There are some nice, competitive betting heats on Saturday and the 1.50 at Sandown, live on ITV4 looks a very interesting contest.
With just eight runners this is hopefully a very solvable puzzle and assuming no non runners (fingers crossed) it has a nice each way shape to it.
A chase ‘sprint’ here which could end up favouring those nearer the pace than those held up. Let’s take a look at the pace data over this course and distance in similar ground in field sizes between 7 and 10 runners.
There isn’t necessarily a front running advantage here which is what we often see but prominent racers do seem to be quite strongly favoured with a very profitable WIN PL (the only run style that is profitable to back blind) and an IV of 1.64. Leaders and those who race in mid division seem pretty evenly matched which backs up the theory that the sweet spot here is to race prominently. Meanwhile the hold up performers here do not perform well. They have a very poor win and place strike rate compared with other run styles and have produced a WIN PL of -42.
The pace map for this race looks interesting given the above information. For a start, the two market leaders are likely to be given contrasting rides with Moonlighter likely to be very close to the pace and Ibleo likely to be ridden much more patiently.
Paddy’s Poem seems to be the main pace angle in the race with several other runners likely to be well positioned just off the pace in this. San Benedeto and Born Survivor are likely to be the worst positioned runners in this race based on the historical pace data.
Looking at the win data in these conditions, the eyes are instantly drawn to Hollywoodien who seems to score pretty well across the board. The only blot on his Instant Expert CV being a defeat on his sole visit here. He was 3rd of 7 on that occasion and not ideally placed so he certainly acts well enough round here.
Ibleo was 2nd in this class last time out and has won a 7 runner race before so there shouldn’t be many concerns regarding his ability in this class or in this field size.
Fellow market fancy Moonlighter seems to have a few questions to answer here according to Instant Expert. The ground shouldn’t be an issue though, he’s won on both heavy and good ground over either code so is clearly versatile. He was also 2nd in the Haldon Gold Cup so class shouldn’t be an issue either. Like Ibleo, Moonlighter has also won a 7 runner race so this 8 runner field isn’t going to be a disadvantage.
Born Survivor seems to be a negative, not only from a pace perspective, but also going off Instant Expert data (albeit a limited amount of data).
Course form is always a plus, especially at a right handed course like Sandown, and Darebin is the only runner who can boast a course chase win. In total he’s run ten times here over fences and he has a 30% strike rate. Seven of his runs here have resulted in a top 3 finish so it's clearly a course he enjoys.
Using the Query Tool in Geegeez Gold we can examine both the record of each of these trainers in January plus their records here at Sandown.
The above shows all of the trainers involved in this race and their records in January for the past 5 years. Nick Williams is a stand out record in terms of A/E, in fact he’s the only trainer with a figure over 1. This is another plus for Moonlighter, who looks as though he’ll be cherry ripe for this given the trainer’s record and he should be well placed according to our place data. Nick Gifford, trainer of Paddy’s Poem, has by far the worst A/E for his runners in January.
There isn’t enough meaningful data to look at their records here at Sandown during January but their overall records at Sandown should be insightful.
We’re seeing almost a reversal of the January trainer data here. Nick Gifford and Tom Symonds have very good records here at Sandown whereas Nick Williams, who traditionally does well in January, does not do well here at Sandown and has the worst A/E here of any of these trainers.
A lot of the races that these horses have been running in haven’t been working out very well so it’s relatively difficult to compare the strength of each runner’s recent form. Two runners have run in races that have worked out pretty well but they are the two runners who are making their seasonal debuts, Hollywoodien and Paddy’s Poem. Hollywoodien’s last run came in March at Haydock when he beat two subsequent winners. Paddy’s Poem’s last race was just over a year ago over this course and distance. He was 2nd on that occasion in a race where the 1st, 4th and 5th all won on one of their next two starts.
We can check the trainer record for both horses after breaks of 60+ days. That won’t necessarily tell us what can be expected after a year off but it could give an indication. Tom Symonds, trainer of Hollywoodien, has a 11.3% strike rate with all runners and an 11.54% win ratio with runners returning after a 60+ day absence. That’s good news for backers of Hollywoodien who are worried about the time off the track.
Nick Gifford, trainer of Paddy’s Poem, has a win record of 9.13% across all runners which becomes 8.47% when looking at those returning from a break. Slightly less but not a big worry.
Ibleo has been a beaten favourite on his last three runs so whilst he is still clearly in form and running pretty well, he doesn’t look one to take a short price about here. That’s especially the case with the possibility he might not be ideally placed too. Moonlighter should be much better placed but he fell last time out and he too has been finding one too good when completing so I’d be reluctant to back this one at restrictive odds too.
Gary Moore has two runners here, Early Du Lemo and Darebin. The pair met here less than a month ago with the latter, who is less well fancied of the pair in the market here, coming out on top by a neck. Early Du Lemo is 3lbs better off now so has a chance of reversing that form but he did suffer a heavy fall a couple of weeks ago at Ascot.
Hollywoodien remains with potential but is 6lb higher than his last run returning from an absence. If fit and well he should run well but there is some guesswork involved in that. Similar guesswork applies to Paddy’s Poem who has strong course and distance form. The chance he could be pestered on the front end is enough to put me off slightly on his return to racing but he’s a more than fair price.
San Benedeto drops back in trip, presumably in an effort from his trainer to get the horse to finish off his races better. His older form over this trip is strong but he often shaped like further would suit and he might find this a sharp enough test. That leaves Born Survivor who is likely to be poorly placed at the back of the field and he’s run poorly in all three races this season anyway.
The market leaders may well win this but they don’t appear to offer much value in this contest and are worth taking on with an each way play. Early Du Lemo and Darebin are very closely matched on previous form but Darebin is a very consistent runner here at Sandown and certainly should not be twice the price of his stable mate. He has an excellent chance of hitting the frame once again at the very least and seems to offer the best value in this race.
Hollywoodien and Paddy’s Poem especially are very much respected but they do have to prove their well being so both are overlooked. Paddy’s Poem also has his trainer's poor record in January to overcome but if this isn't the day for him he would be interesting back here at Sandown at some point this season.