Weekend Review: Nice Bracelet
Our racing team reflect on the weekend's action and look forward to this weekend's Grand National meeting at Aintree.
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The Dubai World Cup meeting was a relatively disappointing one for the British and Irish contenders, but for two notable exceptions. Can either Certerach or Toast Of New York go on to make their mark in Europe this season? Is there anything else to take out of the meeting?
Ian Brindle: Well let me say it was great to see Mick Halford with a big race winner on the night. I've had the pleasure of interviewing him on a few occasions in the past and while it's often difficult for horses to translate their form from Dubai to Europe, he certainly saw out the two miles and it clearly opens a number of doors for him. Toast Of New York very much enjoyed the run of the race by sitting handy on the Tapeta but whether we'll see much of him over here is somewhat doubtful as I'm sure connections will be seduced by the chance of running at the Triple Crown in the States and having claimed a bounty of over £720,000 on Saturday you couldn't blame them. Shea Shea was obviously a disappointment in the sprint but I wouldn't be writing him off anytime soon.
Michael Shinners: Both European winners did wonderfully well to win, although that was their "Cup Final" and I'm not sure if they will translate the form over in Europe. I was hugely impressed by Just A Way in the Dubai Duty Free and he would be fascinating especially if connections could find some more stamina for a tilt at the Arc.
Matt Brocklebank: Toast Of New York secured a handy position throughout the early stages of the race, relished the step up to 10 furlongs and, perhaps more importantly, handled the Tapeta surface better than most. Looking back at his juvenile form shows it was by no means a fluke as he scored twice at Wolverhampton with an aggregate winning distance of 28 lengths towards the back end of the season but I'd be happy to hang fire on Epsom bets. The demands of the Derby will be far removed from what he experienced in the Emirates and, like Ian states, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Toast Of New York primarily campaigned overseas. Jamie Spencer clearly gets on very well with Certerach, having gone very close on the gelding at last year's Carnival, and the six-year-old is totally unexposed as a two-miler. The staying division isn't the strongest by any means and Mick Halford has a very useful performance on his hands. My horse to follow from Meydan is Balmont Mast, who was disappointing at the weekend but ran some promising races earlier in the year. He's a Pattern sprinter to follow this year, perhaps just below the top level.
Will Hayler: I imagine Jamie Spencer will be doing his best to persuade his Qatari bosses to at least take an investment in Toast Of New York. Whether he ends up at Churchill Downs or Epsom Downs remains to be seen, but I'd guess he's more likely to get the sort of conditions he appreciates in Kentucky. Call me an old cynic, but I'd take Certerach's winning form with a pinch or eight of salt. Hopefully my negativity won't worry connections too much as they count their lovely and well-earned winnings from the weekend.
The Flat turf season got off to a flyer at Doncaster and Leopardstown and there's now a new favourite for the Investec Oaks in Bracelet. Did she impress you and what else caught the eye?
WH: I wouldn't dream of having a bet in the Oaks on the basis of winning a race in March when most fillies would be barely revved-up. As for eyecatchers, Cape Caster (second in the mile-and-a-quarter maiden at Doncaster) is going to make a nice handicapper over staying trips.
MS: I don't think you could fail to be impressed by her performance. As a daughter of Montjeu a step up in trip would be very much in her favour and I think she could be a major player.
IB: Visually she did impress me although by the same token, you'd have to say that the second wasn't exactly knocked about. It's interesting that Aidan O'Brien thinks she might struggle to get the Oaks trip but the bookies all love to trim an O'Brien hotpot that puts up a decent run and I fear that its very much the case here. I put Ebanoran in my notebook following his staying-on third in the 2,000 Guineas trial while at Doncaster, you'd have to think Tullius can start justifying some of the lofty words said about him if his performance in the Lincoln is any guide. A Listed contest should be well within his compass.
MB: Bracelet has a very typical O'Brien profile as she improved enormously on her debut effort last term to win a Leopardstown maiden in good style. Sunday's reappearance was her first start since June, so she can be expected to step forward again physically, and there's no doubt she beat the right horse in Dermot Weld's heavily-backed Balansiya. The future's bright for Bracelet but I'm not yet convinced she'll be the Ballydoyle first-string come Oaks day as I'm especially keen to see Tapestry back on the track. Jack Dexter ran like the race was badly needed when third in the Cammidge at Doncaster and I'll be with him wherever he goes next time providing there's enough juice in the ground.
There's still plenty of good jumping action to enjoy and Un De Sceaux was in action in France on Saturday. Did he do anything to enhance his Champion Hurdle claims at Auteuil?
MS: I don't think we learned a great deal from his victory. He wasn't as impressive as I thought he would be and judging by next year's ante-post market on the race he would need to improve.
MB: I'm starting to become a real believer regarding this horse as while most of his previous victories were achieved in facile fashion in soft races, Saturday's performance showed us Un De Sceaux can also be tenacious when he has to be. The fact he was winning over two and a half miles for the first time also augers well for the future and I'm really looking forward to him next season, with stablemate Hurricane Fly possibly something of a waning star.
WH: It was a brave ride by Geraghty to be as positive against some smart natives and I was quite impressed - more so than I have been by some of his Irish efforts.
IB: Well he beat a French Champion Hurdle winner on Saturday didn't he? I'm neither hot or cold about him at present. He remains very much a horse of outstanding potential but I won't be rowing in until I have the evidence of seeing him against the Irish top-notchers.
Warren Greatrex was reportedly incandescent with rage after Dolatulo lost the race in the stewards' room at Stratford on Saturday and could be set to appeal. Did they make the right decision?
IB: In one way it's good to see that the stewards have remembered their right to disqualify horses although contrary to some of the opinions I heard about the two "big" decisions at Cheltenham, I actually thought that they got those right. Yet on this race, I simply cannot agree with the decision that was made. In my opinion, Gavin Sheehan had every right to take the line he did so why should he feel the need to get out of the way for something behind him? Sam Twiston-Davies had every chance to go to the left of Dolatulo but it was his choice not to and regrettably paid the penalty. I'm all for stewards remedying cases of interference but how could they be sure that the "winner" would have won anyhow?
MS: It was a really unfortunate incident and I think Greatrex is quite right to appeal. In the heat of the moment it's very difficult to make sharp manoeuvres, particularly so close to the line and I hope that the appeal changes the result back to its original positions.
MB: It's clearly a mess of a finish, with a loose horse also in the picture, but I'm not at all surprised to read of Warren Greatrex's anger. Dolatulo was edging across the track after the last fence but Gavin Sheehan had his whip in the correct hand and it looked to me like Sam Twiston-Davies noticed all too late that the gap between Dolatulo and the rail by the water jump was closing.
WH: It was a shockingly poor decision. I watched the race in the office and nearly choked on my Pot Noodle when the placings were reversed. On a personal note, it was good to see the horse I backed each-way in the race involved in the finish. Unfortunately, he'd got rid of Josh Moore on the first fence, but apart from that Fruity O'Rooney looked to be having a whale of a time - rarely do you see a loose horse swerve across the field simply in order to jump another fence rather than miss it out.
All the entries are in for the Grand National meeting at Aintree. Give me a winner please.
MB: I'm really looking forward to seeing Eduard in the Manifesto Novices' Chase. He's a real natural over fences and comes here fresher than most.
WH: The aptly-named Spirit of Shankly in the two-and-a-half-mile handicap hurdle on the Friday.
IB: I'll hope that Oscar Whisky can redeem himself at a track that he clearly loves but by the same token, the heart is telling me that Shakalakaboomboom can justify the decision to keep him in training by running into the frame in the big one on Saturday.
MS: I'm really keen on Pineau De Re for the good doctor. He ran a cracker in the Pertemps Final behind Fingal Bay and Southfield Theatre and has been given the perfect National preparation. His profile suggests he's set to run a huge race