A Median Auction Stakes over 5f 6y on standard going. A very restricted race type. This race was won last year by Cheerio Sweetie who showed good early form, made favourite for the Lily Agnes Conditions, before proving disappointing.
Five two-year-olds take part: two colts and three fillies, a couple once-raced, which on the face of it looks limited form.
Lingfield Lass and Ojai finished fourth and fifth respectively behind Rah Rah [trained by Mark Johnston] and the form has been franked to some degree by Anwar who finished second on her subsequent start.
Lingfield Lass is an Irish bred bay filly trained by John Best. A February foal, out of the poor sire Mullionmileanhour, who won a maiden race and was placed at Listed class. This horse didn't go through the sales and heralds from Best Breeding. Racing in the silks of Lingfield Park Owners Group, she made a satisfactory debut at odds of 16/1 when ridden by today's pilot Kieran Fox. This bay was given time to find her stride and ran on in the closing stages without threatening the lead. Experience is always a positive but improvement is needed. With such a small field betting guides may be conflicting although the stable's juveniles hold fair win and place claims when priced 5/1 & less on their second start.
Ojai was one place behind Lingfield Lass and more fancied in the betting at odds of 8/1. This brown filly was quite an early foal [18th February] sired by Big Bad Bob out of a once-race mare. Sold at the yearling sales for 16,000EUR, bought-in by Anthony Stroud Bloodstock who bred this juvenile with J Hanley & T Stewart. Ojai comes from a decent family including half-sister Dream Date. A few of the siblings have sold for good money. Now racing in the silks of Wood Hall Stud Ltd. Dean Ivory is a handler who knows how to win. This juvenile wasn't best away on debut and crossed by one of its opponents which meant she was a few lengths adrift, although pushed to be half competitive, then ran wide on the bend. She looked inexperienced and physically a touch weak. In addition, she has a slightly pronounced action. Fillies come in all shapes and sizes and not the easiest to assess but she looked like time would see her well. Dean Ivory's juveniles can improve a good deal for their first run and if starting on terms looks a similar standard to John Best's horse. Harper Lodge Farm can win on their second start and a few have done so at big odds. However, on balance, I'd have to take a watching brief.
The debutantes look most likely to take this contest. The problem with such cheap buys [if not lesser-bred juveniles] is that they are unlikely to be world beaters.
Ower Fly is a home bred son of Pastoral Pursuits out of a nine times winning handicap mare. This bay colt is drawn in stall one and hails from Richard Hannon's stable. It is difficult to access the likely standard of this horse although it wouldn't have to achieve a great deal to be competitive. Turning courses are never the easiest to handle for debutantes and a slow start or running wide on the bend are always a concern. One of the more likely contenders.
Mark Johnston has been in flying form with his early two-year-olds and could well come here with a firm grip of the form needed to prevail. This son of Fast Company is a home bred. Rogue's Gallery is ridden by 3lb apprentice Michael J M Murphy. As I have said before, I find Johnston's debutantes difficult to assess: they are either easy winners or poor losers and I will stick with that appraisal. I'd have to take a watching brief although fearful especially if starting favourite.
Robert Eddery is a trainer who I rate although he doesn't have a very good strike rate with his debutantes even those quite fancied in the betting. Priory is a bay filly and daughter of Mullionmileanhour [who doesn't inspire as a sire] out of a once-raced mare. This April foal is owned by the trainer.
Conclusion: These restricted races are often akin to plating class and it wouldn't be a surprise to see some entered at that grade in the next few months. I would often favour form horses at this level but Lingfield Lass and Ojai didn't inspire confidence on their racecourse bow. It is a difficult one because they have valuable experience and likely to improve for the race and most importantly connections will be aiming to win. The betting guides are somewhat conflicting as such a small field doesn't help asses the market. John Best has a fair win and place rate at 5/1 & less, while Dean Ivory's juveniles can find huge improvement from first to second start. Their success depends on the ability of those making their formative steps. Rogue's Gallery and Ower Fly would have to be favoured to take this contest. The former is trained by Mark Johnston and if strongly fancied in the betting it could be significant with winning two-year-olds aplenty. I find this stable difficult to predict. Ower Fly has fair breeding for this level and is taking after the dam will be a wiry character. I would give this horse the edge if pressed but at the odds there will be better more confident bets to come. Priory hails from a stable who often like a gamble but their strike rate on debut is poor. I would have to watch this race rather than bet.