Haija is yet another of those urgent John Gosden missions in an intriguing five-runner Fillies’ Novice Stakes over ten furlongs of ‘good to firm’ Beverley today; defeat would see our champion trainer scratching his head in bemusement but this superbly-bred Shalaa filly out of a Galileo mare, has already failed three times.
Vexing to say the least and how the official BHA handicapper has arrived at a 79 rating is completely beyond the comprehension of this dedicated time-handicapper.
Often ‘Big John’ drops failures into handicaps but Haija would struggle in such a sphere, the reason why she lines up under talented female jockey, Georgia Cox, at the popular right-handicap Humberside venue in a class 5 race.
My interest is aroused by the last time effort of Haija because she achieved a ‘career-best’ mark despite finishing sixth (of 9!) over the Newmarket Rowley Mile under Rav Havlin, now absent due to incurring a three-weeks suspension last month. The actual time-figure is much better than any posted by thrice-raced, Roger Varian-trained Ms Ghandi, coming back from a 157 days absence; a more serious rival could be Riches And Rubies from the Malton yard of Richard ‘winning machine’ Fahey.
Riches And Rubies shaped well on debut over seven furlongs at Doncaster nine months ago when given a ‘quiet’ ride but would Fahey really want her finishing close to Haija and Ms Ghandi (77) knowing how the handicap system works?
As an ex-owner I’m certain of the answer and reckon Haija has an outstanding opportunity of gaining much-needed ‘winning brackets’ for stud purposes; don’t oppose.
An eight-race programme kicks off with two class 6 juvenile races but both are bereft of any useful form which is why focus is switched to the Kempton jumping fixture and in particular Will Carver, one of two Nicky Henderson representatives in a Maiden Hurdle over an extended two and a half miles of ‘good’ ground, which has been watered!
Given showers are forecast that initiative might prove unwise but on similar surfaces Will Carver has twice hit marks way superior to five rivals and, significantly, is choice of Nico de Boinville.
Earlier 122-rated Bombyx is worth chancing in a Novices’ Hurdle over two miles with Lucy Wadham claiming 10lbs allowance of her conditional jockey Corey McGivern which should weigh heavily against eleven others; outclassed in a grade one at Aintree last month when wisely pulled up when continuing would have been pointless.
Not an easy day but I’m looking forward to May, with relish!
Footnote to MUTASAABEQ in the 2000 Guineas.
On reflection, and monitoring his every stride, I’m certain inexperience was a vital factor and the ‘Jersey’ over seven furlongs at Royal Ascot would be ideal; whether or not the racing family Hills agrees is another matter. he’ll be alright, of that I’m certain.
Selections, Kempton, 1.15 Bombyx (e.w); 4.25 Will Carver; Beverley, 4.41 Haija.
Jeffrey Ross, horse-racing correspondent for WMN since 1983 when winning the most prestigious racing journalist award, Sporting Life Naps Table, before winning it a record number of six times collectively in the Racing Post, the current ‘trade’ paper, including 2019