By the time we meet again, 2018’s first classics will have been run on April 14 (1,000 Guineas) and 15 (2,000 Guineas) so readers must settle for an early look at the contenders.
This only emphasizes how backward racing promoters have been regarding betting in Jamaica. Ante-post betting on these races is as easy to find as Atlantis and SVREL has continued CTL’s antediluvian attitude of using the Totalisator as an excuse for denying punters betting variety. Why can’t SVREL open the Tote on January 1 for (maybe) 5 days to take “ante-post” bets on both Guineas? They could be designated, for computer purposes, “Race 20” on April 14th (and 15th); SVREL could offer bets on the top 15 two year old fillies and colts with entry #16 being “any other”. When the Tote closes, the published fixed odds of the Guineas hopefuls would stand regardless of future wagering.
The downside for punters is a scratch means a losing bet but the only difference between gambling and other entertainment is that gamblers sometimes win. When you pay for entertainment, losing your stake is expected. SVREL could repeat the process after the Thornbird and Prince Consort Stakes thus creating a second ante-post market also giving backers in the first round a way to hedge bets.
C’Mon, man, think outside the Tote box!
For now, let’s look at speed ratings (SR in brackets after name) for some Guineas contenders (adjusted to 57kg). N.B: No Classic race depends entirely on speed so these numbers can only indicate comparative ability. They aren’t gospel. A Guineas is usually won by who best quickens off a fast early pace.
The 1,000 Guineas (Fillies; standard time 1:39.3 = Speed Rating 106)
Band of Gold (SR82; Thornbird; SR89; 1200m, Feb 24; converts to 1:41.1’) showed an exciting turn of foot to win two sprints but hasn’t looked the same at 1400/1600m. Her best speed rating came at 1200m. Suspect at 1600m.
Disability Charm (SR86; Thornbird Stakes; 1:41.3) Stayed on best of all (Thornbird); likely to relish 1600m+. One for the short list but may be more of an Oaks type.
Honey Ryda (SR86; Feb 17, 1600m; 1:41.3) Impressive in victory on February 17 (gave1/2l 2nd, Nadeshico, 3kg); patiently prepared since. A top contender
My Sister (SR95, Jan 17, 1200m; SR88 Thornbird; 1:41.2) Unlucky in the Thornbird (staggered out with blindfolds still on) but, on breeding and running, she’s suspect at 1600m.
Nadeshico (SR89 Thornbird; SR78 Feb 17, 1600m; 1:41.1’) Comes out of the Thornbird (conceded 2kg to the winner) best. Her keen, front running style could make her vulnerable.
Lici’s Pepsi (SR70 Mar 31, 1400m; SR83 Thornbird; 1:41.4’) Sure to get the trip and is a closer so speed ratings don’t do her justice. Possible upsetter!
VERDICT: They finished in a heap in the Thornbird and the race’s speed rating was below standard so it’s best to look outside the Thornbird principals for a classic winner. The two to concentrate on could be Honey Ryda, whose trainer knows how to produce them on the big day (out of a Conquistador Cielo mare, she’d be the selection should it rain) and Fayrouz who flopped in the Thornbird but had previously beaten colts (including Prince Consort winner El Profesor). She was 4l 2nd to Commander Two and 1l 2nd to Drummer Boy at 1500 and 1600m respectively.
1OOO GUINEAS SELECTION: FAYROUZ
The 2,000 Guineas (Colts/Geldings; standard time 1:39.0 = Speed Rating 112)
Another Vigorous (SR91 Prince Consort; converts to 1:41.0’) poorly ridden in the Prince Consort; should stay 1600m on breeding.
Commander Two (SR102 Mar 31, 1500m; 1:40.0) has a winning combination of turn of foot, superior speed and courage. High on the short list!
Drummer Boy (SR100 Mar 31, 1500m; SR86 Jan 17, 1600m; 1:40.1) Improving at the right time. Sure to get the trip.
El Profesor (SR88 Prince Consort; 1:41.2) Fortunate to win the trial but is a classy sort who has progressed stepped up in trip
Marquesas (SR91 Prince Consort; SR90 Ja 2yo Stakes; 1:41.0’) Best 2yo of 2017. Only one run since so is nailed on to improve. One for the short list.
Without Exception (SR86 Prince Consort; SR96 Jan 27, 1400m; 1:40.3) Disappointing last two runs; very one-paced so may be more of a Governor’s Cup/Derby type.
VERDICT: Another Vigorous received an atrocious ride (Prince Consort) so with proper assistance I’m confident he’ll turn the tables on El Profesor. But, that trial also seemed below standard and with enigma Without Exception continuing to disappoint, the Guineas could end up between Commander Two and Drummer Boy who fought out a fast 1500m race on March 31 (the pair finishing 5l clear of useful imported winner My Elle Belle). The latter, who was closing with every stride close home, could be the one to be on.
2,000 GUINEAS SELECTION: DRUMMER BOY
It’s time for our regular review of local performances based on REAL times.
Abbreviations: CT = “Corrected Time”; TV = “Track Variant” (a calculation of the effect of track conditions on official times to arrive at “real” or “corrected” times); TVs are in fifths of a second; “minus” means a fast track; “plus” means a slow track (e.g. -2 means fast by 2/5ths of a second). Variants beside individual horse’s names represent the difference between its official time and the grade standard.
As usual, we look at two recent race days:
March 31, 2018 [TV +0.2/200m (Rd); -0.75/200m (str)]
Commander Two (-6)/Drummer Boy (-5) already discussed above.
Lightning McQueen (-4) impressive debut (Race 2; 3yomdncond; 1200m; TV+1) clocking 1:14.1 (CT 1:14.0) in a 10l romp. His CT is 2/5ths second faster than nw2 but he looks progressive and should win again.
My Super Girl (-4) obviously has her quirks (unable to go early pace; very wide 400m out) but flew home under the stand rail to win going away (Race 8; 3yomdncond fillies; 1100m; TV+1) from Alexandra (-3) and Queen’s Highway (-2). The winner’s CT (1:08.1) is 2/5ths second faster than nw2 (fillies) but, if she settles down and is stretched out (stamina influences on both sides of pedigree) she can do much better – might be an Oaks contender.
The 2nd and 3rd (4/5ths/3/5ths second faster than maiden fillies), can be found races soon.
April 2, 2018 [TV+0 (Rd); +3 (str)]
Disqualified winners Smokescreen (-5) [Race 8; 5yonw2; 1100m] and Yaya’s Dream (-3) [Race 9; 3yonw2/Imp3yo+mdn; 1100m] won on merit producing CTs (1:09.0/1:07.2) a second and 3/5ths second faster than the respective grade standards. Both can gain compensation if similar races can be found for them in the near future.
Overseas Betting Opportunities (OBOs)
By the time this is published, the Masters field will have completed their first round at Augusta but, at time of writing, I’m confident golfing Gods are ready to give Rickie Fowler his first Major. Rickie has been plagued with over-confidence leading to over-aggressiveness but, by now, he should’ve learned patience wins Majors. Augusta’s undulating greens places emphasis on flat-stick expertise so it’s now or never for Rickie, one of the best putters on tour!
Others capable of winning the Masters include, first and foremost, Rory McIlroy, who shows every sign of making 2018 his year. Outsiders to note are Alex Noren (a high-class golfer with the perfect temperament) and Kiradech Aphibarnrat (erratic but frighteningly talented) whose games should suit Augusta’s demands.
National Hunt racing’s ultimate test of stamina and jumping, the Grand National, is scheduled for Aintree, April 14, at 1715GMT. The fences aren’t as dangerous as previously so a higher class of handicapper does tend to enter nowadays. My idea of the winner isn’t very original but Blaklion, is a classy type, proven over these fences and who won’t care what type of ground turns up next week.
At longer odds, Vicente is worth an each-way flutter. He was highly fancied last year but fell at the first fence and has been targeting this ever since. He’ll prove especially effective on good ground so don’t mind his last two runs where he pulled up/unseated the rider both on heavy.
Finally, a notebook horse for you for the flat:
Convey [6yo b.g. Dansili – Insinuate (Mr. Prospector)] needed the run after 9 ½ months off when 1 ¾l 4th in the Winter Derby (Lingfield; 10f; February 24). He took a keen hold in the race; tracked the leader until making an effort to challenge 1f out; soon led and driven; headed 100yds out and lost 3rd last strides. He’ll come on for this and is one to follow especially on polytrack where this was his first loss in four runs.