Many are going to file Thursday’s 3.45 at Doncaster, a 7f handicap for 3yos, under the ‘too difficult’ category. By looking at the strength of the form of each runner, as opposed to just the bare results, we can hopefully make a bit more sense of the somewhat limited form on offer here.
This should help us differentiate between those who are overrated, and therefore underpriced, and those who are underrated, and therefore overpriced.
Had ten runs as a 2yo, culminating in a French listed win, but only one start so far as a 3yo. That latest effort came off this mark just over a week ago in very testing ground at Goodwood over this trip. No runner has since come out of that race so we don’t know the strength of the form but it’s worth noting that his best form has come with plenty of cut in the ground and he was beaten twice in nursery races last year off 87.
Difficult to weigh up his form. Beat some promising types on his debut and was sent off favourite for a Group 3 on his next start but he found that too much too early. He performed better next time, again at Group 3 level, but was a well beaten 7 length 2nd to Wichita. He’s best judged on what he beat that day and it looks as though he earned his mark of 99 without it being generous. On his only run this season he was sent off 250/1 for the 2000 Guineas and beaten 21 lengths. He drops back in trip here which may suit but it’s 96 days since we last saw him and plenty has to be taken on trust.
Relatively exposed now and ran okay in defeat in three runs in Doha earlier this year. Hasn’t run since February and for a new trainer, after a break, off a mark of 95 he has plenty of questions to answer.
Won a small field handicap easily in June off 5lb lower and has struggled since. The 2nd in that race hasn’t run since but the 3rd has been beaten similar distances in two starts since whilst the 4th won next time but that was up in trip, on very different ground, so mixed messages.
Two of his three defeats since have come on soft ground and it’s possible that hasn’t suited. He ran much better on soft over 6f than 7f but his 4th at Newmarket may have come in a hot looking 17 runner handicap but it’s worth noting the twenty-four subsequent runs from runners in that race have yielded just two wins.
Sandwiched between those soft ground efforts was a 5 length beating in the Stewards’ Cup. He didn’t look to be crying out for another furlong that day, which would help explain the heavy beating he took over this trip next time on softer ground. If he wins off this mark it’s probably more likely to come at 6f than 7f.
Still quite lightly raced and a very consistent runner to date. He won a Newmarket maiden over a mile beating Lawahed (now rated 85) by 2 lengths and Jalwan (now rated 76) by almost 7 lengths so on that run alone you wouldn’t say Eastern World is badly handicapped off 94.
He proved a mark of 90 was workable next time out over the same course and distance when 2nd in a pretty strong handicap at the July Meeting.
The 4th and 7th both won comfortably next time out and there have been some 2nd places too for other runners. Finest Sound let the form down a little but clearly didn’t run to form as Eastern World ran in the same York race and performed much more creditably.
In that competitive York race Eastern World looked the winner 1f from home despite a poor draw and on that evidence this drop back in trip may well suit. His chance probably depends on the effect of the first time cheekpieces. Using the ‘Profiler’ on the Geegeez racecard page we can see that cheekpieces are one of only three types of headgear on the offspring of Dubawi that are a profitable angle if backed blind which gives you hope they’ll sharpen him up.
Unraced as a 2yo but has seen a racecourse five times in 2020 and he’s contested several races which give us a good idea of where he’s at. His last two runs have come in handicap company, the first over 6f at Yarmouth and the most recent at 7f at Goodwood. That Yarmouth run hasn’t worked out with the winner, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th all failing to place since. His Goodwood run has worked out a little better with several runners placing on their next starts but that race has failed to produce a winner in seven races since so Mister Snowdon doesn’t look handicapped to win on either of those runs, for all he seems better at 7f than 6f.
One run as a 2yo and seemed to improve at 3 winning back to back races comfortably in novice company. He failed to beat a rival home on his handicap debut when contesting the Newmarket handicap in which Eastern World was runner up. Given the manner in which he was beaten it seems that there was more than just the handicap mark to blame but he didn’t beat much in his two novice wins and he’s a risky proposition for now.
Runner up on his first three starts, he finally got his head in front at the 4th attempt with a comfortable 4 length victory over Raeed (rated 80). That effort was enough to see him go off favourite (rated 91) in the competitive 1m handicap at York in which Eastern World finished 5th. He was well beaten though, by over 10 lengths, and connections now reach for the tongue strap on this drop back in trip. The drop in trip should suit but he’s not thrown in on what he’s achieved so far and has to bounce back after that below par effort so there’s enough risk at the price.
With four handicap runs this season this early favourite for the race is one of the easier runners to weigh up. On his seasonal bow, over a mile, he was runner up behind Nugget (won since) and a few lengths ahead of Carlos Felix (won since). He then dropped back to 7f which seemed to bring about more improvement
He was a big eyecatcher in this race, having to wait for a run and finishing best of all into 3rd. With the 2nd and 4th winning next time and the 6th winning both starts since this looked really hot form so it was no surprise that Jumaira Bay went very close next time, going down by a short head at York. That was disappointing at the time but the horse that beat him, Brunch, won again next time in the same handicap Eastern World finished 5th in and Cold Front ran poorly in. The 3rd and 4th behind Jumaira Bay in this race filled the same positions behind Brunch once again on his next start.
Jumaira Bay was raised 5lbs by the handicapper for that run and ran in a maiden next time. Sent off at odds of 1/2, he could maybe have been expected to win by more than ¾ of a length but the runner up that day shed his maiden tag next time by 8 lengths and he was already 80 rated so in hindsight Jumaira Bay ran to form.
This runner looks to have really solid credentials here with all his runs this season coming in strong races for the grade. It’s worth noting that like Eastern World, he’ll be sporting first time cheekpieces.
Siyouni is the sire of Jumaira Bay and backing his offspring in cheekpieces results in a bigger loss than any other kind of headgear. It’s also worth noting that Roger Varian has a strike rate of 18.92% in handicaps with all runners since 2009 and just 8.64% during the same period with cheekpieces on and none of his handicap winners in cheekpieces seem to have come in double figure fields.
It sounds strange to question a trainer who has won this race in three of the last four years but in what would have ordinarily been one of the most solid bets of the day there look to be some serious warning signs.
Highly progressive runner with four wins from his last five starts. He beat three subsequent winners on his penultimate start at Windsor and is 8lbs higher today and then he proved himself on faster ground and at this trip of 7f last time with a win off a 4lb higher mark than he carried at Windsor. He was all out to beat Dancing In The Woods that day and that runner let the form down with a poor 7th at Ascot on his next start so it’s probably fair to say Broughton Gold’s best form so far is on softer ground at 6f. That’s not to say he won’t rate higher yet over 7f and he’s certainly one of the leading contenders.
Back to the mark he won off on seasonal debut at Lingfield in a race where the top 10 finishers have failed to win since from a combined thirty-one runs. He found life tough in better races since and there is little to suggest he’s going to strike here without finding major improvement from somewhere.
Pretty consistent last year when winning twice from five starts, not beating much but running creditably behind Mums Tipple in the Yearling Stakes at York. This year he’s looked better than the bare results in all three races and it’s fair to say the bare result still isn’t too bad.
On his seasonal debut he looked in desperate need of further than 6f around Lingfield and he was only beaten 3 lengths by subsequent listed runner up Jovial. The 3rd and 4th, 1.75 lengths and 1/5 lengths ahead of him respectively have won three times between them since and the 5th and 7th have also won since.
Stepped up to 7f next time for the first time, he was a creditable 5th in a race where the 2nd, 3rd and 6th have all won since. He met trouble in running that day and would have gone closer with a clear run. Then at York next time out, in the race where Jumaira Bay finished 2nd, National League seemed to be going as well as that rival a few furlongs from home but instead of following him through the jockey went for a different gap that never appeared. As a result he was never put in the race and effectively had a racecourse gallop. He most likely would have been in, or very close to, the places that day and let’s remind ourselves how that race has worked out.
Only one handicap winner there but Jumaira Bay ran to his rating next time out, La Trinidad and Black Caspian where not far behind Brunch again next time out and both Amaysmont and Abstemious both ran well without the run of the race on their next starts back at York. Whilst Jumaira Bay is now 5lbs higher, National League has dropped 1lb for the first time this season. Based on how much closer National League should have got in to Jumaira Bay in that race, with the swing in the weights it’s fair to say that there isn’t as much between these two runners as the odds suggest (4/1 and 28/1 respectively at the time of writing).
This runner has run really well three times at York this season and was just under 3 lengths behind Jumaira Bay at York before running well again over a mile at the Ebor meeting, ahead of Eastern World that day. He’s got strong form in the book and on those runs looks overpriced at 14/1. However he’s shaping like a bit of a York specialist with the rest of his form not quite matching his York form. It’s only s small sample size (one handicap run away from York) but his run style is suited to York so whilst he’s well capable of placing, he’s slightly riskier than it may look on first inspection.
Pace and Draw
Doncaster is generally quite a fair course but is there a draw bias in these conditions?
It seems from the above data that although all runners have a chance, all metrics point to middle being the most favoured place to be with high slightly more preference for high than low.
Pace wise there is generally no course bias over this trip and any pace bias is likely to be dictated by how the races are run.
At the very least we should get a solid pace in this race with Black Caspian almost certain to be at the head of affairs with Eastern World almost certainly tracking him. Don’t be surprised if Persuasion also provides a bit of pace for the low drawn runners, he made the running last time out but that was the first time he’s been ridden so aggressively.
Very competitive and with many in with some sort of chance it’s best to seek the value here. On all known form Jumaira Bay should go very close but there are some negative stats concerning the headgear so at the price he is passed over. If the headgear does have a positive effect than it’s probably another win for Roger Varian.
At a much bigger price I’d rather back National League each way at 28/1 with bookies paying 4 places. He’s run several good races in a row, better than the bare result on each occasion and good ground at a track like Doncaster should suit him nicely. He’s probably perfectly drawn in stall 7 and has pace drawn near him to aim at. Richard Fahey won this in 2016 and 2018 so it’s unlikely he just sends any old runner to this race.