When you narrow a race down to six runners and back three, none of which include the winner, you can’t help but feel like a bit of an idiot. In hindsight if Muthmir was going to run well it was going to be in those race conditions – a fast 5f with plenty of pace to aim at. He settled well and ran a blinder with a penalty. It was nice to see him bounce back and it is a shame for my wallet that I didn’t have more confidence in him. Move In Time ran well and for a split second looked like he may threaten and the other two were poor, very poor and never in it. Still, it was a great race to watch. Onto today…
2.00 Stewards Sprint Stakes
Shore Step 14/1 – 1 point EW (5 places bet365/BV)
Some stats (as a guide)
-16/16 Top 9 LTO, 13/16 Top 6 LTO
-11/16 drawn 13 or below
-12/16 12/1 or shorter SP (12/16 Top 6 in market)
-12/16 ran 1-15 days ago
-15/16 had RUN over at least 7f (exception was Barnet Fair last year, but he did have form over 6.5)
-3yo – 0/22, 2 places so far 4yo 2/105, 18 places 5+6 yo 8/136 runners
Shore Step does tick all of those boxes but I also couldn’t leave him having backed him on his penultimate start when travelling like the winner before not finding much (needed run I suspect) and then watching him chase home our winner last week. He bumped into one that day but had the rest beaten. Arguably he came from the wrong side as the winner was taken into the race further and I also believe that his saddle slipped near the end. That was a very good race and despite his age he is battle hardened in big field sprints and has proven class – those two things do not apply to most of this field. He is also very consistent – in his 12 handicap runs to date he has won or placed in 8 of them. I think SDS is going to be able to ride the race he wants, either trying to lead the low numbers all the way or take a lead if something goes faster. He could well bag the far side rail and hopefully he will be ahead of the near side come the end. If he runs like he did last week, and provided he handles the track, he should have a say at the business end of this race.
The others of interest to me were…
Rex Imperator…He is a moody ‘old’ horse but it looks like OMeara is working his magic again. He won the Stewards Cup and is very well handicapped. If he shows anything like that form he will go very close here. It is an if because it depends on his mood, which isnt easy to predict.
Seeking Magic should run a decent race, having won this is 2013. He is handicapped to go well and he is one of the few front runners in here that I can see. The trainer is 3/8, 4 places in the race and I suspect this has been the target. 25s feels a bit too big to me and I wouldnt be surprised if he placed.
Barnet Fair has to be of interest having won this last year but he is effectively 5lb higher and is 0/3, 0 places with Hughes.
Direct Times – well maybe it says something about the strength of the race this year that he is 7/1. Yes he is unexposed and in the could be anything camp but he has only won a couple of class 4 races – this is a big step up, which of course he could take in his stride, but that is a big unknown to me. I dont get the impression he will just blast these rivals away. That 42 break is odd as well, and suggests he hasnt been the easiest to train, unless this has been the target.
Of course I probably haven’t mentioned the winner but having gone through them I found it hard to make a compelling case for the rest.
Stewards Cup 3.45
Tropics 14/1 – 1 point EW (5 places)
-10/18 1st or 2nd LTO
-16/18 20/1 or below
-15/18 Top 6 in market
-17/18 age 4-6 (0/89, 10 places 7+)
-3yo 1/49, 3 places
However much i stare at this race I find myself repeating the same thing – Tropics is effectively Group 1 horse running in a Class 2 handicap. A Group 1 horse running in a class 2 handicap! He was agonisingly beaten LTO in the July Cup by a very good and progressive horse. He has come within 1.5L of Gordon Lord Byron and Slade Power. He hasn’t run in a handicap for a few years now and is clearly a better horse than back then.
I just don’t think there is loads of depth in this race and if a horse is going to carry this weight, from this rating, it could be today. On all known form he is just a much better horse than most of these and I am backing his Class to see him through. I think he will give it a good go from the front, drawn low, and will hopefully play catch me if you can. It may transpire that he has too much weight for a handicap of this nature but I couldn’t leave him. If he wins I would be kicking myself, and would be far more annoyed than if I have thrown away 2 points. He loves fast ground as well.
Now, bar the weight there are other questions to answer. Clearly he is best at the July Course, but until the last furling or so that is down hill and there isn’t conclusive evidence that he wont handle this track – he did finish 6th in this race in 2013 – and he has improved no end since then. Horses older than 6 dont win this race either! The place record is ok, and I dont know how many proven Group performers of that age have raced here.
The final piece of the jigsaw was the fact that I am not overly excited by anything else in the race, with them all having questions to answer. In a way the consolation race (2.00) feels like a stronger class 2 handicap than this – and Shore Step would occupy a very similar place in the market.
Magical Memory is drawn 1 (0/17, 4 places) and is a 3yo (1/49, 3 places) – that stat indicates that is takes a pretty smart 3yo to win this – and although this isnt the toughest of class 2 handicaps on paper this year to my eye, he is going to have to step up again. However he won that race well last time and is clearly progressive. But he is 7s, and that felt about right, and no overly generous. I don’t have the same confidence over this 7/1 shot as with last week. We shall see if he proves me wrong and blows them away.
Huntsmans Close also deserves his place up near the top of the market. He was fortunate to win at Ayr as he did race up what was a golden highway but he has progressed this year again and should be thereabouts. Discussiontofollow was beaten in this last year by around 3l and while he will run a solid race he is not screaming at me as an obvious winner.
Ninjago looks interesting and will go close given he nearly won this last year and has clearly been aimed at the race again I suspect. He needs a strong pace, which you usually get in these races even if there are no obvious front runners on paper, and will need plenty of luck in running. If he gets it he should be in the top 5 at worse.
Poyle Vinnie is interesting but I think the ground made the difference as to the margin of his victory last time and I dont know how strong that form is. But, he looks progressive and could run well.
I couldn’t make a case for any of the others who look an indifferent bunch with plenty to prove and I couldnt justify backing them. It does feel like a poor renewal without loads of depth, maybe there will be a surprise but Tropics should give it a good go from the front (if repeating his tactics LTO) and we should get a run for our money, at least into the final furlong where the weight may or may not catch up with him. My instinct says he has the class to could blow this lot away, and in such circumstances weight becomes irrelevant. I just had to have something on to find out.