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It's Monday-n (i.e. mundane) again, so let's not get too excited about the racing on offer. This time of year can be tricky as well with the going changing, some horses being 'over the top' (that is, knackered) and a general additional layer of uncertainty in the air.
OK, with that said, let's pop down to the seaside for an afternoon at Brighton, starting at 2.20 on soft ground.
Incidentally, clicking any of the race times will take you to the card, where you'll also find the magnificent Race Analysis reports and Full Horse Form Filters. They're well worth a little play if you haven't done so already.
2.20 Brighton: A selling handicap gets us underway, and perfectly illustrates the point about an absence of quality on Mondays. This is an apprentice race as well, and one of the top apprentices in my - admittedly biased - opinion is young Shelley Birkett, daughter of Julia Feilden. She's on a horse which has found winning extremely difficult, Special Report. In fact, he's a maiden after 21 runs!
But that's only half the story. You see, Special Report has placed on nine of those 21 career efforts, and in six of his last seven. He ran best of the rest behind easy winner, Uganda Glory, here on his last start and, though this is a quarter mile shorter, he has four placed efforts at the trip from five tries. His problem is that he's woefully one paced, but on the plus side he's a grinder, and his jockey can ride. That's not true of all today's pilots.
McConnell did something that Special Report has yet to do - win - on his penultimate run. That was at Southwell, which is a slogger's track, and over a mile. And that's this one's problem: his form beyond a mile is lamentable. He simply doesn't stay, probably not even in a race as bad as this.
Frosty Secret stays this far and further, but he has no form on the ground and that's a big negative; while Drummond acts on soft and this is his trip... but he's an eighteen race maiden!
As you can see, it's going to be possible to have a tickle of a big priced horse which might just come back to form, so bad are the proponents in this dog race. But it won't be the formerly useful Benandonner, for whom this is too far and too soft.
It's A Girl Thing has at least had less failures than most, and is bred to appreciate some cut in the ground. In here, that's interesting.
But the one that really catches my eye (at least as far as this terror event is concerned) is Hendry Trigger. He's having his first run in a handicap after three mediocre maiden runs. He'll stay this trip and could improve for the ground (as a son of stout stayer, Double Trigger, he'll be plugging on at the end), and he's just less exposed than the rest.
Special Report is the most reliable place prospect, but Hendry Trigger is of mild interest at a price - currently around 12/1.
A - 8 (Special Report)
B - 2 (Hendry Trigger)
2.50 Brighton: For anyone thinking this could be a piece of cake for Panettone (geddit?!), think again. Although he's the favourite here, he's a bit of a donkey. His one win came here, over course and distance, but on good to firm. On softer than good he's been beaten out of sight on both times (i.e. more than ten lengths), and that looks a real worry here. Plus, he's just bad value for a horse that's won once in his career.
Cantor and Mr Fickle both offer more hope from a ground perspective, and both are better prices. The former has been off for over a year, so fitness has to be taken on trust somewhat, but he's taken support implying he might be ready to run today. His win two starts back was in higher class than this, on soft ground, and on a similarly undulating track at Epsom. That's a lot of positives to offset the layoff negative.
Mr Fickle loves soft. He's been in the first two on three of four tries on it. But they've all been over shorter trips, and there's a doubt about his stamina on his first attempt at this mile and a half.
Anginola is a course and distance winner, and she's won on heavy. She's also won off this mark and five pounds higher than this mark, so she's well enough handicapped too. She should go well.
Green Earth on the other hand is surely only running here to get his handicap mark back down a bit. He has no form on soft ground.
A - 2 (Mr Fickle), 3 (Anginola), 6 (Cantor)
3.20 Brighton: Nine left in this mile handicap, and Brown Pete heads them in the market. Coming from Violet Jordan's stable of questionable intent, one always needs a market check. Today looks like a going day, judging by the amount of blue on the odds comparison panel, relating a market contraction.
On form, Brown Pete has a chance: he's been placed three times on soft, twice here, and once at the trip. But he's another that is hard to win with.
Mind you, in his defence that's a comment which applies to pretty much all of these old laggards.
The one that stands out for me is Santo Prince. He's a soft ground winner here, and has done little in five fast ground starts so far this term. He's been lightly raced - this will be his twelfth career effort - and actually finished 'just' ten lengths behind Toronado last year when midfield in a Newbury maiden. That form would win him this by a distance if it could be relied upon. Alas, it cannot.
Nevertheless, he's got to be a player having dropped to a mark a stone below that heavy ground winning mark in an awful race.
A - 5 (Brown Pete), 6 (Santo Prince)
3.50 Brighton: A difficult juvenile maiden, with most of them encountering one or more of soft ground and seven furlongs for the first time. My Anchor showed nothing in three tries at seven poles, but seemed a revelation when stepped up to a mile. He's the favourite here and, if able to replicate that last day run, will be hard to beat. Given that his three prior efforts had earned him a rating of 45, though, there has to be a doubt about whether he's really a 66 horse, which is what his revised rating says he is.
Nice Arty is top rated on 68, but he's probably going to struggle with the ground, and has to bounce back after a poor run last time at Wolves. Of more appeal is Olly Stevens' Fisher Bridge, one of the horses he pointed out to me earlier in the season as a nice type for the autumn. Well, here we are in the autumn and this fellow may have his day in nurseries rather than maidens, but this is a weak maiden.
And Sweet P, a daughter of Sir Percy, might be able to grind her way into the frame too.
A - 1 (Fisher Lane), 8 (My Anchor), 10 (Sweet P)
4.20 Brighton: Two down in this six furlong spring, leaves six. It's a typically trappy heat, but the one that ticks the most boxes is Amenable, outsider of the party and refugee of that aforementioned dodgy barn of Violet Jordan's. Anyway, ignoring whether or not the horse might be 'off' today, he's won on soft and at this track, and in this class, and historically off a rating as high as 84. Today he races off 73, but jockey Oisin Murphy takes another five pounds away meaning 68, the same as his last winning rating just four starts back.
10/1 is value if he's on a going day.
It's a race where none of them can be confidently discounted, and it's a race I'm playing four against the field on the placepot.
A - 5 (Royal Reyah), 6 (Amenable)
B - 7 (Cardinal), 8 (Olney Lass)
4.50 Brighton: A race that revolves around the favourite, Speedfit Boy. If he acts on the ground, he'll win. If he doesn't, he could be nowhere. So far, in seven races, he's never raced on slower than good, and only once on slower than good to firm. That leaves a doubt in my mind, sufficient that I'll play a B against his A banker status, and also sufficient that I couldn't be tempted to bet in the race aside from the 'pot.
Silvee might race prominently enough to see this out, and if she does, she's a danger. And Wishformore has failed less times than some on this ground, and has a respectable profile turf notwithstanding.
A - 1 (Speedfit Boy)
B - 3 (Wishformore), 4 (Silvee)
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