Thought I would take a look at the final All Weather Championship Qualifier for 2019. The basic rules are as follows.
1. Either a horse must run a minimum of three times on the all-weather surfaces in Great Britain, Ireland or France (or twice on the all-weather surfaces in Britain, Ireland or France and once on the dirt at Meydan in Dubai).
2. Or a horse can win a specific Fast-Track Qualifier which will qualify for free and guaranteed entry into a specific race on finals day.
- Above The Rest. Top Rating 94.78, No CD Rating. Should be rated high enough to qualify. He clearly has the class to win this having won a Group 3 on Newcastle’s Tapeta surface. He should be suited by the likely strong gallop.
- Apex King. Top Rating 92.2, No CD Rating. Has already had the 3 qualifying runs but is only rated 86 so will not qualify unless winning this, in my opinion though, it would take a massive leap in form to even go close against this field.
- Arcanada. Top Rating 94.51, Top CD Rating 89.37. Should be qualified on Official Ratings and needs today’s run. He looks the most likely to go forward but looks better suited by an extra furlong so this looks a prep run for finals day.
- Cardsharp. Top Rating 85.26, No CD Rating. A very interesting runner has he should easily qualify on Official Ratings but is yet to run during the qualifying period so needs to win this in order to qualify for finals day. With only one run on the AW which was over a straight 6 furlongs at Newcastle it is interesting that Mark Johnston has pitched him in at this level especially over a distance that he has appeared to struggle at. He may well be on to go forward and contest the early speed.
- Documenting. Top Rating 95.69, Top CD Rating 93.11. One of only 2 CD winners in the field. Looks guaranteed a place on finals day already and looked impressive last time out winning a CD 0-95 with embarrassing ease although that field did look a great deal weaker than today’s. He should be suited by the likely strong gallop.
- Island Of Life. Top Rating 93.99, Top CD Rating 90.08. The only other CD winner in the field but also the only female in the race so receives 5lbs from the males. She is guaranteed a place in the Fillies And Mares race on finals day after winning a Fast Track Qualifier over CD. She should be suited by the likely strong gallop.
- Keystroke. Top Rating 96.74, Top CD Rating 93.37. Has a great record from his 3 runs at the track resulting in a second over CD in this race last year and 2 wins over 1½ miles. He has the best final pace rating in the field so will be suited by the likely strong gallop.
- Oh This Is Us. Top Rating 93.42, No CD Rating. The highest rated runner on Official Ratings and Racing Post Ratings and only needs to turn up today to guarantee a place on finals day. His form though does look a little suspect in my opinion. He beat inferior rivals last time out and the proximity of Apex King is a worry. He should be suited by the likely strong gallop but does look short enough to me.
Conclusion: I am expecting this to be contested at a decent gallop with Cardsharp and Arcanada likely to cut across from their draws in 9 and 7 respectively. Oh This Is Us may be inconvenienced by Cardsharp so will need a deliberate move to pull him back in behind. Stall 1 is a worry for Above The Rest as he will need plenty of luck in running so that leaves it between Island Of Life and Keystroke. It is Keystroke that just shades it for me.
This is not out of desperation it is a play I feel that looks slightly over-priced. I generally do not look too deeply at Dundalk merely due to time restraints but religiously compile the ratings.
RACE SUMMARY 17:00:00
Yuften looks the obvious one at the weights but I just have a sneaky suspicion That Is The Spirit may turn around the form of their last meeting which was in a similar race here back in November when Yuften romped home beating My selection by over 11 lengths but there are a few reasons I think That Is The Spirit can get much closer today. The main reason is that last run was over 8 furlongs a trip at which Yuften is clearly superior but today we race over the specialist trip of 7 furlongs for which That Is The Spirit is head and shoulders in front on form with wins off 90,95,105, 99 and 90. His last two runs over this CD can be forgiven as he was returning from an absence of 117 days and 116 days, both times in strong handicap, 0-95 and 0-90. The other reason I think he can improve today is he looks more than likely to get an uncontested lead from stall 3 with a far superior Early Speed Rating to anything else in the race. This is his third run after a break so should strip much fitter the main question is how much ability does he retain.
SELECTION : That Is The Spirit at 10/1
Nice to bag a 7/1 winner on my first day back but Today’s racing is bordering on terrible. Newcastle is not My favourite punting track but there is one I have backed.
RACE SUMMARY 16:10:00
The presence of a 45 rated, first time blinkered Mark Prescott runner at Newcastle dropped in trip makes this a little trickier. All things being above board FLOOD DEFENCE looks to have a great chance. The last three races she has contested had an average rated runner of 68,69 and 61 and she finished third, third and fourth, meeting “trouble” in running the last twice over this trip at Wolverhampton. She drops in to this extremely weak 0-65 with only three runners rated 60 plus with an average rated runner of 51. She should be suited by how this track has been riding lately as she likes to come from off
the speed so with a few of these likely to go forward including the first time blinkered Prescott runner dropping back in trip who I expect to be ridden aggressively we should get an honest gallop and a true test. The very capable Theodore Ladd takes 5lbs off her back and with the width of this track she should have no trouble in running. I honestly thought she would be close to an even money shot so even though 3/1 is not my usual bet I still feel she offers great value.
SELECTION :FLOOD DEFENCE
A very mediocre day’s racing and not one in which I will be getting too involved in. There are three races only that I am interested in today. None are very strong selections but runners I feel offer a little bit of value in weak races.
2:30 Chelmsford, 7f Handicap (Class 7) (3yo+ 0-50)
BABY GAL – Is my selection here, she seems to be improving steadily since the introduction of the blinkers and would not need to approve from her last run to win this. At first glance stall 13 (now 12 due to the non-runner) would look a big negative but with almost 3 fur;longs to the first bend the outside draws have the best record in 15 runner races and stall 12 has the highest impact value.
4:00 Chelmsford, 5f Handicap (Class 6) (3yo+ 0-55)
INVISIBLE STORM – Again is another runner drawn wide but that does not worry me as again the wide draws tend to fair out ok. The pace angle is slightly confusing as a few of these have shown a tendency to go forward but none are guaranteed and the selection has shown a decent early speed over 6 furlongs. I am hoping connections use forcing tactics and make this a catch me if you can race. This looks far easier than her last race with an average rating of just 49 compared to 57 last time out. Jockey and Trainer have a profitable 15.58% strike rate together.
4:55 Wolverhampton, 7f (7f36y) All Weather “Hands And Heels” Series Apprentice Handicap (Class 6) (4yo+ 0-55
CALEDONIA LAIRD – Is a three-time CD winner who was withdrawn from a slightly weaker race last weak this is a very interesting runner. He run better than his position suggests over CD first time after wind surgery back in August off a mark of 59 in a race with an average rating of 62 and races today off 52 in a race with an average rating of 12lbs lower. All 3 CD wins have come off higher marks than this, twice at 59 (both coming from similar draws) and latest off 55. Today’s very capable jockey who is 2 from 2 at the track for this yard takes off another valuable 3lbs.
8:10 Wolverhampton (AW) 1m½f (1m142y) Fillies’ Handicap (Class 4) (3yo+ 0-85)
An absolutely fascinating contest for one with so few runners.
Scottish Jig sets the standard on pedigree being a full sister to 115 Rated Group 1 winner albeit on turf. I am slightly worried about suitability to the surface for this runner especially at a short price as the Sire’s three-year old progeny are relatively lightly race on Tapeta since 2016 he has only produced 1 winner from 6 runners. Apart from a blip in 2017 when he was 0 from 6, J Gosden has been generally profitable to follow here with his three-year old fillies showing a 35.29% strike rate returning a level stakes profit of £11.81 although his favourites return a better strike rate of 45.45% they are not profitable to follow blind although they do just break in to profit when ridden by Rab Havlin who is 3 from 6.
Pride’s Gold is already proven here winning over 7 furlongs in June but the strength of that race has to be in doubt although she did win it very comfortably I would be surprised if there is not on in here to beat her. Simon Crisford has returned a level stakes profit with 5 winning fillies from the 22 he has sent here.
Allante is probably the most exposed of the field but is at least proven over CD although her pedigree looks strong on paper the form of her win is again in question beating mainly much inferior rivals. Sir Michael Stoute has appeared to start concentrating his three-year old fillies here, in 2015 and 2016 he sent 8 fillies to the track without a winner but in 2017 he sent 4 here producing 2 winners and this year so far he has sent 9 here resulting in 3 winners returning a strike rate of 38.46% resulting in a level stakes profit of £33.50.
Arabian Gift to me is the most interesting runner a 525,000 Guineas yearling by Dubawi whose three-year old fillies have a 55.56% (5 from 9) strike rate over CD but more interestingly are 4 from 7 when having their first run on Tapeta. This is Charlie Appleby’s only runner at the meeting and since 2014 he has operated at a 35.94% (23 from 64) strike rate when only sending one to the track and although not profitable to follow blind if you narrow them down to handicaps the strike rate increases to 40.74 % (11 from 27) and we just break in to profit. If we further narrow this down to the trainers only runner combined with the jockey’s only ride we suddenly end up with a 54.55% (12 from 22) strike rate returning a level stakes profit of £9.34. Brett Doyle is 1 from 1 under the following criteria. Arabian Gift has been strongly fancied on her two starts as a three-year old going off at 13/8 and 4/6 fav, she did finish a long way behind Scottish Jig but that was over a straight 8 furlongs but I really think the switch to Tapeta and a left-handed track will be right up her street so at a generally available 7/1 looks well worth an interest to me.
A very poor days racing on Wednesday but there are two runners I am quite interested in and both run at Kempton and both are ridden by jockey James Doyle.
6:40 Kempton: A speculative play here on Alshahhad, a three-year old gelding by Dubawi whose three-year old progeny have a decent 20.59% strike rate when making their racecourse debut on a polytrack surface and are 4 from 12 over 8 furlongs. In the last two years on the All Weather James Doyle has operated at an incredible 44.44% strike rate on three-year olds from the William Haggas stable that run in non handicap races.
8:10 Kempton: Magellan ticks a lot of boxes here and is 2 out of 2 on the All Weather so far including winning a competitive race here over 11 furlongs. On breeding the extra furlong should prove ideal being by Sea The Stars whose progeny have a 26.67% strike rate over 12 furlongs on a polytrack surface and are 10 from 33 over CD. James Doyle has generally operated at a 22.13% strike in All Weather Handicaps over the past two years and is 12 from 46 at Kempton during that same time period. He is 2 from 2 for Roger Charlton at Kempton, 3 from 3 on the All Weather and has generally being operating at a 42.86% strike rate for the stable over the last two years.
Magellan would be the strongest fancy of the two and I have backed him in a single at 9/4 and played a double with Alshahhad