In his debut blog, Matchbook Ambassador Hugo Palmer runs the rule over two of his chances at York this week.
I am delighted to be joining Matchbook as an ambassador. I am looking forward to providing readers with regular thoughts and updates on our team.
This is my first Matchbook missive, and it is appropriate that it is in advance of Mootasadir’s bid to land the Matchbook Yorkshire Cup at York on Friday. This has been the plan for Mootasadir for quite some time. We did have him entered in the John Porter Stakes at Newbury last month when we took him out because of the easy ground, but this has been his target for a little while.
Mootasadir is a talented horse, and we are very happy with him.
He is six for six on all-weather, he is rated 112 on all-weather and, up there with Matterhorn, he has claims to be the best all-weather horse in the country at present.
That said, he is by Dansili, out of the Galileo mare Mahbooba, and there is no reason to believe that he can’t be as good on turf. Mahbooba won the UAE 1000 Guineas on Tapeta all right at Meydan, but she also won a listed race at Newmarket and she won on turf at Meydan. Indeed, probably the best performance of her career was on turf at Meydan when she won the Group 2 Balanchine Stakes easily.
Mootasadir has run on turf just twice, and there were excuses both times. The first time was in a handicap at Doncaster last June, when the heavens opened and the ground turned soft. He just didn’t handle the ground.
The second time was at Newmarket last August, which, in hindsight, was a mistake, as he just didn’t handle the ridges on fast ground. Some horses can handle fast ground on flat tracks, which is why some horses who need cut in the ground in Britain can handle faster ground in America. Their tracks are flat there. But here, when you hit the undulations on fast ground, some horses just can’t operate, and that’s what happened to Mootasadir at Newmarket. Frankie Dettori rode him that day, and he more or less pulled him up.
Mootasadir has trained on turf plenty, and he moves like he should run well on turf.
I realise that we have a stiff task on Friday, taking on Stradivarius and company.
Even if we can match our all-weather rating on turf, we still have lots to find with the top ones in the race. Stradivarius is rated 120, Ispolini is rated 116. We are way behind them on our turf rating of 104.
But our all-weather rating of 112 brings us closer, and I am hoping that we can improve on that. Mootasadir is a lightly-raced horse who has the potential to improve now that he is stepping up in distance. It’s possible. He is a big, strong, staying type of horse who moves like he will stay.
Looking further ahead, our dream would be to go to the Melbourne Cup with him.
In order to qualify, he has to either win a listed race or be placed in a Group race over further than one mile and three and a half furlongs. If he were to finish even placed in Friday’s race, that would do that. Then it would be down to his handicap rating if he was rated highly enough to get into the race.
In the shorter term, the Northumberland Plate at Newcastle is on our radar. His all-weather rating of 112 would leave him with a big weight in a Northumberland Plate obviously, but it is possible to win that race under a big weight. Higher Power won it under 9st 9lb in 2017 and off a rating of 107. Tominator won it under 9st 10lb in 2013.
These big handicaps are getting tighter and tighter. You have to be rated highly just to get into a lot of them. We won the Stewards’ Cup last year with Gifted Master, who was rated 111 and who carried 9st 6lb, with Jason Watson taking 5lb off.
More immediately, however, the Matchbook Yorkshire Cup is obviously the big goal for Mootasadir. We’re hopeful that he can run well.
We also have Zofelle in the seven-furlong fillies’ handicap on Friday. She has been frustrating, but she is just coming to herself now.
She bolted up on her racecourse debut at Doncaster last July, but she had very sore shins after that, and she couldn’t run for the rest of the summer. By the time we had her back, the ground had gone, and she was well beaten in a listed race at Newbury in October.
She probably needed her first run this season at Newcastle, and nothing went right for her last time at Salisbury. She got knocked about all over the place and she just plugged on to finish sixth. She’s not a very big filly, but I think if she can enjoy a little more luck in-running, she could go well. She looked like a very exciting filly on her debut last year, so we’re hopeful.