4.00 Musselburgh – Archerfield Cup
(3yo+ 0-100) 1m5F164y
Friday 07 August 2015.
This is a relatively new addition to the racing calendar having been first held in 2013, and master Northern trainer Mark Johnston has won the first two, with Joe Fanning riding both. He fires just the one bullet this year, Yorkidding, and she is sure to be a popular choice among punters. However, there are ten challengers looking to wrestle the crown from Johnston this year, and below is an examination of their respective prospects.
1. CROQUEMBOUCHE (DE GILES/TWISTON DAVIES)
This horse has been in super form so far this season, reappearing with a brave all the way win at Windsor (10F good) off a mark of 85 in a class 4 event. He was stepped up in trip (12F good to firm) and into class 2 company next time at York and ran another cracker off his new mark of 91 to finish runner up to Notarised, a horse that has gone on to win twice since.
He is now up to a career high mark of 97, and tries this trip for the first time too. There is plenty of stamina on the dam side of his pedigree so there is hope that he could stay. Needs quick ground to be seen at his best and he has travelled an awfully long way to take part in this race. Could face competition for the lead though, and over this new trip that could spell trouble for his chances.
2. MIGHTY YAR (CECIL/QUALLY)
Beautifully bred son of Teofilo with heaps of black type and stamina in his pedigree. Won three of his first four races, including a 12F class 2 handicap on good to firm off 89 at Newmarket. Also finished a close second under similar conditions at York last July off 94.
Was disappointing on his last run when returning to York (12F good) back down to 94, and indeed he was sent off favourite that day so a better run must have been expected. Is worth another try back up at this sort of trip, and off his new mark of 92 he could run well. Place claims at least.
3. PRESSURE POINT (DALGLEISH/MAKIN)
Has improved at an absolute rate of knots this season for his Northern trainer, and is now rated 92, a full 22lbs higher than the mark of 70 he started off with back in April. Form figures for the year so far read 412141, and his last run was a very brave effort at Ripon off 89 when he showed real guts to repel the late challenge of Kinema to score by a neck.
Is by Oasis Dream, who is usually a speed influence but who has also produced some decent middle distance types, and his dam won a Listed race over 15F so there is a possibility he could stay. Is only 3lb higher off 92 than for his Ripon win, but he was put to the pin of his collar that day and the extra distance will have to eke out a bit more improvement if he is to get involved off this career high mark.
4. HARDSTONE (DODS/MULRENNAN)
Another challenger for the home team, and a horse that will be having his first run for Michael Dods having been previously trained by Johnny Murtagh. Best form has come on the all weather at Dundalk, but his penultimate run at Leopardstown over this trip off a mark of 90 (good to firm) was an effort filled with promise as he was conceding a fair chunk of weight to most of his rivals that day.
His last run at Ascot (20F good) was his poorest effort yet though, and a repeat of that will see him struggling in this field too. He has been freshened up since,and his trainer has a 26% strike rate here in the last five seasons (12/46). Will likely be double figure odds on the day, and if the change of scenery has sharpened him up he could well run a big race back down in trip.
5. SHREWD (SMYTH/CARBERRY)
Irish raider whose trainer was amongst the winners at Hamilton earlier this month. Formerly with Keith Dalgleish he has had only had two runs for current connections, the last one of which was an awful effort at Down Royal.
He previously went close at Doncaster under today’s jockey (14.5F good to firm) off 84, and that resulted in his mark being raised to 89, which he runs off today. There is not much stamina on the dam side of his pedigree, and his sire is not a renowned stamina influence either. This test could stretch him, and is probably best watched until conclusively proving that he stays.
6. INNOCENT TOUCH (HAMILTON/FAHEY)
This 4yo gelding has been knocking on the door in recent starts but he is proving very difficult to win with, as his strike rate of 2/18 shows. Those two wins came last year over 9F(soft) and 12F (good to firm) and off marks of 67 and 70 respectively.
He was raised to 76 after that second win, and is now rated 89 despite not having won in ten runs since. It is difficult to knock his consistency, but in saying that it is hard to see him breaking that run of defeats today. His only try beyond 12F resulted in one of his poorest ever runs, and his pedigree says he will struggle to stay too. Best left alone until dropping back down in trip.
7. BARWICK (I.WILLIAMS/LEE)
Five time winner, with three of those wins coming at 12F on ground varying from heavy to good to firm. Shot up the weights with three wins last season, the first of those coming off a mark of just 72.
Now rated 89 he has been stepped up in class this season to no avail.
He hasn’t been beaten that far on his three runs so far this term, and indeed he shaped as if a step up in trip would suit on his first run back at Epsom. He is now 2lbs lower than he was for that good run and the excellent Graham Lee has been booked, which has to be seen as a major positive. Could run well at a price if he repeats that reappearance effort.
8. FUTURE EMPIRE (BIN SUROOR/DOYLE)
Gelded 3yo son of New Approach who represents powerful connections. Ran a cracker in the Listed Queens Vase at Ascot back in June before following that up with another good effort behind Mr Singh in a Group 3 at Newmarket (13F good to firm).
Is the joint highest rated in the field at 97, and gets in off a nice racing weight of 9-1 thanks to the 3yo allowance. Looks to be the class horse in the field, and has a huge chance dropping down in grade. His trainer is 2/5 with his runners here in the past five seasons and he will likely be sent off a warm favourite. Bin Suroor has historically hit form at this time of the season over the past few years too. The one to beat.
9. KIWAYU (RYAN/GRAY)
6yo gelded son of Medicean with three victories to his name, two of those on turf. Yet to visit the winners enclosure in nine flat runs since that last win back in July 2013, and has been very inconsistent. Has looked to be returning to some sort of form this season however, and his two runs so far were a vast improvement on anything he did last year.
He is now rated three pounds lower than for his last win, but the big worry has to be the trip. All his wins have come over 12F, and whilst he shaped as if getting further would be no problem on occasion, he has yet to emphatically prove that he is as effective at staying distances. Place hopes at best.
10. ICON DREAM (GOLDIE/LYNCH)
Another Scottish yard represented here, and this horse is of definite interest from a handicapping perspective. Formerly a high class operator for David Simcock he was placed in a Group 3 as a 3yo back in 2010. Ran some cracking races subsequently, including in a class 2 handicap over this sort of trip off 95 on fast ground at Goodwood when he finished runner up. It is amazing to think he has only won once, as a 2yo on debut.
Was off the track for almost three years before returning to action with a decent effort at York (16.5F good). Seemed to suffer from the dreaded ‘bounce factor’ on his next run there (14F good to firm), but his last effort back up in trip was much more like it, a good fourth to Eshtiaal off 79. He is back up to 80 now, but still looks very well treated on his old form. Could well make a bold bid for his Scottish yard.
11. YORKIDDING (JOHNSTON/FANNING)
A typically hardy Mark Johnston filly who bids to maintain her connections’ perfect record in this race. Been a rapid improver this season, and having started off a mark of 69 she is now rated 82. It has looked as though the handicapper has caught up with her in recent runs as her progress has seemingly come to an abrupt stop.
She comes here on the back of a decent effort at Goodwood (12F good to firm), where it looked as if the speedy nature of the track didn’t suit her. On the face of it she did well to get to within 5 lengths of impressive winner Dartmouth, especially considering she was caught out wide too. She has already won over this trip, and the return to 14F ought to suit. Entitled to maximum respect given connection’s record in the race.
Any number with chances, and Yorkidding is an obvious starting point given Johnston’s record in the race. Icon Dream looks well handicapped on his old form, Mighty Yar is too well bred to write off just yet and Hardstone is another that could bounce back after a poor effort last time.
However, FUTURE EMPIRE looks to be a gelding on a definite upward trajectory and if he runs his race he should be difficult to beat under these conditions. He is the selection to spoil Mark Johnston’s hat trick bid and bring the Archerfield Cup back to Newmarket.
- Future Empire.
- Mighty Yar.