It’s been a long year on the sandy road to Lingfield to make it to Easter Friday’s AW Championship day. Once again, I’ve had a look at all the races using my (I think) unique speed rating system and hopefully can replicate last year’s results by finding the winner in every race!!
Unfortunately for me, as a backer of nice priced horses that stand a good chance against shorter beasts, a lot of my final picks have ended up toward the top of the market. That, I suppose, is the price you pay when putting up the decent prize money that’s on offer. It’s inevitable that the bigger names/stables will target these races even though (again, in my humble opinion) it kind of goes against the AW grain of offering opportunities to lesser lights. That said, it is what it is and here’s my thoughts on the races….
1.40: 7f Class 2
An interesting affair this one and possibly the weakest event on offer all day. That said, there is some undoubted quality lining up and it could make for a decent race.
First up on my speed numbers is KHATIBA who looks a progressive sort with AW form over this 7f of 12121. Despite having never raced at Lingfield, she looks unlikely to be out of the frame and, to my eye is probably the most likely winner here. Of the likely challengers, I’ve struggled to get a decent handle on the French raider FRESLES and, as such, at 10/3 that one is being overlooked (possibly to my cost) as I can see no value and Frenchies haven’t the best record over here in decent AW races. Next comes LAMAR at 4/1. Ridden by the excellent Ryan Moore this one fares much better on the figures at further for me so, despite the wide draw being less of a hindrance than it may have been for some, that one goes off the list too. MAGGIE PINK scores very well with me but, and it’s a big but, has been performing poorly in a lesser grade than she faces today. Loves to be getting on with things at the front end but could just set things up for stronger horses at the death. At a much bigger price than she should be, the ex Godolphin inmate HISTORY BOOK appeals as a likely each way punt. Under the stewardship of the successful jockey/trainer combo that took this last year, we can confidently ignore her last run in a Listed race against the fellas (slowly run, muddling affair – didn’t play to her strengths) and this looks much more her cup of tea. Seen a bit of money already, scores very nicely on my figures 14/1 looks a fairly generous each way price.
TOP SPEEDSTER: KHATIBA / MAGGIE PINK
MOST LIKELY: KHATIBA (7/2)
E/W POKE: HISTORY BOOK (14/1 – from 18/1)
2.10: 6f Class 2
A renewal with a couple that ran in this last year (both tipped on these pages!! ) and they came in 1st (25/1) & 3rd (10/1).
ALBEN STAR and RIVELLINO, both come under the microscope for that reason alone but it’s difficult to have too much confidence in the latter. Ran a nice race LTO but needed to to get into this and has, once again, copped a poor draw. Whilst he ran on nicely that day last year, I struggle to see Rivellino replicating either form. Alben Star, meanwhile, was comprehensively beaten by PRETEND last time and although that was over 5f, I find it difficult to think he can turn that form around. Pretend was only in there to get some Lingfield experience and should prove better in a decently run 6f race such as this. In fact, Charlie Appleby is quoted as saying “We dropped him back to five furlongs in order to give him experience at Lingfield and he was a bit green around the turn and needed a bit of manhandling. I feel stepping back up to six will put him back into his comfort zone. He goes there in very good order.” He’s plenty short enough at 11/8 currently but does look the most likely contender. At slightly bigger prices, Chookie Royale scored nicely on my numbers but is another who likes to go hard early doors and may find himself in a battle he can’t see out. The one that does interest me is INTRANSIGENT for Andrew Balding. A decent sprinter on his day, his last run needs forgiving but the 6th place prior to that was more than excusable. A Listed winner late in 2014, 12/1 makes a small each way bet appealing just in case.
TOP SPEEDSTER: PRETEND / ALBEN STAR
MOST LIKELY: PRETEND (11/8)
E/W POKE: INTRANSIGENT (12/1)
2.40: 1m Class 2 (only 7 runners!!)
A pretty irritating race for me as none of the runners have posted particularly good AW numbers over the distance. Add that to the fact that it’s a small field, only paying 2 places, and my work becomes a little harder.
TEMPUS TEMPORIS has won over the mile at Chelmsford and Kempton but did nothing spectacular and looks, both to me and on breeding, as though further will benefit him. The form horse is LEXINGTON TIMES, who nicely beat FOUR SEASONS last time out. He doesn’t look the type to be overly progressive, however, and that last race was over 7f which, on pedigree, looks to suit much better. At 2/1 I’m happy to take that one on (again, possibly to my cost!). That leaves me with the other Appleby runner, EMIRATES SKYCARGO, who has distance form, does look progressive and is the stable jockey’s preferred choice. On balance, and at the prices, I’m inclined to go with Four Seasons, however, who showed up much better on the clock (albeit over shorter) than his stablemate. A bit of an unknown quantity is the French raider GROWING GLORY. She’s looked decent in France, last start on soft turf notwithstanding, and the trainer seems mildly bullish. Not one I can recommend but no surprise were she to pop up with her weight allowance.
All in all, not a betting race for me but small wagers on the two Appleby horses and those two plus the French filly for placepot purposes will do.
TOP SPEEDSTER: FOUR SEASONS (??) (7/1)
MOST LIKELY: ?????????
3.15 1m1y Class 2
This one looks like it could be a cracking race with several arriving at the top of their game and a couple of likely improvers lurking. On paper, it looks a straight fight between two horses but they don’t run on paper, it’s polytrack!
The two in question are SOVEREIGN DEBT and MINDUROWNBUSINESS, finished first and second in a C&D handicap in February. Both have won nicely since and Mindurownbusiness could be one of those potential improvers. However, Sovereign Debt has a 10lbs pull for that 3/4 length defeat and looks the most likely of the two. BIG BAZ is another who looks progressive but he’ll have to improve to take this so, whilst a decent price (11/1), he’s overlooked.
Two others that have caught my eye are both top of my speed lists. The Irish raider, CAPTAIN JOY is actually marginally second best to TENOR on pieces of the latter’s best form. Tenor comes with risks attached as his recent form isn’t much to shout about. Reportedly burst a blood vessel when finishing 9th last time out but a couple of Listed wins and runs in Dubai give him a serious each way squeak if fully fit today. On balance though, I’m going with the Captain as I very much liked his win two runs ago (good performance, excellent time) and he’s had a little pipe opener in a messy Dundalk race 28 days ago.
TOP SPEEDSTER: TENOR / CAPTAIN JOY
MOST LIKELY (for me!): CAPTAIN JOY (6/1) – each way bet to nothing
E/W POKE: TENOR (18/1) – now 16/1
OBVIOUS DANGERS ARE SOVEREIGN DEBT & MINDUROWNBUSINESS.
3.45: 1m2f Class 2
The feature race of the day, worth a cool £124,000 to the winner. Unfortunately for me I’m finding it next to impossible to go against the favourite. Not only that but an odds on favourite to boot!!
The horse in question is TRYSTER. He comes here with impeccable AW credentials (4/4) since trying it, won the Winter Derby, defeating two of today’s rivals and really should be confirming that form this afternoon. If you were looking for chinks in his armour you could argue the case that, as a hold up horse, he could be a hostage to fortune but with only 7 rivals and drawn nicely in 4 with Mr Buick up top I can’t see that becoming an issue.
The two re-opposers are COMPLICIT and GRENDISAR and I’m taking the first named to reverse form with the latter. Complicit had an interrupted prep for that Winter Derby but everything seems to have gone well in the lead up to this. I’ll be having a nice place only bet on him and play the forecast with the fave
TOP SPEEDSTER & MOST LIKELY: TRYSTER (8/11)
PLACE/FORECAST PLAY: COMPLICIT (6/1)
4.15 5f6y Class 2
Quite a tricky race to fathom – 3 yo’s only and some have shown excellent form, some look better over further and some have a few question marks against them.
Going strictly on my speed numbers, the likely favourite PORTAMENTO does look the best in this. The 118 day layoff shouldn’t be too much of an issue as the trainer (Charlie Appleby again) nominated this race back then and said there wouldn’t be another in between. Currently vying for the top of the market is PRIMROSE VALLEY. She’s been pretty impressive in rattling up a four-timer but this is a step up in my opinion and being drawn widest of all in stall 10 may just scupper her chances. The other CA horse in the race, BLUE AEGEAN, seems to run better after a longer break than the 2 weeks she’s had this time so that one goes off my list. HARRY HURRICANE has impressed lately and with Richard Hughes aboard could go well. I’m slightly concerned that his best numbers have all come over further than today’s minimum trip.
For that reason I’ve gone slightly left field in my hunt for a bit of value and come up with one that scores very well, was arguably very unlucky the last day (saddle slipped late on) and was back from a long layoff that day. I’m hoping that run has put APACHE STORM spot on for today and the 33/1 available could look very big come 4.16ish later.
TOP SPEEDSTER: PORTAMENTO / APACHE STORM
MOST LIKELY: PORTAMENTO (3/1)
E/W SQUEAK: APACHE STORM (33/1)
4.45: 1m7f169y Class 2
A 2 miler (bar a few yards) to finish with and one where speed figures obviously play less of a part than in the shorter races. Once again, unfortunately, I’m left looking at the two at the head of the market.
It does look suspiciously like a benefit race for the boys in blue with both ANGLOPHILE and HIDDEN GOLD set to fight it out for Godolphin bragging rights. No fancy prices around (3/1 & 5/2 respectively) and I have a marginal preference for Hidden Gold given the way that one ran over 1m5f on this course and then proved a step up in trip no bother when winning nicely over just over 2m at Wolverhampton. Getting a bit of a weight allowance is a help. Anglophile is no mug but I just fancy the other one a little more.
Possible dangers include HURRICANE HIGGINS and JOHN REEL but, if everyone puts their best hoof forward, it should be between my two.
And that’s that for the day. Hope you enjoyed my waffling and it gives you a few pointers but more importantly, a few winners.
As always, whatever you’re on, be lucky