Wayne Bailey: Group success long overdue for Washington
I was scrolling through Facebook the other day when I came across one of those sometimes-annoying inspirational quotes pages. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for being positive, living in the moment and seizing the day - but eventually the bills have to be paid.
If you lived each day like it was your last, you wouldn't survive very long in your job and you might find your opportunities to have fun are rather limited when you run out of dough.
Nonetheless, this particular quote was about greed and caught my attention: "He who is greedy is always in want."
According to the man who runs the internet, it was the Roman poet Horace who first uttered those words, although I'm nearly sure my ma invented that phrase as I heard it so many times growing up.
By close of business last week, those words were spinning around my head and despite kicking off the day with a 3/1 winner, Hawkbill, and following up later with Ribchester in the Lockinge at 7/4, I was still feeling a little hard-done-by over one of my other picks, Leshlaa, which finished fourth out of five at Newmarket.
I had got my hopes up when he was going well and hit 1/3 in-running on Betfair but he weakened in the final furlong and finished tamely. I've often said that horses which look like winning and then lose are harder to swallow than ones that run a stinker but I've had worse days I suppose, and a decent-sized bet on the aforementioned Ribchester made sure I got out alive at least.
Speaking of greed, I'm sure a few hardy souls will be tempted to try and buy some money by backing Churchill around 1/3 in this afternoon's Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh (4.10). My instinct is to find a reason to lay but I can't find anything to oppose him with, so this is a race best enjoyed without a bet.
The Newmarket Guineas winner had been reasonably warm in the Derby market, but the Curragh today and perhaps the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot are safer options for now over the mile distance.
While he's not the type that makes you draw a breath and say to yourself "wow", he still gets the job done each time in a business-like way although, in fairness, a lack of pace in the Newmarket Guineas meant it was muddling and visually unimpressive.
While that possibly worked in his favour, he won it fair and square and he's clearly trained on well over the winter with the prospect of more to come. He's now won each of his seven races bar his debut and we should see O'Brien land his 11th win as a trainer in this Classic.
Irishcorrespondent is also worth a mention for Mick Halford. A son of Teofilo, he's won both his races to date and is described as "thriving" by his trainer although it's a big ask to step up to Group One level and take on a Classic winner.
We look elsewhere for today's main bet then, and I was initially keen on Quiet Reflection in the Group Two Temple Stakes at Haydock (4.05) but the vibes from Karl Burke's yard haven't been overly positive and a decision on her participation will be left late with concerns over the fast ground.
Instead, Aidan O'Brien's Washington DC gets the nod to take the prize for Ireland around 7/2. He beat a number of these when a neck-second to Marsha in the Palace House Stakes in what was a fine performance overall and it's no surprise he's got a couple of Group One entries for later on this season.
Indeed, he was a runner-up as a three-year-old in the Group One Prix de l'Abbaye at Chantilly back in October and this 5f trip appears to be his optimum distance. He definitely has a Group win in him, and my money says it will be today.
Earlier on the same card, the Clive Cox-trained Harry Angel should take all the beating around 11/10 in the Group Two Armstrong Aggregates Sandy Lane Stakes (3.30).
He has what it takes to win at this level having landed the Mill Reef Stakes in September and I'm not too concerned about his second place to Blue Point in a recent Group Three at Ascot as he was 4lbs worse off due to a penalty.
Bar the two female horses Poet's Vanity and Alphabet which get a sex allowance, they are all due to carry 9st here which means that the selection is half-a-stone superior - on official ratings at least.
Mubtasim was third in that race at Ascot and may make a challenge but if he couldn't beat Harry Angel 4lb better off last time, there's no reason to suggest he can improve that much today.
At Goodwood, Horroob is tipped in the Winners Are Welcome At Matchbook Handicap (3.10), priced in the region of 7/2. A maiden winner at Lingfield back in April, Roger Varian's charge won his handicap debut at the same venue with something left in the tank last time off 86 and, if you ask me, a mark today of 90 should not be too much to overcome.
The Amix Silver Bowl Handicap (2.55 Haydock) looks a little tricky and there are very few horses which can be crossed off the list with confidence.
Mustarrid will probably go off as favourite for Richard Hannon and has claims here having almost made it three in-a-row before being chinned on the line at Doncaster last time, but his price is a little short in a competitive field.
Chalked up at 8/1 in the early markets yesterday, Graphite Storm gets my vote for trainer Clive Cox under jockey Sam Hitchcott. A nursery winner at Newbury last term off 80, he was a short-head second off a mark of 86 in a decent handicap at Ascot a couple of weeks ago, and a 2lb rise in the weights is not exactly harsh.
He's improving all the time and I reckon he's got more to come before the handicapper has his measure.
2.55 Haydock: Graphite Storm (e/w)
3.10 Goodwood: Horroob
3.30 Haydock: Harry Angel
3.35 Curragh: Acapulco
4.05 Haydock: Washington DC
4.15 Chester: Headway
4.45 Curragh: Opal Tiara
Do the double
Arsenal and Chelsea meet in the FA Cup final this evening and a Gunners win will see Arsene Wenger (right) set the record for most Cup wins as a manager. But based on Premier League form, Chelsea are worthy favourites here and I’m happy to back Antonio Conte’s side at 5/6. Chelsea are currently 100/30 to win the League next season with Arsenal available at 12/1.
Trained by William Haggas, odds of 6/4 or thereabouts look a little generous for Headway, which races for the second time in the British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Stakes at Chester. He stayed on well when a neck-second to Charlie Appleby’s Gold Town in a maiden at Newbury last month and the step up from the minimum distance to 6f should help. Richard Hannon’s Yafta is still unraced but is related to some smart sorts and may be the danger horse.