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Chris Dixon's Notes and Angles: Celestial Queen can shine again

By Chris Dixon@cdixon82
Tue 4 May 2021

Racing TV Trackers at the ready! Our form expert Chris Dixon is back with his latest column, highlighting his recent eye-catchers and formlines to follow.

For all I enjoy jumps racing, there’s no doubt that I prefer the Flat action so Guineas weekend and the first Classics of the season is always something to look forward to. I don’t think either Guineas was a vintage renewal but only time will tell, and how the form of this generation stacks up against their elders will become clear as the season progresses.

Click here to view previous editions of Chris Dixon's Notes And Angles.

After a disappointing show from all of his runners in the 2000 Guineas on Saturday, Aidan O’Brien took the fillies' Classic on Sunday for the fifth time in six years. It was the bigger priced of his duo that took the prize with ‘form horse’ Mother Earth seeing off her rivals including ‘talking horse’ stablemate Santa Barbara. The talk wasn’t too far wide of the mark, however, and I suspect we’re going to hear a lot more about the daughter of Camelot who ran an excellent race on just her second start and looks sure to improve for a step-up in trip. She is now 7-2 favourite for the Cazoo Oaks at Epsom and that is seemingly the most likely place for her to excel in the short term.

Jim Crowley reacts to an impressive performance from Mohaafeth in the Listed Betfair Newmarket Stakes

With Epsom in mind, there’s a fortnight of significant Derby and Oaks trials ahead so the picture will become much clearer very soon, but another horse who has thrust himself into the mix is Mohaafeth after he continued his progress with an impressive rout in the Listed Betfair Newmarket Stakes. He is now no bigger than 8-1 but victory at Epsom will require another big leap and it’s hard to get a strong gauge on the level of form achieved over the weekend given the small field and ease of victory. However, there’s no doubt that he’s a smart and exciting horse.

Small field sizes have been an issue at many meetings for a couple of weeks now and it blighted the action at Newmarket and several other tracks over the weekend. Ultimately the handicaps were significantly less interesting than they should be and often are at the corresponding meetings of previous years.

That said, Thirsk were rewarded for putting on excellent prize money for their feature Cliff Stud Thirsk Hunt Cup and if I had to follow the form of one handicap from the past week it would probably be that one as several of the field should be competitive in their future targets. Chief among them would have to be runner-up Nugget who was unfortunate not to win, while third-placed Astro King looks likely to improve on a stiffer track or over slightly further.

Chris Dixon thinks there are several to note from the Cliff Stud Thirsk Hunt Cup

At a lower level there were also plenty of horses to take note of for the weeks ahead so here’s the latest suggested additions for your racingtv.com tracker.

Horse: CELESTIAL QUEEN

Trainer: Karl Burke

Celestial Queen made a mockery of her lowly opening handicap mark at Redcar last week, running out an easy winner from another in-form and well-handicapped horse that had won previously.

She’s been hit with a 10lb rise by the handicapper, but she still appeals as ahead of her revised rating based on both the manner of this performance and her useful pedigree and looks the type to chalk up a sequence. That could start later this week as she holds a couple of entries under a penalty.

Horse: ELZAAL

Trainer: Paul Midgley

Elzaal has shaped with encouragement on both starts so far this season, including when chasing home improver Coley’s Koko (more of her later on) at Musselburgh last week.

A mark of 51 means he’s eligible for some weak races, and my impression is that he’s better than his basement rating. He’s related to a couple of horses that went very well on all-weather surfaces and he would be of particular interest given a chance on the sand, though he also remains of interest in basement handicaps on the grass.

Horse: WINK OF AN EYE

Trainer: William Haggas

Wink Of An Eye has been bumped up 5lb in the ratings for his second-place finish at Goodwood on Saturday, but his staying on effort from the back of the field in a race that wasn’t run at a strong tempo was worth marking up quite significantly. Too far back as the race progressed, he also had to wait for a chance to fully open up in the straight but kept on very well late on and finished with more to give.

A stronger pace or more positive ride would see him in a better light and I’m sure he’ll be placed to advantage by his excellent trainer in the next couple of months. He should be found at least one winning opportunity.

Horse: BIT OF A QUIRKE

Trainer: Mark Walford

Bit Of A Quirke did very well to get as close as he did having disputed a strong gallop at Beverley on Monday. He only gave way late to another course specialist who always runs well at this track when getting a strong pace to aim at, but the runner-up was nicely enough on top of the remainder that included a well-handicapped horse in third.

Attractively weighted on his old form, Bit Of A Quirke often finds a winning groove in late May or June so he is worth keeping an eye out for in the next couple of months, especially if he’s at Beverley in a race lacking the same pace pressure as he had here.

Sound Reason proves too good for his rivals at Beverley on Monday

Horse: SOUND REASON

Trainer: Kevin Ryan

Sound Reason improved on his Newcastle novice win to make a winning start to life in handicaps at Beverley on Monday and looks the type to stay ahead of his mark for a while longer.

Having shown bright pace from a wide draw, Kevin Stott kept his mount to the centre of the track as he rolled along easily up with the pace. Though his advantage was almost entirely eroded late on by the fast-finishing Mehmo, Sound Reason never really looked like he was in too much trouble. I got the impression he was idling quite badly through the final furlong, something his rider agreed with in his post-race interview, and as such he was probably value for a good bit more than the winning margin.

In winning by a head with the rest fairly well bunched behind, the handicapper isn’t going to be able to get carried away and I suspect he’ll remain ahead of his revised mark as a result.

Every excuse

Coley’s Koko seemed caught out by easing ground on a stiff track when a beaten favourite in fifth behind Sound Reason at Beverley on Monday and remains one to be interested in at sharper tracks in low-level handicaps.

Another horse who had his chances dashed by easing conditions was Edraak at Doncaster on Saturday. Overnight rain on top of irrigation applied to the track meant the surface was slower than the officially quick ground and it’s the third time that Edraak has disappointed when taking his chance under similar conditions. It’s a case of the faster the better for Mick Appleby’s charge and he remains with potential off his mark when getting rattling fast ground.

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