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Horse Racing: GREAT DEAL THAT CAN'T BE IGNORED; Gent to complete big race double.


A WELL-KNOWN northern jockey was overheard around Malton claiming that he can run faster than Gentleman's Deal can on turf.

I wouldn't mind laying him at even money if he fances a wager on that outcome. Obviously I'm fond of the Mick Easterby runner after he won me a few quid last weekend when taking the Winter Derby at Lingfield.

But I'mfirmly of the opinion that his improvement in form is as much to do with his terrific physical improvement as well as the switch to artificial surfaces.

As I said last weekend, this horse is out of a Classic winner and bred to be one himself . He is an absolutely enormous beast and I believe he has only just reached physical maturity.

He won despite everything being against him last weekend - the track was too tight and the trip far too short. But he will be much better suited by the stiff straight mile at Newcastle.

In fact it's hard to imagine him having a better chance of winning a race like this than he has this afternoon.

Drawn 15 is as near perfect as you can get according to the clerk of the course and his position has been made even better by the presence of Zero Tolerance on his left and fellow front runner My Paristo his right.

At first glance it's clear why pundits say GENTLEMAN'S DEAL (3.55) is an all weather horse because after he landed a Chepstow maiden he went on to win three out of three on the all weather before failing to win another race on turf.However, it's my belief that he ran at a higher level than he had previously and his improvement has been maintained again this winter.

Whereas he continued on a higher turf mark last year he runs off a much lower one here and even if he is not quite so good on grass he is handicapped to win this. Talented youngster Paul Mulrennan, on board last Saturday, gets the leg up again.

I am confident that My Paris (19) has been laid out for this race and is a lot lower in the handicap than when finishing second two years ago.

Kevin Ryan's runner has been the subject of support recently and the trainer will have this one primed to go well.

Another high drawn runner is William Haggas' Very Wise (16) who has definitely had this as his target and looks set to run well.

Very Wise not only boasts one of the plum draws but after a spell on the all-weather this winter, he will be fit and ready for action in the mile event.

William Haggas' charge really caught the eye when beating subsequent Winter Derby Trial winner Cusoon at Ling field in January.

He was sent off favourite at Wolverhampton next time on the basis of that run but he had his head in the next-door stall and totally missed the break before being pulled up.

VeryWise was then supported to make amends at Lingfield but ran into a real tartar in winner Watamu, finishing three lengths adrift.

That run will have put him spot on for this task and with a favourable draw, he is expected to feature in the shake-up.

Newcastle is with a doubt my bogey course when it comes to trying to figure out the draw. And despite the insistence of the clerk of the course and others that high is best, I will still be having a saver on one drawn low.

Charlie Swan sends over Crooked Throw (2) who was runner-up in the Irish version of this event at the Curragh last weekend. He has improved considerably of late and will certainly run well from his side.

I won't be entirely surprised if the draw does not work out quite as well as those with a high number might expect and as a result will certainly be backing this one in a small way. And if any bookie does odds on low drawn horses only, Crooked Throw is the nap.

It is a bold move by Mark Johnston to run recent all weather scorer HINTON ADMIRAL (3.15) against older horses in the Cammidge Trophy which precedes the Lincoln.

However, the Scot's charge was very impressive when winning the Spring Cup and knowing what I do about the runner up Hurricane Spirit, I believe he has a very good chance of beating his elders here.

And bear in mind Hurricane Spirit is regarded as a Guineas possible, which can't be said of the older horses in today's line-up.

Not many can make all the running at Lingfield and it takes a good one to do it in this type of grade. But if any horse is capable of doing so, then it's the Admiral.

Johnstone's star is the progressive horse, is fit as flea and I fancy him to lead from start to finish.

Barry Hills always has his runners fit and well at this time and he has already had a maiden winner this week.

The trainer runs PRIME DEFENDER (2.55) in the Easter Stakes at Kempton and though this can no longer really be regarded as a Classic trial, the selection will have to be useful and have trained on to score. His unlucky run at York and his eleventh in the Dewhurst Stakes probably just gives him the edge here and as he was a strong, good bodied type when we last saw him as a two-year-old.

I would be very surprised if he has gone backwards over the winter and therefore Prime Defender is taken to score from St Philip. The latter is trained by Ralph Becket whose horses looked very forward at Lingfield on Thursday.

Hills could also be on the mark in the opening Masaka Stakes with PRINCESS VALERINA (2.25) who impressed me enormously when making all before being eased right down to win a Newmarket maiden in good style last back end.

She has plenty of scope for improvement and though bred to be suited by middle distances later in the year, she should have enough speed in what looks a relatively modest heat.


MULRENNAN: Big race double bid
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 31, 2007
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