Tuesday 24 May 2011

2:20 Chepstow (24th May)

A restricted maiden auction race over 5f16y.

In many ways this looks a poor race. However, there may be one or two juveniles with  promise if fancied in the betting.

Wolfgang is favourite on the exchanges at present. This son of Amadeus Wolf was a cheap purchase costing £15,000 at the yearling sales. Although this race will probably take little winning, I have concerns about this juvenile. Originally Hughes was booked to ride Shere Khan - a talented two-year-old - but Wolfgang's recent entry for a selling race doesn't bode well. Physically, this youngster is small and looks a plater. The Andrew Tinkler silks are often the focus of attention and that may have reflected in the price on debut and that may be the reason today. Slow away on debut, and to all purposes outpaced, he made pleasing headway at the finish. However, the form of the Wolverhampton race is weak beyond the winner and more will be needed on this speedy, undulating course. I think this youngster is a decidedly shaky favourite. However, this has to be balanced against what looks to be an equally poor race. It isn't impossible that Hannon's representative could win but I would look elsewhere.

There is no getting away from the fact this looks a moderate race - but someone has to win.

Of the form horses, Umph, Bertorella & Mount Mcleod all have chances although each need something of a transformation.

Umph has shown a fraction of ability on previous starts but at a moderate level. This looks to be a similar grade. Evans two-year-old has shown good pace and could put down a bold front running performance. The negative could be tiring in the final furlong because he hasn't been the strongest finisher before. However, this bay's last run at Thirsk was next to hopeless, suggesting he has regressed. The visor has been applied today in an effort to revitalise this nippy type. It may work, it may not. If coming back to form Umph could have place claims be that last run is a major concern.

Bertorella ran at Windsor on debut but in truth showed no ability. This filly by Bertolini wasn't helped by a slow start but then was soon outpaced. On the plus side, Beckett has a very good strike rate at Chepstow and won this race last year with Malice Or Mischief who was from the same ownership. Kingscote has quite a good record when riding for the stable. The betting is probably the best indicator to this filly's chances. If 13/2  & less she has fair win and place claims but that initial 'performance' at Windsor really needs to be put behind her. 

Mount Mcleod was the first juvenile runner of the season for Jamie Osbourne. A bay filly costing 38,000euros and a half-brother to Hamoody who went on to win the Richmond Stakes. Her breeding certainly gives hope for better to come. She showed very little on debut but is quite an attractive type. Even though this daughter of Holy Roman Emperor finished last on her racecourse bow at Windsor, improvement may be forthcoming because she looked unfit, tubby, and wasn't pressed on that initial start. There is only one thing that would tempt me to bet today - money. If this juvenile is backed - even better substantial backed - I would be confident of a big run. If unfancied in the betting a watching brief is advised.

Of the debutantes, Fast On catches the eye. A cheap purchase at £11,000 this is a rare visitor for both McMahon and Fretwell. The trainer often does well with his early season juveniles and if fancied in the betting has good win and place claims. This colt by Verglas is one of the stronger candidates.

George Baker said on his blog:  ''Place In My Heart our first 2-year-old runner. We never have our 2-year-olds fully wound up for debut, as a progressive experience is a priority. In fact, Excellerator is our only first time out 2-year-old winner. And she proved herself to be a Group filly....''. Unless strongly fancied in the betting, I would rather watch and learn today.  

Split Second was meant to run yesterday but was withdrawn. Mick Channon has been in great form and although his juveniles can win on debut often improve for the experience. Considering this race looks so moderate, this Jaber Abdullah-owned filly may have claims although Channon has a poor strike rate at the course which doesn't inspire. 

Of the outsiders, Gypsy Rider & Molly Jones may have a glimmer of hope.

Conclusion: This looks a moderate, tricky race. The form horses need to have transformed to win. The betting is the best guide to see if they have sprouted Pegasus wings. Keep an eye on the betting for Mount Mcleod as a big run should be expected if substantially backed. The best chance goes to Fast On trained by Ed McMahon and owned by John Fretwell. If fancied in the betting (8/1 & less) he has fair win and place claims. It wouldn't be a surprise to see a debutante win at speculative odds and Gypsy Rider may be worth a punt. A tricky affair.

HCE: ''Wolfgang proved he has enough ability to win a race and to be fair ran better than I imagined. This looked a weak race and it was a battle between the eventual winner and Place In My Heart trained by George Baker. The second is a good-looking type and will be winning soon. With Umph being placed it sets the level.''