Thursday started in hilariously frustrating fashion, with Annunciation running an abysmal race and I can only assume that something was amiss with him. He's a much better performer than that and although sometimes it's easy to understand why a horse would finish out the back, he had no excuses and was beaten after a couple of furlongs. All in all, it didn't matter as he would not have beaten the winner but it would have been nice to have got a run for our money. Maybe the reason he was off the track since the end of June is because he has had some problems, as this run makes little-to-no sense at all. Terrible.
Navajo Chief again proved his love for York by running a cracker to grab a place (4th), which would have been the least that his connections expected given how well supported he was in the market (14/1 > 8/1). Sadly, he got no luck in-running, firstly failing to get his ideal prominent sit and then being short of room on numerous occasions, most importantly with just a few furlongs to run. He ran on strongly once getting into the clear and although there's no point in crying about it, I would have loved to see how he would have got on had everything been a bit more favourable. I strongly suspect that he would have at least troubled the winner and after that, who knows. It wasn't to be though, but he gave it a really good shot considering.
It was looking like a blank day at the office but Dutch Rose came up trumps under a seriously good front-running ride from Daniel Thudhope, who set phenomenally good mid-race fractions and had a real game partner underneath once the going got tough in the dying stages. She won a shade cosily, justifying some strong support (12/1 > 13/2) and again showed off the talents of her masterful trainer, David O'Meara. A tilt at some pattern races will eventually await and she may well be up to doing something at that level, as to call her "progressive" would be a massive understatement given all that the filly has achieved during this season. From a personal point of view, it was lovely to get a nice winner on the board and it was needed.
+10.00pts on the day. Form of last 10 selections; 3-1-0-8-8-2-0-0-4-1 (2 winners & 3 places).
I would love to play in the Nunthorpe again, having found Margot Did last year but usually the outsiders are what I concentrate on in the big Group sprints and the market leaders seem to have it to themselves this time. Hopefully Pearl Secret will do the business for my favourite ever trainer, and I think that he will, but he is too short given all the variables. I'll be roaring him on anyway. We've got four to cheer on, none of which I'd give massive chances to but all we need is one to pop up and anything more than that would be a nice bonus. They all have got some sort of chance if on the ball and here's hoping that they are. All of the best!
A wide draw will not make things easy for Martin Chuzzlewit but if he's returning, on the back of a three-month break, at the top of his game then he looks sure to play some sort of part in proceedings. This Sir Michael Stoute trained 3-year-old cost a pretty penny as a yearling, €420,000 to be precise, and it must have been expected that he'd reach some lofty places (held Derby entry at one point). Now that he's a 3-year-old, I expect to see further improvement on what he has achieved to date and hopefully that'll start with a good performance here. In three outings as a juvenile, over 7f and a mile, he kept shaping like a horse who would not come alive until he tackled the middle distances and despite being a completely unexposed performer anyway, he has barely had any races at trips that would suit. Indeed, the only time that he has run over today's trip (1m 4f) was when last seen, at Chester. First of all, the race was run on soft ground and I don't really think that he wants it so deep. And secondly, he didn't look overly comfortable whizzing around the bends of that sharp track, so to see him beaten by just over 4-lengths (into third) off today's mark bodes quite well in my opinion. This track will suit him a lot more as well and connections are putting a visor on him, which may sharpen him up somewhat (has looked awkward on occasions). Stoute has an excellent record when applying the headgear for the first time and the recent form of his yard is very encouraging. Neil Callan being on board a Sir Robert Ogden horse is a strange one and a slight negative, but he is at least riding winners of late and has a 17% strike-rate for the yard. The main problem is what sort of position the horse can get from his stall, as he strikes me as the type who'd be better when right on the pace and that may not be possible, as we saw with Navajo Chief yesterday. I'll happily take the chance that it will be though, considering that he's simply too big of a price at the moment and hopefully he'll be fit enough to do himself justice. Willie Wag Tail was a horse who I had intended to back at some point soon but Tom Segal has put paid to that opportunity today by tipping him, thus ruining the price, and there's value to be had in opposing him and the second-fav. Let's hope we've the right one.
Frankie Dettori is no longer a good jockey but Dubai Prince had a camel rider on him for his last trio of outings and even ol' Frankie isn't that bad just yet. This lightly-raced 4-year-old colt was a seriously hot prospect at one stage, when trained by Dermot Weld, but of course ended up being ruined once he went to Godolphin after his juvenile season in Ireland, getting a pelvic injury and having to miss out on both the Guineas and Derby as a result. He won his comeback race last year, just the third outing of his career, but then proceeded to massively disappoint in the Champion Stakes at Ascot and when sent out to Dubai to contest a couple of Group 2's. He then had a break and returned to race in a conditions' event over C&D last month, in which he ran out an easy victor, looking something like the horse of old despite taking a while to get into full stride. In the grand scheme of things, it was a nothing race but he still managed to win as he liked and wasn't the lost cause that he looked previously. A step back up to today's level (Group 3) was the next port of call, at Glorious Goodwood, but that was over 1m 4f and he doesn't seem to get the trip, once again shaping like a non-stayer after moving himself into contention. The track wouldn't have been ideal either, nor the fact that it developed into a sprint for home over a trip too far, at which point he was running on empty. Dropping him back in trip will definitely help and if they go any sort of gallop, it'll help and be a step up on the one he encountered in that C&D race. This isn't much of a contest in truth, with plenty of runners who have overinflated ratings (including him) lining up and if he's able to give his best, then I suspect that that'll suffice. Godolphin have taken 4 of the last 10 running's of this race too and the Al Zarooni team are in especially good form this month, though Dettori's 4-50 record for him in 2012 is less than inspiring and he's riding like a clown of late. The horse might be good enough to get him out of trouble at the same time and is a hint of value at the current odds, so should be backed with the usual.
Bonnies Charlie caught the eye of many on his penultimate outing, over 6f at Ayr, when he was a blatant non-trier under the control of Paul Quinn (I can say that because the rider got banned for not trying!). The way that this 5-year-old gelding was travelling through the race was very encouraging as to his well-being and had he been ridden with any sort of force then he would have surely troubled the judge. He has been out since that "effort" but was running over 5f at Ripon and first of all, that wouldn't be an ideal test. That track was never going to suit unless he was bang there on the speed, even over his optimum trip, but he never had the chance to get competitive after being badly squeezed up right at the start. That made an already tough task nearing on impossible and he could never latch on to the main group, eventually seen finishing out the back but not being beaten too far (under considerate ride). With the Dandy Nicholls yard showing signs of life again, this fellow looks sure to be back in the firing line before too long and he's so attractively handicapped off a mark of 78 that the time to keep him on side begins now. At the peaks of his powers, when trained by Richard Hannon, he was a Group-class sprinter rated 109 at his best. Obviously that was a long time ago but he has only had seven outings in two seasons with his yard and is very well-in for when he's back to the best that he can be at the moment, with the Ayr run suggesting that 78 is one he can outrun. He has form on this type of track and indeed on this track, albeit quite some time ago. The yard make a long journey south for just one runner and hopefully it's with the intention of getting a victory under the geldings belt before the Ayr meet, which I presume he will be going to. Adrian Nicholls hopping back on board is usually a negative but it's a plus with this yard and it's his only ride of the day too, albeit at a track that he hasn't had a winner at for over 5 years (just 16 rides). None of the opposition are overly well-handicapped and although this fellow may be primed for another finish out the back, he's enough of a price to warrant a bet. Hopefully he'll go about business in the style of the Ayr run and this time, win, now back to his optimum trip. Of the rest, another big run from Showboating wouldn't surprise but I'll leave it.
I've been waiting for the speedy Jeannie Galloway to reappear for some time, with connections likely to let the handbrake off at some point soon and hopefully that'll be now. This 5-year-old mare has come to her own in the past few season approaching the autumn, when trained by Richard Fahey, and there's little-to-no doubt that it's going to be a similar scenario this time around. She's now trained by Keith Dalgleish, for whom she's had a trio of outings and he has done a nice job in getting her very well-handicapped again, though I suspect that they were "on the job" last time out when she was last seen, over C&D around two months ago. On that occasion, she was unfavoured by racing along the stands rail at a meeting that was seeing those in the centre of the track come up trumps and this race was no different, though it was still a run full of promise. The race has also worked out quite well and, overall, she did a lot better than that run would suggest on the figures. It was only last year when she finished a gallant, slightly unlucky second of 25 in the Ayr Bronze Cup off a mark of 82 and she's rated just 79 now, along with competing in an easier race. The big question is whether this run will be a tune-up or not, as she doesn't have any outstanding form coming from lay-off's and would have got into that race last year off her current rating. She may not do so this time around though and I suspect that connections will want to get her going back up the rankings instead. Joe Fanning being on board is a sure-fire positive, as he has got an excellent record at this track and is the main man for the yard. Added to that is the first-time visor that the trainer seems to use rather sparingly. The mare also has winning form over C&D from the end of last year (2-lengths off 82) and is a bit better than these, but will obviously have to be readied to give her best. This bet could go a couple of ways but with a solid draw in one, the main jockey (plus first-time visor) on board and the stable being in cracking form, all looks primed for a big run. The ground is fine as well, with plenty of cut being ideal for her. The betting will tell its own story, but for now she's worthy of a punt. Roker Park is the real danger.
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