Windsor on a Monday night and lots of horses to note here! Lets start with the 2yo winner Legendary Lunch who won first time out for SJ racing ambassador Richard Hannon, beating horses with experience including the Hugo Palmer trained Copper Knight who went on to win the Lily Agnes at Chester this week. Connections feel a tilt at Royal Ascot (possibly Norfolk Stakes) will be coming down the line for this son of Dragon Pulse who will appreciate quicker ground . The other race to take notice of that night is the 6.30 where Roger Varian’s newcomer Choreographer won, first time of asking. After being fractious in the prelim, he buckled down well to win by 2 lengths from decent enough yard stick. The Dante Stakes looks to be next on the agenda for this 800,000 colt. However, the horse to take from the race, and the first of this weeks notebook horses, is the Richard Hughes trained Bunbury. This horse was originally in training with John Gosden, but never got to the track, gelded and sold for 22,000. Hughes has a horse of great potential and this full brother to the classy but sometimes wayward Zacinto carried 10 stone as a 4yo vs younger horses. He travelled notably well in rear without being asked much by Shane Kelly before finishing to decent effect 5 lengths back of the winner, he has had another run since again at Windsor and ran a similarly eyecatching race. He's now eligible for handicaps - a mark in the mid 70’s will be easily overcome and is a horse to keep the right side of.
Quiet day flat wise apart from a punt on High Draw (1400 Notts) which I was involved in. It somehow managed to get beaten by a short head you can take it as fact Dougie ‘The Kitten’ Costello won’t be on my Christmas card list, but at least some people were happy. The jumps traders are still counting the cash after both Yorkhill and Vautour both got beat - note to punters after a long season they are not machines and you just don't plug them in!
A decent days racing and one to note at Pontefract - the Keith Dalgleish trained Maleficent Queen who was making her 4 year old debut off a mark 90 carrying 10 stone. The won easily and is a mare to follow until she is beaten! The handicapper has only put her up to 96 and she can win another handicap before stepping up to listed class to get the black type she deserves . Down at Ascot the Wesley Ward stable introduced Create a Dream to win the 2yo conditions race, getting 5lb from the 2nd and 3rd. She will be aimed at the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot and on better ground should be feared by all. The 3rd horse home, Deningy trained by David Evans, may have been unlucky not to have won, was awarded 2nd in the stewards room and should be a certainty in any maiden or conditions race before moving up in class. Mizzou won the Sagaro stakes for Luca Cumani for the 2nd year running. He was getting 5lbs from the 3rd, Flying Officer, and both will head to Ascot for the Gold Cup but I don't expect either to be winning there. Gifted Master cemented his place as a very likeable improving 3 year old with a typically game front running performance to win the Pavillion Stakes and will head to the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot over the same course and distance for which he is 6/1 with SJ and must rate a decent e/w bet, his trainer Hugo Palmer can seem to do no wrong at the moment as we will see later on in the week. A quick word for a two horses I follow as I think they are well handicapped... Bastille Day who got my e/w money in the last at Ascot. Message to David Elsworth - please can you step this horse up to 10 f and we will then see his decent handicap mark go up! Whilst at Wolverhampton, Cuban Queen won a lowly 0-55 of a mark of 49, but having seen this filly in the flesh on her debut at Lingfield last June she is a lovely type and cost 80,000. She has started her handicap career at the right end of the scale, was raised only 4lb for her win and has 3 more entries this week. Being American bred, if she takes up either her Wolverhampton or Lingfield engagements, she should be backed again to follow up of a new mark of 53.
On a busy day numerically meetings wise, but short on class, one horse to note from the evening all weather card at Chelmsford that being Dannyday trained by the resurgent Sir Michael Stoute who made a mockery of his mark of 85 being held up over the 1m5f trip, he eased to the front over 1 furlong out and won easily by 4 lengths only been given a rise to 91. His astute handler will find another handicap for this half brother to Dubday who improved massively in his 4 year old career before going up in class to listed and group assignments.
Quiet day just 2 things to note: Medburn Dream completed his handicap hatrick at Chepstow of a revised mark of 73, easily making all, he has been put up to new mark of 82 but as long as there is some cut in the ground again he will be able to win another 0-85 he wont be risked on good ground or quicker. Down at Fontwell (twig jumping) a nice little touch was landed by the Gary Moore team where Illewin For Hannah backed from 7/1 in to 7/2 early in the day - drifting out later to return 6/1 - son Jamie did the steering and the punt was landed.
2000 Guineas day, but a few to note from Goodwood first - Rayvin Black well handicapped of 70 on the flat compared to his hurdle mark of 149 make all under 5lb claimer Edward Greatorex and landed some nice bets from 15/8 down to 11/8 - should improve for the run and can win again when reassessed. Carnachy won the 1m4f fillies listed race beating the rather interestingly ridden stablemate Bateel (another Frank Spencer hold up classic) which made another of our traders rather happy as he had Carnachy down as his flat horse to follow from the back end of last season. David Simcock has two nice fillies for the rest of the season in both Carnachy and Bateel. However our most important result of the day was getting Sinfonietta beat in the 14.50 race as we had a very uncomfortable multy bet running that nearly would have taken the keys for the building, but the racing gods were on our side and Shane Kelly got the Richard Hughes trained Russian Realm up in the last 100 yards to win by a neck. On to Newmarket and 2000 Guineas day and Exosphere impressively winning the Jockey Club stakes - this in part may be down to Jack Hobbs disappointing (since found to have an injury forcing him out for the majority of the season), another example of the Sir Michael Stoute revival. He seems to have grasped the nettle that you can’t afford to wait for things to happen, I believe this is due to him having a live classic hope in Midterm which has forced him to have his horses far more forward than in previous seasons or perhaps he just has later maturing types that improve from 4 year olds and upwards. Either way it's good to have him back in contention for the trainers title and we can expect to see Exosphere in the Hardwicke Stakes next time out at Royal Ascot. The 2000 Guineas was won by Galileo Gold trained by the ever impressive Hugo Palmer, who keeps impressing with the placement and condition that his horses are turned out with, but for me the form of this race should be treated with the upmost caution. Air Force Blue fitted with tongue tie and cross nose band, neither which he had or needed as a two year old. He either hasn't trained on or had an issue and the other horses at the front end of the market didn't run up to any of there previous form and with the 90 rated Kentucky Connection only 5 lengths back I will be looking to oppose this form when I can. Two other horses to note later on in the card - Ikerrin Road who having won his maiden and hcap on the all weather improved here to beat two Godolphin horses and can improve again possibly to grab some black type and the very likeable Folkswood who won nicely upped to a mile of a mark of 89 his revised mark of 97 is not enough to stop him winning again.
Sunday 1st May
Usherette won for the fifth time in six starts in the Dahlia Stakes for Andre Fabre and now heads to Royal Ascot for the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes over a furlong shorter, this was a step up on previous form but being trained by the ‘Little Master’ more improvement is almost guaranteed. The 1000 Guineas was won easily by winter ante-post favourite Minding having travelled up with the pace quickened well to put the race to bed and Ballydoyle and Alice Springs completed a 1-2-3 for Aidan O’Brien Minding was cut to evens for the Oaks by SJ after the race but there was some talk that she may be headed to the Derby with the Coolmore team having such a strong group of three year old fillies for the Epsom classic. I for one hope she doesn't run as I have backed the John Gosden trained So Mi Dar e/w whose form has received two major boosts this week. Two more performances to note include the Ed Dunlop trained two year old Global Applause who won with great authority with Ryan Moore in the saddle. It was strange to have Ed Dunlop training a precocious 2 yo, but the market was screaming overnight and he didn't disappoint winning by over 3 lengths after hitting the front over 1 furlong from home. He has all the right entries, including a group 1 Phoenix Stakes entry, and we can expect to see him next in the National Stakes at Sandown before Royal Ascot beckons. The other good performance was from Swiss Range in the Pretty Polly Stakes, she was held up in a slowly run race but quickened very smartly to put the race to bed and connections are talking about a French Oaks bid over 10f rather then heading to Epsom. They believe 12 furlongs will stretch her wherever she goes she should be noted and John Gosden has another 3 year old filly to keep tabs on. I hope the above helps and the 2 Notebook horses for this week are: Bunbury - Richard Hughes Cuban Queen - Jeremy Gask Next week Chester May meeting including some honesty on a very questionable Coolmore ride in a Derby trial. Cheers Houghy