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stodge last won the day on October 16

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About stodge

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  1. Sad to hear of the death of WICHITA in Australia following complications from surgery to repair a broken leg. WICHITA had been placed in the 2000 Guineas and the St James's Palace and came back to his best when beating ONE MASTER in the Park at Doncaster on what would be his last racecourse appearance. The Flat season on grass is almost done in Europe so attention shifts to the global racing scene with the Melbourne Cup next week and the Breeders Cup on the 6th and 7th November followed by the Japan Cup ad finally the Hong Kong International races.
  2. A busy weekend up here with the final Group 1 races of the English and French seasons. Autumn usually means rain and heavy ground and this year is no exception. Heavy rain soon after the start of racing on the Town Moor turned the ground heavy and made the 1600m of the Vertem Futurity as much of a stamina test as ever for the juveniles. With WEMBLEY a late scratching, this probably wasn’t the strongest renewal of this race. MAC SWINEY (named after a Lord Mayor of Cork) toughed it out to hold off ONE RULER and the promising BARADAR. The winner had beaten CADILLAC in the Futurity but had run poorly on quicker ground in the National and for those looking at long-range bets, it really does seem MAC SWINEY needs soft turf if not to help him then to slow the others down. ONE RULER ran perfectly well in defeat and is likely to be the Godolphin standard bearer in the early 3-y-o races. I was also taken with BARADAR in third – he’s son of Muharrar out of a Pivotal mare so again you’d think slow ground would be a big help. I see him as a 1400m horse next season. Of the others, MEGALLAN couldn’t cope with the ground and both Champagne third STATE OF REST and maiden KING VEGA were likewise well held. Saint Cloud staged the last two French juvenile Group 1 races and rather like the Vertem Futurity, they have proved surprising helpful pointers for the classic season. VAN GOGH became yet another Ballydoyle winner in this race, but I think the fact he got a dream run up the rail was a huge help. It was vital throughout the afternoon to be right up against the stands side fence and Pierre-Charles Boudot took full advantage of the way the race developed. The winner has shown useful form in Group 2 events so this was a decent step forward and in a year with no real outstanding colt (or filly), he goes into winter quarters with every prospect of being a classic contender next year. Of the others, JADOOMI raced prominently but this was a big step up from a sales race and he didn’t run too badly but LA BAROSSA got caught out wide and never looked happy in the ground. The Criterium de Saint Cloud is over 2000m and has also had a strong roll of honour including, more recently, future Arc winner Waldgeist. This year’s renewal looked a notch or two below that quality in all honesty. That was as gutsy a performance as you could wish to see from GEAR UP who was prominent every step of the way and toughed it out to hold the late challenge of BOTANIK. Mark Johnston’s horses are renowned for their strength and stamina and GEAR UP showed it here in spades. He had run fourth in the Royal Lodge staying on and the 2000m looked ideal and you’d think he could be a really useful staying type next year. It was interesting to see the jockeys come off the well chewed-up turf on the rail and come more towards the centre of the course. MAKALOUN and TIGER TANAKA both ran okay but didn’t seem to quite see out the trip. I was hopeful for BEST OF LIPS on the home turn, but he got into a barging match with the winner and came off much the worse. More heavy ground at Longchamp on Sunday for the Prix Royal Oak over 3000m but it was a case of plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose: Another Mark Johnston horse making almost all and toughing it out in front. This time it was SUBJECTIVIST who capped off a memorable weekend for the Yorkshire trainer. He won the March Stakes at Goodwood on soft ground by 15 lengths but had been well held in both the Voltigeur and the St Leger on much quicker ground. He’s clearly another for whom it can’t be too deep. VALIA ran creditably in second and HOLDTHAISGREEN was third. Oddly enough, despite the heavy ground, it all happened too quick for PRINCESS ZOE who ran on for fourth without ever threatening. The supporting Grand Conseil de Paris, a Group 2, showed once again how foolish it is to underestimate Joseph O’Brien as BARON SAMEDI was backed into favourite and just held off the late challenge of MARE AUSTRALIS.
  3. Yes, traditional autumn bottomless at both venues. Despite that. both the Futurity and the Criterium are and have been strong guides to the following year's classics in recent seasons. It was a pity WEMBLEY was scratched before the Futurity - he is my idea of a Derby horse at 16/1. The fact they are going 10/1 the field for next May's 2000 Guineas tells you all you need to know - put twenty dollars in my hand and I'd stake it on CHINDIT. As for the fillies, PRETTY GORGEOUS was convincing at Newmarket and she's 6/1 favourite for the 1000 Guineas. Beresford winner HIGH DEFINITION is 8/1 favourite for next year's Derby. Given we may well have much quicker ground next May, CHINDIT may be the one for the 2000 Guineas - he looked good in the Champagne and hated the ground in the Dewhurst.
  4. Thanks for the kind word, my friend. I knew rain was "forecast" but if Aussie weather forecasters are as bad as British ones it might have ended up a Good 2.
  5. Couldn't have got that more wrong if I tried.
  6. I couldn't have got that more wrong if I tried. Over here. SIR DRAGONET has got a bit of a reputation as a "nearly" horse. You can't crab his second place to MAGICAL in the Tattersalls Gold Cup but he was beaten in the Wolferton at Ascot which is a Listed class race and BUCKHURST has beaten him twice in Ireland. I can only assume a change of scene has helped as he'd dropped 5 lbs in the rating since he was fifth to ANTHONY VAN DYCK in the Derby last year. We can use MAGICAL as a line through which to place SIR DRAGONET and ARMORY and there shouldn't have been much between them. I thought ARMORY was ridden wide enough and the gap opened ideally for Glen Boss. The other Europeans were well held and I thought it interesting the pacesetters were also well beaten - definitely a race for those coming off the pace. I can't believe this was the strongest Cox Plate ever run - HIGHLAND REEL was rated 120 so 3 lbs superior to SIR DRAGONET and WINX beat him nearly six lengths,
  7. All eight stand in Sunday's Royal Oak at Longchamp where the ground is Heavy. PRINCESS ZOE won the 4000m Cadran on Arc weekend and that was a brutal slog so this 3000m race will seem like a sprint. I reckon she's improved 40 lbs since winning a handicap back in June and she may well go in again but I prefer Chaudenay winner VALIA whose second to WONDERFUL TONIGHT in the Minerve at Deauville now looks top class form. The Group 2 Conseil de Paris over 2200m is an interesting end of season race. NAGANO GOLD is probably the best horse in Eastern Europe - in 2019 he ran second in the Hardwicke at Ascot and he started this campaign with a fine second in the Grand Prix de Saint Cloud. He was third to ANTHONY VAN DYCK in the Foy and last time won at Sluzewiec which as we all know is Poland's foremost racecourse. The race he won is Poland's biggest race known in English as the Great Warsaw Race over 2600m. BARON SAMEDI represents Joseph O'Brien but he's won handicaps so far and I like SOFT LIGHT who was sixth in last year's Arc and MARE AUSTRALIS, a lightly raced type from the Fabre yard.
  8. TAJ MAHAL ran fifth in 2016 and BEST SOLUTION finished fifth in his final race in Germany behind ASPETAR who is in tomorrow's Cox Plate field.
  9. The Cox Plate is run at a very early breakfast time (UK) tomorrow morning. With MAGIC WAND taken out, the European challenge is down to three. ARMORY would be the best of these if you could take his Irish Champion form literally. He was a couple of lengths between multiple Group 1 winners MAGICAL and GHAIYYATH and just in front of the Arc winner SOTTSASS. Take that literally and he wins this but I'm far from convinced. We also know he prefers quicker ground so any rain would be a detriment. ASPETAR has form on all grounds and he's the most interesting of the remaining European runners. He stays further and won a Group 2 nicely last time at York to put him on a mark of 116 which is borderline European Group 1 so 14/1 looks a big each way price. My slight concern is when he went to Sha Tin last year he ran poorly but at the price and with a decent draw I think he'll be thereabouts against what doesn't look the strongest renewal. BUCKHURST has come into the race as a reserve. He wasn't beaten far in the Caulfield Cup and beat SIR DRAGONET in a Group 3 earlier this season yet the latter is 10/1 while BUCKHURST is 25/1 so make of that what you will. I'd question any softer ground with him as well. Of the locals, I think PROBABEEL looks the one.
  10. Saturday's final declarations are through for the three Group 1 races in Britain and France. Nine stand for Saturday's Vertem Futurity at Doncaster where the ground remains Good to Soft. The main withdrawal is LA BAROSSA who heads for Saint-Cloud of which more anon. WEMBLEY is 15/8 favourite and ONE RULER 5/2 and if you think placed Group 1 form is better than winning Group 3 form you'll be lumping on the favourite and I have to day WEMBLEY's runs in both the National and the Dewhurst entitle him to be head of the market. KING VEGA represents last year's winning team of Oisin Murphy and Andrew Balding but while KAMEKO had won the Solario, KING VEGA was second to ETONIAN and with the latter disappointing in the Dewhurst there's a question mark over the form. The same is true of STATE OF REST who ran a fine third to CHINDIT and ALBASHEER but the latter pair were both well held in the Dewhurst as well. I like MEGALLAN and I'm on at 10s each way. He got no run behind ONE RULER last time and while he shouldn't be good enough to beat WEMBLEY, at the price it's a nice return if he finishes in the first three. At Saint Cloud, seven stand in the Criterium International over 1600m. LA BAROSSA comes here and I suppose it's a question of whether the ground will be against him. We know the ground will be no issue to JADOOMI and he'd be my pick. All eight stand in the Criterium de Saint Cloud which will be a right slog over 2000m. TIGER TANAKA brings the Marcel Boussac form and is probably the best of the locals on the form we've seen but the Irish raider BOLSHOI BALLET has every chance as does the German challenger BEST OF LIPS.
  11. I don't know why jumping is such a poor relation in NZ - you have everything to be a huge player. I'd have thought in June and July the ground would be ideal for jumpers. Over here, we get jumpers as late 3-y-o (in France they are jumping fences as 3-y-o) so the first juvenile hurdles are in August and September. The 3-y-o become 4-y-o on January 1st and have the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham as their championship race. Increasingly, we see young French-bred types jumping fences as 4-y-o and they get a big weight concession from the older horses. The best novice hurdlers are the Flat-bred horses who go 2000m on the grass - the slower tempo of jump races allows them to see out 3200m and on decent ground many thrive on the jumps game. The other way in is through Bumpers - National Hunt Flat races which are run from 2400m to 3200m for the 3-y-o and 4-y-o who never ran on the flat and gives them some racing experience without the jumping.
  12. Both MAGIC WAND and ARMORY have to overcome slight injuries to run on Saturday but the former's foot abscess is more serious. A second veterinary inspection on Friday morning (Aus) will determine if the two O'Brien runners are cleared to race.
  13. More interest in the coming weekend with some interesting end of season races in France. At Saint-Cloud on Saturday, we have the Criterium International and the Criterium de Saint-Cloud. Both are for the juveniles with the former over 1600m and the latter over 2000m so with the ground currently Heavy it's going to be all about stamina. In a sense, the International is the French equivalent of the Futurity at Doncaster and Godolphin have entered both LA BARROSSA and ONE RULER who are also both in at Doncaster. Aidan O'Brien has also left VAN GOGH in both races but the most interesting UK raider is JADOOMI from the Crisford stable. Last time he won a valuable sales race at Longchamp by seven lengths and while those kind of races are more about quantity than quality it was still a taking effort. The best of the locals looks to be POLICY OF TRUTH who won a Group 3 at Longchamp in September over the distance. Eight go in the Criterium de Saint Cloud and they are headed by Marcel Boussac winner TIGER TANAKA for whom you'd think the ground and trip would hold no fears. The unbeaten MAKALOUN has also worked through the French juvenile ranks and won a Group 3 last time. The British and Irish raiders include BOLSHOI BALLET from Aidan O'Brien and the unbeaten BELLOCCIO but I'm more interested in the German raider BEST OF LIPS who won a Group 3 at Cologne last time and could well be up to this class. Sunday sees the final significant meeting at Longchamp which features the Group 2 Conseil de Paris but also the Group 1 Royal Oak (known generally as the French St Leger). I was very taken with the filly VALIA in the Chaudenay and she could well be good enough in what looks a weak renewal. These races mark the end of the French season in terms of quality.
  14. Fine run by LE DON DE VIE from the front and also by ASHRUN who was doing all his best work late on and will be very interesting in the Cup. SKYWARD ran okay but faded in the final 150m and he'll need to improve a lot from that and SAN HUBERTO never got involved.
  15. The Geelong Cup takes place at breakfast time in the UK tomorrow morning. A number of ex-European gallopers make their debuts in Australia - SKYWARD is perhaps the most interesting having run fourth to ANTHONY VAN DYCK in the Foy last time. He might be one who will adapt to Australian racing. I can't see SAN HUBERTO being as effective at 2400m as he'll be at 3200m - he was second in the Kergorlay last time and last year was third in the Jockey Club Derby at Belmont which was a fair effort. LE DON DE VIE ended his European campaign winning a Listed race at Windsor but is that good enough? ASHRUN is a German galloper and he might be one who is improved for some better ground but he's all about stamina as well.