The Jim Crowley Column: Algometer? No pressure

We are delighted that top jockey Jim Crowley is the Bet4Causes Flat Racing Brand Ambassador. Each Saturday, you can read Jim’s exclusive columns here, in the Racing Plus newspaper and on the Yahoo Sports UK website…

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By Jim Crowley

ALL ROADS lead to Epsom next weekend and the Investec Derby. Will he or won’t he? David Simcock isn’t saying.

Not because he does not want to – it is because he genuinely doesn’t know.

Algometer gave me a good feel at Goodwood when landing the Cocked Hat Stakes, formerly known as the Predominate Stakes.

In pure form terms, I would not read too much into his half-length win. There were only four runners and it was a bit of a muddling affair. Everything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong.

However, Algometer did all that was asked and while the team will do what is in the best interests of the horse, from a purely selfish point of view, I hope the unsettled weather forecast is right and we have a drop of rain next week.

At the Breakfast With The Stars gallop on Tuesday it rode good to soft and if it stayed that way, I don’t think we’d complain.

For now, just as Dermot Weld is doing with Harzand, we are playing a waiting game.

David Simcock said yesterday: “He has come out of Goodwood in really good form. There was a lack of pace, but he came out of it with plenty of credit, and was given probably less credit than he actually deserved.

“We know he will stay the trip and he will look better the further he goes. What he does have is a very willing attitude and it is fair to say that he is not a horse you are likely to get to the bottom of.

“Will he run at Epsom? He will be left in the race on Monday and we will keep an eye on the weather. If Epsom produce good ground, then the Derby will certainly be under consideration.”

Algometer (below), who is 25/1 with Bet4Causes, reminds me a touch of Silver Patriarch, who went so close to winning the Derby for John Dunlop and Pat Eddery in 1997, before going on to land the St Leger. Not just because he is grey, it is that he has the same tenacious attitude and, should he run, he will certainly be staying on at the finish.

There is work to be done before that, however. This evening I have a fair book of rides at Salisbury.

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Second Thought (5.50) will make his debut for William Haggas in the five-furlong novices’ event. He does not have the best draw, but has a nice pedigree and the dam was out of a half-sister to the smart 1,000 Guineas winner Sky Lantern.

Vincenzo Coccotti (6.20) was a little bit free in his races last year but did not appear to relish the heavy ground at Newbury in a 6f handicap in August. He has his first run since September in a six-furlong handicap against rivals who will all have a fitness edge.

Similarly, Malakky (6.50) is making his seasonal debut for Brian Meehan, having run in a hot Newbury maiden last June, a race that has produced plenty of subsequent winners. Brian has hit the post with a few lately at big prices, so I’m hopeful he’ll go well.

I have not ridden the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Doesyourdogbite (7.20), who had been running in France prior to his first run in seven months at Windsor, where he was beaten a long way. I wouldn’t read too much into that. He might have half a chance in the 1m6f handicap.

Author’s Dream (7.50) will improve for going up in trip now that he has his handicap mark. I’m hoping he will run very well and he looks the type to make progress. He will get two miles in time and he would not be without a chance.

At Chester today, Gunnery (4.35) is my nap of the weekend. I think he will take a bit of beating in the 1m4f handicap.

While at Haydock, Home Of The Brave (3.10) can follow up his comfortable Leicester win in the John Of Gaunt, and with Hugo Palmer in such good form, Gifted Master (3.45) looks the one in the Group Two Sandy Lane Stakes.

On Monday, I am at Windsor and Lady Macarpa (4.05) looks the pick of my rides. She is a very quick filly and we are on a bit of a fact-finding mission in the 5f Sprint Series Handicap.

She is quite useful. The ground was probably a bit too lively for her in a very good race at York, were she showed a bit too much speed, so I think I’d like to try and drop her in if I can.

Finally, don’t miss the Lucy Wadham-trained Minstrels Gallery (7.40 Wolverhampton) on Tuesday. He is on a three-timer and I’d be disappointed to see him beaten. He still looks on a decent handicap mark of 75 compared to his hurdles mark of 129.

Sammy Jo will be back

FALLS are part of racing. We have all had them from time to time, some more serious than others.

When you see the injuries sustained by Sammy Jo Bell, it brings into focus just what a dangerous job this can be sometimes.

Sammy Jo fractured her pelvis at Carlisle a week ago when her mount Royal Duchess reared leaving the parade ring and fell on top of her, fracturing her pelvis.

She has had an operation to have a plate inserted and apparently will spend the next six weeks in a wheelchair before she can begin rehabbing.

Richard Fahey’s apprentice is one of the best female riders to come along for years. All of us in the weighing room hope that Sammy Jo (below) makes a full recovery and will soon be able to continue her burgeoning career.

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Winners galore

IT HAS been a rather productive week with four winners in five days, so I can’t complain.

Hughie Morrison’s Atalan won nicely at Nottingham last Sunday and could make into a nice staying horse. He could be quite progressive.

Hard Toffee won a seller at Lingfield on Wednesday for Conrad Allen. He’s a big horse and wasn’t suited by the slow pace in a quartet of bumpers. Having ridden over the jumps, I’ve never did quite understand why they often went so slowly in bumpers. He enjoyed the better ground and he’ll continue to pay his way on the Flat. He’s a bit better than selling standard.

I’m pleased to say I had a double at Chelmsford on Thursday thanks to Kindly and Lady Lunchalot. As hoped, Kindly built on the promise of her Lingfield debut and we made all to win a 6f maiden. Simon Crisford sees her as similarly progressive and she should make her mark in handicaps.

Lady Lunchalot settled well in her 10f fillies’ handicap and she enjoyed going past her rivals. She likes going left-handed and she stayed on nicely. She’ll get a bit further and she won off a 4lb higher mark last season.

Let’s hope we have a few more to talk about next week. Fingers crossed.

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The Jim Crowley column: My Berkshire monster

We are delighted that top jockey Jim Crowley is the Bet4Causes Flat Racing Brand Ambassador. Each Saturday, you can read Jim’s exclusive columns here and in the Racing Plus newspaper…

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GOODWOOD is close to my heart and close to home – it is always a pleasure to ride there and I have a decent book at the West Sussex track this afternoon.

I’m obviously thrilled to once again partner the Paul Cole-trained Berkshire (2.15). He is a very exciting horse who has only run five times in his life, winning three, including winning the Chesham and Royal Lodge as a juvenile.

As a three-year-old, I went into the Greenham thinking he would win – he was that good – but something was wrong with him that day. Afterwards, he had six months off before coming back to win a Group Three standing on his head.

He is an absolute monster (pictured below) and while he has not run since October 2014 and is now five, apparently he has been going well at home and should enjoy any ease in the ground. If he replicates his form in the Listed Festival Stakes, he will take a world of beating.

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Bateel (2.50) was a little unlucky last time, when she got stopped in running here when bidding to remain unbeaten. Trainer David Simcock likes her and she looks as though she has a chance in the Listed Tapster Stakes. She is a nice ride to pick up.

Mark Johnston’s Dawaa (3.25) is a front-runner who was not beaten far at Doncaster last time over a similar seven-furlong trip and is a fair horse. Mark has a great record at Goodwood and is one of the easiest trainer’s to ride for. You know how his horses have to be ridden – don’t push, don’t pull – and you know they will always be ready to do the job.

Chica De La Noche (4.00) makes her debut for Simon Dow in a six-furlong novices’ race. She is a nice filly and has worked very well, but it is hard to gauge how good she is, because it is her first run. By Teofilo, she has a nice enough pedigree and is a sister to 5f and 1m winner Upward Spiral. Whether she will be good enough to win first-time-out I don’t know – but she is certainly a filly for the future.

Not having ridden Scrutinise (4.35), I don’t know too much about him. He won a handicap off a mark of 87 here last September and may have needed the run at Epsom on his seasonal return, but he runs off the same mark of 93 today. Ed Dunlop’s runners have been going well, though.

There is a veteran’s handicap after that. These races are a wonderful idea, especially for sprinters, who tend to get better with age.

I’ve seen geldings win races such as the Prix de l’Abbaye and when they get older, the last thing you would do with them is chuck them out in a field and expect them to have a life as a hack. Good luck if you try – they are used to doing 0-60 in two seconds!

Keep It Dark (5.10) is only seven, so hardly a veteran, but it is a really good idea to have more races of this nature for ‘veteran’ sprinters like him.

Finally, Sweet Dragon Fly (5.45) would appear to hold a good chance in the seven-furlong fillies’ maiden. She was second on her Wolverhampton debut to a decent type in Ian Fleming. On good ground, she’d nearly have a favourite’s chance.

No doubt we’ll all try and see what happens at the Curragh. Air Force Blue will bid to show his Newmarket run was all wrong when clashing with Galileo Gold (5.40) (pictured below, far right) again in the Irish 2,000 Guineas, but I’d be surprised the latter is turned over.

Tomorrow, Ballydoyle (1.55) can go one better in the Irish 1,000 Guineas than in the English version and Found (3.40) looks a good thing in the Tattersalls Gold Cup. She was very impressive last time and she would be my weekend banker.

Galileo Gold.jpgAlgometer for Epsom?

ALGOMETER passed his Classic Trial test in the Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood on Friday.

It was a workmanlike performance and I knew it would be. Trainer David Simcock wanted me to get a lead and they went no great pace, so it turned into something of sprint, but he found plenty for me to win by half a length on ground that would have been plenty quick enough for him.

A stronger pace will suit him and the further he goes the better he will be. I think he would come into his own on slower ground.

In fairness, it was a good performance against three rivals. People half expect you to go and win by five lengths, but a horse can still be impressive when not winning by a wide margin.

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Connections have not ruled out the Derby for Algometer (above, centre).

Mr Simcock and owner Kirsten Rausing will keep an eye on the weather and I think his main objective will be the St Leger.

However, if the ground was not rattling fast and he did turn up at Epsom, I think he will do himself justice.

I’d love him to go there – there is only one Derby – but it is not up to me. Even so, there are plenty of nice races for him and he is a horse who is sure to progress.

Vote for Chappers

I AM just about old enough to remember World of Sport and old ITV Seven accumulator.

John Rickman, Bough Scott, John Oaksey and Derek Thompson were the presenters, and the commentaries were brought to our living rooms by John Penney, Raleigh Gilbert and Graham Goode. All were exemplary and you thought of them as you’re your friends.

Their enthusiasm shone through and the presenters taught the layman the intricacies without ever making it seem a high-brow sport or talking down to their audience.

Matt Chapman.jpgChannel 4 has done a great job promoting this great sport of ours since 1985 but, after 31 years, it will soon be back on ITV.

We all have our favourites and while I have rarely had the opportunity to talk to him, Matt Chapman (right) should have been given the opportunity long ago to front mainstream TV racing.

While Marmite to some, the At The Races presenter is a character who is always honest and outspoken with his opinions. He calls a race as he sees it and, whether he is right or wrong, it is refreshing to see someone with so much passion for the sport introducing it.

There is no doubt Matt is someone who connects with the public – and that’s what presenting is all about.

Thrilled with First Selection

IT HAS not been a bad week. We Are Ninety won her Listed race at Newbury last Saturday and is likely to head to the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot, while Monks Stand scored at Lingfield on Tuesday, despite trying to bury me on the way to post.

He needs to mature mentally and will be a decent horse when he does.

Sandwiched in between was a trip to Deauville and while we did not win the Group 1 Poule D’Essai Des Poulains, I could not have been happier with the Simon Crisford-trained First Selection.

While a good horse in his own right, having won the Group 3 Solario Stakes at Sandown last season, he is pretty one-dimensional and is a free going sort who likes to be on the front end.

I’d pretty much made the running on him when seventh to Galileo Gold in the English 2,000 Guineas, when we went hard – and that’s what was so impressive about Galileo Gold, who laid up with him. At HQ, we’d set very strong fractions.

But in France, sent off a 50/1 shot, he did not get any competition for the lead and he settled well, so I was able to go through the gears on my terms and that made all the difference. He finished a fine second to an exceptional colt in The Gurkha, who is now joint-favourite for the Derby.

I’m not sure where First Selection will go next. He would have penalty in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot, or connections might tilt at windmills and chuck him in the St James’s Palace Stakes.

We were lucky that everything went well, but if you take the winner out, there were still some fairly useful horses behind him.

As he is by Diktat, I would like to see him run on soft ground, as he might improve for a bit of cut.

Either way, I could not have been more thrilled with him.

This Sunday promises to be a little different. I am at Nottingham to ride a couple and Atalan (2.50) would probably be the best of them. He is a nice, big, staying type and the 1m6f will be ideal for him. Hughie Morrison’s horses are running really well and he had a double there last week.

Atalan is nice horse and is one of those where you only get out what you put into him. He takes a bit of stoking, but he could progress this season.

I will be busy at Windsor on Monday and Frozen Force (6.45) should be one of my better rides. He won well at Brighton last time and is nice stamp of a horse, despite being a bit of a thinker. Amanda Perrett’s are running well, so he should give me a good spin.

Dutch Masterpiece (7.15) could also have a squeak – he’s not a bad little horse on his day.

Hopefully, they will all run well. Fingers crossed!

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Emma Lavelle: We need another Festival!

Top trainer Emma Lavelle is Jumps Racing Ambassador for Bet4Causes and columnist for the Racing Plus newspaper. In her brand new column, she outlines her Cheltenham Festival hopes and takes a look at Tuesday’s opening day of the 2016 Cheltenham Festival.

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FAIR play to the Cheltenham executive and those who promote inarguably one of the best racing Festivals in the world.

It has become enormous. In fact, it is a complete juggernaut. Nothing sets the pulse racing and the nerves jangling like having a runner in with a chance. Just being there is fantastic and if you are a racing fan who has never been before, put it on your bucket-list – it really is a must.

Most of us love these four days, so don’t get me wrong when I say that it is sometimes annoying that it is seen by many as the be-all and end-all.

It should not be considered the end game. If you have a winner in October, all that anyone ever starts talking about is whether or not the horse is going to be able to get to Cheltenham.

You sometimes feel that there should be something as big – a proper Winter Festival – whether it is at Kempton or Sandown, with a big pool of money that gives us something to talk about earlier in the year – something that could become as big as Cheltenham. Such a meeting would certainly keep the Festival’s executive on its toes!

Cheltenham is a big, galloping, left-handed track, so different conditions, going the other way round, would be preferable.

The most obvious solution would be to lift the quality of Kempton’s King George card and make it a bigger draw, with more money on offer. Winter ground is obviously a factor to consider, so the venue would need to have enough virgin ground to utilise, which is probably less of an issue for Sandown – it’s definitely food for thought.

Either way, we need a meeting that gives us something else to aim for, outside of Cheltenham, to take the juggernaut off the radar in October.

Still, we’d love to have a winner there this week and Javert (Cheltenham 5.30) is our big hope. We schooled him last week and he’s absolutely flying. The ground looks ideal for him and we are hoping for a big run in the concluding Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase.

Fox Appeal (2.50) is our other runner today and while he has plenty of ability, he can make the odd error. A mistake-free round would be ideal in the ultra-competitive Ultima Handicap Chase and, in fairness, he really does deserve to win a big handicap at some stage – It would be quite some party if we got the double up!

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Fox Appeal: Plenty of ability

The Champion Hurdle is always tough to win but this year’s looks an average renewal. I would love to see The New One (Cheltenham 3.30) getting his head in front, and Nigel Twiston-Davies’s horses could not be in better form.

Like others, I have been extremely impressed with Douvan (2.10) who can land the Arkle for the Willie Mullins team, who look sure to have a great week.

There has also been a bit of a whisper for the Nicky Henderson-trained Altior (1.30).  It would be nice to think we might have a chance of keeping the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on this side of the Irish Sea for a change!

And my banker in the Lavelle Lucky 15 is Vroum Vroum Mag (4.10) in the Mares’ Hurdle.

Finally, it was great to have a winner at Sandown on Saturday. Mosspark has taken the race well and loves going right-handed, so ultimately the Bet365 Gold Cup Chase, back at Sandown, is likely to be the aim now.

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Decision pending: Shotgun Paddy

National service

SHOTGUN PADDY, who was second in the Eider Chase at Newcastle last month, has come out of the race incredibly well.

But do we head to Aintree with him?

Much like Cheltenham, I don’t want to go anywhere to make up the numbers – I want horses to run with a chance of winning.

The ground would have to be on the soft side if we did go for the Crabbie’s Grand National.

And the thought of him running with just 10st 3lb on his back is extraordinary, because he has never had the chance to run with that weight, even up the gallops! I confess, it is a tempting thought.

He is a nine-year-old though, and I’m just not 100% sure whether or not it would be a year too soon for him.

It may be that we go to Uttoxeter for Saturday’s Midlands National instead. We will make a decision by the middle of the week, but at this stage will just keep our options open.

In other Aintree news, I am trying to find a race for Gullinbursti. He missed a season with a tendon injury, but he is in great order again.

I want to run him in the Topham and I will be trying to look to win something with him, just so that he could guarantee getting in as I think it could be the perfect race for him.

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You must be 18+ in order to bet. Please gamble responsibly