Monthly Archives: May 2014

2014 Temple Stakes Preview

The highlight of Saturday’s racing away from the Curragh and the Irish 2,000 Guineas is the Group Two Temple Stakes at Haydock Park. Ran over the minimum distance of five furlongs, the race usually provide more clues towards the likes of Royal Ascot and other major sprinting prizes later in the season with horses such as Dayjur and Lochsong going on from this race in their respective winning years to much greater things.

At the five day stage, there are only thirteen entries left after the original twenty nine and whilst at the current moment the field looks decent, the weather forecast of up to 25mm of rain could diminish some of the key contenders. This includes the first two from the Palace House Stakes, Sole Power and Kingsgate Native.

Sole Power has been an absolute credit to connections over the years. First coming of note when winning the Nunthorpe at a staggering 100-1, his consistency over the years at the top level has been fantastic. When given his ideal conditions, a lightening pace and quick ground, he is lethal however this huge band of rain would be a huge negative and he probably will go straight to the King’s Stand. Likewise Kingsgate Native who won this twelve months ago and for a veteran of the sprinting game still retains a high level which is extraordinary.

Just like the Palace House, Qatar Racing Limited have both Hot Streak and Pearl Secret entered. The former is top rated in this field and is also one of two top three year old sprinters that Kevin Ryan has with him the handler too of Astaire who ran well in the Duke Of York Stakes last week. The rain won’t be an issue and with him getting seven pounds with the three year old weight advantage, he looks the one to beat. Ryan also has Hamza entered and he should run his usual honest race with definite place claims.

Whilst Pearl Secret is likely to get his ground, I just feel that his preferred trip will be six furlongs especially with the way he finished off in the King’s Stand. This fragile chestnut will get his Group One win before the year is out but it will more likely be over six furlongs.

The Jim Goldie pair of Jack Dexter and Hawkeyethenoo both have a difference in preference of ground with the former wanting every drop of rain whilst the latter would like a sounder surface. However, Jack Dexter does have form on better ground and has been disappointing on both his starts this year and would need a big return to form whilst Hawkeyethenoo will probably find a few too good in this class.

The selection is the Gary Moore trained DUTCH MASTERPIECE which will please a certain person who writes for this blog! Highly thought of by connections, he first caught the eye when winning a handicap off a mark of 89 at Chester before taking a nine pound rise in his stride at Newmarket. His first try at Group level was also a successful one when winning a Group Three at the Curragh under a confident Joseph O’Brien where he beat Hamza. He was then sent off favourite for the Prix de l’Abbaye however he returned a sick horse and once beaten that day was looked after by Ryan Moore. His comeback run at Newbury can also be forgiven as he looked to need the run and the rain will definitely be in his favour. His current odds of 14/1 in a field that is very likely to cut up are pretty generous and he will definitely run into a place and does have the potential to win also.

Selection – Dutch Masterpiece – 14/1 E/W

Punchestown Day Five Preview 2014

The final day of the Punchestown Festival begins as Tuesday did with a race over the banks course and the standard is set by the Enda Bolger pair of Keep On Track who was second in the La Touche Cup on Thursday and Tuesday’s impressive banks winner BE POSITIVE. Preference is for the latter as he will have had more time to recover from his exertions plus gets five pounds from his stable companion as Brian Linehan claims seven pounds and has the assistance again of Nina Carberry.

The staying handicap chase looks an interesting contest with top weight Vesper Bell having contested the Grand National where he made several bad mistakes and Katie Walsh deserves plenty of credit for getting him round. If he jumps better then he would have a big chance with Ruby Walsh choosing him over Are Ya Right Chief who is a useful staying chaser in their own right.

Storm Survivor missed the Scottish National in search for better ground and this stamina test should see him improve with his trainer’s good record in staying handicap chases. Folsom Blue ran a nice race also in the Irish National to finish fifth and the better ground wasn’t an issue but he could be vulnerable in this race being near the top of the weights. The selection comes in the shape of SWORD FISH who has a good record when carrying low weights. He carries less than ten stone, has won over three and a half miles earlier in the season and the better ground isn’t an issue.

The Champion Four Year Old Hurdle has a strong feel with the first three from the Triumph reopposing plus several that were in behind that day. Although it looks competitive, it’s hard to oppose TIGER ROLL who was a good winner of the Triumph and out of these will probably do best over hurdles in the future. Even though Guitar Pete came out and boosted the form by winning at Aintree, you would have to be worried about him having a hard enough season and this could be one run too many. Kentucky Hyden who was second at Cheltenham already looks to want a longer trip and will be a good horse over fences.

One at an each way price is Cheltenham faller ABBYSSIAL who looks a chaser in the making and before that looked very useful when beating stablemate Adriana Des Mottes who reopposes here after being brought down by him in the Triumph and after taking a mares Grade One at Fairyhouse. He will have been well schooled after that spill and it must be noteworthy that Ruby Walsh chooses him over the filly.

The Pat Taaffe Handicap Chase doesn’t look the strongest handicap we have seen this week and with Tom George already having a winner this week in God’s Own, CHARTREUX is the selection. He comes here having missed out on a run in the Bet365 Gold Cup last Saturday. He won in great style at Sandown last time out and is a much better horse going right handed. Of the rest, Prince De Beauchene will be a big danger if his Grand National run hasn’t taken too much out of him whilst Wrong Turn looked on the upgrade before disappointing on his last two starts. If he returns to form then he will go very close.

The Setanta Handicap Hurdle on paper appears to be a strong contest with exciting novice Un Temps Pour Tout heading the weights. If he reproduces the form of his Ascot win then he will be the one to beat but with most of David Pipe horses not running well, that has to be a concern. I cannot have Regal Encore at all in a much hotter handicap hurdle than the Imperial Cup which he should have been winning.

Willie Mullins has a strong hand with Upsie who was given an interesting ride last time out behind Thousand Stars but the one that gives the most interest out of the Mullins bunch is SMASHING who ran a fantastic race in the Coral Cup to finish fourth after making a bad mistake early on and a mistake later in the race. He looks open to improvement over this trip over hurdles before going chasing. MIKAEL D’HAGUENET at a bigger price also makes plenty of appeal. A former Cheltenham Festival winner, this is his first ever run in a handicap and with the very capable Ger Fox claiming seven pounds leaving him on a mark of 138, he is worth an each way nibble.

Punchestown Day Four Preview 2014

Unlike today’s action which has thrown up some real surprising results, tomorrow represents what looks on paper an easier day to make more confident selections. The AON Novice Handicap Chase looks a very competitive race on paper with yet another Mullins/Walsh favourite with Balnaslow who has shown good handicap form already with placed efforts in the Thyestes at Down Royal and the Kim Muir at the Festival when finishing fourth in both. He gained a confidence boosting success last time out at Thurles and holds every chance but the selection is the Dessie Hughes trained SOME TIKKET who won a novice handicap at Fairyhouse in really taking style under Barry Geraghty. Davy Russell takes the ride today and the step up in trip should suit him well plus the yielding ground as well.

The Grade C Mares Handicap Chase has the potential for a Nicky Henderson tricast however I find it difficult to get away from UTOPIE DES BORDES. On her final run in France before joining Nicky Henderson, she became a Grade One winner over fences at Auteuil where she beat Fago by six lengths over two miles six furlongs. Although it is her UK/Ireland chasing debut, she jumped the fixed brush hurdles at Haydock well so there isn’t a concern about her taking to fences. Running off her hurdles mark of 136 and with Barry Geraghty choosing her over Une Artiste, you would be very disappointed if she didn’t go very close with the ground and trip looking to suit. Une Artiste and Nadiya De La Vega should fight out the placings with preference for the former to finish second.

The Racing Post Champion Hurdle is effectively a match between the last two winners of the Champion Hurdle Jezki and Hurricane Fly with Steps To Freedom the likely pacemaker. This year’s Champion Hurdle is a race to forget with more questions created. With both disputing favouritism at the time of writing, I’m firmly siding with the nineteen time Grade One winner HURRICANE FLY who ran a fantastic race at Cheltenham which is a track he has never shown his best at. His record speaks for itself and he has already beaten Jezki twice this season at Leopardstown already and tends to put in his best performance of the season at this meeting. As good as Jezki is, running against Hurricane Fly at his preferred conditions will be difficult for him and with McCoy back in the saddle opposed to Barry Geraghty who seems to get on with the horse better, all things point to a record breaking twentieth Grade One for Hurricane Fly.

The Champion Novice Hurdle looks a one horse procession with VAUTOUR who slammed his rivals in the Supreme and looks a class above this opposition. Comments from his trainer don’t concern me as he wouldn’t be running if Mullins wasn’t satisfied with him. For a forecast, Lieutenant Colonel beat Le Vent D’Antan last time out at Fairyhouse and the latter franked that with a good win yesterday over course and distance.

The Champion Hunters Chase looks a match on paper between 2012 winner On The Fringe and Aintree Foxhunters winner WARNE who was given a sublime ride over the big fences by Sam Waley-Cohen and a repeat of that should see him go very close. The trip is a slight concern however I think he will get away with it around Punchestown compared to other tracks like Cheltenham plus you do need to stay to win an Aintree Foxhunters. On The Fringe travelled like a dream at Cheltenham but failed to see it out and if the stamina doubts about Warne come true then he would be the most likely to pick up the pieces.