Hello Good Morning and Welcome
Our first losing week of the year which may have been nearer break even if I had included Lightscameraction as a saver last Saturday.
I don’t know why but failing to adequately cover my Strike Bet causes me more soul searching than anything else. Take Cover was my main selection and looking at the rerun of the race he gave a solid effort and was coming back at the line and I am prepared to argue he would have got back up in another couple of strides. That’s as may be but the form of Lights at Lingfield especially his last run there over the 5F should have made me include him at the freely available 9/1. The All Weather Final on Good Friday is over 6 furlongs so that will knock out the leading pair on this occasion but could set it up nicely for the third home – Muthmir if he should show up on Finals Day. Last year’s heat was off level weights which will be ideal. The other alternative is Meydan of course. He was carrying a bit on Saturday and dull and wintry in his coat. Another few weeks will see him come on a bundle.
I have never had a quibble with the TV racing pundits and commentators. It’s a job and someone has to do it but I do wish they would do a bit more homework. Someone once said that it’s not easy having to talk for a few hours covering the whole of the afternoon’s card. I would have to disagree. First they are only on for a few minutes at a time as the action moves between the racecourses and there is always the anchor in the main studios to further deflect from the time spent analysing the next race. On Saturday they made a big play of Take Cover being inconvenienced by a high draw. If they had taken a good look at the stats they would have seen that over 5F the draw is nowhere near so much of a factor as over 6F where low numbers are much more of an influence. The TV shots at the start of the 5F at Lingfield portrayed the angles at which the horses had to run to the first bend and proved that if he broke smartly that Take Cover had to cover perhaps less ground and no more than those on the inside. Over 6F the run to the first bend is longer and those on the inside have a much clearer passage and can use their position to best advantage whilst those drawn outside have to use much more gas to keep in contention and go wider if they don’t.
The essential point arising is that each distance has its own draw and punters should bear this in mind when looking at the starting positions for each race. The same applies on the straight course at different tracks. Just because a high draw might appear to be an advantage over 5 and 6F does not mean that the same is true for 7 and 8F at the same venue.
I remember before the turf was relaid at Doncaster in 2006 there was a huge variation on the effect of the draw over the different trips. Regarding sprint races, the bias seemed to be very much with the high numbers and the Press boys assumed this when trying to predict the outcome of the Lincoln Handicap. I figured that this would not be the case and it was 2002 and I was holidaying in the Caribbean one year when the Lincoln was due to be run. In those days the All Weather Season finished around the first week in March and barring Cheltenham and the cough and a kick effort at Doncaster there was not much action on the Flat till the Craven Meeting at Newmarket in mid April. Hence my extended leave. When I take a break I try to get away from Racing as much as possible and the Mrs is usually bamboozled when for the only time in the year she has first say on any plans. You would think that the females would make much of this rare opportunity but it doesn’t take long before I am being asked as what My plans are as to the days itinerary. “You decide Dear” comes my lame reply which sends the fairer sex into further confusion.
This one time I couldn’t help but notice one Saturday when reading a local newspaper, that a feature on the days sport covered The Lincoln taking place that day. I made a note when the race was due off and ambled down to a nearby betting office where the action was being covered. I had plenty of time before the race and took in the nature of the how things happened in the shop where the routine was a bit different from British shops. Being the only white guy in the place caused some attention and one chap in particular was very friendly and asked if I was betting. I told him that the only horse I was interested in that afternoon was Zucchero who should go well from his low draw in the big race. I had a token bet, not having done the form at all and just going on my knowledge of the horse having made some very good paddock notes when last spying the beast at Ascot and Newbury the previous summer. As it happened Zuchero went in at 33/1 and from the noise in the shop when he covered the line first it appeared that many of the boys had followed me in and it took plenty of time for the betting manger to pay everyone out in full. I think many a bottle of rum that evening was financed by the win of Zucchero and the tip of ‘da white man’.
It’s All Quiet On The Western Front regarding Cheltenham with most Bookmakers going No Runner No Bet. With the usual doubts about final running plans there seems little point playing till the day. The usual betting on the Forecast Going on the First Day will of course capture plenty of attention and on past form the Clerk will give it as ‘Good To Soft’ which will then have the ‘Soft’ bit removed after they break the course record for the first race!!
With a zombie atmosphere descending for another ten days my attention persistently drifts to the Flat and I rang Timeform the other day to see when their famed Annual – ‘Racehorses of 2015’ will be out. They tell me the end of March. This gives us the chance to nick their prices for The Classics and put the wind up anyone paying the £80? for the tomb of wisdom.
The Colts get my first scanning and I will take a view of the Fillies next week.
The 2,000 Guineas looks well booked for Air Force Blue trained by Aiden O’Brien. After getting turned over in the Coventry at Royal Ascot the son of War Front found his running shoes with a vengeance and I was watching ATR one Sunday afternoon when Joseph O’Brien came on and told commentator Gary O’Brien that Air Force Blue was working exceptionally well and would win. With the fav Buratino priced at a skinny 11/10 I took young Joseph’s optimism at face value and ventured a few sovs. The boy’s judgement was spot on and the colt took the Group One Phoenix Stakes in some style following up with equally impressive performances in the National Stakes also at The Curragh and the Dewhurst Stakes at HQ in October. As a consequence he has been the short priced Winter Favourite for the 2,000 Guineas and is a current price of 11/10. All the indications are that he will follow a Gleneagles style preparation and turn in first on the Rowley Mile and thereafter at The Curragh for the Irish 2,000 Guineas and then Royal Ascot.
At the moment the only chance to pinch a few quid is go after a couple of arbs and there are two colts whose chance might be better than first appears on paper.
The first off the blocks is Emotionless trained for Godolphin by Charlie Appleby.
This son of Shamardal first appeared at Newmarket in August for his first outing and was very stylish in the process. The 7 furlong maiden race he won has been sponsored by different people over the years and has seen the introduction of such horses as Conduit and Delegator which I both headlined for The Weekender newspaper. Sent off a well backed 6/4 favourite Emotionless won in effortless fashion and could not have had a kinder introduction.
Appearing next in the Group Two Champagne Stakes at Doncaster’s St Leger meeting he was even more impressive, absolutely cruising through to win in a canter. While the opposition was modest for a race of this nature the manner of the victory was breathtaking.
Made odds on when the prices went up for the Dewhurst Stakes his position in the market was enhanced with an impressive racecourse gallop a few days before. However on the day, his place at the head of the market was usurped by the Coolmore representative Air Force Blue. Before the Dewhurst Michael Tabor made plain his clear confidence in Air Force Blue and he was sent off well odds on following hefty support. Emotionless drifted markedly as a result and touched 2/1 which started to engender a real fear that there was perhaps another factor at play causing such negativity and this quickly manifest itself as Emotionless was never going and even before the contest developed in earnest he was well beaten. He clearly needs to re-establish his reputation in the light of this ignominious showing but Charlie Appleby has recently confirmed that he is well on track for the 2,000 Guineas.
I would be all too willing to kick him into touch were it not for his superb conformation which has me marking him as one of the best two year olds I have ever seen. While he may have an Achilles heel or a weakness somewhere which prompted his poor performance I would be reluctant to put the pen through just yet. If he does not win at Newmarket he could well turn up at York where his long stride might be put to best effect on the Knavesmire and while his breeding does not shout Epsom he is such a consummate mover that he could easily freewheel the 12 furlongs on the Downs. He is currently 16/1 for the Guineas which could well contract with a bold showing at The Craven. He could then end up around 4/1 on the Big Day.
Another ‘Dark Horse’ I very much have my eye on is Royal Artillery trained by John Gosden. Like Air Force Blue he is a son of War Front and out of a Dynaformer mare who was Grade2 class over 10 Furlongs in the States. I had a very strong message for him the evening before he was due to appear for the first time at Doncaster. I have never been one for trying to get a price the night before as the market is weak and even if they lay you the amounts are in buttons. I love a message and even if they do not win that time I always bear the support in mind for the future. The next morning I was surprised to see the horse still priced at around 6/4 as I expected it to be well odds on given the strength of the information and I went about filling my boots. Despite soft tacky ground jockey Frankie Dettori carefully nursed him over it allowing him to keep his momentum and draw away in easy style late in the race. He looks very much a class sort from what I could detect on TV and he has to be included @ 25/1 for Newmarket.
His stablemate is Foundation and after winning the Royal Lodge in style he gave Frankie nightmares when finding all the trouble at Doncaster in the Racing Post Trophy. He is a solid yardstick but place claims are probable at the moment. I can see a big future for Royal Artillery and I will discuss his Derby pretensions next week along with another on whom I am very sweet.
Be Lucky and May The Gambling Gods Be With You.
Back next Saturday.
Chris Anzani Racing