Sport Horse Racing

Tuesday 20 March 2018

Wayne Bailey: Time Test can upset odds with Gurkha ambush

'I have come down in favour of the 121-rated Time Test (p), which is expected to go off at 3/1 or thereabouts.' Photo: PA
'I have come down in favour of the 121-rated Time Test (p), which is expected to go off at 3/1 or thereabouts.' Photo: PA

Wayne Bailey

Marilyn vos Savant, who was made famous in the '80s by the Guinness Book of Records as having the highest recorded IQ, once said that statistics can be used to support or undercut almost any argument.

I found myself agreeing with the American this week as I studied this afternoon's Coral Eclipse (3.45 Sandown) and if you consider the fact that British Group One favourites have shown a 21 point profit since 2008 if blindly backed, one might feel compelled to have a punt on The Gurkha today, which is generally available at around 10/11.

But if you sift through the statistics, you might also spot that backing horses rated 122 or higher has shown a profit of 23 points during the same period, making My Dream Boat (rated 122) a very attractive option at a price of 9/2.


Partly based on those figures, I've toyed with the idea of backing either of those two horses but in the end I've decided to swerve both and have come down in favour of the 121-rated Time Test, which is expected to go off at 3/1 or thereabouts.

It's my guess that a few of these will want to take an early lead and if we get a strong pace throughout, that could leave the favourite vulnerable in the closing stages.

Unproven at this distance, Aidan O'Brien's French 2,000 Guineas winner The Gurkha was beaten at 4/5 by Galileo Gold in the St James's Palace Stakes last time, although the hold-up tactics probably played a part in that defeat.

There's no doubt that the three-year-old has a bright future ahead but I reckon his relative inexperience at this level against some top older horses is a negative which is not built in to his odds - so based purely on price, I'm going to oppose him today.

Clive Cox's My Dream Boat was a shock winner of the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot at 16/1 but the Japanese 8/13 favourite A Shin Hikari was woeful on the day so he'll have to prove it wasn't just a fluke.

You have to give credit where it's due, but he previously finished fifth of nine in a more competitive Group One won by A Shin Hikari at Chantilly so I'd rather take a wait and see approach before I back the Lord Shanakill colt.

My main worry about Time Test is whether he will handle the softer ground as Roger Charlton's four-year-old's best form has come on firmer going - although he did register a win on good to soft early on in his career so I'm happy to take a chance at a price in the region of 3/1, with Pat Smullen taking the reins.

I was most impressed with his win last time in a decent renewal of the Brigadier Gerard, and the fact that he's proven at the course and distance is surely in his favour.

Charlie Appleby's Hawkbill deserves a mention too around 7/1 having now won five races in-a-row, although the best of those was a Group Three and this is a big step up in class.

Earlier on the same card, Log Out Island looks the value pick around 6/1 in the Group Three Coral Charge Sprint Stakes (2.0).

I'm surprised to see Richard Hannon's colt priced so high although punters are probably put off by his last place in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot last time.

I'm willing to overlook that poor display as jockey James Doyle said his mount hit his head in the stalls at the start and he never really managed to settle down even though he led until half-way. He previously won a Listed race at Newbury and should have no problem stepping back down to the 5f trip today.

Shortly afterwards at Haydock, Endless Time will prove popular in the betting for the Group Two Fillies' Lancashire Oaks (2.15) but early odds of 3/1 are a little too short for my liking and preference is for Mark Johnston's Fireglow, which has a forecast price of 8/1.

A daughter of Teofilo, she was badly hampered in the Coronation Stakes so her 11th place is not as bad as it looks on paper. She surprised a lot of people by finishing fourth in the 1,000 Guineas at 40/1 and this tough-as-teak filly will handle the ground.


Tim Easterby has a couple of runners in the Bet365 Old Newton Cup Handicap at Haydock (2.50) but at prices up to 16/1, Dance King is the most attractive option for an each-way bet.

A son of Danehill Dancer, he's become quite useful on the handicap scene and beat some decent sorts to win a competitive race at Ripon back in May off a mark of 85.

He has run reasonably well in two races since and today's mark of 89 for a racing weight of 8st 11lbs seems quite fair.

Andrew Balding's Duretto has strong claims and will probably go off as favourite. One of the younger horses in the field aged four, he dead-heated in a valuable handicap at Ascot back in September but he is up 9lbs in the ratings since then and bookmakers are taking no chances with an early price of 9/2.


2.0 Sandown: Log Out Island

2.15 Haydock: Fireglow

2.50 Haydock: Dance King (e/w)

3.10 Sandown: Light Up Our World

3.45 Sandown: Time Test

4.20 Sandown: Pallasator

Do the double

Iceland sent England home in shame but the Nordic country's amazing journey is likely to come to an end tomorrow evening against France. Didier Deschamps and his men will be keen to eliminate their need for late goals and the France half-time/full-time bet makes appeal at 6/5.


Mark Prescott's Pallasator will carry a 5lb penalty in the Listed Esher Stakes at Sandown for a previous Group Three win - but that's reflected in his odds which were rather generous at 5/1 yesterday evening with Oisin Murphy booked to ride. He was out of his depth in a Group One at Royal Ascot last time but he has Group Two winning form at Doncaster from 2015.

Irish Independent

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