Guineas Weekend 3-Year-Old Handicaps
The quantity and quality of racing this week have been fantastic. On Saturday, it goes up another gear with the 2000 Guineas and plenty of top-class events on both Saturday and Sunday.
As for the 2000 Guineas, it’s a watching brief for me. Enough has been said and written about Pinatubo, time for him to prove himself, or not. He’s around a ⅘ shot as I’m writing this. He may well win but at that price, he’s of absolutely no interest as a betting proposition.
I’d imagine there’ll be some books wanting to take Pinatubo on tomorrow, I could see him being available at 1/1 money. At that price, for every ten horses you back five need to be winners to just break even!! Good luck if you can do that, it’s just not for me.
With an eye on the future, I’m hoping for big runs from two other Godolphin horses, Military March and Al Suhail. We’re four weeks away from the Derby and a win or close up effort from either would move them to the head of the Derby betting.
“Make a run” flickr photo by Florian Christoph https://flickr.com/photos/113417287@N08/14111694991 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
With the volume of races this week I’ve been focusing primarily on the 3-year-old handicaps. I like the format of the ten race meetings but, it’s hard to keep on top over every race, if not near impossible.
There are some decent 3-year-old handicaps on Saturday and Sunday contested by some horses with big potential and some nicely handicapped animals.
3:15 Newcastle - Betway Heed Your Hunch Handicap
Palace Pier turns up here in a handicap which is a little surprising given he was prominent in the Guineas betting up until recently. He has clear potential and having run and won twice without really being challenged we don’t know how good he is yet.
On bare form, I don’t think Palace Pier is particularly well handicapped. He has to give weight away to some decent types who’ve posted efforts in advance of his two efforts. Potential versus established form is the quandary!
Palace Pier will probably go from the front which has been advantageous this week at Newcastle. Coming back to the Pinatubo point, he’s currently a ⅘ chance and I see no value in backing him at that price.
Of the others, three horses look to be on handicap marks they’re capable of winning off – He’s A Keeper, Rich Belief and Yoshimi.
He’s A Keeper ran in a strong Haydock race won by Pyledriver last season. You can make a case for him on that form and Pyledriver this week proofed the form when outrunning his price behind Andrew Balding’s Derby hope Berlin Tango. That’s decent form, but Rich Keeper and Yoshimi look even more favourably treated.
Yoshimi ran 2nd beaten a short head in good Nursery at Ayr last season, that run gives him a big chance here. I’d been expecting Yoshimi to go up in trip this year, he sticks to a mile for now which might prove short of his best. Against his chance here is he wouldn’t want to get detached on a track favouring those racing prominently.
Rich Belief is similar in that he has rock-solid form in some decent nurseries from last year.
Both Yoshimi and Rich Belief are trading at double figures and rather than take a short price on Palace Pier I’d much prefer to be backing the pair at big prices to turn the favourite over.
5:20 Newmarket - Ryan Moore Columns On Betting.Betfair Handicap
A good quality handicap full of horses who we’ve probably yet to see the best. One to watch for the future but a couple take the eye as nicely treated.
I’m pretty keen on Roger Charlton’s Smokey Bear here. He won a Newbury maiden last season beating River Nymph. On the clock, he’s been given a winnable mark, River Nymph backed that impression up with a good third in a decent race at Lingfield on Friday.
Smokey Bear is currently vying for favouritism around the 9/2 mark. Not a massive price but I am a little shorter on him and could see him being well backed tomorrow.
Of the others, Mark Johnston has a likely looking pair in Huraiz and Homespin. I’d favour the latter.
Homespin won a very competitive Goodwood Nursery last season before he bombed at York. The Goodwood win points to his chance here. To back him you need to forgive him that York effort where he reportedly slipped coming out of the stalls.
What shape Homespin turns up in tomorrow is as with all these seasonal debutants a bit of a guess but at 16/1 I have him as overpriced.
6:40 Lingfield - Betway Casino Handicap
A Class 6 race on the all-weather might not be everyone’s idea of a race to be betting in on Guineas day but, there’s a likely one here at a big price.
There’s a handful that deserves to be near the front of the betting and considered here.
Motamayiz has been put in as the early 2/1 favourite, he’s one I’d consider but there are others with a similar level of form in the book at bigger prices.
The form of Madame Peltier, Treaty Of Dingle and Marie’s Gem are pretty much on a par with the favourite, the biggest of them being priced at 14/1.
Price is driving my selection in this race and at 66/1 with the books, Costello is interesting here.
Costello ran four times last year and on a couple of those efforts, he deserves to be a lot shorter here. He put up his best effort on his final run when 7th in a mile handicap on the all-weather at Kempton. That’s not great form, but relative to what he faces tomorrow it gives him a significantly better chance than his current odds.
He’s been held up in his races to date, that might not prove ideal tactics here as he has the rails draw in stall one. I’m hoping he might be ridden a little more aggressively tomorrow, we’ll see.
Whatever Costello’s fate tomorrow I’ll have one eye to the future with him as he’s bred to stay further than tomorrow’s mile.
8:25 Lingfield - £Betyourway At Betway Handicap
I’ve narrowed this to a shortlist of three. Favourite Thai Power, Molinari and Thunder King, all of whom I have a little ahead of their current handicap marks.
Thai Power qualifies here under the new two runs rule and looks nicely weighted on his debut effort behind the promising Mascat. His trainer Andrew Balding has his horses running well this week and Thai Power can be expected to show improvement stepping up to 12 furlongs. He qualified for his handicap mark racing over a mile. Plenty of stamina in his pedigree.
A 3/1 chance as I write this, I could see that collapsing. I have him as a 7/4 chance.
At bigger prices, Molinari is perched on a reasonable mark, though on breeding not altogether sure to benefit from the step up to 12 furlongs.
Thunder King has more stamina lines in his pedigree and looks on a fair mark from his debut at Haydock last season.
At 20/1 there’s juice in his price and he could run a big race at a decent price tomorrow.
Starting with Haydock, the official going is currently reported as good to soft, we won’t know the accuracy of this description until after a couple of races and some race times are available.
15 mm of rain fell in the area on Wednesday and Friday, with showers forecast for Saturday evening and Sunday morning.
While I never fully trust these ‘official’ descriptions I’m basing my thoughts on it being good to soft ground.
1:30 Haydock - Heed Your Hunch At Betway Handicap (Div I)
Berkshire Savvy is the one I want to be with here. His 5th in a hot handicap at Newmarket behind Dogged on his final run last season points to his chance. That race was over a mile, today’s race is 10 furlongs which looks sure to see Berkshire Savvy in a better light.
9/1 in the early betting, that looks a decent price, I’ve made him more a 4/1 chance.
Glenties and Bucephalus are on fair enough marks. Bucephalus has a stamina laden pedigree and whatever his fate tomorrow he is one to have in mind when he steps up to 12 furlongs plus.
6:10 Haydock - Head Your Hunch At BetwayHandicap (Div II)
As a starting point, I’m against second favourite Crystal Pegasus. After just three runs there is potential for improvement but on what he’s actually clocked I have him on a poor mark. Happy to discount him at 9/2 and it’s a starting point for searching for the value.
Favourite Maori Knight, impressive last time looks short enough at 7/4 in a competitive field.
International Lion is probably on the best mark on what he’s done. He had plenty of runs as a 2-year-old and looks open for being overtaken by some of the less exposed types. Add to that, on breeding he’s far from sure to be suited to the distance and I’ll pass him over.
Of the more lightly raced ones, Midnights Legacy, Hooroo and to a lesser extent Cipango look on reasonable marks.
Hooroo I wouldn’t discount, he’ll stay and potentially improve for the trip. A winner at Nottingham on heavy ground, should the heavens open over Haydock then that would enhance his prospects and he’d be appealing at 16/1.
Midnights Legacy is another who’ll handle any cut in the ground, the softer the better as it’ll bring his stamina into play. In time, he’s going to want further than 10 furlongs but he’s on a decent mark here and with plenty in his favour the current 6/1 looks a little too big.
5:55 Newmarket - Betfair Weighed In Podcast Handicap
Traditionally a strong handicap with clues to future middle distance winners.
Godolphin, Andrew Balding and Mark Johnston in the past have sent good horses to this race as a starting point for their 3-year-old career. The former two have runners here, Godolphin saddle three, maybe the best is Global Storm but I’ve no strong opinion on that. Andrew Balding is solely represented by Bronze River.
Finding a betting angle on this race is tough, you can make a case for just about every runner.
Dogged looks on the best mark on what they’ve shown on the course, he’s rather more exposed than most and I’d have a question in my mind about his suitability for 10 furlongs on breeding.
Rather less exposed is Arthurian Fable. He contested three of last season’s stronger maidens/novice races and showed up well in the final two.
On those efforts, he is fairly treated. In time, he’s going to be better over further than 10 furlongs, he has plenty of stamina in his pedigree – dosage index 0.83, a centre of distribution (0.14).
In the opening betting skirmishes, he’s the rank outsider, but I’m not hugely excited about him at 16/1. I don’t particularly like backing Brian Meehan trained horses, that doesn’t mean he can’t win but take a look at his win rate, I need to factor that into the price.
Brian Meehan’s strike rate over the last 5 seasons is just 10%. Compare that to the record of Charlie Appleby 25%, Andrew Balding 15% and even Mark Johnston, who throws more darts than Van Gerwen comes in at 16%.
Whether your betting or not, this is likely to be a race worth watching for clues to some of the decent upcoming middle-distance handicaps.
3:25 Lingfield - Play 4 To Win At Betway Handicap
A pretty good race for a Class 4 on the all-weather.
My thoughts are the winner will come from the trio Cloud Drift, Atheeb and Dyami who all posted efforts on the track in advance of their official marks.
Cloud Drift at around 11/2 seems about right, Atheeb offers a little value at 11/1. If Cloud Drift is a true 11/2 chance then Atheeb is overpriced, there’s little between them on what they’ve achieved.
The one that makes the most appeal is Dyami at 33/1. His fifth at Goodwood behind Persuasion was in one of the stronger maidens of 2019 and off an official rating of 85 there are races to be won.
This is a decent race but Dyami makes a fair amount of appeal at a decent price.