ON THE RADAR
Every punter who has backed Churchill for next season's 2000 Guineas must be hoping his prospects are boosted at Leopardstown this Sunday, 23 October. Lancaster Bomber finished second to the 2017 Classic favourite in Newmarket's Dewhurst Stakes on his last start (he was beaten a length a quarter) and, if some commentators are to be believed, that event represents the best two-year-old form of the current Flat campaign. I am not entirely convinced about the strength of the Dewhurst, however, and, while I accept Lancaster Bomber has an obvious chance in the Killavullen, I doubt this seven-furlong €35,400 Group Three contest is quite the straightforward penalty kick for him that many will assume.
Saeed bin Suroor has not enjoyed a particularly productive season (far from it), but his horses seem in much better health now than during the summer and Dubai Horizon posted an encouraging first run in a seven-furlong York maiden on 8 October. Although decidedly restless in the stalls, the son of Poet's Voice broke quite well and, when pushed along approaching the final furlong, mounted a challenge to the winner, Gulliver, which ended in a mere length defeat. Dubai Horizon should take a similar event.
Icespire is highly unlikely to race again during the current Flat season, but hers is definitely a name to remember after her debut victory at Salisbury on 10 October. The John Gosden-trained filly scored by four lengths in a seven-furlong maiden and, while the opposition did not seem particularly strong, the ease of her win was unquestionably impressive. Icespire is by Frankel and from a family that includes Group One scorer Special Duty, so she is bred to smart and ought to handle one mile plus come 2017.
All of the three juvenile maiden events run at Haydock on 14 October seem certain to have contained several future scorers but, by my reckoning, the strongest of them was the six-furlong contest won by Eartha Kitt. That being the case, it ought to pay to follow second-placed Cashla Bay - a first-time-out Gosden-trained daughter of Fastnet Rock beaten just three-quarters of a length. Out of a Group Three winner, the Pastoral Pursuits mare Rose Blossom, she is bred to be pretty useful over sprint distances.
Testing underfoot conditions at Nottingham on 12 October tended to exaggerate the margins between runners, but it was difficult, nonetheless, not to be impressed by the 13-length victory of Horseplay in a division of a one-mile maiden. This two-year-old daughter of Cape Cross's success was yet another example of the way in Andrew Balding's horses improve for their initial start - since she had finished only fourth in her previous race - and, if she progresses again, wins in a higher grade seem a probable.
Morgan made an encouraging initial appearance for Gordon Elliott's stable by landing the concluding two-mile-three-furlong bumper on Cork's 16 October card. A four-year-old gelding - by Big Bad Bob and formerly with Jessica Harrington - he was always travelling well and, having taken the lead about two furlongs from home, drew away to collect by two and a quarter lengths from Bargy Lady. Being a half-brother to that smart chaser The Game Changer, Morgan seems sure to improve with experience.
DIGGING THE DIRT
St Malo achieved enough in a mile-and-a-half Kempton maiden on 12 October to indicate he has the ability to land a similar contest in the next few weeks. This Roger Varian-trained three-year-old took second spot, going down by just a neck behind Vermeulen, and was staying on gamely in the closing stages. St Malo had performed only moderately on his previous outing, finishing fifth at Chelmsford, but that was over ten furlongs, which patently did not suit him as well as Kempton's longer distance.
Cliffs Of Capri looked unlucky not to collect on his debut in a seven-furlong Chelmsford maiden the following evening. Simon Crisford's gelded son of Canford Cliffs encountered traffic problems with a little more than furlong left and, although he squeezed between rivals shortly afterwards, could not quite peg back Voice Of Truth, losing out by a neck. Cliffs Of Capri is from a Royal Applause mare, so is not certain to handle much more of a test, but his Chelmsford run suggested a mile will be fine.
NOTED ON THE GALLOPS
Paul Nicholls seems poised to give Coup de Pinceau his initial run over hurdles in the near future and this powerful-looking four-year-old jumps proficiently enough to suggest it will not be long before he breaks his duck in this new discipline. Winner of a Ludlow bumper in April, Nicholls's charge is well entered up over the next few days, with the champion trainer's horses in outstanding shape at present.
I have noted in the past couple of weeks that there are still plenty of Newmarket-based two-year-olds waiting for their first outing and among the more attractive prospects is Ouja, a Sea The Stars filly in the care of John Gosden. A 200,000gns yearling buy, she is out of a multiple winner by Danehill and related to the 1993 Oaks runner-up, Royal Ballerina. She moves nicely too and should land a maiden.
Roger Varian has had an in-and-out season, with fewer successes than might have been expected, but his team appears to be ending the campaign in decent health, a fact which augurs well for the likes of Commander, a so-far-unraced son of Frankel. Varian's colt, purchased for 670,000gns, hails from the family of dual Group One scorer Regal Parade and shows definite potential during workouts at home.
STATS THE WAY TO DO IT
Racing Post Trophy (Doncaster, Saturday, 22 October)
Punters betting on Doncaster's Racing Post Trophy, this term's renewal of which is run on Saturday, 22 October, should note that last-time-out scorers have a fine record over the past ten years.
Eight of the last ten winners - Ibn Khaldun (2007), St Nicholas Abbey (2009), Casamento (2010), Camelot (2011), Kingsbarns (2012), Kingston Hill (2013), Elm Park (2014) and Marcel (2015) - lined up having collected on their latest outing.
Each of their victories followed a success registered over at least seven furlongs.
One of the other two winners of Town Moor's end-of-season Group One two-year-old contest in the past decade - Crowded House (2008) - had finished runner-up his latest start.
Authorized, who took the prize when it was staged at Newbury in 2006, while Doncaster was being redeveloped, landed the spoils after notching a third place on his only previous outing.
Therefore, Palace Episode, successful in 2005 having finished fifth on his last run, is the most recent winner not to have made the significant placings immediately prior to tackling this one-mile test.
Favourites have also fared remarkably well within my chosen timeframe, collecting seven times, thanks to Ibn Khaldun (11-4), St Nicholas Abbey (13-8), Casamento (2-1), Camelot (10-11), Kingsbarns (15-8), Kingston Hill (7-2) and Elm Park (13-8).
Consistently backing second-favourites, meanwhile, has been an expensive exercise, as none in that category has taken the prize since High Chaparral at 9-2 back in 2001.
Perhaps equally interestingly, especially for each-way punters, is the fact that just two of the last ten winners - Authorized (25-1) and Marcel (33-1) (both were trained by Peter Chapple-Hyam) - started at double-figure odds.
It is worth noting, too, that five in the past decade - Ibn Khaldun, St Nicholas Abbey, Casamento, Kingston Hill and Elm Park - had already contested a race at Listed level or higher.
Four others - Crowded House (Kempton), Camelot (Leopardstown), Kingsbarns (Navan) and Marcel (Newcastle) - were adding to an earlier maiden race win, while Authorized is the only maiden to have notched a Racing Post Trophy victory in the past ten years.
Authorized's success was one of six in the past decade achieved by colts trained in Britain, the others to collect for the 'home' team being Ibn Khaldun (Saeed bin Suroor), Crowded House (Brian Meehan), Kingston Hill (Roger Varian), Elm Park (Andrew Balding) and Marcel.
Each of the remaining four winners in the period covered by these statistics came from an Irish stable, with three of those - St Nicholas Abbey, Camelot and Kingsbarns - being trained by Aidan O'Brien and the other - Casamento - representing Mick Halford.
O'Brien's has been by far the most successful yard over the past ten years - he has saddled several placed runners as well as his trio of scorers - and no trainer based in Britain, apart, of course, from Chapple-Hyam, has registered more than one Racing Post Trophy victory in that time.
Evidence suggesting the draw is important is not persuasive, although this may in part be due to the fact that field-size - as few as seven, as many as 15 from 2005 onwards - has been so variable.
BIG RACE FOCUS
Anyone expecting to see a serious future Classic contender emerge from Newbury's Worthington's Alzheimers Society Stakes this Saturday, 22 October, is likely to be disappointed.
The seven-furlong Group Three event, better known to most racegoers as the Horris Hill Stakes, is generally considered to be a late-season trial for the following spring's 2000 Guineas.
It has a poor recent record for pin-pointing star milers, however, and this term's entries, ratings for whom are listed in tabulated form below, look, according to my maths, well short of top-class.
A mark in the range 116-120 is normally required to win the Newmarket Guineas and, as should be clear from my figures, none of this weekend's hopefuls has attained anywhere near that level.
Worthington's Alzheimers Society Stakes entries
(ranked in order of rating achieved by 18/11/16)
|Rank||Name (age) (gender)||Trainer (country)||Rating|
|1)||Sir Dancealot (colt)||D Elsworth (GB)||102|
|2)||Silver Line (colt)||S bin Suroor (GB)||101|
|3)||Rodaini (colt)||S Crisford (GB)||95|
|4)||Pleaseletmewin (gelding)||R Beckett (GB)||94|
|5)||Lost At Sea (colt)||K Burke (GB)||93|
|6=)||Percy (colt)||G Lyons (Ireland)||92|
|6=)||Sea Fox (colt)||D Evans (GB)||92|
|8)||d'Bai (colt)||C Appleby (GB)||87|
|9)||Law And Order (colt)||J Tate (GB)||86|
|10=)||Colibri (colt)||H Palmer (GB)||85|
|10=)||Executive Force (colt)||W Haggas (GB)||85|
|10=)||Kings Gift (colt)||M Dods (GB)||85|
|13=)||City Of Joy (colt)||Sir M Stoute (GB)||82|
|13=)||Eaton Square (colt)||J Gosden (GB)||82|
|13=)||Gulliver (colt)||H Palmer (GB)||82|
|16)||Time Zone (colt)||P Chapple-Hyam (GB)||81|
|17=)||Bay Of Poets (colt)||C Appleby (GB)||80|
|17=)||Naval Warfare (colt)||A Balding (GB)||80|
|17=)||Sultan Baybars (colt)||R Varian (GB)||80|
|20)||The Grape Escape (colt)||R Hannon (GB)||79|
|21)||Musawaat (colt)||C Hills (GB)||77|
|22)||Gold Award (colt)||M Channon (GB)||76|
|23)||Emmaus (colt)||R Varian (GB)||73|