Hugh Fowler -reader, Racing to Profit Member, Geegeez Syndicate Member and expert in all things 2 year old horses, has kindly agreed to share his thoughts, for free, throughout the season.
You will have seen his comments on daily posts with previews of the odd race, and these will continue through the year. In these feature posts Hugh will look back over recent races and review the action and the horses.
If you have any interest in learning about this specialist area, and tracking horses for the future, these posts will become a must read.
Below you can find two reviews.
#1: An Introduction From Hugh
Personal – Married with 2 kids 21 and 18. I first went racing to 1950’s point to points in the back of my farmer Dad’s Mk1 Landrover. He came from a Worcestershire farming family who raced Point to Pointers. My Uncle who I was apprenticed to in the late 60’s was a former champion point to point jockey. I am allergic to horses.
Career – Friesian herdsman and shepherd, Window cleaner, Toilet roll salesman, Hoover warehouseman, wine waiter, Dunlop motor sports press officer, Pizza restaurant manager (South Africa), Wendys restaurant manager (Ohio and London), Pub manager (Fleet Street), Baked potato barrow boy (Tower Bridge), Restaurateur (Covent Garden).
Racing – Throughout all this I always managed to go racing and in 1999 with a mate bought my first racehorse, Thinkers Effort who won a 2m6f novice hurdle fto in the UK at Stratford. Then came Alpha Two, Turkestan and Thrilling Prospect all who won races. Nearly all of these ended their careers injured and the attrition rate led me to look at the flat and stumbling across B2yor was my eureka moment. Luckily my first share in Orpen Grey was a winning one, followed by Red Presence for the same syndicate.
Two year olds and paddock review – I had done a lot of cattle judging as a youngster but until I found B2yor had never really applied myself to looking at horses in the same way.
For the last 5 years, I have travelled to 2 or 3 flat meetings a week during the turf season, photographed the 2yos and learnt paddock review skills. This alone is not enough as the best-looking colt can have an ugly trainer and jockey. Drawing from B2yor and Geegeez trainer track stats approach I created an algorhythm which I use as a first point in desktop analysis. From this I develop an algorhythm score, (I suppose this is akin to a personal tissue as it throws up my opinion by weighted average of a number of stats as to the chances of any given horse winning in a numerical form).
This gives me the top few to focus on for paddock review. This is assessing the athletic ability and scope of any 2yo by means of its physical confirmation and mental readiness in the paddock before the race.
In addition to the physical build of an individual, its athleticism and potential, there are also a lot of tells that an inexperienced horse or one not properly prepared by its trainer can show that can help the experienced reviewer form an assessment of whether this horse is mentally strong enough to cope with the hurly burly of a race.
Post race I attribute my personal rating to each runner. These are based on the B2yor range and although broadly similar to official ratings tend to be lower. This is because the official handicapper tends to rate most open maiden winners around 75 unless they have produced an outstanding performance. Particularly in early season this leads to many over rated animals by OR. I find it difficult to rate 2yos much above the mid 90s. The poor ones are easier to discern whereas the physical difference between a 90 and a 100 horse may be far less obvious and have more to do with mental attitude and heart.
#2: Hugh’s Methods Explained
#3: The First Reviews of the Season.
Below you can find Hugh’s Reviews for Leicester and Windsor. There are photos to go with these but I am having trouble loading them onto the site. I may or may not find a solution at some point. I wanted to just post a link with a photo doc but the file is too big. Anyway, I will find a solution hopefully.
For now, there is plenty to read through…
Title: 7th April Leicester 5f Novice
3.5 Shovel It On
3.25 Airshow, Kick On Kick On, Manco Inca, Straight Ash, Zain Flash
3 Bunch Of Thyme
2.75 Poignant, Jedi Master
Preview – A race which can vary greatly in quality from year to year, but has mainly been contested by small ones the trainers are trying to get an early win out of before any bigger ones come along. The relatively low algo scores tend to back this up, in fact the only two that could be easily ruled out are Rockesbury and Poignant both drawn out wide from trainers who are unknown quantities with 2yos. I might add Manco Inca to these two as he is also out wide, he cost only 6k but both Tuite and Oisin Murphy are capable of getting at least a competent run out of a 2yo.
Others score low due to sires of unknown calibre as yet, such as Red Jazz (Jedi Master) but unless he knocks the eyes out I will find it hard to invest there although drawn ok. Bunch Of Thyme is on the rail and Bill Turner does get his to jump well, Bunch Of Thyme cost £20k (a lot for this stable) and even with 9 better jockeys in the race could well be hard to beat from that position.
This leaves Shovel It On with top score, well drawn but Evans seldom gets his jockey bookings the wrong way around and Brock was 1/59 on 2yos last year, I have to think that Egan (Zain Flash) is the stable no 1 here, also he cost 32k to Shovel’s 5.5k. Zain Flash is drawn 7 so high enough.
Airshow is drawn in the middle with another pilot who does not seem to have mastered the 2yo game yet. Trainer Millman is very hard to predict, however he does get early season debut winners and Master Carpenter won this race for him in 2013, ridden by Andrea Atzeni which may tell a story.
This leaves two Hannon’s Straight Ash (36k drawn 6) and Cox’s Kick On Kick On (52k drawn 4). Both trainers who do not necessarily target fto wins but can be expected to have their horses well drilled and ready to compete for the win. Presumably Move To The Front who ran for Cox in the Brocklesby D2 is a nutcase as even Kirby could not steer him. This seemed atypical.
All this seems to narrow it down as far as Straight Ash, Zain Flash and Kick On Kick On in the first rank and Airshow, Jedi Master and Bunch Of Thyme not being unimagineable winners. Not feasible to make a confident selection without seeing them as any of them could be the ‘better’ physical type.
Kick On Kick On review
I didn’t find the winner of this on the day. It was as suspected very much a bunch of smallish ones. Guilty of being influenced by the market and thought Cox’s needed to be a couple of points shorter.
Kick on Kick On – Not a stand-out in terms of size, I don’t have any notes for him suggesting nothing to grab my attention. Not supported in the market. However, it was run in an ok time, close to Kool Kompany’s on similar going so KOKO certainly has an engine in his small frame. How small can be seen by how far Adam Kirby’s legs are dangling down, although he does have long legs. Hard to get a measure of this one, if he was expected he would certainly have been shorter in the market so maybe he was just the furthest forward of an average bunch. 73
Zain Flash – Plain type, sloping away a bit toward the tail, a bit of substance to his build, should improve a little for the run. Went hard early and faded allowing smaller weaker types to close. 65
Airshow – An ordinary runty little chap, still carrying some winter coat. Missed the break which did not help, stayed on but will always be size limited. Perhaps they can find a little race at Brighton or Bath soonish. 58
Shovel It On – Probably flattered by his finishing position as he stayed on as others faded. One of Dave Evan’s electric mice. Easy to see him whizzing around an aw track 2to. Not tiny like Airshow. 60
Straight Ash – Green in prelims, leggy and looking gangly but with a bit of scope and a frame to fill out in due course. Ran well for a May foal getting outpaced and staying on. 67 with possibly more to come.
Jedi Master – Small, hard to see him improving enough to win an open maiden. 59
Poignant – Another small one, calling beforehand, reasonably fit for this early in the season and seemed to have been well prepared. Improve for some growing and perhaps a bit further. Archie Watson may well be worth watching with his 2yos. 62
Rockesbury – Green, short stride at the walk, not a bad type but unlikely his trainer will be able to extract the necessary. 57
Manco Inca – On his toes, short back, downhill at the shoulder 59
Bunch Of Thyme – Heavily built, didn’t seem to be able to use himself. Probably plain slow. 50
Date & Title: 9th April Windsor 5f Novice
4.25 Lethal Lunch
3.75 Daddie’s Girl, Give Em A Clump,
3.5 May Remain, Angel Of The South, Controversial Lady
3.25 Declaration Of Love
3 Milton Road
2.5 Rock Of Estonia
.5 Mullion Star, Glimpse Of Dirhams
Nice to see the first progeny of Lethal Force and Society Rock on the track. Ryan Moore is supreme here and riding 62k Lethal Lunch drawn 5 for the Hannon’s will probably go off odds on. Hard to see Rock Of Estonia forecast 2nd fav on RP being a serious challenger drawn 11 with Spencer up for Charles Hills. A questionable draw, a trainer who seems to have softened his debut approach from a couple of years ago and a jockey who is obsessed with holding them up, not very tempting, although high drawn held up have an above average impact value here. Daddie’s Girl for Millman only cost 5.5k, let’s hope she is bigger than Airshow at Leicester.
The main dangers to LL would seem to be the 170k Angel Of The South, Dean Ivory perfectly capable of a debut winner, good jock, good draw. Give Em A Clump for the wily Welshman, by Camacho who gets very early winners with Kirby up which is always a positive sign for Evans, moderate draw. Paul Cole likes his Windsor winners but one never knows if they are going to be mad as a box of frogs or ready to roll, he has the 26k May Remain from stall 4.
Controversial Lady does not appeal as Stan Moore’s always need a run.
Tom Clover (ex assistant to William Haggas) makes his 2yo training debut with a debutant for Declaration Of War called Declaration of Love. The worst of the draw but it will be interesting to see how well prepared he is.
Lethal Lunch would appear the most likely winner but the Hannon’s never rush theirs to get a debut win at Windsor, both Give Em A Clump who is likely to be precocious and Angel Of The South as well as to a lesser extent May Remain cannot be discounted. The pictures will tell the story.
Rock Of Estonia review – A bitter pill to swallow as not only did Spencer jump out and go from the front but Charlie Hills had the horse ready. I had also not clocked that these were the same colours as Cotai Glory.
Apologies for the quality of the pictures, a grey day and a new camera.
Rock Of Estonia – Mid medium size, lovely bright chestnut, best stride of any in the paddock and good muscling on the rump, still carrying some condition, nicest example but Spencer and Hills fto put me off. Kept rugged until last second. Won under hands and heels 80 possibly better.
Angel Of the South – Lightly made grey filly, well-proportioned if a fraction tubular. Not looking fully tuned but seems to have plenty of speed. Slightly harder ridden than Rock Of E. 77
Daddies Girl – Smaller filly, good compact shape. One of those whose proximity to the front two has one wondering if they can be all that. Small ready type, some improvement still to come but will struggle against bigger girls. 66
Declaration Of Love – just under med size for time of year. An opportunity here to assess how Tom Clover would turn out his 2yos. DoL looked as fit as anything in the paddock, was well behaved and ran a competent race from a wide draw jumping well and tracking the winner until 2f out under hands and heels 71
May Remain – Not great pictures. Med size, still carrying some fat but a better type than he was allowed to show here. Missed break then given an all action bumping up and down flailing about ride by Luke Morris. At least he didn’t start walloping the colt from way too high a la all weather. All this action led to the poor debutant running up the back of Angel Of the South on a couple of occasions as they were both held in on the rail. A disappointing ride that will not have given this baby the good experience a debut run should be. It is worth watching the race to see the contrast between Pat Cosgrave (Declarationoflove) or Ryan Moore (Lethal Lunch) and Luke Morris to see how a 2yo debutant should be handled. Improve from here 75
Milton Road – Lower medium, compact and quite strongly made. Still a bit woolly and not fully tuned. Ran a competent race and should be competitive at a small track nto. 70
Lethal Lunch – Mid medium, looked a bit lifeless in the paddock but Hannon’s are often laid back. Not the stride of the winner and seemed a bit green, hanging both ways at times. Never asked more than to learn the game by Ryan. Improve nto but by how much I am not sure. I would have expected a place here if this is going to be anything more than a nursery candidate. Worth another chance but probably no better than 70.
Controversial Lady – Small and modest looking filly. Typical Stan Moore debut. 60
Give Em A Clump – Another kept rugged and hard to assess, looks a bit lacking behind. Ran very green and never put in race, attempts by Kirby to hit him looked like airshots. Enough size to think he is better than this but hard to come to a verdict given how badly he ran. Might be ok but 65 for now is flattering what he showed here.
Glimpse Of Dirhams – Tiny, looked fairly fit, 50
Mullion Star – Ok build, medium, looked well but ran as M Madgwick’s do. Often he has one out early that looks as though it might make up into something but he’s only had 2 2yo winners since 2002 so its not worth paying to find out. 63
That is all for now.
The aim will be to try and post a review from the previous week’s action at the start of each week, on the Monday or Tuesday.