I found things really tough at Royal Ascot this year and winners were few and far between. Thankfully Idaho got the job done for us in fine style on the last day, and only for falling out of the stalls I think Dragon Mall would have gone very close to giving Josephine Gordon that elusive Royal Ascot winner earlier on in the day. I am heading to Ballinrobe this evening where torrential rain for most of yesterday has softened the ground considerably. Below are my thoughts on a card that should see mud lovers coming to the fore.
|Gary Halpin could go well on All For Nothing later.
Machine Head is the market leader for this 9.5f race and he was a massive eyecatcher last time at Roscommon (10f soft). He didn’t enjoy the clearest of passages but he stayed on really well to grab 2nd once he did find daylight. Declan McDonagh keeps the ride and hopefully he gets more luck than he did aboard Naughty Or Nice at Ascot!
The worry here for me has to be the slight drop in trip, as he gave the impression last time that a step up in distance would suit. However, this is a race that lacks strength in depth and once it isn’t run at a crawl then Machine Head should be good enough to get the job done for Charles O’Brien, a trainer who has had 3 winners and 7 places from 36 runners at Ballinrobe.
STEVOS’ SELECTION: MACHINE HEAD @ 15/8
I tipped up Boom Or Bush the last day at Gowran and he just about managed to grab 4th after being slowly away and failing to take advantage of the plum draw. He is now 7lb lower then when narrowly beaten on handicap debut on soft at Down Royal, and he has to be considered a big danger here, though he hasn’t got the best of draws.
The one I will be backing at a half decent price is Silk King for Andy McNamara and Seamie Heffernan. Seamie gave Idaho a cracking ride to score for us at Ascot and hopefully he continues in the same vein on this 3yo son of Holy Roman Emperor. Silk King ran a lovely race last time to be 4th on bad ground at Gowran (8f hvy), staying on well late in the day. He will love the ground, he should appreciate the step up in trip and at odds of 12/1 he looks a solid each way bet.
STEVOS’ SELECTION: SILK KING E/W @ 12/1
Try Again has been a super horse for connections and has hasn’t finished out of the first two on his last 7 starts. Four of those runs resulted in wins, and he showed he handled soft ground with a cracking effort behind Prove The Point at Leopardstown back in April. He ran well again last time behind Geological at Limerick but he is 6lb higher than for his last win and he has been on the go a long time this season.
At a huge price I think the Ian Madden trained Baby Bellini could run well off a feather weight with decent claimer Sean Davis taking off 4lb. This lightly raced 6yo son of Ivan Denisovich has run a couple of decent races on the flat, none more so than when beaten just over 4L at Leopardstown (10f soft) on his seasonal return off a mark of 64. He is now running off 60 and with Davis’ claim he is 8lb lower than for that encouraging Leopardstown effort. The slight drop back in trip to 9.5f could suit and the cheek pieces return for the first time since Leopardstown. Baby Bellini looks worth chancing each way for small stakes at 28/1.
STEVOS’ SELECTION: BABY BELLINI E/W @ 28/1
With only 6 going to post this is a race I will be just watching.
Light That and Prince Charmin are bound to be popular in this 13f handicap after encouraging efforts last time out. Light That ran a lovely race on heavy ground at Gowran but he didn’t give the impression that he was crying out for further. Prince Charmin is another danger and connections are hopeful of a good run this evening. They are both short enough at around 2/1 though, and at a bigger price perhaps All For Nothing can give each way backers a run for their money.
Kevin Prendergast’s son of Bushranger has had just six career starts and he has improved steadily since tackling handicaps. He ran a lovely race last time on good ground at Fairyhouse, staying on well for 6th behind Ben Rumson (12f), beaten a never nearer 5L for Gary Halpin. He races off the same mark of 56 here, and the extra furlong should suit. Soft ground is an unknown, but his dam is related to soft ground scorers and his sire Bushranger’s progeny usually handle cut well. At double figure odds he looks worth chancing each way in an open looking race.
STEVOS’ SELECTION: ALL FOR NOTHING E/W @ 12/1
I really fancied Chocolat Noir to run a big race at Navan (13f gd) last time but she wasn’t given much assistance from the saddle. She could only manage 6th, beaten just over 7.5L but she was never in the right position and I am sure Shane Foley would ride her differently on another day.
Colin Keane takes over in the plate and Murtagh has decided to reach for the cheek pieces. She should be fine on the soft ground judging by her 4L defeat at Leopardstown off 73 on handicap debut and she races off just a pound higher here. The daughter of Yeats looks worth giving another chance to and at odds of 4/1 she is the selection in a race where a case can be made for most.
STEVOS’ SELECTION: CHOCOLAT NOIR @ 4/1
At a big price Nevsky could run well for in form duo Jessica Harrington and Colm O’Donoghue. This 4yo is out of a sire that I must admit I know little about, but this gelding has shown definite promise on his last two outings over shorter at Killarney (8f yld) and the Curragh (10f yld).
He looks sure to benefit from the extra couple of furlongs at Ballinrobe and he is a half-brother to a soft ground winner over jumps in France. High Haven and Powersbomb are both sure to be popular with punters, but I think Nevsky could outrun his odds of 20/1 and he is worth backing e/w for small stakes.
STEVOS’ SELECTION: NEVSKY E/W @ 20/1