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Two second placed finishes from the selections yesterday, with Miramichi probably getting stuck into a battle too far from home which costed his chances. Invincibly ran a cracker, and at one stage I thought he was going to keep on rolling in front, but he eventually got picked off by a horse who showed a good turn of foot. Today I've tried not to get stuck in too much as there are plenty of horses who caught my eye, so just the three selections, as it's easy to get sucked in on a Saturday and it rarely pays off.
With a decent amount of pace expected, it could be best to side with a hold up horse who will be running on strong. My selection for the penultimate race at Haydock is STONE OF DESTINY.
Like I've already mentioned, he is a hold up horse, probably not done by design either. He always seems to miss the break or be very slow out of the stalls, so SDS has no other choice than to position him in the rear and play him late. Due to this running style, he will need luck in running, but he has the ability to get through the traffic, and is starting to look somewhat well treated off a mark of 101.
Though he hasn't won this year, he has ran many good races in defeat, and his slow starts have been to blame for not getting a 1 next to his name. He ran a blinder in the Epsom Dash, where he was flying down the rail but he got going too late, which saw him finish 3rd. The time before that he was 2nd at Goodwood, and in his runs till now he has ran well in better races, where he was running on towards the end, but lacked the quality for the Group 2/1 level.
Good To Firm ground appears to be his ideal ground despite the fact he seems to act on slightly slower surfaces. He was 4th in the Commonwealth Cup a few years ago and that was on fast ground.
Everyone knows how good of a season Andrew Balding is having, so the fact he's in such good form is surely a bonus for this horse. Another interesting stat is that Andrew is 10/40 at Haydock (last 5 years) for runners who are 4yo+, which has yielded a profit of 17.28 to £1 level stakes.
RIPP ORF is definitely a risky pick, but one that I'm willing to take a chance on, as a few years ago he was a decent horse, and I'm hoping that he will be better for his recent comeback run.
Last time at Sandown was the first run in 686 days, so it was kind of expected that he would've needed the run. He was extremely keen throughout the first half of the race, pulling his head from one side to another which made it very difficult for Rossa Ryan to try and settle him. Sure enough, the early pulling took its toll and he weakened quite sharply. I'm hoping that run got all of his built up enthusiasm out of his body that he had built up from not seeing a race track in nearly 2 years.
I think that this race was the plan all along, and the race a couple of weeks ago was a pipe-opener for this race. He previously won this race in 2018, and was then placed in this race in 2019. He's obviously had his problems, hence the long time off the track, but he must be showing encouraging signs at home for them to go for this race, as it's clearly a targeted race for this horse. He is a 7yo, and has won some good races in his career, so I don't think they'd risk running him if he wasn't showing ability.
Johnny Peate takes the ride, and that is a noticeable jockey booking. Johnny seems to be a capable 7lb claimer, and has been used by Mark Johnston as well some other yards. Taking the 7lb claim into consideration, Ripp Orf runs off a mark of 80 and carries 8st 3lbs, which gives him a good chance if he retains his ability.
The only slight concern is that this race seems to be lacking pace, so if he decides to pull like he did last time, it could be game over in the first furlong. However, I've seen it on multiple occasions where you think there's no pace, and then all of a sudden there is plenty of horses going forward, which normally wouldn't race prominently.
PASSIONOVA is the selection for this race, and though this race is full of what appear to be progressive horses, I think she is progressive and will offer the most value.
The reason why I think she'll be a decent price is due to who is she trained by. She is trained by George Baker, and he is obviously no where near as known as the likes of William Haggas, Sir Michael Stoute or Andrew Balding, but he is a very capable trainer when given the ammunition, and this filly is proof of that.
You'd have to say this filly has arguably the best form in the race when she beat Sweet Enough who went on to win a Class 2 race at the York Ebor Festival, beating Rising Star who is in this race today. What made that performance (Passionova beating Sweet Enough) even better was the fact that Passionova was carrying a penalty, so was 7lbs heavier than Sweet Enough, and she beat her comfortably and was staying on strongly. Next time out she was tried in a Listed race, and wasn't disgraced by any stretch of the imagination, where she finished 2nd to Waliyak, who has since finished 2nd in a Group 3. Though Passionova was 3.25 lengths behind the winner that day, the conditions were definitely against her, as she clearly prefers a quick surface. She was a Non Runner two times before that Listed race at Haydock due to the ground, on Soft and Good To Soft ground, so connections clearly feel that she doesn't like that ground. With that being said she still did run at Haydock, and you can't fault them, as they were rewarded with Black Type, but it goes to show she could be a very good filly on fast ground, which she should get today.
A mark of 92 should be within reach, and the new trip on a stiff track like Ascot should be fine. She was running through the line very strongly over 7f at Newmarket, so that gives me hope that she'll stay.
There is a possibility that she'll even drift in price, due to some of the bigger yards having interesting runners like both of Sir Michael Stoute's horses.