I was at the Lingfield Derby Trial meeting on Saturday, dear reader, and - aside from doing my coconuts in spectacular fashion, I did make a few observations with regards to the upcoming Blue Riband Classics, which I'll share with you today.
I've also got news of Geegeez horse, Always De One; and a look forward to this week's racing from York (as well as a quick mention of a race from yesterday, in which you might have backed the winner).
First though, let's cast back to 'Leafy' on Saturday. The sky was sullen though barely drizzling mercifully, and it was with hope rather than expectation that I approached a tricky looking card.
That said, my banker of the day was in the first race and, after Reggane was unequivocally usurped (never traveling), I was half my kitty down and damage limitation would be the order of the day. I should add that Pyrrha won nicely, in the style of a progressive filly. She looks a seven furlong specialist, as they were starting to get back to her at the death here.
Next up in a bizarrely front-loaded card (thanks, Channel 4) was the Oaks Trial, and 'Sir' Henry Cecil's Timepiece, ante post favourite for the Oaks itself, was odds on jolly.
In what looked a robust trial, with a fierce gallop from gates open to jam stick, the once raced and unbeaten Ceilidh House came to serve it up to Timepiece but gave best with just over a furlong from home. This pair having kicked about five or six lengths clear at the three furlong pole, it was a surprise to most to see another filly looming in the wing mirrors.
Dyna Waltz was the gal, and she needed every yard of the trip and a truly run race to get home in front.
Both the winner and the second had the benefit of experience and of a run this season over the third placed filly. The winner looked a reasonable bet for the Oaks, and I've gone in at 16's although she's not a certain runner at this stage. (She's now a best priced 14/1 so it seems I'm not the only one betting she'll show at Epsom).
The third ran a lovely race, as she was expected to need the run. The benefit of the experience and the fact that she was able to be competitive for as long as she was off a searing gallop suggests she'll make up into a filly to rival the same connections' 2008 Oaks heroine, Look Here.
You may be interested to know that Look Here herself was beaten in this race prior to her Epsom victory. With that in mind, the 20's with Stan James may not last long.
Next up, it was time for the boys to show what they could do ahead of the Epsom Classic, and Desert Myth was a warm order to build on the promise of his debut win in a maiden at the Craven meeting, for Sir Michael Stoute.
In the event, he was extremely disappointing, weakening out of it very tamely to finish fifth and smashing another hole in my wallet in the process.
I suspect he may not have appreciated the track but, whatever the reason, it is very hard to see him getting to the Derby now.
The winner, Bullet Train, was compensation for Cecil. After Timepiece's vanquishing in the previous race, the Bullet looked good. They dawdled early, and Tom Queally set the meter for the contest from the start aboard the winner.
The one I really liked in the race though was Dubawi Phantom, who was held up (presumably to get the trip, having previously run over shorter) and this one made up a ton of ground in what was tantamount to a three furlong sprint to the line. Coming from a relatively unfashionable yard (David Simcock), this chap looks well worth following wherever he goes next and the St Leger has been mooted as the long range aim. That talk is not out of kilter with this performance to my eye.
Sadly, Captain James Cook went wrong turning in and suffered a leg injury which required the screens and the second bullet of the race.
The rest of the card was memorable for two things: Alainmaar's commanding performance in the conditions stakes (this horse will go onto better things and looks a ready made Group 3 winner), and my inability to pick a horse that got competitive in the final four races.
Alainmaar, incidentally, is trained by the white hot Michael Jarvis. His stats for the last fortnight are a preposterous twelve winners from 25 runners (a strike rate of 48% !!). He's also had two 2nd's, and four 3rd's.
Jarvis runs four today: Yashrid (3.10) and Cheviot (4.40) at Brighton; and, Shalfah (7.10) and Tom Wade (8.10) at Windsor.
But the main focus of my attention today will be at Wolverhampton, where I'm heading shortly.
Always De One takes on eight rivals in the 4.30 contest, and receives weight from all of them. Although ostensibly she looks a little outclassed here, she will love the trip and track, and there looks to be sufficient pace in the race to make it a proper test. That too is in her favour.
I am hopeful rather than confident that she might finish in the frame, and will of course be backing her accordingly (it's starting to get expensive!). Liam Jones takes over from Jimmy Quinn today, the latter taking a full book of rides at Redcar.
One other race of note over the weekend was the 2.50 at Worcester yesterday, where yet another notch was struck on the Handicap Chase Outsiders system bedpost. My Condor was the beast in question, one of two in the race for the system, and obliging at odds of 8/1.
Betfair SP was slightly higher, though I heard from one person who'd availed himself of 12.0 on Betfair.
I backed the Condor for a couple of quid, and I hope some of you did too.
Turning our heads forward, it's another feverish week of equine skirmishes, most notably on the Knavesmire, where the Dante meeting is the highlight.
Workforce is sure to be centre of attention on the Thursday for the Dante itself, but he might be vulnerable as there is a glut of unexposed 'could be anything' types in here.
In the Musidora on Wednesday, 'Sir' Henry bids to revive his Oaks hand when the two from two filly, Aviate, takes on all comers. She is clearly believed to be second choice of the stable at this stage but, come Wednesday evening, the 25/1 currently available might look tasty...
Finally, if you want to get ahead at York this week, I strongly urge you to take a look at Gavin Priestley's excellent Festival Trends service. I'm getting tired of receiving personal emails from Gavin gloating about his latest winner(s). Honestly, it's sickening that one man can make me feel so hopelessly inadequate (just wait til the Scrabble comes out again, Gavin!).
But, hats off and fair play to the lad, he's the only man on the planet who can rival Michael Jarvis for number of winners currently!
His run of results, which can be seen here, is nigh on stupendous.
The Festival Trends service provides fat manuals full of stats and facts, for those who like their race study 'dining' over four courses with wine. But he also provides the 'gourmet burger' option by just telling you which horses he considers to be the trends top rated, and his own exclusive 'Nag Ratings' have also been in incredible form.
I'm slightly biased because Gavin is a great mate of mine, but I do honestly think this is the HOTTEST service in Britain right now.
You can check it out here:
That's all for today - I'm off to hop on the rattler for 'a day on the beach' at Wolverhampton!