Monday 23 May 2011

2:45 Leicester (23rd May) - Result

A maiden over 5f218y on good to firm ground.

St Barths is all the rage on the exchanges and likely to start big odds on. A good-looking colt by Cadeaux Genereux who cost £40,000 at the sales. Meehan has spoken favourably of this colt and an entry for the Railway Stakes (Group 2) at the Currugh is a positive sign. He ran with great encouragement at Newbury on debut, a race that has already been franked in good style by Trumpet Major at Goodwood. St Barths wasn't pressed that day and was short of room at a crucial stage, which may have stopped him from going close to winning. Meehan's juveniles often improve with racing - this juvenile will continue that trend - and has strong claims although at the price there seems little value. 

Mark Johnston has been in much better form with his juveniles this season than last and the Spence-owned Bounty Seeker - a colt by US sire A.P.Indy - cost $285,000. The trainer does quite well at the course with a fair strike race although I often get the feeling the Spence debutantes improve a good deal for the experience. Quite fancied on the betting exchanges, this looks a colt with a future. Johnston is a difficult trainer to assess on debut and his juveniles can be hit and miss. This horse may run a big race but probably best watched.

Ed McMahon is a very talented trainer of two-year-olds and he does well with the Fretwell juveniles. Verbeeck is a difficult colt to assess on his debut at Bath. Things didn't go well for this handsome son of Dutch Art as he was coltish and certainly didn't have his mind on racing when the stalls opened and lost a number of lengths. From that point he was always on the back foot and inexperience was his biggest downfall. It was interesting that they sent him to Bath - a course the trainer has a very good strike rate - and he went off favourite. The form has been franked by the winner although John Hills' victor won quite easily that day so it wouldn't pay to go crazy. This 6f will give Verbeeck more time to find his stride. The one thing I took from his debut was that this looked  a horse who could improve from that initial run. He will most certainly need to with what looks a talented favourite in St Barths. McMahon does well with his fancied juveniles on their second start and if backed I can see this chestnut colt holding good place claims.

Of the others, Peter Chapple-Hyam does well with his debutantes and Telwaar may have place claims if backed.

Interesting to see Seb Sanders booked to ride Unforgiving. He has a fair strike rate with McCabes juveniles and may be capable of better.

Conclusion: St Barths is clearly all the rage and clearly held in high regard by the stable. He is a good-looking colt who could go on to better things but the odds are prohibitive. Verbeeck is an interesting opponent. He needs to improve on that debut but had a few excuses and with nearly a month off course I can imagine McMahon will have him fit and ready. This extra furlong will suit and one to take note if backed. The stable do well with juveniles on their second start and there could be more to come. Whether he can beat St Barths may be a tall order. However, if this youngster is a talent, it may not be a forlorn hope. If relatively fancied in the betting, he has good place claims. Unforgiving may go better today with the positive sign of Sanders riding again.

HCE: ''St Barths made harder work of this than his supporters would have liked but held the edge at the line - and that pays the bills. Meehan - chatting on ATR - was pleased with the performance and insisted it was more inexperience than fitness. They are considering the Coventry at Royal Ascot. Verbeeck ran well and travelled the best in the race until the closing stages when challenged by the winner. McMahon gave the impression this colt might be either temperamental of unwilling. Neither looked the case as he clearly has ability. His undoing on debut was being coltish/inexperience and running over at an insufficient distance. Connections were here to learn a little more today and they must have been excited by what they saw. They obviously had no great intention of giving this youngster a hard race - which is fair enough - although it was surprising they didn't make a little more effort when challenged in the final furlong. In truth, I don't think Verbeeck would have been good enough to beat the favourite but they may have resigned themselves to being placed rather than winning before the start. I am sure you will see a more determined ride next time out. Bounty Seeker will progress with racing.''