Sport Horse Racing

Friday 15 November 2019

Inside Track: Wakea can rise to task at York

Unexposed Noseda-trained colt has a lot of scope to improve

Ryan Moore can put smiles on punter’s faces by partnering Tannaaf to victory today
Ryan Moore can put smiles on punter’s faces by partnering Tannaaf to victory today

Richard Forristal

Clever Cookie bids to repeat last year’s brave dead-heat with Ralston Road in York’s Grand Cup after winning the Ormonde Stakes at Chester.

That success three weeks ago was his first at Group Three level on his seasonal bow. With 15 career starts over hurdles, in bumpers and on the Flat, the seven-year-old hasn’t been over-raced, so he isn’t without scope for further progression.

Clever Cookie is top-rated of the 10 runners on 111, but this won’t be easy for Peter Niven’s charge, as he must concede weight all round. The likes of Big Orange, Angel Gabrial and Elidor are all players in the mile-and-six-furlong Listed affair, as is the 2011 winner Times Up.

Ed Dunlop’s nine-year-old didn’t run too badly when fifth to Snow Sky on his return here in a Group Two, so it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that he will play some part in the finish. That all said, a far more unexposed horse appeals as the one to keep on side.

Wakea is a Cape Cross four-year-old that has improved steadily since finishing fourth on his debut less than a year ago. The Jeremy Noseda-trained colt won by six lengths over 12 furlongs on the all-weather at Kempton next time, before being beaten a short-head by Mizzou at Doncaster when receiving two pounds.

On his comeback over this trip at Wolverhampton in March, he hacked up off a mark of 86. Wakea was then just denied over slightly shorter off 93 at Chelmsford, before relishing the step up to two miles to win well from the front off 95 at Kempton.

Back on grass at Ascot for his latest outing, he finished five lengths behind Mizzou off level weights in a two-mile Group Three.

Mizzou is an exciting sort whose sole defeat in its last five runs came he was denied a head by Big Orange at Ascot in October, and Wakea ran an honest race behind him last time, with the similarly progressive Vent De Force a two-length second.

He franked the form by running out a decisive winner of the Group Three Henry II Stakes at Sandown on Thursday, so the 104-rated Wakea doesn’t need to find much to have a big say here.

 Crucially, he receives six pounds from Clever Cookie and three from Big Orange, and he will be happier than either of those on fast ground, should it hold up. All told, then, he is fancied to go close under the very capable Freddie Tylicki.

At Newmarket, Mike de Kock’s Tannaaf is of interest under Ryan Moore in the 10-furlong Listed race. A gambled-on winner at the track on its debut last summer, the son of High Chaparral didn’t get the run of the race when a close fourth in a valuable sales race here in April.

He didn’t get home when fourth to Hans Holbein on soft ground over 12 furlongs at Chester, form that worked out well, with the runner-up Storm The Stars confirming the form with the third Medrano by winning tidily at Goodwood.

Returning to 10 furlongs here, then, Tannaaf is fancied to improve enough to collect.

Watching brief

Willie Mullins will have been happy with Simenon’s comeback at Sandown on Thursday.

On his first start since July 2014, he raced handily under Ryan Moore. The progressive front-running winner Vent De Force was superior to everything, but Simenon was bang there behind him, travelling nicely throughout until finally wilting into fifth in the last 50 yards.

He was only beaten a few lengths, and he will now head to his beloved Royal Ascot for the Gold Cup a relatively fresh horse, which will stand to him.

Forgotten Rules is the Group One’s outstanding candidate, but he will need some give underfoot, so you could do worse than have a saver on the fast ground-loving Simenon at 20/1. Twice a winner at the meeting in 2012, he was just denied by Estimate in the 2013 Gold Cup. He was fourth in 2014 after a busy international trek and can do better this time round.

Punt or pass


3.45 Haydock

SP Forecast:  5/4

Limato puts his credentials on the line for the inaugural Group One Commonwealth Cup over six furlongs at Royal Ascot in the Sandy Lane Stakes.

Flawless in four starts last year, he stretched his unbeaten record to five when striding clear in an Ascot Group Three last month. The re-opposing third, Adaay, has since won nicely in Listed company, and Limato is certainly in the right hands with Henry Candy.

A cracking individual, he may need fast ground and this is another step up.

VERDICT: On rain-softened ground, Graham Lee’s mount is a pass here.


2.00 Haydock

SP Forecast: 15/8

Roger Varian’s Cape Cross four-year-old has just one win to her name in seven starts, but she is the highest rated in this fillies’ Group Three off a mark of 110.

That might flatter William Buick’s mount a little, but she gets the chance to vindicate her rating at the course where she triumphed last year. 

On her last two starts, Talmada has been placed in Listed and Group company, finishing second to the resurgent 2013 Oaks runner-up Secret Gesture at York most recently.

VERDICT: A rangy sort with the scope to do better still, so a punt.

Dark Horse

Dermot McLaughlin has yet to saddle a winner in Britain but he has rarely tried and never with a Flat horse on turf.

The Ratoath handler’s horses are in form, so his decision to send Dragon Fei to Haydock for a Group Three is intriguing. 

With a rating of 89, she shouldn’t have a prayer against 100-plus rated horses. Still, she gave Curvy a stone when a half-length second to her at Navan recently, form that was franked spectacularly on Sunday.

Ringside Humour was fourth and she also won on Wednesday, so don’t be too surprised if McLoughlin’s improving mare snatches a bit of valuable black type.

In Numbers


- What Theatre Territory sold for in sterling at Cheltenham, a record for a point-to-point mare at public auction. Jockey Damian Murphy paid €14,500 for her as a foal in 2010.

Lay of the day

Reflet Ambre is a candidate for being overbet in the maiden hurdle at Tramore due to Edward O’Grady’s decision to book Ruby Walsh.

However, he ran fairly abysmally at Cork early last month on his first outing since the summer of 2014. In three starts over hurdles last year, he was second twice, but his form was ordinary. He might ultimately want further in handicap company, so he is one to take on here.

Quote of the week

It wasn’t what I thought of her, it was more what I thought of the colts – with respect to my neighbours!

– Jim Bolger on paying €12,500 to put his Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine Pleascach in the Irish Derby

A little each way

The James Tate-trained Urban Castle looks overpriced at around 11/1 for today’s valuable 12-furlong handicap at Newmarket.

A consistent but lightly-raced daughter of Street Cry, she has passed the post in front three times in seven starts, only to be harshly demoted after a game win over course and distance recently. Remarkably, that was her turf debut, so she has tremendous scope for improvement here off just a two-pound higher mark under Luke Morris, who is riding the crest of a wave right now.

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