Tuesday 25 June 2019

Wayne Bailey: 'Gosden raider is Too Hot for Magna Grecia'

Siskin, with Colin Keane up, on their way to winning the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Marble Hill Stakes at The Curragh. Photo: Sportsfile
Siskin, with Colin Keane up, on their way to winning the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Marble Hill Stakes at The Curragh. Photo: Sportsfile
Wayne Bailey

Wayne Bailey

As a punter, there'll always be certain horses which you continuously end up with on the wrong side of the betting, and I'm hoping Aidan O'Brien's Magna Grecia doesn't become one of those for me.

In the jumps, for example, I always seemed to oppose Kauto Star at the wrong times, especially in his battles with Denman, and even though he was one of my all-time favourite horses, I never managed to make any real money from him.

In the English 2,000 Guineas, I opposed Magna Grecia and backed stablemate Ten Sovereigns in the hope that Ten Sovereigns would get the trip. He didn't, I lost my dough, and I kicked myself as Magna Grecia was already proven at a mile.

Following Magna Grecia's Newmarket Guineas win, he seemed nailed on for the Irish equivalent today (3.35 Curragh), but John Gosden has blown the race wide open with the surprise entry of Too Darn Hot, which was top of the market yesterday evening around 5/4, with Magna Grecia a bit behind at 6/4.

It might not be a very original bet, but I think that's a pretty good price for Too Darn Hot and am going to take a chance on the Dubawi colt today. Although as I say, it leaves me at the risk of kicking myself again for opposing Magna Grecia and I'll have to listen to the 'I told you so' brigade down in the local if that one wins, just like after Newmarket. But differences of opinion are what create the sport of racing, and Too Darn Hot's inclusion has made this a fascinating contest.

It's rare that I'll back a horse returning after an injury, so thankfully I avoided Too Darn Hot's comeback run when second to Telecaster in the Dante at York nine days ago. Following a perfect two-year-old campaign, a bit has been made of his somewhat small size and stature on his return, and he hasn't appeared to have grown a whole lot over the winter - but I'm not buying into that too much.

To me, he looked quite well at York, albeit a little rusty, and he's reportedly come out of the race in good shape. He was also stretched a little by the mile and a quarter, and while I reckon he'll be able to take on the middle-distances with more experience, he'll definitely appreciate the step back down to a mile today.

With that pipe-opener under the belt, he'll be primed for this, and if the official ratings are a reasonably accurate guide, he's got about 8lbs on his main rival. The one negative here are the race trends - I've had a look at the last 20 years or so and just one horse which was second last time out has won the Irish 2,000 Guineas during that period, from just under 40 runners - namely Kingman in 2014.

Showdown

That said, most of those qualifiers were big-priced outsiders so I'm not going to get too worried about figures. In fairness to Magna Grecia, it's hard to say anything bad about him. He won the Newmarket Guineas fair and square - but it wasn't the strongest renewal we've seen in recent years with a few hotpots ruled out by injury, including today's selection. Thankfully, we have our showdown, and I'm very much looking forward to this race.

At Haydock, Battash is a confident selection around 5/4 in the Group Two Armstrong Aggregates Temple Stakes (4.0). A winner of this race last year under a penalty, Charlie Hills' gelding has had a wind-op since last seen coming fourth in the Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp in October, but he usually goes well after a break so there are no worries on that front. He's also got Group One winning form from 2017, and if running near his best, he'll prove very hard to beat.

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