German-Thoroughbred.com Sweet Solera Stakes 2yo Fillies 7f Group3

newmarket july course viewNewmarket July Course –  Saturday

The race is named after the unfashionably bred Sweet Solera, who won the 1000gns and Epsom Oaks in 1961, and became Timeform’s top rated filly of the year. Irish bred, she was foaled in the Emerald Isle in 1958, but we have yet to see a filly that hails from her country of birth win the race named in her honour, a situation that Irish trainers, Jessica Harrington and Joseph O’Brien will be keen to correct at the weekend.

Jessica Harrington
Moone
Photo: Patrick McCann 24.02.2017Jessica runs the daughter of Poets Voice, One Voice, and she certainly looked capable of further progress when winning a 7f Leopardstown Maiden by 3L 16 days ago, on only her 2nd racecourse appearance. She beat the debutant Auxillia who went on to win her next race by 5L, and while there is nothing special about the form as it stands, Jessica’s contender, is a nicely bred filly, by the highly promising young Stallion, Poets Voice, who sadly died last year. Mrs Harrington, now in her seventies is still a superb trainer and if her filly takes up Saturday’s engagement, (also entered at The Curragh on Friday) is well worth considering.

Joseph O’Brien is no mug either and his contender, Unforgetable, ran a solid race 16 days ago to finish 2nd in a Leopardstown Group3. She was beaten 3 1/2L by his fathers filly, Love, but there was no disgrace in that, as the daughter of Galileo had won her previous race, and may prove to be yet another high flyer from The Ballydoyle Academy. Back in 4th at Leopardstown was the 2/1 favourite, Precious Moments, who had run well in the Group3 Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot and finished a close 2nd in a Curragh Group2, giving plenty of substance to the form.

The Richard Hannon trained daughter of Invincible Spirit, Cloak Of Spirits, made a very pleasing racecourse debut 15 days ago, when winning a Fillies Novices Stakes at Ascot. She won by 3 1/2L despite running a little green, but a word of caution as the well backed favourite, Dubai Paradise, was leading at the 2f marker when weakening quickly and was eased right down.

charlie appleby lincolnThe Charlie Appleby trained daughter of Kodiac, Light Blush, made a winning debut over Saturday’s course and distance, (July13 Good-Firm) And was sent off favourite for a Sandown Listed race 12 days later. In a heat where Frankie Dettori, riding Saturday’s opponent, Walk In Marrakesh, was able to dictate things from the front, the Italian Maestro got first run, and managed to cling on from the closing Light Blush by 1/2L, with another of Saturday’s contenders, West End Girl, a further 1 1/2L back in 4th. It is quite possible that the Sandown form can be reversed, ( West End Girl was also keeping on when not getting a clear run and was hampered inside the final 60 yards). It’s worth noting that Light Blush is out of the Listed winning mare, Marsh Daisy, who’s best form was all on soft ground so if it does come up on the easy side at the weekend, confidence would be increased.

Despite losing 4L at the start, the Ed Vaughan trained Ultra Violet made a stunning start to her career, hacking up by 8L in a 6f Maiden Fillies Stakes over Saturday’s course 7 weeks ago. The form hasn’t really been franked and the time was ordinary, but she couldn’t have been more impressive, and being by the highly successful dual 2000Gns winner Gleneagles out of a mare that stayed 10f the trip on Saturday can evince further improvement.

It is 27 years since Sir Michael Stoute last won The Sweet Solera but runs a likely looking type in the Sir Evelyn De Rothschild owned and bred Soffika. By the miler, Zoffany, she has won her only start, a 6f Fillies Novices Stakes at Pontefract with a minimum of fuss and as a half sister to Dubka, (also trained by Sir Michael and stayed 14f) she will be well suited by further. Improvement will be required but with these connections it won’t come as a great surprise if it’s forthcoming.

Selection : Light Blush

EW.           : unforgetable if abs, Soffika

John Gray

Kings Stand Stakes (Group1) 5f Royal Ascot Tuesday

battaash horseInaugurated in 1860 The Kings Stand Stakes regained it’s Group1 status in 2008 and with a pot of over £300,000 going to the winner is always one of the most keenly contested heats of the week. The first three home in last year’s renewal, Blue Point, Battaash (pictured), and Mabs Cross, are all in contention again and connections of the former will be hoping their son of Shamardal can confirm the form.

Trained by the excellent Charlie Appleby, the 5yo entire has continued to progress and last time out, (80days ago) landed a Meydan Group1 over six furlongs. He won last year’s renewal impressively by 1 3/4L and a neck from Battaash and the strong finishing Mabs Cross, and a repeat performance would make him the 12th animal to double up in the long history of the race. However, he has been campaigned over a furlong further in his last two races, and his previous two attempts at 5f were unsuccessful. He was only 3rd in York’s 5f Nunthorpe Stakes last August, a nose and 2 1/4L behind Alpha Delphini  and Mabs Cross, and was beaten 5L at odds of 1/4, again over the minimum distance at Meydan in February. I just wonder if he retains the blinding speed that won him last year’s race.

Battaash wasn’t the most consistent horse last term, he could only finish 4th when odds on for the Nunthorpe and again finished in the same slot when sent off a 11/10 shot for Longchamp’s Prix De L’Abbaye. However, following wind surgery and a 230 day break, the apple of trainer Charlie Hill’s eye, made an impressive seasonal debut when winning Haydock’s Group2 Temple Stakes by 2 1/2L and 3/4L from Alpha Delphini and Mabs Cross in a time 1.3 seconds faster than standard. By the excellent sire of sprinters, Dark Angel, Battaash is a genuine five furlong horse and if his wind operation has really worked the oracle, he will be hard to beat on Tuesday.

The terrific mare, Mabs Cross continued to progress for the rest of last season, and following a defeat in York’s Group1 Nunthorpe by the narrowest of margins, ended the season in a blaze of glory landing The Group1 Prix De L’Abbaye on “Arc” Day. She made a winning seasonal debut in Newmarket’s Palace House Stakes, getting up in the shadow of the post to beat Tuesday’s opponent, Equilateral. Her run last time in the Temple Stakes behind Battaash was disappointing but she will meet the Hills horse on 5 lbs better terms on Tuesday and her cause at Haydock wasn’t helped by losing a shoe.

oddsguru Royal AscotThis is by no means a three horse affair and Aidan O’Brien with 7 entries at the time of writing seems to be making a determined effort to land one of the few Royal Ascot
Group1s to have escaped him. All his seven are from the Classic generation and the two that catch the eye are the colt Sergei Prokofiev, and the filly, Fairyland. The former is by that phenomenal source of speed, Scat Daddy, and this top stallion has certainly injected plenty of speed into Sergei Prokofiev as 3 of his 4 wins have come at the minimum distance, and the 4th at 5 1/2f. His best performance as a 2yo came in Newmarket’s Group3 Cornwallis Stakes, when despite not getting the clearest of passages, he quickened inside the final furlong to win very comfortably by 1 1/4L. Slowly away, he could only finish 4th, 2 1/2L behind Mabs Cross in The Palace House Stakes 45 days ago, but plenty of improvement can be expected from the 3yo in the meantime, and with all this rain about its worth noting that he won his second race by 7 1/2L on soft ground.

The filly Fairyland, won 4 of her 5 starts as a 2yo, including the Group2 Lowther Stakes
(6f Gd/Fm York) and the Group1 Chevely Park Stakes (6f Gd/Fm Newmarket) but she didn’t seem to get home in either the English or Irish 1000Guineas this term, and now reverts to sprinting. She is by that strong influence for speed, Kodiac, and is out of an unraced daughter of that speedy mare Land Of Dreams, (won Doncaster’s 5f speed test, The Flying Childers) who also is the mother of the triple Group1 winning sprinter, Dream Ahead. So it is a pedigree packed full of speed and if she takes up Tuesdays engagement, (also entered in Friday’s 6f Commonwealth Cup) could be interesting at her current odds of 20/1

archie watson oddsguruThe Archie Watson (pictured) trained 3yo, Soldiers Call, did marvellously well for a 2yo to finish 3rd in the Prix De L’Abbaye, just a neck behind the winner, Mabs Cross. But for a fruitless trip to the Breeders Cup this would have been a terrific end to a 2yo season that included wins in the Windsor Castle Stakes over Tuesday’s Course and Distance, victory in a Chantilly Group3 (on soft) and a win in Doncaster’s Group2 Flying Childers Stakes. He made a satisfactory start to his 3yo career finishing a close 3rd in a York Listed race 33 days ago which should have put this son of Showcasing spot on.

Charlie Hills 2nd string, Equilateral, is not without a chance as he took a definite step forward when finishing 2nd to Mabs Cross in the Palace House Stakes 45 days ago. He was beaten a neck but looked the winner everywhere but on the line. This was an excellent effort and if the speedily bred son of Equiano has continued to progress could get involved.

Selection : Battaash     Danger: Sergei Prokofiev
EW.           : Fairyland.    (If Abs)  Soldiers Call

John Gray

Unibet Lincoln Handicap 1m (str) Doncaster Saturday

lincoln handicap guruWith 22 runners lining up for the first big handicap on grass, of the flat racing season, Saturday’s Lincoln, looks a tough nut to crack. However some pretty strong trends have emerged in more recent renewals, not least that 9 of the last ten winners have come from the the relatively narrow weight band of 8-12 to 9-4. Four year olds have been the dominant age group, winning five times in the same period, and indeed have won the last three runnings of The Lincoln. Good form over a straight mile continues to be a definite plus, and trainers with good previous form in the race are always worth noting. Richard Fahey has won twice in the last decade, and canny John Quinn, landed the race for the second time in 2013, but the handler with the most outstanding recent record in the contest has been David O’Meara. He trained the runner up in 2015, the 4th home in 2016, the winner in 2017, and last year’s runner up, Lord Glitters, all of which has to make his recent stable import, Humbert, of particular interest.

Previously trained by Hugo Palmer, for whom he won 4 of his 12 starts, he moved to the O’Meara yard, (staying in the same ownership) at the end of January, and will be having his first run for the yard on Saturday. It’s worth noting that David’s previous winner, Bravery, followed a similar path, making his debut for the stable in The Lincoln. Humbert ran an excellent race over Saturday’s course and distance in last year’s Spring Mile, going down by a neck to High Acclaim, and put in another sterling effort 4 weeks later over Newbury’s straight mile, when going down by a neck to Taqdeer in the 22 runner Spring Cup off a mark of 94. He went on to win a Class2 Newcastle Handicap (AW) off a mark of 97 in June before losing his form in his last two races. If recapturing his previous excellent form, and he’s in the right yard to do it, the son of Kodiac looks fairly handicapped on Saturday’s mark of 98, giving him a racing weight of 8-12 and has plenty in his favour.

Charlie Appleby (pictured) won with the 4yo, Secret Brief three years ago, and favourite backers will be hoping that he can do so again with the current market leader, another 4yo, Auxerre. charlie appleby lincolnLightly raced, the son of Iffraaj has won 3 of his 4 starts, and pretty comfortably won his first attempt in a handicap off a mark off 93 last October, (Kempton 1m AW). Out of the Daylami mare, Roscoff, he is a half brother to the two listed winning fillies, Isabel De Urbina and Manuela De Vega, as well as the very useful Hong Kong handicapper, Hero Look. He certainly lacks nothing on the breeding front and looks quite well handicapped on a mark of 100 giving him a racing weight of 9-00. The only question is, how will he cope with Saturday’s Cavalry charge up the Doncaster mile?

Having moved from Andrew Balding, the 5yo, South Seas, will be making his debut for Philip Kirby. The son of Lope De Vega was a very promising 2yo, winning his first 3 races including the Group3 Solario Stakes, and coming 2nd in a French Group1. However he failed to catch the judges eye in any of his subsequent 9 starts but did run better in the last two, going down by 2 1/2L to Enigmatic (rec20 lbs) off a mark of 102, and by 5 1/2L to Sharja Bridge off the same mark, in Ascot’s Balmoral Handicap last October. The handicapper has cut him some slack with a mark of 100 on Saturday, and if his excellent new trainer, and change of scenery, can eke out a little more improvement he could be interesting.

The ex Godolphin horse, Saltonstall had some interesting form when trained by Mick Halford in Ireland, particularly when gaining his sole handicap success at The Curragh last May.  Racing off a mark of 98 he won pretty comfortably and had the now rated 103 Massif Centrale (gave 2lbs) 3 1/4L back in 3rd.

GOWRAN

Ado McGuinness must have a fine chance with Saltonstall

He joined the upwardly mobile team of County Dublin Handler, Adrian McGuinness, (current strike rate 44%) at the end of January, goes well after a break, and looks well handicapped on a mark of 100 giving him a racing weight of 9-00.

The Andrew Balding trained Zwayyan has won 6 of his 21 starts and made a good start to the current campaign when comfortably taking a Class2 Wolverhampton Handicap off a mark of 97, 11 days ago. He has won over Ascot’s straight mile and usually improves for a run so could be interesting.

John Quinn will be hoping to win the race for a third time, with the 6yo son of Fast Company, Safe Voyage. A winner of 6 of his 16 starts, he has been mostly campaigned at distances short of a mile, (unsuccessful in both attempts at the trip) but looked as if he would stay a mile when winning a valuable 16 runner handicap on yielding ground at last Summers Galway Festival over 7f. In a fast run heat for the conditions, he made eye catching headway up the stiff Ballybrit hill, and kept on strongly to land the spoils. The messages from his pedigree are mixed, but his half brother, Lyrics Lion, stayed 10f and Mr Quinn certainly knows what is required.

The David Barron trained Kynren is attracting plenty of attention in the markets, and the son of Clodovil meets Humbert on 3 lbs better terms for the 2 1/2L he was behind him in last year’s Spring Mile over course and distance. He improved steadily through the course of last season so could be well treated on a mark of 98. He stays further than a mile and has one of the best pilots for these big field handicaps in the plate, Robert Winston.

Selection  : Saltonstall
EW.            : Humbert.   Zwayyan.

John Gray

Stobart Rail Northumberland Plate Handicap 2m 1/2f Newcastle Saturday


First run in 1833 The Northumberland Plate has never been an easy heat to solve, but, with four “jollies” in the last decade getting their head in front perhaps it’s getting a little more punter friendly. Last year saw the inaugural running of the contest on Newcastle’s new, All-Weather Tapeta surface, and the hugely valuable prize went to the Charlie Appleby trained Antiquarian for the “boys in blue” from Godolphin. Significantly his only experience of the Tapeta Surface had been gained at Wolverhampton in his first two races. He came second first time up, and then won next time, demonstrating his ability to handle the surface. Current market leader, Flymetothestars has had a similarly happy experience of the Tapeta Surface, winning his two races on it, both here at Newcastle.

The Sir Mark Prescott trained 4yo showed plenty of pace to win over 12f at Newcastle last October, and then demonstrated his strong stamina credentials, when winning on his reappearance over Saturday’s course and distance six weeks ago. Racing off a mark of 91 he stayed on strongly to beat Endless Acres by 2L, with Saturday’s opponent, Champagne Champ, 7L back in third. Beautifully bred, by Sea The Stars out of the Saddlers Wells mare Precious Gem, (won four of her eleven starts for Dermot Weld), Flymetothestars almost certainly, after only four runs, has plenty of improvement to come, and doesn’t look badly treated off a mark of 100. The one slight reservation would be his lack of experience, but his canny trainer knows how to prepare one for these big handicaps.

Top northern handler, and local boy, Brian Ellison, would dearly love to win “The Plate” and did go very close with his doughty stayer, Seamour, in last year’s renewal where he raced off a mark of 99. The 6yo son of Azamour, looked home and hosed when going 3L clear at the furlong marker only to be run down by Antiquarian in the shadow of the post. He only had two more runs last season, resulting in a fine second in a Class2 14f Doncaster handicap off a mark of 103, and then went down by a diminishing nose, when just failing to get up in a 2m Newmarket listed contest. He made a highly satisfactory start to this year’s campaign when finishing third to Dal Harraid over 14f at York five weeks ago, a race he used as a prep for last year’s contest. Despite being 4lbs higher this time around, but with the benefit of last year’s experience, (was also 6th in 2015 ) Seamour has to have a serious chance of fulfilling his talented trainers dream.

James Fanshawe won this in 1995 with Bold Gait carrying the welter weight of 9-10, and following the heroics of Big Orange in last week’s Ascot Gold Cup, must be hopeful that his Higher Power, who ran second to the Gold Cup winner in a Sandown Group3 last time out, might provide him with a second success. However Big Orange won that Sandown contest very easily and as the Fanshawe horse was beaten off a mark of 100 in his previous race, Saturday’s 107, giving him a racing weight of 9-9 looks a big ask. Indeed the only animal to carry more than 9-5 since his illustrious predecessor in 1995, was the Jonjo O’Neill’ trained Tormentor (9-10) in 2013, so perhaps the second Fanshawe contender, Lord George, is of greater interest, as he looks the type to improve for the step up in distance.

National Hunt trainers, with four wins in the past decade, have had their fair share of success, and the above mentioned O’Neill has an interesting runner in the ex French, Minotaur. With a win and two seconds at Listed level in France, he has a touch of class, and after a relatively slow start, the JP Mc Manus owned gelding seems to be getting his act together over hurdles, with two easy wins in his last two races. The 5yo son of Azamour was particularly impressive fifteen days ago, easily winning an Aintree 2 1/2m Novices, and with a win on the All-Weather in France on his CV, is worth considering.

Godolphin are attempting to repeat last year’s success, this time with the 4yo filly Natural Scenery, and significantly her record on a Tapeta surface is 3/3, winning at Wolverhampton and twice here at Gosforth Park. Last time out she started favourite for Lingfields very valuable All-Weather marathon in April, but drawn wide and having to come from behind, she met plenty of trouble and could only finish sixth. She is probably better judged on her previous run over course and distance when ridden by Josephine Gordon she won a Class2 handicap very easily by 2L from subsequent Imperial Cup winner London Prize off a mark of 95. Indeed Gordon has a 100% record on the filly having ridden her to all three wins on Tapeta. Natural Scenery is another beautifully bred animal, by Dubawi out of a Saddlers Wells mare, and it’s not too difficult to imagine her defying her mark of 103 on Saturday, and maintaining her talented riders 100% record.

Selection : Flymetothestars
E.W. : Natural Scenery (if abs Seamour)

John Gray