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Seas aiming to Master Meydan Classic rivals

Master Of The Seas limbers up for a potential tilt at the 2000 Guineas in the Meydan Classic in Dubai on Thursday.

The son of Dubawi looked a top-class colt in the making after winning on his first two career starts at Newmarket last summer, including a Group Two success in the Superlative Stakes in July.

Charlie Appleby’s charge, who was last seen finishing a close-up fourth in the National Stakes at the Curragh in September, is a best-priced 16-1 for the first British Classic of the year at Newmarket in May ahead of facing five rivals at Listed level at Meydan.

“Master Of The Seas is well clear on ratings and we know that he is the class horse in the race,” Appleby told www.godolphin.com.

“Any sign of last year’s performances is going to make him very hard to beat, although this is very much a prep race ahead of his European campaign.

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“We were tip-toeing away with him and he was doing everything nicely at home, so I felt that I would rather give him a run at Meydan.

“We are looking at the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. Hopefully he can get a nice run under his belt before heading back to Europe.”

Master Of The Seas is joined by stablemate Naval Crown, who finished third in the UAE 2000 Guineas three weeks ago.

Appleby added: “Naval Crown has race fitness behind him, having produced a creditable performance in the UAE 2000 Guineas.

“Reverting back to the turf is going to be more to his liking and, if Master Of The Seas doesn’t run up to form, Naval Crown is a horse who could pick up the pieces.”

Mayehaab, Sharp Spun, Yurman and Nibras Passion are the other hopefuls.

Appleby also saddles strong contenders in the two Group Threes on the card.

In the Nad Al Sheba Trophy, the Moulton Paddocks handler runs Ispolini, who needs to raise his game following a couple of below-par efforts so far this year.

“Ispolini has just been struggling to find his form lately – but he is a past winner of this race and any rekindling of that old form is going to put him bang there,” said Appleby.

Ispolini is one of four Godolphin representatives in the one-mile-six-furlong contest along with Saeed bin Suroor’s trio of Global Heat, Volcanic Sky and Brilliant Light.

Volcanic Sky, Global Heat and Ispolini finished second, third and fourth respectively behind the Bin Suroor-trained Dubai Future in the Meydan Cup earlier in the month.

Appleby’s Star Safari will be a hot favourite for the Dubai Millennium Stakes off the back of a course-and-distance win a fortnight ago, with Bin Suroor fielding Bedouin’s Story, Dream Castle and Royal Marine.

“Coming back in trip doesn’t concern us with Star Safari as he broke the track record for this distance at the Carnival last year,” said Appleby.

“He came out of his recent handicap win in good form and we are hoping that he can run a big race in this company.”

Space Blues proves out of this world

Space Blues made a winning return to action after a six-month break with a narrow victory in the stc Turf Sprint in Riyadh.

Winner of all four of his four starts in the summer, culminating in a first Group One success in the Prix Maurice de Gheest, the Charlie Appleby-trained five-year-old looks set for another lucrative campaign.

Krispen made the early running and was pressed by the former Richard Hannon-trained Urban Icon, who set sail for home in the straight.

Space Blues shrugged off his stablemate Glorious Journey, but had to knuckle down for William Buick to catch Urban Icon and last year’s winner, Dark Power.

He managed it in the shadow of the post to score a shade cosily in the end from Dark Power, ridden by Frankie Dettori, with Urban Icon just behind in third.

Appleby said: “Absolutely delighted with that. We knew he was a class horse coming into the race and he had a lovely draw. I could see (the ground) was a bit loose for him and our concern was that he might just spin a bit on it, but he’s come back on the bridle turning in like a class horse and put the race to bed at the right time.

“He travels for fun, watching the race there. I’ll be interested to see what William has to say because obviously Dubai World Cup night (Al Quoz Sprint) has to be taken into consideration.”

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Buick said: “We had a great run through. He broke well and I didn’t want to be too close to the pace. The pace was perfect. It wasn’t too hot or too slow. I followed Frankie before the split in the straight. It was how I hoped the race would pan out. He was the best horse and I didn’t want to go for any heroics.

“You’d imagine this would set him for the Al Quoz.”

Gifts Of Gold sprang a 33-1 surprise when taking the spoils in the Red Sea Turf Handicap.

The lesser fancied of two Godolphin runners, Saeed bin Suroor’s six-year-old came with a surging run to assert a furlong and put the race to bed in the hands of Pat Cosgrave.

Gifts Of Gold had been well-beaten over mile at Meydan last month on his first run since since September, but bounced back from that over this one mile and seven furlongs.

Last year’s winner Call The Wind and Mildenberger set the early pace, until the complexion of the race changed at the top of the straight when plenty of horses were in contention.

Gifts Of Gold’s move proved decisive and the outsider took a handy advantage. Andrew Balding’s Spanish Mission looked dangerous, but had to settle for second place.

Godolphin’s first string, the Appleby-trained Secret Advisor, stayed on for third place.

Pink Kamehameha struck a blow for Japan when landing the Al Rajhi Bank Saudi Derby.

The three-year-old colt, trained by Hideyuki Mori and ridden by Keita Tosaki, proved too strong for opposition from Europe, America and the Middle East.

Soft Whisper, Godolphin’s UAE 1000 Guineas winner, was up with the pace from the start but had nothing left in the final furlong as Pink Kamehameha shot clear.

Steve Asmussen’s American raider Cowan finished strongly to take second place, just ahead of Dettori on the John Gosden-trained New Treasure.

Mori and Tosaki went agonisingly close to a double, only for Buick to deliver fellow Japanese raider Copano Kicking with precision and collar Matera Sky on the line in the Saudi Arabian Airlines Riyadh Dirt Sprint.

It was a repeat of 12 months ago for Matera Sky, when he was agonisingly beaten by New York Central after holding a clear lead.

Buick said: “It’s a big win. It’s the first time I’ve won on a Japanese horse outside of Japan.

“I’ve been to Japan many times and I’ve ridden a lot of winners there, but I never won one on elsewhere. I’m very grateful to the trainer and owner for giving me the ride on this horse.”

British challengers Oxted and Brad The Brief were unable to get in a real blow.

Soft Whisper taking Saudi Derby plunge

Saeed bin Suroor has explained his thinking behind taking on the boys in the Saudi Derby this weekend with his exciting filly Soft Whisper – who will have the assistance of American riding great Mike Smith.

A seven-length winner of the UAE 1000 Guineas last time out, the daughter of Dubawi has skipped the seemingly easier option of the UAE Oaks this week to make the short journey to Riyadh.

She will arrive in Saudi on a five-timer – but faces a stern rival in the shape of Charlie Appleby’s Rebel’s Romance, among others.

“She won well in the Guineas so we’re going to let her take her chance in the big race in Saudi,” said Bin Suroor.

“We’ll see how she does in a race like that. She’s done well since the Guineas, she’s in good form and we want to see how she gets on against the better horses.

“By running her in this we’ll see how good she is.

“After this we have the option of running her in the UAE Derby, that’s another option after this race.

“She’s exciting, we’re looking forward to seeing her run.”

On jockey arrangements, Bin Suroor said: “We booked Mike Smith because he was coming over (to ride Charlatan in the Saudi Cup) and he was available.

“Obviously if you can get a jockey like him, you do. Frankie (Dettori) is riding (New Treasure) for Mr (John) Gosden.”

Bedouin’s steps up for Zabeel Mile challenge

Frankie Dettori is back aboard Bedouin’s Story as he steps up in class for the Zabeel Mile following his last-gasp win in a handicap at Meydan three weeks ago.

The Italian was seen at his very best on the six-year-old, who had been off the track for well over a year.

Having entered the home straight almost last in the 16-runner affair, Dettori timed it to perfection, winning by a nose.

“He was too far back in the race, but we had Frankie on who gave him a good ride,” said trainer Saeed bin Suroor.

“Luckily, he got a clear run all the way and he got there.

“This time he is in a better race – it’s a Group Two, so it’s a big step up for him.

“We’ll give him a chance at this level and see how he gets on, he’s already had a run so he’s fit.

“I don’t think so much he needs a big field, usually at the Carnival they are good races, strongly run, and that suits him.”

Dettori’s mount is likely to have most to fear from Charlie Appleby’s duo of Art Du Val and D’bai. Appleby also runs Velorum.

D’bai seen in winning action at Haydock last summer
D’bai seen in winning action at Haydock last summer (Steve Davies/PA)

Appleby said: “D’Bai ran a very good race in the Al Fahidi Fort and the return to 1600 metres (a mile) is not a concern as he won over the trip as a young horse. We think the trip will suit him at this stage of his career.

“The 1800m (nine furlongs) looked slightly too far for Art Du Val in the Singspiel, so the drop back 200m should be in his favour.

“Velorum needed the comeback run in the Al Fahidi Fort and has improved from it. We think he can be competitive at this level.”

The Group Two Balanchine sees Appleby’s Althiqa and Summer Romance take on Bin Suroor’s Dubai Love and Last Look, with the Roger Varian-trained Stylistique also in the mix.

A’Ali, Caspian Prince, Equilateral, Lazuli, Waady and Nigel Tinkler’s Acklam Express face off in a fascinating Meydan Sprint.

Bin Suroor eyeing big-race opportunities for Soft Whisper

Saeed bin Suroor is considering options in Dubai and Saudi Arabia for his exciting filly Soft Whisper.

Runner-up on her first two starts in Britain last season, the daughter of Dubawi made it third time lucky at Salisbury in August before following up at Pontefract the following month.

She has taken her game to another level since arriving in Dubai this winter – making a successful dirt debut in the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial at Meydan shortly after the turn of the year, before producing a brilliant display in the UAE 1000 Guineas itself under Frankie Dettori.

Bin Suroor said: “She is entered in the UAE Oaks and also the Saudi Derby. She’s in both races and we will keep options open.

“She is a good filly and unbeaten in Dubai. She won the Guineas Trial and also the Guineas under Frankie. She won both races really well and has come back good from her last race.

“We’re looking forward to the future with her.”

In the immediate aftermath of his filly’s latest triumph, Bin Suroor mooted the Kentucky Oaks in America and even the European Classic races as potential long-term targets.

He added: “We’ll go step-by-step with her and see how she runs in her next race.”

Soft Whisper far too good for UAE Guineas rivals

Saeed bin Suroor won the UAE 1000 Guineas for the 12th time as Soft Whisper fairly bolted up at Meydan.

Ridden with extreme confidence by Frankie Dettori, the Sea The Stars filly was even more impressive on this occasion than in the trial three weeks ago.

Content to get a lead until just before the turn into the straight, as soon as Dettori gave his mount an inch of rein, she cruised into the field and pulled further and further clear to win by seven lengths.

Dettori said: “She missed the kick last time, but jumped really good today. I was always in position A and in control.

“When I kicked, she went, it was as simple as that really. I didn’t have to do much and she’s got a bright future.

“Saeed has mentioned everything – Saudi, the UAE Oaks, the UAE Derby – when they win so impressively you can get excited.

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“I just said to Saeed, the last time I won on one as easy as that was probably Dubai Millennium, so it only took me 21 years to win on one as easy, but we have big hopes for her. She might not have beaten much, but you couldn’t help but be impressed.

“We’ll take it one step at a time, nothing tested her today, so it would be wrong of me to say how good she is until she faces better competition.”

Bin Suroor said: “She got confidence when she won last time. She was blowing really hard after it, she needed it, she wasn’t really fit enough but still won.

“She worked really nicely a week ago, the trial put her spot on for this. She’s improving all the time and the trip is fine.

“We’ll keep options open, obviously the UAE Oaks and even the Derby are possible, we’ll speak to Sheikh Mohammed. She’s a filly for the future really.

“We’ll enter her in the Kentucky Oaks and think about the European Classic races.”

Dettori might not have needed to do much on Soft Whisper, but he timed his run on Bedouin’s Story to perfection in the Longines Spirit Collection Trophy.

Charlie Appleby and James Doyle teamed up to win the Cape Verdi at Meydan for the third successive year as Althiqa came from last to first to win impressively.

Following on from the victories of Poetic Charm and Magic Lily in the last two years, the four-year-old filly was backing up a successful season in Europe.

Althiqa was a winner at Newmarket last year
Althiqa was a winner at Newmarket last year (Hugh Routledge/PA)

She won a Listed race in France as well finishing placed in three Group Three events, but was having her first outing for over 140 days.

That mattered little with Doyle settling her right at the rear as Summer Romance and Stunning Beauty ensured a stiff pace.

The latter soon dropped away and Summer Romance was tired in the final furlong, as first Roger Varian’s Stylistique and then Althiqa swept by for a stylish win.

Godolphin dominated the Listed Zabeel Turf with the first six home all sporting the royal blue silks, headed by the unexposed Ya Hayati.

Not seen since being well beaten in the Golden Gates Handicap at Royal Ascot, Mickael Barzalona came with a late run down the outside to beat Bright Melody and Star Safari, with all three trained by Charlie Appleby.

Benbatl camp eye European campaign

Benbatl will miss both the Dubai Carnival and Saudi Cup this year, in favour of a European campaign.

The Godolphin star had been favourite for this year’s Dubai World Cup, having proved his effectiveness on dirt last season with a win in the second round of the Al Maktoum Challenge and when third in the Saudi Cup.

The son of Dubawi is now a seven-year-old entire – but as yet there are no plans to send him to stud.

He is a winner of 10 of his 22 races, including Group Ones in Australia, Germany and Dubai – and the aim appears to be to add a top-level victory in the UK to his CV.

“Benbatl will not run in Dubai or Saudi Arabia this year – we’ll keep him for a European campaign and look to get him out in May,” said trainer Saeed bin Suroor.

“He’s still a good horse, but this year we are looking for better results from him. Last year didn’t go his way – the ground never seemed right, (and) there is no point running him on soft.

“He’s not going to stud just yet, anyway. We’ve got him for this year, then we’ll keep options open.

“Everything over a mile, nine furlongs and a mile and a quarter is suitable for him, that’s what we think.”

Dettori and Bin Suroor together again on opening Carnival card

One of racing’s oldest alliances is reunited at Meydan on Thursday as Saeed bin Suroor and Frankie Dettori team up on the opening night of the Dubai Carnival.

The duo conquered the racing world in the early days of the Godolphin operation, with the likes of Lammtarra, Daylami, Swain, Fantastic Light and Dubai Millennium taking starring roles.

Dettori split with Sheikh Mohammed’s team in 2012 after 18 years, but following a few seasons in the wilderness, the ever-popular Italian built himself back up to once again be very much the man for the big occasion – and Bin Suroor is hoping to relive the glory days.

In Military March, who was among the favourites for the Derby having finished fourth in the 2000 Guineas before injury curtailed his season, Dettori has been entrusted with the stable’s big hope.

Military March won the Autumn Stakes a a juvenile
Military March won the Autumn Stakes as a juvenile (Tim Goode/PA)

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“We are friends, we have been for many years, ever since the start of Godolphin,” said Bin Suroor.

“I’m going to support Frankie with better horses out in Dubai and in the UK when he is free, so I’m looking forward to seeing some good results with him again.

“We had lots of success worldwide. He’s the best jockey in the world and we’d been together for years and years before this and it’s great that it can continue.”

Military March reappears in the Group Two Singspiel Stakes, where he will face a previous Queen Anne winner in Lord Glitters and Ralph Beckett’s smart Kinross.

“He’s obviously coming back off a long break, but since he’s been in Dubai he’s been working really nicely,” said Bin Suroor.

“This is his first race of the year, but we’re looking forward to it – he’s in good condition and good form.

“Of course he’ll improve from the race, he needs it, but so far he’s doing good. He’s happy and fresh in the morning.

“I’m sure Frankie will give him a nice ride and we’ll take it from there.”

Military March has also been given an entry in the Saudi Cup, but has yet to race on a dirt surface.

Dettori and Bin Suroor enjoyed plenty of success together
Dettori and Bin Suroor enjoyed plenty of success together (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

“We’ll see how he gets on in this before deciding about whether to switch to dirt. He has an entry in the Saudi Cup. We might give him a run on the dirt to give him a chance to prove he can,” said his trainer.

Dubai Icon in the opening seven-furlong handicap, Desert Fire in the Dubai Racing Club Classic, Gifts Of Gold in Round One of the Al Maktoum Challenge and Land Of Legends in the Al Fahidi Fort are Dettori’s other rides for Bin Suroor.

He also teams up with Charlie Hills to ride Equilateral in the closing five-furlong sprint.

Soft Whisper books UAE 1000 Guineas ticket

Soft Whisper led home a one-two-three for trainer Saeed bin Suroor in the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial at Meydan.

The daughter of Dubawi overcame a slow start to comfortably land the spoils in the hands of Pat Cosgrave, with her stablemates Last Sunset and Final Thought second and third respectively.

Jumeirah Beach broke well from the stalls and set a good early pace while Soft Whisper had to be rousted to get a decent position after her tardy beginning.

However, she was well-placed at the top of the straight and asserted over a furlong out to win by two and a half lengths, with three and a quarter lengths back to Final Thought.

“She jumped slow from the gate, but her class saw her win well,” said Bin Suroor.

“Halfway in the race she was travelling nicely and that is what she shows us in the morning when she works.

“She’s a nice filly, twice a winner in England. When she came to Dubai in October she wasn’t in her best condition, but in November and December she improved physically and works well in the morning.

“I like her. She’s a strong, big filly now. The next targets now are going to be the Guineas and the Oaks after we speak to Sheikh Mohammed.

“She will get the trip, no problem.”

Bin Suroor was also happy with the runs of Last Sunset and Final Thought.

“Nine furlongs will be no problem for them. They are nice fillies and will improve and in time will be better,” he said.

Cosgrave said of the winner: “She did everything wrong tonight. She flopped out of the gates. I didn’t have a great run round and had a harder race than I wanted to.

“She will learn plenty today and will be a better filly next time.

“It took me to the 100 (metre) marker down the back to pull her up, which is always a good sign. I was confident going into tonight that she’d win and I think, with a cleaner run, she’d have won a lot further.”

Bin Suroor recalls great moments with Frankie Dettori

Before Frankie Dettori’s Indian summer with John Gosden, his best days in the saddle were when teaming up with Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor.

For the nostalgists, the fact the two have linked up again in recent years on the odd occasion has been pleasing to see and has brought back memories of some great occasions.

Dettori – who is celebrating his 50th birthday – rode many modern greats of the Turf for Bin Suroor – names such as Daylami, Dubawi, Doyen, Lammtarra, Sakhee and of course Dubai Millennium.

Frankie Dettori won the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes on Lammtarra
Frankie Dettori won the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes on Lammtarra (PA)

The latter met with just one defeat in 10 career outings, in the 1999 Derby, yet he went on to win the Prix Jacques le Marois, Dubai World Cup on dirt and the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, in which he was ridden by Jerry Bailey as Dettori was recuperating from the injuries suffered in the plane crash that claimed the life of pilot Patrick Mackey in 2000.

As the two men are of a similar age, Bin Suroor felt their partnership was more like a friendship and made travelling the world an enjoyable experience.

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“I’m only a couple of years older than him and we’ve always been good friends since Godolphin started 26 years ago and neither of us spoke that good English at the time,” said Bin Suroor.

Frankie Dettori and Saeed bin Suroor after Russian Snows made sure of the trainers' title in 1996
Frankie Dettori and Saeed bin Suroor after Russian Snows made sure of the trainers’ title in 1996 (John Giles/PA)

“He’s a great man and a wonderful jockey – one of the best in history. He has done so many good things for racing worldwide.

“We would travel all over the world together and everyone wanted to speak to him. He always had time for them. Pictures at airports, train stations and in restaurants.

“He rode so many big winners for me and he’s still doing it all now, he’s still at the top of the tree. He is what you need for racing – people love him everywhere.

“Wherever you go, Hong Kong, Dubai, Australia, America everyone loves him.”

As it often the case with the world’s best in any sport, it has been said that the bigger the event, the better Dettori rides and Bin Suroor agrees.

“Because we are friends the winners together mean more. He thrived in the biggest races, they bring the best out of him,” he said.

Frankie Dettori receives his prize from The Queen, after winning the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 1999
Frankie Dettori receives his prize from The Queen, after winning the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 1999 (Neil Munns/PA)

“Daylami would have been our best together, we loved him and he’s my favourite horse. He won all over the world.

“I remember before the Breeders’ Cup in 1999 I told everyone before the race he could not get beaten, which was stupid really. Thankfully he won. Frankie gave him a good ride.

“He’s an amazing jockey, very rare. You can hear the crowds shouting for him, not the horses!”

Dream Castle ready for Bahrain International Trophy

Dream Castle is all set to bid for glory in the Bahrain International Trophy.

Saeed bin Suroor’s six-year-old is due to come up against Aidan O’Brien’s 2019 Irish Derby winner Sovereign, last year’s Queen Anne Stakes hero Lord Glitters and Charlie Appleby’s Loxley on Friday.

Loxley will be representing Godolphin, as will Dream Castle – a winner at the highest level in Dubai in 2019.

“Dream Castle is a nice horse who always tries his best,” said Bin Suroor.

“The surface will suit him, so we’re looking for a good run from him.

“So far he’s in good form. He won well the race before his last one, and he ran well last time out, so we’re looking forward to seeing him race again.

“He’s won a Group One in Meydan. He’s very good there – I think he enjoys being out there and he likes the track, (so) that’s why I think Bahrain might suit him.

“The horse is tough. He’s doing well, and this looks a good race for him over a mile and a quarter – he’s fine over anything from a mile to 10 furlongs.”

Andrew Balding’s Bangkok and John Gosden’s Global Giant are other notable runners, along with the Hollie Doyle-ridden Deirdre.

Soft ground scuppers Benbatl’s Ascot plans

Saeed bin Suroor has been left cursing the weather which has forced him to rule Benbatl out of Qipco Champions Day at Ascot.

The multiple Group One winner was being prepared for a crack at either the Champion Stakes over 10 furlongs or the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes over a mile – in which he ran last year.

Benbatl was sent off 7-2 favourite for the QEII 12 months ago but trailed home last of the 14 runners, and Bin Suroor did not want to run him on very soft ground again on Saturday.

Instead, he will be shipped back to Dubai for the Carnival – with the World Cup once more an aim, a race for which he was among the favourites this year before the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

“There was no point running him at Ascot (this weekend) – we ran him last year, and he hated it,” said Bin Suroor.

“We were keen to run, (and) he’d been working well, but we know he doesn’t like soft ground.

“He won’t go to the Breeders’ Cup. We’ll take him back to Dubai, prepare him for races out there for him. We’ve had a bit of a wasted season.

“Saudi Arabia is (also) one of the options for him, like last year.”

Benbatl made his debut on dirt in the inaugural Saudi Cup in February, and finished third to Maximum Security.

Racing Insights, 30th September 2020

One of the elements that separates the betting improvers from the stay-the-samers is reviewing matters after the fact. Because Racing Insights is more of a stream of punting consciousness than a tipping column, it allows us to - Janus-like - look back as well as forward. That's a verbose way of saying we'll include any observations from the previous day which might be useful in future. We might call that Racing Hindsights...!

Racing Hindsights

Looking at yesterday's inaugural offering - link here - the draw/pace combination did for form horses Equidae, as predicted, though the market also foresaw that, his odds drifting from 7/2 to an SP of 15/2. He finished 11th of 14 having got shunted wide and never securing an effective racing position.

At the sharp end, I overlooked the winner - and favourite - Ugo Gregory on the basis that I didn't want to be with a hold up horse. As it happened, there was a lot of pace, more than expected, and that set things up for the well-drawn waited-with victor.

A couple of takeaways: firstly, in this race, Nobby Nuts was ridden more patiently than has recently been the case, and encountered a little trouble in running. He stayed on for a never nearer sixth, and might have been fourth with a clear passage. He wasn't unlucky as such, as he'd have never troubled the first two, but he goes in my tracker with the following comment:

Nothing to go overboard on, but could be a fair price and offer a bit of value in a big field soon.

The second point, and a good one for me personally, was that although the prominent low draws didn't land the spoils in the featured seven-furlong handicap, they did in the other two races. Both Highfield Princess (11/4) and Redarna (13/2) were very well backed (including by me 🙂 ) and won comfortably. The takeaway is that Ayr's seven furlong range is one where low/prominent is a setup from which to find a bet; and kudos to Dave Renham for flagging that. His work is something we may return to regularly.

*

Racing Insights, 30th September 2020

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To Wednesday's racing. Feature of the Day is the Trainer Statistics report, which is free to all registered subscribers. Register here if you need to.

Wednesday's free Races of the Day are

Let's take a look at the Trainer Stats report, Course 5 Year view. I have some filters set, which are 15 runs minimum, A/E 1.25 and IV 1.5. If you want to know more about those metrics, you should check out this important post. Just understanding these numbers - and putting them to work for you - will give you a head start on almost all punters. Obviously, feel free to set these filters up in a way that suits your personal tastes.

I've clicked the A/E column heading to sort by that column, largest first, and that gives me a list of trainers and their horses to look at more closely.

Clicking the 'Show/Hide Inline' button reveals the actual runners:

I'm immediately struck by the top row which tells me that Saeed bin Suroor has a 50% strike rate at Nottingham in the last five years. When I click on the little black down arrow to the left hand side of his name, it shows me his actual runners. (This past history table can be sorted by any column, so you can see, for example, whether they were all shorties, or for a particular jockey, or if the winners were a long time ago, etc).

There's lots of recency in the winner column, and for a range of jockeys. Most were at the 5/1 or shorter price point - no odds on site at the time of writing - so we might want to focus at the sharp end.

Picking between the quartet is bound to lead to egg on face, but I will highlight one of them for the sake of this piece. Global Hero had a long time off and was entitled to need his comeback run. We can see from the inline trainer data below that bin Suroor's record with horses having their second start in a handicap (note also the HC2 indicator adjacent to the horse's name) is very strong - 28% - as is his record when he steps one up markedly in trip, nigh on 30% of those having won in the last two years.

It's a competitive race, and a good race, too; but he is interesting as a starting point.

 

Summary

That's all for today. Remember, these articles will always have a beginning (the retrospective on the previous day) and a middle (some thoughts and observations around potentially playable angles for the following day's racing), but they may be lacking an end - a pick.

Sometimes they will, sometimes they won't. As you'll doubtless already be tired of reading, that's not the purpose of Racing Insights.

Do please leave a comment with any thoughts or questions you have, and we'll try to address them in subsequent days.

Matt

p.s. Racing Insights 'officially' replaces Stat of the Day from tomorrow evening with the first day's racing featured being 1st October.

Benbatl to ‘improve a lot’ from Joel Stakes return

Saeed bin Suroor believes Benbatl just lacked a little in the race-fitness department when he was beaten at Newmarket in the Joel Stakes.

Winner of the race last year after a lengthy absence, this time he returned to action for his first start since going close in the inaugural Saudi Cup more than 200 days previously.

With Frankie Dettori in the plate for the first time last week, the six-year-old adopted front-running tactics.

But he eventually had to settle for third after failing to fend off the younger Kameko, who was returning to winning ways for the first time since his 2000 Guineas success.

“He’s good after the race – which is the main thing,” said Bin Suroor.

“Talking to Frankie after the race, he just said he needed it and that he would improve a lot for it.

“He’s entered in both races at Ascot on Champions Day, the QEII and the Champion Stakes, and we’ll make a decision closer to the day.

“But we know, come that time of year, that the ground will probably be soft.”

Such conditions are far from ideal for Benbatl.

Bin Suroor added: “We took a chance last year and ran him on it – but he was last, so we won’t do that.

“We’ll keep him entered – and if the ground is good we will run him.”

Although Benbatl is a seasoned traveller, Bin Suroor is not contemplating taking his stable star to the Breeders’ Cup.

He said: “We’re not thinking of the Breeders’ Cup at this moment.

“The races for him are in Saudi Arabia and Dubai – they’re the ones for him.

“He ran well, (so) we were pleased.”

Oisin Murphy anticipating tough test for Kameko in Joel Stakes

Oisin Murphy is well aware of the task facing 2000 Guineas Kameko as he prepares to lock horns with Benbatl in the Shadwell Joel Stakes at Newmarket on Friday.

Andrew Balding’s Kameko provided the reigning champion jockey with his first Classic success over the course and distance in early June.

Murphy also knows the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Benbatl well, having steered him to two of his three Group One wins to date, and when he dominated from the front in this Group Two contest 12 months ago.

Murphy said: “Benbatl is one of the highest-rated horses in the world and Kameko is a Classic winner who ran the fastest ever Guineas, so it’s a mouthwatering prospect.

“It will be hard for Kameko with the penalty – we have to give Benbatl 1lb – but there were limited options and he’s in super form and ready to run.

“I obviously love Benbatl. I only raced against him once and that was in the Juddmonte International when I won on Roaring Lion.

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“I’ve ridden Benbatl in work recently as well and he’s also in super form.”

Oisin Murphy knows Benbatl well
Oisin Murphy knows Benbatl well (John Walton/PA)

Kameko has plied his trade over a variety of different trips since his Guineas triumph – finishing fourth over a mile and a half in the Derby, over a mile in the Sussex Stakes and over a mile and a quarter in the Juddmonte International.

Murphy feels the return to a mile will see him at his best in what is a prep race for next month’s QEII at Ascot.

Murphy added: “He travelled very well in the Sussex and got into second place in the Juddmonte, having sat last, and then his run petered out at the line.

“Hopefully the ground continues to dry today – both he and Benbatl want top of the ground.”

Frankie Dettori and Saeed bin Suroor team up
Frankie Dettori and Saeed bin Suroor team up (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

Following last year’s success, Benbatl floundered in the mud in the QEII at Ascot, but he bounced back with successive wins in Dubai earlier this year.

Third place in the inaugural Saudi Cup set him up for a tilt at World Cup glory, only for the Meydan showpiece to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Benbatl missed his intended comeback in last month’s Celebration Mile due to the prevailing rain-softened ground at Goodwood – and Bin Suroor is keeping his fingers crossed conditions on the Rowley Mile are not too testing for Frankie Dettori’s mount.

Bin Suroor said: “Benbatl is doing good. He did his last piece of work on the Watered Gallop here in Newmarket and he is doing really well.

“It is his first run in Europe since he went to Dubai and Saudi Arabia. We are looking for a good result from him.

“It’s a tough race, but he won it last year and it’s the right race for him.

“We don’t want the ground to be too soft – good ground would be good for him.”

Six runners remain after both Duke Of Hazzard and Urban Icon were pulled out on Friday morning, because of softening ground.

The field is completed by Regal Reality, Top Rank, Zabeel Prince and Tilsit.