horses racing

The following apocryphal story has been making the rounds since I was knee high to a grasshopper (or grass lice whichever you prefer).

Lord Nelson was on the bridge of HMS Victory lying just west of the Cape of Trafalgar, when, through his telescope, he caught sight of approaching Spanish ships. He called Hardy, his faithful Man Friday. “Hardy” he ordered in his best clipped oxford accent “go down to my cabin and bring me my red blazer.” Hardy was puzzled. “Whatever for my Lord?” he gently enquired.

“It’s obvious we’re about to engage several Spanish ships” Nelson replied. “If I am wounded, I don’t want the men’s morale to suffer by seeing me bleed”. Hardy understood completely and scurried below returning with the prized red blazer which Nelson donned immediately. Soon Nelson’s telescope spotted French navy ships coming to join the Spanish thus together significantly outnumbering the British fleet. He summoned Hardy again.

“Hardy” Nelson ordered in hushed and somber tones “Go back to my cabin. Bring me my brown corduroy trousers!”

I recalled this tall tale on June 29, as long odds-on favourite for the Jamaica Derby Supreme Soul was victorious but not before sending supporters and connections alike scurrying to order fast-tracked shipments of brown corduroy trousers after idling in front and looking wobbly 400 metres out. At the end of the day superior class and stamina told and he pulled it off.

But that was his third hard race in a row toting 57kg. This race also came over the grueling trip of 2400m. So, seekers of value at the Tote for July 20’s St. Leger can rely on a fourth consecutive effort being one too many (or, perhaps, more aligned with the Nelson story “a bridge too far”) and look for an opponent who skipped the Derby thereby reporting for giant killing duties fresher than the likely howling favourite. My two best candidates to play David are the same ones I expected to give the favourite trouble in the Derby but failed to face the starter. As I wrote then (updated for the St. Leger):

Crimson [Nuclear Wayne-Sarah Barracuda (Prized)]: I’m a big fan of this Nuclear Wayne sire (a son of multiple USA grade one and 2003 Horse of the Year winner Mineshaft out of a Storm Cat mare) who, in a brief stud career so far, has produced a 1,000 Guineas winner and Oaks 2nd in Nuclear Affair.

Crimson was unraced as a two year old  but has proven himself a classy and progressive sort who, on June 22, stayed on well over 1400m behind importee Action Run. In only his second race, he was unlucky to be beaten by Oaks 2nd Princess Ava (received 1.5kg) having to change course repeatedly as the winner intimidated by drifting out. Having gained experience since then, he seems sure to improve past her.

That form was boosted not only by Princess Ava’s second place in the Oaks but again by her facile win over two other St. Leger candidates Big Bang and Berry Boy.

Crimson’s profile reminds me a lot of 1977 superstar Legal Light and I won’t be surprised to see him becoming a big player in late season Grade 1 races like the Superstakes and Diamond Mile.

Bloodsweatandtears [Strikewhileitshot-Miss Nickels (Go for Gin)]: He entered the Derby/St. Leger picture with a good second to Big Bang over an obviously inadequate 1400m on April 6 but inexplicably switched headgear for the Guineas (flopped) and unwisely retained blinkers for a 1300m maiden on May 23. The visors were declared for his intended start over 1200m (June 5) but he was a late scratch. He’s bred for 2000m (his dam sire is a Kentucky Derby winner) so is a very possible upsetter especially if it rains (Go For Gin’s Kentucky Derby was run in a deluge on a sloppy track). He’s sure to take a huge step forward stretched out around two turns for the first time.

In addition, old rivals Sentient (ran a cracker in the Derby) and Princess Annie (never a factor on Derby day) should be back for another shot at classic glory and I wouldn’t put it past Princess Annie to atone for whatever went wrong on Derby day. If CRIMSON is entered, he’ll be my pick. In his absence, I’ll be hopping on the Princess Annie train one more time.



This regular review of local performances is 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” a slow track (e.g. -2 means fast by 2/5ths of a second). Variants beside horse’s names represent the difference between its official time and the grade standard.

June 30, 2019 [TV-0.2 per 200m (Round) +5 (Ya Ya’s Dream; +4 Kappone]

FORMAL JUSTICE (-4) and MUSKETOON (-4) clocked the day’s “fastest” times (Race 4; 5yonw3/OT; 1300m; TV-1 and Race 8; $450,000 claimers/5yonw3; 1400m; TV-1). The former clocked 1:21.2 (CT 1:21.3) but has exhausted all her conditions so must go claiming to win again. The CT equals the standard for $550,000 claimers so she can win at $450,000.

The latter clocked 1:28.0! His CT (1:28.1) is just 1/5th second faster than $550,000 claimers. MIRABILIS (-3) second to MUSKETOON, produced a CT of 1:28.2 or 2/5ths second faster than $450,000 claimers.

JULY 6, 2019 [TV-0.2/200m (Round) -0 (straight)]

Race 7 [3yonw2 (fillies); 1100m; TV-1) is a KEY RACE!

Although the winner Cryptocurrency (-7) produced a CT (1:06.4) only 1/5th second faster than open nw3, she has more to come especially over further (stayed on determinedly final 200m to get up last stride) so should have no trouble repeating over 1400m+. But the huge eye-catchers were short-head second SOUL CURE (-7) whose CT (1:06.4) is 1 1/5th seconds faster than nw2 for which she remains eligible; 3rd CASUAL DRINK (-5) with a CT 4/5ths second faster than nw2 and plenty in the tank also at 1400m+; and 4th SPLENDID VISION (-4) who produced a CT still 3/5th second faster than the grade.  All are nailed on to win a nw2 in their turn.

Overseas Betting Opportunities (OBOs)

Golf’s most fascinating Major, The Open, comes to Royal Portrush in Ireland (NOT Northern Ireland) on July 18 so Irish eyes will be on Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry in particular. Old favourite Padraig Harrington will also have his supporters but this will be a test for those who enjoy links golf so my short-list is headed by Spain’s RAFA CABRERA-BELLO, who was tied for second in the 2012 Irish Open played at Royal Portrush and who has shown good recent form.

Others in decent form who excel on links include Louis Oosthuizen (won The Open on a common canter at St. Andrews in 2010; tied 2nd in the 2015 US Open at St. Andrews clone, Chambers Bay, beaten by one stroke after an opening round of seven over par; and 5th in this year’s US Open at Pebble Beach Links) and Tommy Fleetwood (long time links golf specialist whose game has stepped up in the last two years when he has often threatened to win a major).

Tomorrow’s English racing features another popular big heritage handicap, the Bunbury Cup (Newmarket; 7f; 1530GMT; 9.30 a.m. Jamaica Time). Kynren’s name has been on one of these all season but I’m not so sure about his dropping back to 7f especially as favourite so it could prove safer to back last issue’s notebook horse VALE OF KENT who is at double-digit odds and has a chance second to none

The Group 1 July Cup is also on tap (6f; 1640GMT; 10.40a.m. Jamaica Time). Advertise won the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot on good to soft but probably won’t get those conditions tomorrow so the one to be on is DREAM OF DREAMS who just failed to catch Ascot standing dish Blue Point in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes and is on the rapid upgrade.

Let’s close with another notebook horse coming out of Royal Ascot:

AWE [3yo b.c. Bated Breath-On Her Way (Medician)] finished 5 ½ lengths 4th of 28 in the Brittania despite being victimized by the draw (he was in stall 5, 1st to 3rd drew 29-22-18) and that was basically that. He comfortably defeated the 8 others on his side of the track; is still very much unexposed; and looks worth following in similar races for the remainder of the season.

Good Luck!

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