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AUGUST 2019 HORSES TO FOLLOW
ASYLO      (Richard Newland)

7 year old bay gelding      (Flemensfirth – Escrea)      184/691/715P-242

The random numbers in Asylo’s form could easily have driven his connections to the asylum, and in his thirteen race career he has had only two owners but four different trainers. Sometimes the people who choose to train jumps horses are saner than they appear. A sense of stability has finally prevailed as since the change of owner saw him head for Dr Newland’s establishment as he has represented the yard in his last seven appearances. We have also hit the fortunate stage where the pattern in Asylo’s preferences is apparent. On easy courses his record reads 184171P (the first three were bumpers) and on other types of track he is 695242. There is one concern about such a transparent set of stats, which is that his last three runs, all on sharp tracks and including a sound chasing debut last time, have been lost by an average of fractionally over one length. It would not be unreasonable to assess that as evidence of Asylo’s trainer manipulating that bias out of the horse’s construction. The other angle is that had they on easy tracks, just perhaps he could have been three wins better off.

Hurdles or chases on an easy track

BANDON ROC      (Kim Bailey)

8 year bay gelding      (Shirocco – Azur)      7904/7111/P7P241/91P6-

Picking Bandon Roc here has an element of bandwagon jumping because the way that he gets his races selected suggests that connections are already sticking the conditions whenever possible. And when that happens the rule established back in the Stone Age of “can’t win them all” does apply. However, in choosing Bandon Roc for going right-handed, which he has done in twelve of eighteen runs, the inspiration is how poorly he runs when having the odd spin anti-clockwise. The one exception was an otherwise innocuous day at Wetherby in February 2018 when he finished a close second. Either the first time visor over-motivated him to a degree not possible to replicate (note that in first time cheekpieces at Chepstow on chase debut he jumped poorly and pulled up) or the oppo collectively did not fancy it on the day. Anyway, that was an anomaly and the record in handicaps on right-handed courses is now five wins from ten tries, which shows a hefty profit percentage. He has even won a chase after looking all at sea with the task initially - although four of his other seven were left-handed, he is P76 in supposedly more ideal conditions. Let us hope that Bandon Roc is taking flight in the main game.

Handicap hurdles or handicap chases on a right-handed track

Despite the attention of the people with him, Bandon Roc is up for a fight and anyone with a camera, however incompetent they may be with it, is fair game. He has a point...

KILCULLEN FLEM      (Philip Kirby)

9 year old chesnut gelding      (Flemensfirth – Cansalrun)      2/43415/6P7P144/1P134/P4P4P-

In a disappointing lack of humour it has not been possible to find a situation where the post-race info for Kilcullen Flem when the horse has lost states that the horse was coughing. These are the sort of coincidences that keep the world turning. The obvious quibble that people can have with his selection is that the most recent results glow bright green with mediocrity. However, since his most recent win he has only been in the preferred conditions once, a twelve lengths fourth at Hexham last March over four miles. One of the other losses was behind fellow August selection Zerachiel, so the risk is that if we are wrong on one, the chances increase of being wrong about both and this bunch of selections instantly collapse like a house of cards in a storm. The circumstances in which Kilcullen Flem excels is races with between five and eight runners. However, four runner races are also included because his two experiences of them are a short head loss in a bumper and third in a novice hurdle that he was not equipped to win at an early stage of his career. The hit rate is four out of eleven when no more than eight run (three of eight in handicaps) with a level stake profit of 8.875 points. The one concern is that now that he has graduated into very long chases, smallish fields will be hard to find as those types of races do tend to be underprovided and full of runners.

Hurdles or chases with up to eight runners

PIECEOFTHEACTION      (Chris Grant)

6 year old brown gelding      (Oscar – Homebird)      3/45285-

This horse was picked because everybody wants a Pieceoftheacttion and everybody needs a main attraction – which he may yet become. There is a lot more data on Pieceoftheaction than his Rules form and glam rock lyrics as he has been a pointing regular, mostly in Britain. The first shots were fired in Ireland at the end of 2017 when he was third on debut in a race that has produced hurdle winners, but he pulled up in the second try. That did not prevent a switch to Britain (maybe a pending sale caused the sedate effort?) where he won his first three, two of them easily, and was a fair third in attempt number four. Next stop was a bumper and Pieceoftheaction managed an unexceptional place. Instead of going hurdling, he slightly surprisingly had two more late year blasts at points, winning at Hexham and finishing second in the other. Then, finally, he was routed to jumping over things professionally, only to be underwhelmingly thrashed in his first two goes at it – both races being won by horses rated 130+ but being a bit lacking in depth. Real life came knocking with sweeter wares when he was runner-up at Hexham in a modest looking race, but he followed it by losing heavily twice more, including his handicap debut. All of this should be readying him for chases and the summer off ought to freshen him up. Connections have avoided tight courses so far under Rules but that could yet prove to be coincidental.

Handicap chases over 2m 6f or more

TELSON BARLEY      (Graeme McPherson)

6 year old bay gelding      (Scorpion – El Monica)      05/F053163-14

Long term readers of this site will have noticed that the emphasis is on interpreting what horses have actually done on a racecourse rather than what breeding says they ought to be doing. However, there are two exceptions to that principle that tend to be abided by – wariness of French-breds that were hitting peak standards at a young age when their age has crept into double figures and a suspicion that Scorpion’s offspring are prioritising the destruction of the human race. Unlike many of his ferociously anti-capitalist kin, Telson Barley has been in the money a couple of times relatively early in his career, a staying novice handicap hurdle at Musselburgh and an all horses staying handicap at Warwick. An interesting little wrinkle is that whilst his best runs have come on decent going, he has stayed at home during the summer and sought out the best of the main season weather – a bit of an irony given that barley tends to be a summer crop. Then again, anything in the subfamily Pooideae is really warning you that it may do something unpleasant. To get back to the horse, what we hope will be a very pleasant offering is Telson Barley living up to his potential in staying chases – despite the Poo and Scorpions.

Handicap chases over three miles plus, not on soft or heavy

ZERACHIEL     (Ian Williams)

9 year old bay gelding      (Winged Love – At Dawn)      462551/2P241/U2P8-

A very well named horse, as he is named after the archangel who presides over the sun (given the heat it sounds like a more hellish assignment) so all we need now is for Zerachiel to get his racing achievements to match up to the naming ones. As an Irish pointer Zerachiel gained three places before winning and as soon as he was in Britain and running under Rules, from which a couple of plods around in shorter hurdles had connections eyeing longer distances very quickly. His third, and so far final, hurdle run was a 2m 7f maiden at Bangor and with blinkers added – the outcome was a close second. Needless to say his agenda in chases has been staying events, and he has won two. The selection here is slightly speculative. The impression given is the Zerachiel is ready to shine in longer distances still, despite the scorecard over 3m 3f or more reading merely P241U2P8 – i.e. his last eight races. The subdued end to last season has left him on a functional rating and his efforts at about 3m 5f in early 2018 showed what Zerachiel is really made of.

Handicap chases over 3m 3f or more

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