There was some success, more so on the Sunday with two winners with Al Kazeem and Pleascach in the Irish 2000 Guineas.
There is lots of good action taking place in the afternoon alone, so here are a few race selections.
This is a wide-open Class 2 sprint with a valuable pot up for grabs, so it is no surprise to see a big field. Whilst doing the research it is good to find out where winning horses have come from over this trip at York. Over 5f it is seems to have winners all over suggesting it is a big track. However when you look at it with field sizes this big it would suggest a middle-to-high draw would be more beneficial. Winners of 20-runner 5f sprints here have come from stall nine, stall 13, stall 16 and stall 20 twice with three of those results being ran on soft ground.
Normal Equilibrium is a consistent horse and has recorded some good racing post ratings in his races. He was a beaten favourite last time out at Chester where he failed to pick up in the closing stages to finish 2nd behind Silvanus. His mark is now 1lb lower and he is one that should at least place. His win came at Chelmsford on the all-weather where he made all but after that race Freddy Tylicki said he was impressed with the style in which he won, especially up against Mappin Time, who re-opposes today. For this race the cheekpieces have been put on again. He is one that can go from the front.
Astrophysics is one that could outrun his price. He was beaten in a match last time out over 6f when sent off the 1/2F. His only win for Dominic Elsworth came over 6f at Newmarket in August when winning a maiden however his subsequent two efforts were both 2nds. He is now with Ann Duffield, so we’ll see if the switch proves successful. The run at Doncaster is a form line that interests me slightly. He was beaten by the Richard Hannon trained Beacon by a head at a big price in a two-year-olds Group 2 race. This is his first race as a three-year-old so I’m interested to see how he has shaped over winter. Off this mark there are probably others better treated.
Red Baron is an in-form horse. Three wins from his last four starts suggest the six-year-old is on an upward curve and a win in this race would boost the form for a later selection. A winner in the class last time out his mark has only gone up by 4lb, so he looks well treated here however his low draw could be a negative. Monsieur Joe was 4th here behind Out Do and Red Baron at the Dante meeting and a replication of that run would see him close. He was 3rd two days later at Thirsk in a race won by Red Baron and his mark has dropped by 1lb – hardly much leniency from the handicapper.
Advice: Normal Equilibrium (16/1 each-way)
If Red Baron were to win or at least place at York it would give some more credence to the chances of Out Do here. This David O’Meara six-year-old started the season on a mark of 98 but two wins since mean he runs off a mark of 109 here. His form had been at 6f but last time out at York he was dropped to 5f for the first time and it was to good effect. He stayed on well when driven out in the closing stages to beat Red Baron by a neck. His extra bit of stamina may have played a role in that and at the prices for this race he looks the one to be with. This is his first time in Class 1 company but if he travels the way he did at York then he has a solid chance. With nine-runners the draw doesn’t look too crucial as winners have been drawn in all stalls. However there may be a slight advantage to be drawn higher on good ground. He comes from stall five, which isn’t a worry because he’ll be able to get across to the stands side rail and then settled down.
Musical Comedy has tried a variety of trips and despite wins at 6f he is back here at 5f. His only attempt at this trip was over at Naas where he was 2nd to Great Minds in a Listed Race however I’m not sure how strong the form is. Henry Candy’s other useful sprinter runs today and here he steps Music Master down in trip. Wins for him have come over 6f and 7f. His last two efforts have been good ones over a furlong further and both were 3rds in Group company. Stepping down grade and being a strong traveller suggest why he is the favourite however rain earlier in the week may not be too welcomed.
One thing to note is that the Godolphin horse Pretend is a non-runner. He had a good winter on the all-weather winning the All-Weather Sprint Championship and I’m interested to see how he goes on turf. He has been declared to run at Windsor on Monday.
Advice: Out Do (4/1 each-way)
Penhill had been with James Bethell until 4th May when he went to Luca Cumani. He ran just five days after the stable switch and on at Ascot beating New Year’s Night by a shoulder. Despite a 8lb hike in the weights there could still be more to come from this four-year-old gelding, so I believe he is a major player. When re-watching that Ascot run you could arguably slightly upgrade the performance. He was leading early on and was very keen, when Noble Gift came to the front he finally settled and had a tow into the race. He travelled strongly and fought on to hold off the 2nd and 3rd that day. As mentioned he did things wrong and still won, so can improve upon that and go well again.
Mark Johnston has Watersmeet entered and his hat-trick was made when making all when racing on the all-weather. He is likely to jump out in front and should give Penhill something to chase. If those are the tactics then we should see Ryan Moore settle the Cumani horse in behind the pace before angling out for a run down into the final 2f. Watersmeet was a good course and distance 4th behind Astronereus last time out and if he stays straight in the closing stages he’ll have a good chance of making all again. Elhaame makes his seasonal reappearance at a course he has won at previously. He is stepped back up in trip to 1m4f after efforts at 1m2f and has gone down 1lb for his last run in September. Now in the hands of Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor after being purchased from Luca Cumani but one that will likely come on for the run. Majeed is the interesting runner having won consecutively on the all-weather. He has only had seven career starts and turf form is credible. There could be more to come from him in time.
Advice: Penhill (2/1 win)
3:45 Haydock – Sandy Lane Stakes (Group 2)
Limato is unbeaten from five starts and comes here on the back of an impressive win at Ascot in the Group 3 Pavilion Stakes. Four others from that race re-oppose him today but it looks unlikely they’ll be able to get too close to him. If he wins here and comes out of the race well he’ll go off a shorter price favourite in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot than he already is. For this race some bookies have already cut him into evens probably as he is taking on his own age and off level weights.
However I’m taking him on with a good horse. Mattmu ran a big race at York carrying a Group penalty for his Maisons-Laffitte success at the end of last season. In the end he was 2nd to the 40/1 shot Glass Office by a head, which was disappointing as I did end up having a bet on him. In October he was 2nd in the two-year-old Trophy race at Redcar and on that day he was been given 9lb from the favourite, today they race off the same weight which means he’ll have to have improved to have a chance here. The rain earlier in the week will have slowed the ground down, so for me he’ll be an each-way play.
A big player is Adaay whose form has improved recently. In a Listed race as a two-year-old he was 3rd behind Limato at Newbury in July and followed that up on his reappearance when finishing 3rd at Ascot behind the same horse. He raced two weeks ago when winning at Newbury to take his mark to 109. Considering the track and these races favouring highly drawn horses he could be the one from stall nine to show his improvement by causing an upset but it’ll be a tough thing to do.
Advice: Mattmu (5/1 each-way)
This is a part I said I would give a trial to in my pieces. Well last Saturday the only winner came from it in The Corsican at Goodwood. For now it is something where we can mention horses to potentially follow throughout the season.
Kleo (2:00 Haydock) was 2nd behind Bragging on Newmarket on her seasonal reappearance, for which her mark went up by 8lb to 107. Luca Cumani steps her back up in trip to 1m3f here where she takes on her own gender. She won over 1m2f on the final start of last season at Doncaster on soft ground suggesting that won’t be a problem. Today she is one to watch rather than back with stamina to prove and up against some equally progressive types in Talmada and Queen Of Ice. It is a disappointment that Jordan Princess, the other Cumani horse, doesn’t line up.
In the 2:20 at York Clever Cookie runs for the first time since his Chester win when beating Tac De Boistron. However horses carrying a penalty in this race are 0 from 11, which puts a degree of doubt into my mind. He and the Michael Bell trained Big Orange are the two carrying penalties. I don’t doubt the class of the Cookie but he will need fortune considering he gives 6lb to most of his rivals. The fact he seems quite short is also a little off putting.
Discussiontofollow (4:30 Newmarket) is a horse that makes his seasonal return at HQ. He won consecutive races on the all-weather at Wolverhampton at the end of 2013 and completed the hat-trick at Kempton in January last year. He is lightly raced and won over 5f at Ascot in the Heritage Handicap. His next two efforts in big-field handicaps saw him finish 5th and 6th respectively. He is one that should to the fore in this open looking race but will probably be more ready next time out and is likely to progress over the season. He comes up against some nice types, so for me this would be more of a watching brief.
Ballyglasheen returns to the flat after being over hurdles. He is the second favourite for a 1m2f handicap (7:45 Chepstow) and is being well supported this morning. He is race fit after his excursions over hurdles and don’t be too surprised if he wins. In his last outing in the Swinton Hurdle he was a strong finishing 4th. He raced three times on the flat over in Ireland with form figures of 372 and in a weak race could be the way to go.