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Last Updated

23/11/2014



 

Sunday 23 November

It promised to be an informative weekend, and so it proved - with a few surprises thrown in for good measure.

I was at Haydock and following the reports from the track and the rain after racing on Friday evening I expected attritional conditions. However after seeing the top weights fill the first two places in the opening races and then watch horses with good ground form run so well I quickly realised the ground was not as testing as official reports had indicated. This was confirmed when I walked the track, and Jeremy Scott then said the same after Melodic Rendezvous had run.

Looking back to yesterday I have seen The New One look better but I liked the way he went about his business. He has a more mature way of racing these days and the strong pace set by runner-up Zamdy Man suited him. Silviniaco Conti won in good style but I still have doubts about him handling the hill in the Gold Cup. The King George is more his race. Taquin Du Seuil and Harry Topper - both suited to more testing ground - struggled from some way out and had to be pulled up. This was another indication that the going was nothing like as soft as described before racing.

On Sunday Vautour put up a most impressive display of jumping on his novice chase debut. There was something about this performance which set my spine tingling. It was his agility and ease over the fences which most impressed and I do not expect the 5/1 available in a couple of places for the Arkle Trophy to last long. Willie Mullins may have others for that race, notably Un De Sceaux, but I will be very surprised if anything usurps Vautour at the top of the Arkle market. That 5/1 could look tremendous value if he gets to Cheltenham in one piece.

Later Balbriggan, a horse I knew well when he was trained by Mick Channon, landed an extraordinary gamble in the Troytown Chase. This is a horse I have liked for a long time but it is not often you see a horse backed from 12/1 to 4/1 for a race of this type. Owners Lee Power and Willie McKay must have had a right old touch, so good luck to them on a horse well bought for £35,000 in May. The view before the race was that he had a decent chance off his low weight, with slight concerns about the ground.

I am writing an Online Preview for the Hennessy this week. It will be available to view on Friday evening.

Bye for now.

***

Monday 17 November

It proved another good meeting for Online Preview clients, with five winners including four on Saturday.

In some ways the most impressive winner of the three days was Unique De Cotte, who landed the opening race on Sunday despite hardly jumping a hurdle fluently. He lost momentum and/or ground at every flight but still had enough in hand to power up the hill and get up close home to land some hefty bets. This lightly-raced six-year-old had jumped clumsily when beaten at odds-on at Kelso in February and it may be he's the sort of horse that will never jump fluently. David Pipe, who said afterwards that he told owner JP McManus he thought the horse would win, said he jumped well at home but for me there is something fundamentally wrong with his technique. He is, though, a horse of some potential and I expect to see him raised a few pounds for this despite the narrowness of the winning margin.

My selections for the last four races on Saturday all won. Paul Nicholls had expressed misgivings about Caid Du Berlais acting in the ground, but he had won in heavy going in France and I felt he would be all right in it. Katkeau landed the handicap hurdle with something in hand. If he keeps sound then there are bigger prizes on the horizon for him. Golden Doyen showed great tenacity to wrestle back the lead from Hargam while Bitofapuzzle vindicated trainer Harry Fry's high opinion of her by conceding weight to the whole field. This daughter of Tamure could prove a top-class chasing mare in time, perhaps even up to Gold Cup standard.

My next Online Preview is on Friday week for Hennessy day at Newbury.

Bye for now

***

Friday 7 November

I wrote in the Dark Horses Jump Guide that this season's Gold Cup had a very open look to it, and that view has been borne out by the early-season form, with a handful of the leading contenders beaten on their seasonal returns. Silviniaco Conti, Holywell, Cue Card, Taquin De Seuil, Boston Bob and On His Own have all been beaten although it would probably be best not to give too much credence to those results as things will be very different in March. It's a long season, and trainers don't really want their top horses peaking at this stage.

The Champion Hurdle picture is rather clearer, with The New One doing everything expected of him at Kempton and market momentum building up behind Faugheen now that Willie Mullins has confirmed that stable-companion Vautour will be sent chasing.

We have already seen some decent novice hurdlers in action and I was not alone in being taken with the performance of Jollyallan at Exeter on Tuesday. Harry Fry has made an outstanding impression since taking out a licence to train three season ago and in Jollyallan, who was bought by JP McManus after winning a bumper at Exeter last April, he has a young hurdler with a big future - perhaps leading up to the Supreme Novices' Hurdle in March.

Harry Fry's strike-rate is quite remarkable given that he is a jumps trainer - a 35 per cent strike rate with chasers in 2012/13, a strike-rate of 39 per cent with chasers in 2013/14 and then so far this season operating at 33 per cent with chasers. His record with hurdlers is even better this season - 36 per cent - and this is clearly a reflection on how well Harry both handles and places his young horses.

Dan Skelton, another ex-assistant to Paul Nicholls, is also doing very well and I see both these young men as likely successors to Messrs Nicholls, Henderson and O'Neill. Willie Mullins, by contrast, will be hard to topple from his perch.

The 2014 Flat turf season ends at Doncaster tomorrow. This has been my most successful yet and I just hope the run of good fortunes continues through the weeks of winter. I found Pivotman and Norse Legend for my clients on Monday - at 28/1 and 25/1 respectively. There were sound reasons for both selections and I have hopes for more long-priced selections in the weeks to come, especially on the all-weather.

The Cheltenham Open Meeting starts next Friday, and I already have news and information for the meeting from a couple of good sources. The Online Preview will be published in two parts, on Thursday and Friday evening, packed with news for this increasingly popular meeting.

Have a great weekend and bye for now.

***   

Friday 31 October

Mick Channon and Henrietta Knight have a decent team of horses for jumping this season and following last week's novice chasing success with Knock House they struck again this afternoon at Uttoxeter with Sgt Reckless, who was making his chasing debut. I know from talking to Mick that he was hoping that connections would keep the horse to hurdling, with the prospect of picking up decent prize money in the trial races, but the Radfords are dyed-in-the-wool jumping fans who see hurdling as no more than a stepping stone to chasing.

To my eyes Sgt Reckless never put a foot wrong here, always travelling smoothly for Brian Hughes and quickening after the last to beat Gentleman Jon with plenty in hand at the finish. There was money for Horatio Hornblower but he could never get near the leaders and finished third.

Henrietta said afterwards that the winner lost two front shoes and the ground would have been a little easier than ideal. You can get 25/1 about Sgt Reckless for the Arkle, which may appeal to some, but for me he will probably prove better suited to the flat track at Aintree. The ground may also be better for him there.

I will have a few thoughts on the Breeders' Cup for tomorrow. Ring my line for all my news when, as always, any selections will be given in the first minute of the message.

Bye for now

***
 

Sunday 26 October

I am away at Newmarket Sales on Monday and will be back here on Wednesday with some observations from the weekend.

My brochure of services for the jumps season is now out, available to view on this site or in the shop and also being despatched by post. I hope there is something that appeals to you for the months ahead.

Bye for now

***

Friday 24 October

There were interesting two-year-olds all over the place today, but the one which has most impressed me in recent days is Heatstroke, who came from way off the pace to win by two and three-quarter lengths at Kempton on Wednesday evening.

Although last of 10 on his only previous start at Goodwood in August, I had heard beforehand that he was quite well regarded so felt able to pass him on as a selection when he ran this week. As a son of Galileo out of a mare by Danehill, and a full brother to 1m 4f winner The Corsican, he is bred to thrive over middle distances. In fact he did well to win over this sharp mile and it will be interesting to see what sort of mark he receives. I get the feeling black type beckons next year.

This has been one of the most successful seasons for selections, with clear pointers given in the Dark Horses Annual to all five Classic winners. I was pleased to dig out Taghrooda and Night Of Thunder and only wish I had put them in a double. At the time I wrote about them the filly was 33/1 for the Oaks. I backed Night Of Thunder at 20/1, only for him to win the 2,000 Guineas at 40/1 following that strange run in the Greenham at Newbury.

Give me a ring tomorrow for my weekend thoughts. As always any selections will be given in the first minute of the message (0906 150 1555).

Have a great weekend and bye for now.

***

Sunday 19 October

The New One did everything expected of him when winning the Listed hurdle at Kempton this afternoon for the second year in succession. There was a point turning for home when it looked like he could find himself short of room, but once extricated for a clear run his turn of foot put the issue beyond doubt. His jumping was not flawless, but then it seldom is, and it never cost him ground or momentum. Most bookmakers left his price for the Champion Hurdle unchanged at around 4/1. There is a race at Haydock for him next.

Looking back to yesterday it proved another good day for the selections, with three winners.

The one that excites me most is Forgotten Rules, who looks a stayer of great potential. There has been talk about this horse for a while now and the 5/1 on offer for the Gold Cup next June, albeit a long way off, could look pretty good value if the ground is not too quick on the day. This is the sort of horse that could dominate that race for a few years to come.

Free Eagle showed that he had the courage to match his talent in the Champion Stakes. The colt was never able to reproduce the turn of foot in the heavy ground that his connections know he has, but it was still most encouraging to see him finish the race so well. At first sight he ran like a horse that needed further, but that would not be a fair appraisal of the horse. He may get a mile and a half next season, but it will be on quicker ground over ten furlongs that we see him at his best. One can never be sure of such things, but on better ground I think Free Eagle would have won the race yesterday.

Earlier Gordon Lord Byron won the big sprint in gutsy fashion, weaving through a narrow gap in the final furlong to go clear.

My Dark Horses Jumps Guide was published on Friday. It is packed with around 35,000 words and at 174 pages is the biggest yet. I hope it proves to everyone's liking.

You can see my range of services for the jumps season in the shop area of this website.

Bye for now.

***

Tuesday 15 October

I am not sure that anyone can tell you how the ground will be riding for Champions' Day at Ascot on Saturday.

The official description, given late this afternoon, is that it is now 'soft, with heavy patches.' Further showers are expected, together with warmer and drier weather on Thursday and Friday.

Dermot Weld will walk the track on Saturday morning before making a commitment to run Free Eagle in the Champion Stakes. Ladbrokes, who have a line to the Irish scene, offer the longest price of 7/2 about the colt, although my view is that he will be allowed to take his chance. There is no evidence that he will not act on easy ground - his siblings including the progressive Custom Cut handle it well - but we do know that his main rivals, notably Cirrus Des Aigles and Noble Mission, relish soft ground.

I expect Free Eagle to have proved himself a colt of the highest class by this time next year. It may not, though, be until next season that we see him realise his potential.

I am busy working away on both Newmarket's tremendous card on Friday and Champions' day on Saturday, with an Online Preview for Ascot. The service has again recorded a profit to level stakes so I hope to see the run of good fortune continue into the weekend. At this stage my best news is for a horse in the Balmoral Handicap.

Bye for now

***  

Sunday 12 October

It would not surprise me to find that today's 7f maiden at the Curragh proves a source of some useful performers next year.

The 23-runner field attracted a handful of Group-entered two-year-olds including the winner Royal Navy Ship, who has entries for the Racing Post Trophy, next year's Irish 2,000 Guineas and this week's Dewhurst. Intriguingly, Aidan O'Brien had left three of today's runners - the winner, Cradle Mountain and The Happy Prince - in Friday's Dewhurst Stakes, suggesting he was not sure which of his four runners would win. Runner-up Jacobean was the mount of Joseph O'Brien but he was left with a lot to do before finishing strongly into second.

The winner was ridden more handily than the runner-up and I expect him to prove Group class next season, if not before.

I am writing an Online Preview for the big day at Ascot on Saturday. Please refer to the shop for further details.

Bye for now

***

Monday 6 October

In what had looked one of the most open Arcs for years, Treve would not have been in my first half-dozen to win the race.

This time a year ago, in the aftermath of her deeply impressive victory at Longchamp, she was rightly put up as the long-term ante-post favourite to win the race again. However all the signs this season indicated she had lost her sparkle, although I have to say on her previous start in the Prix Vermeille she had been given anything but a hard race. Only in France would they give a top-class horse such an easy time in a Group 1, but Criquette Head knows more about the mare than anyone and that quiet run probably rekindled the filly's appetite for the game. I am a great believer in giving a horse that has lost its way - or any horse for that matter - the chance to go to the races and enjoy themselves, and this may have made all the difference in the end. 

If you had told me that the Arc was going to be won by a horse this easily then I would probably have guessed it was Ectot or one of the Japanese horses. Few horses return to their best after the sort of setbacks Treve has endured, and I would attribute this great success to the trainer. In fairness she never lost faith in the filly, even after Royal Ascot when she looked a shadow of her former self.

I had backed a number of horses for the race over the last few weeks, with Flintshire standing as my biggest winner. Andre Fabre, with seven previous Arcs to his name, did a great job to get this four-year-old in tip-top shape to run the best race of his career. Taghrooda and Kingston Hill, from their wide draws, ran stormers, giving a further boost to this year's crop of three-year-olds.

Of the two I have to put in a good word for Kingston Hill, who looked like being swallowed up two furlongs from home before staying on again with the utmost courage to finish fourth. He could be awesome when he gets the chance to race on soft ground, something he has never really had this season.

The Japanese horses were left too far out of their ground, with Gold Ship being hopelessly placed from flagfall. He plugged on quite well at the finish and has another good race in him.

All in all this will probably go down as a decent renewal of the Arc. Looking ahead, I want to be with Kingston Hill next season.

On Saturday I was most impressed with the performance of Lightning Moon in the Group 3 John Guest Bengough Stakes at Ascot.

Ed Walker has a potential Group 1 sprinter on his hands with this unbeaten son of Shamardal, who had been very impressive when winning a handicap at Haydock in May by six lengths. This was his first venture into Group company and, with just three runs to his name, he looked to me like a colt going places fast.

I believe the plan is to run next in the Champion Sprint in a fortnight's time.

Bye for now

***

Friday 3 October

I am working on my first live Racing Snapshot for Sunday's Arc. This looks one of the most open renewals of the race for many years, and it would not surprise me to see it develop more into a test of stamina than speed. Refer to the shop if you want to order (£5).

There could be congestion on the inside of the field, allowing horses drawn wide to enjoy an advantage.

I will be back tomorrow with more thoughts on this fascinating race.

Bye for now

***

Thursday 2 October

I have just been looking at video footage of the three Japanese challengers for Sunday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, which I have to say looks one of the most challenging renewals in recent years.

To add further confusion it seems that there may be rain on Sunday, although to what extent is unclear. The one thing that I thought we could rely on was that the ground would be riding good or quicker, but the Bois de Boulogne is prone to heavy showers in the autumn and they could change everything.

The Japanese horses mostly race on quicker ground and, of the three, the one with the proven stamina is Gold Ship.

I am producing a Snapshot for Arc day. Following the trial this is the first time this service is going live, so please refer to the Shop if you want to give it a try.

Bye for now

***

Tuesday 30 September

There is not even the hint of a drop of rain at Longchamp over the next few days, which may encourage the clerk of the course to water the track. The French authorities are more inclined to water than in this country, so I would expect the ground to ride more good than good to firm at the weekend.

One thing we can be sure of is that the ground will not be soft, which may count against a few of the home team in the Arc. Looking at the support card, the news came through today that neither Tiggy Wiggy nor Muthmir will be supplemented for the Prix de l'Abbaye. There was talk that the latter would take his chance if the ground was quick, but William Haggas prefers to keep him at home for a Listed contest at Ayr on Saturday.

Richard Hannon is tempted to run his top two-year-old Ivawood in the £500,000 Tattersalls Millions 2yr Old Trophy at Newmarket on Saturday. A victory in this race, with the winner getting £165,000, would more than close the gap between him and John Gosden in the Trainers' Championship. Hannon also has entries for the £300,000 Fillies' race this same day.

I hope to produce a Snapshot - our new product - for Arc day on Sunday. Please contact Rebecca if you would like to learn more.

Bye for now

*** 

Friday 26 September

Owner Robin Geffen invests heavily in racing, both over jumps and on the Flat, so it was good to see his Gm Hopkins land the Silver Cambridgeshire with such ease this afternoon.

Robin has been a loyal client over the years and he has been kind enough to keep me updated on the progress and plans for this horse. The hope was, of course, that he would run in the Cambridgeshire itself but he was some way adrift of making the cut. There is a valuable handicap for him at Ascot's Champion's Day meeting. As for his new mark, I expect a rise of about 12lb for this comfortable victory, which would put him in the low 100s.

As a son of Dubawi out of a mare by Lomitas there is reason to believe the colt could do even better over a mile and a quarter or more. I expect to see him earn black type next year.

Earlier I was impressed with Lucida in the Rockfel Stakes. I brought this filly to your notice after her first race, since when she has run second in the Dubutante Stakes and then last time a neck second to Cursory Glance, where she may have been a little unlucky. I loved the way she came up the hill here, looking as if the extra furlong of the Guineas will be ideal. At this stage she would be my main fancy for the race, ahead of Cursory Glance.

This looks like another profitable meeting for the Online Preview, By all means give me a ring tomorrow when, as always, any selections will be given in the first minute of the message.

Have a great weekend and bye for now

***  

Wednesday 24 September

I am sorry that I have not updated this page for a few days. I have been up to my eyes completing work on the Dark Horses Jumps Guide, which is now with the designer and should be back ready for despatch within a fortnight.

I was keen to get the book out earlier this season as it seems that the better horses appear quicker these days than was once the case. I remember years ago that the hardy professionals never used to think the National Hunt season started properly until the Hennessy meeting. Now, with summer jumping and all-weather gallops for training at home, you are likely to see top-class performers running in October.

In fact we saw a fairly decent sort running in the opener at Perth today. I never expected Blaklion to be in action so soon, and in the end he made heavy weather of winning the race, but I expect to see him to better effect on proper winter ground.

I had to switch my mind back to the Flat this afternoon for the Online Preview, covering tomorrow's card at Newmarket. Part Two, available tomorrow evening, will cover Friday and Saturday.

Bye for now

***

Sunday 14 September

There is so much that one could say about the weekend's racing, but the horse I am most keen to bring to your attention - if he is not in your mind already - is Free Eagle, who made a belated seasonal debut at Leopardstown yesterday.

You may remember that this is the colt that started 5/2 on to beat Australia in a Group 3 race at this track a year ago. In the end he was beaten six lengths, having made a tremendous impression when beating Orchestra on his racecourse debut there a month earlier. Dermot Weld left people in no doubt of the high esteem in which he held the colt - he was given a clutch of top-class entries, both in Europe and the States - but he fractured a tibia in the spring and had to have time off.

The way he quickened to win this took the breath away, and his winning time was just a fraction quicker than The Grey Gatsby later in the evening. He also won with more in hand, beating two older horses rated on 106 by seven lengths.

Dermot Weld says the plan is to aim him at the Champion Stakes at Ascot, where he could come up against The Grey Gatsby and Australia, although it would not surprise me to learn that the latter may now be dropped in trip to a mile. Somehow I can't see the Coolmore team wanting to risk him again over a mile and a quarter given that he already has a Group 1 victory over that trip. Free Eagle does, though, look rather special.

Bye for now

*** 

Friday 12 September

The main action was at Doncaster today, where Estimate won the Doncaster Cup for the Queen, but keep a close eye on Gm Hopkins, who defied a big market drift to win the 1m handicap at Sandown.

I am not sure why the colt was so weak in the market - he ended up 8/1 and around 11 on Betfair - but he won this quite cosily in the end. I know from talking to owner Robin Geffen that there are hopes the colt will prove himself better than a handicapper, and having won here off 87 I expect his new mark to be in the mid-90s. The Cambridgeshire has long been the plan but even a penalty may leave him a few pounds too short to make the cut.

Gm Hopkins is bred for middle distances and he is best suited to easy ground, so expect even better things for him over a longer trip this autumn and, more notably, next season.

Things are going quite well at the moment so give me a call to hear my preview of St Leger day on Saturday morning when, as always, any selections will be given in the first minute of the message.

Bye for now

***

Tuesday 9 September

I am currently applying myself to this week's St Leger meeting which, contrary to expectations, will start on ground which is expected to ride on the easy side of good.

The track took 14mm of rain on Saturday, which bodes well for the current favourite Kingston Hill. Roger Varian's colt has been crying out for some give underfoot which, coupled with the step up to one and three-quarter miles, should allow him to show his best.

My Online Preview covers the Friday and Saturday of the meeting and will be available to view on Thursday evening.

Please refer to the shop for details of how to order.

Bye for now

***

Sunday 7 September

I don't see a drop of rain forecast for the Doncaster area over the next few days which almost certainly means a little irrigation will have to take place for the four-day meeting which starts on Wednesday.

Such conditions would count against the long-time St Leger ante-post favourite Kingston Hill, who has been unlucky not to get his ground so far this season. If conditions were soft, stepped up to this one and three-quarter miles I would be very confident of the colt going close. The way things look there must even be a doubt about his running, especially with alternative targets on more suitable ground open to him abroad.

Of the others Snow Sky would have reasonable claims, without overexciting me, while Romsdal has to put a poor run at Ascot behind him. Windshear can be expected to run his usual game race, as would Mark Johnston's Hartnell. His stable-companion Alex My Boy and Forever Now, first and second last time out at Goodwood, are less-exposed than most in a race which looks particularly open.

I will be writing an Online Preview for days three and four of the meeting, out on Thursday.

Please refer to the shop for details of how to order.

Bye for now

***

Wednesday 3 September

It really brightens up the day when you see an old-fashioned coup successfuly landed and we had that today when Saint Helena won the 2m 0-100 handicap at Southwell for Jim Best.

The six-year-old mare was one of two in the race from the yard, with Rhys Flint engaged to ride and Tony McCoy on Into The Wind. However late in the morning Into The Wind was withdrawn, allowing McCoy to switch to ride Saint Helena. Before the withdrawal Saint Helena had been available at around 6/1 with the bookmakers, but sustained support saw her backed to 11/10. It was not plain sailing by any means, but McCoy's strength got her home with little to spare at the line.

Saint Helena had looked like a job waiting to happen for a while. A fair performer on the Flat for Harry Dunlop, she won three times and peaked at a mark of 84. Jim Best bought her cheaply, for 6,000gns, last autumn since when she has run seven times over hurdles, pulling up on three occasions and being beaten 82 lengths, 84 lengths, 74 lengths and 70 lengths on the other four. The handicapper had been reluctant to allocate the mare a rating until, probably reluctantly, giving her a mark of 82.

In fairness he got this about right, because she did not appear to have a great deal in hand passing the post.

I started my preview of the day's racing with news of this likely gamble, and it may pay to keep an eye on the absent Into The Wind, who has a similar profile to today's winner.

There will be plenty of people up in arms about what happened at Southwell today, but anyone with the eyes to see and the merest hint of insight would have been alerted by the early market strength that something was up.

Connections are entitled to try and earn a few quid out of the game - the prize-money for winning this today would not pay for more than a month's keep - and although the mare's hurdling form gave no clue to her potential, we knew from the Flat that she was capable of winning.

By the way I have decided to write an Online Preview covering the third and fourth days of next week's St Leger meeting. You will be able to purchase it (£10) when it is put on the Online Shop.

Bye for now

***

Friday 29 August

This is one of the quieter weekends of the summer, with plenty of competitive but relatively low-key racing.

The highlight is the Group 2 Solario Stakes at Sandown, but I doubt we will be seeing a colt with the class of last year's winner Kingman.

Aktabantay and Cock Of The North, second and third in the Superlative Stakes, clash again with Future Empire, winner of a Newmarket maiden, looking one of the main threats. I have to say the race does little to excite me.

It's just a fortnight to the St Leger, where the ground is going to prove an important factor. I gather we are due for a warm spell in the early part of September, and that could count against the current favourite Kingston Hill, who really does need some give underfoot. Forever Now is coming to hand at the right time and he could be the one to keep an eye on if the ground is going to be good.

Have a great weekend and bye for now.

***

Friday 22 August

This has been a good meeting for followers of the Online Preview, with Pale Mimosa winning in good style today to follow the earlier winners on the first two days.

The 2mm of rain which feel early on Friday morning just took the sting out of the ground, which suited Dermot Weld's filly. I think there is more to come from her, possibly in the Qipco Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot in October. This is the race in which she stayed on to finish fourth last year.

The 7f maiden at York today was packed with Group-entered two-year-olds but the race went to Luca Cumani's White Lake, for whom I received a late message. The son of Pivotal had been working well with the yard's best youngsters but there was so much news for the other runners that connections could not be sure he would win.

Unfortunately Cartmel clashes with Ebor day tomorrow, which means I will struggle to see the big race live, but my news for the fourth and final day of the meeting will be available by 11.30 in the morning when, as usual, any selections will be given in the first minute of the message.

Have a great weekend and bye for now.

***

Wednesday 20 August

I had a good feeling about this week's Ebor meeting and the day started well, with Postponed and Felix Leiter and a strong message for Dutch Connection.

I was torn between Dutch Connection and Prince Gagarin for the Acomb Stakes but I have to say when I saw the support for Basateen and Jamaica my confidence started to ebb away. Dutch Connection had quickened up in fine style at Goodwood so I was not surprised to see him find a change of gear inside the final furlong. This form looks rock-solid, with the winner breaking the two-year-old course record.

From a betting viewpoint it was frustrating to see Kingston Hill withdrawn from the Great Voltigeur Stakes. I was fairly hopeful that Postponed would go close to beating him anyway on the quick ground, and it was clear a quarter of a mile from home that Andrea Atzeni had plenty of horse under him. There is a line that suggests Postponed could have gone well in the Derby, although when I was with Luca in April he had slight doubts about the colt staying a mile and a half. The colt is most unlikely to run in the St Leger.

Australia showed that he is on the way to becoming a great horse when beating a top-class field in the Juddmonte International Stakes. It is just a shame for those who followed my advice in the Dark Horses that we didn't collect that handy double on the colt for winning and Guineas and the Derby. Mind you Kingman was probably the best horse over the mile at Newmarket and he didn't win either. I expect they will now go for the Irish Champion Stakes - a race they like to win - and then perhaps consider the Arc.

Felix Leiter battled on well to land the closing nursery to make a profitable day for Online Preview clients.

Bye for now

***

Tuesday 19 August

I have just completed writing Part One of the York Ebor Preview, covering the first and second days of the meeting. I am approaching the meeting with a fair degree of confidence. This is not always the case, of course, but on this occasion I have some sound thoughts and good information.

It is not too late to order. Please refer to the shop if you wish to do so.

Bye for now

***

Monday 18 August

I am busy working on the Online Preview for York, with Part One available to view on Tuesday evening.

News has come through for a progressive three-year-old handicapper and a horse for a nursery. I am also feeling confident about my Ebor selection, with other pieces of news expected over the next couple of days.

Eagle Top will miss York. Connections want to give him time to get over his hard race at Ascot, with an autumn programme the plan and then I suspect big plans for next year.

Bye for now

***

***

Friday 15 August

I am really looking forward to York next week.

I have received news for another handicapper to go with the information I mentioned earlier.

It's a busy weekend on the International scene and John Gosden will monitor conditions closely after heavy rain overnight on Thursday regarding Kingman's proposed challenge for the Prix Jacques le Marois. The course took 21mm of rain through Thursday night and Friday and the ground is now officially described as holding. A final decision will be made when John walks the course again on Sunday.

Meanwhile, over in the States, Magician will be taking his chance in the Arlington Million, where the firm ground should be ideal for him. Joseph O'Brien takes the ride, against Ryan Moore who is on Finnegans Wake for the home team.

I expect to have plenty of news to keep us going over the weekend. As always you can ring me on 0906 150 1555 when any selections will be given in the first minute of the lessage.

Bye for now

***

Tuesday 12 August

I seem to be making more money laying short-priced horses than backing winners at the moment.

I felt that Zora Seas, who was matched as low as 1.28 on Betfair, could be vulnerable in the 1m maiden at Ffos Las. I have said time and again over the years that if an older horse, by which I mean three years or up, is still a maiden in the summer then it is has either had problems or is just not that good.

Zoras Seas did nothing wrong, but the form of her Ascot debut had been let down by the winner, who though rated 91 had run to a mark in the low 70s at the weekend. As it turned out James Tate's Scottish Strand, who had shaped well on his debut at Nottingham last June, was very well supported and just got the better of the favourite, who had drifted out to 4/6.

The two pulled nine lengths clear of the third, so the form may not be that bad.

I also took a liking to the way Richard Hannon's newcomer Elysian Flyer won the opener. There were a couple of good benchmarks here and I rate the winner quite useful. The second, Fingal's Cave, is on 79 so the winner could be rated as high as 90.

I am currently busy writing the Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle essays for my National Hunt Dark Horses Guide. This may seem early, but I am keen to get the hard core stuff done so that the book will be with the Racing Post in time for a mid-October deadline.

Next week it will be all about York, for which I am writing a two-part Online Preview.

Bye for now

***

Monday 4 August

It would not surprise me to see two of today's winners at Naas - Lucida and Parish Boy - feature in the top two-year-old rankings by the end of the season.

Both horses are trained by Jim Bolger. Lucida, a daughter of Shamardal, beat two previous winners in the opening 6f contest. To my eyes the result never really looked in doubt, and I expect the filly to be mentioned in the context of the Cheveley Park Stakes at some point.

Parish Boy had shaped well when fifth at Leopardstown. He is bred to stay beyond a mile and could be one for middle-distance honours next season after staying on well to win this 7f maiden.

These are early days, but keep Lucida and Parish Boy in mind for the longer term.

Bye for now

***
 

Friday 1 August

It's not been a bad week for my clients, with a couple of decent winners, and I am sticking my neck out tomorrow with some advices at double-figure odds.

Wannabe Yours, who won the 1m Group 3 on Friday, is probably the horse to keep on your side from the day's action. John Gosden usually keeps his cards close to his chest, but he said afterwards that he would have been "disappointed" if the son of Dubawi had been beaten. There was even mention of the Sussex Stakes next year, so it will be interesting to see how the colt is campaigned in the second half of the season. Bow Creek ran well to finish third after a troubled run through.

I was disappointed with Velox in the Betfred Mile. He had every chance from a handy position on the outside of the field but the turn of foot he displayed at Sandown was missing. I reckon he is worth another chance.

Henry Candy's good run with his two-year-olds continued when Son Of Africa won the nursery. Henry makes few Group entries and it was significant that he had given this colt an entry for the Champagne Stakes.

You can hear my thoughts for the fifth and final day of Goodwood by ringing my line (0906 150 1555) at 11.30 in the morning when, as always, any selections will be given in the first minute of the message.

Bye for now

***

Wednesday 30 July

I tend to approach Goodwood with a feeling of trepidation on the grounds that it is one of the handful of tracks where, in my view, one cannot be sure that the best horse in the race will win.

I have seen more horses trapped on the rails here than at any track in the country but I have to say there have been very few examples of that on the first two days. It may be that modern-day riders are simply better at handling the idiosyncracies of racetracks than was once the case - perhaps as much due to the experience gained through international travel as anything else.

I have adopted a highly selective approach to this week's meeting, and things got off to a good start on Tuesday with a strong message for 2yr old debutant Misleading and pointers to Van Percy and Extremity.

Peter Chapple-Hyam has had to overcome a few demons in recent times but he remains one of the best judges of a two-year-old in the business and he knew that Misleading was decent, advising the owner beforehand that the favourite - who also ran in her colours - could struggle to beat his colt. Peter has a handful of decent two-year-olds this season and I suggest you keep an eye on anything he runs in the near future. They may well be better to come.

I have news for another two-year-old newcomer in the next couple of days and also some information for Friday's big handicap.

You can hear my early thoughts for the following day's action at 8.00pm each evening or my final selections at 11.30am on 0906 150 1555.

Bye for now

***

Sunday 27 July

I feel a little guilty at deserting Taghrooda in yesterday's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

Having dug her out in the Dark Horses as my Oaks selection I was swayed by the statisticians into believing that history was against her winning the race. That view was possibly the reason why she proved weak in the market, but the key to this filly is her stamina and tenacity and that is what clicked in as she moved alongside Telescope and Mukhadram approaching the final furlong.

The winner comes from one of the Aga Khan's top staying families, the dam a winner up to 1m 6f and related to a host of quality staying fillies including Gold Cup winner Estimate. She does not lack pace, but the key to Taghrooda is stamina and although there is talk of the Yorkshire Oaks and Arc, it would not surprise to if the St Leger was raised in discussion as there is not the slightest doubt that she is bred to stay the trip.

Of the others I was a little disappointed with the ride Eagle Top received. I kne

Marten Julian, 69 Highgate, Kendal, Cumbria. LA9 4ED    Tel: 08448 11 22 96    -    Fax: 08448 11 22 97    -    email: info@martenjulian.com