Thursday, 27 July 2017

Havre Overpriced At Ascot

Havre de Paix is a horse that regular readers of this blog will be familiar with. I tipped her up just a couple of weeks ago (read here) but unfortunately she was pulled and was a non runner. She did run a few days later at Ascot (8f gd) and she ran a cracking race to finish 2nd to Mittens off a mark of 90. She made a bold bid from the front, tiring late on, so dropping back to 7f looks a prudent move. Considering it was her first outing since May it was a very creditable effort and she will strip a lot fitter with that run under her belt.
Havre De Paix looks too big a price at Ascot.
This 5yo daughter of Le Havre has some strong form in the book, even though she has only managed one win in her career so far (an 8f maiden at Chelmsford). She was only beaten a length in a Listed heat at Chantilly last October (9f soft) when conceding 4lb to the winner Rostova and that horse is now rated 99. She had Golden Stunner a neck behind, another filly she was conceding 4lb to, and that filly is now rated 107 and won a handicap off 97 earlier this season.

David Menuisier is a name that won’t be familiar to casual racing fans, but he is a trainer that is on the rise. He had a very quiet start to the season with all of his horses running below form (including this one) but it turned out that he had a virus in the yard. He didn’t have any runners for around 6 weeks, but he is back in full swing now and his last 8 runners have produced form figures of 21117362.

Martin Dwyer has been booked for the ride on Havre De Paix and he went very close on her the only previous time he was on board. He has an excellent record when riding for Menuisier, claiming 4 wins and 11 top 4 finishes from just 27 rides (frame hitting strike rate of 56%). The current ground description of good to soft looks ideal, as does the drop back in trip to 7f on the evidence of her last run and she also proved she handles the track last time out. At odds of 33/1 with William Hill I think Havre De Paix looks well worth backing each way at Ascot on Saturday.  


STEVOS’ SELECTION: 15.00 ASCOT (SAT)-HAVRE DE PAIX E/W @ 33/1 

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Rooney Could Hit The Target At Leopardstown

Uno Momento was backed early this morning but drifted back out before the off to 25s. He was ridden with restraint by Wayne Lordan and as they entered the final couple of furlongs he was left with plenty to do. He had to mount his challenge widest of all and though he made up ground hoof over fist in the final furlong he just failed to get up for 3rd by a head. Luck hasn’t been on our side in recent weeks, so hopefully the tide turns soon and we get back into the winner’s enclosure.
Niall McCullagh is a vastly experienced pilot.
I like the look of one at tasty odds in the mile handicap at 20.00 at Leopardstown tomorrow, and I think Rooney O’Mara looks a crazy price for Willie Roper and Niall McCullagh. With 20 horses going to post stakes should be kept to a minimum, but I think this beautifully bred filly is potentially better than her current mark of 57 and she is entitled to come on leaps and bounds with her seasonal reappearance behind her.

She was well beaten at Bellewstown last time, but she was likely in need of the run and she would have finished closer only for interference inside the final furlong. She showed promise on two of her three maiden runs, and she first caught my eye on debut at Navan (6f yld). She was last as they entered the final couple of furlongs but she stayed on well under hands and heels and ended up 9th of 16, beaten just 4L by the winner.

She was sent off at 14/1 next time out at Limerick and she was ridden a lot more aggressively by McCullagh on that occasion. She bumped into a quality horse in Making Light, a subsequent Group 3 winner, but she kept on really well for 3rd and displayed a good attitude. She was given a speculative run in Listed company over a mile at Leopardstown next time out, but she was out of her depth and finished well beaten.

She was handed a mark of 58 after those three runs, and after her comeback run at Bellewstown she has been dropped to 57. She is bred to be better than that and she is related to plenty of winners. She is a half sister to Group 3 winner Soraaya, Listed winner Declaration Of War and 85 rated 4 time winner Freak Occurence. Her sire Dragon Pulse has made a good start at stud and any rain that falls overnight will enhance her chance.

Veteran jockey Niall McCullagh has ridden this filly on her last three starts and he keeps the ride on Thursday. He has had 17 rides for Roper, placing on 6 of them. Rooney O’Mara has been handed a decent draw in stall 4 and I am hoping that she breaks well and is ridden positively, just like she was when placed at Limerick. Once there is no firm in the ground description I think she can outrun her massive odds and at 33/1 she is worth chancing each way for small stakes in a wide open looking contest.


STEVOS’ SELECTION: 20.00 LEOPARDSTOWN-ROONEY O’MARA E/W @ 33/1

Uno One To Watch If The Rain Arrives At Naas

Pindaric blew the start at Redcar for us at the weekend and the advantage of being drawn in stall 1 went out the window. Connor Murtagh persisted with the inside route, sitting and suffering whilst waiting for a gap to come. Unfortunately it never came, and though he did stay on well once finding daylight the race was over. I am still firmly of the belief that this horse has races in him and he is definitely one to stick in your tracker as his turn is surely not far away.
Wayne Lordan is doing his minimum weight for Uno Momento.
Tomorrow I like the look of one at a massive price at Naas, and I think Uno Momento could be set for a big run returned to the scene of his best maiden effort, once the ground eases. This 3yo son of Casamento is a big imposing colt and he ran a cracking race here over 7f (yld) on his second maiden run. His debut and last run were nothing to write home about, but he was a big eye catcher here behind Yulong Xionghu when beaten just over 3L and he shaped as if a mile would suit him well.

He was never put into the race by Gary Halpin at Leopardstown last time and perhaps the good to firm ground didn’t suit this big colt. On debut at the same track he showed plenty of early speed but he was green as grass and hung badly wide as they turned for home. That cost him any chance of winning, but he was sent off at just 12/1 for that race so he must have been showing something at home.

His best effort by a long way came here on his second start and he was ridden with restraint, again by Gary Halpin. He was still last as they turned for home but he looked to be travelling well within himself. Halpin switched him off the rail just before they hit the 2f pole and angled Uno Momento to the outside. As he started to push him along he still had an awful lot to do, but once Halpin gave him his only smack of the whip 1.5f from home he began to make up ground rapidly.

Halpin opted to ride him out under hands and heels for the remainder and I was really impressed with how the horse finished the race. He was at least 10-12L behind the winner a furlong out, but by the time he crossed the line the margin was reduced to just 3.5L. He just failed to get up for 4th and hopefully either the runner up (Conversely) or preferably the 4th (Bay Of Skaill) from that race frank the form in the maiden earlier on the card.

The ground is currently described as good to firm at Naas, and that has to be a worry. However, there is a lot of rain forecast to fall before the start of racing tomorrow so I am hoping that conditions ease. Wayne Lordan takes over in the plate and he will be riding at his minimum weight of 8st 4lbs. Tom Mullins got a winner on the board at Ballinrobe on Tuesday and his horses have generally been running well. If the forecast heavy showers materialise Uno Momento could surprise with a good run, and at odds of 25/1 he is worth chancing each way.


STEVOS’ SELECTION: 20.30 NAAS-UNO MOMENTO E/W @ 25/1

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Murtagh’s Claim Could Be Key For Pindaric

I was bitterly disappointed with Street Poet’s run for us earlier, but the writing was on the wall a furlong into the race. As I outlined in my blog post I was hoping that he might be held up, but Tom Eaves and Herrington had other ideas and sent him straight to the front. He travelled well for a long way but ultimately faded badly late on. He is going to pop up at a big price at some stage, but unfortunately it wasn’t today.
Connor Murtagh is a star in waiting.
On Sunday I am going to back one for small stakes at Redcar and it is another son of Poet’s Voice I am interested in. Pindaric is a well named 3yo trained by Yorkshire based Alan Lockwood and I think the step up to 9f combined with Connor Murtagh’s 7lb claim could see this gelding take a big step forward. He started out in handicaps off a mark of 64, and after three runs this season it has tumbled to 54.  

He has been beaten a total of 32L in those three runs, but his seasonal debut at Beverly (7f gd/fm) wasn’t completely devoid of promise. He was given plenty to do by Cam Hardie that day and while he was 10L behind the easy winner he was just over 2L behind the horses that filled the places. The way he stayed on that day suggested a step up in trip would suit as he was doing all his best work at the finish.

His three previous visits to Redcar, in 2yo maidens over 6f and 7f weren’t complete disasters either, and he finished in close proximity to plenty of future winners when 7th of 16 on his final 2yo run. He was only 2L behind Peaceful Passage and he has since scored off 73, and the horse in 5th, Pincheck, was a maiden winner next time and is now rated in the 80s. Power Power, a head behind Pindaric, has gone close in handicap company off 67 so, in hindsight, that wasn’t a bad run at all.

It is also interesting that Pindaric was sent off at big prices on his first two starts this season, but last time at Wetherby (8f soft) he was well backed and started at just 13/2. I don’t think he liked the easy underfoot conditions though, and he could only manage 5th, a good 8L behind the 3rd placed horse. The good to firm ground at Redcar tomorrow should be more to his liking, and I think the trip of 9f could be just what the doctor ordered too.

He has had just one run at further than 9f, on his second run of the season, over 10f at Beverley and he seemed to fade badly inside the final furlong after making ground from the rear. Judging by that effort 9f could prove to be his optimum trip. Poet’s Voice has a good strike rate with his progeny at 7-9f, 27%. His offspring are also usually most effective on quick ground, with 16 of 91 winning for a strike rate of 18%.

The booking of young Connor Murtagh has to be viewed as a huge positive and he is a jockey to keep on your side. He has had an outstanding year so far and he has ridden 13 winners already in his first season. He has also had 31 places from a total of 134 rides and he has ridden a winner at Redcar so he knows how to get the job done around here. He takes off 7lb so Pindaric is effectively 17lb lower than for that eye-catching handicap debut. He has the plum draw in stall 1, I think ground and trip are ideal and at odds of 20/1 Pindaric could go close.


STEVOS’ SELECTION: 15.00-REDCAR-PINDARIC E/W @ 20/1

Friday, 21 July 2017

Poet Could Surprise At Haydock

I enhanced my superb strike rate at picking non runners with Haulani last time and I am praying that this selection at least gets to the track! There is nothing worse than studying the form, doing a write up and then waking up the next day to see the horse has been scratched. It is frustrating to say the least, but that is racing and sometimes you just have to suck it up.
Stott has 4 top 4 finishes from 7 rides for Herrington.
Tomorrow I am backing one for small stakes at huge odds at Haydock and I think this 4yo could bounce back to form returned to 10f on turf. The forecast rain shouldn’t be too much of a worry for this 4yo son of Poet’s Voice, once it doesn’t turn bottomless, and I think Street Poet could produce an improved performance for Michael Herrington with in form Kevin Stott up for the first time.

Herrington has been struggling for winners this season but the yard has been showing signs of returning to form in recent weeks. Commander Kirkup ran a cracker for him to grab 3rd at odds of 33/1 on Friday night, and he also had Kamra (11/1) and Mishaal (25/1) run big races for him in the last couple of weeks. He hasn’t visited the winner’s enclosure since March, but I get the feeling that it will be sooner rather than later that he gets that winning feeling again.

Street Poet has been well beaten on all three starts for this stable since joining from the Stoute yard, but he has either been running at the wrong trip or on the wrong surface and it looks as though he has his optimum conditions for the first time for Herrington at Haydock. Tom Eaves made plenty of use of him last time at Newcastle and it was no surprise to see him fade badly in the closing stages.

He led or raced very prominently on both previous runs for this yard too, and I am hoping that more patient tactics are used at Haydock. He is drawn out in stall 13, so hopefully he is dropped in and ridden with a bit of restraint.  He remains a maiden after nine career starts, but he showed enough ability to suggest he was up to winning a handicap when he was trained by Sir Michael Stoute.

He earned an official rating of 71 after his three maiden runs for Stoute, and his best effort by far came on his handicap debut at Epsom (10f gd) last September. He ran a cracker to finish 2nd, beaten less than a length, and the handicapper took a dim view raising him to 75. He again ran well off his revised mark when 11f seemed to stretch him on good to soft ground at Goodwood, leading 2f out but fading late on to finish 5th, beaten just over 2L.

The form of those two runs would give him every chance here, and the handicapper has relented and eased him to a mark of 65. That is a full 10lb below the rating off which he ran so well at Goodwood and 6lb lower than his close 2nd at Epsom. Kevin Stott has achieved top 4 finishes on 4 of 7 rides for Herrington and he has ridden 6 winners in the past fortnight. Hopefully he can add to that tally at Haydock, and at odds of 33/1 I think Street Poet could be worth chancing each way in a wide open race.


STEVOS’ SELECTION: 18.30 HAYDOCK: STREET POET E/W @ 33/1 

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Hide Seeking Win At Sandown

Dragon Mall got away to a decent start for us at the weekend but that was about as good as it got. He was dropped in and ridden just how I expected, but the finishing surge he showed on his previous run was nowhere to be seen. David Simcock's description of him as a frustrating type is an understatement and while he may win races in the future he won't be seeing any more of my hard earned. 
 
Philip Hide could be smiling at Sandown on Wednesday.
Tomorrow I like the look of one at a nice price at Sandown, and I think Haulani could be set to return to form for Philip Hide in the 10f handicap at 20.10. This well related American bred 3yo is 2 from 6 on turf, both of those wins coming last season. He won his maiden on his third start at Brighton (7f gd/sft) and followed that up with a superb victory on better ground at Salisbury (8f gd) on handicap debut off 73.

Haulani ran a cracking race in a hot class 2 handicap on his penultimate start of last season at Newmarket (8f gd/fm) off 82, beaten just 4L in 4th and shaping as though a step up in trip might suit. He was badly outpaced early on and looked like tailing off at one stage, but he kept on well inside the final furlong and got back up for 4th. He didn’t run badly at Newcastle on his final start of last season when beaten 2.5L at Newcastle (8f) in 3rd off 82.

His first three runs of this season were well below the level he showed last year, but he took a big step back in the right direction at Kempton last time in first time cheek-pieces and a tongue tie (8f). He was again outpaced as they approached the final furlong but he stayed on very well late in the day and just missed out on a place in 5th off a mark of 73.

I think the step up to 10f is going to suit him, and when he tried it earlier this season he was bang out of form so I am putting a line through those runs. The combination of cheek-pieces and tongue tie really sharpened him up last time and he races off the same mark off which he won so easily last season. 

Hector Crouch takes off another 3lb and he has ridden 2 winners and had 3 top 4 finishes from just 11 rides for Philip Hide. The ground will suit, as will the trip in my opinion, and at odds of 20/1 I think Haulani has a good each way chance in an admittedly competitive looking handicap.


STEVOS’ SELECTION: 20.10 SANDOWN-HAULANI E/W @ 20/1  

Friday, 14 July 2017

Don’t Discount The Dragon At York

Top Boy ran an absolute stormer for us at Newmarket on Thursday and he was given a peach of a ride by Franny Norton. I couldn’t believe that odds of 66/1 were widely available in the run up to the race and he was eventually sent off at 33s. He was held up as per usual, and as they headed into the final furlong few travelled better.

It looked as though Franny had timed his challenge to perfection but unfortunately Shamson did him in the last 50 yards. Top Boy is one of my favourite horses in training and he is a credit to his trainer Derek Shaw. Hopefully he gets his head back in front sooner rather than later. Saturday’s selection goes in the John Smith’s Cup at York, and I am keeping the faith with Dragon Mall for David Simcock and Stevie Donohue.
David Simcock had a 20/1 winner at York on Friday.
I tipped this fella up last time at Royal Ascot where he completely missed the break for Josephine Gordon. He was detached and looked a hopeless cause as they turned for home, but amazingly he was only beaten 3.5L for the win despite also finding a bit of trouble in running. He was only a neck behind Muntazah and that horse ran a cracker at Sandown last weekend. It was an extraordinary effort seeing as he must have lost at least 15 lengths at the start and if he gets away better this time it could be his day.

The 4yo son of Blame is admittedly a hard horse to win with and his antics at the start have cost him quite a few times. He has won just one of his 14 career starts, a mile class 2 contest on the all weather at Chelmsford, but he has shown on more than one occasion that he is a talented horse. He races off a mark of 101 tomorrow, the same rating as last time, and he is 5lb better off with the winner at Ascot, Snoano.

His Newmarket based trainer David Simcock does well on his trips to Yorkshire and he teamed up with Stevie Donohue with 20/1 Listed winner Mystic Dawn on Friday. Simcock has decided to try eye shields and blinkers on Dragon Mall tomorrow and hopefully that makes him a bit more alert from the gates. He is drawn out in the car park in stall 21, but he is a hold up sort in any case so Donohue will drop him in and produce him late. Stakes should be kept small enough with this one given his quirky nature, but if things go his way then Dragon Mall could make a mockery of his odds of 25/1.


STEVOS’ SELECTION: 15.05 YORK-DRAGON MALL E/W @ 25/1

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Boy Could Be Top Gun Back At Newmarket

I somehow managed to pick out another non-runner in Go Bananas earlier this week and I am making a habit of it at this stage. It is very frustrating, but such is life and these things happen. Seemingly she didn’t eat up, and better that she be withdrawn than run and not be at her best. Tomorrow I am backing an old favourite of mine at a monstrous price at Newmarket, but don’t worry, my reasoning is far from sentimental.
 
Top Boy winning at York (far right).
Top Boy is a horse that owes me nothing having landed a massive touch for me at York a couple of years ago. It is hard believe that he hasn’t managed to get his head back in front on grass since, but he has more than paid his way on the all weather for his ultra shrewd handler Derek Shaw. He loves it around Chelmsford and has won there on three occasions, but a couple of his best turf efforts since that York win have come on the July course at Newmarket.

Now off a turf mark of 81, he gets to race off a lovely weight there on Thursday in the 5f John Deere Handicap at 16.35. His last run over this course and distance came last July and he ran a cracker to be 3rd behind Soie De Leau and Primrose Valley off a mark of 79, beaten just over a length. In July 2015 he dead heated for 2nd over this c&d off 84, beaten a head when not getting the clearest of passages. Earlier in June 2015 he was only beaten a length by Humidor, again off 84, so off a mark of 81 he looks well capable of getting involved tomorrow.

He had his first turf run for some time at Doncaster (6f) 12 days ago off 82, and he may have finished 6th but he wasn’t beaten far at all and it was a very good run over a trip he has yet to win at. He has been dropped a pound for that run and he will be suited by the return to 5f at Newmarket. Franny Norton takes over in the saddle and he was an unlucky 3rd on Top Boy at York a couple of years back so he knows the horse well.

He has 2 wins and 2 places from just 6 rides for Shaw this season, and when he is booked for this yard they usually mean business. Top Boy is suited by a strong pace at this trip and with 16 sprinters going to post the race should be run to suit him. He has run well on his last three visits to the July course, he is 6lb below the mark off which he last won on turf and at odds of 40/1 surely he has to be worth chancing for small stakes e/w.


STEVOS’ SELECTION: 16.35 NEWMARKET-TOP BOY E/W @ 40/1

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

7f Could Suit Meehan’s Filly At Brighton

Havre de Paix was unfortunately a non runner at the weekend with David Menuisier deeming the ground to be unsuitably quick. She is entered in the Bunbury Cup and the consolation race this weekend and if there is a bit of juice in the ground she remains of interest. Another trainer that has his string in superb form at the moment is Brian Meehan, and I can’t let his only runner of the day go unbacked at a huge price in the 17.45 at Brighton on Tuesday.
Brian Meehan's horses are flying.
Go Bananas was last sighted finishing well down the field in the 6f Group 2 Queen Mary at Ascot, beating just one horse home and beaten just over 15L. She had previously run a poor race on the all weather at Lingfield when slowly away over 6f, but her debut at Bath over 5.5f wasn’t totally devoid of promise when she stayed on late for 4th after a very slow start. She shaped as if further would suit that day, and she steps up to 7f today.

This daughter of Bahamian Bounty has a very nice pedigree and she is bred to stay at least 7f. She is the first foal of a half sister to a 7f, 10f and 12f winner who had placed form in Group company and she had another half brother that was a 103 rated 7f and 8f winner. The signals from her pedigree suggest that 7f should suit, and so does that debut effort.

Her trainer Brian Meehan couldn’t be in much better form at the moment and of his last 13 runners 4 have won and 5 have placed. He may have only had 2 winners at Brighton in the past 5 seasons from 17 runners but that doesn’t tell the whole story.  Of those 17 runners, another 11 have finished in the top 4 so that makes for a frame hitting strike rate of over 75%.

It is interesting that Meehan hasn’t decided to go down the handicap route with Go Bananas as she has been handed an opening mark of 62. He must believe that she has the ability to win a novice or a maiden, and he has found a weak looking contest for her. There isn’t much form to shout about in the race, and with Jordan Uys claiming 7lb she gets 12lb from her male rivals and 7lb from the other fillies in the race. I think Go Bananas could go well from a favourable draw in stall 6 once she gets away on terms and at odds of 28/1 she is worth chancing for small stakes e/w.


STEVOS’ SELECTION: 17.45-GO BANANAS E/W @ 28/1

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Havre A Bit Of This At Doncaster

I am afraid Elzaa didn’t try a yard at Gowran on Tuesday and I knew after a furlong that our goose was cooked. She raced way more prominently than usual and it was no surprise to see her fall away in the closing stages. She is best when held up but obviously Tuesday wasn’t the plan if the tactics that were employed were anything to go by. To add injury to insult McAllister had a winner the following night with Bien Chase at Fairyhouse. Racing really tests the patience at times, and this week is a good example.
David Menuisier's horses are coming back into form.
Still, I will soldier on and I am convinced that once the tide turns the winners will flow. Hopefully our luck changes with Friday’s fancy, a 33/1 shot who comes from a yard that is returning from a very quiet spell. Regular readers will be aware of the high regard in which I hold French born trainer David Menuisier, and I remain convinced that his stable star Contrapposto has a big day in him after a couple of woeful efforts earlier this season.

I don’t have a line into the yard, but Menuisier has had very few runners in the last couple of months and that would suggest that perhaps his horses haven’t been healthy. He had no runner from the 20th of May until the 1st of July, but the break seems to have worked the oracle as both horses that have run since have gone close. Kevin Stott was beaten just half a length on Havre De Paix’s half brother Corpus Chorister last week and Pat Dobbs will be kicking himself for getting beat by the same distance on Thundering Blue at Epsom on Thursday night.

Meunisier’s string are obviously over whatever was ailing them and he has a trio of runners tomorrow that all look to have live chances. Stott has been booked to ride Havre De Paix in a rated race at Doncaster and the 5yo daughter of Le Havre looks a big price at 33/1 in an open looking heat. This mare is officially rated 90, and with a 3lb sex allowance she looks well treated getting weight from all of her male rivals.

She was actually rated as high as 97 after a cracking effort in a Listed heat at Chantilly last October (9f soft) but a couple of well below par efforts back in April and May of this year saw her rating fall to 90. Her sole win came in a Chelmsford maiden (8f) in March of last year on her seasonal comeback, and she has shown her very best form at around 8f or 9f on easy ground. However, she was beaten just half a length in a decent Newmarket maiden on debut (7f gd/fm) so she won’t mind the ground at Doncaster and her half brother is a quick ground winner too.

She is a mare that is at her best when able to dictate and I am hoping that she bounces out of stall 7 and is sent straight to the front by Kevin Stott. Sun Lover is another possible front runner but he was held up last time so hopefully he is again and Havre De Paix gets a soft lead. If she does I think she will make a very bold bid, and with her stamina guaranteed she could be hard to peg back if she poaches a lead of a few lengths before they head into the last couple of furlongs. Menuisier will be keen to get a winner on the board after his quiet spell and at odds of 33/1 hopefully Havre De Paix can end the drought.


STEVOS’ SELECTION: 15.35-DONCASTER: HAVRE DE PAIX E/W @ 33/1