Nakeeta gets up late for Ebor ecstasy
29th August 2017
Nakeeta had been labelled a bridesmaid by some as, although he won the Old Borough Cup at Haydock in 2015, he came up short several times in big handicaps last year - at Chester, Ascot, York and Leopardstown.
Often, however, it seemed to me like it was a matter of timing, rather than a bad attitude, which proved his downfall.
Members were, therefore, advised to make him their main bet for the Ebor at York last weekend - with him being backable as big as 16/1 first thing on Saturday morning......
"The Ebor is a tightly knit handicap these days as you needed a mark of 102 to get a run this year and there is only 8lb separating top and bottom weight. With that in mind, having a useful claiming apprentice on board could potentially be a big advantage.
Iain Jardine booked 7lb claimer Clifford Lee for Shrewd last year, who finished second to Heartbreak City, and I think it is interesting that he's booked another apprentice - Callum Rodriguez - this year for NAKEETA.
Rodriguez, who boasts a level stakes profit to SP (+£19), BSP (+£35) and has won 19 % more often than statistical expectations in 180 Flat races this season, has impressed me this season when riding Intense Romance as he was cool-as-a-cucumber that day he won at Newcastle. He also gave Foxy Boy a very good patient ride that day he won at cramped odds at Haydock.
I think he's worth his 5lb claim and his ability isn't yet fully being completely factored into his odds. The weight he takes off looks a massive plus for Nakeeta, who was a perennial hard luck story last season.
He was beaten by a short head in the Chester Cup and had a number of near misses, such as at this track and also Ascot.
Perhaps his most heartbreaking defeat, however, was that day at Leopardstown, in the November handicap when he kicked into the lead but was worn down by Golden Spear in the final strides (Magic Circle, who is 9/1 here after winning here on Wednesday, was back in third as it happens while the fifth, Snow Falcon, has also won in Ireland this week to serve us a reminder of the worth of that particular formline).
Jardine said he was being aimed at this race last year but he was rated around 97 at that time and unfortunately missed the cut. This time he has crept in at the bottom of the handicap though and, with his jockey's claim, he's effectively running off a mark of 98 here, which is 1lb lower than the mark off which he was narrowly beaten in the Irish November handicap.
I liked his performance here in Listed company off unfavourable terms behind Dal Harraild two runs back, demonstrating (again) his effectiveness at the track, while there was no shame in his last run at Newmarket, when he was keen early on but travelled right into contention before paying for those exertions late on.
The return to this flat track looks ideal for him in view of the fact his best performances have come at level tracks like York, Haydock, Chester and Leopardstown - they just seem to suit his style of running better than Newmarket.
On his second start since being gelded I also want a small bet on BATTERSEA. He held his own in some tough Meydan handicaps last year and, notably, was fourth in this race off a mark of 107 last season.
He's 2lb lower now, and with David Egan, another smart 5lb claimer, easing his mark further, he's effectively 7lb lower this year. We've a dry forecast at York today and drying ground is exactly what Roger Varian's six-year-old wants."