Tuesday 15 April 2014


A Conditions Stakes over 5f on good ground. An eight strong field of two-year-olds colts and one gelding. Three juveniles have race experience.

Bill Turner has started the season in earnest and Abscent Friends made a winning debut at Southwell when fancied in the betting (4/1). This son of Showingcasing is owned by the trainer's daughter and ridden by his grandson. This February foal is very much an unfurnished horse with a lot of growing to do and quite dip backed. It didn't stop him from winning is fair style although it is difficult to assess the level of that form. Toytown - who finished down the field in the Brocklesby - wasn't beaten a great number of lengths, although tired rapidly in the final furlong. This looks a stiffer competition and although improvement is on the cards I would favour others.

Flyball ran well in the Brocklesby, finishing third, then won on the nod next start at Leicester. Richard Hannon's youngster was a relatively cheap buy but a good-looking colt, athletic, eager to please, if not a little keen in the early stages. His strength is the manner this bay colt knuckles down at the finish.

He is very closely matched with George Baker's Harry Hurricane. This son of Kodiac cost £38,000 at the yearling sales. Although starting at 14/1, there was money for this bay colt from huge odds on the exchanges. He didn't get the best start but traveled very well mid race and then rallied near the line. With a three pound advantage over Flyball, there is a fighting chance he can reverse the form. Baker's two-year-olds are primed to go well on their second start and although far from unfit on debut there should be improvement.

The debutantes are slightly better in the weight but will need to be talented, fit and primed to beat those with experience. It is interesting to consider that many trainers race horses at this grade because they hold them in some regard. This factor can negate the bias which raced horses enjoy.

Godolphin is represented by their first juvenile runner of the reason, trained by Charlie Appleby. Portamento is a grey son of Shamardal out of a Group 1 winning mare (Octave). An exceptionally well bred two-year-old. The stable can go well on debut. A difficult horse to assess but one to be respected.

David Brown is a talented trainer and teams up with Qatar Racing Ltd. Mind Of Madness is a bay colt who has just turned two and cost 45,000gns. This Irish bred son of Amazour is out of a winning mare. The sire wasn't a sprinter so may this youngster may appreciate further in time. If priced 13/2 & less has fair win and place claims. 

Framley Garth is a cheap yearling purchase at just 6,000gns. This bay colt is owned and trained by David Elsworth. He often starts some of his better juveniles at headquarters although his debutantes can be hit and miss. Unless seriously backed I'd take a watching brief.

Big McIntosh hails from John Ryan's stable and cost 85,000gn at the yearling sales. This son of Bushranger is an early foal (February). Probably best watched.   

Ralph McTell is best watched.

Conclusion: Those raced horses will be primed to run a big race and experience is worth its weight in gold at this time of year. It is difficult to assess the merit of those performances but they have proven a level of ability. Abscent Friends has done nothing wrong and won in fair style but isn't the best looker and has a lot of growing to do. I'd rather watch and learn. It could be a close call between Flyball and Harry Hurricane. The former is a decent-looking colt, while George Baker's juvenile is a little smaller but should improve. I would favour Harry Hurricane. Of the debutantes, Portamento & Mind Of Madness have decent each way claims if priced 13/2 & less. Godolphin's colt is exceptionally well bred and if seriously backed would bring further confidence. If priced allow, Harry Hurricane has fair win and place claims and a tentative selection. Not the easiest of race types to be dogmatic.