The first Classic race of the season is upon us and it’s no surprise to see some well fancied names taking up their entries. The race has been tied up by the favourite in the last three year’s and Frankel, Camelot & Dawn Approach read as good as any trio of horses you’re likely to encounter.
This year’s betting is headed by 5/4 favourite Kingman who created as good as an impression as anyone when romping home in the Greenham Stakes. As always Richard Hannon and Aidan O’Brien have multiple entries with three and four intended runners respectively and they account for the next three shortest horses in the market in Australia and War Command for Ireland and Toormore for Hannon Jnr.
There are also three overseas runners with most prominent being Spain’s Noozhah Canarias who has won four of his five starts so far and on his only defeat found Karakontie too good in the Group 1 Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp. That rival holds entries in the Irish 2000 Guineas, the Derby & St James’ Palace Stakes so it can be taken he comes with a very high level of form. The other two foreign entries, Charm Spirit and Bookrunner were separated by just half a length separating when they met at the beginning of April and the former was only just over a length behind Noozhah Canarias at Longchamp so there shouldn’t be much between them at all.
It’s a strong line up all around and the first two home in last year’s Breeders Cup Juvenile Outstrip and Giovanni Boldini being available to back at 25/1 and 40/1 respectively should tell you how strong this race really is.
I’ve produced some speed ratings for the runners and will also be taking a look at the trends:
|Master The World||37||75||78||90|
|Night Of Thunder||95||104||68|
|The Grey Gatsby||105||85||100||109||90|
Both Master The World and The Grey Gatsby ran very well on debut both to 90 but subsequently haven’t ran as well as could have been expected and the pair have some serious form to turn around with quite a few in this field. Outstrip has put in some consistent top ratings and the second strings from the powerful yards he could offer some serious each way value but again a couple of their lesser performances leave them with a bit to find.
Out of the more fancied horses Kingman leaves a little bit to be desired despite how well he won. There would be plenty more to come than his 108 from last time out by how strongly he travelled throughout and a better gallop would suit also. Kingston Hill posted the second highest last speed figure when winning the Racing Post Trophy and is officially rated the second highest in the field. He’s improved on each run and it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see him make a mark here.
Only four performances have been rated at 120 or above in the field and given War Command has posted three of them we can expect a big run from him. The same can be applied to Toormore who posted a field best 129 when comfortably winning Curragh’s National Stakes in September. He arguably didn’t have to be as good on his reappearance recently when running to 113 but that should have him bang on here.
Australia put in a solid 111 last time out but it very much remains to seen in terms of what he’s beaten as nothing prior or since in his races has contested anything like this level with the exception of the filly Carla Bianca who finished 4th behind Rizeena, Kiyoshi & Tapestry in the Moyglare Stakes last year but having not readily dispatched of her his form looks a little short of this.
I can’t rate any of the overseas performance’s in a similar fashion but the race at Longchamp where Noozhah Canarias and Charm Spirit finished second and third had two horses we do know in close behind them in Wilshire Boulevard and Barley Mow and that pair have plenty of form to find on this field. Similarly the winner of that race, Karakontie, subsequently split a pair of Richard Hannon’s runners and the rating of those two are both also short of this field. Their prices of 16/1, 25/1 and 28/1 look about right and I can’t really be persuaded by any of their claims.
There aren’t many trends to identify with it being such a high value race, but there are definitely a couple to at least consider:
This is the first trend that stands out quite signficantly for me, where no horse rated 10lbs less than the highest official rating has won this race in the last 17 years unless they have held no rating at all (less likely in recent times as European handicappers corroborate more). 1997 included, 90 of the 301 runners have held an official rating that has been 10lbs inferior to the top rated in the field and these have provided no wins and just 8 placed efforts.
In this year’s running, this would eliminate five runners (The Grey Gatsby, Night Of Thunder, Shifting Power, Ertijaal & Master The World). No surprise to see none of these horses less than 25/1 in the current market.
Career Strike Rate
Hardly surprising if we were to note that unbeaten horses have always done well here, but with 7 wins from 34 runners at a small profit of +8.76 to level stakes. However, when Golan won at 11/1 in 2001, this looks to be all of the suggested profit so it wouldn’t probably be too wise to follow this blindly.
Having said that, the four currently unbeaten horses in the field in Kingman, Toormore, Kingston Hill and Shifting Power are available to current dutch with a 42% profit or 49% in you were to ignore the Hannon second string outsider.
Kingman is very short as the 5/4 favourite and won in a similarly striking fashion to the same connections’ Frankel in the same race as 2011. However, Frankel went in to his race officially rated 6lbs higher than the field and proved it. Arguably he hasn’t yet put in a performance of similar levels to warrant such a price and for me the odds just look that little bit devoid of value.
Having already dispatched of some useful horses including Breeders Cup Juvenile winner in Outstrip and a Group 1 Phoenix Stakes winner in Surdiman, Toormore has a level of form as good as any. Strictly speaking his proximity to The Grey Gatsby leaves him with something to find with Kingston Hill as he was beaten 12 lengths albeit on unsuitable soft ground.
His rating of 129 for the Vincent O’Brien Stakes is due to clocking the fastest time on record of that race. On similar ground to that of which he ran, the rolecall of winners is New Approach, George Washington, One Cool Cat, Refuse To Bend, Hawk Wing & Danehill Dancer and their form in the 2000 Guineas goes 210126.
Got to be taken that Toormore is a horse of serious ability and I’m happy to back him as value at 8/1. I’ll also be backing him in the forecast with the favourite Kingman as previously said he holds a serious chance but his outright price is a little short for my liking.
I’m also interest in something with place value as an each way alternative as in the last four years the SP of both the 2nd’s & 3rd’s have been 150/1, 20/1, 12/1, 16/1, 33/1, 16/1, 16/1 & 12/1.
With that in mind, Outstrip has ran consistently with marks of 112, 109, 111 which has him around 3rd or 4th best in this field so wouldn’t need a huge step up to grab a place and at 25/1 for a Breeders Cup Juvenile winner he makes sense as a solid each way investment.
OUTRIGHT: TOORMORE 8/1
FORECAST: KINGMAN/TOORMORE @ SP
EACH WAY: OUTSTRIP @ 25/1