I didn't get to Sandown on Saturday. I had arranged to be down in Dorset to go out on a power boat. As it transpired, there was no horse power for me of any description, as the starter motor on this monster wave cutter (top speed 90 mph!) refused to perform the task after which it was named.
On shore leave for the afternoon, then, there was nothing to do but drink cold beer in the blazing sunshine and talk cobblers with my old school mates, with whom I was supposed to be thrill-seeking around the harbour/bay. Ah well, another day.
Whilst I was busy doing nothing, some of the best mile and a quarter thoroughbreds in the world were convening in Esher for the Coral Eclipse, the first major showdown of the ages, as the Classic generation took on their elders in Group 1 company for round one of a battle that will wage for the rest of the season.
In that context at least, the Eclipse was a damp squib: just one three-year-old showed up, and he - Mars - would not be the most illustrious of his generation, though nor in fairness would he be a second-rater.
The long and short of it was that the existing world order was maintained, with Prince Of Wales's Stakes victor, Al Kazeem, plundering Sandown's richest prize. He beat the same horse in Mukhadram by a bit further than the last day, and he beat Declaration Of War - a mile winner at Royal Ascot but running on here - and the rest as well.
Al Kazeem is so good at ten furlongs that, although I may have intimated he would operate equally effectively at a mile and a half previously, I now suspect this is his optimum. If he was mine (haha, what a big if), I'd rest him now before an Autumn campaign, taking in an Arc trial with a view to stretching back out, and then toying with Santa Anita's ten dirt furlongs for the Breeders Cup Classic, and/or the riches on offer in the Far East through our winter. And that does seem to be the plan, skipping the immediate glory of the King George along the way.
Be that as it may, Al Kazeem is clearly at the top of his trade currently. The ones behind, especially Declaration Of War, mostly all showed promise for another day.The Declaration seemed to take a very long time to hit stride before running on, and I'm not sure where next given that he had the speed to win over a straight mile last time. Perhaps that's the thing with him: he's not overly predictable just yet, a notion that his floppy effort in the Lockinge when strongly fancied supports.
Mukhadram is destined to get close but no cigar, due to his brave - perhaps stupid? - front-running style. Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting it's a stupid tactic - it clearly works best for the horse, and makes optimal use of his capabilities - but it is a 'heart on sleeve' style of running generally doomed to pick up place money.
In any case, this was another fine run, and he should be able to snatch a Group 2 even if leaving himself wide open with his run style.
Mars is a horse that has polarized opinion in the 'pro' ranks. Some believe he is a horse of immense promise, some feel he's over-hyped. Me? I can see merit in both arguments, and take him at face value: a nag that has mixed it with the best from a mile to a mile and a half, and generally come up a little way short. That still makes him high class, and after just five runs, he remains progressive.
From a punting perspective, his problem is that he has never been the price he should be. He's playable at a value price, because he is probably capable of winning a Group 1. Probably. But 9/2 in a race like the Eclipse was, as I wrote in my preview, a bit skinny.
Miblish is a Listed horse running above his class, but he keeps picking up bits and pieces of prize money, and might steal a Group 3 this term. He's entered in the Tattersalls Sales this week and it will be interesting to see what price he fetches.
The last two home, Pastorius and The Fugue, were both disapppointing, the former more predictably so. The Fugue is better than this, but she may go back against the girls now in a bid to get her season back on track.
Talking of Al Kazeem, I hope at least some of you took the 3/1 available with the sponsors on Saturday morning. If winning at this game is about finding value, then turning a blind eye to standout offers like that is akin to admitting defeat.
Obviously, there was a good chance that something would beat Al Kazeem. But as I wrote in my Eclipse preview here, the front four in the betting were all playable at a particular price.
My price for Al Kazeem was 5/2, so 3/1 was - in my opinion - cracking value. Of course, if you felt he should be 7/2 or bigger, then you wouldn't have backed him. But, seriously, who could possibly make him that price?! 😉
So, yes, I hope you backed him, because win, lose or draw, that was knocking value. I'll continue to bring such standouts to your attention. They won't all win, but they will all (or in vast majority at least) have a fair bit better chance of winning than the bonus odds imply.
Top class racing remains a feature through July, with Newmarket's literally-named July meeting running from Thursday to Saturday. It's my great hope to get there one day this week, but work pressures might preclude it alas.
In any case, aside from an embarrassingly low turnout in the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes - just five declared - it should be three wonderful days racing. I'll try to preview at least a couple of races each day on here, if time allows, and perhaps all if we go the placepot route there.
Then all roads lead to the Glorious G's: Goodwood and Galway, and there will be plenty of previews, free bets, tips and placepots in support of those high summer jamborees. Can't wait!!
Back to more mundane (pronounced Monday-n) fare, and we still have Stat of the Day, Daily Dabble, placepot picks, and Mal's Stat Pack. If you want to be notified of their publication, the easiest way is to follow @geegeez_uk on twitter. All geegeez blog posts are notified there as soon as they're posted.
That's especially helpful if you follow my placepot picks, as I can be a bit unpredictable in terms of posting time, depending on what else is happening on any given day.
So do give @geegeez_uk a follow on twitter. And, while you're about it, you might like to follow me on there too (and you might not!!). I'm @mattbisogno and can normally be found ranting about something on there...
One other thing to mention today is the tipping league. Have you joined yet? It's free to enter and there is £200 in free bet prizes up for grabs if you have a BetVictor account.
You can register for the tipping league here. (Just click the register button)
And you can sign up for BetVictor by clicking BetVictor.
Finally today, something a little out of synch with the time of year, granted.
Stalwart of the geegeez horses, Khajaaly, is heading to the sales next week. He's been a grand servant, winning three times and placing in the top four seventeen times in his 36 race career, and we hope someone outside of Newmarket will take a chance on him. He's certainly handicapped to win but maybe just needs a change of scenery to re-ignite his enthusiasm a tad.
In his place, we'll welcome a brand new unraced four-year-old gelding by top National Hunt stallion, Beneficial. He's been broken and ridden now, and will be put out in a field next for a couple of months, before coming into training in September with a view to running towards the end of the year.
There he is on the right, and here's a link to his catalogue page, where you can see how nicely bred he is.
He's being trained by the excellent Anthony Honeyball, a man with one of the best strike rates in the country, especially in bumpers, where our boy will start his racing adventure.
He will need a name - the best I've come up with so far is The Geegeez Geegee, and I'm pretty sure we can do better than that!!! - and he is being syndicated into sixteenth shares. Twelve are already spoken for from existing syndicate members or people who responded to my email about this a week or two ago. That means there are a couple of shares remaining if you might be interested.
Shares are £1,200 and then £120 per month, and that covers everything bar major surgery and foreign travel. In both those cases, we'd need a majority verdict from members to go forward with it.
Just drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to know more, and I'll send you all the lowdown.
Have a great day!