DAQMAN FANCIES FRENCH OUTSIDERS AT 37.0 AND 14.5: Daqman explores the value of form and collateral form, as he tries to work out the big races in France and Ireland today. He finds value at 37.0, 14.5, 8.2 and 7.2.
The form hasn’t worked out. To that statement – being applied in the Press to Society Rock’s Golden Jubilee– my mentor, Paul Major, of Horse Sense fame, would reply: ‘It depends how you work it out.’
Some 15 horses behind Society Rock that day have failed to win since and the placed horses finished 10th and 15th in Dream Ahead’s July Cup.
No comparison, then, between Society Rock and Dream Ahead. Miles apart it seems, as they line up for the Group-1 Prix Maurice De Gheest at Deauville on the soft this afternoon (2.45). But hold your horses.
Take a line through a beast called Bated Breath: he was beaten around two lengths by Society Rock in the Golden Jubilee but was the ‘moral’, only half a length down to Dream Ahead when runner-up in the July Cup, giving the winner 6lb., so theoretically a length and a half the better horse.
Hitchens finished third in the July Cup, two lengths behind Dream Ahead, but had been only 11th, seven lengths off Society Rock in the Golden Jubilee.
There are two reasons for the discrepancies (probably more but these two are the main clues): different ground and the fact that sprinters win in their turn.
It takes a real champion to set up a sequence. You can’t include a string of two-year-old successes (as produced by Dream Ahead, Libranno, Wootton Bassett and Zoffany); that’s a whole different ball game, about progression up the juvenile ladder.
Only Markab of today’s runners has managed back-to-back wins in his senior races; half today’s field hasn’t won a single race in 2011.
How about last year’s Maurice De Gheest winner, you chorus? His success that day was back to back with a win at Newbury the previous month. Yes, but he hadn’t won for 10 months beforehand and has raced eight times since that double without scoring.
So where does all this take us? It suggests that we must have a decent price to bet on in sprints. Dream Ahead may well win, with the soft ground no problem, but at the offers available, he’s only a stakes saver for me. After all that knocking of Society Rock’s Golden Jubilee, I have to tell you that Dream Ahead’s July Cup hasn’t produced a winner since.
The draw may help: stall 14 has won the race twice in three years and, if you were boxed in one to four, you haven’t troubled the judge, even for a place, since way back. Older horses usually beat the three-year-olds: the last three runnings have gone to sprinters aged five and six.
In the belief that the ground is on the heavy side of soft, with more rain forecast, I rate Smooth Operator – an improved horse this season – a solid each-way chance, fourth last year when he didn’t get the run of the race, his stamina just beginning to come into play on good-to-soft terrain that day. It will be fully effective today.
Smooth Operator opened 37.0 on Betdaq and Society Rock 14.5. Alongside 2.25 Dream Ahead, there was no choice as to where the value lay.
Back to the question of collateral form, today’s Phoenix Stakes at The Curragh (4.05) is the kind of race where you should apply the way the form works out. However, we have Irish and English trials culminating in this one conclusion.
No Irish juvenile has been fielded against Frederick Engels so far, but Gatepost was seen off by Power over today’s trip and on a sound surface at Royal Ascot in the Coventry Stakes.
And Lilbourne Lad has done all his Pattern racing in Ireland, impressive winner of the Alfred Nobel at Naas, and then taking Ireland’s own best juvenile trial, the Railway Stakes.
Since his Railway win was by threeparts of a length over Tough As Nails, and that one had previously run Power to a short-head in the Marble Hill, Lilbourne Lad is, collaterally, today’s winner.
The snag is that the Marble Hill was run back in May, and Power could have improved no end in the 24 days before the Coventry. Frederick Engels hasn’t exactly been standing still either.
What does the official handicapper make of it: 112 Power, 112 Lilbourne Lad, 111 Frederick Engels, 111 Tough As Nails, with Gatepost 109. He believes there are ounces between the four market leaders, and Gatepost is probably less than a length behind.
Since Gatepost was drawn on the wrong side behind Power in the Coventry, with trainer Mick Channon expecting to reverse the placings, and since Frederick Engels narrowly beats Power on a line through Roman Soldier (check it out), I think it must be ounces all the way.
In that case, 8.2 Gatepost is plain wrong, and 7.2 Lilbourne Lad is over the top. On the assumption that Power has been flattered by his high-draw Ascot win, and that Frederick Engels and Tough As Nails are the exposed horses of the race, I will dutch those 7.2 and 8.2 offers against the field for horses that are both likely to show further improvement.
BET 4.4pts win (nap) CHARLIE FABLE (2.00 Windsor)
BET 1.4pts win SOCIETY ROCK AND 0.8pts win SMOOTH OPERATOR (2.45 Deauville)
BET 1.6pts win and place WORDINESS (3.30 Windsor)
BET: 3.2pts win LILBOURNE LAD and 2.7pts win GATEPOST (4.05 The Curragh)