Things We Learned » Clarach call

Clarach call

It isn’t too early to start drawing up your shortlist of horses for the Galway Festival, and Clarach should be on it now after winning at Limerick on Sunday.

Trainer Tony Mullins has apparently had the 2012 Galway Hurdle on Clarach’s radar ever since she won a handicap hurdle over the Hurdle’s course and distance at last year’s Festival, and the whole plan came sharply into focus at Limerick.  She travelled really well through that race, and eased to the front at the final flight before going on to post a comfortable success.

That was a decent race, with the talented duo Pires and Satu chasing the mare home, Pires ridden by Ruby Walsh, whose record on Tony Martin’s horse, significantly, read 2122 going into the race.  And Clarach isn’t just a bridle mare either, she probably would have found more if she had come under pressure, as she proved when she stayed on well up the hill to win at Galway last year, and when she won over two and a half miles at Sligo in May.

The handicapper has raised the Beneficial mare 8lb to a mark of 130 for Sunday’s win, that is 13lb higher than the mark off which she won that handicap hurdle at Sligo, but this performance was deserving of that type of hike.  Furthermore, it is probable that Mullins wanted her to get at least a couple of pounds for that performance in order to ensure that she got into the Galway Hurdle, and a rating of 130 should see her get into the race in the low 10sts, which is just about perfect.

It is a while since a mare won the Galway Hurdle, but there were four winning mares in seven years during the 1990s.  Clarach is a strong traveller, she goes well on good ground, she jumps these Easyfix hurdles well, she is proven at the track and at this time of year, she can travel well behind a fast pace, she has been trained for the race and she is progressive.  What’s not to like?

Marnane magic

When David Marnane loads one up onto a boat or a plane, you should probably sit up and take note.

The Bansha trainer has sent just 25 runners to Britain since 2009, and he has come away with five prizes, most of them big ones.  He won the Portland Handicap at Doncaster in 2009 with 14/1 shot Santo Padre, who also went close in a listed race at Haydock in May last year.  He also won the Portland last September with another 14/1 shot, South African import Nocturnal Affair, who went on to win a listed race at Dundalk and another big handicap at Meydan last February.

Marnane also sent Dandy Boy to Britain to win the 2010 Victoria Cup (at 16/1) and the 2012 Wokingham (at 33/1), when the son of Danetime clocked a faster time than the time that (22 for 22) Black Caviar clocked in winning the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes over the same course and distance 40 minutes earlier.  The trainer’s fifth winner in Britain since 2009 was Partner, who won a handicap at Lingfield in November 2009 at 4/1.

If you had bet €1 on all of Marnane’s 25 runners in Britain since 2009, even at SP, you would be showing a net profit of a remarkable €61.  Today, the trainer runs Jamesie in the Bunbury Cup and (the aforementioned) Dandy Boy in the July Cup at Newmarket.  It’s about 164/1 the double.

King George caution

Nathaniel will have to be as tough as they make them if he is to recover from the lung-bursting effort that he put up to win the Coral-Eclipse on his seasonal debut last Saturday and run for his life again in the King George next Saturday, but it might be wrong to assume that St Nicholas Abbey is the automatic beneficiary if Nathaniel falls short.

Ascot is, of course, a right-handed track, and St Nic’s record going that way around reads 133352, his sole victory going clockwise registered in the Beresford Stakes as a juvenile at odds of 2/5, and two of his defeats coming when he was sent off at long odds-on.  By contrast, his record at left-handed tracks reads 11121, with four of his five runs being at Group 1 level and his only defeat coming at the hands of the top class Cirrus Des Aigles, when he went down by a fast-diminishing neck in the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan last March.

Of course, there may have been other factors at play, there is no obvious visual reason why he should be better going left-handed than going right-handed, but this is too much of a coincidence to not take into account when weighing up the Ballydoyle colt’s King George claims.

From Newcastle to Newbury (not Newmarket)

It is probably pushing it a little to think that Maarek could have won today’s Darley July Cup, but if the rains continued to fall at Newmarket last night, David Nagle could be forgiven for thinking what if.

The son of Pivotal admittedly has 12lb to find on official ratings with the top-rated horses in the Group 1 contest, but he is rated the equal of Sirius Prospect, and Dean Ivory’s gelding is only a 14/1 shot. As well as that, the more it rains, the better Maarek likes it, and he proved that his trainer has him in the form of his life when he landed a Group 3 contest at Newcastle two weeks ago on heavy ground.

At the very least, he wouldn’t have been out of place in the July Cup line-up and, if the ground happened to come up heavy today, he would have had a real shot. He will just have to go and win the Hackwood Stakes at Newbury now instead.

Eyes peeled

You will need about four televisions if you are watching racing from your sitting room today.  Within the space of one hour and 40 minutes this afternoon we will have the Group 2 Superlative Stakes, the Bunbury Cup and the July Cup from Newmarket, the John Smith’s Cup, a listed handicap and a listed sprint from York, a listed seven-furlong race from Chester, the Group 3 Hackwood Stakes and the Weatherbys Super Sprint from Newbury, as well as a listed juveniles’ race from Tipperary. Then you can sit back and relax before the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp this evening.  Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing.

Hope the kids don’t want to watch Phineas and Ferb.

© The Irish Field, 14th July 2012