Monthly Archives: June 2014

Horse Racing: Show Your Passion

The excellent Racemaking initiative has the slogan ‘Share Your Passion’, the concept that encourages racing enthusiasts to rub off on racing newcomers. I argue that the figureheads of our sport should adopt a similar tactic, but how can you share a passion you don’t even show?

Royal Ascot is coined as British flat racing’s jewel in the crown, culminating in numerous group races that reach an audience all around the world. The intended entry of Zoustar from Australia (and Black Caviar a few years ago), Wesley Ward’s speedsters from the United States, Altano from Germany and many intriguing runners from Italy have all shown this is an world-class event, showcasing all British Racing has to offer. Nevertheless, it is, and with regret many purists would say, not solely about the horses but the fashion.

The contentious point of Gok Wan being the fashionista on Channel 4 Racing has provoked many to move away from Channel 4 this week, if they hadn’t done so already. I, on the other hand, have stuck with Channel 4, as I believe it is something that must be supported by the racing public. Having spoken to many people worldwide, none more so than my boss, there is no parallel to Channel 4 Racing’s coverage. No terrestrial channel consistently supports racing as well as Channel 4 do and I believe it essential that we support one of the most important parts of our sport.

As previously mentioned, Royal Ascot is exported to the wider horse racing community but also the non-horse racing population as a result of its fashion undertone. If a fashionista is a requirement as a result, Gok Wan is the best man for the job. I don’t believe anyone can deny he is a fantastic presenter who has the perfect mix of professionalism and enthusiasm. I’d even go as far as to say he’s really put the other, regular, Channel 4 presenters and panellists to shame this week with his infectious enthusiasm not only for the fashion but actually horse racing as well. The panellists may also use similar superlatives to Gok, but their presentation of them is sometimes forced and bizarrely unnatural. This is what Channel 4 are missing. In fact, I would go so far to say a lot of horse racing broadcasters are missing. I concede I haven’t gone round asking all presenters their age’s but do any particularly relate to the younger demographic? Many of those hiding under the guise that they use social media – for example twitter – don’t actually engage in a conversation.

The obsession with studios drains any enthusiasm or spark from a conversation as capable presenters sit in their straightjacket suits hiding behind their monochrome papers. Most racing enthusiasts can analyse form – it’s not an especially technical skill – but it’s the presentation of this that marks out those who deserve to be on our television channels. The studios also block what I call ‘real’ journalism; isn’t talking to people – getting out onto the course and interviewing important figures – crucial?

Enthusiasm. I’ve repeated the word numerous times but it’s extremely frustrating when you know we are a merry band of enthusiastic, heart-on-our-sleeve followers. Why can’t we export our passion? It’s vital that the leaders, figureheads and media of our sport present an excited, enthusiastic and positive feel to our sport, not a downtrodden, old and boring one.

Royal Ascot 2014 – Day 5 Preview

Having not blogged throughout the week due to a busy schedule, I have some free time to write a blog previewing tomorrow’s action on the final day of Royal Ascot.

Throughout the week, myself and the lads at Ontheotherhoof have done a video each night without fail, tonight being no exception. We hope you have enjoyed them as much as we have making them and we can have one more successful day to end the week on a high and make the effort of doing daily videos worthwhile. We would also like to thank everyone who has watched and joined in by asking questions or sending in selections, it makes doing the show a wonderful experience with us getting to share our passion for the sport with true racing fans.

Also, we would like to thank Martin Smith who took time out of his very busy schedule to talk to myself and Luke about the chances of Hillbilly Boy who ran a fantastic race in defeat in the Buckingham Palace and I’m sure there are plenty more days for him to be in the winner’s enclosure!

One more thanks goes to Sean (@schrise) for running the champion tipster competition on Twitter even though I have done pretty dreadful! There’s still one more day to come back!

 

Toscanini when second last time out to Kool Kompany
Toscanini when second last time out to Kool Kompany

2:30 Chesham Stakes 7f (2yo)

Out of the two year old races this week, this isn’t the most inspiring of them. Although Dick Whittington won last week at Navan in comfortable fashion, Aidan O’Brien’s two year olds haven’t performed at all this week and a price of 15/8 is far too short so he is readily opposed.

Wesley Ward is double handed in this race as Cordero and Crown The Kitten bring the typical international flavour that we have seen throughout the week in these races. The latter was second to Sunset Glow who was second in today’s Albany however could be too speedy for this race. The former has yet to make his racecourse debut and is tricky to weigh up although the jockey booking of Ryan Moore is highly intriguing.

The selection in the race is TOSCANINI who has some good form with Capella Sanservero who was second earlier in the week in the Coventry behind The Wow Signal and was a staying on second to Kool Kompany at Naas although that race hasn’t completely worked out with the winner and War Envoy not running too well in the same race on Tuesday. Michael Halford’s charge will definitely appreciate the step up in distance and should appreciate the faster ground.

Selection – Toscanini Win

Elidor winning last season's King George V Handicap
Elidor winning last season’s King George V Handicap

3:05   Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap 1m4f (4yo+)

The best place to start here is with the favourite and top weight Arab Spring who continues to progress nicely having recently won a York handicap over twelve furlongs off a mark of 96 beating Duke Of Clarence by half a length. Off an eight pound higher mark, he will have to be Group class to be winning this and whilst he potentially could be, there are others that look better treated.

This includes last year’s King George V Handicap winner ELIDOR who loves fast ground and ran a personal best off the same mark in Listed company over course and distance last time out behind Gatewood and Pether’s Moon. Before that, he had won a Thirsk handicap in convincing style and he looks to have been laid out for this. With William Twiston-Davies able to claim three pounds, he has a huge chance for a Royal Ascot handicap double.

Hamelin ran well over course and distance in a handicap last time out behind Al Saham although that doesn’t look the strongest form. The Godolphin pair both look interesting with Groundbreaking who bolted up in a Newmarket handicap last time out and WADI AL HATTAWI who was impressive in a York handicap. Although the winning distance is only one and a quarter lengths, the way he put the race to bed that day was highly impressive and with Kieran Fallon in the saddle already tasting success in these silks this week on the ultra-impressive Elite Army, he can go very close.

Havana Cooler is one that will potentially come on for the run with something like the Ebor looking a good target later in the season and he links in with Dashing Star as they were both placed in last season’s Melrose at York over further behind Dark Crusader. The latter ran well on return at Newmarket and will have come on for that whilst Beacon Lady takes a big drop in class having contested the Coronation Cup when sixth to Cirrus Des Aigles and she could be overpriced here.

Selections – Elidor Win & Wadi Al Hattawi E/W

Forgotten Voice slamming his rivals in the Royal Hunt Cup back in 2009
Forgotten Voice slamming his rivals in the Royal Hunt Cup back in 2009

3:45   Hardwicke Stakes 1m4f (4yo+)

On paper this looks a much better renewal than last year. Since 2005, Sir Michael Stoute has won this race four times with Maarahel, Harbinger and Sea Moon. He fields the first two in the market in Telescope and Hillstar. The former has finished second twice to the rejuvenated Noble Mission twice this season over ten furlongs at Sandown and Chester albeit on softer ground.

If he isn’t winning tomorrow over what could be perceived as his ideal ground and distance then connections will surely be baffled however, he does fit a similar mould to Harbinger who was also owned by Highclere who won this before his domination of the King George later that season.

Hillstar won the King Edward VII here last season but the form of that race hasn’t exactly worked out but would have a chance based on his career best in last season’s King George behind Novellist. However, with reports from home saying that Estimate trounced him on the gallops last week, this can be held against him although she did run the race of her life in the Ascot Gold Cup on Thursday.

FORGOTTEN VOICE is a veteran of the game having won twice at the Royal meeting when 4/1 favourite in the Royal Hunt Cup back in 2009 and last year in the Wolverton. He comes here on the back of a good second behind Mount Athos over further in the Aston Park Stakes at Newbury and has the potential to go very close for Kieren Fallon. Pether Moon’s is also interesting back on his preferred ground and if Elidor runs well in the previous race then his supporters can be filled with some confidence. Eye Of The Storm was fourth to Missunited last time out at Leopardstown showing that he needed the run and the form has taken a fair boost with the mare running a fantastic race in the Gold Cup. Sharestan is probably better on a softer surface whilst Dandino will need the run.

Selection – Forgotten Voice E/W

 

Slade Power winning on his seasonal reappearance at the Curragh
Slade Power winning on his seasonal reappearance at the Curragh

4:25 Diamond Jubilee Stakes 6f (3yo+)

Finally, the golden opportunity for SLADE POWER to take a fully deserved Group One success. Edward Lynam’s sprinter has been the bridesmaid on several occasions throughout his career in Group Ones when third to Lethal Force in the July Cup at Newmarket and second to Gordon Lord Byron in the Sprint Cup at Haydock. His win on Champions Day last year showed his class when beating Jack Dexter at a time when over six furlongs and soft ground he was unbeatable. His return at the Curragh was extremely impressive where he beat a race fit Maarek by two lengths however he wouldn’t have been one hundred percent for the race. He now looks the real deal and should be shorter in the betting.

The home challenge is headed by Aljamaaheer who trainer Roger Varian is now concentrating on a sprinting campaign after finishing placed at the highest level over a mile behind Farhh and Declaration Of War last season. The ride he was given at the Craven meeting wasn’t the best as he was given far too much to do by Paul Hanagan and he stayed on to finish third behind Hamza and Es Que Love. Personally, I’m not convinced he is a sprinter and feel he will get outpaced before running on through beaten horses even with the application of blinkers.

Astaire is the main danger for me to Slade Power with the three year old allowance. He ran well last time out when second behind Maarek at York after failing to stay in the Greenham at Newbury over seven furlongs behind Kingman. This likable front runner should be in the frame. Due Diligence has been unbeaten since moving to Aidan O’Brien’s yard over the winter but needs to step up as does Darwin who can be forgiven for his run behind Slade Power as the ground wouldn’t have suited. Whether he’s good enough for this is another matter.

Gordon Lord Byron will probably need the run here before going onto his usual race the Sprint Cup. Music Master will love the ground and ran respectably when Windsor when probably not a hundred percent ready. He could have each way claims.

The main each way selection would be MEDICEAN MAN who is in the form of his life and ran a brilliant race in the King’s Stand on Tuesday behind Sole Power. Connections were very keen straight after that to come here in a weaker race plus the figures he has been running to are highly consistent. Es Que Love merits a mention too having also run well in the King’s Stand probably over a trip on the sharp side for him when ninth. Six furlongs will suit much better.

Selections – Slade Power Win & Medicean Man E/W

 

York Glory is nine pounds higher than when winning this race a year ago
York Glory is nine pounds higher than when winning this race a year ago

5:00 Wokingham Handicap 6f (3yo+)

Handicaps have been painful this week, most notably yesterday with Hillbilly Boy in the Buckingham Palace being drawn on the wrong side. Consensus between the lads on the video was that we could finally get an even race on both sides with plenty of pace from the low draw which will be headed by Hamza and Jimmy Styles. This will benefit the likes of YORK GLORY from stall 11 who loves these big field handicaps and won this off a nine pound lower mark a year ago and GLEN MOSS stall 2 who drops down in trip after an excellent effort in the Victoria Cup behind Gabrial’s Lad. They’re the likely winners for me from a lower draw although Hoof It could run a big race.

Of those drawn high, ABSOLUTELY SO looks primed to take a big sprint handicap. His return to turf last time out at Goodwood over seven furlongs was mightily impressive when beating Jack’s Revenge who ran well in the Buckingham Palace and with Oisin Murphy still claiming three pounds, he has the ability to go very close. Rocky Ground is a big player on his Windsor win and supporters of his will hope Music Master runs well in the Diamond Jubilee. Baccarat always seems to bump into one in these type of races and I suspect he will again. Seeking Magic is more of a five furlong horse but should run his usual solid race. The favourite Ninjago seems best fresh and looks vulnerable as he was really fancied to win at Newmarket on return.

Selections – Absolutely So Win & York Glory and Glen Moss E/W

Royal Irish Hussar will appreciate this stamina test
Royal Irish Hussar will appreciate this stamina test

5:35 Queen Alexandra 2m5f159y (4yo+)

We end Royal Ascot with the longest flat race on the whole calendar and this looks one of the best renewals I’ve seen ever. Tiger Cliff looks a solid favourite being an Ebor winner and could potentially be too good for these although it seems a bit strange connections came here when he would have had a fair chance in an Ascot Gold Cup. He should stay on the evidence of his Ascot Stakes run where he was given far too much to do by Tom Queally.

Pique Sous would have been very interesting in the Ascot Stakes had his mark been one pound lower or even in the earlier Duke Of Edinburgh. He would be a deserving winner having nearly been lost to a serious bout of colic but the distance could stretch him. Whiplash Willie could also be a candidate for training performance of the flat season with Andrew Balding bringing him back after three years to win a handicap at Salisbury and to finish third behind Brown Panther in the Henry VIII Stakes last time out. The ground could be a bit lively for him though.

Mubaraza has ran consistently in big staying handicaps but is another that could see this trip being too far whilst El Salvador has disappointed on his last two starts. The selection at a price is the Nicky Henderson trained ROYAL IRISH HUSSAR who has been hurdling and hasn’t looked a natural but this extended distance looks right up his street so he could be a big price to end the week on a high.

Selection – Royal Irish Hussar Win

Goffs London Sale – Breeze Up Lots

Firstly, a big thank you to the guys at Ontheotherhoof for allowing me to post this bloodstock special after Saturday’s breeze ups at Kempton. For those of you who don’t know who I am or know me through Twitter, I am a Bloodstock Agent for @RMBloodstock and have recently been working closely with Gordian Troeller, assisting in the purchase of horses for America’s most successful syndicate Team Valor and many other American owners, most based near Santa Anita racecourse.

This morning I attended the breeze ups for the much anticipated Goffs London Sale and thought I’d write a little about a few interesting lots being offered for sale at Kensington Palace on Monday 16th June.

Lot 5 – War Front X Valarchos Destiny (Filly)

As we all know, War Fronts are all the rage and one of the most commercial in the sale ring at the moment. With the nice ones making over 1mil. This filly breezed well; she is a big striding horse and a typical ‘War Front’ type. She has a lot of presence and is a lovely large stamp of horse. She was given a tender ride today at Kempton but she looks to have plenty of scope. She’s very nice as an individual, a very correct, strong type. I can imagine this filly will make a strong 6 figure sum on Monday.

Lot 8 – Arcano X Deep Winter (Colt)

In my opinion, this horse produced the best breeze on the polytrack, or at least the most comfortable. A fluid mover who really strides out and took to the ground well. He struggled to settle onto one lead after changing legs a few times but in my opinion travelled better on the left leg which would definitely suit American racing with all tracks running left handed. As an individual this colt is striking to look at. A$ bright chestnut with a near white mane. He looks like he has a bit of growing into himself to do but again has plenty of scope and along with a page full of black type I think he will be one to watch.

Lot 18 – Giant’s Causeway X Ender’s Valentine (Colt)

All American bred, infact, if you look at the page there is not an awful lot that has ventured out of North America, so probability is this horse will be useful in that part of the world as well. He previously completed a workout at Dundalk (left handed) to show the U.S.A market what he is capable of. He is a nice fluid mover and I think he would take to the dirt tracks very nicely as he is a little upright in his pasterns and shoulder, although very typical of Giants Causeway’s. He breezed this morning on the polytrack and although it wasn’t a bad work out by any means, the polytrack is really not for him. I think he will make a solid price

Lot 32 – Exceed and Excel X Life Rely (Colt)

From the immediate family of Italian Oaks winner Menhoubah this colt is very well bred and he breezed very nicely this morning when handling the polytrack well. There is a possibility he could have benefitted from a noseband, however, a relatively high head carriage is to be expected from most young Exceed and Excels.  He has a slightly high knee action but I actually see this as a positive with this horse as he shows plenty of shoulder flexibility without being too ‘stampy.’  As an individual I found him to be quite an athletic type, along with being a nice size and well put together. Exceed and Excels are very commercial at the moment so I think a lot of purchasers will be attracted to this horse.

Lot 34 – Danehill Dancer X Mystery Ocean (Colt)

If there was an award for ‘most improved’ this colt would win hands down as it’s a bit of an ugly duckling story. I actually went to view him last November when buying for a client in Hong Kong but unfortunately, as a yearling I found him a little disappointing. I hadn’t actually clicked this was the same horse until I went to view him after his work out, I turned to Jamie Railton and said ‘this isn’t the same Danehill Dancer I saw last year is it!?’ To which he replied ‘he’s improved a lot hasn’t he!’ He’s now the kind of horse that when he is drawn out of his box, he hits you between the eyes with his enormous presence. He has muscle in all the right places and looks ready to go, as a result he breezed like an athlete and with his strong conformation and correctness, I think he will develop into a very useful horse. All in all I found this colt very impressive and a credit to Jamie Railton for transforming this horse over the last few months.

Lot 21 – Verglas X Fortuna Limit (Colt)

It would seem that for his breeze only, the polytrack was replaced by a trampoline-like substance. Everyone loves a horse with a spring in their step but this one takes that concept to a new level. I really think this horse could be a bit of a bargain for a small owner who wants to have a bit of fun. Being an owner of a Verglas myself they are very versatile horses and with the right trainer they can provide a small owner with many good days out. I couldn’t really fault him as he is a very athletic horse with an enthusiastic attitude towards his work and seemingly ability to go with it.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my run through of Saturday’s action, but don’t forget the all important sale is on Monday 16th June where all the above go under the hammer, and for the first time we will witness the world’s first ever Frankel foal to be sold at public auction along with the dam Crystal Gaze, also dam of Epsom Dash winner Caspian Prince and Spirit Quartz. She is sold believed to be in foal again to Frankel. Tweet me at @RMBloodstock with how much you think this spectacular duo will make on Monday night.

Thanks,

Rebecca Matthews