The Irish Outsider – November 20th 2013
I’ve covered my ten to follow elsewhere (available in the November issue of Racing Ahead) but for anyone who cares they are: Bayan, Felix Yonger, Gilt Shadow, Inish Island, Jezki, Mala Beach, Marito, Quevega, Sizing Rio and Un De Sceaux.
Now readers can add those to the plethora of others lists from more informed sources and finish up backing a minimum of four horses in every race between now and April; but hey, a winner’s a winner, right?
A loser is also a loser though and oftentimes a negative opinion is the best place to start off a race so in the spirit of pessimism I’ve been through the official ten-to-follow lists and picked out a few horses to oppose this winter; I couldn’t come up with ten I really disliked, only nine, but no one in racing ever bothers themselves with arbitrary round numbers, right?
The reasons for inclusion on this nine-not-to-follow are many but I’ve tried to stay away from horses that are obviously on the downgrade; instead I’ve looked for ones that are overrated, flattered by their form, ungenuine or are plot horses that rarely deliver. Certainly, some of them will win over the next five months but when they do hopefully it will be when underpriced; call these the all-overbet team.
As to those that just missed the cut, Apache Stronghold, Simenon, Tarla and Minsk, please don’t make me look bad.
Top of my list of horses to oppose at the hyped pair Defy Logic and Don Cossack; both were beaten on Sunday at odds-on but finished close enough to ensure they’ll be short next time and should continue to make the market.
Paul Nolan has spoken of Defy Logic as if he’s the second coming but all he’s won are maiden races at odds of 6/4, 6/4 and 2/5. He’s an empty, keen-going sort that should continue to get found out upped in class and I can see him trying to take a fence home with him sometime soon.
Don Cossack was a supreme bumper horse but hasn’t translated it to obstacles; a flashy type, he jumped and travelled like a good one at Punchestown but didn’t want to battle in the finish, running around under pressure, looking like he’s a bit soft and it wasn’t the first time; see his defeat to Mozoltov last season.
Our Conor is one I have to be against. He’s a four-year-old stepping out of his age group for the first time and while Sametegal boosted his form at the weekend that was a long way below Champion Hurdle class. His Naas run on the flat suggests he hasn’t improved a pound in that sphere while it could be argued he has already missed three targets this season: the Friends of Tipperary Hurdle, the Irish Cesarewitch and the Morgiana.
Thomas Edison ran in the same race as Sametegal over the weekend but he was again ‘unlucky’ as he has been throughout his career that has yielded just two wins from seventeen starts. He’s one from the AP/JP axis so tends to be strong in the market but is a weak finisher. Another McManus horse to be against Ned Buntline; his trainer is overrated, he looks a bridle horse and is coming off an injury.
Jessica Harrington will do well to get wins out of Oscars Well who looks the ultimate twilight horse; he must also be a good worker at home as he continually attracts support. On a long losing run, he squandered some soft races last year and doesn’t jump well enough at graded level.
A mark of 160 grossly overrates Mount Benbulben as the race he acquired it at Punchestown in a race that went to pieces; a couple of his main dangers fell early, the pace-setters went too hard and a few of the others ran below form after hard seasons. He shaped reasonably well at Down Royal last time but it was terrible race and jumping continues to be an issue.
Henry De Bromhead has taken over the training of Aupcharlie from Willie Mullins but there’s very few, none in fact, that improve for leaving Closutton and he’s another that is yet to win a good race; he tends to finish weakly, regardless of trip, and his new trainer, talented though he is, will have his mettle tested with him.
I’ve purposely avoided Willie Mullins horses in this hit-list as he seems to find races for even the most tricky customers, his placing generally excellent, but Ballycasey has a reputation far ahead of his achievement. Injuries have been a feature of his career – missed last year’s Festival after an eleventh hour setback as well as a chunk of his first season – and on the bare form is no better than a 135 hurdler. Ruby Walsh picking him ahead of Inish Island again at Punchestown suggests he works the place down but the racecourse form isn’t there yet.
The flat season concluded a few weeks back but I’m not prepared to let go just yet so just a few random thoughts on the year…the competitiveness of the Group 1 circuit made things a lot more interesting, not least from a betting perspective.
Johnny Murtagh was exceptional all season, particularly on the biggest stage, his rides on the quirky pair Ambivalent and Chiquita in Group 1s master-classes in that most tricky situation, getting the dodge to win…the best three-year-olds of the year might have been absent for most of it, Magician and Olympic Glory…the two-year-olds didn’t inspire but War Command may be the one for the 2,000 Guineas and looks value at this price, it might be time to trust in APOB…the St Nicholas Abbey injury was the biggest non-story of the year, my [very] cynical side thinks it was a marketing ploy to keep in him in the spotlight and the idea that he was some sort of public horse on the verge of a big performance doesn’t ring through, he beat Dunaden on his final start…Fiesolana was one of the real stories of the year, just progress on top of progress, the best Group 2 filly in Ireland…sadly, the spectre of drugs in racing continues to hang over Ireland with the John Hughes case and his mysterious list of trainers.