Talking Horses

    David Lawrence takes a weekly look at the racing scene and as well as his horses to follow, has a statistical look at the Great St Wilfrid Handicap at Ripon, as well as ratings for Newbury’s Group Two Hungerford Stakes, both to be run on Saturday.
  • Wednesday 16 August 2017
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Because Talking Horses goes online every Wednesday, I rarely have an opportunity to write as much as I would like about York’s Ebor meeting, which begins on that day of the week and opens this year on 23 August. I cannot resist drawing readers’ attention to the fixture here, however, with a number of exciting clashes apparently due on the Knavesmire - including those between Barney Roy and Churchill in the Juddmonte International on the first afternoon and Battaash and Lady Aurelia in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes on Friday, 25 August. That quartet have each been recommended in previous editions of my column and I am looking forward to fine performances from them. No horse expected to line up at York next week thrills me more than Enable, though, and John Gosden’s filly, the best middle-distance three-year-old in Europe, according to my figures, is justifiably an odds-on shot to land the Darley Yorkshire Oaks on Thursday, 24 August. Fingers crossed she goes there well.


Newmarket’s seven-furlong two-year-old maiden on 11 August was won by a 33-1 shot, a fact that is likely to suggest to some punters that the form should be treated with caution, but I am pretty sure the event, framed specifically for previously unraced horses, was contested by a number of future scorers. Runner-up Symbolization is among the more obvious members of the field to note over the next few weeks, especially as he started favourite, and, judged on pedigree, he ought to handle a step up in trip.

Richard Hannon saddled first and second in a Lingfield novice event over an extended seven furlongs the following evening and the runner-up, Blanchefleur , performed well enough to indicate she should soon go one better. Never too far off the pace set by her successful stablemate Yaafour, this debutante daughter of Camelot kept on resolutely to be beaten only half a length and appears certain to improve. Being out of a Peintre Celebre mare, Blanchefleur is bred to appreciate middle distances next season.


Abyssinian has improved with every run and, after breaking his duck at the third attempt in a maiden over an extended mile and a half at Leopardstown on 10 August, the son of Galileo looks worth a try in stakes company. Aidan O’Brien’s three-year-old colt was always prominent before registering this three-and-a-quarter-lengths victory from his main market rival, World War, and the manner in which he finished the contest, staying on stoutly when driven, indicated he will appreciate a longer distance.

O’Brien took the seven-and-a-half-furlong Listed event at Tipperary the following evening, thanks to Ballet Shoes , the sole filly in the line-up, and his charge’s three-and-a-quarter-length defeat of Lethal Steps suggests she will hold her own in Group races. Another by Galileo, Ballet Shoes was always in the leading group and, after hitting the front with two furlongs left, she kept on strongly to extend her lead all the way to the line. A step up to a mile in Pattern class seems the obvious option for her now.


Fille de Reve will not need to improve a great deal in order to score in the next few weeks, judged on her debut second in the seven-furlong novice event at Kempton on 9 August. This Ed Walker-trained Iffraaj filly forfeited ground by starting slowly and then, having made progress before the home turn, met traffic problems in the last two furlongs. She finished powerfully once in the clear, though, being beaten just two lengths by Verandah, and, as she is out of a Danehill mare, may well stay longer trips.

Way Of Wisdom did not appear entirely suited to the Tapeta surface at Wolverhampton the following evening - he was awkward leaving the stalls and took time to get on an even keel - but still performed with sufficient credit to indicate he will augment his first-time-out success on turf. Charlie Appleby’s went down by a length and three-quarters to Amazing Alice over six-furlongs at Dunstall Park, but is almost certainly better than he was able to show there and is worth backing in a similar race on grass.

No-one should be too surprised that, following an up-and-down season in 2016, Saeed bin Suroor has a number of talented but lightly-raced three-year-olds in his care and High End looked a case in point when easing home in a handicap over an extended mile later on that 10 August Wolverhampton card. A gelded son of Dubawi, High End was adding to a debut Chelmsford success and, given that he won by two and a quarter lengths from an official rating of 80, might now warrant a shot at a higher grade.

I have referred to Corinthia Knight before - ATR regulars might recall he featured in my Royal Ascot preview - but he warrants a wholehearted commendation after his six-length success in a five-furlong novice stakes at Wolverhampton on 11 August. This Archie Watson-trained son of Society Rock has now collected on all three of the occasions he has raced on an artificial surface and it seems a turning all-weather track is ideal for him. His turf form is solid, no better, but on dirt he is very useful indeed.


William Haggas will soon be introducing a juvenile colt named Tanseeq to the racecourse and, judge on his home work, this expensively-purchased son of Havana Gold should be able to notch a success this season. A £160,000 yearling, Haggas’s charge is a half-brother to two winners and related to the 2006 Gimcrack Stakes hero, Conquest. Given that breeding, Tanseeq is a six-furlong-plus performer.

Private View, a two-year-old in the care of Sir Michael Stoute, is another who should prove suited by trips short of a mile this term and he too has been moving well enough recently on Newmarket Heath to suggest he is capable of scoring in the near future. By Exceed And Excel, he is out of Confidential Lady, heroine of Chantilly’s 2006 Prix de Diane Hermes, so there is obviously quality in his pedigree.

Great St Wilfrid Handicap - Ripon, Saturday 19 August

Regularly backing the favourite in Ripon’s Great St Wilfrid Handicap, this season’s renewal of which is scheduled for Saturday, 19 August, has resulted in a decent profit over the past decade.

Four market-leaders - Markab (7-2 in 2009) Baccarat (9-2 in 2013), Out Do (7-1 in 2014) and Don’t Touch (4-1 in 2015) - have taken this six-furlong William Hill-sponsored sprint in the last ten years.

Supporting second-favourites has been a thoroughly expensive exercise, however, as they have failed to register a single victory since Samwar collected at 15-2 way back in 1996.

Half the winners over the past decade have started at double-figure odds, that quintet being Kostar (10-1 in 2007) Damika (18-1 in 2010), Pepper Lane (11-1 in 2011), Pepper Lane again (20-1 in 2012) and Nameitwhatyoulike (16-1 in 2016), while the remaining scorer in the period under scrutiny was a 17-2 chance, Tajneed, fourth best in bookmakers’ 2008 market.

Restricting bets to runners aged four, five, six and seven has been a wise move in the period under scrutiny, as nine of the last ten winners have come from among those four generations.

Three of them were aged five (Tajneed, Pepper Lane, in 2012, and Out Do, two were four (Pepper Lane, in 2011, and Baccarat), two more were six (Kostar and Markab) and two were seven (Damika and Nameitwhatyoulike).

The one outlier in the sequence covering the period 2007-2016 was the 2015 scorer, Don’t Touch, the first three-year-old to collect since Pipalong in 1999.

Concentrating on previous distance winners has also been of considerable assistance, because nine successes in the past decade - those of Kostar, Tajneed, Damika, Pepper Lane (twice), Baccarat, Out Do, Don’t Touch and Nameitwhatyoulike - were achieved by horses proven over six furlongs.

Last-time-out victories seem of markedly less than average importance, though, with just two winners - Pepper Lane (in 2011) and Don’t Touch - lining up for the Great St Wilfrid immediately after a success elsewhere.

A statistical analysis of the weights carried by winning runners over the past decade is not an obvious route to winner-finding, with burdens from 9st 6lb down to 8st 9lb being borne successfully.

A detailed survey of official ratings may be worth carrying out, however, because eight of the last ten winners - Kostar (98), Markab (100), Pepper Lane (95 in 2011 and 99 in 2012), Baccarat (94), Out Do (94), Don’t Touch (96) and Nameitwhatyoulike (98) - figured within a notably narrow 6lb range.


Bookmakers are offering prices attractive to each-way punters on all the entries for Newbury’s Group Two Hungerford Stakes, to be run this Saturday, 19 August, and it is easy to understand why.

The seven-furlong contest has attracted no fewer than 22 possibles and, according to my figures - see the list set out below - at least half a dozen of them have decent claims of making the first three.

Breton Rock heads my rankings with a mark of 113 and, after scoring on his latest outing, appears, if he lines up, of course, to be a reasonable bet to make the frame at available odds of around 7-1.

David Simcock’s seven-year-old is no good thing, though, as several of his potential rivals - including Richard Pankhurst (112), Jungle Cat (111) and Librisa Breeze (111) - are close behind on form.

Betfred Hungerford Stakes entries
(ranked in order of ratings achieved by 15 August 2017)

Rank Name (age) (gender) Trainer (country) Rating*
1) Breton Rock (7) (gelding) D Simcock 113
2) Richard Pankhurst (5) (entire) J Gosden 112
3=) Jungle Cat (5) (entire) C Appleby 111
3=) Librisa Breeze (5) (gelding) D Ivory 111
3=) Massaat (4) (colt) O Burrows 111
6=) Kaspersky (6) (entire) J Chapple-Hyam 110
6=) Mix And Mingle (4) (filly) C Wall 110
6=) Spangled (5) (mare) R Varian 110
9=) Daban (3) (filly) J Gosden 108
9=) Oh This Is Us (4) (colt) R Hannon 108
11) Nathra (4) (filly) J Gosden 107
12=) Jallota (6) (gelding) C Hills 106
12=) Rusumaat (3) (colt) M Johnston 106
12=) Sir Dancealot (3) (colt) D Elsworth 106
12=) Spirit Of Valor (3) (colt) A O’Brien 106
16=) Cougar Mountain (6) (entire) A O’Brien 105
16=) Eternally (4) (filly) J Gosden 105
16=) Gifted Master (4) (gelding) H Palmer 105
19=) Ibn Malik (4) (gelding) C Hills 103
19=) Mubtasim (3) (colt) W Haggas 103
21) Poet’s Vanity (3) (filly) A Balding 100
22) Psychedelic Funk (3) (colt) G Lyons 98

* All figures have been adjusted to include penalties and allowances

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