Tote Inside Track – Darren Bunyan – 20th May 2016


Hope you’ve all been enjoying the racing this week and we certainly have a fantastic weekend in store, particularly on the home front with the Guineas Festival at the Curragh shaping up to be one of the best weekends of racing we’ve seen for some time.

As per my update last week, we were expecting this week to be relatively quiet for us on the racing front ahead of having runners at the Guineas meeting. But it’s been a very busy week nonetheless. The horses we currently have in training all took positive steps forward this week in terms of fitness and general well-being. In addition, those horses we put out to grass for a break last week have really settled into their new surroundings and are thriving. I’ve put them out in pairs and they all seem to have buddied up well. I’m looking forward to bringing them back into training in about 6 weeks or thereabouts. By then I think they will have strengthened up nicely and we’ll have an interesting few months with them towards the end of the season. In particular I’m very taken by a 2yo filly by Cape Cross, and a 2yo filly by Helmet. They are classy fillies and have really impressed me in everything they’ve done up to this point. Now they just need that little bit of time to strengthen up before we take them to the next level.

Grey Danube after winning at Dundalk 11th December 2015. Photo: Patrick McCann

This week we also sent Grey Danube on his summer holidays. He’s a real character and been a wonderful servant to the yard winning 7 times. As our Mother jokes, he “put the turkey on the table” again last Christmas winning just before Christmas at Dundalk as he did the previous year. He had a few issues subsequently but I’m expecting him to bounce back later this year when we undertake another winter all weather campaign with him. With a bit of luck we’ll still hopefully have many good days ahead with him.

The horse which jumped out most to me in the past week was undoubtedly The Gurkha in his demolition of the French 2000 Guineas field. He looks like a horse to follow wherever he turns up.

Mister Trader winning his maiden at the Curragh. 20th March 2016. Photo: Patrick McCann

I’m very much looking forward to this weekend’s racing at the Curragh. Our primary interest will be in the Marble Hill Stakes (Listed) on Saturday, the first black type race for 2yo’s this season. I’ve declared Mister Trader and Hit The Bid and although it’s a quality race which is bound to be difficult to win I feel our two are very good horses and will be competitive. On Timeform ratings Mister Trader is the 2nd highest rated horse in the field (behind Caravaggio). Mister Trader was particularly impressive on his debut winning the season opener at the Curragh by 4 1/4 lengths. He’s a much better horse now than he was then and so he goes there with a very good chance. Hit The Bid is another horse of real quality and, as I forecast in the first week of this blog, has benefited significantly from the experience of his first run. He wouldn’t want to ground to get too soft. Both of ours are owned by the Straight to Victory Syndicate, for which we’ve already had two 2yo winners. They are a great bunch of lads who have been particularly supportive of our yard and I’d love to see them win a race like the Marble Hill.

The two days of racing at the Curragh this weekend look exceptional. There’s quality everywhere you look. Both the 1000 and 2000 Guineas fields look very strong and Tattersalls Gold Cup is as good a race as we’ve seen anywhere this season. Earlier this week the course was good to firm but with the forecast indicating the potential for significant rain it’s worth keeping an eye on any going changes before finalising selections. If the forecast rain arrives the ground could be yielding or softer during the weekend. While some horses can go on any ground, the majority tend to have specific ground conditions on which they are most effective. If you look at the previous form of horses you’ll generally be able to figure out the trend there yourself in terms of the types of ground they prefer. When horses have similar levels of ability the deciding factor on a given day can often be which one has their favoured ground conditions.

Stateside the weather could also be a factor in the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes, at Pimlico on Saturday night. While Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist is a deserving favourite, if the forecast rains result in a sloppy track it might give Exaggerator a chance of reversing Kentucky Derby placings. It’s another race in which it could pay to wait and see what the ground is like before finalising betting plans.  Best of luck!

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