Sport Horse Racing

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Wachman's Curvy can drive Curragh rivals round the bend

Sir Michael Stoute
Sir Michael Stoute

Wayne Bailey

There are very few top races in Ireland where the list of previous winners is not dominated by Ballydoyle, but the leading trainer in this evening's Irish Oaks (5.50) is Michael Stoute, who has sent out six winners, the latest being Petrushka back in 2000.

Stoute won't have any fillies lining up at Irish HQ today but O'Brien, who has saddled four winners including Bracelet last year, is responsible for four of the ten runners in this year's renewal.

Joseph O'Brien gets the ride on Words (3/1) and his father certainly has a strong hand, but Royal Ascot winner Curvy is surely the one to beat, and the price of 15/8 about David Wachman's charge is attractive.

Successful in four starts, she's been a revelation this term - in stark contrast to 2014, when she made little or no impression in three outings.

That she beat Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Pleascach in the Ribblesdale has proved she deserves her place in Group One company and it would be no surprise to see her turn up at Goodwood for the Nassau Stakes if all goes well today.

At Newbury, the highlight of the day is the Al Basti Equiworld Hackwood Stakes (3.10) for which six horses go to post.

I find Group Three races particularly challenging: selecting the likely winner is not quite as straightforward as in a Group Two or a Group One.

For obvious reasons, trainers and owners like to get a Group race onto a horse's CV, so you often see some thrown in at the deep end which have little chance of winning.

You also have the improving sorts which may have shown a lot at home and are on their way to better things.

Then you have the proven form horses, and the market is usually a good guide as to which is which.

Along with the market, I look out for horses that have won at the distance, preferably more than once. This helps to rule out at least some of those which are unsuited to the race conditions but the trainer is taking a chance anyway.

Admittedly, it's a crude way of narrowing down the field but it's not a bad starting point and you'd almost break even backing such horses to level stakes.

Finally, another way to rule out the no-hopers is to focus only on horses which are in good form and won their latest race.

Again, it's certainly not a foolproof strategy but it will point you in the right direction.

Since 2003, backing Group Three favourites which won their last race and have at least two distance wins under the belt has produced 73 winners from 155 bets (47pc). Had you stuck a tenner on each, you'd show a profit of €233.

If those stats are anything to go by, Portamento (9/4) is the one to side with today. With five wins from ten races, Charlie Appleby deserves a huge amount of praise for finding the right races for the colt, and three of those victories came at today's 6f distance. A flexible sort, he handles all types of ground and had plenty in hand in a Chester handicap last time despite not getting the best of draws.


Strong Chemistry (8/1) slips in at the bottom of the weights for the Malone Roofing Handicap (4.20 Newbury) but I reckon he's got potential and a mark of 102 seems fair.

He finished mid-way down the field in a smart handicap at York last time off 2lb higher, but he seemed a little stretched at a mile and will appreciate the drop back down in trip today.

l Last week's winners included Birchwood (7/1), Out Do (4/1) and Muhaarar (2/1).


2.15 Newmarket: Arabian Comet

3.10 Newbury: Portamento

4.20 Newbury: Strong Chemistry (e/w)

5.50 Curragh: Curvy

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