Now the Punchestown Festival has finished, Irish racing focuses its full attention on the flat season and Tote are delighted to be able to bring you a unique insight into two of Ireland’s fastest rising trainers. First up is Johnny Levins, who has made a great start to the flat turf season with three winners on the board already.
I was delighted to be asked to do a blog for Tote Ireland every week. This blog will aim to give its readers an insight into the activities surrounding the running of a flat yard based on the Curragh. I will also be reviewing the weeks action and previewing the weekend racing. I will try and make this blog as informative as I can and let’s just hope we can select a few winners along the way!
We started this week with two runners at the Curragh on Monday. My first runner was for the Oi Oi Skipper syndicate competently run by Johnny Ward. I knew my fate very early as he was slow to break and was very slow into stride. He is not a genuine five furlong horse and will not get away with being sleepy at the start as the five furlong horses jump and are into their stride straight away. He stayed on well in the last furlong to run a respectable race all things considered and won’t be too long before he gets his head in front. He is a horse that I believe is very capable of winning a nice handicap, he has slipped right down the weights and is on a dangerous mark.
Next up was the Seamus Mannion owned Touch Of Frost. It was his first run of the season and had shown some smart form as a two-year-old early last year. He was plagued with sore shins in the second half of the season so I decided to geld him and give him a long break over the winter to mature.
He broke very smart and travelled very strongly right up until the two furlong pole where he appeared to take his blow and once he filled his lungs he stayed on again inside the last furlong to finished a credible 8th. I would expect him to come on from this run as all mine normally need their first run after a break!
After racing I worked four two-year-olds over four furlongs. Ana O Brien done the pace in front on Brokopondo. Ana is an incredible judge of pace and I was keen to secure her for this role as it is very important for the two-year-olds to enjoy their first encounter of a racecourse. I use a GPS system on my horses in their work and record all the data. It was a building pace from the four furlong pole and their times per furlong where 14s 13s 12s 11s. Chris Hayes rode a Colt by Zebedee, Donagh O Connor rode a Colt by Kodiac, Shane Foley rode a Colt by Cassemento and Ronnie Whealan rode a Colt by Approve. All horses enjoyed the experience and came out of it very well, I will look to do it again in a couple of weeks and hopefully they should be ready for their first outing.
Newmarket hosted the Guineas last weekend and as always with the Classics it produced excitements and disappointments. Take nothing away from the winner as we all know winning a Classic takes a very good horse to do it but I am going to question the strength of this year’s 2000 Guineas. The second only had three runs as a two year old and was easily brushed aside by then an in form Air Force Blue in the Dewhurst. Massaat posted a RPR of 89 when winning a Leicester maiden beating Arab Poet who now has a rating of 85 and the third placed 50/1 shot is now rated just 73. Kentuckyconnection at 100/1 and a rating of 90 ran way above his odds in finishing 5th, but if his rating is to be taken seriously then he simply should not have finished 5th. The two marked principles threw in shockers and there has to be more to it than simply not staying. Air Force Blue, wearing a tongue tie and a cross noseband, may have some problems and dropping him back in trip may not put him under as much pressure and we may see the brilliance he showed as a two-year-old.
The disappointment of Air Force Blue was quickly forgotten by connection (for the day at least) as we witnessed once again the brilliance Minding showed as a two-year-old to produce a statement like performance in trouncing a high class field of fillies. A performance that bookies install her as a 2/1 shot for the Derby, now that’s a compliment, but I wouldn’t dream of running her in the Derby as she could be a penalty kick in the Oaks and possibly remain unbeaten for the rest of the season.
Naas runners this week will be reviewed on Wednesday on our Facebook page J.F.Levins Racing
You can read more from Johnny on the Tote Ireland Blog every Friday for the duration of the flat season.