Chris Dixon's Notes And Angles: Surefire a handicapper going places

By Chris Dixon@cdixon82
Tue 8 Jun 2021

Click here to read previous editions of Chris Dixon's Notes And Angles column

The Cazoo Derby Festival wasn’t short of tremendous performances, exciting finishes and brilliant stories so it was impossible to not enjoy the action on Racing TV across the two days.

The Classics definitely delivered the two highlights with Snowfall delivering a record-winning margin in the Cazoo Oaks, and Adayar giving Adam Kirby, who’d had a tumultuous week, with a richly deserved Cazoo Derby win.

In the race itself, there was a lot to take from the Derby and, although I won’t go through everything now, I think Adayar was a good winner who will benefit from an even greater test of stamina.

How good was Adayar's victory in the Cazoo Derby? Angus McNae takes an in-depth look in The Verdict

His stablemate Hurricane Lane also looks a staying type who will benefit from further plus a more conventional track, and both will have a strong hand in the St Leger should they turn up in the Doncaster showpiece.

Bolshoi Ballet failed to give his running, but I’m sure he’ll prove himself a Group One horse at some point, so I won’t be dismissing him quickly in the future, while the flash of talent displayed by John Leeper suggests he’s also better than he showed and can get back on track, perhaps if dropped in trip to 10f.

Those points just scratch the surface and there’s much more analysis, including the thoughts of James Willoughby for you to unearth of on, so I’ll move on to picking out a few horses from elsewhere in the past week that are worth adding to your tracker.


Trainer: William Haggas.

Dhushan looked like he’d been let in lightly prior to his handicap debut at Musselburgh on Saturday and duly made light work of his opening mark with a tidy length-and-three-quarter victory.

It was hardly a deep race that he won, as was the case with his previous win at Haydock, but he’s taken both races with a bundle up his sleeve, quickening from the back in steadily run races on each occasion.

He clearly possesses a lot of tactical pace that he can utilise in messy races, but also gives the impression he's a horse that could be well-suited by a good handicap run at a more end-to-end tempo.

Galloping tracks where his patient style can be well executed are likely to see him to good effect and he appeals as the type of horse who can progress to be a force in top 3yo handicaps off his revised mark of 92, with something like the Melrose at York being the kind of race his trainer may have his eye on.


Trainer: Michael Bell.

Inveigle didn’t obviously fail for lack of stamina at Chelmsford when finishing a close third on Thursday but the way he travels suggests to me that he’s a horse that may be ideally suited by a well-run race over a slightly shorter trip.

A bit too keen through the early stages here, he was the last horse off the bridle but had to steadily switch to the outside to get a clear run and couldn’t quite pick up well enough once in the clear.

This was a competitive enough race despite the small field and I suspect Inveigle will prove himself a well-handicapped horse at some point this campaign.


Trainer: Chris Fairhurst.

The Armed Man is a pretty exposed horse but he’s on a good mark at the moment and recent efforts suggest he can hit the target fairly soon.

Close to the pace in a race that was strongly run and suited the closers at Thirsk on Thursday evening, he fared best of those that were ridden prominently, only giving way inside the final furlong, and is well worth making up above the bare form.

I’d struggle to nail my colours to the mast for him in any given race but he’s well worth a look in a similar race at a track that suits prominent racers, especially if the race doesn’t feature loads of front runners plus others who race prominently.


Trainer: Ralph Beckett.

Though there were only seven runners, there appeared to be a bit of depth to the 1m2f 3yo handicap at Leicester on Monday and I was really impressed by the manner in which Surefire disposed of his rivals.

Settled in midfield, he had to be woken up a bit earlier than some but his response to fairly light pressure was emphatic, and he powered away from the field inside the final couple of furlongs to win going away.

He looked a real stayer and given his pedigree is also stamina-laden, he should be the type to improve plenty as he tackles middle-distances in the near future and is a nice prospect for good 3yo handicaps for the remainder of the season.

Every excuse

Irish Admiral was sent off a warm favourite for the extended 1m handicap at Epsom on Friday but failed to give his running on rain-softened ground at a track that takes a bit of handling.

Either of those factors could’ve been responsible for him not showing his best form, while it may well have been something completely different, but whatever the reason, I suspect he’s much better than he showed.

With his profile positive prior to that, I’d be a bit surprised if he doesn’t bounce back soon.

Can Can Girl doesn’t have anywhere near the same level of ability but she does have more talent than her current mark of 67 and seemed unsuited by the test of speed in a steadily run 12f handicap at Thirsk last week.

She lacks tactical pace at this trip but is an honest filly who will improve when upped in trip or getting a more evenly-run race over this distance.

Hot Form

If anyone was watching the Racing TV coverage of Thirsk last week they would probably have noted my disappointment as the slow-mo shot across the line showed Twin Appeal had just been collared in the mile handicap.

A well-handicapped horse who’d been shaping as if back in form of late, he didn’t quite manage to collect and his rider dropping her whip may have made a difference with the margins so tight, but his connections will still be delighted with this run in what is probably a fairly warm race for the grade.

The winner, Makeen, was completely unexposed and made a winning handicap debut for his new stable, he’s by Dubawi and has a pedigree to suggest he could be a fair bit better than his mark.

Third home Delgrey Boy had been in form and fared best of those up with the pace, while in fourth, the well-treated mare Kylie Rules got no run through and is ready to strike soon.

Of all the horses in the race, she’d be the one to add to your tracker but I suspect a few of these aren’t far away from having their turn in a similar grade.

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