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Tony's Trends - Will You Taste Success in The Moet & Chandon Stakes? - Ascot, Saturday 23 July 2022

Publish Date: 22/07/2022
Fact checked by: James Leeland

It is not often that you will hear me complain about having no luck in running, as it is often part and parcel of big Handicaps. However, when it comes to last week's Super Sprint, it is absolutely justified. Dare To Hope had the right draw on the stands rail, but was slowly away. I watched in agony as three furlongs out he was going okay, but was then repeatedly short of room from two out.

Everything else was under a power drive and there he was swinging on the bridle and was all dressed up with nowhere to go. Sadly, our chance was long gone when he finally got a clear run inside the final furlong. He is certainly one to note from the race and to try next time.

I’m not going to blame the jockey, as he was slowly away and did not lay up early on. Irrespective of great odds and extra places, in races like these, traffic problems can (and do) ruin your chance. Maria Branwell was poor and while she got away well, she lacked the class to see it out and was beaten fair and square. In their weekend preview both Joe’s noted that the form of the run at Royal Ascot is not working out and having seen this race I’d fully agree.

The winner, Eddie’s Boy, had run up against some much better horses at Royal Ascot and the form of the Windsor Castle is looking particularly strong with the first four all coming out and winning since. He had 09-03 on his back and I discounted him due to weight, but this is where being part of a team is helpful.

Ginger Joe noted that maybe I should refine the Trends a little, to take account of changes that have taken place. For example, the racing authorities have banned the use of on-course saunas and have allowed 2lbs extra to all racing weights. So, this is something I will factor in going forward and I’ll raise the maximum weight accordingly.

The winner was drawn high (the last 12 winners all have been) and had run at Royal Ascot, but given the form lines between him and Rocket Rodney, I still can’t help feeling the slow start and traffic problems cost us our profit last week.

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Moet & Chandon International Stakes, Ascot 15.00

I need a bounce back week, but looking on the bright side, since we started the Trends, we are still over £100 ahead, based on a £1 EW stake on all selections. So again, we are looking at a big field, 22-runner Handicap to try and get a decent reward for Trends followers.

From what I can gather, The Moet & Chandon was first run in 1999, but had a different sponsor at its inception. It is run over the straight course at Ascot, but there are undulations, which not all horses take to. It also has an uphill finish, so form over greater distance is beneficial to ensure your selection sees out the trip.

Age

The previous 21 winners of the race have been aged three years (x 1, New Seeker in 2003), four years (x 13), five years (x 4), six years (x 2) or seven years (x 1, Raising Sand in 2019).

Both the three-year-old and the seven-year-old were well-fancied in the market, both being returned at around 7/1.

Weight

All previous winners carried between 07-12 and 09-07, before any weight allowance for their jockey was considered. Five of the 21 winners were steered by a Claimer, Joe Fanning was a 5lb Claimer in 2013 and a 3lb Claimer in 2014, when he steered Mark Johnston’s 33/1 shots Galician and Heavy Metal to victory.

Remember also, that due to a change in the on-track sauna rules, weights have risen by 2 lbs. So, going forward I will not eliminate a horse who is just 2lbs wrong, as the new rules may well impact future results.

Odds

Ten of the 21 previous winners were sent off at odds of 10/1, or less, which increases to 14s if we expand the range of SPs to 14/1, or less. We have seen shocks over the years with some winners at big odds: 33/1 (x 2, as mentioned, both trained by Mark Johnston) 40/1 (x 1) and 50/1 (x 1, Stamp Hill in 2017, who was the third winner supplied by trainer Richard Fahey).

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  • All previous winners were allotted a seasonal OR of at least 82, but not more than 105, since 2000.
  • All previous winners achieved an RPR of at least 84, but not more than 116. However, if we ignore runners not trained by Richard Fahey (who supplied both winners with an RPR of less than 100) then the range we are concentrating on is 100 to 116, or 84 to 116 for Richard Fahey runners.
  • The draw has not been conclusive in finding the winner of the race.
  • Only one winner has been off more than 38 days, Russian Revival in 1999, who was off 51 days prior to the race.
  • 20 out of 21 previous winners won over at least 7 Furlongs, the exception Crystal Castle in 2002, ran off a featherweight (which is no longer permitted).
  • Of the previous 21 winners, 16 ran at Royal Ascot. The remaining four ran in the Bunbury Cup.
  • Of those that ran at Royal Ascot
    • seven ran in the Royal Hunt Cup
    • five in the Buckingham Palace
    • one each in the Britannia, Jubilee Stakes, Wokingham and Silver Wokingham.
  • Nineteen of the 21 previous winners ran in a Class 2 Handicap in their prep run, with one in a Group 2 (Russian Revival in 1999) or a Class 3 Handicap at Newmarket (Third Set in 2007, but he had contested a Class 2 on the penultimate prep).

In short, the Trends indicate we are looking for a horse that either ran at Royal Ascot, or in the Bunbury Cup and is aged from four to six years.

Firstly, I’m going to discount any of those who did not run at either Royal Ascot, or in the Bunbury Cup:

  • King Zain
  • Air To Air
  • Lion Tower
  • Northern Express
  • Eagleway
  • Tammani
  • Orbaan
  • Raising Sand (a previous winner who is also too old)
  • Top Secret

I will now eliminate any remaining runner who has too much weight, taking the rule changes into account:

  • Accidental Agent (who is also too old)

Under the previous selection criteria Jumby would have been discounted, as he has 09-08, but the additional 2 lbs allotted to all runners keeps him in place at this point.

Next, I’ll dismiss any of the remaining runners who has not attained the required seasonal OR or RPR:

OR is slightly too high:

  • Jumby
  • Tactical

RPR is just too low:

  • Aratus
  • Star of Orion

Next, I’ll eliminate any of the remaining runners who has yet to win over at least 7 furlongs:

  • Asjad
  • Fresh

Finally, I’ll remove any of the remaining runners who is not aged between four and six years:

  • Bless Him
  • Documenting
  • Chief of Chiefs

That leaves us with just three qualifiers to take a closer look at and I will review them in race card order.

Rhoscolyn was a selection for the Bunbury Cup. However, he ran no race, slowing quickly and trailing in last. It is possible that the ground (which would have been the quickest he ever encountered) was too fast for his liking. I had mentioned that could be a worry, but felt he had performed well on Good To Firm going the time before.

On the plus side, the O’Meara yard are flying at the moment, so I have a decision to make - forgive that bad run, or let it make me look elsewhere. However, as he is the first runner I’m looking at, I’ll wait and see about the others first.

Dark Shift is another previous selection of mine, but he ran well, winning with some aplomb. He was able to come from off the pace to win over a mile in the Royal Hunt Cup. He has run at Ascot six times in total and was victorious four times, also finishing fourth in one of the other starts.

His only poor run was in the Victoria Cup (where we had the winning selection) but he was drawn low and faded late as those drawn high finished better. Charles Hills was on the ball and booked the services of William Buick early on to further instil confidence in this runner. His odds of 11/2 or 6/1 are not the most appealing, but with the best online bookmakers going six places on average, this looks like a no-brainer.

Lastly, we come to Ropey Guest, who managed to finish second in the Buckingham Palace and the Bunbury Cup. He also ran well to finish fifth in the Victoria Cup here and I can see him being difficult to kick out with the extra places on offer. However, we are looking for the winner, not a placer, so the question is, will he get the job done, or will he be found lacking late on again?

Now that I’ve looked at those three runners more closely, I have decided that I’m going to put Dark Shift up as the main selection. I believe that the draw will not be as critical, with just 22 runners lining up. If there were 29, which is the maximum allowed, I might be more concerned, but this concertinas the field a bit and I can see him coming home strongly from off a strong pace.

And now I need to pick one out of the last two. Will I overlook the last bad run from Rhoscolyn, or hope that Ropey Guest will not be the bridesmaid this time out?

Anyway, I’ve decided that I’m going to be forgiving and put Rhoscolyn up again. I simply cannot see his trainer running him here if he was not happy with how he is doing at home. In addition, the majority of the recent winners had more weight than Ropey Guest will carry, so while I can see him placing again, I think he may well find another too good for him once again. Let’s hope I’m not regretting my decision by 15:10 on Saturday!!

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