This is Sam, filling in for Chris for the next week or so. The free feature of the day on Saturday is the Trainer/Jockey Combo Report. This is an excellent resource to check on current form, significant jockey bookings and potential plots. There are also free races on offer to registered users on Saturday and they are as follows:
There’s a lack of proven form in quite a few of those races so the one that interests me most is the 2.10 Newbury which is the race formerly known as the Aston Park Stakes - a Group 3 for older horses run over 12f.
There are only 6 runners declared but the betting has a competitive shape to it so it should be an interesting puzzle to try to solve.
The draw is going to make a difference in such a small field but pace will so here’s a look at the pace data for the race.
Middle distances are, by and large, fairer than shorter distances when it comes to pace biases. The data here for win purposes is almost identical for prominent, mid division and held up with a slight disadvantage towards front runners but the place percentage data favours front runners and prominent racers. It’s probably hard to argue against prominent racers being slightly favoured overall but the individual pace setup of this race is likely to be a much bigger factor towards any pace biases.
Outbox seems most likely to lead this field, having led early in three of his last four runs. Without A Fight also led early last time but he’s been ridden differently in most of his recent starts and it would be a surprise if Andrea Atzeni wants to take Outbox on at the head of affairs. Ilaraab has been held up on his last three runs so could be the back marker.
With only six runners here it would make sense to preview their chances one by one.
The Ralph Beckett trained runner is one of two making their seasonal reappearance here. He was last season winning the Group 1 Prix Royal-Oak and as a result he carries a 7lb Group 1 penalty. He’s obviously earned that but he seemed to come into his own last season when met with very soft ground and staying trips, he was beaten in both the Lingfield Derby Trial and the Great Voltgeur so whether he has the pace/ability to take this under such a penalty on drying, good ground has to be debated.
Ralph Beckett has a PRB of 0.57 with all runners in the past 90 days and it’s 0.54 in the same period with runners returning from a 90+ day absence so he should be fit enough first time out if the trainer wants him to be.
Roger Varian’s Eshaada also carries a Group 1 penalty and is the other runner making her seasonal debut. She won the Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes at 16/1 and that price seemed largely based on her flop in the Yorkshire Oaks - she’d previously finished 2nd in the Ribblesdale and won a listed race here prior to that. Her trainer is on the record several times saying she prefers cut in the ground so perhaps drying ground will be slightly against her, although her Ribblesdale run did come on good to firm. She’s a very interesting runner but shouldering her penalty won’t be easy.
A generally very consistent runner who progressed from handicaps to Group races last season. He’s another who carries a penalty (3lbs for a Group 3 win at the end of last season) and another who has generally excelled in softer conditions previously. She sets a fair level but with that penalty she could come up a little short, like she did in a slightly lesser race on seasonal debut.
This will be the furthest Foxes Tales has ever gone, proven only as far as 11f (in a Group 3 here) when a length in front of Ilaraab (same terms here and on similar ground). He avoids a Group 3 penalty as his Rose Of Lancaster win came a few weeks before the cut off and that means he’s best in at the weights on official ratings. He made a satisfactory reappearance behind Mostahdaf at Sandown and blinkers explain his poor performance in the Champion Stakes last season. Seems to have most things going for him and shouldn’t be uncomfortable if this turns into a speed test, unlike some of his rivals.
Already had two runs so far this season and although he ran well enough at this level on his latest start, he generally has his limitations exposed in good company. He doesn’t have too much to find with many rivals on these terms and could get his own way up front but the strong suspicion is he’ll find a few classier ones too good.
Without A Fight
Another with two runs this year but they came at the Dubai Carnival in Meydan. He could be ideally suited by tracking the pace in this and is one of the few that won’t mind the drying ground. He was probably quite well placed last year, the Group 3 he won at Newmarket was a race that fell apart but his 2nd to Hukum at Meydan in March was his best run to date against a pretty solid yardstick. He wasn’t in the same form next time out though and that wasn’t the first no show he’s thrown in during his career either
The pair I’m most drawn to in this are Eshaada and Foxes Tales. The former looks the classy one in the field but a 7lb penalty makes like very difficult and there will clearly be bigger targets for her later in the season. She’s very much second choice but Foxes Tales could improve for this trip, has shown his well being already this season and has run to a very good level already. He’s narrowly preferred for Eshaada on these terms in what could be a slightly tactical race but I’d be interested in a small reverse forecast as well as a small single on Foxes Tales.
Without A Fight is preferred to Ilaraab for third with Scope expected to find things happening a bit too quick.