Stat of the Day, 17th April 2018

Monday's Runner was...

2.40 Kelso : Geronimo @ 5/2 BOG 2nd at 9/4 (Tracked leaders, ridden before 2 out, one pace in 4th between last 2, no impression until switched towards stands side rail and stayed on to chase winner inside final 110 yards, just held off by a neck)

We now continue with Tuesday's...

5.55 Newmarket :

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.


Storm Over @ 10/3 BOG

A 10-runner, Class 3,  5f handicap sprint (4yo+) on good to soft ground worth £12938 to the winner...


This 4 yr old colt has three wins and a place from his five starts to date, all at this minimum 5f trip and was a winner last time out at Class 2 on soft ground. He makes his seasonal re-appearance on better ground and benefits from a drop in class too. He's trained by Robert Cowell, whose LTO winners have struck again on 18 of 82 (22% SR) occasions over the last couple of years with profits of 24.5pts equating to some 29.9% of stakes invested, including...

  • over trips of 5/5.5f : 15/59 (25.4%) for 28.6pts (+48.4%)
  • in handicaps : 13/56 (23.2%) for 16.4pts (+29.3%)
  • on the Flat : 10/54 (18.5%) for 22.5pts (+41.7%)
  • ridden by Luke Morris : 4/16 (25%) for 9.54pts (+59.6%)
  • at Class 3 : 3/13 (23.1%) for 9.44pts (+72.6%)
  • and on good to soft ground : 3/8 (37.5%) for 17.6pts (+219.7%)

Now, I should point out that although our boy won last time out, it was admittedly almost 6 months ago and for some yards, that's an issue, but over the last five seasons, Robert Cowell's Flat handicappers returning from a break of 3 months or more are 11/64 (17.2% SR) for 66.4pts (+103.7% ROI), from which...

  • 3 to 6 yr olds are 11/59 (18.6%) for 71.4pts (+121%)
  • at Class 2 to 4 : 9/47 (19.1%) for 73.2pts (+155.6%)
  • after a break of 3 to 8 months : 9/49 (18.4%) for 69.4pts (+141.6%)
  • in April/May : 10/42 (23.8%) for 64.6pts (+153.8%)
  • over a 5f trip : 8/39 (20.5%) for 33.2pts (+85.1%)
  • LTO winners are 4/12 (33.7%) for 20.9ptrs (+174.2%)
  • and on good to soft: 4/11 (36.4%) for 32.75pts (+297.7%)

And from these well-rested flat handicappers, 3-6 yr olds at Class 2 to 4 in April/May after a 3 to 8 month absence are 7/26 (26.9% SR) for 65.4pts (+251.4%), including...

  • over 5f : 5/16 (31.25%) for 22.1pts (+138.4%)
  • LTO winners : 3/7 (42.9%) for 18.9pts (+269.8%)
  • on good to soft : 3/6 (50%) for 34.5pts (+575.3%)
  • LTO winners racing over 5f are 2/5 (40%) for 4.21pts (+84.2%)
  • over 5f on good to soft : 2/4 (50%) for 19.84pts (+496%)
  • and LTO winners racing over 5f on good to soft = 1/1 for 3.79pts us...a 1pt win bet oStorm Over @ 10/3 BOG which was available from 10Bet, Ladbrokes and SportPesa at 5.05pm on Monday, whilst bet365 were alone in offering 7/2 BOG. To see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply... here for the betting on the 5.55 Newmarket

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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!

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.

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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.

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.

Quiet Reflection needs rain to reign

Acapulco stays away, but Quiet Reflection remains an intended runner in tomorrow’s Temple Stakes at Haydock.

Trainer Karl Burke is praying for rain, and there’s hope that showers will strike during the day, with ground conditions currently described as good to firm. Yesterday the trainer said: “Heavy showers are forecast for Saturday and I'm told the ground was in great shape on Thursday morning, but it is a red-hot day so it's going to dry up a bit more you would have thought. I think it will be a late call and we'll see how the ground is on Saturday.”

She’s undoubtedly the class act, having taken a pair of Group 1s last season, including the Sprint Cup at the track. Those victories came at six furlongs, though the filly is not short of speed. She travelled powerfully throughout her races last term, and though she has the burden of a Group 1 penalty, she should take all the beating, assuming she gets her ground. She also goes well fresh, but all this could prove irrelevant, because if the rain does not arrive at Haydock, Burke will pull her out and wait for Royal Ascot.

In Acapulco’s absence, Ballydoyle look likely to send Washington DC into battle. He’s currently edging favouritism, and is a consistent performer at the highest level. His career victories have all come on quick ground, though he does act on all surfaces. He was second to Marsha at Newmarket last time, and a repeat of that performance will see him go close again. Goldream and Kachy were just behind him that day, and the trio are closely matched, though Goldream is very ground dependant. Aidan O’Brien is yet to win this race, nevertheless I’m sure Washington DC is a major contender.

Robert Cowell will be hoping that the forecast showers stay away, as his eight-year-old Goldream must have quick ground to have any chance of winning. The last horse to win at eight was also trained by Cowell. Kingsgate Native was winning the race for the second time in 2013, and a pair of seven-year-olds have also struck gold in the past dozen years. Goldream is undoubtedly a player if the ground stays fast.

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The aforementioned Kachy ran well at Newmarket on seasonal debut, and his trainer Richard Kingscote clearly thinks plenty of him. His best performance last season came in the Commonwealth Cup, when chasing home Quiet Reflection. He had Washington DC a place further back. He looked a little weak last summer, and by all accounts has strengthened considerably over the winter. Five furlongs at Haydock may prove sharp enough for him, and I fancy a couple of these will prove a little too quick.

Trainer Charlie Hills appears confident that his Cotai Glory can go close. “I think he’s well up to this level, and it’s a good slot before Royal Ascot, where he finished second in the King’s Stand last year,” said Hills in his Weekender piece on Wednesday. The horse stumbled leaving the gate at Newmarket last time, and that performance can therefore be forgiven. His King’s Stand second came on soft ground, and like Kachy, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him a little outpaced at some point.

Speed has never been an issue for Take Cover, and despite now reaching the ripe old age of 10, he could still go well if the ground remains quick. He was a terrific third in the Nunthorpe last August, and should he retain his enthusiasm for the battle, I can see him again going well.

Clive Cox took the race 12 months ago with Profitable, and is back with four-year-old Priceless, who represents the same connections. She was a little keen when fifth at Newmarket last time, but this track should be more suitable, and I can see her making a bold bid from the front. She’s progressive, though this is a step-up in class, and she’ll need to improve again.

I think Quiet Refection will win, assuming the rain arrives and she takes her chance. She’s the class act and can defy the penalty. If the ground remains quick, and she is pulled out, it’s Goldream for me to beat Washington DC. The latter has a great chance, but he’s finished runner-up in five of his last 11 starts. I can see him hitting the post yet again.

Candy on Weather-Watch

Henry Candy will be on weather watch today, hoping and praying that the rain stays clear of Yorkshire until the evening.

Showers are forecast to hit the Knavesmire from midday, with some expected to be heavy. Any change in ground conditions will impair the chances of his outstanding sprinter Limato, as he seeks to win the Group 1 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes. The Darley July Cup hero has to have quick ground to be seen at his best, as he showed at Newmarket, when scooting clear of a top-class field. He travelled powerfully that day, hitting the front just inside the two-furlong pole, suggesting the drop back to the minimum trip will not inconvenience him.

Candy remains less certain regarding the trip. Speaking to At The Races earlier in the week he said: “He seems to be in good form. Mr Jacobs (owner) has parted with a huge amount of money to supplement him, so we hope for the best. I'm in favour of giving it a try, but I'm not at all confident. I think a very fast, very flat five (furlongs) might just find him out, but it's worth a try. He'll run well.”

Another who’ll need the rain to stay away is the Robert Cowell trained Goldream. The seven-year-old tuned up for this with a more than satisfactory third place finish at Goodwood in the King George Stakes. That was his first run since March, and he’s sure to strip fitter this time around. With ground in his favour, he won last year’s King’s Stand Stakes and the Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp. He’s a serious contender in this, if the ground remains quick.

One that will be hoping for rain, and plenty of it, is Michael Dods; trainer of last year’s winner Mecca’s Angel. The talented mare could just about get-away with good to soft, but good or quicker would certainly compromise her chances. The trainer will have two talented fillies in the race, with three-year-old Easton Angel also in the mix. She has a preference for quicker ground, so one of the two looks sure to be inconvenienced.

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Dods is quoted on the RacingUK website, saying: “She (Mecca's Angel) is in great form. Paul sat on her last week and he's delighted with her. It's going to be her last season, so as long as it's not too quick we'll probably let her take her chance.” On Easton Angel he said: “If we get good ground, we'll be happy. It's a good track and there are showers forecast. She went to Goodwood and was a bit unlucky. She's a good filly and at this stage she's probably better than Mecca's Angel was. We're delighted they're both running and we're looking forward to it.”

Easton Angel was just behind Goldream, Washington DC and Take Cover at Goodwood, in a blanket finish. All four re-oppose, and there’s little to choose between them. All four probably need the ground to stay on the quick side, with possibly Washington DC the one least likely to be inconvenienced by rain.

Arguably the season’s best sprinter in the field is the Clive Cox trained four-year-old Profitable. He took the King’s Stand Stakes on soft ground, having won the Temple Stakes at Haydock when there was also ‘give’ in the ground. He was stepped-up to six furlongs for the July Cup last time, and ran with great credit, though would not have beaten Limato at any stage of the race. In my opinion, the rain has to come if he is to reverse placings with Candy’s star.

The last juvenile winner of the Nunthorpe was Kingsgate Native back in 2007. The Mark Johnston trained Yalta is as short as 9/1 to take today’s race, having looked mightily impressive in the Molecomb Stakes at Goodwood. That win came on fast ground, and it’s likely that rain will prove an issue. This is a huge ask for such an inexperienced racehorse, and he’s unlikely to get an uncontested lead with Take Cover in the field. Two-year-olds receive plenty of weight from their elders, but this appears a strong renewal, and I’d be surprised if he can handle such a race at this stage of his career.

Two at bigger odds that could run into a place are Pearl Secret and Goken. Both need plenty of luck in running, and will be doing their best work late on. The forecast rain would be in their favour. Goken finished with a flurry behind Profitable in the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot.

The weather will play a key role in the outcome of the Nunthorpe, and as such I’ll be waiting as long as possible before parting with my hard earned pennies. It’s Limato from Goldream for me, should the rain stay away. But should the heavy showers arrive, and the ground change, I’ll be with Profitable and Washington DC.

The York Ebor Festival – Four Fabulous Days

The York Ebor Festival begins today, and is set to be a cracker.

Taking place over four days, the meeting is one of the most eagerly anticipated in the Flat racing calendar, with York recognised as one of Britain’s leading racecourses. With feature races on each day, the meeting attracts many of the best thoroughbreds in training.

On the opening day, the Group 1 Juddmonte International takes centre-stage. Worth over half a million to the winner, the 10-furlong event has been won by seriously good horses in its time. Sea The Stars was successful during his dominant 2009 campaign which culminated in a victory in the Arc at Longchamp. In 2012 it was Frankel that thrilled the Yorkshire public, with a devastating display in defeating Godolphin’s classy colt Farhh by seven lengths. The Group 1 winner St Nicholas Abbey was back in third.

The main support on day one is the Great Voltigeur Stakes, a Group 2 that is often seen as a trial for the St Leger. Interestingly, the race was won last year by Postponed, the favourite for today’s Juddmonte. On winning the race, his trainer at the time, Luca Cumani said: “He could be supplemented for the St Leger but my inclination would be to not stretch him that far. He's a mile-and-a-half horse.” Roger Varian will be hoping he’s also a mile and a quarter horse.

Thursday’s showpiece is the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks, yet another that has an illustrious roll of honour. Originally restricted to three-year-olds, the race was opened to older fillies and mares in 1991. Sir Michael Stoute is joint leading trainer in the event with nine winners, including the classy mare Islington, who took the race in 2002 and 2003. She also won the Nassau Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, during a sparkling career.

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Aidan O’Brien has a strong record in the race, with three victories in the last 10 renewals. Other outstanding mares to have taken the race in recent times, include Dar Re Mi and The Fugue, for John Gosden, and the multiple Group 1 winner Midday for Sir Henry Cecil.

The juvenile fillies also play a starring role on Thursday in the Group 2 Lowther Stakes. The Roger Charlton trained Fair Eva looks sure to be favourite for this year’s renewal. Daughter of the mighty Frankel, she has looked exceptional in her two outings to date, including a four length romp at Ascot last month.

On Friday it’s the turn of the sprinters to strut their stuff in the Nunthorpe. Blink and you’ll miss it, with the winner likely to complete the five furlongs in a rapid 57 seconds. This is one of a few races where juveniles can compete against their elders, with the last two-year-old to win being Kingsgate Native, back in 2007.

The youngsters hope to take advantage of a huge weight for age allowance, and two or three are set to take up the challenge on Friday. The Molecomb Stakes winner Yalta is fancied to go well for Mark Johnston. And the Scot may also send fellow juvenile The Last Lion into battle. Robert Cowell knows a thing or two about training speedsters, and he clearly holds Prince Of Lir in high regard. The race has been won by sprinting giants over the years, including Dayjur, Lochsong, Oasis Dream and more recently Sole Power.

From one extreme to the other on Friday, as the two mile Lonsdale Cup plays the supporting role. The most recent renewals of the Group 2 have gone to a pair of Ireland’s finest trainers, in Dermot Weld and Willie Mullins. Wicklow Brave may well be in attendance for the latter on Friday, taking on the Goodwood Cup runner up Pallasator, and possibly last year’s St Leger heroine Simple Verse.

The final day sees the running of the famous handicap from which the meeting takes its name. The Ebor has been run since 1843, and is the most valuable Flat handicap in Europe. You can expect a big priced winner from this hugely competitive race, as five of the last eight were successful at 20/1 or greater.

The York Ebor meeting is a truly mouth-watering event. It’s likely to deliver a number of shocks along the way, as well as exceptional performances from numerous highly touted thoroughbreds. Who could forget last year’s Juddmonte, when the Epsom Derby hero, Golden Horn, lost out in a thrilling finish to the 50/1 shot, Arabian Queen. The meeting is also likely to herald the arrival of potential stars. Ribchester was a promising second in last year’s Gimcrack Stakes, at odds of 25/1, and has developed into one of the best milers in the business.

York Talk

With York’s Ebor Festival now less than a week away, trainers are finalising plans, and a few surprises are on the cards.

The four-day event is one of the highlights of the summer, taking place on a racecourse widely viewed as one of the best in the country. A feature race on each day helps to attract top class thoroughbreds, as does the record prize money of more than £4 million.

The Group 1 Juddmonte International becomes the richest race ever run at York, with £900,000 going to the winner. The race has attracted one of the highest rated racehorses in Postponed, and he is likely to be a short-priced favourite for the prestigious event.

One that doesn’t make the start for the Juddmonte is the Roger Charlton trained Time Test. The trainer explained the decision on his website yesterday, saying: “Time Test will not be running in the Juddmonte International at York next week. We weren't totally happy with his work this morning. He is likely to be given a short break before any future plans are made.”

Later in the day, Charlton spoke to Racing UK, saying: “He (Time Test) worked with Countermeasure, his normal lead horse, this morning and certainly every time that he's worked this year he moves up on the bridle and then quickens four or five lengths clear and has an impressive turn of foot as he's shown in his races. He moved up as though he was going to go winging past him and in the end didn't. The Juddmonte next week is naturally a proper Group One race with some very good horses in it and there's no point running in a race like that if your gut feeling tells you your horse isn't 100% so we decided to scratch.”

The trainer had better news of his outstanding juvenile filly Fair Eva, when adding: “She worked well this morning and heads for the Lowther at York. George Baker rode her and was very happy. She won well at Ascot in a good time, and the Lowther sits well in the calendar.”

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Any disappointment at Time Test’s omission was quickly set aside with the news that Limato may well be supplemented for the Nunthorpe Stakes. It would be an incredible turnaround for Henry Candy’s four-year-old, who started this campaign as a miler, running a promising fourth in the Lockinge Stakes. He was then, somewhat surprisingly, dropped in trip to contest the Darley July Cup. The decision proved a masterstroke, when he romped to success in the six-furlong contest.

It remains something of a surprise that connections should now look to the Nunthorpe over the minimum trip; a race for the ultimate speedsters. He will need to work well this Friday before a decision is made, and will then need his favoured quick ground to make the line-up.

Candy explained when speaking to Racing UK: “Mr Jacobs (owner) is going to see him work on Friday morning and if he works OK and the weather forecast's right, then he will supplement him for £30,000 for the Nunthorpe. That's a fairly bold thing to do because the difference between a six-furlong race at Newmarket and five-furlong race at York is pretty amazing. If he didn't go to York, he would go to Goodwood for the Celebration Mile. Even though he's four years old, we're still learning a lot about him and we've got plenty of options.”

Limato’s inclusion would certainly be a huge boost for the race, and likely set up a clash with this season’s leading five-furlong exponent, the Clive Cox trained Profitable.

A sprint wouldn’t be the same without a Robert Cowell contingent, and he looks set to have several in the Nunthorpe line-up. He spoke of his contenders with At The Races, saying: “Goldream will be a runner if the ground is fast and I was absolutely delighted with how he ran at Goodwood. Having a race under his belt now, I think he's got a live chance wherever he shows up.”

The trainer also spoke of a juvenile sprinter that could take on his elders at the Knavesmire. Cowell’s Norfolk Stakes victor Prince Of Lir, disappointed in France recently, but is very much in the picture for York’s Nunthorpe: “He could well show up. I had a chat with the owner a couple of days ago about him and we're keen to go all the way through to declaration stage and see what the ground is like,” said Cowell. “He won't show up if it's good to firm ground, but he could show up if it's good or softer. I'd put a line through his Papin form. It wasn't him and he scoped a little bit dirty when we brought him back. You'll see a different horse next time up.”

One that is set to side-step the Hungerford Stakes at Newbury in favour of York, is the classy filly Nemoralia. Runner-up in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, Jeremy Noseda has decided to wait for the Ebor Meeting, and a return to the track that saw her impressive seasonal debut back in May. The Newmarket handler feels that the Group 3 City of York Stakes, would be a more sensible option over the stronger looking Hungerford.

Cowell sees Ground’s For Optimism

I thought I’d take a look at the King George Stakes today, as I attempt to get back to winning ways on the tipping front.

Established in 1911, the race was founded to commemorate the coronation of King George V. We can expect a lightning fast five furlongs, likely to be completed in around 56 seconds, some three seconds faster than your average King’s Stand at Royal Ascot.

As with many prestigious events, this Group 2 has been won by the good and great over the years. Lochsong was one of the stars to take this Goodwood sprint. Trained by Ian Balding, she was a powerful bay filly, and was renowned for scorching out of the stalls, before galloping her opposition into the turf. She took this race in 1993 and 1994, ridden on both occasions by Frankie Dettori. She swept all before her during those two outstanding seasons, winning the Nunthorpe in 1993, the King’s Stand Stakes in 94, and twice capturing the Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp.

Muthmir scorched home last year, holding off Take Cover, with Cotai Glory back in fifth. Quick ground, and a fast five-furlong track are key to the William Haggas trained colt. He’s yet to ‘cut it’ at the very highest level, though his third place finish in the Prix de l’Abbaye last October was a mighty run. He should go well today in defence of his crown, though this year’s renewal looks particularly strong.

Goldream took the Abbaye last autumn, ahead of Muthmir, and is another that needs quick ground to be seen at his best. Trained by ‘Sprint King’ Robert Cowell, the now seven-year-old is a class act when conditions are in his favour. He’s not run since March, and that has to be a slight concern. Nevertheless, I’d be surprised if he doesn’t run a huge race.

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It’s interesting to see a pair of three-year-olds heading the market, as the age group have a poor record in recent times. Moviesta is the only horse aged three to have won this race in the last 13 years. Older horses have a strong recent record, with a pair of seven-year-olds and one aged eight having hit the target in the last six years.

Fillies, Easton Angel and Marsha top the betting. A neck separated the pair at York last time, with the latter getting up late to snatch victory. Muthmir was just behind on that occasion, having been held up at the back of the field. The time was good that day, and all three should be in close proximity again this afternoon. I’m struggling to split them, though Easton Angel did travel like the best horse for much of the race at York, and could be tough to peg back if committed slightly earlier this time.

Having rubbished three-year-olds recent record, another that has to have a great chance today is Aidan O’Brien’s Washington DC. He ran a cracker in the Darley July Cup, and a furlong out was involved in a ding-dong with King’s Stand winner Profitable. If anything, he looked to fade late-on that day, and this drop to five furlongs on quick ground may well suit. He also ran a terrific race in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot behind Quiet Reflection, again looking to fade as the line approached. His form is strong, and I fancy 12/1 is on the generous side.

Cotai Glory is another fancied by many to go well for Charlie Hills. He’s having a good season, though was slammed last time behind Limato in the July Cup. He looked a non-stayer that day, and had run a ‘stormer’ in the King’s Stand when just failing to overhaul Profitable on soft ground. I’m just not sure that he’s quick enough to win this race. He was fifth behind Muthmir last year, and although a better horse now, I think he’ll find a few that have more speed.

Take Cover is one such horse, and although he’s now nine he cannot be discounted. He was ahead of Cotai Glory at Haydock in May, and was second in this race 12 months ago having won it in 2014. The ground and track are ideal for the old campaigner, though his odds of 12’s are a little skinny. Had he been 20’s, he’d have been my each-way shout.

The race is deep, and the likes of Jungle Cat, Kachy, Move In Time and Divine all have realistic chances of making the frame. Indeed, the latter is fast improving, and ran arguably her best race last time when second to The Tin Man at Newbury. Whether she’s quite quick enough is questionable, though 25/1 looks a fair price.

I have to say that I’ve fallen in love with these sprints this year. Though they are always hard to fathom, they are always thrilling to watch. Goldream is the class act, and I’ll risk a few quid on him today. The dual Group 1 winner is currently 9/1. I also fancy Washington DC, and he’s just about an each-way price at 12’s. The pair will do for me.

Qatar Racing have Secret to Success

The sprinters are back in the limelight tomorrow, as Haydock stage the Group 2 Temple Stakes, a race established in 1965.

Originally run at Sandown, the five-furlong sprint was switched to the Merseyside track in 2008, when going the way of the three-year-old flying filly Fleeting Spirit. Since the change of venue, no single age group have dominated affairs. Victories have been split among the ages, with Kingsgate Native the oldest winner at eight, and Hot Streak matching Fleeting Spirit’s achievement of winning at three.

Multiple winners are not common, though the aforementioned Kingsgate Native has won the Temple Stakes twice, and finished in the frame on two other occasions. The old warrior will be back at the track, though hoping to win the Achilles Stakes today (having been successful in the race 12 months ago), rather than taking on the elite in the Temple tomorrow.

George Baker and Ryan Moore are the most successful jockeys in recent running’s, with two victories each. Baker won aboard Pearl Secret last year, and gets the leg-up on Charlie Hills’ Cotai Glory tomorrow. Ryan Moore misses Haydock, for more pressing matters at the Curragh.

Those who love their trends are not only scuppered by the age of winners, but also by the likely winning trainer. Sir Michael Stoute is the most successful handler with five victories, though only one of those has come in the 21st Century (step forward Kingsgate Native). The last 10 renewals have gone to different yards, with renowned sprint trainers such as Cowell and Lynam unable to dominate.

Maybe there’s a chink of light when looking at the owners of the contenders? Qatar Racing have won the last two renewals. Indeed, they had first and third home last year, and the first and second 12 months earlier. Tomorrow they hope that Pearl Secret can win again, having taken the race last year, and finished runner-up in 2014.

As always with these sprints, the weather will play a vital role in the outcome. So many of the hopefuls are ground dependent. The aforementioned Cowell and Lynam will be praying that the forecast rain continues to miss Haydock. Robert Cowell will be a guest on tomorrow’s Morning Line, and looks to have a trio of contenders. Goldream is his undoubted number one. Good or preferably rattling fast ground is vital for last year’s King’s Stand winner. He has a 4lb penalty to overcome, but if conditions are right, he has an outstanding chance.

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Ed Lynam sends over his wonderful sprinter, Sole Power. Now a nine-year-old, he too needs fast ground to be seen at his best. He’ll be fit and well from a winter in Meydan, and can be forgiven his lacklustre performance at Newmarket last time, when conditions went against him. He came close to winning this in 2012 and 2013, but much now depends on just how much ability he retains.

The favourite for tomorrow’s renewal is unlikely to run unless the venue is hit by a deluge or two. Mecca’s Angel has become an outstanding sprinter, winning last year’s Nunthorpe in stunning fashion. She may be risked on good ground, but any hint of firm is sure to see her withdrawn. She missed several engagements last season, and after a second place finish at the Curragh in July, her trainer Michael Dods said: “I thought Mecca's Angel ran a super race. But she just doesn't travel with the same fluency - she changed her legs several times - and she doesn't have that extra gear she has when there's juice in the ground.”

Owner Hamdan Al Maktoum had the leading sprinter of 2015 with the sensational Muhaarar. He has two fancied contenders for tomorrow’s race, with Waady and Muthmir both capable of going close. The former tuned up for this with a promising run at Newmarket, when a close third to Profitable in the Palace House Stakes. He too is arguably a better horse on a sounder surface, and could well reverse form with his Newmarket conqueror. He beat Wind Fire at Sandown on fast ground last summer, and that piece of form puts him in the picture for this. He should go very close.

Muthmir is another that needs it quick. He came close to winning the King’s Stand when third to Goldream and was third to the same horse in the Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp in October. He’s clearly a top class sprinter, and with conditions to suit is sure to run well. I just have a nagging feeling that he’ll find one or two a little too quick for him. And at 5/1 he’s no each way proposition.

Tom Dascombe sends his youngster Kachy into battle, having won last time at Chester. Last year’s Molecomb Stakes winner is undoubtedly quick, and needs a sound surface. He’s a colt by Kyllachy, a renowned sire of top-class sprinters, the likes of Sole Power and Twilight Son. This is a huge step up in class for the three-year-old, but he has to be considered as a player.

It’s impossible to ignore Profitable after his win at Newmarket. He was twice beaten by Waady last summer, before running a huge race in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot. He’s sure to have strengthened from three to four, and is closely matched with Waady. If you fancy one, you have to fancy the other, and chances are that they will both go close.

It looks another terrific renewal, with Waady, Profitable and Kachy, taking on the more experienced sprinters. The weather over the next 24 hours will play a crucial role, and it makes tipping a winner that much trickier.

I have to have a little each-way on Pearl Secret. His record in the race is terrific, and should Haydock get a little rain, the 20/1 now available will look incredibly generous.

I’ll also be having a few quid on Waady. I’m hoping his run at Newmarket will have put him spot on for this. He’ll not be inconvenienced by a little rain, but I’d prefer it to remain on the quick side for him. Hopefully the pair will play a major part in the finish.

Sprinting Gold goes to Cowell at Longchamp

Goldream gets up late

Goldream gets up late

Golden Horn was undoubtedly the star at Longchamp, but he wasn’t the only success story as far as the Brits were concerned.

Hugo Palmer and connections of Covert Love formed arguably the most ecstatic group in the winners’ enclosure after the filly pulled off a gutsy victory in the Prix de l’Opera Longines. It was a second Group 1 for the classy filly, who came so close to making it three when edged out in the Yorkshire Oaks at York.

Needing a true end to end gallop, she was forced to cut out her own running, but the fractions were judged to perfection by one of the most talented jockey’s on the circuit. Pat Smullen is yet another that has had a season to remember, and though John Gosden’s Jazzi Top threatened to spoil the party, Smullen and his willing partner were not to be denied. In a pulsating finish, Covert Love got home by a neck.

A breathless Palmer spoke after the victory, saying: “I'm lost for words. My god, she tries. What a ride, what a jockey. Three times I thought she was done in the straight but she found, found, found. I can't say much more!” It’s been an incredible campaign for Palmer, and with juveniles of the standard of Galileo Gold and Hawksmoor in the yard, the future couldn’t look brighter.

Robert Cowell added further gloss to a terrific day for the Brits, when his high-class sprinter Goldream took the prestigious Qatar Prix de l’Abbaye. Another making it two Group 1s for the campaign, Cowell’s six-year-old has blossomed over the last two years, and with the ground in his favour is one of the best sprinters around.

Given a preferable draw, he was always up with the pace, and though the French colt Rangali swept to the front a furlong out, Martin Harley had just enough time to galvanise the winner to get up in the dying strides. It was another thrilling renewal, and yet another terrific performance from a man on top in a day of outstanding rides. Muthmir was back in third, unable to match the leading pairs acceleration in the final stages. He continues to run consistently well, though a Group 1 success so far eludes him.

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For Cowell the result once again proved just how good he is at training speedsters. Based just outside Newmarket at Bottisham Heath Stud, he’s had several top-class sprinters through the yard in recent times.

Kingsgate Native may be heading towards the twilight of a sparkling career, and had already achieved plenty before coming under Cowell’s care, but he was expertly guided to a Group 2 Temple Stakes win at the age of eight, before finishing runner-up in the same race at the age of nine.

In 2013 it was Jwala flying the flag for the yard when completing a stunning victory in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York. She too ran a stunner in the Prix de l’Abbaye that season, finishing a close fourth behind Maarek. It was tragic that such a promising career was to be cut short when the filly died after a fall in the Hong Kong sprint.

Prohibit had proved the catalyst to Cowell’s spell as one of the leading trainers of sprinters. He had captured the stables first Group 1 during a stunning campaign in 2011. Fresh from a successful spell in Meydan, the son of Oasis Dream (very much a go-to sire for Cowell sprinters) came close to capturing a Group 3 at Longchamp before finishing third to Sole Power in the Temple Stakes. He then finished runner-up in a Group 2 at Chantilly, before getting up late in a star-studded King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot. A success mirrored by stable companion Goldream this year.

On winning his first Group 1 an emotional Cowell had said: “I cannot believe this has just happened - has it happened? Has it really? I am just overwhelmed. I have got glasses on, so you won't notice that I am crying. This is the best day of my racing life without a shadow of a doubt. To train a Group 1 winner has always been a goal of mine.”

Like so many top-class trainers, it’s the grounding and experiences along the way that lay the very foundations to a successful career. On completion of his A-levels in Norfolk, Cowell immediately started work in Newmarket for trainer Gavin Pritchard-Gordon. Two seasons with David ‘The Duke’ Nicholson proved invaluable and this was followed by a spell in France under the guidance of John Hammond.

In 1992 he took a trip to America to gain further experience when assistant to Neil Drysdale. He was part of the team that saw A.P.Indy and Hollywood Wildcat win Breeders’ Cup races. After a brief spell in California it was time to return to England, and with a wealth of experiences under his belt and numerous willing owners prepared to get on-board, Cowell set about becoming a successful trainer on home turf.

After Sunday’s success Cowell said: “It's a big achievement to win two Group 1s in a year with a sprinter, as nothing normally goes right. But well done to Martin Harley, who got the horse on the line when it needed to be.”  The trainer now plans to head to Meydan with Goldream, targeting two particular events for his six-year-old. “He'll go for a conditions race and then the Al Quoz Sprint on World Cup night,” Cowell added.

He’ll be hoping that a successful winter proves the perfect preparation for the yards latest sprinting star, before taking aim at the leading events back at home next summer.

Stat of the Day, 6th June 2014

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day, 6th June 2014

Bouclier was disappointing last night, finishing nearer the back of the pack than the front. He eventually trooped home 9th of the 13 runners, beaten by a good 10 lengths and only 7 lengths clear of the back marker.

It was just one of those days to forget as we move on to the...

6.20 Bath:

Robert Cowell's horses are going pretty well at the moment with 4 winners and 4 placers from 14 runners in the past two weeks and this evening his only runner of the day is Naivasha, a lightly raced 3 yr old filly who'll be partnered by Richard Hughes for her handicap debut.

Robert Cowell doesn't send many runners here to Bath, so when he does, it's worth making a note of them. In fact he has had just 25 horses compete here since 2003, returning 8 winners for a 32% strike rate and level stakes profits of 36.7pts or 146.7% of stakes invested.

From those 25 runners, the record at 7/1 or shorter reads 7/14 (50% SR) for 30.44pts (+217.4% ROI).

More recently (ie since the start of the 2010 campaign) Robert has saddled up 5 winners from 12 (41.7% SR) here for profits of 33.5pts (+279.2% ROI), with the sub-7/1 runners winning 4 of 7 contests (57.1% SR) for a return of 21.3pts (+303.9% ROI)

Bath has also been a happy hunting ground for jockey Richard since 2010 and his performances here in that time can be summarised as follows:

All runners : 21/80 = 26.25% SR for +37.3pts = 46.6% ROI
3yr olds : 11/29 = 37.9% SR, +25.7pts = 88.6% ROI
Females : 11/35 = 31.4% SR, +19.85pts = 56.7% ROI.
3 yr old females : 6/15 = 40% SR , 12.4pts = 82.5% ROI

Runners priced between 13/8 & 9/1 : 18/61 = 29.5% SR for 49.4pts = 81% ROI
3 yr olds : 9/21 = 34.6% SR , +29.2pts = 139.2% ROI
Females : 9/26 = 34.6% SR , +24pts = 92.3% ROI
3 yr old females : 5/11 = 45.5% SR , +1.95pts = 126.8% ROI

Richard Hughes has ridden for Robert Cowell on just four occasions this season, but has won two of those races.

Naivasha is Robert's only runner of the day and he tends to do well with his single entries. Since 2010, there has been 19 occasions when he has been represented by a solo runner priced between 2/1 and 5/1 who was running within 30 days of a top five finish in their last run.

6 of the 19 have gone on to win, giving a 31.6% strike rate and 9.5pts (+50% ROI) profits at level stakes.

Naivasha has acquitted herself well in her short three-race career so far and in her two runs this season, she was 2nd at Southwell, beaten by just a length and a quarter. That was four weeks ago over 5f on the A/W and she then reappeared a fortnight ago to win by a similar margin over 5f on soft ground at Catterick, where she made all and stayed on well.

Conditions underfoot shouldn't bother her today and an opening handicap mark of 66 looks more than fair. She's the least exposed of the field and brings the best recent form into this race.

I expect her to attract attention during the course of the day, but for now she's a viable betting proposition. So, the call today is a 1pt win bet on Naivasha at 9/4 BOG with Bet365. I think that price is on offer in a couple of other places too, but to be sure, please... here for the latest betting on the 6.20 Bath

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Disciplinary Panel lets off Scholfield and Ahern

bucket waterWhat price a bucket of water? In jockey Nick Scholfield’s case it was a six day suspension imposed by the stewards at Huntingdon after he weighed in two pounds heavier than when he weighed out. Read more

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Cecil Heading To Ascot In Form

This week Andy Newton gives you five flat and five NH yards to look out for.......... Read more

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Ian Williams Has His String In Fine Fettle

A good mix of NH and Flat handlers in cracking form at present, while there’s one handler to note that’s having success over both codes........ Read more

Trainer Trends 11th Aug

Horses On The Heath

Horses On The Heath

As we enter the second half of the flat season Andy Newton continues with his popular weekly look at the yards that are too hot to handle and one that that might be worth avoiding for the time being Read more

Dubai Carnival 2010/11 – A Few To Watch

by Ross Birkett, on location in Dubai (lucky bugger!)

Only a few of us are lucky enough to swap the snow drifts, icy blasts and freezing fog of England for the white sands, clear skies and warm sun of Dubai and the same can be said for a handful of plucky British horses this winter.

Albeit, to earn a trip to warmer climes they have had to prove on home soil that they are the best of their division but the riches of Dubai’s Carnival race meeting, which begins early next month, have proven a carrot too enticing for many owners.

Mac Love in Dubai

Mac Love heading to Dubai for the first time

Some well-known faces will be making the seven-hour flight to the Middle East and none come more recognisable than grand old veteran performer Mac Love. The four-time Group winner has had a quiet 2010 season after an injury but it may have been a blessing in disguise as he should still have plenty of petrol left in the tank for an extended campaign and it could prove a profitable move for his trainer, Stef Higgins, for whom it will be a first venture across the Gulf of Arabia.

More familiar to the surroundings is Newmarket handler Robert Cowell. After a Carnival win in 2005 with Forever Pheonix, his horses have been regular visitors and this time around he sends a team of three. Prohibit will be the biggest hope of the trio and Cowell is hoping he can build on his placed efforts at last year’s meeting.

The trainer said: “ Prohibit has had a good year after winning the Shergar Cup Dash and a Listed race. He handles grass and the all-weather and is very versatile.”

4 weeks' free access to Geegeez Gold

“Also going with Prohibit will be Lui Rei and Vitznau,” Cowell added. “We’ve only just bought the pair but Lui Rei ran well in Dubai last year for Marco Botti and we will try and win with him in Listed races over six furlongs. Vitznau came from Richard Hannon’s and he’ll be running in handicaps.”

Never afraid of an international challenge, Stan Moore will be heading to Dubai as well. Despite revealing that he will be sending a number of horses to race in southern France this winter, Moore also looks likely to have a handful to run at Meydan.

Kinky Afro, third in a Group 2 in Turkey last time, is a definite though, as is new recruit Big Creek who was bought in France and was last seen running a disappointing race in the Prix du Jockey Club. An unconfirmed traveller is Senoran Sands who may join the likes of Sgt Schultz in Cagnes Sur Mer.

Another undecided but very exciting runner at the Carnival is Lady of the Desert. The Brian Meehan-trained filly was a huge fancy for the 1000 Guineas but she disappointed there in a major way. Since switched to sprint distances though, she has proven a revelation and rounded off the season with a fine second in the Prix L’Abbaye at Longchamp.

Doug Watson

Doug Watson, one to watch at Dubai Carnival this year.

Not all the runners at Dubai’s premier race meeting are tourists though. The home squad have put up a formidable defence, led by former UAE champion trainer Doug Watson who has acquired 2009 Royal Ascot winner Ouqba and Finjaan, a Glorious Goodwood winner for Marcus Tregoning last year.

Watson said: "They have been here about a month now and settled in well. They arrived in great condition and it is a great opportunity.”

“It is exciting and we are looking forward to the 2011 Carnival - hopefully we have our strongest team ever,” he added.

Other notable runners for home-based trainers include Mikhail Glinka, winner of the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot for Ballydoyle, and Fencing Master, second to Beethoven in the 2009 Dewhurst. Both will be trained by South African handler Herman Brown.

Ross Birkett is a qualified journalist, son of training team Julia Feilden and John Birkett, and currently on a working holiday in the Emirates.