Posts

Stat of the Day, 26th September 2017

Monday's Result :

4.45 Leicester : Royal Melody @ 5/1 BOG 3rd at 7/2 : Close up, headway over 3f out, tracked leaders, ridden 2f out, kept on one pace, went 3rd close home...

Tuesday's pick goes in the...

4.45 Lingfield :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Generally, I'll identify and share the selection in the evening before the following day's race and I then add a detailed write-up later on that night/next morning.

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.

Who?

Unified @ 4/1 or 7/2 BOG

Why?

A 3 yr old filly getting a handy 4lbs weight for age allowance, as she attempts to follow up her LTO win from almost 11 weeks ago over this trip on good to form ground at Bath. Yes, she's switching to the A/W here, but Lingfield's track is arguably the quickest artificial surface in the country, so it should be quick enough for her, assuming she takes to it, of course!

She hails from an in-form yard run by Clive Cox, whose runners are 13/54 (24.1% SR) and 6/27 (22.2% SR) over the last 30 and 14 days respectively, whilst his record with LTO winners stands at 27/106 (26.5% SR) for 56.3pts (+53.1% ROI) since the start of 2016, including of interest today...

  • those ridden by Adam Kirby are 20/65 (30.8%) for 44.3pts (+68.1%)
  • 3 yr olds are 14/56 (25%) for 22.1pts (+39.4%)
  • females are 13/48 (27.1%) for 24.4pts (+50.8%)

AND...3 yr old females ridden by Adam Kirby are 6/19 (31.6% SR) for 5.92pts (+31.2% ROI).

But wait, there's more!

Since the start of 2013, Clive Cox's A/W handicappers are 39/248 (15.7% SR) for 69pts (+27.8% ROI) wit the following of particular relevance here...

  • those priced at 5/2 to 10/1 are 33/165 920%) for 83pts (+50.3%)
  • 3 yr olds are 22/110 (20%) for 54.2pts (+49.3%)
  • females are 16/105 (15.2%) for 39.4pts (+37.5%)
  • those ridden by Adam Kirby are 19/104 (18.3%) for 26.3pts (+25.3%)
  • here at Lingfield : 7/41 (17.1%) for 37.7pts (+67.5%)
  • LTO winners are 8/34 (23.5%) for 10.4pts (+30.5%)
  • over a 1m trip : 8/33 (24.2%) for 38.7pts (+117.3%)
  • and on handicap debut : 7/29 (24.1%) for 21.6pts (+74.4%)

...all justifying... a 1pt win bet on Unified @ 4/1 or 7/2 BOG, which was offered by Paddy Power and Sky Bet respectively at 5.35pm on Monday, whilst both Betfred and Totesport were at 7/2 non-BOG. They go BOG on the morning of races and I'll be settling up at Sky's 7/2. To see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply...

...click here for the betting on the 4.45 Lingfield

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats above are to Betfair SP, as I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you. I always use BOG bookies for SotD, wherever possible, but I use BFSP for the stats as it is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns I use to support my picks. If that's unclear, please ask!

Monday Musings: Better to have loved and lost?

I often wonder what the seller of a good horse feels when that animal goes on to do ever better than expected, writes Tony Stafford. What for instance were Peter Ridgers’ emotions as his one-time pride-and-joy Harry Angel stormed away with Saturday’s 32red Sprint Cup through the Haydock Park mud on Saturday?

Equally, how do David and Emma Armstrong react every time Ribchester, twice beaten in their colours after a 105k Euro purchase from the Irish National Stud, wins yet another major race, as he did in the Group 1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp (and £220,000) in the same Godolphin colours now sported by Harry Angel.

And on a similar theme, imagine the inner turmoil every time either horse turns out with their normally spectacular results in championship races, experienced by John Ferguson, the man who sourced both top-class animals for his former employers.

Ribchester was a notable coup, after those two initial second places, but as the latter had been as a 25-1 shot in the Gimcrack Stakes, the risk was probably at worst only a sporting one. Big Dave got the cash, and Godolphin the future winner of the Jersey, Jacques le Marois, Lockinge and Queen Anne before yesterday’s prize.

Harry Angel’s sourcing came in the spring after he broke Haydock’s track record with a scintillating display over the same six furlongs he graced in such devastating fashion over the weekend. He was beaten by Blue Point at Ascot before that, but gained revenge over his new ownership-mate when runner-up to Caravaggio in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot and had him well behind on Saturday.

In between, Harry Angel also avenged his Ascot reverse with Caravaggio in the July Cup at Newmarket. Cox will have been an interested observer at The Curragh yesterday when the Aidan O’Brien colt resumed winning ways (he is now seven for nine) in the Group 2 Flying Five following a messy run in Deauville’s Prix Maurice de Gheest. A summit-meeting rematch between the pair beckons with most of the momentum behind Harry Angel.

Trainers who buy at the sales – Cox acquired Harry Angel for £44,000 at Doncaster’s Premier Yearling sale – need to follow a system with so many youngsters to assess and as the trainer stated in an interview, “it helps when you know the families”.

Clive certainly knew Harry Angel’s family as he had bought the colt’s older brother Golden Journey, who also ran for Mr Ridgers, for 70,000 Euro as a yearling in Ireland. One win (at 10 furlongs) from nine runs might have been sufficient encouragement to buy him, but the eternal conundrum of race breeding is how far up the ability scale different members of a family might go. The pair may have expected more speed from a Dark Angel rather than a Nayef, but a champion sprinter, and potentially an outstanding one – probably not!

On a stellar weekend for the handler, Lady Macapa, who joined the Lambourn stable after being sold from William Knight’s team for 88,000 guineas at the end of her three-year-old season, gained her first victory for Cox in the Group 3 Prix du Petit Couvert at Chantilly, stepping up on all previous form.

Then another Cox discovery, the juvenile Snazzy Jazzy, retained his unblemished record, adding to Goodwood and Windsor victories by collecting 147,500 Euro for his defeat of 28 other juveniles in the big Tattersalls sales race at The Curragh. He cost 65,000 Euros at the qualifying auction and no doubt the trainer will have that venue high on his shopping agenda again this autumn.

Ascot holds its first full-blown yearling sale tomorrow and one colt I’ll have a metaphorical eye on is the Sepoy youngster, owner by Jack Panos, out of Anosti. Sadly, Raymond Tooth’s Tarnhelm, that colt’s half-sister has yet to win, but connections, as the saying goes, remain optimistic. Her trainer, Mark Johnston, will not be in attendance, as he has joined the annual migration to the Keeneland September sale – wish I was still able to get there – but he promised Jack when they met at Ascot on Saturday, that he’ll have him looked at.

Your first 30 days for just £1

Not everything that Clive Cox gets his hands on automatically goes over the line in front, and Raymond’s first meeting with him the previous day, also at Ascot, preceded a last of ten finish for his giant home-bred colt, Nelson River. Predictably green, he finished a satisfactory 10 lengths or so behind the winner, Herculean, one of three sons of Frankel that offered great optimism for the future over the long weekend.

Herculean, a big, flashy chestnut home-bred of Khalid Abdullah’s, trained by Roger Charlton, carried plenty of cash and strong recommendations before the race. He came home comfortably ahead of another Frankel product, Wadilsafa, trained by Owen Burrows. Ryan Moore, at the start of what might have been, for others less sanguine, a traumatic weekend, reported him a fine prospect, and it didn’t take long for talk of the Classics to emanate from the bookmakers and media. Then yesterday Elarqam justified Johnston stable confidence with a fluent debut victory at York.

No doubt that elusive Group 1 will soon be forthcoming for the stallion and quite possibly from Cracksman, who did his Arc de Triomphe prospects no harm with an albeit routine (and slow) win in yesterday’s Prix Niel at Chantilly.

There was more substance to the Prix Vermeille success of French-trained Bateel and she could emerge as a longish-price each-way shot on October 1. It seems the Arc is on the agenda again for Order of St George, third last year, and now a dual Irish St Leger winner having possibly been the recipient of Ryan’s general ire when driven well clear to win unchallenged.

Having been mugged late on in the Matron on Winter by 20-1 stablemate Hydrangea, and similarly foiled close home by another former mount, Happily, on Magical in the Moyglare yesterday, he seemed not in the mood for similar frustration on the champion stayer. It probably would not have mattered if Big Orange had stood his ground, and those of us who could not believe “George” had not picked up Michael Bell’s favourite at Royal Ascot, felt reassured here.

Another of Ryan’s weekend reverses came behind a Frankel, namely Nelson, trained by Aidan for ‘the lads’. Ryan was on the favourite, Delano Roosevelt, but was never going well enough as the winner set a strong pace. No doubt he’ll be on this nice colt next time.

Going back to Ascot Friday, we got plenty of encouragement going forward to longer trips for Nelson River. When Alan Spence saw him at the stable Open Day in the spring, he suggested we’d have to wait at least until the autumn. Isn’t it annoying when someone tells you something unsolicited and is proved right?

Of course, Mr Spence was another beneficiary of John Ferguson’s talent spotting for his old boss, Sheikh Mohammed and apparently is still counting the notes from the sale of Profitable last year. He smiled when Priceless, still in his colours, finished ahead of the older horse when they were fifth and sixth in the Nunthorpe. Has he booked that cover to Galileo yet, or will it be Frankel?

On a slightly lower level, Ray’s lightly-raced filly Betty Grable runs off bottom weight at Catterick (0-80) tomorrow and do not be surprised if she proves competitive. I’ll be there rather than Ascot or Keeneland and Wilf has done well to get Sammy Jo Bell to ride at 7st13lb. The old boy’s playing a big part in her rehabilitation after that bad injury.

- Tony Stafford

Enable to be crowned Queen at Ascot

John Gosden has tasted success in two of the last half-dozen King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and saddles the favourite for tomorrow’s race.

Enable is the daughter of his 2011 winner Nathaniel, and is looking to emulate his 2014 heroine Taghrooda, by landing this after success in the Epsom Oaks. Should she add her name to an illustrious roll of honour, she will become only the third filly to do so in more than 30 years.

She arrives having already romped to a pair of Oaks victories, with her last success at the Curragh particularly eye-catching. She’s a powerful traveller, with bags of speed and plenty of stamina. At Epsom in June, she outstayed the classy Ballydoyle filly Rhododendron, storming clear inside the final furlong. The older colts in the race must give her a stone, and that looks a tall order. She’s yet to encounter soft ground, though her dam was at her best in testing conditions. She has the look of a superstar. This race should tell us if she is.

Several outstanding colts lie in wait, with last year’s winner Highland Reel sure to prove a mighty challenger. The five-year-old has nine victories from 23 career starts, with six of those coming at Group One level. He was last seen winning the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, when finding plenty for pressure to pull clear of Decorated Knight and Ulysses. That came at 1m2f, though he is no less effective at a mile and a half, as last year’s victory showed. He went on to finish runner-up in the Arc behind stablemate Found, before travelling to America and winning the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

A nagging concern that many share over Highland Reel, is his record when the ground becomes more testing. He is yet to win any race when the surface becomes good to soft or worse, with poor performances coming at Leopardstown, Sha Tin and Meydan. My Dream Boat was ahead of him in last year’s Irish Champion, and I’m confident that wouldn’t happen on a sounder surface. He certainly takes to Ascot, having won twice from three visits, with the only defeat an unfortunate one, when his jockey dropped the whip during a driving finish.

Only a fool would discount the chances of O’Brien’s colt, and he’s developed into an outstanding international performer. But the doubts remain over his effectiveness on the ground.

Those same concerns can be levelled at the vastly improved Ulysses. Sir Michael Stoute’s four-year-old won the Coral-Eclipse earlier this month, though looked no match for Highland Reel in the Prince Of Wales’s the time before. He’s certainly progressive, but is thought to be at his best on a quicker surface. He’s a strong traveller through a race, but in a tussle between the pair, I’d be siding with Highland Reel.

Your first 30 days for just £1

Jack Hobbs was behind the pair at Royal Ascot, in what can only be described as a disappointing performance. The ground was undoubtedly quicker than ideal that day, and he was far more impressive in Dubai when winning the Sheema Classic on rain-softened ground. Injury curtailed his four-year-old campaign, and there’s a worry that he is not quite the same horse as when winning the Irish Derby so impressively in 2015. He did run a cracker at the end of last year, when third to Almanzor and Found in the Champion Stakes at Ascot. He has a strong performance in his locker, but is unreliable. On a going day, he’s a serious contender.

More rain would certainly bring My Dream Boat into the picture. Just shy of top class, the Clive Cox trained five-year-old is nevertheless a Group One winner, having lifted the Prince Of Wales’s on soft ground in 2016. He defeated Found that day, and a performance of that level would see him going close tomorrow. He ran well in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud earlier this month, and with conditions to suit has a much better chance than his 28/1 price suggests.

One that has been supported in the market, is Aidan O’Brien’s second-string Idaho. A full-brother to Highland Reel, this fella is thought to be less ground dependant. He won the Hardwicke Stakes last time, proving himself a powerful galloping sort, rather than a colt with gears. He was third to Harzand in the Epsom Derby last year, and runner-up to the same horse in the Irish version. Likely to have strengthened and improved since then, I remain uncertain as to whether he has enough class to win this. The ground will certainly help, and he looks a decent each-way proposition.

I fancy that Godolphin could have another serious contender in the three-year-old Benbatl. He was fifth in the Derby, despite being tailed-off at one stage, and clearly struggling with the track. He then won the Group Three Hampton Court at Royal Ascot, seeing off Ballydoyle’s Orderofthegarter. That form wouldn’t be good enough to win this, but I fancy he’ll handle the ground, being out of a Selkirk mare, and his three-year-old weight allowance is a huge plus. He’s lightly raced, and should be open to plenty of improvement. His odds of 25/1 look quite generous, and I’m keen on his chances.

Along with many others, I’m a huge Enable fan, and I fancy that she’ll win well. There’s plenty of dangers lurking in this quality field, but I’ll be taking a chance on Benbatl to land the each-way flutter. Best of luck to those having a punt.

Ryan’s Filly has the dash – to land Weatherbys Super Sprint cash

The Weatherbys Super Sprint takes place at Newbury on Saturday, with 25 runners going to post.

Established in 1991, the five-furlong dash is open to juveniles, with weight allocated depending on the sale price of the horse. Clive Cox took the main event a week ago with speedster Harry Angel, and he has the top weight for this valuable renewal, with Snazzy Jazzy. The son of Red Jazz looked decent when successful on debut at Goodwood, though the third placed finisher has failed to frank the form since. The stable is certainly flying at present, but with just one career outing Snazzy J is hard to assess.

Despite large fields of inexperienced juveniles, the race has favoured fancied runners in recent times. Only three of the last 10 winners went off at odds greater than 10/1. Saturday’s favourite looks sure to be Maggies Angel trained by Richard Fahey. With two victories in the last four years, the Malton handler has pitched five arrows at the valuable target. Maggie has a win and a pair of runners-up finishes from four starts, and was last seen running a cracker in listed company. With just 8-6 on her back, and fillies taking three of the last five renewals, she looks to have a decent chance.

Fahey also has Bengali Boys, a colt who is yet to be out the first two in his three career starts. He lost out to David O’Meara’s Chatburn last time, and the winner went on to run respectably behind Cardsharp. That form has a strong look to it, and this fella looks a live contender.

Corinthia Knight is another with several decent displays to his name. Trained in Lambourn by an in-form Archie Watson, the son of Society Rock ran respectably at Royal Ascot behind Sound Of Silence. He’d previously chased home Frozen Angel, and prior to that had landed a couple of races on the all-weather. He showed plenty of speed last time, and Newbury may prove more suitable than Ascot. I quite like the look of him and fancy he’ll go close.

Connery and Pursuing The Dream have splashes of form, and clashed at Bath earlier this month. The former came out best, though the latter appeared to struggle with the track. Pursuing The Dream was a dazzling sixth in the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot, and a repeat of that performance would undoubtedly see her go close.

Your first 30 days for just £1

Kevin Ryan has an interesting contender in Falabelle. She’s only raced the once, when nabbed late on at the stiff track of Carlisle. She’d been a little keen that day, and probably should have won. She should improve plenty for the experience, and if coping with the large field could run a huge race. A daughter of Choisir, she showed plenty of speed, and Newbury should suit. Ryan’s no mug with sprinters, and this filly could be useful.

Juvenile races are always tough to call. With little form in the book, and horses progressing both physically and mentally, this type of race is probably one to be left well alone. But where’s the fun in that?

Richard Fahey clearly targets this race with his youngsters, and he’s likely to go close again. But I’ll be having a small wager on the Archie Watson trained Corinthia Knight and Kevin Ryan’s Falabelle. The former looks to have strong claims on a solid Royal Ascot performance, whilst the latter showed plenty of potential on debut at Carlisle.

Best of luck to all those taking a punt on this one. You’ll certainly need it.

An eye on a Juvenile – Fillies

During this rather quiet period, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on the juvenile division, especially after witnessing several promising performances at Newmarket’s July Festival.

I’m starting with the female of the species, and arguably the most impressive two-year-old display of the weekend. The rapidly improving Clemmie, trained by Aidan O’Brien, powered clear in the latter stages to win the Group Two Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes. Still looking a little green at times, it took her a while to get into top gear. She looks a relentless galloper, rather than a filly with gears, and the stiff final furlong at Newmarket certainly suited. She’s currently second favourite for next year’s 1000 Guineas despite being beaten by more than four lengths at Royal Ascot just a few weeks back. She’s clearly a classy sort, and looks the type to continue improving with racing. Though I fancy she’ll become next season’s Roly Poly, rather than a Ballydoyle Winter or Rhododendron.

Her stoutly bred stable companion September, heads the Guineas market after her romp in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot. By Japan’s outstanding stallion Deep Impact, out of Irish Oaks winner Peeping Fawn, her pedigree is exceptional, though points to stamina rather than speed. It’s no surprise to also see her heading the market for next year’s Epsom Oaks, and that sort of trip looks likely to prove her optimum. Unbeaten in just two career starts, her next outing is eagerly anticipated.

Another exciting Irish filly is the Jess Harrington trained Alpha Centauri. She was runner-up to the French filly Different League in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot, with Clemmie further back in seventh. The front pair were some way clear that day, and possibly had something of an edge on the maturity front. Both are physically imposing, and that advantage in stature is sure to change as the season unfolds. A clash in Ireland with Clemmie or September is highly likely for Harrington’s filly, and would further help assess the progression of these two-year-olds. I fancy that Alpha Centauri’s early season advantage may well evaporate.

Your first 30 days for just £1

Different League is trained in France by Matthieu Palussiere, who was formerly an assistant in Ireland to Mick Halford. The filly is by French stallion Dabirsim, himself an exceptional juvenile who captured the Prix Morny and the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere. It’s impossible to say whether we’ll see her back on our shores, though she is priced up for next season’s 1000 Guineas. The Prix Morny was touted as a possible short-term target.

Clive Cox is having another season to remember, and has an exciting filly, in Royal Ascot winner Heartache. She’s a sprinter, and looked exceptional when thrashing 22 others in the Group Two Queen Mary. Likely to head for the Lowther at York, Cox will be hoping she can progress in a similar fashion to his outstanding sprinter Harry Angel. She’s a way to go to become that good, though the initial signs are promising.

Other classy fillies are sure to be unearthed during the summer, with Ballydoyle more than likely to add to their classy pair of Clemmie and September. It would also come as a surprise should Godolphin not have several potential stars in their midst. Charlie Appleby has plenty of juveniles set to make their debuts in the coming weeks, including smartly bred fillies Piccola Collina, Lunar Maria and Dubhe.

Flash Harry can dash to Commonwealth Glory

Short on history, but huge on impact, the Commonwealth Cup has proved a major success at the Royal Meeting.

The Group One was introduced in 2015, and aimed at those classy three-year-olds that possessed plenty of speed, but perhaps not quite the stamina to see out a mile and thereby challenge for the St James’s Palace. It also ensured that these relatively inexperienced youngsters were not thrown in at the deep end, and forced into taking on their seniors in the Diamond Jubilee. Some argue that this has diminished the quality of the latter, though few three-year-olds had managed to capture the race in recent times, with Kingsgate Native and Art Connoisseur the only winners since the turn of the century.

Muhaarar won the inaugural running of the Commonwealth Cup for trainer Charlie Hills and owner Hamdan Al Maktoum. He’d finished down the field in the French Guineas, but back at six-furlongs proved a revelation. Limato and Profitable were left in his wake at Ascot in a stunning performance. He then went to Newmarket, and in a thrilling finish got up late to win the Darley July Cup. Next came a trip to France, and a stunning success in the Prix Maurice de Gheest, defeating Andre Fabre’s Esoterique. He completed a scintillating campaign with victory back at Ascot on Champions Day.

Last year’s Commonwealth winner, Quiet Reflection, also came from the top-drawer. She had proved far too good for a strong field in the Sandy Lane at Haydock, romping home by more than three lengths. Sent off favourite at Royal Ascot, she swept to the front inside the final furlong to defeat Kachy and Washington DC. She then ran with great credit in the Darley July Cup, finishing third to Limato on ground that was undoubtedly too quick for her. But arguably her finest performance came back at Haydock, when thumping a strong field in the Group One Sprint Cup. Over the top by the time Champions Day came around, she remains a top-class sprinter, especially with conditions to suit.

And so to this year’s renewal, and what looks to be a thrilling clash between the ‘usual suspects’ of Godolphin and Ballydoyle.

Aidan O’Brien trains market leader, and thus far the undefeated Caravaggio. An outstanding juvenile, and impressive on seasonal debut at three, he looks to have all the attributes to become a top-class sprinter. He’s by American stallion Scat Daddy, which suggests ground conditions will prove ideal. His pedigree does hint at him being effective over further, though the team had Churchill pencilled in for the Classics at a mile. He’s a powerfully built colt, and was impressive in winning the Coventry Stakes last year, when forging clear late-on. He’ll be putting in his best work in the latter stages, and if close enough will take some holding.

Your first 30 days for just £1

Godolphin have a dynamic duo in opposition, in the shape of Blue Point and Harry Angel. The former was also a high-class juvenile, capturing the Group Two Gimcrack Stakes, and runner-up in both the Richmond and the Middle Park. He lost out to Churchill and Lancaster Bomber on his final start last year, when looking a non-stayer at seven furlongs. His return to action in May at Ascot was impressive, when staying on strongly to beat the Clive Cox trained Harry Angel. He was in receipt of 4lbs from the runner-up that day, and I fancy those placings will be reversed.

Harry Angel then went to Haydock, and like Quiet Reflection a year earlier, scorched his way to victory in the Sandy Lane in a lightning quick time. Purchased by Godolphin, he is likely to be the biggest danger to Caravaggio, and is quite possibly a speedier colt. He’s by Dark Angel, a source of numerous top-class sprinters including Mecca’s Angel, and Lethal Force. There’s no doubting his liking of fast ground, as proved at Haydock. I fancy he’ll be streaking ahead at some point, and it will then be a case of holding off a fast finishing Caravaggio.

Bound For Nowhere is Wes Ward’s representative, and it’s impossible to dismiss anything the American runs at Royal Ascot. He’s already sent-out a pair of winners this week, though this fella is a very inexperienced racehorse, and this looks a huge ask at this stage of his career. He has just two runs under his belt, his last coming in a three-runner affair at Keeneland. He’s clearly showing enough at home to warrant an entry, but his odds of 8/1 are based on the trainer’s name rather than on-course evidence.

One that could out-run his odds is Aidan O’Brien’s second-string Intelligence Cross. On all known form, he’ll probably come-up just short. But he’s a War Front colt, and as such will likely love the track, trip and ground. He ran well in the Middle Park as a juvenile, and was staying on strongly at Navan last time, proving his well-being. He’s been outpaced at times in the past, but I’d expect him to be finishing with a rattle, and he’s currently available at 33s.

It’s a cracking renewal, and I’ll be siding with Godolphin’s Harry Angel to hold off the fast finishing Ballydoyle pair for victory. Intelligence Cross has to be the each-way punt at 33/1. Best of luck to those having a punt.

A need for Speed – Cox youngsters Shine

Clive Cox unveiled another classy sprinter yesterday at Royal Ascot, with juvenile filly Heartache scorching the turf to take the Queen Mary Stakes.

Lady Aurelia romped to victory in this race 12 months ago, and Wes Ward had the short-priced favourite once again. But Happy Like A Fool could not withstand the finishing burst from the Cox youngster, and went down by a little over two lengths.

Cox enthused: “That was very good and it means a lot to me. She's very special and she did it really well at Bath and I could not believe the time when they announced it. She's no different from the rest of mine in that they improve with their racing. We won a Listed race with her mum (Place In My Heart), so this is very special, watching it with the owners as there's all manner of people here. It's a proper achievement.”

The trainer went on: “She's easy to train, she's got a good temperament but we're not quite sure how good she is. I was a bit worried when I saw the American filly as she looked pretty awesome walking around the paddock. Adam rode her with complete confidence and he's a pretty good fellow in the saddle. These are the stars of the future and she certainly is. We'll enjoy today as she could be that good and go for the Nunthorpe.”

The victory followed on from a terrific opening day performance from Profitable in the King’s Stand, and an eye-catching run from Prince Of The Dark in the Coventry. The latter is by Lethal Force, a mighty grey, who became arguably Cox’s supreme stable inmate. He too was beaten in the Coventry Stakes as a juvenile, when finishing fourth in 2011. In 2012 he filled the same spot in the Jersey Stakes at the Royal Meeting, but as a four-year-old in 2013 Lethal Force found his niche, as a high-class sprinter.

When dropped back to six furlongs, the grey put in several stunning performances, including victory in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot. He followed up with another power-packed performance to win the Darley July Cup at Newmarket, before losing out to the French heroine Moonlight Cloud in the Prix Maurice de Gheest. Whether Prince Of The Dark can make such a progression over time remains to be seen, and is probably unlikely, but I for one was taken by his performance on the opening day.

Your first 30 days for just £1

Cox certainly excels in handling such speedsters, and has another interesting contender in today’s Norfolk Stakes, with Koditime. He looked the likely winner last time at Newbury, before finding soft ground sapping his energy late-on. He’s a beautiful mover, and I fancy the fast ground and stiff Ascot five-furlong will prove ideal. He’s by Kodiac, who’s often a source of lightning fast juveniles.

On Friday attention turns to another flying machine, in Godolphin’s new-recruit, Harry Angel. Simply scintillating when storming to success in the Sandy Lane at Haydock last time, he’d previously been unable to give 4lbs to Godolphin owned Blue Point at Ascot on his seasonal return. Both are tasked with defeating Ballydoyle’s Caravaggio in the Commonwealth Cup. And it’s Cox that may well hold the Ace.

Aidan O’Brien’s colt remains undefeated, and was impressive in his return at Naas. He’s by Scat Daddy, and ought to appreciate the quicker ground at Ascot. But it was hard not to be mightily impressed by Harry Angel at Haydock. He has such raw speed, there’ll likely be a stage when he gets away from the pack. Whether he can keep Caravaggio at bay is the question. O’Brien’s colt is likely to be charging late-on.

It’s an intriguing renewal, and another opportunity for Clive Cox to feast at the top-table. The likes of Harry Angel, Profitable and Heartache should ensure the summer remains a sunny one for Cox and his team.

Signs are positive for French King’s Stand Success

We must give thanks to Queen Anne, who in 1711 decided that a racecourse at Ascot would be nice, and so Royal Ascot was born.

It’s the pomp and ceremony that sets the Royal Meeting apart from all other sporting events. The Queen and other members of the Royal family arrive each day, carried down the centre of the racecourse in horse-drawn carriages. In the enclosures, racegoers are dressed in their finery, with gentlemen sporting top hat and tails, whilst ladies adorn that ‘show-stopping’ outfit, often crowned by a spectacular hat or fascinator.

I like a hat as much as the next person, and to be honest I quite like getting the old ‘glad rags’ on. But that’s probably as much chat about fashion as I can stand, so I’ll turn my attention to the main topic of interest; the top-class racing that takes place over the five glorious days, and in particular the King’s Stand Stakes on the opening day.

The Group One sprint run over five-furlongs tends to attract an international contingent, and indeed in recent times has been won by horses trained in Hong Kong, Australia and France. That international flavour continues this year, with the market leader part of a Wes Ward raiding party from America.

Lady Aurelia produced one of the most dazzling performances at last year’s meeting, when scooting clear for a seven-length success in the Queen Mary. Visually stunning, the time of her victory was also noteworthy. It’s fair to say that she beat an ordinary looking field, and it’s likely that she coped best with the soft ground conditions. There’s also a concern that the form of the remainder of her juvenile campaign has failed to stack-up.

She defeated Peace Envoy in Deauville, and he’s disappointed since. She failed to see-out the six-furlong trip of the Cheveley Park (reported to have burst blood vessel), and of the pair that beat her that day, Roly Poly has finished down the field in this year’s Nell Gwyn, sixth in the French Guineas, and a well beaten runner-up in the Irish Guineas. The point being made, is that Lady Aurelia’s juvenile form looks rather suspect. As good as she looked at last year’s Royal meeting, she still has plenty to prove, and remains something of an unknown quantity.

The same cannot be said for Marsha, who is currently closing in at the top of the market. The four-year-old filly took the Abbaye at Chantilly in October, and returned to the track with a win in the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket in May. That race has often proved a strong pointer to the King’s Stand, and there’s little doubt that Sir Mark Prestcott’s filly is mightily progressive. She had to overcome a 4lb penalty at Newmarket, making the performance all the more eye-catching. She looks sure to go close on Tuesday.

Your first 30 days for just £1

The last filly or mare to take the King’s Stand was Miss Andretti in 2007, and we have a trio toward the head of the market for this year’s renewal. The third was behind Marsha at Newmarket, but came out and won the Temple Stakes at Haydock. Priceless is another fast improving four-year-old, trained by Clive Cox, who took this race last year with Profitable. She’s a rapid starter, and will probably find herself upfront with Lady Aurelia during the early stages. It’ll be interesting to see if the pair take each other on, and set the race up for a fast finisher. I have my doubts as to whether Priceless is quite good enough to win this, though I fancy she’ll go close.

Signs Of Blessing is another that likes to run from the front, though the fact he has form over six-furlongs could prove a factor in his favour. He came close to taking the Diamond Jubilee last year, when looking to run out of steam in the last 100 yards. Equiano won this for France in 2008, and I fancy this fella has a huge chance to add to that success. He looked the winner of the Champions Sprint in October, before again faltering late-on, and I fancy this drop back in trip will prove ideal. His seasonal return at Deauville in May was outstanding, when giving weight and beating to a strong looking field. He appears adaptable with regards to ground, and he’s sure to go close.

The likely fast ground will be ideal for 2015 winner Goldream. He was just behind Priceless last time at Haydock (when getting a shocking start), and I fancy he’ll reverse those placings on Tuesday. Whether at eight he remains quick enough to win this again is questionable, though his trainer, Robert Cowell, says he has him better than ever. Cowell has a fabulous record at Royal Ascot, and had a pair of winners at the meeting last year. The front runners could set this up for him, and he’s another with a great chance.

Profitable, Muthmir and Washington DC are all capable of placing, though I wouldn’t fancy any of the trio to claim the top prize. Profitable needs rain to have a chance of repeating last year’s win, whilst Muthmir and Washington DC have often come-up just short at the highest level.

The last favourite to prevail was Scenic Blast in 2009, and I’ll be taking on Lady Aurelia, though it would not surprise me should she storm to victory. Nevertheless, there’s enough doubts surrounding her form on the track to put me off. I fancy Signs Of Blessing to land the prize for France. I’m convinced that five-furlongs at Ascot will prove ideal, and that he’ll have enough in reserve to last home in what is set to be a lightning renewal. Marsha could prove the greatest danger, though Goldream has to be the each-way play for Sprint King Cowell.

Best of luck to all those having a punt.

Stat of the Day, 5th June 2017

Saturday's Result :

5.55 Hexham : Heart O Annandale @ 7/2 BOG Led, headed before 5th, reminders before 4 out, weakened before 2 out.

Monday's pick goes in the...

8.10 Windsor...

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Generally, I'll identify and share the selection in the evening before the following day's race and I then add a detailed write-up later on that night/next morning.

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.

Who?

Blitz @ 11/2 BOG

Why?

A 3 yr old filly trained by Clive Cox, whose yard is in good form of late, rattling up 7 winners from 22 in the past fortnight and who also has a good record here at Windsor with 28 winners from 122 (23% SR) for 33.8pts (+27.7% ROI) profit from blindly backing all his runners here.

Your first 30 days for just £1

And of those 122...

  • 2-6 yr olds are 28/118 (23.7%) for 37.8pts (+32%)
  • at class 3-5 : 27/115 (23.5%) for 38.15pts (+33.2%)
  • at odds of 12/1 and shorter : 28/100 (28%) for 55.8pts (+55.8%)
  • on Good & Good to Firm ground : 24/89 (27%) for 49.8pts (+56%)
  • and with just 0-2 runs that season : 24/87 (27.6%) for 55.9pts (+64.2%)

AND...2-6 yr olds at class 3-5 at odds of 12/1 and shorter on Good & Good to Firm ground with just 0-2 runs that season = 20/54 (37% SR) for 70.8pts (+131.1% ROI), and of these 54 runners for your Clive Cox Windsor micro...

  • handicappers are 11/29 (37.9%) for 42.3pts (+146%)
  • 3 yr olds are 8/25 (32%) for 29.8pts (+119.1%)
  • on Good to Firm : 11/22 (50%) for 44.4pts (+202%)
  • and at Class 4 : 5/14 (35.7%) for 15.4pts (+110.3%)

...supporting...a 1pt win bet on Blitz11/2 BOG which was quite widely available at 7.00pm on Sunday, but those able to take the 6/1 BOG offered by Betfred/Totesport (two tails of the same dog), would be advised to do so. To see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply...

...click here for the betting on the 8.10 Windsor

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats are to Betfair SP, as (i) I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you and (ii) although inferior to the BOG odds we secure, BFSP is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns quoted.

Stat of the Day, 5th June 2017

Saturday's Result :

5.55 Hexham : Heart O Annandale @ 7/2 BOG Led, headed before 5th, reminders before 4 out, weakened before 2 out.

Monday's pick goes in the...

8.10 Windsor...

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Generally, I'll identify and share the selection in the evening before the following day's race and I then add a detailed write-up later on that night/next morning.

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.

Who?

Blitz @ 11/2 BOG

Why?

A 3 yr old filly trained by Clive Cox, whose yard is in good form of late, rattling up 7 winners from 22 in the past fortnight and who also has a good record here at Windsor with 28 winners from 122 (23% SR) for 33.8pts (+27.7% ROI) profit from blindly backing all his runners here.

And of those 122...

  • 2-6 yr olds are 28/118 (23.7%) for 37.8pts (+32%)
  • at class 3-5 : 27/115 (23.5%) for 38.15pts (+33.2%)
  • at odds of 12/1 and shorter : 28/100 (28%) for 55.8pts (+55.8%)
  • on Good & Good to Firm ground : 24/89 (27%) for 49.8pts (+56%)
  • and with just 0-2 runs that season : 24/87 (27.6%) for 55.9pts (+64.2%)

AND...2-6 yr olds at class 3-5 at odds of 12/1 and shorter on Good & Good to Firm ground with just 0-2 runs that season = 20/54 (37% SR) for 70.8pts (+131.1% ROI), and of these 54 runners for your Clive Cox Windsor micro...

  • handicappers are 11/29 (37.9%) for 42.3pts (+146%)
  • 3 yr olds are 8/25 (32%) for 29.8pts (+119.1%)
  • on Good to Firm : 11/22 (50%) for 44.4pts (+202%)
  • and at Class 4 : 5/14 (35.7%) for 15.4pts (+110.3%)

...supporting...a 1pt win bet on Blitz11/2 BOG which was quite widely available at 7.00pm on Sunday, but those able to take the 6/1 BOG offered by Betfred/Totesport (two tails of the same dog), would be advised to do so. To see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply...

...click here for the betting on the 8.10 Windsor

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats are to Betfair SP, as (i) I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you and (ii) although inferior to the BOG odds we secure, BFSP is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns quoted.

Winter looks a Summer Sensation

Saturday saw a Churchill masterclass, as O’Brien’s latest star swept to a Classic double with a two-length victory in the Irish 2000 Guineas.

Godolphin’s Thunder Snow proved the toughest nut to crack, but was overhauled a furlong from home. Conditions at the Curragh were far more testing than at Newmarket a month ago, but Churchill confirmed the racing adage, that the best ones can ‘go in any ground’. It was a decent performance from Thunder Snow in second, and he looks set to have another crack at the Ballydoyle charge in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

O'Brien was clearly thrilled with the performance, saying: “He's a great horse and we're delighted with him. He sleeps, he relaxes and he quickens. He's a very exciting horse. The ground was a concern, but Donnacha (O'Brien) rides him in all his work and he said it'd be no problem, so that gave us great confidence to keep going. He's brave and versatile. Ground and trip all come alike to him and he has a lovely demeanour. He saves all the petrol, and when you ask him to quicken he quickens.”

And of the next move, O’Brien confirmed: “Coming here we were thinking we'd go from here to Ascot and he'll probably go for the St James's Palace Stakes. He'd have no problem stepping up to 10 furlongs later in the year. He's so relaxed and chilled.”

Ballydoyle’s imperious start to the campaign continued yesterday, when Winter added the Irish 1000 Guineas to her Newmarket success. This was a stunning performance from the filly, proving that the victory at HQ was no flash-in-the-pan. She cruised through the race, and picked off the leaders at the two-furlong mark. She powered clear under a hands-and-heels drive from Ryan Moore, winning eased down by just shy of five lengths.

It was quite striking at how powerful she looked among the field of eight. This was a display of complete dominance, visually every bit as impressive as Churchill 24 hours earlier. O’Brien was similarly impressed, when saying: “She's maturing all the time and is a really strong traveller. When Ryan let her down today she went into overdrive. She'll probably get further than a mile but the Coronation Stakes will be next, once her owners agree. All going well we'll have plenty of options. Do we stick to a mile and go for the Falmouth or wait and step her up in distance in the Nassau? All those decisions are ahead of us.”

It takes plenty to get Ryan Moore excited, but his comments suggested this filly could be special: “It was very easy and she gave me a lovely ride. I couldn't have been more impressed with her – she was relentless and it rode like a piece of work for her. She's a very good filly. She's stepped forward from each of her runs and there's no reason why she won't keep on progressing.”

Whilst O’Brien’s dominance shows no sign of waning, the team did suffer a blow with news of an injury to Minding, forcing her to miss the Tattersalls Gold Cup on Sunday. She joins Seventh Heaven on the sidelines until later in the season. The pair are arguably the best fillies around, and though the yard is overflowing with talent, these two are sure to be missed over the summer. It’s hoped that they’ll be back on track for an autumn campaign.

Over at Haydock on Saturday, the fillies were also making the headlines, with Priceless a gutsy winner of the Group 2 Temple Stakes. Quick out the blocks, she was always prominent, and powered to the front at the two-furlong pole. Kept up to her work by Adam Kirby, she held off the fast finishing Goldream, with Alpha Delphini in third. The victory completed a Group 2 double on the day for trainer Clive Cox, having landed the Sandy Lane Stakes thanks to a stunning performance from Harry Angel.

Your first 30 days for just £1

Cox was winning back-to-back Temple’s, following the victory of Profitable under the same ownership 12 months ago. He went on to win the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot the following month.

A clearly delighted trainer spoke of the progressive filly, saying: “She's just getting better and better. Since we dropped her back to five furlongs she's just improved and taken a step up. She was very green in her younger days and we tried to stretch her out in trip, but bringing her back to five (furlongs) has been the making of her.”
Of Ascot he added: “It will be the King's Stand next, along with Profitable. Alan (Spence, owner and Chelsea director) is obviously at the Cup Final but I'm delighted to win this for him again as he's been a huge supporter. She's making up into a really strong filly and it's uncanny to win the same race again.”

Goldream may have proven a slightly unfortunate loser, having made a tardy start before flying at the finish. Should the ground be similarly quick at Ascot, connections will be confident of a bold show from the King’s Stand winner of 2015.

The disappointment of the race, though somewhat unsurprisingly, was the Karl Burke trained filly Quiet Reflection. The combination of minimum trip and fast ground took her out of her comfort zone. A rather sluggish start didn’t help, and she was stuck at the back of the field throughout.

Yesterday, her trainer appeared defiant, and far from disillusioned by her performance, when saying: “I came very close to pulling her out yesterday and heading to Chantilly next weekend, but you don't know what the ground will be like in a week's time and we decided to let her take her chance. She's not a five-furlong filly, at least we know that for sure now, and it ended up being a racecourse gallop.

“In hindsight, we probably should have run her in the Greenlands Stakes at the Curragh with the way the ground went there on Saturday, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. The main thing is she's got that run in now, which we wanted, she's come out of it well and we'll head for Royal Ascot. I was happy with how she ran and so was Martin (Harley). He said he felt she was just picking up in the last 100 yards after getting her second wind and another furlong will make a big difference.”

There’s no doubting that a step up to six-furlongs is sure to see Quiet Reflection at her best, though ground will also prove a crucial factor in her performance at the Royal Meeting.

For now attention turns to Epsom, as we gear-up for the Oaks and the Derby. Can O’Brien continue his dominance of the Classics, or can John Gosden apply the brakes to this Ballydoyle Juggernaut?

Stat of the Day, 2nd May 2017

Monday's Result :

2.50 Bath : Poets Society @ 4/1 BOG 4th at 4/1 Led, ridden and headed over 1f out, stayed on

Tuesday's pick goes in the...

2.30 Brighton...

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Generally, I'll identify and share the selection in the evening before the following day's race and I then add a detailed write-up later on that night/next morning.

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.

Who?

Foxcatcher11/4 BOG

Why?

A 3 yr old filly who was a winner by 2.5 lengths in this grade at Windsor when last seen some 197 days ago.

She's trained by Clive Cox whose runners have 4 wins and 3 places from 15 in the last fortnight and 8 wins/5 places from 28 over the past month, so the yard is in good current form, whilst here at Brighton over the last three seasons, the team are 7 from 22 (31.8% SR) for 12.62pts (+57.4% ROI), including...

  • his only runner at the track : 5/12 (41.7%) for 14.67pts (+122.3%)
  • females : 4/12 (33.3%) for 11.21 pts (+93.4%)
  • Class 5 : 4/12 (33.3%) for 6.92pts (+57.6%)
  • on Good ground : 2/8 (25%) for 6.44pts (+80.4%)
  • only runner of the day : 4/6 (66.6%) for 18.42pts (+306.9%)
  • and those returning from a break of 5 to 8 months are 2 from 3 (66.6%) for 2.71pts (+90.3%)

On top of that, Clive's LTO winners are 17/62 (27.4% SR) for 53.9pts (+85.3% ROI) over the last 12 months and of those 62 runners...

  • 3 yr olds are 10/36 (27.8%) for 25.6pts (+71%)
  • females are 9/28 (32.1%) for 28pts (+100%)
  • and at Class 5 : 5/14 (35.7%) for 2.22pts (+15.9%)

AND...3 yr old females running at Class 5 won 3 of 6 (50% SR) for 4.8pts (+80.0% ROI) profit...

...pointing towards...a 1pt win bet on Foxcatcher11/4 BOG which was widely available at 7.45pm on Monday, but to see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply...

...click here for the betting on the 2.30 Brighton

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats are to Betfair SP, as (i) I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you and (ii) although inferior to the BOG odds we secure, BFSP is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns quoted.

Monday Musings: Looking Forward, via Memory Lane

The weather men have never forgotten October 1987 and the unexpected hurricane that felled half the trees in the South of England, writes Tony Stafford. The Dewhurst Stakes had to be postponed by a day at Newmarket and I still recall the gaps in the treeline on the last leg from Six Mile Bottom, past Lordship Stud up to the roundabout by the National Stud and July Course when I drove along the next day.

Now every hint of a breath of wind from the Atlantic is viewed with utter suspicion by the forecasters. Last Thursday’s wee drop of Doris did cause some inconvenience in terms of wind speed, but less structural damage - nothing like what was predicted.

I spent the previous morning visiting two Berkshire stables I’d never previously seen. First it was to Beechdown Farm, Lambourn, owned and built by John Francome and professional home to Clive Cox throughout his now 18 seasons’ training. Then it was on, after a last-minute call, to West Ilsley, base for pretty much all of this century for Mick Channon.

The boss, Ray Tooth, has three “new” trainers for this season’s two-year-old intake, with both Channon and Cox joining the roster, along with Chris Wall. When asked whether he would like a two-year-old, Mick Channon said he’d be delighted. “I had one horse a while ago for Ray, and he wasn’t much good”. We’re hoping for better.

The Cox visit was pre-planned, its object to see the progress of the home-bred colt, called Nelson River, by Mount Nelson out of the winning mare, I Say. He’d had two easy days before Wednesday after possibly getting cast, so he did a canter limited to a short burst up the straight, but satisfied his onlooking trainer as we raced alongside in the jeep.

The rest of that batch of juveniles – “as a group they’re the best I’ve had”, said Clive – went a little further and Nelson River, a big, nice-moving colt, would hopefully have been back with them by the weekend.

Cox proudly showed me the private gallops of the 260-acre site developed with such skill by Francome, departed from our screens but in no way rueful, according to his tenant. “John is never happier than when driving a digger around the place.”

With Profitable now in Godolphin colours and My Dream Boat and Zonderland also back for another season, Cox must be hopeful of beating last season’s tally of 65 wins and £1.5 million in prize money. Harry Angel, easy winner of the Mill Reef Stakes on only his second start, is the main hope among a nice group of three-year-olds.

Wednesday’s work was undertaken in the expectation of a light morning, probably in the spacious indoor arena, when Doris arrived on Thursday, so plenty was done. I was soon heading back east and while Jenni Tait in Mick Channon’s stable reported neither Mick (in Dubai, basking after Opal Tiara’s Group 1 win the previous week) or Michael junior, on the way to watch a runner at Doncaster, was there, they would happily entertain this surprise visitor.

So it was to West Ilsley, the stables that were to become the new home of Major Dick Hern the year after he won Classic success with my first equine hero, Hethersett, in the 1962 St Leger, when private trainer to Major Lionel Holliday.

For me, still at school, it was the ultimate betrayal, Hethersett being left to languish under the nominal care of head lad, S J Meaney, while actually having his campaign directed by the irascible Yorkshireman. Hern, taking over from Jack Colling, even had the effrontery of saddling Darling Boy to beat Hethersett in his comeback race, the Jockey Club Stakes, in 1963.

Jenni and her office colleague Gill Hedley seemed surprised I’d never previously been to West Ilsley, but both were understandably still bubbling over Opal Tiara’s big win in face of major Godolphin opposition in that Group 1.

Gill was part breeder of the filly with Channon. From the least promising beginnings, the unraced mare Zarafa was sent to Rathasker stud’s stallion, Thousand Words, a Juddmonte-bred quadruple winner, for Barry Hills and latterly in California for the late Bobby Frankel.

Your first 30 days for just £1

The resulting filly went through Ascot sales as a yearling, going unsold at 1,800gns, but after showing plenty of ability at two, attracted Qatar Racing, who privately acquired a half-share. Last year she made great progress, winning a Group 3 at Goodwood, but Qatar wanted to cash in, and she was sold at December sales last backend for 230,000gns.

Happily Gill stayed in and she said: “We have new partners who bought into her and they are delighted, as we all are”. No wonder, how many people breed Group 1 winners? If she does get sold later in her career, the numbers are sure to multiply once again.

Having enjoyed a classy filter coffee and luxury biscuits while talking to the ladies, we made the short 20-metre walk to see Telltale, another home-bred, already gelded, by Monsieur Bond  out of Yarn. ‘Mum’ was a strapping filly who was always placed but never won, coupling natural ability along with a wind problem.

When he arrived, the initial idea was to put him into one of the normal boxes, but as Mick junior said: “He’s so tall, he couldn’t go in there, so it had to be one of the big ones.”

I understood from Michael it was formerly Youmzain’s box, but Jenni said: “No, that’s two along.” So here he was, the gentle giant, impossible to miss with his big white face. So after admiring him, I noticed a plaque outside the box, proclaiming that it had been Halicarnassus’ domicile. That high-class Channon performer is now a stallion in Turkey.

Underneath, though, there was a larger plaque in bronze, with a single word scratched underneath – “Henbit”, the Derby winner. The names on the plaque, though, might give Telltale something to live up to. I searched my memory since driving away, but came up with only four of the five names.

In reverse order they were: Little Wolf, winner of the Ascot Gold Cup; Minster Son, St Leger; and then Nashwan, 2,000 Guineas and Derby; and shockingly, the great Brigadier Gerard. That supreme champion, winner of 17 of 18 career starts at the start of my career in racing journalism, according to his only ever jockey, Joe Mercer, was sick with mucus pouring down his nose, when losing to Derby winner Roberto in the first Benson and Hedges Gold Cup (now Juddmonte International) at York.

The Brigadier, later very disappointing as a stallion, was the last horse to beat his contemporary, the equally-talented Mill Reef, in the 2,000 Guineas. Most racing historians reckon that field, with My Swallow only third, was possibly the best ever for the Newmarket Classic.

So I enjoyed a wonderful walk down Memory Lane, but it was not long before the mood was replaced by frustration at Lingfield on Saturday. While the racing was excellent, with the featured Winter Derby winner Convey adding further lustre to Opal Tiara, who beat him at Goodwood, the absence of any betting shop, thanks to the ongoing dispute between Ladbrokes, Corals and Betfred, and the racecourses, diminished the experience.

You could catch sight of races from elsewhere, where allowed by the direction of the course TV feed with replays, previews and the like interrupting the middle of major races elsewhere. Betting, though, was limited to the Tote with the three main Ladbrokes points uninhabited and the screens blanked out. I bet many of those who paid £25 for Premier admission wished they’d stayed at home.

I was interested in Jack Quinlan’s mount Sir Note at Kempton and noticed it was around 4’s, not bad, on the machine. When he won - yes, Racing Post, Jack Quinlan was riding! - the SP was 7-1. That was annoying for ordinary racegoers without apps or Betfair accounts. This is one disagreement that needs ending fast.

Burke reflects on his ‘Queen of Speed’

Rain at Haydock swept away any chance of Limato making the start for the Sprint Cup. And in the absence of arguably the ‘King of speed’, another Queen put her best hoof forward, slicing her way through both the testing ground and the inferior opposition.

Quiet Reflection had already proved herself a high-class sprinter earlier in the campaign, with victory in the Commonwealth Cup and a third place finish in the July Cup at Newmarket. The latter came on rattling quick ground, when she found herself ‘out-kicked’ by the lightning quick Limato. When Henry Candy gave way to the worsening conditions and pulled out his star sprinter, Karl Burke’s filly took over at the head of the betting. And that market faith was fully justified, with the result never looking in doubt.

Travelling like a dream throughout, she coasted to the front just beyond the furlong pole. Dougie Costello shook the reins at her and the race was over. The Tin Man came from the pack to chase her home, and ran with great credit, though he never looked like catching the filly.

After the stunning success, Costello told Channel 4 Racing: “She's won as she liked, she's the real deal. I've never ridden anything like it and probably never will again. She's push-button go. She was fresh today and between the five and the three I was running away. I got there a little bit sooner than I'd liked.”

Karl Burke has never doubted her talent, and added: “She'll go to Ascot next for the Champions Sprint and I'm praying she stays well and sound so she can stay in training next year. I knew she'd improved and strengthened. She's such a straightforward filly. The whole team have done a great job. I know we wanted a bit of rain, but I was a bit worried when it got this soft as I thought it might play into the hands of the older horses. She's just got speed to burn. She travels well and is so relaxed.”

David O’Meara’s Suedois ran another cracker back in third, and is surely a Group 1 winner in waiting. The five-year-old has now finished second, third and fourth in his last three at the highest level. Out of a Singspiel mare, he would have found this ground plenty testing enough.

Your first 30 days for just £1

Of the remainder, only Mr Lupton caught the eye, staying on well to finish fifth, having been given a rather circumspect ride from Jamie Spencer. Richard Fahey’s three-year-old has a major win in him.

Regardless of the also-rans, there can be no doubting that we have another sensational sprinting filly on our hands. And she comes along just at the right time, with Mecca’s Angel set for retirement after the Prix de l’Abbaye at Chantilly. There’s an outside chance that the Michael Dods trained Nunthorpe winner could run at Ascot if she recovers quickly from her French excursions. Though a victory in France would surely be a fitting finale for the exceptionally talented mare.

As this Flat season enters its final chapter, I’m of the opinion that four sprinters stand out from the pack.
Over the minimum trip it’s Mecca’s Angel and Profitable that have set themselves apart from the rest. The mare was sensational at York, but the Clive Cox trained four-year-old had previously won the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, before being stepped-up to six furlongs for the July Cup. I’m not sure that outing would have helped him, when he was then asked to drop back again to five for the frighteningly quick Nunthorpe. I’d expect a huge run from the pair of them in France.

At six furlongs Limato and Quiet Reflection have proved a class apart. Both travel powerfully through a race, and have a devastating change of gear. Candy’s ace looks unbeatable at the trip on quick ground, whilst rain tips the balance in favour of the flashy filly.

This season’s sprints have proved a pure delight. The Abbaye at Chantilly and then the Champions Sprint at Ascot will bring the curtain down on an epic series of contests.

Celebration Time

Major Dick Hern trained some incredible racehorses in his time, but few could hold a candle to the brilliant Brigadier Gerard.

In a three year career, this outstanding colt won 19 of his 20 starts, his only defeat coming at York in what was then known as the Benson & Hedges Gold Cup. He was ridden by Joe Mercer throughout his career, and Joe was adamant that his charge was ill on that infamous day at York.

Completely dominant as a juvenile, Brigadier Gerard won all four outings in effortless fashion. He was just as successful at three, starting with a stunning win in the 2000 Guineas, when defeating My Swallow and Mill Reef. He then set about dominating over a mile; a trip that undoubtedly proved to be his optimum.

One of those victories came in the Goodwood Mile, now known as the Celebration Mile. Sadly, only three runners were assembled that day, though the winning margin of 10 lengths was no less impressive. Only Frankel’s achievements on the track can come close to matching those of Brigadier Gerard. The pair proved destructive in their performances. Frankel was very much the beast to Brigadier’s beauty.

Hern’s equine superstar was the greatest winner of the Celebration Mile, though plenty of other classy sorts appear on the roll of honour. Joe Mercer was lucky enough to be aboard another cracking miler, when winning the race on Kris in 1979. That renewal took place at Ascot, during a campaign that saw the colt win the St James’s Palace, the Sussex and the QEll.

In recent times, it’s fair to say that leading milers haven’t had Goodwood’s Group 2 on their itinerary. The likes of Kodi Bear, Bow Creek, Afsare and Premio Loco, though all good recent winners of the event, could hardly be called top-class racehorses.

On Saturday the latest renewal has attracted just five runners. It’s a small yet select field, though undoubtedly lacks a star attraction. Three-year-olds have a strong recent record, with six wins from the last eight. The two market leaders are from that age group and represent trainers that have found success in the race.

Your first 30 days for just £1

Sir Michael Stoute has a record eight wins, with Zacinto his last victor in 2009. Thikriyaat runs for the yard and is likely to go off favourite tomorrow. He has four wins and a second from his five career starts. His only defeat came in the Jersey Stakes, when runner-up to the classy colt Ribchester. That form now looks particularly strong, though he was getting 5lbs from the winner. He did win his last start over course and distance at the end of July.

Clive Cox won the race 12 months ago, and this time goes into battle with the Cheveley Park owned Zonderland. Sixth in the 2000 Guineas, he then won a listed event at Sandown. He was unable to land a blow in the Jean Prat at Chantilly, but bounced back to form when winning the Group 3 Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury. This is tougher, but he looks sure to go close.

A trio of five-year-olds take on the youngsters. It’s impossible to dismiss any of the three. Toormore is two from four at the track, and is a consistent performer at the highest level. He came out best of the older horses in the Sussex Stakes, behind The Gurkha, Galileo Gold and Ribchester. This is definitely an easier task, though he has a penalty to overcome.

Qatar Racing has two in the race. Lightning Spear was a length behind Toormore in the Sussex, and probably needs softer ground to have a chance of winning this. That’s not to say he won’t go close in such an open renewal.

Arod has not looked the same horse this year, though ran his best ever race at Goodwood when touched off by Solow in last year’s Sussex Stakes. He needs fast ground, and it would come as no surprise if he was to bounce back to form.

This is such a tough renewal to predict, and I am just favouring Thikriyaat to progress past the rest. He’s the most unexposed in the field, and has been brought along gently during this campaign. Should the ground remain on the quick side I would see Arod as a serious threat. This track suits his positive style of running, and if returning to form, he could take some pegging back.