Saturday 7 May 2011

4:00 Ascot (7th May)

The McGee Maiden Stakes over 5f for colts & geldings. With prize money of £7,771 it could be a competitive heat.

Three form horses have the advantage of experience over the debutantes and each has a level of ability.

North Star Boy was fancied to go well on debut and I can imagine connections were surprised they didn't take the spoils. A 57,000gns yearling, he is a good-looking colt by Acclamation and there is little doubt a winner in the making. The form of that Goodwood race is difficult to assess as it was a field of debutantes. However, the winner - Foxtrot India - looked primed for Peter Winkworth and was ridden with confidence by Crowley. Clearly connections held high hopes for both juveniles. North Star Boy was rallying at the finish and may have won in another 50 yards. Hannon had him entered to run in the Lily Agnes but decided upon this engagement. It is an intriguing race and this bay colt will be a tough nut to crack.

Another form horse with a leading chance is Bayleyf. John Best has spoken in glowing terms about this son of Kheleyf. A bargain buy at £10,000 and a juvenile with plenty of size and scope for improvement. He was keen in the early stages at Folkestone and then took his time to get composed before running on under pressure in the final furlong to play second fiddle to the easy winner Gatepost. Bayleyf managed to pip Choice Of Remark who is a speedy type, which ran creditably in the Lily Agnes. John Best's two year olds often improve for their debut and he features good win and place claims with his fancied runners. There is a slight concern he may take a little time to find his feet when the pace quickens but looks the type to finish in determined fashion. Best holds this juvenile is high regard and should be respected. With the favourite not the easiest to assess - although giving indications he is the horse to beat - Bayleyf has eachway claims and a fighting chance of the win.

Liebesziel - trained by Alan McCabe - has the most experience with two positive runs under his belt. Perhaps on form he has something to prove against a field of potentially fair juveniles. He was a little unbalanced in the closing stages at Newmarket which didn't help his cause. A bay colt by Pursuit Of Love, he has enough ability to win a race and with experience may give the debutantes something to think about. I would imagine one or two will be a shade better although he may grab a place.

The debutantes have a stiff task against experienced juveniles with a fair level of form. They will need to be talented, fit but mostly wanting to win of debut. With most two year olds being given considerate introductions - as should be expected - they will need to be pretty smart. 

Charles The Great hails from Andrew Balding's stable. Owned by Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds and costing 50,000gns as a foal gives some hope this son of Holy Roman Emperor will be successful in his juvenile career. On breeding this 5f may be on the sharp side. Balding can win with his juveniles on debut although most are much better on their second start. The majority of those to have won on their racecourse bow have been priced 7/1 & less. A watching brief.

Interesting to see Paul D'Arcy with a £50,000 breeze-up buy for Dr Kinnear. Caledonian Spring comes from a stable that can win with their youngsters on debut and it is a positive to see Holland booked to ride. D'Arcy had a debutante run well at Newmarket, beating Liebeszeil. Perhaps they fancy this bay colt to do the same. If backed, it would be a positive although a tough ask to win.

Lethal Force is a relatively cheap purchase by Dark Angel. The positive is that Cox can go well with speculative priced juveniles on debut.

Dissent is an early runner for Gerard Butler. If heavily backed it would be a sign of encouragement. However, he has a poor win rate on debut.

Conclusion: Two horses stand out:  North Star Boy & Bayleyf. The former, trained by Hannon, looks a fair juvenile and should take some beating. Bayleyf has sound eachway claims although the price may be on the short side. Liebeszeil may sneak a place. Caledonian Spring is the most interesting of the debutantes.

HCE: ''Similarly to his Goodwood performance it took North Star Boy time to gather his stride but was well on top at the line. Lethal Force ran on well to take 2nd.''