The Future Feature - Salisbury on Thursday
In what hopefully will become a regular feature, I, Ross Brierley, presenter/pundit/producer/jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none, will be previewing the feature race of the following day in some fine detail in the hope of pinpointing a bit of value and maybe a winner or three. And so, onwards and upwards, hopefully to riches and beyond.
After the relative ignominy of Wednesday’s racing action, Thursday picks up the pace with a lovely little card at Salisbury. The feature race by a country mile is the Listed European Breeders’ Fund Dick Poole Fillies Stakes over six furlongs, a race with a reasonably illustrious history over the past few years. It has been won by subsequent Group 1 winners Crimplene and Serious Attitude, Group 1 placed Suez and Tempting Fate and Group 2 winner Tashawak, so it usually takes a good filly to lift this and this year’s renewal has attracted a pretty classy field of two year olds.
The standard is set by the 100 rated Shamandar whose rating comes from a narrow defeat by Monsiuer Chevalier in a decent sales race and another half a length reversal behind Sand Vixen in a Listed contest last time out. Some observers would even go as far as to say that the filly may well have won had Ms Milczarek been slightly more pro active on board, and it’s interesting to see that Michael Hills now takes the ride. She must be respected but it’s arguable as to how much improvement is actually left in there, and the standard set is hardly insurmountable.
Henry Cecil is well known for his magic touch with a talented filly and Walk on Water is certainly that. She won a competitive Ascot maiden first time out before absolutely bolting in at Chester last time out. Despite the impressive nature of her victory, it’s questionable as to exactly what she beat with a 74 rated handicapper in behind. She clearly has scope for progression, but she will need to improve a few pounds if she’s to take this.
Both Jira and She’s a Character would have claims on their recent runs in competitive Group races. The former has already won at this level, and the penalty that she is saddled with here is enough to temper enthusiasm in a much stronger contest than the one she claimed at Newmarket. The latter is interesting on her eye catching performance at Royal Ascot but she was firmly put in her place at Goodwood (a track which probably didn’t play to her strengths) and the way Richard Fahey’s two year old fillies have been performing recently suggests they are often very fit and ready first time out and progress little for their initial experience.
The most striking performance in the field, however, was that of CONNIPTION on debut at Newbury. The form may be crabbed by some, given the rain that poured that day, turning the ground soft, but you couldn’t fail to be impressed by the manner of her victory as she powered away from a decent field in fine style, winning by over four lengths in the process and recording a startling speed figure. It’s a well held belief that Brian Meehan’s horses improve for their debut outing, so for her to inflict such a demolition job first time out takes some serious natural talent. The form has worked out, with several next time out winners coming from down the field, and as long as the ground isn’t too fast, she should take all the beating.
Elsewhere on the Salisbury card, the closing race, a Conditions Stakes over 14 furlongs, has attracted a small but quality field. It’s hard to rule out any of the runners, but THE BETCHWORTH KID endured a nightmare passage in the Ebor last time out and might even have won given the gaps. He’s a classy stayer on his day and if the word firm stays out of the going description, he could put up a bold show against some unexposed types.