Eyecatchers and horses to follow – 23rd sept 2019
Horses to follow will be updated weekly with the eyecatchers from the previous weeks horse racing. Accompanied by detailed analysis as to why each horse has been marked up for future engagements along with my thoughts on each horses prospects and optimum racing conditions.
Via De Vega – Sandown Wednesday 18th September
VIA DE VEGA an Andrew Balding trained 2-year-old made his debut at Sandown in a maiden over 7 furlongs. Like the majority of Andrew Balding debutantes, I expect Via De Vega to progress from this run. Andrew Balding 2-year-olds on average improve 10 lbs from debut to 2nd run with 81% of his horses showing some progression. I.e they learn significantly on the racecourse.
Visually Via De Vega caught the eye too. Initially showing signs of greenness at the stalls in being troublesome to load. In the race itself, he raced in midfield before showing signs of greenness again when being asked to race from 2 furlongs out. The penny dropped and he picked up in eye-catching style to make up 6 lengths on the leaders in the final furlong to get up on the line.
Interestingly the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th all raced prominently throughout the contest suggesting there may have been a pace bias in racing prominently. Via De Vega was the only horse of the first 6 to make up ground and placings in the later stage of the race. Potentially his performance here needs marking up because of this.
Looking at his pedigree and dosage index figure, I’d suggest that at this stage 1 mile to 1 mile 2 furlongs may prove his optimum distance.
Toybox – Sandown Wednesday 18th September
A very ordinary class 5 fillies handicap contested by TOYBOX here who led to 2 furlongs out before fading to finish 8th of 10.
The angle here for marking Toybox up as a horse to follow is the distance. Her last 2 runs have been over 10 furlongs and I don’t believe this is her optimum trip. Her dam Play Street was at her best at 10 furlongs so you can see why connections are trying her at this trip. She’d be of interest when we see Toybox back over 1 mile.
The piece of form that catches the eye is her effort on the 31st July, again at Sandown but over 1 mile. It was a moderate apprentice handicap, but the form of runners subsequently gives it a pretty solid feel. The 6th and 7th place won on their next outings and a number of the runners ran well and placed.
That day Toybox was beaten 2 lengths off a mark of 66, in her latest run she’d dropped to 63. After finishing 8th I’d hope the handicapper relents a little more and drops her a couple of pounds.
Certainly, she can win off this mark, and I’d be looking out for her back over 1 mile on quick ground or at Kempton on the all-weather were she shown a preference for the surface in the past.
Bardo Contiguo – Ayr Thursday 19th September
To start with, it’s worth pointing out that there was a clear pace bias in this race. The leaders went too fast early with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd coming into the home straight at Ayr ultimately filling the last 3 places.
The way the race was run favoured horses who early on went more conservatively. The 1st 4 finishers, including the winner BARDO CONTIGOU, came from off the pace.
You are entering dangerous punting territory when getting drawn in by horses favoured by a pace bias. Winning distances and visual impressions can be exaggerated. So, while Bardo Contigou won narrowly but cosily here, he was certainly assisted by the pace collapsing in front of him.
All of that said, there’s reason to think Bardo Contiguo is a good bit better than he has shown to date. He is a lightly raced improving winner, from a stable (Roger Varian) who progress their horses steadily.
In the race itself, he was looking for racing room all the way up the home straight without being stopped in his run. Then once out in the clear, it looked inevitable that he would pick them all off. The Ayr race was over 1 mile, given what we know about the pace today and the way Bardo Contiguo stayed on strongly, I’d be looking for him in a strongly run mile. Somewhere like the straight course at Ascot would probably suit or a step up in distance to 10 furlongs.
Running off an official mark of 70 here, and in only winning by a head, I’d hope the handicapper raises him a maximum of 6lbs for this victory. I suspect this horse in time will rate a good deal higher than his current mark and is capable of picking up another win before this season’s finished.
Cape Cavalli – Sandown Wednesday 18th September
CAPE CAVALLI first caught my eye in the betting on his debut in hot novice race at Newmarket back in April. The fact he went off as short as 13/2 on debut suggested he was thought of as pretty capable by connections.
After that debut, where he ran 2nd at Newmarket over 10 furlongs, things didn’t progress as I’d expected in his next few runs. Cape Cavalli’s dam is a mare by Hurricane Run, so you’d expect Cape Cavalli to appreciate a test of stamina. His next 4 runs over 12 – 14 furlongs saw just placed efforts.
A drop back in trip and the fitting of a visor saw him record his first win in a Goodwood novice. He stayed on strongly there to beat the very promising and subsequent winner Look Closely, the pair pulling nicely clear of the remainder. It left the impression that stamina and a step back up in trip would suit.
On his latest outing at Sandown, again over 10 furlongs with the visor on, he gave a strong indication that a move back up in trip would see further improvement. Settled in last, he was the first of the field to be urged along by his jockey. He stayed on strongly in the final furlong and just failed to get his head in front.
The application of the visor has likely been a positive for Cape Cavalli. Now he seems to be starting to fulfil his potential I expect a step back up to 12 furlongs will be on the agenda. His Sandown 2nd was off an official mark of 81, he may get raised a couple of pounds for that effort but I believe a step up in trip will bring out the necessary improvement for him to get his head in front again.