April roster

I’m nosing my way in to the flat. Tiptoes and caution. It feels like a tough proposition this Spring. After a toe-to-toe seven month slug-fest with the jumpers, I’m looking at the flat sorts and trying to remember who is who. Right now I know more about Fergal O’Brien’s up and coming bumper horse The Govaness than anything stabled by his namesake at Ballydoyle; the only jockey from the Moore family that registers is the one that pilots horse of the year and all round legend, Sire de Grugy. And if I’m more aware of Channon’s exploits with Hen’s old string of underperforming jumpers that his flat barn, I’m really out of touch.

My mate Bacchy put up this excellent review of the two-year old season back in March. I’ve only just got round to studying this work and it provides solid food for thought.  So valuable to see all the visual evidence of these trials collected in one place.

I’ve got more work to do to though. Making sense of the 2,000 Guineas, now only six days away, is a priority. Kingman, of course, was massively impressive at Newbury, but surely more to come from Toormore after his professional display in the Craven…  And that’s as far as I’ve got.

I won’t be repeating my jumpers’ tactic of researching a list of horses to follow. I don’t know the flat form well enough and in previous years it has felt like a hostage to fortune. And the good, big races come sufficiently thick and fast to keep me plenty busy enough.

There might be room for a shifting cast of temporary interests though. Sticking to visual clues, races I’ve watched and obvious angles my cotton wool analysis can decipher, I’ll punt them when conditions are right and show them the exit when time is up.

The small roster, based on what I’ve seen in April so far, shapes up like this:

Aljamaaheer – Roger Varian. Backed this one a few times last year. Best on quick ground and found out in Group 1 company. The switch to sprints this year is intriguing and I liked the way he shaped for 3rd in the Abernant Stakes at Newmarket’s Craven meeting. Livelier ground will surely see him to even better effect.

G Force – David O’Meara. Popped in to the bookies last week. I was early for the cricket nets down at The Oval and I had a few minutes to spare. I backed the Tim Easterby runner up in this race. G Force was odds on, but struggled to get to the front. When he did he won with plenty in hand and, to my eyes, was unextended at the finish. Sprint handicaps are the target, apparently.

Gospel Choir - Sir Michael Stoute. Just very impressed with the classy way he won the Jockey Club Stakes and you would hope he would go on from this.

Made With Love – Roger Varian. I’m not particularly a Varian groupie. But I do like the way he goes about his business. This one was unfancied for the Wood Ditton Stakes and ran a blinder for 2nd. Loved the battling qualities he showed and that’s always going to sucker me in.

Mind of Madness – David Brown. This small yard has made a good start to the season (Glen Moss stayed on well yesterday at Haydock) and this one won a decent Newmarket 2-y-o maiden with some style earlier this month. The manner of the win will have caused a few to race eyebrows and he won’t exactly be under the radar.  Connections aiming at the National Stakes, apparently.

Telescope - Sir Michael Stoute. Obviously talented and although done by Lady Cecil's Noble Mission at Sandown, the ground was too soft that day, the horse was not fully wound up and he was far from knocked about by Ryan Moore. Has some lofty targets this season, but worth a look next time out. 


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