back to 1861 and carrying the name of ROYAL OAK, a grand stayer foaled in 1823 who, due to his precocity at stud, went on to be considered one of the founding fathers of the French thoroughbred.

In recent times the Royal Oak has been won by fine performers (and subsequently successful stallions) such as TURGEON (1991), WESTERNER (2003 and 2004), ASK (2009), and, most notably, the mighty 4-time Ascot Gold Cup winner YEATS (2008).

It must be said that there’s nothing anywhere near the calibre of those cited above in the 2013 Royal Oak, but this has left the door open for what I hope will be a big-price return for Winning Post readers…

Prix du Cadran winner Altano currently heads the market for Germany and deservedly so after his resounding success in the Arc day staying showpiece. He easily beat the re-opposing Tac de Boistron and Les Beaufs in the 2m4f slog of the Cadran, but also has fair form from previous seasons over shorter distances and deals with the heavy going we are likely to have at Longchamp very well.

At 7/2 however, I am happy to look elsewhere for the winner and feel Andreas Wöhler’s charge could be undone by a competitor with a touch more toe.

Marco Botti’s Tac de Boistron certainly has a bit of speed having won a 12f Listed race at Chester as recently as the 14th of September, but the gutsy grey nonetheless showed that he doesn’t lack for stamina when just ceding to the patiently ridden Altano in the final furlong of the Cadran. He too has decent form on a softer surface and, with plenty of course experience in the bag, rates a better bet than Altano for me and is currently available at 6/1.

Les Beaufs landed the Royal Oak in fine fashion on heavy going in 2012, in the process taking the notable scalps  of VEREMA, DALKALA, and BROWN PANTHER, but his heart-on-his-sleeve front-running tactics have not really paid off this term and, despite running quite well on a couple of occasions, he has managed only one Listed win. Having had a hard enough race to finish only 8th in the Cadran, I think we can pass over him without too much concern.

Les Beaufs is well-loved for his modest background, honest running style, and likeable connections and the same can certainly be said about my selection for the Royal Oak, the Mick Winters-trained MISSUNITED. This admirably consistent 6yo mare is adored by her trainer and unsurprisingly so considering the great tenacity she has shown in quality contests over the past 2 seasons, including when winning the 2013 Galway Plate and beating Aidan O’Brien’s subsequent British Champions Long Distance Cup 3rd EYE OF THE STORM in a 12f Listed race back at Ballybrit in early September.

Of course, neither she nor her stable have ever come near to winning a flat Group I and her profile lacks the lustre of some of the other Royal Oak runners, but she won’t mind the ground and will hopefully be in there fighting as they turn for home. Paddy Power are the only bookies to have priced up the race for now and their 14/1 does seem quite skinny, especially when compared to the 50s (!) we can get here in France, but I still wouldn’t put you off a small EW wager.

At the bottom of the weights, the 3yo fillies Ebizya, trained by Alain de Royer-Dupré and ridden by Christophe Lemaire, and The Lark, trained by Michael Bell and ridden by Jamie Spencer, are certainly worth a second look as both won nicely last time out at Group II level. Both are of course unexposed compared to their elders and appear to have a liking for a bit of cut, however, at the prices, I’m happy to have a speculative punt on Mick Winters’ mare upsetting the big boys (and girls) and taking the Royal Oak trophy back to County Cork!

TIP: 27/10/2013: 14.40 (GMT) Longchamp – MISSUNITED – 1pt EW at the biggest price you can find!

BE LUCKY!

Alex @ The Winning Post.

The WP – Where every Post’s a Winning one!

PREVIEW! The Racing Post Trophy: 26/10/2013:

CHIEF BARKER beats CHRISELLIAM at Haydock - 07/09/2013

CHIEF BARKER (right) beats CHRISELLIAM at Haydock – 07/09/2013

15.50 DONCASTER – Racing Post Trophy (Group I)
(2yo, 1m, Class 1, 11 runners)

And so we arrive at the final Group I of the British flat season, the Racing Post Trophy. Run over a mile at Doncaster Racecourse in South Yorkshire and first contested in 1961, it is perhaps the premier 2yo contest of the season and regularly unearths one of the next year’s Classic winners. For example, we need only look back to the 2011 running to find the 2012 English 2,000 Guineas and English and Irish Derby victor CAMELOT, who cruised home for Aidan O’Brien at Doncaster to confirm the  rumours that he was an exceptional animal.

Other recent Racing Post Trophy winners who went on to Classic success include AUTHORIZED (2006), MOTIVATOR (2004), and HIGH CHAPARRAL (2001), so it is a contest that one should always pay great attention to, even if it is perhaps not the best betting medium…

For of course trainers, and especially the top trainers, are always rather cautious with what they consider to be their best 2yos, wishing to give them time to mature physically and doing their utmost to maintain an unbeaten record in order to enhance potential stud value. So often there isn’t much form to go on and many punters selections are made on the basis of an ‘impression’, usually taken from an easy Maiden win.

Bearing in mind this necessary lack of substance to our understanding of each runner’s various qualities, the Racing Post Trophy is never a race to get too carried away with from a betting perspective, however I do feel there is a fair each-way opportunity in this year’s field.

The market is currently headed by 3 unbeaten horses in O’Brien’s CENTURY, who finished strongly on his only start to take a Curragh Maiden over a mile on good ground 13 days ago, Roger Varian’s KINGSTON HILL, who supplemented a nice 7f Maiden win with a convincing performance in a hot renewal of the Autumn Stakes on good to soft at Newmarket on 12/10, and Godolphin’s PINZOLO, who landed a fair soft ground Newbury Conditions Race after taking his Maiden nicely at Newmarket.

This trio are available at around the 4/1 mark and of them I feel KINGSTON HILL has been the most impressive, seeing off some stiff competition and demonstrating the ability to act on the soft ground we will have today at Doncaster. Aidan O’Brien has of course taken the last 2 renewals of the Trophy with once-raced Maiden winners CAMELOT and KINGSBARNS so CENTURY deserves a deal of respect, especially considering his Curragh win came without things going his way during the race, while PINZOLO for me is the weakest of the 3, having been forced to dig deep for his 2 wins against much lesser competition than that faced today.

Each of these 3 runners could easily have their say, but, at the prices, I am tempted to look elsewhere for a bit of value in a very open renewal.

Typically for a Mark Johnston horse, SOMEWHAT has been rather busy in 2013 and has seen the track on 5 occasions already this season. This frequency has born fruit however as he has been a model of consistency so far, bagging a Maiden, a Listed race, and 2 Group II second places, including behind the highly regarded BERKSHIRE last time out in the Royal Lodge. Many felt he could have even won that day at Newmarket had Gérald Mossé pushed him harder. Stable jockey Joe Fanning is back in the plate today and surely won’t hesitate to give a few smacks if he’s in with a chance at the furlong pole. So SOMEWHAT could be a nice EW shout, especially as it is imagined his action will be better suited to soft going, but I do feel he could be vulnerable to a runner open to greater improvement.

One horse I believe should definitely provide a progressive performance today is the Hannons’ CHIEF BARKER, and, at 10/1, he will be carrying my EW money.

The Azamour colt is unbeaten in 3 starts, having progressed from a Sandown Maiden via a Newmarket Nursery to take a Haydock Listed race last time out on good to soft. He had to fight for the latter, but the horse he beat was none other than Charlie Hills’ impressive Fillies’ Mile (Group I) winner CHRISELLIAM. The Hannons won the very same Haydock Listed race with the excellent HAVANA GOLD in 2012 and are said to fancy CHIEF BARKER in today’s soft conditions. With Champion-elect Richard Hughes doing the steering, I think we should be guaranteed a good run.

I could continue and make a case for most of today’s top quality field, but will finish with just a quick word on ALTRUISTIC as, being trained and ridden by the magic man Johnny Murtagh, it would be no surprise to see this Galileo colt run a big race. He was beaten by a couple of sharp Ballydoyle horses when upped to Group II class for the Beresford at the Curragh last time following an easy Naas Maiden win, but, with improvement likely, especially given the soft conditions, we could well see Mr Murtagh steal the headlines once again!

TIP: CHIEF BARKER – 1pt EW at 10/1.

BE LUCKY!

Alex @ The Winning Post.

The WP – Where every Post’s a Winning one!

PREVIEW! The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe 2013:

RULER OF THE WORLD at Longchamp (15/09/2013)

RULER OF THE WORLD at Longchamp (15/09/2013)

The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe takes place at Longchamp racecourse in the West of Paris on Sunday and it looks as though this could be one of the best runnings of the world’s premier middle-distance horse race since it was first contested back in 1920.

Bringing together the Arc’s signature selection of the best of the Classic generation and an illustrious smattering of older animals, the 2013 field features a host of proven Group I performers who will line up to do battle for a top prize of almost 3 million Euros.

With such riches on offer it is of no surprise that owners and trainers are willing to travel across the world in order to contest the Arc, but for the Japanese this race has become about much more than money following seemingly unfortunate defeats for some of their most beloved superstars including the great Deep Impact, who finished 3rd when odds-on in 2006, and Orfevre, who was just reeled in by French filly Solemia after hitting the front a touch too soon in last year’s race.

ORFEVRE before his 2013 Prix Foy victory

ORFEVRE before his 2013 Prix Foy victory

Orfevre returns looking to set things right under top Belgian jockey Christophe Soumillon, and judged by his smooth victory in last month’s Prix Foy, one of the premier trials for the Arc, he is in just the right form to do so. His recent canters at his temporary home of Chantilly have been electric, he has been handed a fair draw in stall 8, and he hence holds a justified position at the head of the market.

However, as we saw in last year’s running, Orfevre is a horse for whom things need to fall exactly right if he is to give his best and who is far from a reliable conveyance when given a few cracks of the whip and forced to fight. Given the caliber of Sunday’s field, he will have to have improved beyond all measure to take the prize on the bridle and, with all 60 horses who have, over the past 25 years, returned to Longchamp for another shot at the Arc having previously been beaten in the race failing to win, I feel there is better value to be had elsewhere.

Kizuna also represents Japan and will have the adept assistance of superstar jockey Yutaka Take in his bid to land a second Group I following victory in this year’s Japanese Derby at Tokyo. Having made the trip to Europe well in advance, he put in a great run to land the Prix Niel on Arc Trials Day after an absence of more than 4 months. In the process he beat 3 prominent Arc competitors in RULER OF THE WORLD, Ocovango, and Flintshire, however RULER OF THE WORLD was travelling just as well as the winner when losing a length and a lot of momentum after being squeezed out just after the 2 pole and I fancy him to reverse the form with Kizuna in the Arc. In fact, I fancy him to win the race!

Aidan O’Brien has won the Arc only once, with the brilliant Dylan Thomas in 2006, but certainly knows how to prep a horse for a contest of this nature and has secured the ruthless talent of Ryan Moore for the ride. Moore has plenty of experience around Longchamp, won the Arc himself on Workforce in 2010, and knows the horse well as he was onboard for his biggest victory in this year’s Epsom Derby. On that day in June RULER OF THE WORLD demonstrated his ability to travel, quicken, and stay, the three fundamental qualities that any Arc winner must possess, and, despite subsequently disappointing in the Irish Derby on ground which perhaps firmer than he would like, I feel that, following an excellent trial in the Niel and given a prime draw in stall 6, he is a stand-out each-way selection for Sunday’s feature at 10/1.

O’Brien also sends 2013 Doncaster St Leger winner Leading Light, but I believe he could lack the change of gear that will undoubtedly be required from 2 out faced with the like of French Prix de Diane-winning filly TRÊVE.

Trêve was unheralded before her run in the Diane (French Oaks) at Chantilly, having won but a Maiden and a Conditions Race, however she had always been held in high regard by her shrewd trainer Criquette Head-Maarek and there were whispers before the race that they had unearthed a special talent. And so it proved as she romped away with a competitive race, easily beating a range of Group I winners and breaking the track record!

From here paths logically led to the Prix Vermeille, a Group I fillies’ Arc Trial that is regularly a hot race in itself, but TRÊVE again put a good field to bed with ease, despite having to thread a difficult passage through her rivals. Many good horses would have been unable to retrieve the race from the position she found herself in a furlong and a half from home, but she possesses such a devastating kick that the daring move Frankie Dettori, retained rider to TRÊVE’s Qatari owner Sheikh Joaan Al Thani, was forced to make seemed a smooth and planned progression to the untrained eye.

Dettori will of course not be on board on Sunday having fractured an ankle when unfortunately unshipped from a lowly animal at Nottingham earlier this week, but TRÊVE will therefore be reunited with veteran French jockey Thierry Jarnet, who rode her to her Prix de Diane triumph and knows Longchamp like his own back yard.

TRÊVE runs away with the Prix de Diane at Chantilly (16/06/2013)

TRÊVE runs away with the Prix de Diane at Chantilly (16/06/2013)

Having said all this, it seems surprising that the flying filly can be backed at odds as big as 11/2, especially considering that she lies at the very bottom of the weights due to allowances given for her sex and age. Perhaps her draw in stall 15 of 18 and the injury to her high-profile jockey have tempered punters’ ardour, however to my mind she remains a solid win bet at those prices and is definitely worth an interest.

The horses I have already mentioned would in themselves be enough to make a great horse race, but this is the Arc, a contest with pretentions to be the greatest race of them all, and so accompanying these superstars we also have André Fabre’s impressive pair of Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) winner Intello and Grand Prix de Paris victor Flintshire.

INTELLO - Winner of the Prix du Jockey Club 2013

INTELLO – Winner of the Prix du Jockey Club 2013

Intello caught the eye early this season when flashing home to take 3rd from a wide draw in the French 2,000 Guineas before running away with the French Derby. He is clearly a smart animal, however the form of his Jockey Club win is moderate at best, he has never run over 12 furlongs, and would prefer a sounder surface to the soft we are forecast for tomorrow.

Flintshire had at one stage headed the Arc market following an easy win in the Grand Prix de Paris in July, but here again the horses he beat have failed to advertise the form. He could subsequently manage only an unspectacular 4th in the Niel and is therefore passed over.

Andreas Wöhler’s Novellist would have had to come into one’s calculations as he has gone from strength to strength this season, building on a powerful performance in winning the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud in June when scorching to a 5-length success in the King George VI. But we have heard this morning the unfortunate news that he will not take part tomorrow due to a temperature. Wöhler quite rightly believes that everything must be just right for a crack at such a trying contest and has hence done what is best for his stable star and withdrawn him. Let’s hope he can return to full health for a crack at another late-season highlight, perhaps at British Champions Day.

Of the rest of the Arc runners, Roger Charlton’s Al Kazeem will likely have been primed for a big run as this will be his last race before retiring to the Royal Stud, but was handed the worst of the draw in stall 18 and will have to recapture his early-season brilliance if he is to figure at the finish on Sunday. The French trio of Ocovango, Pirika, and Very Nice Name have run some good races in defeat this term, however appear to lack the dash that will be needed to take this hot edition of the Arc.

I could continue and make a case for almost every runner in the field, which is testament to the enthralling race we have in prospect, but one can’t back them all so I will leave it at that.

Enjoy the race and…

BE LUCKY!

Alex Cairns.

SELECTIONS:
Ruler Of The World – 1pt EW at 10/1
Trêve – 1pt WIN at 9/2

The WP – Where every Post’s a Winning one!

PREVIEW! Cambridgeshire Day At Newmarket: 28/09/2013:

BERKSHIRE scores at Ascot

BERKSHIRE scores at Ascot

The Cambridgeshire meeting at Newmarket concludes today with a top-notch card featuring the 8f Group II Royal Lodge Stakes for 2yo colts, the 6f Group I Cheveley Park Stakes for 2yo fillies, the 8f Group I Sun Chariot Stakes for fillies aged 3 and older, and of course the devilish Heritage Handicap that is the Cambridgeshire. Quite the line-up!

We kick off with the Royal Lodge, in which Paul Cole’s exciting Royal Ascot winner BERKSHIRE will be out to prove his romp in the Chesham was no one-off against the likes of Mark Johnston’s Listed winner and Superlative Stakes second Somewhat, as well as the Hannons’ dual Listed scorer Washaar.

BERKSHIRE took the Chesham in some style and had numerous subsequent winners in behind that day, including the re-opposing Somewhat and the highly-rated Bunker, who landed a Listed prize at Deauville in August. Judging by his Ascot performance, BERKSHIRE is an animal with exceptional natural quality and the way he ran to the line suggests strongly that he will take today’s extra furlong in his fluent stride, especially with good to firm ground at HQ.

Really, it is difficult to see past the market leader as he has been absent by design, with Paul Cole wanting to give him plenty of time to mature both physically and mentally. According to connections he has done both and they are thus confident of a big run, but, at evens, he of course isn’t much of a bet. With this in mind, I’m happy to sit the race out and enjoy what I hope will be a special performance from a horse with Classic potential.

The colts having cleared the stage, we turn our attention to some of the finest fillies currently in training anywhere in the world!

First up are the 2yos in the Group I Cheveley Park Stakes over 6f and I fancy Charlie Hills’ KIYOSHI to get back in the winners’ enclosure here following a length defeat to Clive Brittain’s excellent Rizeena in the Moyglare.

That was the runaway Albany winner’s first attempt at 7f and I feel the return to 6 will allow her to again deploy her devastating finishing kick with the same irresistible force as at Ascot.

French raider Vorda will certainly be no pushover however, having landed the Group II Prix Robert Papin at Maisons-Laffitte earlier this season before going down by just a length to the powerful American No Nay Never in the Morny at Deauville. Indeed, she had KIYOSHI‘s Moyglare conqueror Rizeena behind that day and has since been purchased by Qatari interests who don’t like to waste their (admittedly copious) funds. Unfortunately for French jockey Gregory Benoist, who is retained by Vorda‘s previous proprietor Gérard Augustin-Normand, this change in ownership has also meant that the maestro Olivier Peslier steps in for the ride, but this will not bother Vorda‘s supporters as Peslier’s talents are well-publicised and he has much more experience of riding in the UK.

And KIYOSHI‘s competition doesn’t stop there of course as also in opposition we have Frankel’s half-sister Joyeuse who got back to winning ways in a Listed race at Salisbury last time out and David Wachman’s intriguing Come To Heel. This one could be anything following 2 fluent wins on home turf and connections clearly have some belief in her as she was supplemented at a cost of £15,000 for a run in this.

KIYOSHI though remains the most likely winner for me here as she has not had to travel far, seems best at 6f, and hails from a trainer who again proved his aptitude with high-class fillies when winning the Fillies’ Mile yesterday with Chriselliam.

Hills runs another of his stars, this season’s Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Just The Judge, in the next race on Newmarket’s excellent card, the Group I Sun Chariot Stakes for fillies aged 3 and older. Run over a mile, this contest often brings the best of the Classic generation, here represented by the aforementioned Just The Judge and the Hannons’ English 1,000 Guineas heroine SKY LANTERN, into battle with their outstanding elders, today including 3-time Group I winner Elusive Kate and Kevin Prendergast’s Matron Stakes victor La Collina.

This looks a seriously competitive contest and will be something of a grudge match due not only to the close form ties of Just The Judge and SKY LANTERN, but also the controversial running of this year’s Falmouth Stakes, in which Elusive Kate beat SKY LANTERN by just a neck following what some might call ‘tactical manoeuvres’, others ‘hanging’, and still others ‘interference’ in the final furlong:


Much as I love Just The Judge, she has been beaten by SKY LANTERN on 3 occasions, including when putting in a lacklustre effort in the Nassau Stakes last time out and indeed it is the Hannons’ grey who I fancy to prove her superiority over all of her rivals today.

Even following an appeal, the result of the Falmouth was not changed, but I feel that Richard Hughes’s mount was carried far enough across the track to have lost the neck’s difference she was beaten by.

Next time out, when over 4 lengths down in 5th in the Nassau, SKY LANTERN again had trouble in running and should have been at least a couple of lengths closer to the winner. Back at 8f and with plenty of room to manoeuvre on the Rowley Mile, I think she should bag the win.

And finally in today’s PREVIEW, I have set myself the daunting task of picking the winner of one of the trickiest races in the entire racing calendar!

Yes, it is the famous Cambridgeshire Heritage Handicap, an event which has been mercilessly slaying punters since 1839, but which, with recent winners having scored at 25/1, 40/1, and 100/1, it is understandably hard to resist.

I won’t of course be offering thoughts on each of the 35 (!) runners, but will provide my idea of a ‘solid’ EW selection. And this is…SEEK AGAIN, who is at the bottom of the weights, unexposed on turf, and trained by 3-time Cambridgeshire winner John Gosden. At 18/1 he’s as good as any!

With action ranging from a small field of precocious juveniles to a handicap cavalry charge by way of some of the classiest fillies in the game, this should be a fine day’s action. I hope you will enjoy it and perhaps pick up a winner or two along the way!

SELECTIONS:
14.00 GMT - 
The Royal Lodge Stakes - BERKSHIRE
14.35 GMT
– The Cheveley Park Stakes - KIYOSHI - 2pts WIN at 5/2
15.10 GMT - The Sun Chariot Stakes - SKY LANTERN - 1pt WIN at 9/4
15.50 GMT – The Cambridgeshire - SEEK AGAIN – 1pt EW at 18/1

BE LUCKY!

Alex @ The Winning Post.

The WP – Where every Post’s a Winning one!

Arc Trials Day At Longchamp: 15/09/2012:

Longchamp's famous Moulin

Longchamp’s famous Moulin

It seems astounding that a card featuring 6 Group races, including 2 Group Is, could be considered a ‘Trials Day’, but such is the immense quality of the racing to be held at Longchamp in Paris over Arc weekend on the 5th and 6th of October that it is only logical that today’s collection of preparatory contests should themselves be of the highest quality.

Indeed, there are so many good horses running at the meeting that I can’t go into too much depth, but will here provide a palatable preview of the Group I and Group II events, including both a WP FANCY and an EW value selection. As usual, I will be taking my camera with me to Longchamp and will subsequently construct a detailed report from the day via annotated photographs, thus providing you with everything you need to know before Arc day!

FLINTSHIRE scores at Chantilly - 16/06/2013

FLINTSHIRE scores at Chantilly – 16/06/2013

13.30 GMT - Prix Niel (Group II) - 3yo, 1m4f, 10 runners

The English Derby winner Ruler Of The World and the Grand Prix de Paris victor FLINTSHIRE face off here with the former looking to recover his reputation following a flat run in the Irish Derby. He should run well, having been given some time, but Maxime Guyon thinks FLINTSHIRE is one of the best he has ever ridden and, with connections believing he will handle the soft ground, he is the one for me.

Japanese raider Kizuna is a Group I winner on his home turf, but would be a risky betting prospect considering the amount of unknowns, while André Fabre’s Triple Threat is held in high regard and showed big signs of improvement last time out. Stamina is a worry however.

FANCY: FLINTSHIRE
EW: TRIPLE THREAT

Last year’s winner: SAÔNOIS:

Saônois finished 15th of 18 in the 2012 Arc.

TRÊVE takes the Diane in her stride - 16/06/2013

TRÊVE runs away with the Diane – 16/06/2013

14.40 GMT - Prix Vermeille (Group I) -  3yo+, 1m4f, 11 runners

Some of the best fillies on the planet are on show here including hugely impressive French Oaks heroine TRÊVE. She had only won a Conditions Race before her Chantilly triumph, but slammed a good field with ease. She still has massive scope and will take all the beating

André Fabre’s grey Tasaday is a reliable sort who always runs her race. If she handles the step up in trip she could make a place, along with Lady Cecil’s powerful Wild Coco. But if any horse is to trouble the winner it could well be Aidan O’Brien’s Venus De Milo, who flew home in the Irish Oaks behind Chicquita and was a respectable 2nd to The Fugue at York. The ground is a complete unknown for her however.

FANCY: TRÊVE
EW: TASADAY

Last year’s winner: SHARETA:

Shareta finished 9th of 18 in the 2012 Arc.

Orfevre before the Prix Foy 2012

Orfevre before the Prix Foy 2012

15.10 GMT - Prix Foy (Group II) - 4yo+, 1m4f, 10 runners

Seemingly very unlucky not land the Arc in 2012, last year’s Prix Foy victor Orfevre returns from Japan to try and put the record straight. He is top-class animal who acts on heavy going and stands a mighty chance of winning tomorrow as most of the rest of the field are not in the same league. However there are some doubts following last year’s Arc shimmy and an apparent tendency to bleed. Only Dunaden and CAMELOT are up to the same standard as Orfevre and, with the former seemingly struggling to win this season, I am happy to take a chance O’Brien’s 2012 Champion returning to form after time off.

FANCY: CAMELOT
EW: CAMELOT

Last year’s winner: ORFEVRE:

Orfevre finished 2nd of 18 in the 2012 Arc.

FLOTILLA parades before winning the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches - 12/05/2013

FLOTILLA parades before winning the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches – 12/05/2013

15.45 GMT - Prix du Moulin (Group I) - 3yo+, 1m, 8 runners

The French 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas winners, FLOTILLA and Style Vendôme, meet in this intriguing contest that also features the talents of impeccable 2yo and Jacques Le Marois 2nd Olympic Glory and Prix d’Ispahan winner Maxios. I am a huge fan of the latter, but think he could find the trip a little short and the opposition a little hot in this. Olympic Glory has a big chance in the formbook, but his odds are restrictive. So, with Style Vendôme having been soundly seen off by some slightly lesser lights last time, I am willing to take a chance on my dear FLOTILLA, who’s last run in the Diane can be ignored as she patently didn’t stay and apparently has a disliking for Chantilly. Back at a mile at Longchamp, with a nice draw and a pacemaker, she will hopefully show her true form and is a value alternative to the odds-on favourite.

FANCY: FLOTILLA
EW: FLOTILLA

Last year’s race: Winner: MOONLIGHT CLOUD:

So there you have it. What a day in prospect! Enjoy and…

BE LUCKY!

Alex @ The Winning Post.

The WP – Where every Post’s a Winning one!

TIPS! The Moyglare Stud Stakes: 01/09/2013:

Tapestry before the Debutante Stakes at the Curragh - 11/08/2013

Tapestry before the Debutante Stakes at the Curragh – 11/08/2013

16.15 (GMT) Curragh - Moyglare Stud Stakes (Fillies’ Group 1)
7f – 2yo – 7 runners

The Group I Moyglare Stud Stakes for 2yo fillies takes place today. It is run over 7f at the Curragh in Co. Kildare in Ireland and is always an informative contest with regard to the following year’s fillies’ Classics. Indeed, the 2012 winner, the Richard Hannon-trained grey Sky Lantern, went on to glory in the English 1,000 Guineas back in May.

Currently sharing favouritism for today’s race are the Charlie Hills-trained KIYOSHI and Aidan O’Brien’s Tapestry.

Aidan O’Brien has won 6 of the last 12 runnings of this race, including with a fine filly known as Rumpelstiltskin in 2005. She was a top class 2yo on the track and is really starting to come into her own as a broodmare now too. For proof of this you need look no further than her Galileo-sired daughter Tapestry. She is unbeaten after 2 starts, her first win coming in a nice Maiden at the Curragh over 6 and her second when upped in class and trip in the Group II Debutante Stakes over 7f back at the Curragh on Phoenix Stakes day. She was sent off the 4/5 favourite for her Stakes debut, but quickened up sharply under Joseph O’Brien to beat her stable companion Perhaps, who also runs in the Moyglare, by a handy 1 and 3 quarter lengths:


Considering her impeccable breeding, normal progression should see Tapestry right in the mix for today’s Group I contest and her form over track and trip is a clear bonus.

Course and distance form do count for a lot, especially when it comes to such inexperienced beasts as these 2yos, but ‘form’ in the truest sense of the term certainly counts for more. Tapestry was clearly kicking away from the field as they hit the line in the Debutante Stakes, however the result still shows that she beat Perhaps by less than 2 lengths. With this in mind, it is interesting to note that, previously to her run in the Debutante, Perhaps had gone down by a length to O’Brien’s other runner in today’s race, Wonderfully, in a Group III at Leopardstown. And if we look back through Wonderfully‘s (admittedly short) record we will see that she herself was beaten by no less than 7 and a quarter lengths (!) by Charlie Hills’ English raider KIYOSHI in the Albany Stakes, a Group III over 6f run at Royal Ascot back in June:


Despite drifting markedly right in the closing stages, the incredible turn of foot shown by KIYOSHI at Ascot still allowed her to win by 3 and a quarter lengths and the form of that run has worked our as well as one could wish: Sandiva has taken a Deauville Group III over 7, Wonderfully has landed her previously mentioned Group III at Leopardstown, Princess Noor has won a Group III back at Ascot, Sacred Aspect has landed a Tipperary Listed contest, and, best of all, Albany 6th Lucky Kristale has won both the Duchess of Cambridge at Newmarket and the Lowther at York, both highly competitive Group IIs.

Having given such a sound beating to all of these clearly talented animals, even after drifting under Jamie Spencer towards the line, we can be hopeful that KIYOSHI will have the mettle to hit the Group I headlines today. What is more, we can trust her trainer to get things right today as he of course sent fine filly Just The Judge over to the Curragh to win the Irish 1,000 Guineas for KIYOSHI‘s connections back in May.

The form of another leading contender for today’s race, Rizeena, also ties in with that of my fancy KIYOSHI. Trained by veteran English handler Clive Brittain, she scored nicely in the Queen Mary, a 5f Group II at Royal Ascot, but was then soundly beaten by the aforementioned Lucky Kristale in the Duchess of Cambridge. This leaves her with a bit to find with KIYOSHI, though her last run in the Group I Prix Morny over 6 at Deauville, when beaten just 1 and 3 quarter lengths into 3rd by the mighty American No Nay Never is certainly hot form:


Of the remainder, one can easily rule out John Murphy’s 72-rated maiden Touch Of Snow, but any horse saddled by Aidan O’Brien of course demands our attention and both Perhaps and Wonderfully have strong chances of upsetting the market leaders, especially considering how often a Ballydoyle second (or third) string can come to beat a better-fancied stablemate.

However, it is the nature of contests like the Moyglare to be packed full of progressive talent and we can’t back them all so I am going to stick with KIYOSHI, whose combination of stellar form and huge potential make her a solid bet.

TIP: KIYOSHI – 3pts WIN at 15/8.

Be lucky!

Alex @ The Winning Post.

The WP – Where every Post’s a Winning one!

TIPS! The Jacques Le Marois: 11/08/2013:

Intello before his Prix du Jockey Club win (Chantilly, 02/06/2013)

Intello before his Prix du Jockey Club win (Chantilly, 02/06/2013)

14.45 (GMT) Deauville - Prix Du Haras De Fresnay Jacques Le Marois (Group 1) – 1m – 3yo+ – 13 runners

We’ve already been spoiled with some intense races over a mile this season thanks to the likes of Dawn Approach, Toronado, Sky Lantern, Just The Judge, Farhh, Style Vendôme, Elusive Kate, and more. But the various Guineas and other 8f Group I contests we’ve been treated to pale in comparison to tomorrow’s Jacques Le Marois at Deauville.

The stellar field of 13 looks fiercely competitive and there are a range of intriguing narrative lines that add extra spice to what could very well be the race of the season!

Such illustrious runners as Dawn Approach, Intello, Moonlight Cloud, Elusive Kate, Declaration Of War, Olympic Glory, and Aljamaaheer will need no introduction and it will be fascinating to see them go head to head in what is always one of the highlights of the racing calendar.

Picking a winner from this talented bunch is no easy thing, but I have found an angle which I think should secure us a value bet for big pay-out potential

Amazingly, there is currently a 3-way tie at the head of the market with Jim Bolger’s Dawn Approach, André Fabre’s Intello, and Freddie Head’s Moonlight Cloud all priced at a skinny-looking 5/2. These are 3 truly exceptional animals and they are each more than capable of taking the spoils in this year’s Marois.

However, I do have slight reservations about each. The admirable chestnut Dawn Approach has already run 4 times this season, including an Epsom Derby disaster and 2 tough battles with the Hannons’ Toronado. He’s a tough animal and a mile specialist, but he lacked his usual brilliance when beaten last time out at Goodwood and a trip to France for one of the hottest races of recent years seems a real challenge, even for a horse of Dawn Approach‘s great class and consistency.

Intello is a really interesting runner. Trainer by the French master monsieur André Fabre, he should really be unbeaten after 6 starts having been massively unfortunate not to take the French 2,000 Guineas at Longchamp back in May, when he was drawn out with the washing but finished impeccably to bag a close 3rd. From there he progressed to score a resounding success in the Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) over 10f at Chantilly:

Having taken such a competitive 10f race with so much ease one might have expected him to be upped in distance with a run in the France’s premier contest, the 12f Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, on the horizon. But no, Fabre and the Wertheimers had other plans and so we next saw Intello running back over a mile in the Group III Prix Messidor at Maisons-Laffitte. Some wondered whether it was wise to test the speed of a horse clearly loaded with plenty of stamina, but the Jockey Club winner had apparently been showing good nip at home and duly did the business, in the process beating decent yardsticks Mainsail and Don Bosco:

If you watched the above videos you will have noticed that Intello‘s Messidor victory was much less decisive than his Jockey Club and I thus feel that he may be vulnerable on Sunday to one of the true milers in the field.

And the ‘true miler’ I fancy to turn over the market leaders is John Gosden’s fabulous filly ELUSIVE KATE:

Elusive Kate in action at Newmarket

Elusive Kate in action at Newmarket

She may be trained in Newmarket, but Deauville is still like her back yard as she has run 5 times at the Calvados track, notching 4 wins. These victories included 2 consecutive Prix Rothschilds, a top Group I run over the Marois track and trip. She landed her 2nd Rothschild in impressive fashion just 2 weeks ago and looks to be at the top of her game:

Seemingly in great heart and with conditions ideal for her to show her best I think she is well over-priced at 10/1 and is worth a good each-way interest.

Another notable female taking her chance in the Marois is the speed demon Moonlight Cloud. She too scored at Group I level in the very recent past when taking Prix Maurice de Gheest from the top-class Lethal Force:

However she does appear to be notably less effective over the mile and though she will surely put up a blazing performance the stamina doubts put me off at the prices.

The quality of Sunday’s field is such that I could write several pages on most of the runners, but unfortunately I do not have the time so will have to just give a line or 2 about horses who would normally merit much more.

Declaration Of War was highly touted for the Lockinge at the start of the season and though he disappointed that day he has since shown that he deserves his lofty reputation with a win in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot and good runs in defeat the Eclipse and the Sussex Stakes. He too could surprise a few, but I prefer Elusive Kate at the prices.

Frankie Dettori will be hoping that the Hannons’ Olympic Glory can provide him with his first Group I since returning from a drugs ban, but though this handsome Choisir colt has some excellent 2yo form in the book he has been off the track since disappointing in the French Guineas and would probably have benefited from a prep before being thrown in with these battle-hardened rivals.

Roger Varian’s Aljamaheer too merits a mention having got back to winning ways in the Summer Mile at Ascot a month ago. He’s mixed with and beaten some decent horses in his career, but though he could win a Group I at some stage I don’t think he’s up to the class of these.

So there you have it, watch with interest as this could be one of the best races of your LIFETIME. Let’s hope ELUSIVE KATE will help make it one we’ll remember forever!

TIP: ELUSIVE KATE – 2pts EW at 10/1.

Be lucky!

Alex @ The Winning Post.

The WP – Where every Post’s a Winning one!

TIPS! The Irish Oaks: 20/07/2013:

Just Pretending winning at Leopardstown (12/05/2013)

Just Pretending (centre) winning at Leopardstown (12/05/2013)

It feels rather a long time since I last posted some tips. And it feels even longer since that fine day at the end of May when Ralph Beckett’s Talent swooped to land the Epsom Oaks:

Though it may seem somewhat distant, it is certainly hard to forget such an emphatic victory in one of the most important races in the world, especially since the WP had tipped Talent at 20/1! She hasn’t run since and this is probably a good sign, showing that Mr. Beckett has every faith that she can pick up her second Classic on Saturday.

It must however be said that, as is regularly the case, the Epsom Oaks form has not worked out well, with all the horses behind Talent that have had a run since (8 of Epsom’s 11-strong field!) being well beaten. However, so emphatic was the winner’s performance I still believe she could be an exceptional animal and deserves to head the market.

But despite her impressive win on 31/05, Talent will certainly not have things her own way at the Curragh and is indeed currently sharing favouritism with the highly exciting Riposte.

Now trained by Lady Cecil following the untimely death of her husband Sir Henry (RIP), she made the leap from Maiden company to the Ribblesdale (Group II) at Ascot this season in great style:

This was an excellent run from a filly with so little experience and she is clearly a precocious…talent. Like…Talent at Epsom,  she stayed the 12f trip with ease and will presumably not have any trouble at the Curragh no matter the pace as the kick she showed at Ascot proved she has the ‘Classic’ combination of speed and stamina.

With this impressive form in the bag and more improvement highly likely (especially from the Cecil filly), the pair at the top of the market are certainly worthy favourites and their imminent face-off is a mouth-watering prospect for any racing fan. However, no tipster will keep their head above water by suggesting 5/2 favourites for some of the toughest races of the season, so, loath as I am to forsake my dear Talent, I’ve decided to look elsewhere for value.

There are currently 8 runners declared for Saturday’s showpiece. As some you will know, this is the minimum number required for EW bets to be paid on 3 places and is therefore the ideal number for an EW play.

Aidan O’Brien is a trainer to be ignored at one’s peril and has an impeccable record in the Irish Classics. He has 3 declared for the race, with the twice-raced Venus de Milo currently shortest in the betting at 11/2. Joseph O’Brien, the trainer’s son and stable jockey at Ballydoyle, who presumably had the pick of the trio, has opted to ride JUST PRETENDING, who is available at 14/1. Personally, I would have these prices reversed. Venus de Milo certainly has great potential, but JUST PRETENDING has already demonstrated her qualities on the track by winning a Group III at Leopardstown, finishing a length and three quarters behind the top-class Just The Judge when 3rd in the Irish 1,000 Guineas, and running with great credit when 2nd behind Riposte at Ascot on her first attempt at a mile and a half. As you will have seen in the above video of the Ribblesdale, Riposte got first run that day and JUST PRETENDING met with some trouble in running when deploying her finishing kick. Of course, she was beaten 2 and a quarter lengths at Ascot, but surely shouldn’t be 14/1, especially considering that she is by Giant’s Causeway, a sire whose progeny often keep improving for racing.

I don’t have time to write something on every horse running on Saturday, but must give a quick mention to the sole French raider, Alain De Royer-Dupré’s Chicquita. She has developed something of a reputation in her short career and not only due to her great…talent:

She again showed some wayward tendencies when finishing 4 lengths down to the outstanding Trêve in the Prix de Diane, but if Johnny Murtagh can keep her on the straight and narrow she can certainly play a part in proceedings.

TIP: JUST PRETENDING – 1pt EW at 14/1.

Be lucky!

Alex @ The Winning Post.

The WP – Where every Post’s a Winning one!

TIPS! Le Prix de Diane (French Oaks): 15/06/2013:

Flotilla parades before winning the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches - 12/05/2013

Flotilla parades before winning the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches – 12/05/2013

Tomorrow’s Prix de Diane meeting at Chantilly is known around the world as a festival of elegance and femininity, where the great and the good gather to socialise, sip champagne, and revel in the château’s refined splendour.

But what are picnics and expensive hats beside the heated competition of 11 beautifully-bred fillies vying for status as the best of their generation? Little indeed.

So with this in mind the Winning Post will sidestep the sideshow and skip to the main event: the horses!

At the top of this page you will find FLOTILLA. As you can see, she is a fine physical specimen, but this is a filly with much more to her than a shapely neck and an easy eye and she has twice proven her talent and determination at the highest level on the racetrack.

Her first Group I came in America, in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf over a mile:

This was an easy victory against a good field that included this year’s English 1,000 Guineas heroine Sky Lantern and demonstrated FLOTILLA‘s ability to act on firm ground.

Following that top-level 2yo triumph she was always going to be aimed at one of Europe’s mile Classics in 2013 and in the end it was the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches that her exacting trainer Mikel Delzangles opted for. However, any readers based in Western Europe will know that we have had a tough Winter and it was reported that FLOTILLA had not flourished in the freak meteorological conditions. Consequently, any thought of a prep before the Guineas was dismissed and so she went into one of the most competitive races in the world facing rivals with a fitness edge

So in spite of her interrupted preparation FLOTILLA succeeded in winning cosily. What is more, she was showing no signs of stopping in the final furlong and, combined with the fact that we will likely have good to firm or firm ground at Chantilly tomorrow, I am confident she will see out the Diane’s 1 mile 2 and a half furlong trip.

FLOTILLA beat some very decent horses in the Pouliches and she will face a number of them once again on Sunday, including the 2nd, Esotérique:

Esotérique in the parade ring before the French 1,000 Guineas

Esotérique shines in the parade ring before the French 1,000 Guineas

Trained by the peerless André Fabre, she only visited the racetrack for the first time on the 9th of April 2013, having taken time to develop as a 2yo. Looking at her robust frame this seems surprising, but she quickly made up for lost time in winning easily on debut before being thrown straight into the Prix Vanteaux, a Longchamp Group III on 28/04:

Esotérique was sent off favourite for the Vanteaux, despite the presence of the Prix Marcel Boussac (Group I) winner Silasol and did the business with the minimum of fuss under the consistently excellent Maxime Guyon. From here she was aimed at the Pouliches and you will have seen above that she went on to run an exceptional race on only her 3rd ever start, finishing a close 2nd to the high-class Flotilla, with the front pair having left the rest of the field in their wake.

FLOTILLA certainly flew home in the Guineas, but there were certain observers who claimed this impression was exaggerated by the fact that Esotérique did not last all the way home. This is certainly a possibility and I would thus have greater faith in the former’s capacity for 10 furlongs.

The 2 horses I have adressed thus far have taken the ‘Classic’ route to the Diane in contesting the Pouliches, but this is not the only recognised path to French Oaks glory and the many fans of Olivier Peslier and the renowned blue and white silks of the Wertheimer brothers will be hoping that Silasol, the filly beaten into 2nd by Esotérique in the Vanteaux and a dual Group I winner, will be able to defy the Guineas form and provide her jockey with a first Prix de Diane, one of the few French Group Is still to evade his grasp.

Silasol after her victory in the Group I Prix Saint-Alary -  26/05/2013

Silasol after her victory in the Group I Prix Saint-Alary – 26/05/2013

Silasol flashed onto the world racing scene when winning the Prix Marcel Boussac on heavy ground on Arc day 2012, in the process soundly beating FLOTILLA, who did not appreciate the going, and proved this was no fluke in gaining her 2nd Group I at the same track at the end of last month, the Prix Saint-Alary:

The Saint-Alary is run over 10f and, looking at the way she finished, we can be sure that Silasol will have no problems with the Diane’s trip. Indeed, this contest can be a fine training ground for Diane challengers, the last horse to have done the double being Sarafina in 2010. Peslier is the perfect partner to get the best out of this relaxed type, but though I feel she could reverse the Vanteaux form with Esotérique, I do not believe she will have the class to out-do the hugely talented FLOTILLA on the good ground we should have tomorrow.

Beyond these 3 ‘big guns’ there are of course some other notable challengers, including Fabre’s Pouliches 3rd Tasaday, who looked as a 2yo that she would reach the very top, Alterité, who has demonstrated her burgeoning talents this season with a series of notable runs in defeat, and the two real wild cards, Chicquita and Trêve.

The former has had only 2 starts for Alain de Royer-Dupré, recording a fair 3rd and then dramatically running out/falling when sure of an easy victory at Saint-Cloud last time out:

She could be anything and her trainer certainly knows a Classic horse when he sees one, but her lack of experience and clear greenness (!) are big concerns.

Trêve too lacks experience, having had only 2 starts in first a maiden in September 2012 and then a conditions race at Saint-Cloud last month. She took these races with a deal in hand however and, having won the faith of her insightful trainer Criquette Head-Maarek and vastly experienced jockey Thierry Jarnet, cannot be dismissed out of hand.

Having said all that, none of these potential improvers have shown enough to shake my faith in FLOTILLA and I am hoping she will sail home safe and untroubled.

TIP: FLOTILLA – 2pts WIN at 2/1.

Be lucky!

Alex @ The Winning Post.

The WP – Where every Post’s a Winning one!