Lucky 15 Wednesday May 24th

Tuesday 6.10pm Think we might have some fun from Thursday onwards. Horrible feeling that Atty Persse may scare the opposition away from Haydock on Friday night but the Silver Bowl Saturday looks ultra-competitive, as does the Sandy Lane and a good friend tells me that if Quiet Reflection doesn’t turn up the Temple is wide open and that’s just Haydock! Juicy handicaps all over Goodwood, York and Chester, three courses that couldn’t be more different! Jockey bookings Saturday could be crucial indicators.

Wednesdays Lucky 15

Lingfield (Turf) 3.10               UNDER ATTACK             7/2 general

Ayr 4.20                                  DARK DEVIL                     9/2 Ladbrokes 4/1 general

Ayr 4.50                                  ARITHMETIC                    6/1 general

Kempton (AW) 7.40               MR KHALID                      7/2 general

and here’s why

Lingfield 3.10                          UNDER ATTACK Far from straight forward, Monty Robert’s rug for stall entry and the hood is retained but this gelded son of Dubawi has ability and it was a pleasing run when he was sixth at Newbury after a year off. Here he steps up a furlong+ but goes down a grade and I like top weights racing off the top mark in a limited handicap, here 66-80. Keiran Shoemark rides, claiming 3lbs, and he is a talented and sympathetic jockey with a good race brain. Roger Charlton Stable tour “He is another horse who is new to the yard and a horse that has, in the past, been a worrier and rather nervous. With his pedigree he is bred to improve and stay well and I hope with patience we can get him back to the races and start picking up races.”

Ayr 4.20                                  DARK DEVIL     Delighted to see he opens his campaign over a mile and I think #FantasticMrFahey has found him a ‘soft’ race, a C4 71-85 8F handicap and he is rated OR86! Hanagan goes to Scotland for just two rides and this is the fancied one. At the start of the 2016 season I blogged “Two promising seconds in C4 maidens before narrowly getting home in a C5 maiden over 7F at Redcar. Travels well and looks a trier. He has already been gelded and 3yo mile handicaps look to be his bag.” Just hasn’t bagged one! C4 stiff 8F or possibly 9F, just doesn’t get 10F. He has now! Nolan gave him a great ride at Goodwood to win a C4 8F on Good ground.”

Ayr 4.50                                  ARITHMETIC sum my thoughts exactly “Just the type that this yard do well with and he shaped well last time out over C&D (Strummer well beaten) showing that he was capable of winning off this mark. Did best of those were positioned close up and off the same mark here must enter the equation.” The yard in question is that of the very different Ruth Carr, they live in a field, and her horses are rarely out of the first four and the long reined James Sullivan is the stable jockey. Her last three winners have been 3/1F, 6/1 and 4/1 suggesting her winners don’t go unbacked!

Kempton 7.40                        MR KHALID      Steps up in grade and trip but I think we are yet to see the best of him and my only fears are he is drawn widest of all and the dreaded ‘bounce’ on a second run back from a long lay-off. When he won he was keen early but quickened in the style of a quality horse at the 2F pole then had a good look around and just got home. Experience can only do him good. Like the top weighted favourite he is still unexposed and the selection in effect gets ten pounds. Keiran Shoemark, claiming 3lbs, makes the short hop from Kempton for hopefully a double on the day. Roger Charlton Stable tour “He is new to us and joined us in the Winter from Marco Botti. He is a rather highly strung horse and he won readily on his second start at Nottingham as a two-year-old and was rated 85. He needs to relax a bit and should stay a mile and a quarter and maybe a mile and a half. He is still a little bit of an unknown quantity to us.” Prior to his win at Windsor on April 12th Charlton put on his website “it appears he is going to stay well, and this is a fact-finding mission for us. He has done plenty of work.” After he said “Mr Khalid defied a long layoff to get his head in front at Windsor, under a good ride from Kieran. He has had a few problems in the past and it’s always nice to see them retain their ability.”

Tuesdays Lucky 15 All four supported at some stage once the markets opened and not one involved at the business end. Excuses for some, others just poor!

Nottingham 2.30                   ABIENTO                            4th 5/1                 (6/1 general)

Unable to use good draw along stands rail. Pulled four wide, didn’t get a racing seam until the race was over! Win is imminent but may need some luck. 0-75 C5 6F+. BHA Stewards reports “Adam McNamara, the rider of ABIENTO (IRE), placed fourth, reported that the gelding was denied a clear run.”

Nottingham 3.30                   CELESTATION                 8th of 8! 4/1      (9/2 general)

Got to the front after a furlong. Led to 3F pole then back pedalled rapidly. Small, lacks scope but surely better than this.

Newcastle 3.10                       BOLLIHOPE                       5th 6/1                 (7/1 general)

Completely missed break giving away the five lengths or so that he was beaten by! BHA Stewards reports “The Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination during routine testing revealed that BOLLIHOPE, unplaced, trained by Richard Guest, had spread a right front shoe.”

Newcastle 4.10                       INAAM                                4th 6/1                 (8/1 general)

Midfield and another that didn’t get any room. Don’t think he would have won but would have been placed.


The Epsom Derby 2017 Breakfast with the Stars – ATR Tuesday 23 May 2017

“John Gosden admits Cracksman might lack the requisite experience to win the Investec Derby at Epsom on June 3 – but that the colt is far from alone on that score. With Aidan O’Brien deciding to keep Churchill at home for the Irish 2,000 Guineas, the Derby picture remains a little muddy, with the twice-raced Cracksman and Cliffs Of Moher, who has only had three outings, at the head of the betting.

The son of Frankel was one of a handful of horses to work on the track at the annual Breakfast with the Stars event, a route Gosden took with his 2015 Derby winner Golden Horn. Cracksman, who defeated subsequent Dante scorer Permian in the Derby Trial at Epsom in April, was partnered by big-race jockey Frankie Dettori as the pair worked over a mile in company with the Rab Havlin-ridden Pealer. Gosden only decided to come to the Epsom event after he abandoned plans to run Cracksman in last week’s Dante because he felt it was the right call not to run on soft ground. The Clarehaven handler said: “I’ve been lucky enough to come here and do a nice old breeze with him – not fast, flat-out work, more to get him to see the place again, have a day out. That makes a very big difference and I am pleased we are able to do that. It is a good opportunity but it is not the same as a race. He goes there a fit, happy horse – a touch light on experience, but he is not the only one. I didn’t fancy running him 16 days out in the Dante in testing conditions. The result was positive from our point of view (Permian won), though I was happy with how this morning went and he’s full of himself down at the stables. I think the mile and half will be right up his alley and we didn’t supplement him for fun in April.”

Permian was not at Epsom on Tuesday, but Godolphin racing manager John Ferguson was on hand to watch the action on the track and they may have five runners. While the Mark Johnston-trained Permian does not run in the Godolphin blue, he is owned by Sheikh Mohammed’s son and falls under Ferguson’s remit. Best Of Days, Best Solution, Dubai Thunder and Benbatl are also in the Derby mix. Permian was beaten just a short head by Cracksman in the Derby Trial and has since won a Listed race at Newmarket, as well as the Dante. After his York triumph, connections immediately stated their intention to supplement the horse at a cost of £85,000. Ferguson said: “He’s improved so much from when he ran here. He improved again when he won the Newmarket Stakes and improved again when he won the Dante. I think he’s a horse with a really big chance. At this stage we have five names on the team sheet and we have still got 10 days to go and we will see what happens. All five have genuine legitimate chances.”

Aidan O’Brien expects to be mob-handed in the Derby, with Dee Stakes winner Cliffs Of Moher leading the way. The Ballydoyle handler said: “I think there’s a good chance of having seven runners. The lads (Coolmore) will have to discuss that, but there’s a very good chance that could happen. The next 10 days will be very interesting. They are all on their own separate programmes. There is a programme gone out for each horse, race to race. Some take a lot of work, some take very little work and some take no work. They are all on their programmes. We are all very happy with what we see at the moment.”

Twenty-six horses remain in the Derby, but Dante third Crystal Ocean is no longer involved.


Heres the take on Breakfast with the Stars May 23 2017, 12:23

Moore a ‘definite possible’ for Cliffs “I thought Aidan’s interview was as good as ever, charged with the ministry of disinformation,” joked John Gosden, after the Ballydoyle handler had finished on the phone at the ‘Breakfast With The Stars’ event at Epsom on Tuesday morning. True, we had an understated ‘definite possible’ when Aidan O’Brien was loosely talking about potential jockey bookings for his Derby team and the possibility that Ryan Moore would ride ante-post favourite Cliffs Of Moher. “Ryan will get all the information and talk to everybody, but I wouldn’t say it’s a foregone conclusion, though it is a definite possible,” said O’Brien. That’s about as close as we are going to get to O’Brien admitting Cliffs Of Moher is his number one Derby hope, and the feeling is the son of Galileo has been giving his handler all of the right signals following his victory in the Dee Stakes at Chester earlier in the month. “Before Chester we weren’t even sure he’d get a mile and a quarter. He’s out of a fast mare and we were extra happy with him at Chester as he was relaxed and then went to the line very strong.” As for the rest of his Derby team ‘they should all come forward again’.  As for his Oaks team Rhododendron and Alluringly are the two he is happy with at the moment.

When it comes to actual news regarding O’Brien’s team and Epsom it came when he was discussing the Investec Coronation Cup, as Seventh Heaven, 9/4 favourite in the ante-post betting with Sky Bet, has been ruled out for most of the season. “Seventh Heaven has had a setback so she will be out until the autumn,” said O’Brien. “We’re thinking the brothers Highland Reel and Idaho will go to the Coronation Cup. Idaho is probably stronger and bigger than Highland Reel and we think he is progressing all the time and will progress through the year.”

Cracksman team wary of big field “Ratings have never concerned me,” says John Gosden, when responding to Oli Bell’s question over whether Cracksman could be considered good enough off a rating of 107 going into the Derby. He is up to 109 now, on the back of collateral form following Permian’s Dante win, but if ratings towards the top end don’t bother Gosden perhaps the numbers towards the lower end of the scale do.

Jane Chapple-Hyam’s Diore Lia will become the first filly to run in the race since Cape Verdi in 1992 and is running for charity, as her breeder Richard Aylward is donating any winnings to Great Ormond Street Hospital. She has only beaten four horses in two starts, however, and perhaps she was on Gosden’s mind when he said: “The biggest challenge is for the jockeys to get a clear run. It will be a big field, they’ll be one or two in the field wheeling backwards that probably shouldn’t have been in there and I think the jockeys have a bigger challenge than us trainers.” As far as Cracksman is concerned, though, confidence appears to be growing. “I think the mile and a half will be right up his alley,” said Gosden. “We didn’t supplement him for fun in April, Mr Oppenheimer was in the Galapagos and he gave me permission. We put him in at that stage as it is quite expensive.” Anthony Oppenheimer himself was in more confident mood than he appeared to be pre-Dante and hopes are high Cracksman can give him, Gosden and jockey Frankie Dettori their second Derby success in three years following on from Golden Horn in 2015.

“He’ll definitely stay,” Oppenheimer said. “He’s quite laid back, but he’s woken up since Epsom.”

As for Dettori, an appearance on Loose Women later in the day appeared to be the furthest thing from his mind as he reflected on Golden Horn, while reiterating his trainer’s concerns about the large field. “In my 30 year career it’s the biggest emotion I ever had for many reasons [winning the Derby on Golden Horn].  Everybody says is it the best racing day of the year? Well, it’s only the best racing day of the year if you win it.  Epsom is a unique track and it looks like we’ll have a full field this year as well, so we’ll have to take that into consideration.”

Eminent delights Meade If you’ve glanced at Oddschecker on Tuesday morning you’ll have noticed Eminent has been cut across the board for the Investec Derby. Indeed, he’s 8/1 from 10s with Sky Bet. That’s because he was the one that impressed onlookers the most in his piece of work on the Downs before breakfast, and his trainer was delighted with his son of Frankel as well. “I was absolutely thrilled,” said trainer Martyn Meade. “He did exactly what we wanted him to do, it couldn’t have gone any better. It didn’t go according to plan in the Guineas, but I think this is his distance (1m4f). He hasn’t been away from Newmarket in his entire life so I thought it was important to give him a new experience. He’ll have one more small piece of work now.”

Big-race jockey Jim Crowley partnered Eminent in his work on the track and he too thinks the step up in trip will benefit his mount. “Not so much in the Guineas, but in the Craven he was [crying out for step up in trip],” said Crowley. “Coming here this morning, there’s a little bit of juice in the ground and he loved it. He’s a big horse and I think he’s probably best with a little bit of cut.  They always say Guineas form is the best form for a Derby and this horse finished close to the rest of them. I’m pretty confident he’ll stay. I think he’ll go close.”

Johnston: ‘Permian deserves his place’ There aren’t many Derby horses that begin their Classic campaign with a defeat in a Bath handicap in April, but Permian’s rapid rise to towards the top continues to surprise even those closest to him. But while Mark Johnston openly admits he didn’t think he was a Derby horse six weeks ago, he’s convinced he could well be now and says he fully deserves his billing as a fancied Dante winner that sits in the top five in the betting for Epsom. “We started out in a handicap this year and there’s not many Derby horses that do that, but it was a very good handicap and he’s improved since,” said Johnston. “Newmarket was a step up and the Dante was another step up. We deserve to be there and go there with a live chance.”

With just 16 days between the Dante and Derby this year it has been mentioned that the small gap might be a concern for those that ran at York. But Godolphin Racing Manager John Ferguson joked that such a timeframe was a holiday for a Mark Johnston-trained horse and the man himself quashed suggestions that it might not be an ideal gap between races. “Absolutely not,” said Johnston. “We’re a firm believer in galloping our horses on the racetrack and he won’t gallop again until the Derby. Two and a half weeks is perfect. He’s a very straightforward horse. He is absolutely great. He’s taken all races in his stride and lost just 9kgs after the Dante.  At the beginning of the year we were not thinking about the Derby for this horse, but I look at the bare form and the horse has answered every question. He deserves to be there.”

Cooper delighted with the track The jockeys and trainers were universal in their praise for the condition of the track at Epsom and the course seems to have taken the recent rain really well. After a dry spring last week’s rainfall was welcome and, though there’s a risk of more showers early next week, clerk of the course Andrew Cooper is happy in the build up to the Oaks on June 2. “We had 42 millimetres in the period (last week) and then it’s been dry since Friday,” he said.I’d say we’re the slow side of good, or good to soft good in places maybe. I’ve not been in the best form of calling Flat ground this season. April was difficult as it was dry, but the spring meeting was okay. We raced on the fast side of good ground, but getting that rain last week was important.”



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