Rory Delargy - Ex Marks The Spot For Layers

9 min

Dee Ex Bee is the most likely winner of the Matchbook VIP Henry II on form, but his Sagaro success was his only win in Listed or Pattern company in a dozen attempts, and that should ring alarm bells for punters.

18:35 Matchbook Betting Podcast National Stakes

The National Stakes, being a listed contest for fast two-year-olds should have a history full of winning favourites, as the fastest horse really ought to win more often than not, but it turns out that judging juveniles by fast early efforts is not the licence to print money it might appear to be, and the last outright favourite to win this contest was Monsieur Chevalier a decade ago.

There is a red-hot favourite in this year’s contest in the shape of the Kingman colt Full Authority, and at first glance he is impossible to oppose, having won by six lengths on his debut at Chester without really coming off the bridle, and he’s again been handed an ideal draw in stall 1 (was drawn 2 at Chester where the one inside missed the kick), so he appears to tick all the boxes.

Full Authority won pulling up on his debut at Chester.

I’m a little sceptical for all I don’t want to make him a lay, as he could run below the Chester form and still win a weakfish renewal of this race, but he faces very different conditions, and wide-margin heavy ground winners are meant to be one of those “too-good-to-be-true” warnings that punters have hardwired into their brain.

Certainly, the after timers will be out in force if he loses to point out that Sandown and Chester are chalk and cheese, and so on.

I suspect he will be overbet as the alternative is a once-raced maiden winner from a yard which has had just one winner in May and will take a chance on JM Jackson from the Mark Johnston yard.

The selection was beaten on debut, but impressed in terms of her professionalism and physique, and is much more likely to improve from debut that most. She represents a yard with six individual juvenile winners on turf since the middle of last month, and if this is the best he has for a race of the prestige of the National Stakes, then she must be a lot better than she showed first time.

The In-form Mark Johnston saddles JM Jackson in The Matchbook Betting National Stakes.

That comment certainly applied to Sunday’s Ripo winner Misty Grey, who won by seven lengths at the Yorkshire track having run third on debut.

Johnston is teaming up with a jockey who has ridden more winners at Sandown in recent times than the others in this race put together, and while she’s drawn away from the rail, the way the jockeys will ride means that JM Jackson will have a clear run, with the other runners gravitating towards the rail, and she is the least likely to get involved in any scrimmaging that may occur.

Whether she’s good enough to bridge the form gap between herself and Full Authority is conjecture, but it would seem an odd choice to put her in a race of this nature if she wasn’t considered a pattern-class filly in the making, and the Hilary Needler Trophy at Beverley would be a more obvious shout, so it’s encouraging that she is thrown into this company.

19:05 Matchbook VIP Henry II Stakes

This race has lost much of its interest with the defection of last year’s winner Magic Circle, who would have been a lay on quicker ground.

As it stands, Dee Ex Bee is now a hot favourite in a race where Mark Johnston has three of the four likely players.

Dee Ex Bee is certainly the best of this field, but he was in receipt of 5lb from Raymond Tusk when winning Ascot’s Sagaro Stakes, and while that looked impressive, it can be argued that the runner-up, who was only third in the Aston Park Stakes at Newbury on Saturday, is the equal of the winner.

That’s a dangerous argument, as no horse is required to exert himself beyond what is necessary, and the idea that horses with plenty in hand of their rivals should automatically be winning by wide margins is unrealistic on the whole.

Dee Ex Bee is an odds on Favourite for the Matchbook VIP Henry II Stakes

Nonetheless, Dee Ex Bee’s chance at Ascot was blindingly obvious, and this is only a weaker affair if you believe that his trainer will try to ensure victory for one of his horses over the others, which strikes me as misunderstanding the modus operandi of Mark Johnston pretty radically.

He is the most likely winner on form, but his Sagaro success was his only win in Listed or Pattern company in a dozen attempts, and that should ring alarm bells.

Yes, he faced very stiff tasks at times last year, but he was one of the very best of his generation, so to go through his entire campaign without a win was a disappointment, and he has racked up a large number of defeats at short odds – eight of them now at 4.5 or shorter (including PMU odds) to think that opposing him in the win market remains a justifiable approach.

Recommended Bets

  • 18:35 – Back JM Jackson to win @ 10.0 or bigger for 5pts
  • 19:05 – Lay Dee Ex Be @ 1.9 or shorter to win 20pts [max liability 18pts]