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Racing Insights, 27th October 2020

Sometimes, things just come together and today was one of those days at Redcar. We highlighted the 10/3 winner at 5/1 and the 5/1 runner-up E/W as a 12/1 E/W pick and I know some of you jumped on the forecast that paid out at 18.5/1, but much bigger last night at Bet365's BOG prices, I'd assume.

The favourite ran well enough but was fairly soundly beaten as I’d hoped and Striding Edge did indeed come home stone last again. All of which is excellent news for us, but is already history. We've no time to dwell as we look forward to Tuesday, where Feature of the Day is the Shortlist report  and the free races are as follows...

  • 1.30 Bangor
  • 2.10 Catterick
  • 3.40 Bangor
  • 4.00 Chepstow

And at the risk of it becoming a samey/repetitive, I'm going to do another race preview of one of our featured races, the 2.10 Catterick, which actually looks like a tricky little contest that could develop into a really good race, as all six could well win it based on my initial brief glance at the cards, so let's take a closer look at this 6- runner, Class 4 Flat handicap for 3yo+ over 7f on soft ground, where the winner will receive £5,208 for their efforts.

As ever, we start with what we already have available ie the racecard and I've sorted it into speed rating order again for you...

There's not a great deal separating the first four listed on the speed ratings, so they're initially the ones of interest to us, whilst Grace and Virtue stands out from the green icons highlighting the yard's past success at this venue.

As today's free report is the Shortlist, we'll next consider the more detailed version of it that we all know as Instant Expert, firstly by place...

...where we have plenty of green with four runners having 50% or better placing on soft ground, whilst Byron's Choice has a really return over 7f, although as seen below, he's in the frame more than the winners' enclosure...

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...again lots of green, but from small sample sizes, but the above tells me that Grace and Virtue is the one most proven on soft ground. The going is often a major factor in these small field potentially-tactical affair, where the draw is key. History tells us that in this kind of contest you want to be drawn centrally in box 3 or 4 as below...

...which could be good news for Lord Oberon and I Am A Dreamer, whilst the pace draw heat map suggests that being drawn middle to high alone isn't enough, you also need to race prominently or even lead...

...which when we overlay today's runners...

...says that Lord Oberon does indeed have the best draw for his usual running style, whilst only Ey Up It's Mick seems to be in a poor spot. However, at this point, I'm still not at a point where I've got a pick, nor am I discounting any of them just yet, so let's look at each of them in turn...

Byron's Choice : is a reasonable 4 from 21 on the Flat including 3 from 10 at 7f and 2 from 5 under jockey Callum Rodriguez. he's a former Class 3 winner and won on his only previous visit to Catterick when landing the spoils over course and distance back in June 2018.

He went on to win again two weeks later, but hasn't since won in 13 attempts over 27 months and hasn't won on Soft ground either, but show signs of a return to form when third at Ayr last time out, beaten by less than a length off today's mark.

Ey Up It's Mick : is a really consistent sort having made the frame in 9 of his last 13 outings, winning three of them, but has no win in his last six races since landing a Class 5, 6f contest on Good to Soft off a mark of 67 back in July. He was third of 13 last time out, 3.5 lengths off the pace here over course and distance ten days ago off today's career high mark of 73.

All three career wins have been at a lower grade than this, but he has won over this trip, likes the soft ground (2 wins) and has 2 wins and a place from four under today's jockey, Kevin Stott.

Grace And Virtue : Scores well on the data above and comes here in the best form of all six runners, with three wins and two runner-up finishes from her last six starts. She's 3 from 6 on turf, all under today's jockey Tony Hamilton, finishing 2141 over this 7f trip and 2 from 2 on soft ground and she receives a 2lb allowance here.

So, a surefire odds on jolly, then? Probably not, although she'll be popular, it's not all great news. All her best form is at Class 5, her worst run on turf came at this level and she's up 7lbs to a career-high 77 after winning last time out.

I Am A Dreamer : This 4 yr old carries the burden of top weight and on form of 706834 looks bang out of it, but all those six runs were at Class 2 immediately after winning in this grade seven races ago. He's only two pounds higher than that last win and he's 1 from 1 over course and distance via a soft ground, Class 4 success last autumn. And if he runs to the same level as his last two efforts at Class 2, he'll be in the mix here.

Lord Oberon : Also featured prominently in the data stack above and looks well drawn for his running style. Down in weight and class for this run, having ran at Classes 2 & 3 for his last 13 outings without too much joy since winning a Class 2 contest over this trip on soft ground almost a year ago. I do like him from the data profiling above, but form is a worry. I'd need him to be a nice price to tempt me.

In his favour however are a series of conditions that could help him back to some form, he has won on soft ground, he has two wins at trip, he's a former Class 2 winner, goes best without headgear/tongue tie, he's 2 from 4 going left handed and seems happiest with fewer rivals around him. All positives, but I'd still want a realistic price.

And finally, Praxeology : somewhat of a shock 50/1 runner-up when only beaten by two lengths here over course and distance last out under a 5lb claimer. He's up a pound for that run and with a different jockey on board, he's effectively 6lbs worse off. However, the jockey is Hollie Doyle who is (a) in continual good nick and (b) 10 from 47 (21.3%) on David Loughnane's horses since the start of 2019.

The horse himself has a win and a place from three soft ground runs and has won previously at both Class 2 & 3, but has failed to land any of his three races beyond 6f, so whether he does stay 7 is unclear.

Summary

I'm not entirely convinced that I've clarified anything here and it's still as muddy as it might well be underfoot for the race itself, but here's where I'm at. The favourite, Grace And Virtue isn't for me at sub-3/1, although she has every chance, whereas I did like Lord Oberon, but he's also looking like being dragged down towards the 10/3 and 3/1 price point, which I'm not really keen on either.

Praxeology and Ey Up Its Mick both ran well here over course and distance, finishing 1.5 lengths apart, but I think the latter is better off here.

And that leaves us with Byron's Choice and I Am A Dreamer. If the former runs like he did last time out (and it's a big if), then 5/1 might look quite generous, whilst the latter was my original preference early doors. Like Byron's Choice, we're looking for a reproduction of a past run  from I Am A Dreamer and again we're not guaranteed to get it, but again 9/2 might be a good price.

The verdict? The smart bet is no bet at all, it's too competitive, but it's an interesting contest so I might well have 0.5pts apiece on Byron's Choice and I Am A Dreamer.

2020 Ladbrokes Champion Chase Trends

Staged at Down Royal racecourse in Ireland this Saturday’s (31st October 2020) Ladbrokes Champion Chase (formerly the JNwine.com Chase) always attracts some of the best chasers from both England and Ireland.

Run over 3m the Grade 1 contest has been won by greats such as Kauto Star, Beef Or Salmon, Looks Like Trouble and Florida Pearl in the past. With top UK trainer Paul Nicholls winning 4 of the last 13 renewals then anything he sends across the Irish Sea should be respected, while the powerful Gordon Elliott camp have also saddled three of the last 7 winners.

Also note the Noel Meade stable, as they have landed three of the last six renewals, including the last two runnings with Road To Respect, but isn’t entered in the 2020 race, while it's a race the Gigginstown House Stud horses have done very well in recently - they've won ALL of the last seven runnings!

Here at GEEGEEZ.co.uk we are on hand with all the key stats head of the 2020 renewal – this year run on Saturday 31st October 2020

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Recent Ladbrokes Champion Chase Winners

2019 – ROAD TO RESPECT (5/2)
2018 – ROAD TO RESPECT (6/4 fav)
2017 – OUTLANDER (16/1)
2016 – VALSEUR LIDO (2/1 fav)
2015 – DON COSSACK (2/11 fav)
2014 ROAD TO RICHES (9/2)
2013 – ROI du MEE (12/1)
2012 – KAUTO STONE (4/1)
2011 – QUITO de la ROQUE (11/4 fav)
2010 – KAUTO STAR (4/7 fav)
2009 – THE LISTENER (7/1)
2008 – KAUTO STAR (2/5 fav)
2007 – TARANIS (10/11 fav)
2006 – BEEF OR SALMON (11/4)
2005 – No Race
2004 – BEEF OR SALMON (Evs)
2003 – GLENELLY GALE (7/1)
2002 – MORE THAN A STROLL (20/1)
2001 – FOXCHAPEL KING (4/1)

Ladbrokes Champion Chase Betting Trends

16/18 – Had won at least a Grade 2 Chase before
14/18 – Had won at least 5 times over fences before
14/18 – Had won over at least 3m over fences before
13/18 – Aged 8 or older
13/18 – Winning distance 2 ½ lengths or more
12/18 – Returned 9/2 or shorter in the betting
11/18 – Finished 1st or 2nd last time out
11/18 – Had won a Grade 1 Chase before
9/18 – Having their first run of the season (including 8 of last 12 winners)
9/18 – Had run at Down Royal before
8/18 – Won by a Gigginstown House Stud-owned horse (all of last 7)
8/18 – Winning favourites
5/18 – Raced at Aintree last time out
4/18 – Raced at Limerick last time out
4/18 – Trained by Paul Nicholls
4/18 – Won their last race
3/18 – Trained by Gordon Elliott (3 of the last 7)
3/18 – Trained by Noel Meade (3 of last 6)
The average winning SP in the last 18 runnings is 5/1

 

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Racing Insights, 24th October 2020

Galvin was a worthy favourite at Cheltenham on Friday, with my two initial possibles finishing second and third. At an SP of 10/1, the runner-up would have been a great pick, but as you know, I ended up swerving the race. Nothing risked, nothing lost.

And now to my final piece of the week, where the feature of the day is the generally excellent Trainer / Jockey combo report, whilst our free races of the day are....

  • 2.47 Galway
  • 3.15 Cheltenham
  • 3.50 Cheltenham
  • 3.57 Galway
  • 5.07 Galway
  • 7.15 Chelmsford

...and I've decided to base today's piece on the Trainer / Jockey, Course 5 year stats from the following report...

Here, my win & place strike criteria are set at 25% & 50% respectively with A/E & IV at 1.25 and 1.50. I've chosen to look at the Quinn/Hart/Chelmsford combo, purely because they're the highest on the strike rate list with more than one runner for Saturday and I'll hope to assess each of their chances in turn, starting with Indian Pursuit in 5.15 Chelmsford, which I've sorted in Geegeez Speed Rating order...

...which tells us that our interest here sits at the top of those ratings and unsurprisingly, both trainer and jockey have the C1 and C5 icons by their names, instantly highlighting their course success.

Next up is Instant Expert...

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...which is actually largely inconclusive/uninspiring, but Indian Pursuit does at least have some amber in a sea of red.

Here at Chelmsford over 5f, pace positioning seems to have more bearing on the result than the draw, but you still wouldn't want to be left behind and a quick look at the Pace/Draw heatmap suggests...

...runners in stalls 2,3, 6, 7 & 10 seem most likely to race prominently with Rocketeer in #2 looking like trying to make all as he always does and invariably gets caught, hence a formline of 988626, which could leave the door open for Indian Pursuit, provided Rocketeer isn't allowed to get too far ahead, of course.

As for Indian Pursuit himself, he was a very creditable 5th here a fortnight over six furlongs on his first all-weather run for seventeen months and now with the benefit of having had that run he drops down to 5f off the same mark as LTO.

He's a former course winner, all eight career wins have been a 5-6f at Class 6, five of which have seen him ridden by Jason Hart. He has six wins in 8-11 runner contests, six wins going left handed and four in a visor which is reapplied here.

In what looks a pretty average race, Indian Pursuit's consistency might well be enough here.

But what of stablemate Mr Wagyu's chances an hour later in the 6.15 Chelmsford? Well to start, it's back to the racecard in speed rating order, the Instant Expert and the pace/draw details, as follows...

...ninth of fourteen doesn't initially fill me with confidence, but one set of data should never make or break a bet for you, so let's move on to IE, shall we?

Once again, Mr Wagyu doesn't really scream "back me!" here, does he and there are at least four on that report who would look  better option, so what about the pace/draw, where over the 6f trip here at Chelmsford, you don't want to be drawn centrally...

Sadly, our boy is drawn right in the middle and if he goes off quickly with Rock Sound and My Kinda Day doing the same either side of him, there's a worry those two will overhaul him late on.

As for past performances, he has no previous run on Polytrack, so that's a concern although Messrs Quinn & Hart did team with a winning Polytrack debutant here a fortnight ago. He has, however, won eight times on the Flat, all over this 6f trip including 6 in a visor, 4 under Jason Hart, 4 at Class 4 or better, 4 off marks in the 70's and twice this year.

All of the above show he has ability and the potential to go on and upset the odds to win here, but I do have that nagging doubt about him needing a run on a non-Tapeta A/W surface (he's also 0 from 2 on the Tapeta, having finished 11th of 11th and 4th of 13).

Summary

Messrs Quinn and Hart team up with two runners here, one with clearly better chances than the other. I do like Indian Pursuit's chances here and I'd be happy to back him at 3/1, which is probably just about the right price, I'd not want to be taking much less that that.

Mr Wagyu on the other hand is a strange one, the racecard and associated data suggest he's a bit of a no hoper, but with the obvious caveat of being inexperienced on the A/W, his career stats suggest he could do better than expected. He's currently priced at 12/1 and if you could get that kind of price or bigger from a bookie paying four places, then you might just have a squeak with a small E/W punt, if he takes to the surface, especially as many of his rivals are equally out of form.

Elect For Presidential At Big Price In Doncaster Handicap

The 4.05 at Doncaster on Saturday afternoon isn’t being shown on terrestrial TV with Cheltenham hogging much of the limelight. But whilst jumps fans are guessing about race sharpness for many runners I’ll be getting stuck into a very interesting flat handicap!

In a change from much of the action in recent weeks this looks like it won’t be run in heavy ground. Phew! That’s not to say it will be an easy contest to figure out, there are still 16, largely in form runners, set to go to post.

Draw

This will be fairly short and sweet as Doncaster is a pretty fair track.

Doncaster Draw Data

Looking at 7f handicaps run on good to soft or soft ground all draws have a good chance and a fairly even record of both winning and placing. The PRB figures improve slightly as the draw gets higher but the best place strike rate of all the stalls is stall 1 (36.36%) so it’s impossible to narrow the field based on the draw here.

Pace

Is the comparative pace data just as fair as the draw data over Doncaster’s 7f on softish ground?

Doncaster 7f Pace Bias Data

There is more of a pace bias than draw bias. Front runners have performed best of all here, breaking even to level stakes across the selected races. Front runners contribute both the best win strike rate and place strike rate so the data is pretty strong. Win strike rates drop the further back in the field you are and the place strike rate data follows a similar trajectory, although being held up is slightly more favourable for running into a place than being mid division is.

The IV figures are pretty strong for front and prominent runners and pretty weak for those that race in mid division or the rear so there certainly seems to be an advantage the nearer the pace you are.

The pace of the individual race can be just as important, if not more important, so let’s check out the pace map for this race.

Doncaster 7f Handicap Pace Map

So possible contested pace here which could swing things in favour of those held up near the rear. The pace will be in the centre of the pack, which would suggest they’ll come up the middle of the course which should guarantee no strong draw bias.

Doncaster Trainers

Earlier this season at Newbury I highlighted some insightful trainer data ahead of Tempus winning a handicap there and looking at how trainers approach Doncaster handicaps will hopefully give us some clues here.

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Trainer Data For Doncaster Handicaps

There is some strong data based on handicap runs at Doncaster from the trainers with entries in this race. The major positives are for Roger Teal (Bear Force One), Roger Varian (Musicality), Roger Fell (Presidential), Andrew Balding (Grove Ferry) and Ian Williams (Ejtilaab).

The major negatives are Tim Easterby (True Blue Moon), Kevin Ryan (Queens Sargent), Michael Dods (Get Knotted), Richard Fahey (National League and Zap), David O’Meara (Arbalet and Firmanent) and also to a far lesser extent Ralph Beckett (Tomfre).

The Runners

Bear Force One

Still lightly raced and seemingly didn’t stay in the Cambridgeshire last time out. He’s otherwise responded well to the application of cheekpieces this season. The previous couple of races had worked out okay and could he get the run of the race here. Did win on good to soft three starts ago but probably wouldn’t want it any softer. Should run well if the ground isn’t bad and trainer Roger Teal is very profitable to follow here in handicaps.

Tomfre

Inconsistent this season but came good on heavy ground last time out at Leicester, winning by two lengths. The handicapper hasn’t got carried away with that victory only raising him 2lbs but he doesn’t appeal strongly as the type to follow up, for all it’s a possibility.

Firmanent

Ran fairly well in a good race last time out at his beloved York but he looks handicapped to the hilt on current form and is unlikely to better his York form here.

Musicality

Lightly raced and represents Roger Varian who does well in handicaps here. He was slightly below form here over half a furlong shorter at the St Leger meeting but had previously won on soft ground, for all it was just a six runner handicap over 6f and perhaps a 7lb rise for that has found him out. Has a chance but worth taking on with question marks over the handicap mark and the distance.

Grove Ferry

Returned from a short break in August in good form. He was 5th at Sandown behind two next time out winners (did best of those held up) and followed that up with two good efforts at Ascot. The ground looks fine and the drop back in trip looks a positive as his effort has seemingly flattened out towards the end of each race recently.

He's up 3lbs for his latest effort which makes life harder but Andrew Balding does well in handicaps here and if the drop in trip does indeed bring about further improvement he is entitled to go very close.

Queens Sargent

Has improved again this season but form seems to have tailed of in the last couple of races without obvious excuses so it looks more a case of having gone off the boil than being handicapped out of this, for all it’s difficult to argue he’s particularly well handicapped anyway.

Fortamour

Won a decent race last time out at Ascot over a furlong shorter but has won over this distance on the all weather. He’s only up 2lbs for that win and drops in grade so isn’t badly handicapped and he’s run well with cut in the ground this season. His last run at this distance at York has worked out well with the winner going on to land a big pot at Ascot and many of those who ran well have run well in defeat again since. Considering he has been within at least two lengths of the winner in his last eight runs at 6f or 7f this consistent runner appears likely to go well again.

Arbalet

On a losing streak of 22 races and is often overbet after running well in defeat. He was three quarters of a length behind Fortamour at York and is now 6lbs better off so he’s well treated on that form but he’s much better on faster surfaces and wouldn’t be one to back with any confidence for win purposes anyway.

Ejtilaab

He's taken advantage of some slowly run races this season and would most likely not be seen to best effect in a well run race having been well enough beaten off a 1lb lower mark at Ascot in a big field two starts ago. Unproven on softer than good so unlikely to trouble the judge in this contest.

Get Knotted

Tends to run his best races at York and he’s not the force of old. He’d have a chance on a going day with conditions in his favour but he’s not one to put a lot of faith in at the moment.

Breanski

Had no chance behind Raaeq last time at Ascot and difficult to say if that horse franked the form or let it down on Saturday in the Balmoral Handicap, finishing 5th off a 6lb higher mark. Breanksi did finish best of the rest though to record his seventh 2nd or 3rd place finish in his last nine runs. He tends to run well here with two wins from five starts (four starts at this distance) and he beat Presidential (re opposes here) by a quarter of a length in receipt of 1lb in his last course win just over a year ago. Breanski is just 1lb above that winning mark now and is another who looks likely to run very well, for all he isn’t the easiest to win with.

Presidential

Another who goes well at Doncaster, his career form figures here read 143521. He won here over course and distance in June on similar ground to this off a 1lb higher mark and the next two runs of each of the next five runners home produced form figures of 2122224335 so that was a pretty solid race even if only one of the protagonists came out and won shortly after.

He's not completely consistent generally but he is consistent here. His worst form figure came on his run on the fastest ground he has encountered at this course and even finishing 5th in that race off a 1lb higher mark was far from a disgrace as that race worked out particularly well. With everything seemingly in his favour he’s a strong candidate for the shortlist representing a trainer with a very good record in handicaps here.

Alemaratalyoum

Generally at his best when the mud is flying, he’s been difficult to catch right this season and is very difficult to make a case for based on his last couple of runs. First time blinkers are another question mark and although they could spark a revival in form, it seems more likely they’ll just make him underperform further as the sire’s strike rate with horses in this headgear combination is half what it is across all races.

Zap

Difficult to win with, this horse is now on a losing run that dates back over two years. He has been very consistent this season, and has finished 2nd on his last three starts, but this is a step up in class and a much tougher race than those contests. He was 4 lengths behind Presidential here earlier in the season and is only 3lbs better off so he has work to do.

True Blue Moon

He's had an okay season, picking up a win on his penultima start off a 3lb lower mark. He’s generally run better on faster ground this season but he was a close up 4th at Haydock three starts ago and the 1st, 3rd and 6th have all won since and the 2nd filled that runner up spot again on his next start so he wouldn’t be out of it on that form, for all he is 3lbs higher here. His latest run was less promising and he’s probably up against it in this company off this mark but not a hopeless cause.

National League

This is one I gave a good write up for at the St Leger meeting at a big price in what looked like it would be a hot 3yo handicap. He was 3rd that day and better than the bare result, not only because he found trouble in running but also because the ground would have been plenty fast enough that day. What is most disappointing is that race has failed to produce a top 2 finish from nine subsequent runs.

After a below par follow up on ground that should have suited, connections reached for the visor (retained here) and it seemed to help as he ran on into 3rd from a compromising position against two rivals that were up with the pace at Musselburgh. That run against a pace bias was arguably a career best and he’s now down to a mark he won a nursery off last season. He really seems to be crying out for another furlong now though. He’ll probably find a couple too good here but would be of huge interest if finding a mile handicap on soft ground before the season finishes.

Verdict

A race where no winner would be a shock result and many have a very good chance of placing at the very least. Musicality will be on plenty of shortlists but I’m going to go with a longlist of:

Bear Force One
Grove Ferry
Fortamour
Breanski
Presidential
National League

The first and last names on that list aren’t going to make my shortlist. Bear Force One is certainly decent value at around 16/1 but I’m hopeful Ejtilaab will compete for the lead. Plus winter ground, even winter ground that’s not terrible, might compromise his chance. National League should run on well late in the race but I’m not convinced he’s currently well enough handicapped to win at this trip.

So the most solid quartet should be Grove Ferry, Fortamour, Breanski and Presidential. The most compromised, should Bear Force One and Ejtilaab not go a  good gallop here, is likely to be Grove Ferry who is dropping back in trip. He’s also drawn very low, and therefore furthest from the pace, which isn’t ideal. He’s therefore passed over for win purposes, although he should run very well.

Breanski is really solid and will run his usual race but he’s been beaten fair and square all season and is a runner would strongly appeal as a place only bet or one to consider for forecasts and tricasts.

So that leaves Fortamour and Presidential. Fortamour has more room to progress and comes here off the back of a very good run so doesn’t really have too many questions to answer. His good runs in softer ground did come over 6f though and this sort of ground over 7f will be a slightly new test for him. Plus in stall 14 he’s drawn a little further from the likely pace than is ideal.

Presidential on the other hand has thrown in plenty of poor runs recently (well beaten in three of his last five starts) but he’s yet to fail to give his running at this course and was a fair bit better than the bare result when not beaten too far at Newmarket last time out. The recent form of both Fortamour and Presidential is very much built into their respective prices and Presidential looks the better value bet and a good each way bet at an early 18/1. The fact that Roger Fell not only has a very good handicap record here but has also saddled two winners, three places and close 4th from his last eight runners at the time of writing just sweetens the pot a little further.

I’ll also be interested in covering the shortlist of four horses in various forecasts and tricasts. Backing four runners that are likely to be nearer the rear than the front early on is perhaps not the best strategy given the pace data highlighted earlier so confidence and stakes will be kept pretty low but hopefully Bear Force One and Ejtilaab will produce a contested pace which would make things look a lot rosier for those that will be held up.

**EDIT** It looked very difficult to make up pace on the straight course at Doncaster on Friday but they didn't have any big fields like this so it should be a little easier to come from slightly further back than it was in some of the smaller fields on Friday. Presidential has often raced more in mid division than right at the back of the field so he should still be able to get involved assuming he breaks on terms.

Sat TV Trends: 24th Oct 2020

Bundles going on this Saturday as the ITV cameras are at Doncaster, Newbury and Cheltenham – As always we got all the LIVE races covered from a trends and stats angle…….Can leading Irish handler Aidan O’Brien land his tenth Vertum Futurity Trophy?

Use these key trends to help narrow down the runners and highlight the best profiles of past winners.

Doncaster Horse Racing Trends (ITV/ATR)


1.45 –Doncaster Stakes (Listed Race) Cl1 6f ITV

12/12 – Placed in the top 3 last time out
11/12 – Raced in the last 4 weeks
11/12 – Drawn in stall 9 or lower
11/12 – Foaled in February or later
11/12 – Had won over 6f before
11/12 – Won between 1-2 times before
10/12 – Won last time out
9/12 – Carried 9-1 in weight
9/12 – Favourites placed in the top 3
8/12 – Raced at York, Nottingham or Kempton last time out
8/12 – Drawn in stall 6 or lower
8/12 – Returned 6/1 or shorter in the betting
6/12 – March-born foals
6/12 – Irish bred
5/12 – Winning favourites
2/12 – Trained by the Richard Hannon yard
2/12 – Trained by Brian Meehan
Trainer Marco Botti has won 2 of the last 4 runnings

2.20 – Vertum Very Different Stockbrokers Handicap Cl2 (3yo+ 0-105) 5f ITV4

15/15 – Ran 5 or more times that season
14/15 – Had won over 5f before
14/15 – Aged 5 or younger
12/15 – Winning distance – 1 length or less
10/15 – Returned 9/1 or bigger in the betting
10/15 – Aged 4 or 5 years-old
9/15 – Carried 8-10 or less
9/15 – Unplaced favourites
9/15 – Had run at Doncaster before (4 won)
5/15 – Ran at Pontefract (3) or Ayr (2) last time out
5/15 – Won last time out
4/15 – Winning favourites
2/15 – Winners from stall 1
2/15 – Ridden by Oisin Murphy
2/15 – Trained by Andrew Balding (2 of last 6)
1/15 – Winning mare/filly
Tarboosh (8/1 jfav) won the race in 2018
9 of the last 12 winners came from a double-figure stall

 

2.55 – Vertem Futurity Trophy (Group 1) (Entire Colts & Fillies) (CLASS 1) (2yo) ITV 1m

 

16/18 – Winning distance – 1 ¼ lengths or more
16/18 – Had won either 1 or 2 races before
15/18 – Placed favourites
15/18 - Foaled in February or later
15/18 – Finished in the top two last time out
15/18 – Raced within the last 4 weeks
13/18 – Had raced at least twice previously
12/18 – Winning favourites
11/18 – Won their last race
11/18 – Foaled in either Feb or March
11/18 – Ran at either the Curragh (3) or Newmarket (7) last time out
10/18 – Had won over a mile in the past
7/18 – Won by an Irish-based yard
6/18 – Trained by Aidan O’Brien
4/18 – Won by a Montjeu-bred colt
4/18 – Ridden by Andrea Atzeni (won 4 of the last 7)
4/18 – Went onto win the 2,000 Guineas (inc the last 3 winners)
3/18 – Went onto win the Epsom Derby
1/18 – Went onto win the St Leger
Five winners have gone onto win the following season’s Epsom Derby
Aidan O’Brien has won the race 9 times – 1997, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2017 & 2018
The average SP in the last 18 runnings is 13/2

Note: The 2006 renewal was staged at Newbury
Note: The 2019 renewal was staged at Newcastle

 

 

Newbury Horse Racing Trends (ITV/RacingTV)

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3.35 – Cancom Stakes Stakes (Registered As The Horris Hill Stakes) (Group 3) Cl1 7f ITV

15/16 – Foaled in Feb or later
13/16 – Priced 15/2 or shorter in the betting
13/16 – Won just 1 or 2 races before
11/16 – Never raced at Newbury
12/16 – Placed 1st or 2nd last time out
11/16 – Had at least 3 previous career runs
10/16 – Drawn in stall 5 or higher
9/16 – Favourites unplaced
8/16 – Won over 7f before
8/16 – Won their last race
7/16 – Foaled in February
7/16 – Winning distance – ¾ lengths or less
4/16 – Trained by the Richard Hannon yard
4/16 – Raced at Newmarket last time out
1/16 – Winning favourites

 

4.10 – Teddington RBL Poppy Appeal Stakes (Registered As The St Simon) (Group 3) Cl1 1m4f5y ITV

17/17 – Aged 5 or younger
15/17 – Had won over at least 1m2f before
15/17 – Returned 8/1 or shorter in the betting
15/17 – Had won at least twice before
14/17 – Had at least 4 runs that season
13/17 – Aged 3 or 4 years-old
12/17 – Placed favourites
11/17 – Rated 107 or higher
10/17 – Had run at Newbury before (4 won)
10/17 – Drawn in stall 6 or higher
10/17 – Placed horses from stall 6
7/17 – Winners from stalls 6 or 8
6/17 – Won by a filly or mare
6/17 – Ran at Newmarket last time out
5/17 – Winning favourites
3/17 – Won last time out
3/17 – Trained by Andrew Balding
1/17 – Winners from stall 1
Morando (8/1) won the race in 2018
Young Rascal (Evs) won this race in 2017

 

 

Cheltenham Horse Racing Trends (ITV/RacingTV)

 

2.05 - Masterson Holdings Hurdle Cl2 2m110y ITV

8/11 – Having their first run of the new jumps season
6/11 – Returned 3/1 or shorter in the betting
6/11 – Carried 10-12 in weight
6/11 – Placed in their last race
5/11 – Irish bred winners
4/11 – Favourites placed
4/11 – Won 3 times over hurdles previously
3/11 – Winning favourites
3/11 – Trained by Paul Nicholls
Quel Destin (1st 7/2) won the race in 2019
 

2.40 – Best Odds At Matchbook Novices’ Chase (GBB Race) Cl2 (4yo+) 2m4f ITV4

10/10 – Won no more than 3 times over fences
9/10 – Aged 5 or 6 years-old
9/10 – Returned 5/1 or shorter in the betting
7/10 – Had run at Cheltenham before
7/10 – Unplaced favourites
7/10 – Had run over hurdles at Cheltenham in the past (3 won)
7/10 – Won between 0-1 times over fences
6/10 – Ran in the last 4 weeks
5/10 – Won over at least 2m4f (fences)
3/10 – Won last time out
3/10 – Trained by Paul Nicholls
2/10 – Trained by Gordon Elliott
2/10 – Trained by Colin Tizzard
1/10 – Winning favourites
The average winning SP in the last 10 runnings is 10/3

 

 

3.15 - Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (Series Qualifier) Cl2 2m7f208y ITV

8/11 – Priced 17/2 or bigger in the betting
8/11 – Placed in the top 3 last time out
7/11 – Carried 10-13 or less in weight
8/11 – Had run at Cheltenham before (4 winners)
7/11 – Aged between 6-8 years-old
7/11 – Last ran 6 month+ ago
6/11 – Unplaced favourites
5/11 – Won last time out
4/11 – Irish Bred
2/11 – Mare winners
2/11 – Trained by Philip Hobbs
2/11 – Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies
2/11 – Winning favourites
Tobefair (8/1) won this race in 2019



3.50 – Matchbook Betting Exchange Handicap Chase Cl2 3m1f ITV

12/13 – Priced 10/1 or shorter in the betting market
12/13 – Won over at least 3m previously
10/13 – First run of the season
10/13 – Winning distance – 3 lengths or less
9/13 – Rated 134 or higher
9/13 – Irish bred winners
8/13 – Carried 10-11 or more in weight
8/13 – Favourites unplaced
7/13 – Had won at Cheltenham previously
6/13 – Won by a horse aged 8 years-old
6/13 – Unplaced in their last race
5/13 – Trained by Philip Hobbs
5/13 – Ridden by jockey Richard Johnson
1/13 – Winning Favourites
The Conditional (14/1) won the race in 2019
Cogry (13/2) won the race in 2017
Cogry was 2nd in the race last year
Relentless Dreamer (16/1) won the race in 2018

 

 

 

 

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10 Minute Preview: Cheltenham, Friday 23rd October

In this very quick (11 minute) video, I highlight a couple of horses I'm interested in at Cheltenham's Showcase meeting this afternoon. Both are proven in conditions and have a good chance to outrun their odds. Both are easy to find using Geegeez Gold's Instant Expert tool.

See what you think...

And don't forget our special Winter Season Ticket offer, which will give you access to all of these brilliant tools for the entire National Hunt season for just £149.

 

Check that out here

 

Racing Insights, 23rd October 2020

Sod's Law was very much in force at Wolverhampton this afternoon, as my four-runner shortlist filled three of the four places offered by SkyBet amongst others. Sadly, the one I omitted from my final advice went on to win at 11/2. I was, however, pleased with Leodis Dream finishing fourth at 9/1, only a length and a half off the winner and backed at an advised 16/1.

As for the winner, I did say..."I thought HSB might have been a bit longer than that and although I might regret it, I'll give him a miss at 14's" and thus the law of Sod kicked in.

So, neither happy nor sad about that outcome, we move on to Friday, where the daily free feature is the Horses for Courses report and the free racecards cover...

  • 2.25 Cheltenham
  • 3.00 Cheltenham
  • 3.43 Sligo
  • 5.03 Doncaster
  • 8.00 Newcastle
  • 8.15 Dundalk

So, let's take a look at the first of our free races, the 2.25 Cheltenham (you know it's the jumps season when Chelts appears on the cards) : a 6-runner, Class 2 Novices Chase for 5yo+ over 3m on good ground, with the winner receiving a more than useful £12.5k. My initial feeling was that I liked Soldier of Love for this race with Clondaw Caitlin being a possible E/W punt at double digit odds (hopefully)

But when you already like two runners in a field of six, it pays to look closer at the race, because you might have missed something, so here goes...

Plenty of good recent form for jockeys and trainers (14, 30) and whilst we've only got six runners, their formlines are littered with wins. In fact, between them they have won 28 times in 71 efforts, a strike rate of almost 40%, so some good runners on show here.

Instant Expert for this race tells us that...

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...from a place perspective, all those who have raced on good ground have fared well enough, the top three especially so. Not much class/course achievement to discuss, whilst the four who have tackled this trip have managed to see it out successfully at least once with Doctor Duffy and Soldier of Love looking like proven stayers. I don't always set much too much stall out for field size, but a small number of runners hasn't proved a problem for these six in the past.

Sometimes, a Geegeez report will be inconclusive and I think the above doesn't really do much for us today, so let's consider the win element of the same report...

...where Soldier of Love's record at this trip is a standout piece of data here.

Now, many people think pace is mainly relevant to shorter trip Flat and A/W contests and surely wouldn't have much bearing on a 3m+ chase, but they'd actually be very wrong. The pace make-up of any race is important and in such contests here at HQ, you don't want to go off too quickly nor too slowly. You want to be "handy", shall we say? Anyway, as ever, a picture is worth a thousand words, so I''ll stop rambling...

Once again, Soldier of Love looks to have a positive pace make-up for this race, as does Clondaw Caitlin, but now let's take a closer look at the six runners individually...

Ask Dillon : Reasonable record over hurdles, including wins at 2m5.5f and 2m6f, whilst also making the frame in both starts at 2m7.5f. This is a bit further for him, but as all his hurdles form was on Good to Soft or softer, stamina shouldn't be an issue.

Fergal O'Brien's chasers sent at 14/1 and shorter are 7 from 29 (24.1% SR) here at Cheltenham since 2016, but this one has no win higher than Class 3 and has been off the track for over seven months, since being well beaten by 36 lengths here in March and carries joint top weight now.

Clondaw Caitlin : The only mare in the race, therefore receiving weight all round. A former bumper winner who was three from three over hurdles last season, including landing a Gr2 over 2m2f at Kelso back in February when taking the boys on for the first time.

Her breeding suggests she'll take to fences, but she has also been off the track for over seven months and steps up markedly in trip today, but trainer Ruth Jefferson has an 18% strike rate (18 from 100) with her runners stepping up in trip, of which LTO winners are 7 from 21.

Doctor Duffy : has already competed over fences seven times, winning twice and making the frame on three other occasions. Has finished 113F since adopting a visor and I'm happy to overlook that fall last time out, when he was bumped by a rival at the first fence. Prior to that (non)run, he had won a Gr2 at Ballinrobe followed by a third in a Gr1 at Listowel.

Galvin : Trainer Gordon Elliott has won this race twice (2010 & 2011) and will have high hopes about this one who was a runner-up at the festival here in March behind Imperial Aura.

A winner of three novice events in Ireland so far this season, including a Gr3 last time out early this month and will be expected to make bold bid of improving his yard's record of 7 wins from 34 (20.6%) in Class 2 chases here at Cheltenham since 2016.

Mossy Fen : First time over fences, but this son of super-sire Milan was 3 from 5 over hurdles, including landing a Gr2 at Warwick in January before finishing a creditable if fairly well beaten (23 lengths) firth behind Envoi Allen in the Ballymore at the festival here back in March.

He's inexperienced/unexposed depending on your viewpoint, he'll get the trip and had bundles of ability, but the lack of a chase run might undo him. Mind you, trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has 17 from 71 (23.9%) record in October with first time chasers, including 13 from 51 (25.5%) in Novice contests.

Soldier of Love : trainer Paul Nicholls has won this contest four times in the past fourteen runnings and will have every chance of going five from fifteen with this seven year old gelding who has been a revelation since a wind op.

One win in seven pre-operation and a formline of F1111 since, with a fall at the last when leading at Kempton the only post-surgery blemish. The going/trip/field size will all suit him and he gets on great with jockey Harry Cobden and the only negative I have with him is that he has never raced at a higher level than Class 3.

Summary

I set about this race, because I had a gut feeling that I'd need to pick between an E/W bet on Clondaw Caitlin, a win bet on Soldier of Love or both, but now I'm really not so sure. You can actually make a good case for all six runners, whilst there are reasons for not backing any of the six.

This now looks like a really good contest and I'd expect it to be very competitive and as such, I'll not be placing a bet at all. This is perfectly fine with me and also with the ethos of Geegeez overall. If the analysis of a race doesn't make the decision any easier or any clearer, then I'm of the opinion, you leave it alone.

However, I might have highlighted something above that ticks an extra box for you and I certainly won't put you off having a bet, but I'll be sitting this one out with my feet up and a cold beer.

Racing Insights, 22nd October 2020

I highlighted Serenading as the pick of my four-runner shortlist for Wednesday's race with Dancing Feet in seciond. Serenading was withdrawn whilst the Watson/Doyle combo grabbed the win with Dancing Feet.

Thursday's free feature is the Instant Expert tab for all races, whilst the free racecards are for the following...

  • 12.35 Carlisle
  • 1.20 Navan
  • 2.15 Carlisle
  • 2.50 Carlisle
  • 3.40 Navan
  • 5.20 Navan

And with Instant Expert firmly in mind, I've decided to take a look at the 4.05 Wolverhampton : an 11-runner, Class 2, A/W Handicap for 3yo+ over 5f on Tapeta that's certainly worth winning at a prize of £11828.

We start with the racecard in Geegeez Speed rating order, where I've purposely hidden the odds, as I find they can have an unhealthy sway on our decision making process in the early stages...

Working on the assumption that green is good and red less so, Verne Castle (form and jockey track record), Top Breeze (form and trainer track record), Han Solo Berger (Trainer and Jockey both have good track records), Watchable (form and jockey/track) and El Guanache (form and jockey/track) are all positives early on, whilst Fizzy Feet, Embour and Verne Castle head the Speed Ratings.

Next in my process is a look at the Instant Expert (place) tab...

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At present I wouldn't get too hung up about the field size tab, but I am interested in any runner with any green anywhere else ie Ornate, Leodis Dream, Pistoleeto, Fizzy Feet, Embour, Benny and the Jets, Han Solo Berger and most particularly Top Breeze with a full line of green. Then I like to see how that translate to regular placers turning those runs into wins and the Instant Expert win tab tells us...

...that again Leodis Dream, Pistoletto, Fizzy Feet, Top Breeze and Benny and the Jets continue to score well, with Leodis Dream probably edging it here, especially with a such a good record over this minimum trip and as this is a 5f sprint, we really should consider pace & draw and the Geegeez heatmap, which suggests being on the front end and preferably not in the middle stalls (these are better just off the pace) would be the best place to be...

and when we add the horses and their recent styles, we get this suggested order of events...

...which also augurs very well for Leodis Dream, drawn against the fence and a confirmed front runner, whilst similar applies to Ornate but the draw hasn't been as kind there, but if Fizzy Feet and Verne Castle also crack on from just inside Ornate, that could well help the latter.

And whilst that's a full run through of what area on the card, I'd be looking at, I  could/should mention that several of these runners also feature on my own "stats checklist" for this race...

Wolv Trainer 16:05 Wolv Fizzy Feet
TapSprSire JC1 16:05 Wolv Han Solo Berger
GGZ SL Wolv Trainer 16:05:00 Wolv Leodis Dream
Wolv Trainer 16:05 Wolv Pistoletto
GGZ SL 16:05 Wolv Top Breeze
TJC1/5 16:05:00 Wolv Watchable

...which I'll briefly explain...

Fizzy Feet's trainer David Loughnane's Wolverhampton handicappers sent off at 3/1 to 14/1 are 29 from 143 (20.3%) at an A/E of .50 since the start of 2018 and he also trains Leodis Dream, who features on the Geegeez Shortlist, as does Top Breeze.

Han Solo Berger is by Lord Shanakill, an American sire, whose offspring are 5 from 20 (25%, A/E 1.81) in handicaps over 5f to 1m on Tapeta since the start of 2017, whilst his jockey Jack Mitchell is 35 from 137 (25.6%, A/E 1.39) in handicaps here over the same 2017-20 timeframe.

Pistoletto is trained by John Ryan who is 8 from 34 (23.5%, A/E 1.43) with Wolverhampton handicappers sent off at Evens to 12/1 since 2018, whilst Watchable represents the two Davids, O'Meara & Nolan who have combined for 10 winners from 18 (55.6%, A/E 2.64) here at Wolverhampton since 2017 at odds of 8/1 and shorter.

And after all of the above, I've got four horses on my shortlist, which (in alphabetical order) are Fizzy Feet, Han Solo Berger, Leodis Dream and Top Breeze.

Summary

It's at this point that I'd then look at the market to see whether I'd want to back any of my four possibles and the market suggests a two-horse race between Top breeze and Benny and the Jets. We can get 11/4 about Top Breeze and that's a fair price in my opinion about an in-form runner knocking on the door, so I'd be happy to have a couple of  quid on that.

If the market is right about it being a two-horse race, then the door is open for a decent-priced placer and Fizzy Feet, Han Solo Berger & Leodis Dream are currently quoted at 9/1, 14/1 and 16/1 respectively.

I thought HSB might have been a bit longer than that and although I might reget it, I'll give him a miss at 14's. But 9/1 about Fizzy Feet and particularly 16/1 about Leodis Dream look decent and I'd be happy to take both of those E/W.

It's rare that I'd back three in a race, I often don't back any after analysing it, but Leodis Dream has every chance of going well at a silly price if he gets out quickly and toughs it out, of course.

Racing Insights, 21st October 2020

Intrinsic Bond was indeed on the premises at Newcastle and ran well for a place, beaten by less than two lengths, whilst Skyace was a faller two from home over in Ireland without ever looking like winning, whereas Molly Shaw was disappointing, hanging right and weakening late on. She was too short for my liking anyway and I'm glad I swerved that one.

And now we turn our attentions to Wednesday, where the feature of the day is the wonderful (IMO at least) Trainer Statistics report and our free races of the day are as follows...

  • 1.50 Hereford
  • 3.20 Newmarket
  • 3.30 Gowran Park
  • 4.45 Hereford
  • 6.15 Kempton

What I'm going to focus on today is a separate race from the above, but one that has particular relevance to our feature of the day. I've chosen to look that the Trainer, 1 year course handicap figures with my parameters set at a 20% win strike rate and a 33% place strike rate from a minimum of 15 runs in the last year. As ever, my A/E is set at 1.25 and above, whilst my required IV is at 1.50 and above.

Feel free to set your own parameters of course, but I use these to get a decent amount to look at without having too much to consider. And here's the report...

As you've probably noticed, we have four possibles (Adelante, Dancing Feet, Rubia Bella and Serenading) in the 7.15 Kempton : an 8-runner, Class 4 Fillies Handicap for 3yo+ over 7f on Polytrack with the winner receiving £5,208 for their troubles. So let's go through the tools to see if we can form an opinion...

Racecard in Speed Rating Order :

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...where we have the top-rated, third, joint fourth and seventh ranked with Serenading standing out with quite a big margin, although she is now stepping up in class/weight.

Pace/Draw Heatmap in draw order : 

...suggests horses running in mid-division, preferably the middle of the stalls, tend to fare best. All four possibles seem to be drawn well for their running styles and the pace in the race looks to be in stalls 1-4, which might pull Rubia Bella along a little quicker than she'd like.

Instant Expert : 

Dancing Feet's previous A/W (and course) success is a positive here, whilst Serenading's 10lb hike for back to back wins is an obvious concern, especially as this is a far tougher contest than her previous races.

Now we'll take a brief, closer look at each of the four in alphabetical order, shall we?

Adelante : Trainer George Baker's 7 from 27 record here over the last 12 months is actually a little misleading as in the whole five years from 2015 to 2019 inclusive, his handicappers were only 4 from 59 (6.8%) here  including 2 from 22 at Class 4, 2 from 16 over 7f and 0 from 14 with female runners.

For her part, Adelante has lost her last eleven races and was was an 80/1 11th of 14 home here over course and distance, last time out a fortnight ago. One to avoid.

Dancing Feet : has a better profile than the runner above, but that's not hard really. An overall 2 from 4 (1 from 2 here) on the A/W is promising and she's from the formidable Archie Watson /Hollie Doyle team, which is 6 from 31 (19.4%) here overall, including 3 from 9 at Class 4, 3 from 17 with fillies and although they're 0 from 6 at 7f, they have won 4 of 15 at 6f.

She has won at both 6f and 7f on the A/W and has won under Hollie Doyle. Both career wins have come when not wearing cheekpieces (0/4 in them), but they're on again today, as they have been in all her handicap outings, including when beaten by 3.5 lengths in seventh behind the re-opposing Clinician last time out and she's on worse terms this time around. That alone suggests she'd not be our winner here today, irrespective of how she stacks up against the others.

Rubia Bella : is very lightly raced and therefore a little of an unknown quantity. A half-length runner-up on her sole start as a 2yr old (here at Kempton at Class 4 over 6f), she then won fairly comfortably on her seasonal reappearance over 6f at Wolverhampton, but was quite well beaten last time out when 6.5 lengths off the pace at this grade, track and trip two months ago.

She was 4.5 lengths behind Dancing Feet that day (she did have Adelante 3.25 lengths further back, mind), but she's 4lbs better off at the weights here, so should be closer, but the yard's 2 from 19 record over course and distance since 2015 is a worry.

And last, but my no means least, we have the form horse Serenading, who comes here on the back of four progressively better runs (3211), seeking a hat-trick after back to back wins at Newcastle over this distance, once at Class 6 and once at Class 5. On form/progression, I think there's more to come from her, but she's 0/4 going right handed, 0/2 here, 0/2 at Class 4 and runs off a mark 10lbs higher than last time out.

In her defence, she has finished 43211 with PJ McDonald on her back and he's 21 from 134 (15.7%) in handicaps here since 2016, including 6 from 34 (17.7%) at this trip.

Summary

If I was to put the four runners in an order that I think they might finish, then i'd go with Serenading, Dancing Feet, Rubia Bella and then Adelante, who I'd be surprised if she wasn't in the last two home.

I don't have much separating Dancing Feet and Rubia Bella and I don't expect either to make the frame, but Serenading is the standout of the four and although she'll face tough opposition from the two market principals, I think that at odds of 5/1 or bigger, she could well be worth a small punt. I see her as a 7/2 to 4/1 chance, so 5's could offer some value, win or lose.

Cheltenham TV Trends: Friday 23rd Oct 2020

The ITV horse racing cameras head to the home of jumps racing – Cheltenham racecourse – this Friday to take in FOUR LIVE races from the Prestbury Park track.

We take a look at the LIVE races and highlight the key trends and stats to help find the best profiles based on past winners of the races.

Cheltenham Horse Racing Trends

 

1.50 - Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (GBB Race) Cl2 (4yo+) 2m5f ITV4

 

10/10 – Returned 7/2 or shorter in the betting
9/10 – Favourites that finished in the top 3
9/10 – Won no more than 3 times (hurdles) before
9/10 – Irish (6) or French (3) bred
8/10 – Aged 5 or 6 years-old
7/10 – Won 1 or 2 times over hurdles before
7/10 – Rated between 133 and 140
7/10 – Winning favourites
5/10 – Won last time out
5/10 – Had won over at least 2m5f before
3/10 – Rated 134
3/10 – Had run at the track before
3/10 – Ran at Newton Abbot last time out
3/10 – Trained by Paul Nicholls
3/10 – Irish-trained winners
2/10 – Ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies
2/10 – Ridden by Aidan Coleman
The average winning SP in the last 10 years is 7/4

 

2.25 - Matchbook Better Way To Bet Novices’ Chase (GBB Race) Cl2 (5yo+) 3m 1/2f ITV4

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9/10 – Aged 6 or 7 years-old
9/10 – Won over at least 2m4f (fences) before
8/10 – Returned 8/1 or shorter in the betting
8/10 – Won last time out
8/10 – Favourites placed in the top 3
7/10 – Irish bred
7/10 – Won just 1 or 2 times over fences
7/10 – Ran in the last 4 weeks
7/10 – Aged 7 years-old
5/10 – Had run at Cheltenham before (fences or hurdles)
4/10 – Irish-trained winners
2/10 – Trained by Gordon Elliott
2/10 – Trained by Paul Nicholls
1/10 – Winning favourites
The average winning SP in the last 10 runnings is 13/2

 

3.00 – squireintheair.com Handicap Hurdle Cl3 (3yo+ 0-140) 2m5f ITV4

 

10/10 – Aged between 5-7 years-old
10/10 – Won between 1-3 times (hurdles) before
8/10 – Returned between 8/1 and 12/1 in the betting
8/10 – Placed in the top three last time out
8/10 – Aged 5 or 6 years-old
8/10 – Carried 10-13 or less in weight
7/10 – Rated between 120-130
7/10 – Had won over at least 2m4 before
7/10 – Carried between 10-9 and 10-13 in weight
7/10 – Irish bred
6/10 – Ran in the last 5 weeks
6/10 – Won last time out
2/10 – Trained by Gordon Elliott
1/10 – Winning favourites
The average winning SP in the last 10 years is 9/1

 

3.35 – October Handicap Chase (GBB Race) Cl2 (4yo+ 2m ITV4

Just 5 previous runnings
5/5 – Aged 6 or 8 years-old
5/5 – Having first run back for the season
5/5 – Had run at the track before
5/5 – Returned 15/2 or shorter in the betting
4/5 – Irish (2) or French (2) bred
4/5 – Favourites placed in the top three
4/5 – Rated between 140-147
4/5 – Had won exactly 3 times over fences
4/5 – Carried 11-1 or more in weight
3/5 – Ran at Cheltenham last time out
2/5 – Winning favourites
2/5 – Won last time out
Trainers Harry Whittington, Paul Nicholls, Nigel Twiston-Davies, Neil Mulholland and Dr Richard Newland have won the race before
The average winning SP in the last 5 runnings is 9/2

 

 

 

 

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Racing Insights, 20th October 2020

Very happy with the way Monday's race panned out. I initially eliminated four of the seven runners and my final three were the first three home. Had I been a bit braver, I'd be celebrating a 3/1 winner, but I'd wanted a bit more juice in the price.

So, with a moral victory of sorts behind us, let's move on to Tuesday, where the free feature is The Shortlist and the free racecards cover the following contests...

  • 12.25 Yarmouth
  • 12.55 Yarmouth
  • 2.15 Exeter
  • 2.40 Tipperary
  • 3.40 Fairyhouse
  • 4.20 Yarmouth

Of the six races above, only the Exeter one was of initial interest, but there's likely to be an odds-on favourite in there and the going is likely to see a few pull out, so I've decided to leave it alone and look at The Shortlist report to see if any of the runners featured might be worth sticking a quid (or more) on.

So, without further unnecessary ado...

A trio to consider with plenty of green to look at, so let's go in time order and start with Intrinsic Bond...

He has been in good form for some time now with 3 wins and 2 places from 7 runs over the last year (more on that shortly) and hails from a yard with three winners from seven (42.9%) so far this month and a decent record here at Newcastle including 7 winners from 33 (21.2%) this year, of which those racing over this course and distance are 3 from 7 (42.9%)

Next up, Instant Expert...

This is what gets him on the shortlist and over the last year, he has 3 wins and 2 places from 7 starts, including 3 wins and a place from 6 on a straight run, 3 wins and a place from 5 where the market deemed he had a chance, 3 wins and a place under Jason Hart, two wins and a place from four over 6f, two wins from three at Class 4, but just one placed effort in this grade and he won on his only previous visit to this track (over course and distance).

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He's drawn right out in 14 of 14, but that's not always a negative, as (a) there are no bends to contend with 9b) our pace/draw heat map suggests he could actually be in a decent spot out wide...

Overall, I'd expect him to be well suited to the task, but he's up 3lbs for a nice win on soft ground at Redcar last time out and also steps up in class. He handles the surface well enough and gets on great with today's jockey and his yard is in decent general form and also more long-term at this venue. Definite chance here.

And now to Skyace...

Trainer John Joseph Hanlon's runner here makes a second attempt at landing a handicap but the stats aren't good on that front, as the yard's stats with 2nd timers stands at just one win from the last 23 efforts, although that win was just 2 qualifiers ago. The hanlon runners are 4 from 15 (26.7%) here at Tipperary since the start of 2019, which is promising, but at 1/5 over hurdles, 0/5 in handicaps and 0/2 in handicap hurdles, the optimism does diminish.

But how might this one fare under today's conditions...

Well, he has two wins and a place from five efforts over hurdles, but after winning his first two, has struggled under weights of 11 stone-plus, toiling to a combined deficit of some 114 lengths in the three defeats since, but he's not on the shortlist for no reason, as his three placed finishes came in less valuable races like this one, he has won in a hood and did win here over course and distance.

In such races here at Tipperary, it has paid to remain in touch, but not race too prominently as shown below...

...but I feel a change of tactics would be needed here, as he has tended to race a bit more keenly of late and that's not going to be beneficial here.

Overall, he's out of sorts and represents a yard with a poor record with 2nd time handicappers and a poor record at this venue in this kind of race. He clearly has ability, but carries too much weight again here for my liking and I'm calling him as one to avoid.

Last up for today is Molly Shaw, who goes in one of our free races of the day, a 16-runner, Class 6, 6f  soft-ground "sprint", so you can see why I wasn't keen on a full race analysis of this one, but let's see if Molly Shaw might be in with a shout...

As the snippets show, the yard has done well here at Yarmouth over the past year, whilst Jack Mitchell has enjoyed plenty of success riding the Wall runners. Incidentally, on the trainer/jockey/course angle, the last five runners have finished 11152 including a win for today's runner back in August.

For her part, Molly is 113 in handicaps, all over a straight 6f strip including 2 from 2 at Class 6, 2 from 2 under Jack Mitchell and despite no run on soft ground, she did win her only attempt on good to soft ground.

Pace/draw-wise, it looks like wide-drawn prominent runners hold the key to success in this type of contest...

...and whilst Young John looks set to get out and make the pace, he's probably 20/1 for a reason and if our girl follows him, she could be expertly placed to pick up the pieces as the leader weakens late on, as reports from 5 of his last 6 outings suggest he will.

Summary

I've little/no interest in the Tipperary runner, there's not much in what I've seen that would make me believe he'll suddenly start winning again, but our other two runners have serious chances, but you'd want a price on them.

Both run in very competitive big-field contests and Intrinsic Bond is up in weight and class and is unproven at that level, whilst Molly Shaw has no form on soft ground at all. That doesn't mean she won't handle it, of course, but it's a big unknown. I expect both to give good accounts of themselves.

Both should be there or thereabouts and if she handles the ground Molly Shaw could be a nice pick at odds of 7/1 or hopefully better. Ideally I'd want at least 8's if not double digits, so you could then take a 4-place E/W run at her.

As for Intrinsic Bond, I do like him, but I'm not sure he's quite good enough at this level and he's already as low as 10/3 which is too short for my liking.

Racing Insights, 19th October 2020

Saturday's race went pretty much as I expected and we were only denied identifying the winner by a head, but that's history now, so we need to look forward to Monday, where our free feature is the pace tab for all races and our free racecards are for...

  • 1.30 Windsor
  • 2.50 Pontefract
  • 3.35 Gowran Park
  • 5.00 Wolverhampton
  • 7.00 Wolverhampton

I'm not a fan of going in relatively blind in maiden and/or novice auction contests, so that rules out Windsor, Gowran Park and the later Wolverhampton card and I'm going to focus on the 2.50 Pontefract, a competitive-looking Class 4 Handicap for 3yo+ over 1m2f on Soft ground with a £5.5k prize for the winner...

We start, as ever with the racecard...

...which gives us a supposed pecking order in terms of the Speed ratings and also tells us that Awake My Soul & Gold Souk come from yards with good records here at Pontefract (C5), whilst Ian Williams, trainer of Idilco has found winners hard to find of late (14).

One additional stat I would mention that jockey Ben Curtis & trainer Roger Fell are 5 from 18 (27.8% SR) when teaming up in handicaps here at Ponty over the last three seasons giving Cockalorum a positive.

Jockey-wise, Cockalorum, Gold Souk, Cruyff Turn and Viceregent are positives with their jockeys having ridden well here in the past (C1 and/or C5), whilst James Sullivan aboard Awake My Soul looks out of form and hasn't done too well here previously either.

If we then look at the Instant Expert tab, the win figures don't actually tell us too much...

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...but the place returns are a better indication of potential...

...where Bendalid would be of serious interest had he performed better on soft ground. Cockalorum and Awake My Soul have done well enough on soft ground, at Class 4 and at 1m2f, whilst the other "greens" are from pretty small sample sizes.

Monday is free pace tab day, so it would be remiss of me of not to take a look at that here to see if we get any pointers...

I switched the order to show how we think they might run based on previous efforts and it they run how we think, then Gold Souk looks well positioned provided he doesn't go off to quickly, whilst Bendalid might just need to push on a bit more than usual, as would Cruyff Turn.

Racecard data and tabs aside, what else do we know about these seven?

Cockalorum : Fifteen months and fourteen races have passed since he last won, but that was also another Class 4 soft ground handicap and he showed signs of a return to form last time out in a similar contest to todays.

He got going a bit late but was staying on well and a similar effort could put him in the mix here, as he has certainly shown that conditions will suit.

Bendalid : A six-time winner from trips ranging from 6 to 12 furlongs, but I believe he is best suited to 10/10.5f, so should be happy here and in fact only went down by a neck over course and distance two starts ago with both the winner and third placed horse having since gone very close at a higher level.

All that aside, he continues to creep up the weights and a lack of soft ground success is a concern.

Awake My Soul : Ticks a lot of boxes from an E/W perspective on Instant Expert, but at 11 yrs old with no win in 13 races over two years, it'd be hard to convincingly believe this could be the day. However, he was third in this race last season off a pound higher and wasn't disgraced as a runner-up last time out.

Gold Souk : Looks badly out of form which must be a worry for connections. He finished his 2yo season in fine form with results of 122 and not beaten by more than a length in either defeat, but this season has been a nightmare for him, beating just one rival across four races at a total combined losing distance of over 73 lengths. One to avoid.

Cruyff Turn : Hard to fully assess him on the basis of his five race career so far. He acquired a mark of 72 after three nondescript runs over glaringly inadequately (IMO) short trips, before setting off on a handicap campaign. A win was followed by a step up in trip to a mile last time out, where he was beaten by a couple of lengths staying on well.

Breeding (on his dam's side) suggests he still needs further than that mile, he's in good form in this grade and is fancied to go well again. The caveat? He is unproven on soft ground, but his yard are 6 from 30 (20% SR) over 9/10f on soft ground these last two seasons.

Idilco : Best (?) known as a hurdler who probably peaked when winning on debut two years ago. Just two non-NH runs to date finishing 12th of 12 beaten by 18 lengths over this trip at Newbury and then an improvement of sorts on the A/W at Kempton when 11th of 12 and "only" 16.5 lengths off the winner. A similar fate beckons : one to avoid.

Viceregent : Some decent efforts in a 7-week spell from mid-July to finish 231 on Good to Soft and Soft ground over 10.5/11 furlongs, but was well beaten by 12 lengths last time out, four weeks ago.

Now steps up a class and is 3lbs higher than his win, he's still of interest because stamina won't be an issue trip-wise and he does handle soft ground.

Summary

As expected, a competitive race. I really don't like Gold Souk and Idilco for this one, but that does still leave five in the mix. I can't bring myself to believe Awake My Soul will suddenly win and I'd be leaving Cruyff Turn out based on a lack of experience at trip and/or going. That's not to say he can't/won't win, but I can't back him. All of which leaves me with three.

Bendalid hasn't handled soft ground well enough for my liking and looks too high in the weights, Viceregent tends to find at least one too good for him and the step up in class could undo him, which leaves me with Cockalorum, almost by default.

I won't be having a bet here, because I'd probably want at least 4/1 about Cockalorum, but if we're disregarding odds, then he's the one that interests me the most.

Racing Insights, 17th October 2020

On Saturdays, the Trainer / Jockey Combo report is free to all users and it shows up plenty of successful partnerships for tomorrow's program. As ever, the selection parameters are my own for the 30-day form, but you can play around with it yourself. If you want fewer qualifiers, just make the criteria more stringent.

From an initial list of 13 trainers, I want to look at three for tomorrow and one simple reason, they've all got a runner in the 4.31 Market Rasen, but more on that in a moment. Firstly here are the relevant stats for the three highlighted trainers...

For the purpose of the piece, I'm going disregard Horizon Bleu (unraced bumpers aren't my bag!) and just focus on the three runners in our chosen race : the 4.31 Market Rasen, a well worth winning, valuable, 10-runner, Class 2 Handicap Chase for 4yo+ on good ground worth over £22.5k to the winner, as shown on the card below...

Taking our runners Mellow Ben, Beggar's Wishes and Court Master in racecard order, they are joint 4th, unrated and joint 4th on our Geegeez ratings, whilst the pace makeup of the race...

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...would tend to suggest that Court Master would fare best of our trio, whilst Instant Expert...

...also points towards Court Master, albeit from a small sample size. Now we probably need to take a closer look at our trio of hopefuls, again in racecard order, starting with...

Mellow Ben, whose trainer has the 14 and 30 icons by his name to signify good recent form, whilst jockey Tom Cannon has a good record at this track (C5), has won twice over fences, but was some ten lengths off the pace when finishing fifth last time out. That, however, was probably his best run since winning those races back to back last September/October.

Perhaps he's an autumn runner? He also has the benefit of being eased a couple of pounds to do his last winning mark and over fences he's 2 from 3 on Good ground and has a Class 2 win to his name. Sadly that's where the good news ends, as he's 0/6 beyond 2m5.5f. 0/3 going right handed, 0/3 as a 7 yr old, 0/2 here at Market Rasen (both over course and distance) and despite winning two 6-runner chases, he is 0 from 6 in fields any bigger than that.

Beggar's Wishes comes from the highly successful Bowen yard and jockey Sean is going well right now (14, 30), This horse has four chase wins to his name and on paper, his chasing record looks good including 4/10 under Sean Bowen, 3/8 in blinkers, 2/5 at Class 2, 3/4 at 2m5f to 2m6.5f, 2/4 on Good ground, 2/3 in October/November and 1 from 1 here at Market Rasen, over course and distance.

But, it's not quite all rosy in the garden, he last won a race just over two years ago, has struggled in five runs since and hasn't been seen on a racecourse for the small matter of 79 weeks. I've a feeling he might need the run, although he is now 7lbs lower than his last winning mark.

And finally, we come to Court Master, who our racecard details suggest might be the most likely. He comes here in good form, having won at Warwick sixteen days ago despite having been off the track for 250 days. Sometimes turning back out fairly quickly after a long lay-off can backfire but this time last year he won after a 248 day absence and then again 23 days later, so there is a precedent.

That recent win took his chasing tally to three from four (no disgrace in losing a Class 2 chase at the January Cheltenham meeting, is there?), he's certainly not over exposed nor over worked and receives weight all round here today. Of his 3 from 4 record over fences, he is 3 from 3 at odds of 8/1 and shorter, 3 from 3 without the tongue tie, 2 from 3 under Brendan Powell and 1 from 1 on Good ground. Not the biggest sample sizes, but all positive stuff.

Summary

We ran through our three possibles in racecard order, so I'll sum up the same way. I'd expect Mellow Ben to finish mid-division at best. There's clearly ability there, but he doesn't seem to "get" this track or trip and doesn't fare well going right handed. He doesn't seem to like too much company and is probably best left alone.

And if you're leaving him alone, you can put the bargepole away for Beggar's Wishes, as I'd be highly surprised to see him involved. He comes off a really long lay-off and wasn't running well before being out back in the shed. If he does go well, then the Bowens will really have pulled a rabbit from the hat.

Which all brings us to Court Master. The racecard and its tabs pointed to this one, my write-up of him was all positive and there's plenty to like about him. It's a pretty competitive contest, as you'd expect from a Class 2 race worth over £20k, but I expect him to be there or thereabouts. Yes, he's on a a career-high mark, but he still looks progressive and receives weight all round.

Of the three, it's Court Master for me. I'd be pretty surprised if he's not in the frame and I think he's every chance of winning here.

 

 

Sat TV Trends: 17th Oct 2020

It’s Qipco Champions Day at Ascot this SaturdayAs normal Andy Newton’s covered all the LIVE ITV races from a trends & stats angle.

Use these key trends to help narrow down the runners and find the best profiles of past winners.

 

 

Ascot Horse Racing Trends (ITV)

 

1.20 - Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup (Group 2) Cl1 2m ITV

15/18 – Raced within the last 5 weeks
15/18 – Won at Listed or better class previously
15/18 – Winning distance – 1 1/2 lengths or less
13/18 – Returned 9/2 or shorter
13/18 – Favourites placed
13/18 – Won at least 5 times previously
12/18 – Aged 5 or older
12/18 – Won over at least 2 miles on the flat previously
11/18 – Raced at least 5 times that season
8/18 – Raced at Longchamp (3), Ascot (2) or Doncaster (3) last time out
8/18 – Favourites that won (1 joint)
8/18 – Won their latest race
6/18 – Irish-trained winners (6 of the last 10)
4/18 – Trained by Aidan O’Brien
3/18 – Ridden by Frankie Dettori (2 of the last 5)
2/18 – Trained by Dermot Weld
2/18 – Trained by John Gosden (2 of the last 5)
Stradivarius won the race in 2018 and was second in 2019
Since 2011: 6 of the last 9 winners came from stalls 2-4 (inc)
Since 2011: Horses from stall 7 have been placed in 4 of the last 8
The average winning odds in the last 10 runnings is 6/1

 

1.55 - Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes (Group 1) Cl1 6f ITV

17/18 – Won over 6f previously
17/18 – Won at least 3 times previously
15/18 – Returned 12/1 or shorter
16/18 –  Raced within the last 6 weeks
16/18 – Raced at least 4 times that season
15/18 – Won at Listed or better class previously
13/18 – Aged 3 or 4 years-old
14/18 – Raced at Ascot previously (3 won)
13/18 – Finished in the top 4 in their latest race
13/18 – Won a Group race previously
11/18 – Favourites placed
11/18 – Raced at Haydock (6), Goodwood (2) or Newbury (3) last time out
4/18 – Won their latest race
4/18 – Favourites that won
2/18 – Ridden by Paul Hanagan (2 of the last 5)
The Tin Man (13/2) won the race in 2016
Since 2011: 4 of the last 9 winners have come from stalls 12 (2) or 14 (2)
Since 2011: 5 of the last 9 winners came from double-figure stalls
Since 2011: Horses from stalls 12 placed 5 of the last 9 runnings
Since 2011: Horses from stalls 14 placed 4 of the last 9 runnings

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The average winning SP in the last 10 runnings is 10/1

Note: The 2005 renewal was run at Newmarket

 

2.30 - Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes (Group 1) Cl1 1m4f ITV

12/12 – Raced 3 or more times that season
11/12 – Won at Listed or better class previously
10/12 – Returned 6/1 or shorter
10/12 – Won at least 3 times previously
10/12 – Raced within the last 9 weeks
9/12 – Finished 1st or 2nd in their last race
9/12 – Won over 1m4f previously
9/12 – Rated 110 or higher
8/12 – Returned between 4/1 and 6/1
8/12 – Favourites placed
8/12 – Aged 3 years-old
6/12 – Won their last race
4/12 – Ridden by Ryan Moore
3/12 – Favourites that won
2/12 – Trained by Sir Michael Stoute
2/12 – Trained by Aidan O’Brien (2 of last 3 runnings)
2/12 – Trained by John Gosden (2 of the last 4 runnings)
The average winning SP in the last 10 runnings is 6/1
Magical (5/1) won the race in 2018
3 of the last 10 winners came from stall 2

Note: The 2009 & 2010 renewals were run at Newmarket

 

3.05 - Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Group 1) Cl1 1m ITV

18/18 – Raced at least 3 times that season
16/18 – Aged 3 or 5 years-old
16/18 – Finished in the top three in their last race
16/18 – Raced at Goodwood, Longchamp or Leopardstown last time out
16/18 – Returned 7/1 or shorter
15/18 – Had won a Group 1 or 2 race previously
14/18 – Favourites placed
14/18 – Raced within the last 5 weeks
10/18 – Raced at Ascot previously (6 won)
10/18 – Won their latest race
9/18 – Won at least 7 times previously
8/18 – Favourites that won
7/18 – Raced at Goodwood last time out
4/18 – Trained by Aidan O’Brien
3/18 – Trained by John Gosden
3/18 – Ridden by Frankie Dettori
2/18 – Trained by Freddie Head
The average winning SP in the last 10 runnings is 4/1
9 of the last 11 winners came from stalls 2-8 (inc)
Since 2011: Horses from stall 2 and 7 have won 4 of the last 9 runnings

Note: The 2005 renewal was run at Newmarket

 

3.40 - Qipco Champion Stakes (British Champions Middle Distance) (Group 1) Cl1 1m2f ITV

18/18 – Won at least 4 times previously
17/18 – Won between 4 and 8 times previously
17/18 – Aged 5 or younger
16/18 – Finished in the top 3 in their latest race
16/18 – Won over 1m2f previously
16/18 – Won a Group 1 or 2 race previously
14/18 – Aged 3 or 4 years-old
13/18 – Raced within the last 6 weeks
13/18 – Raced 5 or more times that season
10/18 – Won their last race
8/18 – Raced at either Longchamp (5) or Goodwood (3) last time out
6/18 – Favourites unplaced
6/18 – Returned a double-figure price
6/18 – Favourites
4/18 – Won by a French-based trainer
3/18 – Ridden by Tom Queally
2/18 – Ridden by Frankie Dettori (2 of last 3)
2/18 – Trained by John Gosden (2 of last 3)
Magical (Evs fav) won the race in 2019
Trainer Aidan O’Brien has just 1 win in the race (Magical, 2019)
Since 2011: Horses from stall 5 have won 2 of the last 7 runnings

 

4.15 - Balmoral Handicap (Sponsored By Qipco) Cl2 1m ITV

Just 6 previous runnings
6/6 – Aged 4 or 5 years-old
5/6 - Winners drawn 10 or lower
5/6 – Carried between 9-1 and 9-6 in weight
5/6 – Returned 8/1 or shorter in the betting
4/6 -  Winners ran at Newmarket last time out
4/6 - Previous winners were aged 5 years-old
2/6 – Trained by David O’Meara
1/6 - Winning favourite
Escobar (16/1) won the race in 2019
The average winning SP in the last 6 runnings is 11/1
Trainers Roger Varian, David O’Meara (2), Roger Charlton, Saeed Bin Suroor and Marcus Tregoning have won the race in the past
Horses from stalls 12 or 13 have been placed in 3 of the last 6 runnings

 

 

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King Set To Be Crowned In Balmoral Handicap

The complexion of this race may have been slightly different had the Challenge Cup not been abandoned a couple of weeks back with several of the main contenders here having been set to contest that race. It certainly looks a cracking contest and hopefully a race where we can find a few strong pointers.

Draw

The straight course draw bias at Ascot tends to play its part in many races but the bias can change from meeting to meeting or even race to race so there are rarely any guarantees.

Ascot Mile Draw Bias

High draws have generally been favoured on the straight course this season but that may not be the case here. The ground is likely to be soft on Saturday and mile races on ground ranging from good to soft all the way to heavy have tended to favour those drawn middle to low.

The win data doesn’t tell us a lot in this sample but the place data suggests a middle draw can be strongly favoured with almost twice as many places from middle draws compared to low draws and 50% more placed horses from middle compared to high draws. The PRB figures seem to back up what the place data tells us too with low draw PRB the worst at 0.46, high drawn PRB is next best at 0.5 and middle draw PRB is 0.54.

There is a logical explanation for the above data. As previously mentioned the draw bias can vary at Ascot. When it favours the far side the higher drawn horses will generally struggle. When it favours the near side the lower drawn horses will struggle. Either way the middle draws nearly always have a pretty fair chance so of course they tend to do well.

At this particular meeting the ground nearest to the stands’ side is railed off and the stalls are positioned on the far side of the course. So compared to a standard meeting at Ascot the higher drawn horses actually race in what is normally the middle of the track and the lower drawn runners are positioned where they’d normally be.

The effect of this in recent years has been that the jockeys have tended to want to stick towards the far side rail. Last year’s first two home were drawn 21 and 20 but that doesn’t tell the whole story – they ended up on the far rail and looked to win in spite of their draws. The runners the previous year also headed towards the far rail and stall 8 was responsible for the winner but it’s also worth noting that five of the highest nine drawn runners were amongst the first seven finishers. In 2017 they largely came down the middle and although the winner came from stall 3, he actually finished nearer the stands’ side than any other runner. The next four finishers that year were drawn 18, 17, 15 and 23.

So what the above tells you, that draw data doesn’t necessarily do, is that if they elect to go far side as they have done for the past two years, the high draws are probably slightly disadvantaged but still well capable. If they go up the middle of the course then high draws may well have the advantage. Now we don’t know before the start of the race where they are likely to go so all in all, the safer bets will probably be in the middle.

Pace

Looking at a similar sample of data as we did for the draw, it looks very much as though we should lean towards those who are likely to be held up.

Ascot Mile Pace Bias

Only one winner has made all in these conditions since 2009 and that was Musaddas in 2015. He proved very well handicapped on the day (won another handicap two starts later) and the fact that only three front runners have placed, producing a place strike rate of 11.54% suggests only extremely well handicapped front runners should be considered.

The place strike rate gets progressively better the further back in the field you are and extreme hold up tactics seem to work well over a mile in these conditions with an almost 100% improvement in place strike rate compared to all other run styles. An IV of 1.44 is also much stronger than all other pace types and there have been more held up winners than all other run styles combined. So unlike the slightly inconclusive draw stats we had, we have some very conclusive pace data here.

Balmoral Handicap Pace Map

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There is unlikely to be a frantic pace to this race with only one likely front runner in the field so a degree of caution should be applied in regards to following the above data that suggests you want to be at the very back of the field. The data is still very strong though so you may well want to be no further forward than mid division on this occasion.

The Jockeys

I’ve seen some interesting jockey stats about which jockeys are worth following at Ascot on different types of ground and they seem worth exploring here with very testing ground likely.

Ascot Jockeys In Soft Ground

The above data shows the jockeys in this race that have previously rode at least once on ground that is between good to soft and heavy in an Ascot handicap before, sorted by IV. This data is more useful ahead of Champions Day as a whole rather than just this race but it does give a good guide as to which which jockeys might be worth a couple of extra pounds advantage.

Considering the lack of data for some riders, the major positives seem to be Nicola Currie (Graignes), William Buick (Blue Mist), Ben Curtis (Kynren), Jamie Spencer (Hortzadar), Jim Crowley (Raaeq), Hollie Doyle (Solid Stone), Frankie Dettori (Alternative Fact) and Oisin Murphy (Bell Rock). It’s worth noting that Nicola Currie’s wins have come courtesy of her association with Raising Sand, a soft ground Ascot specialist who is ridden here by Saffie Osbourne, so a slight pinch of salt must be taken with her figures.

The major negatives appear to be Stevie Donohue (Raakib Alhawa), Andrea Atzeni (Prince Eiji) and Tom Queally (Ropey Guest).

The Runners

Raaeq

He took his form to a new level last time out with an easy win here over 7f on similar ground to this. That was his first run on a soft surface and he seemed to improve for it. He runs with a 6lb penalty which leaves him 5lbs well in still. He’s only had five starts, has never finished out of the first 2 and looks the obvious ‘group horse in a handicap’.

He seems to be the sole pace angle in the race which could suit him but it’s going to be a lot harder dominating a 20+ runner field over a mile than an eight runner 7f race.

Ascot 7f Pace Bias

The above image shows how well front runners do in small fields here in softish ground. Compare that to the first image in the pace section of this article which shows the record of front runners and you see very different figures. He’ll probably need to be at least a Group 2 performer to win this from the front and although he looked to improve for the ground last time out, he also probably improved for the drop back to 7f, a distance at which he is unbeaten. No surprise if he wins but judgement call is to oppose at the price.

Tempus

Course and distance winner who will enjoy conditions. Seemingly had no excuses last time out when well drawn in the Cambridgeshire when running with plenty of credit in 6th (only 0.25 lengths away from 3rd). He maybe would have preferred softer ground that day but it would be difficult to argue he didn’t stay. He’s 2lb higher here and there is still a nagging doubt about him never really having beaten much (beat fourteen runners in two wins this season and none of them have subsequently hit the frame in any race). Even last time out he still finished worst of the well drawn form horses, albeit not beaten that far. Looks certain to run pretty well but not sure he’s well enough handicapped anymore to win a race as deep as this.

King Ottokar

One I quite fancied for the abandoned Challenge Cup but I had two slight doubts. The first was the drop back to 7f, which may have actually suited but it was a risk for a horse that had previously run so well at 10f. The other doubt was the trainer form with Charlie Fellowes’ horses not running that well at the time but he’s had five wins and three places from his last thirteen runners so that’s no longer a concern - in fact it's a positive.

He was a big eyecatcher last time out at Doncaster, making up ground effortlessly 3f out before running into the back of horses. He found less than seemed likely when getting clear which probably tempted connections to drop him back in trip but the ground was on the fast side then and it could have been just as likely that the ground compromised his finishing effort, not the trip. Both his wins have come in soft ground and so has all his best form.

The subsequent form of his last run isn’t great but remarkably none of those subsequent runs from the opposition came in similar conditions with most running on soft ground since. If you look back to Royal Ascot 2019, the last time King Ottokar ran to form on soft ground, he was just a neck behind Fox Chairman. That horse quickly developed into a 110+ rated horse so King Ottokar certainly should be well handicapped here off 100. The only doubt this time around is stall 22 as this could be major disadvantage if they all go far side. It wasn’t a barrier to success last year though and the going stick readings are quicker on the stands’ side which gives some hope they may come middle to stands' side.

Keats

This listed winner from two weeks ago runs under a 6lbs penalty making his mark 107. That would put a lot of people off but when a horse is trained by Aidan O’Brien and it runs in an Ascot handicap people take notice. His runners make a 7.0 LSP in Ascot handicaps since 2009 so that respect is warranted. All three of those winners came at Royal Ascot though over the years and none were rated higher than 104 so this would be some performance to win and Keats has only ever won on good ground. He looks one of the easier well fancied horses to oppose.

Njord

Another Irish challenger and a much more interesting one. He’s been a big improver going up 41lbs in the handicap over the past two seasons, often running well in big field handicaps. His record on ground with the word ‘soft’ in the going description during that time is 1231125 and that latest 5th was when meeting trouble in running off a 2lb higher mark when still beaten less than 2 lengths. The 1st, 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th from that race have all placed since so it wasn’t a bad race. He was last seen when 4th on good ground in a 9f listed race. He was 1.5 lengths behind Keats that day giving that rival 5lbs and he now receives 2lbs so it would be a slight shock if Keats could confirm that form. Keats is drawn 21 and Njord is drawn 4 so a stands’ side draw advantage seems to be the only thing that could swing things in Keats’ favour.

Given his consistent profile and liking for conditions he looks a fair each way shout and should run very well if a low draw isn’t an inconvenience.

Raising Sand

He was my fancy in the abandoned Challenge Cup but I’m slightly more lukewarm about his chances here. He loves soft ground and Ascot plus Saffie Osbourne is a useful 7lbs taken off his back but I’ve always thought he was a bit better over 7f than a mile. His two mile wins at Ascot have come off marks of 89 and 92 in smaller fields than this whereas his two 7f wins here have come off 97 and 103 in fields of 15 and 23.

He ran well over course and distance in the Hunt Cup this season from a poor draw but was ‘only’ 6th in this two years ago off 102 in similar ground and that sort of finish may be most likely again this time around.

River Nymph

He won comfortably here two starts ago and followed that up with another easy success when beating two next time out winners at Newbury. He was well fancied for the Challenge Cup that was abandoned and should still be well handicapped despite going up 11lbs for his latest win. He ran well over Lingfield’s 6f earlier this season and although well handicapped that day (18lbs lower) and looking like he wanted further it does still cast some doubt over his ability to get a mile.

The sire’s runners tend to get worse the further they go and this isn’t really the kind of ground you want to be testing your stamina in so he’s much easier to oppose here than he was over 7f, although he’s respected based on his achievements this season. Stall 14 gives the jockey some options at least.

Bell Rock

Finished 3rd in the Cambridgeshire, a quarter of a length ahead of Tempus. That run was a career best but he was well drawn that day, has seemingly improved for trips beyond a mile on his last two starts and is unproven on soft ground. There is also a doubt mark over the first time cheekpieces. Bell Rock is by Kingman who has a 17.67% strike rate with his progeny. That drops to just 12.82% when cheekpieces are applied which isn’t the worst record but is hardly a ringing endorsement either. Too many question marks.

Blue Mist

He's generally been expensive to follow and although he won a big pot here in July, that was over 7f in a race where only one of the first fourteen finishers has won since. He doesn’t convince over a mile and William Buick, who rides well here on soft, will need to get some improvement from this horse to reach the frame.

Orbaan

He has some decent form to his name with a 7th at York in August potentially a career best with the 5th and 6th winning handicaps since. He’s been behind Tempus twice this season though without real excuses and although a 6lb swing in the weights should get him closer it might not be enough to get 3 lengths closer. He should run creditably but in all probability he’ll finish just outside the places. He can win in slightly calmer waters.

Kynren

Was amongst the favourites for the Challenge Cup but a run at 6f at York last week looked a mistake with him finishing well beaten. No surprise to see him bounce back from that at a track where he has run plenty of good races but this trip seems to stretch him a bit – he’s finished 5th, 5th and 6th over course and distance on softish ground and those first two runs were off lower marks. He’ll need a career best to take this, although he’s nicely drawn in 13.

Alternative Fact

Frankie Dettori is an interesting booking, he’s finished 2nd and 3rd on this horse in two runs and is clearly booked when a big run is expected. The last time they paired up was here in the Silver Hunt Cup when just 1.75 lengths behind Sir Busker, who has since rated 15lbs higher. Alternative Fact has gone up 7lbs himself since then though having run three excellent races at Haydock, where he often gets his required ground. His last run at York when 6th of 20 deserves marking up as he was drawn very wide and ended up with too much to do.

He doesn’t scream brilliantly handicapped but the course and the ground are in his favour, as is the jockey booking. Stall 16 isn’t the end of the world, even if they go far side, and he’s one at a price that could easily run into the places and looks nailed on to give his running.

Best Of The Rest

It's slightly surprising to see Solid Stone priced up at 20/1 given he’s normally overbet (started favourite in eight of his thirteen runs including five of his last six). He hasn’t encountered this sort of ground since his 2yo days though and has presumably been kept away from it on purpose. He’d have a chance if handling conditions.

Greenside will handle the ground and does well here but looks better at 7f these days. Prince Eiji has run well on both starts here and handles the ground but he ran a shocker last time out and Atzeni doesn’t have a good record here in soft ground. Ropey Guest will like the ground and has Ascot form but he looks better at 7f and he’d have had a better chance had the Challenge Cup gone ahead.

Jamie Spencer could potentially get a tune out of Hortzadar but he looks handicapped to the hilt now and hasn’t run well in two starts at Ascot. Graignes has some smart French form in Group 1 races but if he was capable of winning this off  104 you’d have expected him to run better in similar conditions last time out in a Group 3.

Verdict

This perhaps isn’t quite as difficult a puzzle as it first seems with some of the main protagonists not likely to be seen to best effect over a mile on soft ground. Other simply don’t look well handicapped anymore.

The most interesting trio may well by King Ottokar, Njord and Alternative Fact. Tempus and to a slightly lesser extent Raising Sand should run well also but neither are fancied for win purposes.

Njord seems to enjoy the hustle and bustle of these kinds of races and is still reasonably handicapped. He seems most interesting at the prices of those drawn low. Meanwhile Alternative Fact is perhaps the ‘safe each way’ given he has everything in his favour and he’s not drawn far from the middle. At around 12/1 (well backed in the past 24 hours) with as many as 6 places on offer he’s worth a bet.

But as far as likely winners go King Ottokar seems to have an awful lot in his favour. He loves soft ground, he has run well here before, his trainer is in excellent form, he’s run well in a handicap on his last start and has been dropped 2lbs since then and he’s completely unexposed as a miler still. If there is one question mark it’s his very high draw but by the time the three reserves have come out he’ll effectively be racing from stall 19. If a high draw was to be an advantage he’d look an extremely good bet but we won’t know that until it’s too late. He’s shortening all the time and 8/1 in a big field like this might still seem short but he’s a very interesting runner and I’m willing to risk the draw. It might be worth backing him win only as around 8/5 to finish in the top 5 or 6 might not look great after a couple of furlongs if they all go far side.