Friday, July 19, 2013

Irish Oaks 2013 - Crowning achievement for Riposte?

What a cracking edition of the Irish Oaks this year with all of the 8 contenders having a proper shot on paper. It's too bad Ralph Beckett's Secret Gesture could not make the trip as she would have been one of the main contenders to land the prize.

The initial process of elimination is a tough one but I'm inclined to discard all three representatives from the Ballydoyle camp in Just Pretending, Magical Dream and Venus de Milo. I think they are a touch below the rest of the field and certainly not at the level of some of their illustrious predecessors like Alexandrova and Peeping Fawn. I will also take Scintillula out from the Bolger yard out of the contenders' list as she has yet to prove herself at that level. This leaves Alive Alive Oh, Chicquita, Riposte and Talent.

Alive Alive Oh could be anything of a filly, having won her 2 races, out of 3 outings, in a canter. Her races have all been on give in the ground and the main question about her is how she will act on the Curragh's firm ground. There is a good possibility that being by Duke of Marmalade that she should relish fast ground but she will have to confirm on that to have a decent crack on Saturday.

Chicquita is the French raider from the Royer Dupre stable. She closed very well in the Prix Diane as runner-up to Treve and the 12 furlong distance will suit her to bits. After all she's a Montjeu. She has shown quirkiness, flashing her tail and has a tendency to hang when asked to deliver. If Johnny Murtagh can steer her right, she could play a role at the finish.

Riposte is this year's outstanding Ribblesdale winner and is a close relative of Frankel. She definitely has stardom in the genes. She's proven at the distance and on the fast ground. She should be well rested from her last Royal Ascot outing and ready to fire. She should be in the first 3.

Talent surprised even her trainer Beckett by beating stablemate Secret Gesture in this year's Oaks. Although it's unclear as to the exact quality of the Oaks form, she's clearly from the top drawer having won 3 out of her 4 races. She will have no issues on the fast ground, and will rely mainly on the fast pace to unleash her turn of foot. Unless she gets stuck in traffic, she should be among the finishers as well.

Riposte is definitely on the up and the race seems to come at the right time for her. The field looks very level, so going each-way on the daughter of Dansili is the preferred selection. This looks to be a very hotly-contested race, unless a real superstar emerges from the pack.

Each-way: Riposte

Friday, July 12, 2013

Marengo and Ocovango battle for Paris

For many purists, the Grand Prix de Paris is the unofficial French Derby that pits the best 3 year-olds at the 12 furlong Classic distance. The claim that the official holder of the title, the Prix du Jockey-Club, favours more milers than stamina players at its shortened 11 furlong distance, seems to hold much water with every passing year.

At the forefront of this year's edition are Ocovango and Battle of Marengo, two colts that lost their unbeaten records at the Epsom Classic without demerit. Both look to be evenly-matched from the outcome and the winner will very possibly from one of the two. I believe that fitness will be the deciding factor. BOM had another racecourse outing at Royal Ascot running a creditable second to Hillstar in the King Edward VII Stakes. Saturday's race might be coming too soon for the son of Galileo. On the other hand, Ocovango makes his comeback from his English raid having enjoyed more than 6 weeks of rest. That definitely gives him the upper hand in terms of recovery. Trainer Andre Fabre is a renowned master for getting his 3-year olds primed for the big targeted races and for a person of a few words, is looking very confident on his colt's chances.

The selection is to go with Ocovango over BOM in any match-bet and for the Win as well.

Win: Ocovango
Match-bet: Ocovango

Friday, July 5, 2013

Coral Eclipse - The Fugue can test Al Kazeem

Saturday's Coral Eclipse is an opportunity for Al Kazeem to confirm his Royal Ascot win and proclaim himself the best middle-distance horse in England. The main question is whether he can bag his third Group 1 win in a row in a short span of 6 weeks. He is clearly the best-rated horse in the race and if he is 100% fit, there is no doubt in my mind that the rest are running for the places.

I think the market has it right and the winner will come out of these; Al Kazeem, Declaration of War and The Fugue. Mukhadram had AK dig deep at Ascot but my feeling is that the margin between the two will only enlarge given the same amount of days rest. Mars is an interesting contender but being a 3-year old and lightly-raced, I believe his lack of experience will be detrimental on the day. Pastorius is coming back from a disappointing raid in Singapore and there are question marks as to how well he's recuperated from his trip. On his best form, he can be a danger in a Group 1, but I feel that this race might be coming a little too soon for him after his Far East venture.

DOW bounced back fantastically in landing the Queen Anne Stakes at Ascot after flopping badly in the Lockinge. The dilemma is knowing what condition Aidan O'Brien has him now; is he under-cooked, over-cooked or spot on? That's the problem with the Ballydoyle genius trainer, he can get them spot on or he can wreck them big time (I won't go over the So You Think episodes again). Although he's won at the distance and further, I still think that he would be better suited and more dangerous at the mile. He cannot be discarded though particularly if AK and The Fugue don't run their race.

The Fugue ran a cracking third in the Prince of Wales after a long layoff. She stayed on very well and there is no doubt that she will go into the Eclipse in far better shape. 11 furlongs is possibly her best trip. She will absolutely love the fast ground conditions at Sandown. I think there will be less than the 3.5 lengths separation at Ascot between her and AK this time. In my cards, she's the second favourite of the race.

AK has proven to be top-class and I believe only a short time of recuperation from his last run can stop him on Saturday. On level terms and adequate rest, he would dominate this field. The Fugue is on the ascendancy and will pounce on any weakness from AK. At current odds, the latter looks very short, while The Fugue looks good each-way value. That is my selection.

Each-way: The Fugue