There was plenty of straight track sprinting action for me to delve into from the recent Ayr Gold Cup meeting, in search of some new members to freshen up our BDH attack squad.
The pace/draw angles were pretty clean-cut in all the cup races and that, to some extent, makes my job a little bit easier.
I actually pondered over adding my old mucker CHEVETON to our BDH squad. He ran a solid race from the ‘wrong side of the tracks’ in the Bronze Cup and although I will be keeping an eye open for him he just doesn’t seem to be giving out the sparkle of old. He will go into my own personal ‘Handicap Sleepers’ list (he was actually already there) and if conditions are right for him I will back him, but he just hasn’t quite done enough to step up into the exclusive BDH squad.
That honour goes to 2 runners from Saturday’s Ayr Silver Cup. One who most will have noticed and another who I reckon should have skipped under the radar of most…
Race in focus: 2.40 Ayr (21-09-2013): William Hill Ayr Silver Cup – 6f, Class 2 Handicap (27 ran)
How the race played out…
We all know this was all about those drawn up high. The first five home were drawn in stalls 15 or higher and 9 of the first 10 home were also drawn in stalls 15 or higher. The field did split into 2 here but the low numbers, surprisingly, didn’t go and hug the far rail; a mistake in my opinion. In the previous days Bronze Cup, although it was also a high numbers race, the low numbers did the standard procedure of gunning it down their rail and they finished much closer to their highly drawn counterparts than the low numbers from this race did.
From the low numbers it was THUNDERBALL (Stall 1) & COLONEL MAK (Stall 7) that tried to set a pace but their bolts were pretty swiftly shot long before the race hotted up, fading to finish in 20th & 25th. It was always going to be a fruitless task trying to make serious strides down the middle of the track.
In the high group (near side) it was CHEVIOT in stall 25 that led the pack along and he held that position well into the final furlong. His front running provided an excellent tow into the race for the first 3 home (ANCIENT CROSS, FAST SHOT & AN SAIGHDIUR) who all sat on his tail before pouncing inside the final furlong.
It was quite clear that this was a race that favoured the high numbers and the low numbers really struggled to land any sort of blow.
The end result…
The winner ANCIENT CROSS had the luxury of being drawn in the 2nd highest box and as such had the ‘golden highway’ under the stands rail right underneath him all the way home. Although this was the highest mark he had ever won from he had placed/run well in the past from a slightly higher mark (100 & 101). The handicapper may well raise him above that mark after this and I imagine that may well anchor him for a bit. Second home, FAST SHOT, made a late surge for the line and was unlucky not to collect here. He has won and placed from around this mark in the past but if the handicapper knocks him up a couple of lbs he may also just find himself anchored, depends on exactly how much he is put up (if any). The Irish Raider AN SAIGHDUIR ran a career best in 3rd from a career high mark. He was ideally placed in the highest box of all (Stall 27) but had to move out a bit towards the centre to get a clear run, that may well have just cost him. PICTURE DEALER in 4th ran close enough to his best to suggest he may be able to pick something up from this mark. He is on a career high rating but is only a 4yo and could well have a bit more up his sleeve. The same comments could be applied to 5th home BOOTS AND SPURS, he ran a sound race and may be able to pick something up from his current mark. SIR REGINALD in 6th was the obvious eye-catcher. He was the only runner in the top 10 to be drawn in the bottom 14 stalls. The fact he came from stall 2 makes his 2 & 1/2 length 6th even more impressive. He actually came there with a serious chance in the final furlong but the efforts of running out in the middle ultimately left him a bit short in the finish. TAKE COVER is an interesting one. He finished a decent 7th here and he probably could have been done without the ground drying out. He is extremely lightly raced for a 6yo and he does give the impression that there is more still to come; he is one to watch from the well drawn ‘beaten’ horses.
BDH(s) to follow…
SIR REGINALD (6th) (R Fahey)
He is the obvious one to take from the race but that doesn’t mean we should ignore him. This was a mighty effort from his stall 2 outpost and his 2 & 1/2 length defeat gives further signs that he is back to somewhere near the form he showed as a youngster. It is easy to forget he was rated as high as 105 at one stage of his career and also ran well in Meydan from marks in the 100’s at the start of the 2012 season.
I don’t have too many conditions that I want to apply to him as the main pointer for me is his handicap mark of 93 (he ran off 91 in the Silver Cup). 93 looks within his range and he looks a much happier and sounder horse these days. We must remember that his 3yo season was curtailed after 1 run because of injury and his 4yo season was also interrupted a touch because of another minor injury. His last 3 runs fully suggest that he is now over those ailments and is ready to show what he can do.
1 small condition I would like to have in our favour is Paul Hanagan in the saddle. The form line when the former champion jockey is in the saddle is 2119946016 compared to 335205097072 when he isn’t. Hanagan isn’t imperative in the plate but he clearly is a bonus.
Apart from that I’m happy to evaluate him on a race by race basis.
Conditions – Happy to take him on a race by race basis. Hanagan a serious plus but not a necessity. His handicap mark of 93 looks well within him and a big field handicap at 6 or 6 & 1/2 furlongs is a feasible target.
CHOOSEDAY (12th) (K Ryan)
This 4yo is a less obvious choice but it shouldn’t go unnoticed that he actually finished 2nd of the low drawn horses. He made a strong move to the front around the 1.5 furlong mark but his effort petered out on the unfavorable part of the track.
Pat Smullen was an interesting booking on the day and they obviously expected the horse to go well, only to be undone by the poor draw. This was actually the 2nd race in a row where he was berthed in an unfavorable stall, he was drawn on the wrong side of the consolation Great St Wilfrid Stakes at Ripon last time out but still managed to run a solid race in 4th. The race before that he fired in a career best on the figures in the Stewards Cup consolation race at Glorious Goodwood, giving clear signs that he is still a horse on the up.
Conditions wise we don’t want him on anything too testing.
His Soft & Heavy ground form reads 53577
His Good to Soft or better form of 1343024214277340
He does handle cut but the signs are that he is much better without it.
I would also rather have him over 6f than 5f…
5 furlong form is 6 runs | 0 wins | 1 placed effort
6 furlong form is 15 runs | 2 wins | 5 placed efforts
Apart from those small points of note he is another we can probably play race by race. He is only a 4yo and seems to still be on the upgrade, he just needs a decent draw to show what he can do.
Conditions – Happy to take him on a race by race basis although would prefer to see him on Good to Soft or better and over 6 furlongs.
SIR REGINALD & CHOOSEDAY now both enter my Proform ‘Horse Watcher’ tool and I will post on the Blog when they are due to run next.
p.s. I’m really starting to dig into the National Hunt action now behind the scenes. Make sure YOU don’t miss out on the action by joining the FREE updates list here >>> FREE NTF Updates List
Free horse racing guides are readily available with more currently in construction as I build up to NTF National Hunt 2013/14!
p.p.s One of the Handicap Sleepers on the Free guide just ran at Carlisle (Tuesday 24th depending on when you are reading this) in the shape of ROKER PARK. Everything looked in place for a decent run…but he ran a stinker! …so I had a closer look. He was drawn in stall 10 of 10. Runners in stall 10 over 5f & 6f at Carlisle since 2007… 3 wins from 91 starts for a 3% S/R! They do win quite a bit less than they should as well. Watching the race it was clear that Roker Park was up against it and he could never get into a position from that draw.
Carlisle is one of those sprint tracks that pretends it is a straight…but is far from it! Bit like Beverley and places like that. You are turning a fair bit and if you are stuck out wide you really are up against it. On the face of it ROKER PARK ran a stinker, digging a bit deeper I’m more than willing to cut him a bit of slack for that run.
…also I should have checked this before I backed him! Yes my money was down and subsequently lost as RP failed to get anywhere from that devil of a stall that is stall 10! Still, lesson learned, notes taken, we move on poorer but all the wiser!