Old Newton Cup reflections....

Last Updated: 09.07.2018

Monday, 9th July 2018

Old Newton Cup reflections….

I’m always cautious when it comes to talking about rides that jockeys give horses....

I’m conscious of the fact that it is easy to ride a horse when you’re sat in your armchair at home – even if you’ve never once been on the back of one....

And I recognise that it is not so easy when you’re sitting on one careering along at 30mph+ in and amongst a dozen others all doing the same thing....

But I must admit I was a little surprised about the tactics adopted on Atkinson Grimshaw in the Old Newton Cup on Saturday afternoon at Haydock....

  • Reasons to be hopeful....

The 4yo was having just his second run for Iain Jardine – and his 5th run in a handicap – having been bought out of Andrew Balding’s yard for 35,000 Guineas....

In his previous four goes in handicaps off marks of 76, 82, 83 and 85, he’d produced form figures of 1322....

Stepping back up to 12f on Saturday connections and punters could be forgiven for harbouring strong hopes that the still lightly-raced and progressing horse would have strong claims of getting very competitive off a mark of 87....

I certainly took that view in putting the horse up as a contrarian selection at 14s on Friday....

And Iain Jardine wasn’t exactly damping expectation with his pre-race comments....

‘We’re hopeful,’ he said. ‘You can never be confident in a race like this. The track and ground will suit, and we just need a bit of luck....’

The time before at Ayr, on debut for the yard, the horse had been unlucky not to win. Indeed, he probably should have won....

In a slow-run race, he came off the pace that day – having run a bit keen. And that combination of factors did for him. He couldn’t get to the winner....

  • A strange way of going at it....

I wonder if that’s why jockey Nathan Gormley allowed Atkinson Grimshaw to break quickly from the stalls on Saturday and then to blast-along to the front of the field where he set about laying down a strong pace for the rest to follow?

The horse has run well from the front before. And maybe they took an active decision to run that way again on Saturday.

Maybe they wanted to be sure of a fast pace? Maybe they wanted to turn the screw early-doors. Maybe they wanted to turn the race into a true test and run some of the weaker players out of the hand before the business end?

I don’t know. In a bigger field and more competitive field of horses than the faced at Ayr – a field full of pace horses and no shortage of horses proven stayers at the 12f trip – it seemed a strange thing to do....

Maybe it wasn’t a choice at all. Maybe Gormley’s hand was forced by the way the horse behaved. He was fractious ahead of being loaded into the stalls and seemed to get lit up....

Whatever, he went fast enough to have the entire field well-strung-out at the halfway stage and three furlongs from the post his race was run. He was headed and dropped back through the field like a stone....

  • Too fast, surely?

Surely, he went off too quick?

After the race his rider reported that he ran too free....

Both statements amount to the same thing. Too much early speed....

But at no point did I get the impression that Gormley was doing anything to try and take the sting out of the horse....

He appeared to just let the horse have his own way at his own pace – always seeing plenty of daylight and never under any kind of restraining effort. And that pace was always going to get the horse turned over....

I imagine anybody who watched the race on Saturday had the same reaction I did. There was no way the horse was going to win having set off like a greyhound. You knew your fate before halfway.

No criticism implied, of course. I’m just making observations....

Gormley knows a sight more about race-riding than I do and maybe there was little he could do to any effective purpose once the horse had got lit up,

Maybe, on the upside, the way he ran run on Saturday will take the fizz out of him for subsequent runs....

In case you missed it....

You don’t have to bet horses for long to discover bookmakers cheat at every opportunity....

Having vehemently denied doing so, and after providing the regulator with ‘inaccurate explanations’, it turns out Ladbrokes DID deliberately shorten the price of a horse to maximise a Rule 4 reduction – thus hitting punters in the pocket and increasing their own take....

And that’s the one time they got caught. I can’t imagine it’s the only time they did it....

No real action has been taken, of course. Just the usual hollow warnings about what might happen if it happens again....

Meanwhile, Ladbrokes pin the blame on a single unnamed trader and point at inadequate training – as if the situation only arose because some poor sap failed to follow official policy....

Where bookmakers are concerned, cheating IS the official policy – until such time somebody gets caught. Only then does it become a training issue....

Until such time the regulator grows teeth and exerts the full extent of the powers at his disposal, that’s likely to remain the case....

Get more details here....

  • Don’t write this pair off....

Whatever happened on Saturday, if they can get this horse to settle – ahead of his races and during the early stages – he has plenty of talent and can land a nice pot off his current mark....

Earlier in his career he’s been in with the likes of Thundering Blue (who beat him a length off levels at 83 and is now rated 100) and Pivoine (who beat him 3-lengths when in receipt of 4lbs and who is now rated 98).

Atkinson Grimshaw is more lightly-raced than both those and still has time on his side. One-down -the-field-run when things didn’t go right is not a reason to write him off. He will come again....

Another one not to write off is the Richard-Hughes-trained Golden Wolf who finished 9th of the 16 that went to post on Saturday beaten 8.3 lengths – having been quite well backed at an SP of 7s....

He’s been creeping up the weights without managing to win. He’d never been outside the first 4 in 11 runs ahead of Saturday’s assignment and had finished 2nd in five of his previous seven runs....

Some commentators would look at those figures and start to question his temperament. But to my mind he’s been a little unlucky in bumping into some progressive rivals....

Not least Dash Of Spice at Epsom. He was beaten 6-lengths by David Elsworth’s horse that day off level weights. But that one has since gone on to win at Royal Ascot and is now rated 20lbs higher at 107.

Golden Wolf might well not be as good as that. But there are rounds there to believe that he can prove better than 90. Melting Dew, who finished 3-lengths behind him in the Epsom race, has since won and is rated 93.

In any case, Saturday was not the horse’s true showing. He started in stall 11, which is less than ideal on the turning tack. And he also got away from the stalls slowly.

With the race developing up-front on fast ground, he was always going to find it hard to get back into it. There will be other days for him....

I’m putting him onto our Watch List....

  • The last word….

That’s all from me for today.

We have a busy week ahead of us with a stack of races to target at Newmarket’s July meeting as well as big races up at York and at Ascot....

I’ll be taking a day tomorrow to do some necessary spadework ahead of the multiple handicaps we’re going to be targeting....

Check out our immediate upcoming schedule of target races here....

I’ll be back in your inbox on Wednesday with my advice for Day 1 at the July meeting....

Until then. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd

P.S. If you missed last week’s coverage, we have interesting angles for the July meeting which you can review here and here....